Nature Trail at Fairbank Oil

October 29 @ 12:00 pm4:00 pm

Meet: 12:00 pm at Lambton Mall parking lot near Canadian Tire, or at 1:00pm at the trail head on Gypsy Flats Road, south of Oil Springs Line.

This will be Lambton Wildlife’s first outing to hike the nature trail at Fairbank Oil near Oil Springs. It’s also an opportunity to learn about the history of the local oil industry.

October 30 @ 7:00 pm9:00 pm

Social gathering to start at 7:00 pm. Join other members for refreshments. Presentations will begin at 7:30 pm.

Dave Bourne, a local wildlife and nature photographer, has travelled across the continent to gather photographic evidence of most of the owl species that can be found in North America. Dave will take us on a photographic owl prowl, giving us a glimpse into the world of North American owls.

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Fall is a spectacular time to paddle!  We were fortunate to have a picture perfect day to canoe through the Sydenham River Nature Reserve.

The water levels were very low (see below) which meant getting out of our canoe often but both the weather and the water were very warm.  In the spring the water level is high and there are rapids and a swift current to contend with so this would not be the time of year for novice canoeist to paddle through the Reserve.

Picturesque scenery was the word of the day and we enjoyed an interesting array of flora and fauna as we paddled.

The Sydenham River Nature Reserve is home to an incredible 34 species of mussel, 11 of which are listed as at-risk; making it the freshwater mussel capital of Canada!  Freshwater mussels are the longest-lived invertebrates. They are living water filters moving as much as eight gallons of water per day in through their siphon and over their gills to get oxygen and food.  This makes mussels exceptionally vulnerable to water pollution so the importance of keeping the Sydenham River and its ecosystem protected is of paramount importance.

Mussels move by extending their foot out of their shell and into the river bottom, then they retract the foot and pull themselves along.  In the photo below you can see the furrow that this mussel has made as it moved to a new location.

One of the highlights of the paddle was visiting the huge Sycamore tree that is in the reserve.  Ontario’s largest recorded Sycamore tree, near Alvinston, measures 263 cm at breast height.

The biodiversity found in the Sydenham River is impressive and we were thrilled to see so many butterflies, dragonflies, damselflies (including the American Rubyspot pictured below), waterfowl (a pair of American Widgeons are pictured below), and many other birds (the Bald Eagle pictured below flew past us several times and landed along the river to watch our progress).

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Ontario Nature organized a wonderful day to thank both Lambton Wildlife and the Sydenham Field Naturalists for their generous donations that helped make the purchase of 193 acres along the Sydenham River possible.  On September 17th members of both clubs were invited to visit the site and enjoy a hike to the largest Sycamore tree in south-western Ontario, tour the south side of the property to look at the great variety of flora and fauna (led by Larry Cornelis, a member of both Nature Groups and driving force behind the acquisition of the property), and to hear from experts about the many species of fresh-water mussels that are found in the Sydenham River.

This property is now known as the Sydenham River Nature Reserve and is an incredibly important land acquisition that will forever protect the many endangered species that are found in and around the Sydenham River.

Justin Nicol, co-president of Lambton Wildlife and a member of the Sydenham Field Naturalists thanked Ontario Nature at the end of the day for the opportunity to hike the property and for providing a wonderful lunch in a beautiful setting.

Below is an excerpt from the Ontario Nature Website:

Thanks to you, the Sydenham River Nature Reserve is a reality. Ontario Nature has purchased a spectacular 193-acre property – forever protecting one of Ontario’s most biodiverse waterways. Located in the Carolinian Life Zone, this new reserve brings Ontario Nature’s province-wide nature reserve system to 25 properties and more than 7,000 acres.

The new reserve saves a ribbon of extraordinary diversity of plants and animals in a region that is under intense pressure from development driven by hosting 25 percent of the Canadian population.

The reserve represents some of the provinces best remaining examples of imperiled and vulnerable habitats. An almost two-kilometer stretch of the Sydenham River winds through the middle of the property. Representing Ontario Nature’s first riverine reserve, the property is teaming with life:

  • 23 species at risk including birds, plants, reptiles, fish and, of course, freshwater mussels;
  • 34 species of mussel, 11 of which are listed as at-risk provincially or nationally making the property the freshwater mussel capital of Canada;
  • Two-thirds of Canada’s non-marine reptiles including the at-risk eastern spiny softshell turtle; and
  • Half of Ontario’s bird species breed in or pass through the area during migration.

In 2014, two member groups – Lambton Wildlife and the Sydenham Field Naturalists – alerted Ontario Nature about a special property on the mussel-rich Sydenham River that was up for sale. After some initial discussions and exploring the property, in February 2016 Ontario Nature signed an agreement to purchase, pending raising $860,000.

The new Sydenham Nature Reserve was announced on December 19, 2016 after those funds were successfully raised. Many individuals, foundations and organizations gave generously in support of this effort. Lambton Wildlife and the Sydenham Field Naturalists were instrumental in the fundraising, and now share the responsibility to steward the property with Ontario Nature.

This riverside property is a largely-wooded biodiversity oasis in a landscape dominated by cash crops such as corn and soybeans. It forms part of the Carolinian Canada Sydenham River Signature Site, so designated because it was identified as a critical natural area. There are major challenges conservation organizations face in sustaining the ecological connections and biodiversity along the river corridor.

The reserve is open to visitors and Ontario Nature is already planning to create new trails so that the public can explore this extraordinary landscape without damaging sensitive flora and fauna. The best way to explore the property is by canoe. If you have any questions, please contact Ontario Nature at info@ontarionature.org or 416-444-8419.

Mystery Falls Hike

October 14 @ 9:00 am2:00 pm

 

Meet at 9am at Lambton Mall parking lot near Canadian Tire, or 10am at Elm Tree Road, west off Sylvan Road, at trail head.

Let’s enjoy the fall colours on one of the most scenic trails in our area to see Mystery Falls and the unique habitats.

The Pinery Provincial Park is a fantastic place to spend the day with friends and family. The park has so much to offer year round that is it easy to find different things to do each time to visit. Let’s take a tour of the park in various seasons.

The Beach

The Old Ausable Channel

The Trails

This is just a taste of the landscapes that the Pinery has to offer. Check out later posts that will show you some of the wildlife, mushrooms, wildflowers and other plant life you can expect to discover at the Pinery.

Go and explore the park yourself! What are your favourite things to see and do there?

 

 

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Point Pelee National Park is a spectacular park to visit in any season, especially known for its spring and fall migration and its incredible biodiversity.  Seven Lambton Wildlife members were fortunate enough to camp there from September 6th to the 9th.

Where to begin …. The best place to begin is to say a big THANK YOU to Paul Carter who did an outstanding job organizing the camping trip. His expertise, along with the expertise of Larry Cornelis, was truly appreciated by everyone.  Each time we have the opportunity to hike with Paul and Larry we learn so much!

You will notice that in the photo Paul and Larry are sitting in red Adirondack chairs.  The Red Chair Experience began three years ago in Gros Morne National Park, and it is a way of connecting Canadians with nature in our country’s most unique and treasured places.

During our stay we were lucky to see many of the species of flora and fauna that Point Pelee has to offer.

Butterflies

We saw numerous monarch butterflies, which was encouraging because we all know that these butterflies are struggling as a species (keep planting those milkweed!).

We were treated to many other butterfly species including Common Buckeye, Giant Swallowtail (caterpillar photos below), Red-spotted Purple, Painted Lady, and Crescent.

Five-Lined Skinks

A highlight of the trip was seeing numerous five-lined skinks!  These beautiful animals are Ontario’s only lizard species.  They have scaly skin like all lizards and are fast, agile and prefer warm, dry habitats.

Dragonflies and Damselflies

There are a great number of species of dragonflies and damselflies in Point Pelee National Park.  Two notable ones that Paul pointed out were the Carolina Saddlebags and the Lance-tipped Darner – both lifers for us!  Some of the more common ones included orange bluets (?), twelve-spotted skimmer, and Common Green Darner.

Snakes

We were surprised to see a Melanistic Garter Snake just outside the canoe rental shop at the Boardwalk trail.  The melanistic color morph is a relatively common color morph that occurs naturally in the wild.   Another great find was a Northern Water Snake – if you look closely at the photos you will see that it had recently enjoyed a meal.

Birds

We were treated to a number of wonderful bird sightings that included both migratory and resident bird species.  It is hard to beat seeing fledgling birds.  The first photo is of a fledgling cedar waxwing that one of the campers spotted at the Cemetery entrance.  Other birds included immature and adult Bald Eagles, Osprey, Magnolia Warbler, Black and White Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Blue-grey Gnatcatcher, and Wild Turkey.

There is so much to enjoy at Point Pelee National Park – we hope that seeing some of the beauty of the park will inspire you to visit it soon!

Tour the ecological restoration projects including numerous wetlands and acres of tall grass prairie on the King family farm.  There has been approximately 90 acres of restoration work done by Ontario Nativescapes.  Refreshments provided.

The walk leader is Larry Cornelis.  Larry is an experienced landscaper and has restored/naturalized numerous projects, including his own farm.  He is naturalist local to Lambton-Kent where he has lived all of his life.  He is a very knowledgeable resource of the flora and fauna of the area.  He is an avid bird watcher and will tell you that he doesn’t get enough time to pursue the hobby.  He is a board member of Sydenham Field Naturalists and Lambton Wildlife Incorporate and other local boards. Larry is a busy guy and always happy to be outside working with nature.

The event begins at 10:00 AM August 26 on the King farm.  The event is south of Watford 1.2 Km east of Navuoo Rd on Churchill line.  Proceed past St James Church and over the bridge.  Look for activity on the north side of the road.  Carpool meeting spot is the parking lot south of St Clair High School in Sarnia at 9:00 AM

The tour is considered an easy one.  Longer walks may be necessary to view all areas of the restoration.

The walk is open to everyone without charge.  Binoculars are always recommended.  Footwear appropriate for the weather.  There are no facilities available on the farm.

Contact Mary Martin for any questions.

Jr. Conservationists & Young Naturalists

August 12th —Insect Extravaganza!

Fairbanks Property, Oil Springs

1pm — 3pm

In this outing we have the special opportunity to catch and identify insects at one of the most culturally significant areas in Lambton County, the Fairbanks Oil Property. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s this area would have been booming with the opportunity to strike black gold…oil. Out of this area came the world’s first commercial oil well, the first refinery, the first petroleum company, the first oil gusher and many others. Oil has been in Lambton County’s blood ever since.  But the wells stopped gushing decades ago and little further development here has occurred. The oil pumping continues but now it’s called “slow oil” and the surrounding native landscape has had the chance to regenerate. Don’t miss out on this mix of nature and history!

In our quest to see how DIVERSE the insects are we will use some DIY insect equipment to survey for as many types of insects as we can. To aid us, we will utilize pitfall traps, sweeping, sucking insects through a tube, beat sheets, and other equipment and techniques. Along the way, we will learn about their amazing abilities! Like catching Pokémon but in real life!

What to bring:

What to Bring:

  • bring own insect catching equipment (plastic containers, nets) (optional)
  • magnifying glass (optional)
  • sunblock
  • mosquito spray (wash hands after application for the sake of our friendly insects)
  • pen/pencil & notepad

Where to Meet:
Fairbanks Nature Trail – 2481 Gypsie Flats Rd, Oil Springs, ON+N0N+1P0
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More info about property:
http://www.fairbankoil.com/

Please join us on Thursday evenings in July and August to view local gardens featuring native plants. Each tour will commence at 7:00pm. Learn from the garden experts about creating gardens with native plants to attract wildlife and benefit our environment.

August 10 Residential Native Garden – 6719 Old Mill Road in “the Maples” subdivision off of old Lakeshore Rd **Please note the change in address from that published in the brochure.

This garden, owned by LWI members, is on a small, subdivision lot. Originally there was no landscaping other than turfgrass and a few foundation plants in front of the house as part of the builder’s package. The soil is heavy, compacted clay, and both the front and back yards are in full sun all day. Today, the property showcases an alternative to the suburban lawn that provides natural habitat and pleasing aesthetics. Last year the Sarnia Horticultural Society visited this garden.

The back garden was installed by Return the Landscape in 2013 and expanded by the homeowners in 2016. The front garden was installed by RTL in 2014.  RTL also installed dry creek beds in the back garden to direct rainwater from the downspouts to a wet meadow complex with a diversity of plant species in the back corner.

The plants are native to the local eco-zone and were selected for their wildlife value, particularly for native pollinators such as butterflies and moths.  Because of the clay soil and full sun exposure, most grasses and wildflowers selected are found in prairie or wet meadow environments.  Wet meadow plants include Boneset, (Eupatorium perfoliatum ) Culver’s Root (Veronicastrum virginicum ) and Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium purpureum).   During this visit, some of the more imposing prairie plants such as Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum) and Tall Coreopsis (Coreopsis tripteris) will be in bloom.