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.

The Sarnia Hobbyfest was held on July 17, 2016 at Centennial Park.  The Lambton Wildlife booth was one of about forty on display.

Temperature wise, is was cool to start the day and gradually warmed up to short sleeve weather.  The wind was the biggest issue as strong gusts were coming from Sarnia Bay.  Our canopy was anchored with sand bags, but at times it needed a human anchor to keep it from being relocated several metres east!

The crowd did not appear to be very large, but that could have been due to the large area covered by the displays.  Traffic to the LWI booth was sporadic.  The kids really enjoyed the bird ID game and the Cardinal bookmark handouts. The bird ID game is something that has been in the LWI archives for a time.  It is built on pegboard.  There are a number of pictures of birds pasted to the pegboard and a list of bird names displayed along the left edge.  The game is played by holding one probe on the contact under the bird picture and the other on the contact of the bird name.  Should the contacts on the bird and bird name be electrically connected, the owl’s eyes, at the top of the board, light up and a buzzer sounds.  The kids loved it.

We had a number of discussions about the vintage of the bird game, but we never really came to establish when or who made it.  Does anyone know?

We passed out a number of LWI programs and a number of people appeared to be interested in our programs.  Time will tell if the Hobbyfest will benefit LWI.

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After months of keeping it a secret, we’re finally ready to announce the winners of our 2016 Photo Contest.

In total, over 200 photos were entered entailing a diversity of plants, animals, mushrooms, scenes, and landscapes that truly highlighted Lambton County. It was a difficult judging process with many excellent entries. The panel of judges were from the Sarnia Photographic Club, the Petrolia Camera Club and Lambton Wildlife. Judging was aided by several other members of the Sarnia Photographic Club who made the process much more efficient with the use of a scoring machine and volunteering their time and effort.

One of the goals of the contest was to encourage the citizens of Lambton County to enjoy the outdoors and share their experiences through the medium of photography. By sharing these experiences we bring awareness to our area’s unique natural heritage. After going through all the photos, we felt like we succeeded!

The most rewarding part of the contest was that it was all captured by YOU! YOU explored the natural areas.  YOU braved and/or basked in the elements. YOU took the time to capture special moments that can be shared. We THANK YOU for that.

The winners were announced and awarded their prizes at the “Members Photofest” event on January 30th.  At the event, they had the opportunity to share any comments or stories behind their photo and answer any questions. It served as the perfect celebratory cap to Lambton Wildlife’s 50th Anniversary.

Keep on exploring and taking wonderful pictures!

The winners for each category are:

Youth Excellence

1st Place - Alexi Czyczurko with “Sunset Seagull”

Youth Excellence – 1st Place – Alexi Czyczurko with “Sunset Seagull”

Youth Excellence - 3rd Place - Lexi McCormick with “Turtles”

Youth Excellence – 3rd Place – Lexi McCormick with “Turtles”

Honourable Mention - Vidal Hart with “Take Off”

Youth Excellence – Honourable Mention – Vidal Hart with “Take Off”

Flora

Flora - 1st Place - Charlene Graham with “Trilliums”

Flora – 1st Place – Charlene Graham with “Trilliums”

Flora - 2nd Place - Sharon Nethercott with “Butterfly Meadows, Warwick Conservation Area”

Flora – 2nd Place – Sharon Nethercott with “Butterfly Meadows, Warwick Conservation Area”

3rd - Stephen Hunt with “One in a Million”

Flora – 3rd Place – Stephen Hunt with “One in a Million”

Honourable Mention - Alexis with “Milkweed”

Flora – Honourable Mention – Alexis B with “Milkweed”

 

Fauna

1st Place - Frank Rodin with “Scratchin’ an Itch”

Fauna – 1st Place – Frank Rodin with “Scratchin’ an Itch”

Fauna - 2nd Place - Peter DeBurger with “Meeting of the Minds”

Fauna – 2nd Place – Peter DeBurger with “Meeting of the Minds”

3rd Place - Janette Baillie with “Doe a Deer”

Fauna – 3rd Place – Janette Baillie with “Doe a Deer”

Honourable Mention - Shuff with “Indigo Bunting”

Fauna – Honourable Mention – Sid Huff with “Indigo Bunting”

Honourable Mention - Lorraine Morill with “Red-breasted Merganser in Mating Ritual”

Fauna – Honourable Mention – Lorraine Morrill with “Red-breasted Merganser in Mating Ritual”

Landscape

1st Place - Daniel Belly with “Blue Point Sunset”

Landscapes/scenery – 1st Place – Daniel Bellyk with “Blue Point Sunset”

George Roesma with “Bluewater Bridge”

Landscapes/scenery – 2nd Place – George Roesma with “Bluewater Bridge”

3rd Place – Deryl Nerthercott with “Winter on the St. Clair”

Honourable Mention - Darren Metcalfe with “Sunset”

Landscapes/scenery – Honourable Mention – Darren Metcalfe with “Sunset”

Honourable Mention - Lauren Broeders with “Lambton Shores”

Landscapes/scenery – Honourable Mention – Lauren Broeders with “Lambton Shores”

Honourable Mention - Denise Dykema with “Country Roads”

Landscapes/scenery – Honourable Mention – Denise Dykema with “Country Roads”

 

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Serious planning and commitment for the Lambton Wildlife spring camping trip to Pelee Island begins on April 1! April 1 is not the first day to sign-up, nor is it the first camping day. It is the first day that a camper can make a car reservation to the Pelee Island car ferry Jiiman. Space on the ferry is at a premium and it is very important to reserve a spot. Vehicle space fills quickly. The Jiiman is a 200 foot vessel capable of carrying 400 passengers and 40 vehicles. Once the ferry reservation is made, you have about five weeks to wait before the big day.
The official camping dates run from Thursday to Sunday. Some campers arrive on Tuesday and stay until Saturday. Others come and go as their schedules permit. The most popular schedule seems to be to leave Leamington on the Thursday at 10:00 AM and arriving on Pelee Island around 11:30 AM. People put in time in different ways on the ferry. Some choose breakfast, in the cafeteria, at the stern of the vessel. Some will sit in the forward section chatting or taking a nap. The brave will be on the open stern deck taking in the view. This year going to the island and riding on the sunny stern was a chilling experience, as a north wind was blowing. Once the ferry’s speed matched and exceeded the wind speed, riding the stern deck was very pleasant. Net effect of North wind and sailing South was no wind and no wind chill!
Disembarking the ferry is a quick and efficient process. Moving off the dock, campers proceed to the campground. The campground is on the east side of the island and is about 8 km from the ferry. LWI camps in one of two group camping areas. Our group camp site is very basic! It is an open area with a fire pit and a couple of picnic tables. It is surrounded by forested areas on three sides. Washrooms are about 150 m away and have flush toilets and showers. Not much more is needed by our crew. Campers choose their own spot within the area and set up camp. Some camp in tents and a few have camper vans. The most campers that we had at any one time this year numbered twenty-one. Many were returning LWI campers and at least a few were first time campers with the group. Camper ages ranged from teenagers to an unreported upper end. Saturday night high winds rocked the tents for a number of hours. Only one casualty. A smaller tent was blown over. No one was inside at the time.

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© Richard Wilson, 2016

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© Richard Wilson, 2016

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© Richard Wilson, 2016

The weather wasn’t great, but on the other hand, it was never wet. Nights were cool, but no frost or snow as had happened in previous years. The wind was only a minor issue. In a previous trip to the Island, camping was extended an extra day due to high winds. That year, the winds exceeded the safety standard that allowed the ferry to sail. Everyone was really disappointed that they could not leave Pelee Island on time.
The group is usually on the road birding around 6:30 AM. A lot of birders would make their first stop at Fish Point, at the southern end of the island. The structure of this outing is really flexible. You go where you want, when you want, with whom you want, for as long you want and how you want. Returning from Fish Point, the crew would usually travel along a swampy area a short distance from the Fish Point entrance and paralleling the west shore of the island. The Prothonotary Warblers nest in this area. A few other warblers were seen, but sightings of the Prothonotary Warbler were unsuccessful this year. After exploring the swamp, it was probably around 9:00 or 9:30 AM. Time for a big decision! Do we bird WinVilla or do we stop at the bakery for coffee and pastries followed by WinVilla? Either way, we will eventually stop at the bakery. Birding continues until lunch time when most return back to camp. Lots of birding sites left to visit before the day is over. Sites include The Lighthouse, Paul’s Secret Spot, Bob’s Hole, Stone Road Alvar and every road and ditch on the island.
On occasion, the sites that the birders visit have more to offer than just birds! Bob’s Hole and the surrounding trees provide a great birding spot. Bob’s Hole is an old quarry that is filled with clear blue water. The day we visited, it was populated with hundreds (Yes, Hundreds!) of American Toads. Mating season had arrived and everyone was visiting Bob’s Hole. Lots of singing and swimming about.
Each year, during our trip to the island, there is a birding competition called the Botham Cup. The Botham cup contest runs for 24 straight hours. It starts at noon on Friday and ends twenty-four hours later, at noon on Saturday. The contest is for teams of birders that try to identify as many birds as possible in the twenty-four hour period. Identity of the birds can be visually made or by bird call. There are two categories in the contest. The first category is the Green category where birders compete without the use of a powered vehicle. They can move around the island, as much as they wish, as long it is by bicycle or by foot. The other category is the non-Green category where birders can drive their car around the island from one area to the other. Winners of the contest are announced at a fund raising banquet held on Saturday night. Margaret Atwood, a Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist and environmental activist, is the hostess of the banquet. Margaret arranges to have a Canadian author as a guest reader. This year, Miriam Toews was the guest. Proceeds of the banquet support the Pelee Island Heritage Centre.
Getting back to the Botham Cup – two teams from LWI were entered this year. Paul Carter and Lori Clancy entered in the Green contest. Melissa Levi and Sean Jenniskens entered the non-Green category. Birding was tough this year due to cool temperatures, north winds and even perhaps to the earliness of the season. Finding birds was difficult. Both teams identified seventy-seven birds in the twenty-four hour contest period. Neither score was good enough to win the division. The winning team recorded one hundred birds, well below the average of about one hundred and twenty-five. The prize for winning the contest was getting the winner’s name on the Botham cup. The Larry Cornelis and Paul Carter team have been winners of the Green contest in two previous years. Their names are on the Botham Cup.
Sunday marks the end of the trip. Those that need to get back to their homes early Sunday afternoon rise early to break camp. The earliest ferry leaves at 8:00 AM and arrives in Leamington around 9:30 AM. Most birders catch the noon ferry. Those really not wanting to leave will wait until the 4:00 PM ferry.
The fifth camping trip to Pelee Island was once again a huge success. The event is already being considered for 2017. See the LWI outdoor program early in 2017 for details – looks like it may be May 4th to May 7th.

Carl Pascoe and Rachel Powless recently spoke as our November guest speakers. Carl is a Master Bander and NTARP’s Research Director, while Rachel is a Bird Bander and the President of NTARP (Native Territories Avian Research Project). Below are excerpts from their 2016 Spring Migration Banding report that was written and sent to the City of Sarnia Parks Department and Lambton Wildlife Inc.

Profound thanks to the City of Sarnia Parks Department, Lambton Wildlife Inc., especially Larry Cornelis for the opportunity to band birds at Canatara Park. Our success could not have been accomplished without the outpouring of Lambton Wildlife volunteers. Every day volunteers were at the ready from set-up to tear-down. Four-thirty in the morning comes early and the cold, wind and rain did not deter our group. It took very little time after our nets were down to become in sync. We very much appreciated both the inimitable assistance and comradery of our fellow birders.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

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On Wednesday, November 2, 2016, about two hundred people came out on a rainy evening to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of Lambton Wildlife Inc. The event featured a screening of the newly premiered film, “Call of the Forest – The Forgotten Wisdom of Trees”.

lwi-50th-anniversary-celebration-10Roberta Buchanan did a fine job MCing the evening. (more…)

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The November 15th deadline for Lambton Wildlife Inc.’s photo contest is fast approaching! With a diversity of wildlife and landscapes showcasing Lambton County, the gallery of entries displayed on the site thus far are wonderful. However, we could still use a lot more entries, especially for the youth excellence category.photographer-1287402_1280

If you haven’t submitted your photo(s) yet, there are still many reasons to, such as:

1) It’s free! No purchase, no entry fees, yes please.

2) You can win prizes! There’s over $1000.00 in prizes going to be given away. Need I say more? I will.

3) Submission can be done online today! Although things aren’t perfect, you don’t have to rely on pigeons or posts to submit your photos. Just check out the 2016 photo contest tab for more info and if you have any problems contact us and we’ll be more than happy to help.

4) The odds are in your favour! Especially youth! We do not have many entries so far, which means your chance to win is higher. All categories could use more entries, especially youth. The odds of winning right now are higher than you might think. We know we have talented youth and children out there who are skilled with the camera and would like some of these great prizes. What a great way to get your name out there too!

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5) You and your photos will receive recognition from Lambton Wildlife and could be featured in Lambton Wildlife’s promotional materials and Earthways newletter! Amateur and professional photographers alike, you can get your name out there and for a great cause. Lambton Wildlife Inc. is all about the community and nature, submit to share your photographic proof.

6) You will be showcasing Lambton County, it’s wildlife and our natural areas! The Great Lakes, Oak Savannahs, Tall Grass Prairies, Carolinian Forest and all the patches in between that our wildlife calls home. You’ll be representing the vote-less and the voiceless, the winged and the rooted, the important and oft underappreciated!

Did I mention we need more youth entries?

 

Tell your kids, tell your friends, tell your friends with kids, tell Facebook…you get the idea.

Nov. 15th!

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During the LWI camping and birding trip to Pelee Island, May 5th to May 8th, 2016, we had the opportunity to walk a lot of Pelee Island and view the force of wind and water as we travelled from point to point.

Walking to Fish Point on the south end of the island, we came across an area where sand and gravel had washed and blown inland 50 – 75 feet from the shore. The coarse material had covered up the trail for some distance and to a depth of about 50 cm, or 20 inches. As you can see from the photo below, nothing has been able to push its way to the surface.

Sand and gravel covers path

Sand and gravel covers path

 

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Mary-Martin-2016Lambton Wildlife has been in existence for 50 years. It began with a small group of people who kept meeting on local trails and developed into an organization that has made an enduring impact in our local area.

Lambton Wildlife was involved with the creation of the Howard Watson Nature Trail and owns two pieces of property in trust for future generations. The group assisted in the creation of two other environmental organizations, Carolinian Canada and more recently, Return the Landscape. We also have ongoing partnerships with many other groups. This past summer we entered into a long- discussed agreement with the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Naturalists tend to bond together and work cooperatively to reach goals.

As we reflect as an organization about our past actions, we need to keep our focus on the future. We need to continue to build partnerships and pursue projects that reflect our core beliefs and continue to have relevance in our community.

There are always individuals who are curious about nature, who feel passionate about investigating, documenting and celebrating the unique natural world found right outside our back doors. Lambton Wildlife is an organization that can bring these individuals together to share not only friendship, but mingle exploration and discovery with education and conservation.

Our new website allows Lambton Wildlife to reach out to many new people. It also acts as a vehicle to document our events and activities. These educational activities, like our recent birding course, have attracted many new members and reaffirm our commitment to our community. I encourage Lambton Wildlife members to think about how to participate and become actively involved in our organization. We continue to need volunteers to contribute their time and keep our group vibrant for the next 50 years.

Working together, we can achieve more.

Mary Martin

LWI president, 2016 – 2017

Have You Successfully Uploaded Your Entries?

All photo contest submissions that were uploaded via the Photo Contest page or the Submit A Picture workaround will be added to an additional gallery so that all participants can show off their work and can confirm that their images were successfully submitted.

Please allow 2-4 days for your images to be added to this gallery.

* If you do not see your image after that time frame, please contact the webmaster.

Go and see if your images is there now!

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