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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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.

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.