The weather did not co-operate for the LWI Frogs and Toads outing in April of this year. North winds were blowing over the Dow Wetlands and the temperature was a bit above zero. Everyone thought they were dressed for the outing. Most soon realized that they could have been better covered. Toques, hoods, gloves and winter coats were needed. Regardless, twenty people were interested enough to meet tour leader Kim Gledhill for the tour.
The LWI Guide to Natural Areas of Lambton County, 2009, reports “the idea for the Dow Wetlands was born when a large quantity of clean soil was required to cap a former Dow landfill site. Dow worked alongside local environmental groups and environmental firms to design the wetland complex. In 2002, the original 7 acre Dow Wetlands grew to 20 acres and is home to 8,000 trees and shrubs. The 7 ponds and streams are host to emergent plant life such as cattails, bulrushes and arrowhead which provide food and shelter for wildlife. The property is owned by Dow Chemical Canada Inc. but is open to the public during the day.”
The Wetlands are situated at the southwest corner of LaSalle Line and Highway 40.
Kim started the tour from a floating dock at the edge of one of the middle ponds. She explained that under normal conditions, we would see Leopard Frogs, Green Frogs and American Toads. We should have also heard them singing. This night, the frogs and toads had found warmer locations. She also explained that the Wetlands is home to Herons, Meadowlarks, Swallows, shorebirds, snakes, turtles and other birds and animals common to Lambton County.
Yes! We saw 3,759 Broad-winged Hawks, 23 Northern Harriers, 169 American Kestrel, and 293 Sharp-Shinned Hawks at Hawk Cliff on September 14th, 2016. Bald Eagles are also a common sight but because there are resident Bald Eagles it is hard to tell which ones are actually migrating.
Wednesday brought clouds and north-west winds to the north shore of Lake Erie, making conditions that were favorable for seeing a large number of migrating raptors. Our day began in Port Stanley with a quick stop at the Village Square Coffee Shop for a delicious coffee and some sweets. The official Hawk Cliff counters were set up on a small knoll and they were all hopeful for a good day based on the weather forecast, as the previous one had been dismal for numbers of birds. They weren’t disappointed (and neither were we), as literally thousands of birds passed over our field of view over the course of the day. (more…)
Over 20 people attended the kickoff of LWI’s annual “Habitat Thursdays” outdoor event. This year, at the suggestion of Shawn McKnight, we decided to make it a tour of residential landscapes that have been naturalized with native plants. We would actually be visiting “Habitat Gardens”.
If the allure of migrating raptors isn’t quite enough, Hawk Cliff is also a great place to see Monarch butterflies. These insects follow a similar route to the hawks and eagles when they head south for the winter, which means they also pass through the Hawk Cliff area.
Regardless of the warm weather we have been enjoying, migratory birds will still head south on schedule. Raptor migration is underway and that means a trip to Hawk Cliff should be on your calendar. Driving to Hawk Cliff takes approximately 1h 30m from the Sarnia area. The site is located only a few kilometers from Port Stanley on the north shore of Lake Erie, and is a prime place to view raptors flying overhead.