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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).mandaumin-woods-oct-2015-24_compressed

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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…)

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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. dunes-and-swales-pre-hike (more…)

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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!

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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.

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Perfect spot to put in the canoe.

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Canoe on the boat ramp, ready to go.

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.

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Green Heron on a tree.

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.

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Map Turtle

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.

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Female Wood Duck

Later we watched another Hawk land in a tree carrying a small snake in its beak.

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Red-tailed Hawk in a tree with a snake.

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.

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A type of Bluet damselfly.

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A type of Hairstreak butterfly.

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Gorgeous Dragonfly

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.