Junior Conservationists

July 22nd — Ecosystem Restoration and Natural Landscaping with Felicia Syer-Nicol Canatara Park 10am-3pm

Canatara Park is a local hotspot not only for beach-goers, but also species at risk, resident owls, migrant songbirds, impressive trees, and a mixture of habitats. The area we call Canatara Park today has gone through many changes over the years, mostly due to human development. Today, values have shifted realizing the importance of green space and nature. Protecting nature directly involves protecting natural habitat and restoring other spaces.

Join Felicia from Nature’s Way Nurseries to help restore Canatara Park to a better habitat for more plants and animals!

  • What to bring
  • lunch, snacks, water (LOTS OF WATER)
  • sunblock and insect repellent
  • hat
  • close toed footwear (rubber boots help for protection against ticks
  • pen/pencil & notepad (optional)
  • work/garden gloves

Where to Meet: Canatara Park. Park at the Animal Farm parking lot and meet at an open barn/pavillion near the entrance to the Animal Farm. Look for our Lambton Wildlife T-shirts!

There are many indicators that spring is about to happen in Canatara Park. For some it is seeing old friends that have not been in the park since last fall. Others look forward to the return of the Warblers and the first Yellow Rump. Others are looking for spring flowers. But for some, it is sighting the first turtle of the year. This year, I understand the first turtle was seen in February during the unusually warm pre-spring weather. The turtles usually start to appear when the ice has melted and the weather has warmed.
Canatara has two turtles that are commonly seen in Lake Chipican and surrounding canals. The Midland Painted Turtle is the most common native species and the Red Eared Slider in also common, but it is not native to Canada. It is referred to as “the pet shop” turtle. People buy this species of turtle for a pet and when it grows too big or is no longer wanted, their owners abandon them in Lake Chipican.

Red Eared and Painted Turtles. Photo credit: Dick Wilson

Painted turtles have black shells with dark red or orange markings. Red Eared Sliders have a shell that is higher domed than the Painted Turtle and has yellow marking. Not surprisingly, the Red Eared Slide has a “red ear”! The “ear” is a red spot behind the eye.

Snapping Turtle. Photo credit: Dick Wilson

Not commonly sighted, but also not rare, is the Snapping Turtle. Snapping Turtles are the largest turtle in Lake Chipican and have a prehistoric look. Snapping Turtles can be aggressive and slow on land, but will slide away and hide when in the water.

A fourth turtle, a Blandings Turtle, has been seen in or around Lake Chipican, but it is an extremely rare siting. Only one has been seen in recent memory.

Other species of Ontario native turtles, such as the Northern Map, Spiny Softshell and the Musk (Stink Pot) Turtles are found on the Sydenham River and in the Mitchell’s Bay area, but not in Lake Chipican.

A more descriptive species description and range maps for some species can be found at OntarioNature.org. Use the Protect, Species, Reptiles_and_Amphibians, Turtles, Species Listing tabs to locate the range maps. Another excellent turtle site is TorontoZoo.com. Search for Turtle Tally.

The number of turtles in Lake Chipican is unknown, at least to me. In doing a non-scientific survey, I found that:
The Midland Painted Turtle is much more common sighting than the Red Eared Slider.
The Red Eared Sliders, that I observed, appeared to be of the large variety and they are usually larger than any of the Midland Painted Turtles.
I have not identified any small younger Red Eared Sliders.
The Midland Painted Turtles come in various sizes from 5cm to larger turtles.
The Red Eared Slider appears to be the more hardy species and can be found sunning more often in cooler weather than the Midland Painted Turtle.
There are a variety of spots to look for turtles around Lake Chipican. The spot that consistently has the most turtles is the “Turtle Log” located on the northern third of the east side of the lake.

You will not see a lot of Snapping Turtles

You may see turtles on land.

From mid-April to mid-May, 2017, I recorded 17 daily turtle sighting. In that time, I recorded seeing 305 Midland Painted Turtles, 79 Red Eared Turtles and 3 Snapping Turtles. Midland Painted Turtles are most certainly observed most often.

Do your own survey and compare the results.
Pictures of the more common turtles in Canatara are included.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Last spring I purchased a 600mm lens and headed out to Canatara Park to see what birds I could spot, and to see if I could actually photograph any of them. To be honest, I wanted to see whether or not I was going to enjoy a longer lens.

I’m not a birder, although I love them and wish I could identify more species than I can. I have often captured the birds visiting my feeders in the winter, but that’s always been for fun and to document the species.

Here are some of the shots I took on April 20th, 2016. Other than basic editing I didn’t do any major cropping to make the birds appear larger in the frame, which is always an option, if I have captured a sharp enough image.

I thought it was a pretty decent first try with a new lens, especially since I took them all handheld. Do yourself a favour, if you are shooting with a long lens, use a tripod or at least a monopod to get the sharpest images. Having some support will also save your arm some strain because long lenses are quite heavy and somewhat awkward!

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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mm
Jack Miner

Jack Miner (1865 – 1944)

Jack Miner, of Kingsville, Ontario, was one of the first to band birds in Canada in 1909. An American, Leon Cole, was reported banding birds a few years earlier. Records in Europe indicate bird banding activities dating back into the 1500’s. Miner was particularly interested in the migratory patterns of ducks and geese. The banding practise was activated in Canatara Park this May. No ducks or geese were banded!

 

Rachel Powless and Carl Pascoe are the bird banders and organizers of the bird banding in Canatara Park with the support of the City of Sarnia and Lambton Wildlife. (more…)