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.

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Larry Cornelis giving introductory talk

If you plant it, they will come…

LWI members were privileged to be invited to visit the Enbridge Solar Farm, in Sarnia, on June 21st to observe how the restored tall grass prairie habitat has attracted rare bird species.  Resident expert Larry Cornelis led this 3-hour outing.  28 members, including Larry, participated. The group included novice through to very experienced birders.  Weather was ideal: clear, sunny but not too hot.

Savannah Sparrow

The Enbridge Solar farm is the largest in Canada and has a total of 257 hectares covered with 1,300,000 solar panels, enough to power 12,000 homes on a sunny day.  Due to electrical grid limitations there will be no more panels installed on this site.  The remaining 188 hectares of the Enbridge property have been designated for conversion to tall grass prairie and these areas were the subject of our visit.  The very secure property is normally inaccessible to visitors so this was a unique opportunity to see these large grassland areas close-up.

Grasshopper Sparrow

Grasshopper Sparrow

The highlights of the outing were multiple sightings of Grasshopper and Clay-colored Sparrows. Both rare species were observed in the tallgrass prairie rehabilitated areas and these birds are evidence that restoring habitat does have the positive outcomes expected.  Other bird species observed were: Killdeer, Brown-headed Cow Bird, Willow Flycatcher, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Savannah Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, American Goldfinch, Eastern Kingbird, Turkey Vulture, Cedar Waxwing, Meadowlark, American Crow, Yellow Warbler, Field Sparrow, Hairy Woodpecker, Great Blue Heron, Grasshopper Sparrow (3), Clay-coloured Sparrow (7), Mourning Dove, Common Yellowthroat, Starling, Common Grackle, Northern Flicker, Catbird, Indigo Bunting, Red-tailed Hawk, Robin, Yellow-billed Cuckoo.

Clay-coloured Sparrow

Clay-coloured Sparrow on cup plant

Kudos to Larry for organizing and leading this activity, it really was an awesome day!  A special thank you to Enbridge for allowing us to visit the property and for planting this habitat.  Indeed it is encouraging for all naturalists to see the relatively short term effects of planting tall grass prairie.  Imagine what might be possible when other land areas are restored in this manner.

Goldfinch enjoying the natural habitat

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 3 – Mixed Habitat – 2200 Churchill Line. This is Nick’s place (LWI board member and current board secretary) located between Telfer and Brigden Line. For parking, take long driveway up to house and park on the mowed grass along the driveway.

The house has a natural woodlot behind it. Shawn had done previous landscaping here around 8 years ago and Nick has expanded on it over the last 3 years. It has a mix of habitats with a large diversity of plant species. The front has full/part sun meadow areas and some rain gardens. The back is open woods that range from upland to swampy and was once ash dominant but now has lots of gaps in the canopy due to the emerald ash borer. Part of this tour will include strategies about how to enhance an existing woodlot by removing non-natives and planting appropriate native species. This visit is bound to include lots of butterflies as it is prime giant swallowtail habitat.

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.

July 27 – Beachside Prairie Garden and woodlot at 1374 Lakeshore Road (East of Mater Drive).

Parking is available by taking the long driveway straight towards the beach with some parking options close to house. Visitors may need to park on the road.

This is a 7 year old garden with tallgrass prairie in front of the house and beach grass/dune habitat in back. This is one of Return the Landscape’s only full scale, full on tallgrass prairie gardens that is actually tall grass dominant. The front of the property is a natural woodlot with many native plant species, including sassafras and witch hazel.

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While people in Sarnia were taking cover from a deluge, Young Nats were enjoying the balmy weather and NO rain at the Moore Habitat Management Area.

Mike Kent went over the safety rules first and talked to us about ticks, how to protect ourselves and how to remove them if we found one. He also went over the importance of tick checks during and after our walk.

Mike also told us about the free Ontario Nature phone App The Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas App available on both Google Play and iTunes. It also lets you report sightings, like the Blue-Spotted Salamander we saw!

 

We also saw a HUGE wolf spider

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ebony jewelwing damselfly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the Young Nats even let Mike put one on her nose before it flew away!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another lucky boy got to learn how to safely hold one.

We also saw centipedes, millipedes, potato bugs, lightning bugs, clubtail dragonfly and even a small crayfish.

 

What a fun day…can’t wait to see what we are doing next!

Hint…. July 8th– What’s all the Buzz About?

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.

July 20th – Naturalized Downtown

This is actually a tour of four downtown gardens. To begin, meet at the park at the corner of Christina and Davis.

Our starting point is the Sarnia Urban Wildlife Garden.  This was one of Shawn McKnight’s first native gardens and is in the process of transformation from predominantly flowering tallgrass prairie species to lower growing drought tolerant species with a lot more grass. Our speaker will discuss the tough site conditions.  All the downtown gardens have tough site conditions, but this one probably the toughest. It could be our native gardening in tough places workshop! Problems included: wind, salt, poor or shallow soil, blowing garbage, foot traffic, weed seed…

Next is the Scotia Bank garden which has also underwent same transformation as above, but in this case the transformation is complete and we are very pleased with how this garden is performing. It’s a business, so Return the Landscape has had to find the right balance of wild and tidy.

The garden at First Sarnia Place is a series of large square concrete planters behind the apartment building. It represents a more corporate style of planting using only native plants.

The residential garden at the corner of Vidal and Cromwell has had both the front and side gardens naturalized. This location has an awesome rain garden just feet away from the sidewalk and people frequently do a “double take” when they walk by.

JUNIOR CONSERVATIONISTS EVENT (AGED 12+)

Canatara Park is a local hotspot not only for beach-goers, but also species at risk, resident owls, migrant songbirds, impressive trees, and a mixture of habitats. The area we call Canatara Park today has gone through many changes over the years, mostly due to human development. Today, values have shifted realizing the importance of green space and nature. Protecting nature directly involves protecting natural habitat and restoring other spaces.

Join Felicia from Nature’s Way Nurseries to help restore Canatara Park to a better habitat for more plants and animals!

What to bring:

  • lunch, snacks, water (LOTS OF WATER)
  • sunblock and insect repellent
  • hat
  • closed toed footwear (rubber boots help for protection against ticks)
  • pen/pencil & notepad (optional)
  • work/garden gloves

Where to meet:

Canatara Park – park at the Animal Farm entrance. Meet at open Pavilion/Barn picnic tables near entrance of Animal Farm.

July 18th, 2017

Many of Ontario’s reptiles and amphibians are species at risk. There’s still a lot we don’t know about them. Come join the St. Clair Conservation Authority as they monitor reptiles as a part of a long-term study to observe any potential changes in amphibian populations. Learn about local species, their threats, and how you can help.

If you came to the last reptile monitoring outing, we will be going into more detail on how to identify, survey, and monitor for local species.

Where to Meet

940 Holt Line, Wilkesport, ON N0P 2R0

What to bring

  •  lunch, snacks, water (LOTS OF WATER)
  • sunblock and insect repellent (wash hands thoroughly after application for the sake of our amphibians
  • hat
  • RUBBER BOOTS, HIP WAITERS, ETC. for protection against ticks
  • reptile/amphibian field guide
  • Ontario Nature – Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas (ORRA) App (free – optional)
  • pen/pencil & notepad