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Every spring for many years now, LWI holds a group camping outing on Pelee Island.  2016 was the first year for myself and Roberta attending.  Pelee Island is an easy 1 hour and 30 minute ferry ride from Leamington.  The campground is located only a few kilometers from the ferry dock and is well situated for making forays to the various corners of the island.

By late Thursday the LWI group camping site was well populated with tents, dining shelters, pop-up camper vans and one truck camper.  Some members come as early as Tuesday, with most departing back to the mainland on the Sunday.  A total of 21 campers attended, with ages ranging from elementary school up to ??  Most campers in the group brought bicycles, as the island is relatively small and quite flat.  For some outings we did choose to drive, in order to facilitate moving to other locations depending on bird concentrations or lack thereof. We enjoyed group hikes, campfires, late night owling (successfully calling in screech owls!) and great camaraderie.  The atmosphere at the campsite was very relaxed and driving on the island is slow and easy; everyone waves at other vehicles.

The island is a mix of agricultural land, vineyards, and protected conservation lands, each with its own unique habitat.  I thought the best way to describe the nature aspects of the trip was to show some photos.  2016 was a record turnout for this popular LWI outing and we hope 2017 will be even better.  I have split my photos into two posts; the first will be general nature photos, and the second post will focus on bird photos.   Enjoy!

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May, the best birding month of the year is just around the corner and that means it’s time to plan for the annual LWI Pelee Island camping trip!  Every spring, a group of LWI members camp out on the island, enjoy the outdoors, take in the island sights, and most importantly enjoy extraordinary birding opportunities.  Some of the activities from past years include: Calling in screech owls, evening campfires, participating in the Island birding competition: The Annual Botham Cup Bird Race, attending the Pelee Island Annual Springsong birding celebration evening banquet hosted by author Margaret Atwood.

If camping is not your thing and you still want to participate in the outing, there are numerous Bed and Breakfast places on the island, and you can still connect with the LWI campers for outings and other activities.

For more details, check these past posts about the May camping trip from last year:  Water Levels at Pelee Island and Pelee Island Camping with Lambton Wildlife

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To help you plan here are some things you should be aware of: LWI reserves a group camp site, a large open, grassy site with a few picnic tables and no shade.  The site doesn’t have hydro or water.  Everyone in the group shares the picnic tables and the fire pit, and we pitch our tents in various places around the site and leave our vehicles close to the campground road.  It’s a 2-3 minute walk to the washrooms but there are nice hot showers there, and a small campground store too.  This LWI event is family friendly and the campground does not permit alcoholic beverages on the premises.  The cost is $4/person/night payable to the campground office when you arrive.

The island is only 12.5 kilometers long and 6 kilometers wide, so getting around by bike is possible.  The island is very flat, however not all the roads are paved.  It takes about 4 hours to bike the perimeter of the island.  One of the benefits of being with the LWI group is that many of the campers have good knowledge of the island from previous years and they know the best birding spots.  You can join in on the group birding hikes or take off on your own to explore.

The ferry to the island does book up quickly so reserve your trip early, the cost is $16.50/vehicle plus $7.50/person (each way).

The average daily temperatures in May are around 18 degrees, with nighttime lows running around 10 degrees.  The island temperatures tend to be a bit cooler than the mainland so pack accordingly.

Hope you can join LWI for all or part of this great weekend of birding!

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Lambton Wildlife Incorporated (LWI) has been protecting nature for over 50 years by bringing those with a love of nature together to work towards common goals in conservation, preservation, and protection of the natural environment in Lambton County. Through a range of programs and events we aim to foster an environment that encourages appreciating, learning, and teaching about the natural environment.  In order to continue the voice and values of LWI, we must reach out to our younger generation to provide them with positive experiences in nature.


Why Connect Kids with Nature?

Nature deficit disorder may be a coined phrase but the symptoms are real.  Today children are spending half as much time outdoors as they did 20 years ago with much of this time now devoted to viewing digital media. Time spent playing outside is correlated with increased physical activity, mental creativity, decreased aggression and better concentration in children. Recent research has also shown that children who play outside are more likely to protect nature as adults. The most direct route to caring for the environment as an adult is participating in “wild nature activities” before the age of 11. This is where we come in. (more…)

The business meeting and general elections are at 4:30 pm. The bucket draw opens at 5:00pm.

If people wish to bring items to donate to the bucket draw, they can bring them to the dinner. Bucket draw items can be nature related or something in nearly new condition. Popular past items are books, re-gifted items and sometimes experiences (such as dessert and a travel talk).

The banquet dinner will start at 6:00 pm. We will have chicken breast this year and dessert is homemade pie.

A meritorious service award will be presented after dinner. The bucket draw winners are also determined after dinner.

After a break, the members will hear short snapshots of historical LWI initiatives from five past presidents. Elizabeth Tasker will share the founding of Mandaumin Woods and Fernand Noel will explain the history of the Ausable Trail. Brenda Kulon will outline the challenges of creating the Karner Blue Butterfly Sanctuary. Janet Bremner will explain the club branding and Larry Cornelis will finish with the newest collaborative project – the Sydenham Nature Reserve.

See you there!

Location:

Camlachie United Church
6784 Camlachie Rd, Camlachie, ON N0N 1E0

 

This monthly presentation begins with a social gathering starting at 7pm. Come and get to know other Lambton Wildlife members and enjoy some refreshments.

Our speaker tonight is one of our own, Justin Nicol. Justin is a board member of Lambton Wildlife, the owner of Nature’s Way Nurseries and a local horticulturalist who loves trees.

During this presentation you will have the opportunity to learn about our cities’ and towns’ hardest working entities, trees, yes that right! This presentation will cover the benefits that trees in towns and cities have, as well as the challenges they face day to day. We will also address how we can help them thrive through recognizing some basic visual signs, and go over what trees can benefit from – from the time of planting, to a mature beautiful specimen tree in our urban areas. Hope to see you there!!

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Felicia Syer lead the walk on the Howard Watson Nature Trail on a beautiful Saturday. We had large enough turn out that at times we blocked the trail. Tony, the chair of the Bluewater Trails committee was there, and he did a good job keeping our group from being run over by passing bikers.

Felicia highlighted many of the tall grass prairie plants that grow along the trail. This habitat is very rare in Canada and not that common in Southwestern Ontario. Here she is showing us a stiff-leaved goldenrod.

From left to right Tony, Sharon and Felicia.

Another significant plant is the wild lupine, a host plant of the now extirpated Karner Blue butterfly. We saw a plant that had just finished blooming.

One of our members returned to this plant later in the summer to gather seed. Unfortunately the plant had been mowed down and obliterated.

The people who joined our walk had a variety of interests, some wanted to identify the rare plants and others wanted to learn about what was potentially edible. Many had binoculars just in case an interesting bird happened to fly by. The Howard Watson Trail provides many benefits to the residents of Sarnia and the surrounding area. It combines recreational opportunity, a connection to nature and a habitat for native plants and animals. We should continue to protect and appreciate this asset.

Lambton Wildlife conducted an intense biological survey at Mandaumin Woods on June 20th, 2015. Local experts, with the help of Lambton Wildlife members, set out to record all living species at the site.

Here were the resulting numbers with links to a list of each:

Over 100 Herbaceous Plants.

16 Different Tree Species.

11 Fungi Identified.

22 Bird Species Spotted.

2 Mammals, 2 Amphibians and 1 Reptile.

10 Butterflies and 5 Various Insects.

 

 

Summary of all species recorded.

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Thirty-eight people gathered on a cold Sunday morning in February to enjoy the many waterfowl that visit the St. Clair River during the winter months.  Our first stop was at the Bluewater Bridge where we were treated to a good view of the peregrine falcon that flew past and landed on the bridge.  Our scopes came in handy and some of the participants had great success with “digiscoping” (using your camera/cellphone to take a photo through the scope).  We saw a pair of cackling geese which was the highlight of this first stop!

Can you spot the pair of peregrines like likes to hangout at one of Sarnia’s most iconic spots?

Can you pick out the pair of cackling geese from Canada geese in this flock?

Here’s a closer look. Hint: Cackling geese can be distinguished from their Canada counterpart by their smaller size.

I think the funniest event at this stop was when two walkers stopped to ask our large group, with scopes and binoculars pointed out toward the lake, “What is coming?”  My response was met with the most incredulous look I have ever witnessed … as my response was “we are looking at ducks”.  At this point he paused and said “What?”  I said again “we are looking at ducks … and geese.”  He replied with a chuckle and said “Well, there are lots here.” And continued his walk.  I guess it takes some getting used to the idea that a group of people are willing to brave the cold wind to stand and look at ducks and geese!

Further down the river we stopped at Guthrie park to observe the dabbling and diving ducks around the warm water outflows, the ice-taxiing gulls, and eagles staging their hunt at the head of Stag Island. Then, without warning, thousands of birds took to the air from their water rafts to put on an aerial orchestra. Was it an eagle or a boat that caused the commotion? We weren’t sure, but the fleeting moment was spectacular!

The flocks were estimated to contain over 8,000 birds.

Here’s a portion of the flock. Can you identify any by their shape?

We continued to enjoy the day with several stops along the river, ending at a great little restaurant in Sombra.  Although we saw bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, swans, and lots of waterfowl I think from the reactions of the participants I would have to say the highlight of the day was the lesser black-backed gulls!

Can you identify the different gulls in this picture?

 A big thanks to Paul Carter for leading the group and making sure everyone had the opportunity to see the different birds and explaining what to look for when identifying different species.

Here is a partial list of bird species we enjoyed throughout the morning:

  • Peregrine Falcons
  • Cackling Geese
  • Hundreds of Long-tailed Ducks
  • Mallards
  • Buffleheads
  • Herring Gulls
  • Crows
  • Starlings
  • Northern Cardinals
  • Canada Geese
  • Hooded Mergansers
  • Bald Eagle
  • Common Goldeneye
  • Common Merganser
  • Lesser Black-backed Gulls
  • Greater Black-backed gulls
  • Red-tailed hawks
  • Canvasbacks
  • Redheads
  • Mute Swans
  • American Black Ducks
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LWI was fortunate enough to have been invited to the Sarnia Solar Farm for a winter bird count!  Expertly led by Larry Cornelis, the day was a great success.  A total of 22 species were sighted over a four hour period with spectacular views of short-eared owls.  At one point eight short-eared owls flew up and were flying over our heads … it was an unbelievable sight to witness a murder of about 40 crows mob the owls as they dipped and dived around one another.  At one point a red-tailed hawk joined in the flock but didn’t seem to be taking sides!

Here is the full report from Larry Cornelis:

Sarnia Solar Kestrel

Winter Bird Survey, January 2, 2017

Enbridge/Sarnia Solar

  • Sunny, light breeze, 0c to +4c
  • 9:00 am to 1:15 pm
  • Walked 6 km, drove 16 km (total party mileage)
  • 20 participants, organized by Larry Cornelis RTL

 

 

Survey Comments

This is the 3rd winter bird survey at Sarnia Solar conducted by RTL staff and the second survey that local birders/members of Lambton Wildlife were invited to participate in. Twenty participants were lead by Larry Cornelis. The weather was excellent and a very thorough survey was conducted.

The tall grass prairie sites and abandoned fields at Sarnia Solar provide excellent habitat for grassland bird species and raptors. This was reflected in the number of raptors observed on this survey. Of note were the 12 shot-eared owls. Short-eared owls are in decline and are classed as a ‘species at risk’ ranked ‘special concern’. The grassland-like habitats provide the highest ecological values for the 1100 acre site. All wildlife species that inhabit grasslands are in decline with many classed as species at risk.

Other highlights were the 30 robins, 1 bald eagle,1 great blue heron and 1 northern flicker. This was an increase of 5 species over last winters survey. Other observations included 1 jack rabbit, 2 white-tailed deer and numerous meadow voles.

Larry Cornelis RTL

Rough-legged Hawk

Species

Canada Goose 21                           Great Blue Heron 1
Short-eared Owl 12                         American Kestrel 1
Red-tailed Hawk 10                         Rough-legged Hawk 3
Northern Harrier 4                           Bald Eagle 1
Pigeon 75                                        Downy Woodpecker 4
Northern Flicker 1                            Blue Jay 1
Horned Lark 3                                  American Crow 80
Black-capped Chickadee 8              White Breasted Nuthatch 3
American Robin 30                          European Starling 250
Snow Bunting 3                                American Tree Sparrow 50
Dark-eyed Junco 1                           American Goldfinch 9

22 species                    571 individuals

 

 

Join Lambton Wildlife for one of their oldest events. The day starts by meeting at Centennial Park parking lot at 9am (most northerly lot). The group will then head south along the St. Clair River in search of open water and the ducks, swans, eagles and falcons that may be found there.

Paul Carter, the day’s leader, will identify and provide you with many opportunities to observe an abundance of mallard ducks, various diving ducks, gulls, and hopefully some eagles and falcons.

Be sure to pack your scope, binoculars and/or camera!