Spring is such an incredible time of year. As you walk through Mandaumin Woods in the springtime you will be treated to so many wonderful sights and sounds.
Stop and listen to the number of different bird songs that are all around you – spring is a time when birds are migrating through Mandaumin woods and it is not unusual to see 20 or more species in a single outing! One of my favorite groups of birds are the Warblers. These colorful little birds find refuge in Mandaumin Woods as they find their way to breeding grounds further north. I have yet to find a nesting pair of any species of Warbler in Mandaumin but there certainly could be Yellow Warblers nesting there.
No other birds can match the song of the thrush. I have seen 3 different species of thrush at Mandaumin Woods but it is during the spring breeding season that their beautiful song echoes through the woods.
Other bird species abound in Mandaumin Woods – I was once chased, quite incessantly, by a pair of Indigo Buntings. They had built their nest quite close to the trail and they needed me to move along much quicker than my usual ambling pace!
Probably the most striking bird that can be spotted in Mandaumin Woods is the Scarlet Tanager. What a stunning bird!
Then there is the spectacular display of color provided by the spring wildflowers. Is there anything more beautiful than a forest floor covered in trilliums in full bloom? The constantly changing forest floor will keep you coming back week after week to enjoy the many wildflowers that bloom throughout the spring and summer.
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 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.
The trilliums were in full bloom throughout much of the woods, mostly the white variety with a few red ones intermingled.
Interestingly, a yellowish colored trillium was spotted; upon later investigation it appears that this was a sub-species of red 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.
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.
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.
Winter is magical time to visit Mandaumin Woods. The sun shining through the trees casts beautiful long shadows in the glistening snow. As you wander the trail you can see the prints of squirrels, deer, rabbits, skunks, fox, and other small rodents.
In winter, voles travel in tunnels beneath the insulating snow – you can look for the tell-tale small round holes they make in the snow when they come up to the surface. Voles look a lot like house mice – with a shorter tail and a more rounded muzzle and head. Voles eat plants and seeds while moles are looking for insects. Come out and enjoy beautiful Mandaumin Woods!
Thinking of going out for a walk? Want a change- why not take a walk at Wawanosh Wetlands. Oh sure, purists will argue that it never became the wetlands that were planned, but it has still become a great place for nature- in all seasons- and it can be a very nice walk.
Wawanosh can be hard to find if you don’t know exactly where it is. It is located at 6013 Blackwell Side Road, in Sarnia. The entry way is a narrow single- car width road entrance between two residential lots. There is a large sign at its entrance- but you don’t see it until you are upon it, so drive slowly. There is a small parking lot once you drive down the long laneway. As soon as I turn off Blackwell, the radio goes off and I open the windows to see what I can hear.
The parking lot sits at the edge of the first of two ponds. There are usually some ring-bill and herring gulls, a blue heron or two and mallards that you can see from your car in the first pond. If you are lucky there are a few even more interesting birds, like Bonaparte gulls, Caspian Terns and even more unusual finding like the Franklin’s gull was seen here in 2015. Wood ducks, Green Wing Teals and Black ducks might be seen and, of course, the ever present Canadian Geese will be there for certain.
But, come on, get out of the car- there is a 2.5 km trail awaiting you, and that does not include the midway connection to the Suncor Nature Way.
I have seen 140 different species of birds here. According to E-bird, the most different species seen by one person over the years is 178! 223 species have been recorded for this location on E-Bird. 25 kinds of Warblers, Soras, hawks, waxwings…you just have to look. And the ducks – on a good day you can see redheads, canvasbacks, ring-necks, ruddy ducks, buffleheads, coots, teals and wood ducks – and there’s more.
Not convinced yet? I’ve seen hummingbird moths and praying mantises, dragonflies and bees. There are butterflies in the open areas, sulphurs , crescents, swallowtails too! There are plants and flowers and thistles. If you like nature, Wawanosh will show you something to make you smile.
Keep your eyes open for the turtles, beavers and wild turkeys.
About 1/3 of the way around the outside trail there is a bench that looks over the second pond where you can relax, and then just behind you is the bridge that leads to Suncor nature way if you want to extend your walk. The trail at this point continues along the creek, but where it slopes back down to start the return journey- I turn back. It can get very muddy down there. That doesn’t deter everyone – don’t let it deter you! By this time I’ve usually already spent about 2.5 or 3 hours and its usually time for me to head back. If you are walking and not birding, the trail takes about 45 minutes to one hour.
Everyone who regularly goes to Wawanosh has their own path they take. I always start to the right of the parking lot and walk along the cedars…where I saw a Blackburnian Warbler at eye level. The first bend to the left is where I saw my first Palm Warblers. I then always walk up along the path to the bench and stop and then check the bridge- some times you can see warbles hawking insects there…and they are at or below eye level! I saw my first Redstart, Wilsons and Blackpolls warblers here. Then I continue the walk beside the creek where I saw my first Lambton County Golden Wing Warbler. I walk to the next bend and turn back, I return to the parking lot along the path between the two ponds.
It’s along here I see my Swallows, Waxwings, and hear the Marsh Wrens.
If it is waterfowl season before I turn into the parking lot I go and check out the viewing tower to the right along the front of the second pond. It is a shame that the phragmites are so tall, at 5’3 ½’ it can be hard to see all the ducks that are often on this side – but I make it work – just be prepared to lift the kids up so they can see too.
So, next time your thinking of a walk..think- why not Wawanosh- I’m sure you wont be disappointed.
Free access……picnic tables…
Port – A – Potty during the summer
A walk through Mandaumin Woods in autumn is a bonanza of brilliant colours! Depending on when you visit the trail many different ferns and fungi can be seen; during the Mandaumin Woods bioblitz 11 different species of fungi were found (Polyporus alveolaris, Stereum ostrea, Hygrocybe punicea, Polyporus squamosus, Scutellinia scutellata, Crepidotus mollis, Pleurotus ostreatus, Hygrocybe nitida, Fuligo septica, Marasmius rotula, Panus conchatus).
There are eleven species of trees in Mandaumin Woods, including the Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata). The Shagbark Hickory is interesting because of its shaggy appearance, which also makes it an easy tree to identify. It is native to Canada and is extremely hard and dense making it very useful in making tool handles and furniture.
A Wallaceburg company, Hillerich and Bradsby, once used Shagbark Hickory trees (among other kinds of wood) in the manufacture of baseball bats and other sporting equipment. H&B were most famous for producing the Louisville Slugger Baseball bat. (more…)
Saturday was a perfect day for 45 nature enthusiasts to enjoy a beautiful hike! The hike was hosted by Lambton Shores Nature Trails and led by Klaus Keunecke who provided information about the history of the trails before we headed out. (more…)
Mandaumin Woods is a beautiful nature preserve and the trail this time of year is dry and very enjoyable. Mandaumin Woods is located just south of the village of Mandaumin on the west side of Mandaumin Road. The bugs are mostly gone and it is the time of year to enjoy the fall colours and watch for wildlife. We saw a deer and several wild turkeys as we walked the trail; although it is hard to sneak up on anything because the leaves are dry and walking on them sounds like walking on Rice Crispies!
Late summer or early fall is a great time to take a canoe for a relaxing paddle on the Sydenham River. This meandering waterway has very little current, no rapids or other canoeing challenges, and offers a chance to see a variety of wildlife. One key attraction of the Sydenham is its proximity to most parts of Lambton County. From Sarnia, you can drive there in 25 minutes. We normally put in near the village of Wilkesport, just a few hundred meters west of the Kimball Side Road on Wilkesport Line.
A decent river access is provided on the south side of the road, with plenty of room to park your vehicle. Your first choice when heading out from this point is whether to go east and under the first bridge, or west and south towards the Darcy McKeough Floodway. Either way, you will find the river a pleasant and surprisingly isolated place in a landscape typically dominated by agriculture. For various reasons, local landowners have left the shores of the river unmolested, so while you paddle your way along, trees and vegetation hide most of the evidence that this area of Lambton is almost exclusively dedicated to cash crop farming. We like the fact that only novice canoeing skills are required, and we’ve never seen a power boat in the years we’ve used the river.
Last week we chose to head east under the bridge, then the river bends to the north where there is a fork. Choosing the left branch keeps you on the Sydenham while the right branch is known as Black Creek. Both tributaries are roughly the same width. The Sydenham meanders around passing under the Kimball Side Road three times. We did find a few trees fallen across the river in some spots, the last one requiring some portaging to circumvent. Typically we decide how many hours we want our outing to take and head out for half the duration and then turn back. The slow current isn’t much of a factor in travel time at this time of year. It’s surprising how the hours can slip by unnoticed as you leisurely enjoy the serenity of this river.
On this particular trip we spotted a colorful Green Heron soon after we started out.
It helps to keep your voices to a minimum to allow getting as close to wildlife as possible. Great Blue Herons are always present and will often fly to get ahead of you, only to emerge at the next bend in the river. Turtles are often sunning themselves on the numerous logs that are scattered on the river, we saw a Map Turtle on this trip.
Overhead a Red-tailed Hawk soared and called out with its unique cry. Other birds we saw included: Wood Ducks, Catbirds, Red-bellied woodpeckers, Flycatchers, Downy Woodpeckers, plus many others.
Later we watched another Hawk land in a tree carrying a small snake in its beak.
On the Sydenham, after passing under the second bridge heading northeast, there is frequently a Great Horned Owl to be seen on one of the trees along the river. If you are lucky (and quiet) it’s possible to get a good a look at him (but no photo this time!) Dragonflies, Butterflies and Damselflies abound on the river, and you may see large carp near the surface, or often breaching the surface.
We observed a water snake but didn’t get near enough to identify it. Along the shores deer and wild turkey can be seen, and last year we saw adult and baby beavers. Unfortunately it appears that last winter’s ice has destroyed the beaver lodge and we have yet to find where they rebuilt. There is always something interesting to see along the river.