Twenty three LWI members ventured out on a cool fall day to walk the nature trail on the Fairbank Oil property just outside of Oil Springs. Larry Cornelis led the hike and the group was fortunate to also have the property owners Charlie Fairbank and Pat McGee accompany us to provide some wonderful stories about the history of the property and the oil industry, as well as to explain the various oil production devices and artifacts found along the trail. Charlie’s ancestors were prominent in the oil business dating back to the first oil wells.
The Fairbank property sits above the large oil field that spawned the oil exploration and extraction industry in the mid 1850’s, and the field continues to produce oil to this day from numerous wells located all over the property. Many small oil pumps are visible along the trail, dutifully moving up and down to pull the crude oil up from a depth of close to 400 feet. The unique aspect of the Fairbank approach to oil extraction is that many of these oil wells are using technology from the 1800’s. The site is being considered as a Unesco World Heritage Site, and Charlie had recently returned from Ottawa where he made a presentation in support of the application.
The trail entrance, with parking, is located on Gypsy Flats side road just south of Oil Springs Line. The well-maintained trail meanders through prairie and riparian areas along Black Creek. There are numerous signs indicating sections of the trail that are named for historical figures from the local oil industry. A sturdy and attractive bridge crosses Black Creek and we were told that birds nest under it each year. Larry Cornelis has conducted wildlife surveys on the property over several years, with many species being observed. Although not many birds, insects or animals were seen on this day, it’s certain that in spring and summer there would be lots to see. Tallgrass prairie species have been planted in many of the areas of this trail, with plans to continue to naturalize the property.
It’s a breath of fresh air when generous people allow the public to access their property and enjoy the natural beauty that resides there. We appreciate the creation of this nature trail and encourage all LWI members to visit.
Further information about the history of the local oil industry can be found by visiting the Oil Museum of Canada, located a very short distance from this nature trail. https://www.lambtonmuseums.ca/oil/
Fall is a spectacular time to paddle! We were fortunate to have a picture perfect day to canoe through the Sydenham River Nature Reserve.
The water levels were very low (see below) which meant getting out of our canoe often but both the weather and the water were very warm. In the spring the water level is high and there are rapids and a swift current to contend with so this would not be the time of year for novice canoeist to paddle through the Reserve.
Picturesque scenery was the word of the day and we enjoyed an interesting array of flora and fauna as we paddled.
The Sydenham River Nature Reserve is home to an incredible 34 species of mussel, 11 of which are listed as at-risk; making it the freshwater mussel capital of Canada! Freshwater mussels are the longest-lived invertebrates. They are living water filters moving as much as eight gallons of water per day in through their siphon and over their gills to get oxygen and food. This makes mussels exceptionally vulnerable to water pollution so the importance of keeping the Sydenham River and its ecosystem protected is of paramount importance.
Mussels move by extending their foot out of their shell and into the river bottom, then they retract the foot and pull themselves along. In the photo below you can see the furrow that this mussel has made as it moved to a new location.
One of the highlights of the paddle was visiting the huge Sycamore tree that is in the reserve. Ontario’s largest recorded Sycamore tree, near Alvinston, measures 263 cm at breast height.
The biodiversity found in the Sydenham River is impressive and we were thrilled to see so many butterflies, dragonflies, damselflies (including the American Rubyspot pictured below), waterfowl (a pair of American Widgeons are pictured below), and many other birds (the Bald Eagle pictured below flew past us several times and landed along the river to watch our progress).
There are some wonderful nature trails near Port Franks that are worth a visit. The trails wind through the large Lambton Heritage Forest and there are a couple of ways of accessing them. The first trail we explored starts out from Outer Drive. There is a 911 address sign for the trail, number 7101, and the trail access is located on the north side of the road just before the road curves sharply to the right. At the time of year that we walked this trail (early June), there were plenty of mosquitoes, so apply repellent generously before heading out. Consider using one which also helps to protect against ticks. The trail is easy to moderate, with a few slopes, and forms a loop that’s perhaps 1.5 kilometers long. Most of the wildlife we sighted was on the first half of the loop, the section to the left. There is a nice bench to sit and relax on at the midpoint. The trail also connects to another trail that we didn’t fully explore. (more…)
After seeing multiple e-Bird alerts for the Dickcissel, we headed out in the morning on Friday for a short drive south to try and find this rare bird. We found the birds on McCallum Line just a bit west of Brigden Road. (more…)
Lambton Wildlife conducted an intense biological survey at Mandaumin Woods on June 20th, 2015. Local experts, with the help of Lambton Wildlife members, set out to record all living species at the site.
Here were the resulting numbers with links to a list of each:
After a great response to the LWI nature photography contest, it’s apparent that we have numerous talented photographers snapping shots in Lambton County that are worthy of sharing. Now that the photo contest is over, we’d like to invite you to share your best shots with other Lambton Wildlife members on an ongoing basis.
We have started a Lambton County Nature group on the Flickr website. Flickr members (it’s free to join) who are LWI members can join our Lambton County Nature group and by uploading your photos into Flickr they will be automatically uploaded onto the LWI website for all to see. The Flickr group app will allow up to 5 images to be uploaded each day.
Flickr is the primary sharing site where you can view photos from around the globe. Over 13 billion photos! The images shared on the site will both amaze you and inspire you. Nature shots are a large component of what is being uploaded.
Joining Flickr is easy, go to www.flickr.com and follow the instructions to sign up. Once you have a Flickr login, the Lambton County nature group is by invitation only, in order to limit access to LWI members only. To receive an invitation to join the Flickr group: “Lambton County Nature”, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lambton County has a wealth of amazing sights, from flora to fauna, insects to fungi, and landscapes too. Please share you images with all of us; they just might inspire someone! It’s also a great way for the Flickr community to see great images of Lambton County.
One of the things that the LWI blog posts can be used for is to share Lambton County wildlife sightings with other LWI members. The LWI community is always yearning to know as much as possible about nature in Lambton County, and when you see something interesting it might be nice to write a brief post. Of course providing information on the exact location of nests or vulnerable things should be avoided.
Here is an example short post based on a sighting that we experienced back in September:
Yesterday, while on our way to Hawk Cliff, we spotted two fox kits sunning themselves in the grass along the side of highway 80 near Alvinston. We stopped the car and turned around and were able to snap some photos, before one of the pair trotted off, while the other paid little notice to us. Their behavior suggested that they may have been orphaned or separated from their mother.
Looking at their coats they weren’t as luxurious as we would have expected an adult fox to be and they look a bit skinny, but perhaps this is consistent with being adolescents and the season. Maybe some other LWI members will spot this pair too. If you are in the area of highway 79 and highway 80 intersection, keep a look out!
If you want to post a Lambton County wildlife sighting, please send it with any photos attached by e-mail to email@example.com
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
November 15th is the last day for submissions into the Lambton Wildlife 2016 Photo Contest. If you haven’t submitted an image in each category, you still have time!
There are 4 categories: Flora, Fauna, Landscapes and Youth Excellence.
You can submit 1 image per category, but only 1.
Images should showcase Lambton County.
All photos must have been captured within the last two years.
Upload your images via the online contest page or via the submissions page.
Don’t wait, get yours in now!
What is the fastest-growing leisure activity? Canoeing? Tennis? Shuffleboard?
No, the fastest-growing hobby is bird watching (or ‘birding’ as we who are hooked prefer to call it).
Most often, interest in birding begins with putting seeds out for the winter birds. Once you recognize that several species come to your feeder, you buy a book to help identify them. (more…)