Native Plant Sale – May 13, 2017

Return the Landscape and DeGroot’s Nurseries work as a team to promote and supply customers with Native Perennials.

Experts Shawn McKnight and Nick Alexander will be on site on Saturday May 13 to help you make the right choices for your garden.

The plants sold at DeGroot’s are harvested from construction sites, or seeds are collected from areas in Lambton County.

Aamjiwnaang First Nation staff grow the plants in their state of the art greenhouse so they are ready for retail sales at DeGroot’s.

New perennials are stocked weekly all summer in the retail greenhouse at DeGroot’s, and there is a terrific assortment of trees and shrubs to select from as well.

 

mm

Great turnout for the first Spring Walk

On Sunday, 25 people braved the damp and cool weather to join Nick Alexander for the first of his two spring walks in Mandaumin Woods.  Nick shared a wealth of information about the trees and plants found along the trail that winds through the 25-acre LWI property.

Nick shows a leatherwood bush

Nick provided many details on how to recognize the plants and tree species that he showed the group.  Some of the plants and trees that he pointed out included:

Solomon’s Seal, False Solomon’s Seal, Goldenrod, Toothwort, Bellwort, Witch Hazel, Redbud, Leatherwood, Prickly Gooseberry, Black Current, Hepatica, various sedges, Shagbark Hickory, Blue beech, Ironwood, Sugar Maple, Basswood, Trout Lily, May Apple, Jack in the Pulpit, Wild Leeks, Wood Anemone, Wild Ginger, and Spice Bush.

Toothwort

Wood Anemone

Bellwort

The trilliums were in full bloom throughout much of the woods, mostly the white variety with a few red ones intermingled.

White Trillium

Interestingly, a yellowish colored trillium was spotted; upon later investigation it appears that this was a sub-species of red trillium!

yellow colored trillium

Nick found many saplings growing and identified them and explained what characteristics will identify that particular tree.   He pointed out that many of the plants found in Mandaumin are indicative of a high quality woodlot and Nick also noted the relative absence of weeds and invasive species.  There’s little doubt that all the participants came away with improved knowledge of the native flora of Mandaumin Woods.

Nick Alexander explains how to identify a plant

Well done Nick, we appreciated the learning experience.

Nick has scheduled another spring walk in Mandaumin Woods for May 14, at 1:00 PM.  He expects more wildflowers to be in bloom for that date.  Wear waterproof footwear as some of the sections of the trail are quite boggy.

 

Join us for our 3 Wednesday walks in Canatara Park.

View resident and migrant birds.

Each spring, migrant birds move through Canatara Park on their way to their nesting grounds. Walk with an expert birder to view resident and migrant birds.

The walk leader is Eric Marcum (519-332-6122).  Eric is a long time birder with experience in the NE United States, northern Canada and many hours in and around Sarnia.  Eric’s experience in hearing and identifying bird songs adds to the experience.

There are three walks scheduled starting on May 3 and continuing May 10 and May 17, 2017.  Start time at 6:00 PM. 

The walk, beginning at the main entrance to Tarzan Land (south-west corner of Christina St and Cathcart Blvd), is an easy one over flat chip covered paths and sidewalks.

The walk is open to everyone without charge.  Binoculars are most useful.  Photo opportunities exist throughout the tour.

See the Tourism Sarnia-Lambton web-site www.tourismsarnialambton.com/listing for more information about Canatara Park.

Photo Credit: Richard Wilson

Photo Credit: Richard Wilson

Last year I attended the Birding Course put on by Lambton Wildlife over the course of several weeks. Many presenters shared their wisdom and experience on identifying, locating, and photographing birds, as well as the equipment and references needed to succeed as a birder.

The last part of the event was a morning walk through Canatara Park on a beautiful morning, April 30th, 2016. Many of the course attendees showed up with their binoculars and their new found enthusiasm to identify birds by sight and sound.

Larry Cornelis and Deryl Nethercott were two of the course’s presenters and they pointed out various birds that they heard or spotted during the walk.

There were about 30 people on the walk at any given time, although the group didn’t always stay together. The walk started on the southwest side of Lake Chipican, near the Animal Farm.

Ducks were spotted out on the inland lake, as well as some other waterfowl.

Experienced members helped point out birds in the canopy, which could be easily seen since the trees were still bare.

A common sight during bird outtings – many people pointing their binoculars in a general direction in hopes of spotting the bird everyone else has already seen. 

Birders of all levels took part in the stroll and enjoyed talking with each other about the bird course and birds they have since been able to easily identify.

Lake Chipican looked beautiful on this calm, sunny spring day.

Seeing as I only brought my 24-105mm lens, the only bird photographs I was able to take were of this tame mallard duck.

Dame’s Rockets were already blooming in the park and other plants were starting to poke out from under their leafy winter blankets.

Gorgeous reflection of the bird box in the side part of the lake. Soon those floating logs will be sporting painted turtles.

mm

I hope you enjoyed my earlier post about Pelee Island.  This latest post focuses on bird photos.

As you may know, thousands of birds migrate through this area every spring.  Pelee Island is a stopover for many interesting species, and attracts avid birders.  Having access to some very experienced and knowledgeable LWI birders who attend this event makes the trip especially worthwhile.    For some competitive birders, Pelee Island offers the annual Botham Cup.  This event is a bird “race” taking place over a 24 hour period from Friday noon until Saturday noon.  Teams try and sight as many bird species as possible.  Two teams of LWI members entered the event; one competing in the “green” category which means restricting your movement around the island to walking or bicycling.  The other team used their car.  Both teams placed well, and earned a mention at the culminating banquet held at Pelee Island Winery and hosted by author Margaret Atwood (an island resident in the summer).

Anyway, take a look at the photos and if you enjoy birdwatching and have never been to Pelee Island, you may want to plan to attend the LWI camping trip in 2017.

mm

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!

mm

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. (more…)

mm

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.

mm

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