Saturday 19 June 2021

Sydenham Saturday

Today I was down in the Alvinston area for an odonate (dragonfly and damselfly) survey on the Sydenham River Nature Reserve (SRNR) for Ontario Nature arranged by Blake Mann. This reserve is one of my favourite sites in the area, and its a shame I am unable to visit it more often! For the past couple of years, I have partaken in a breeding bird survey on SRNR, and each year we have spotted some cool odes along the way. 

I got up early to head down and do some birding before starting the survey. My first stop was the Strathroy Sewage Lagoons. There was not much of note here in my loop of the south lagoon. I did count over 90 Wood Ducks, several broods, which is always great to see. Another interesting find was a pair of Northern Shovelers. It is likely nothing will come out of it, but you never know. On Tuesday I had a pair of Green-winged Teals here, but they were nowhere to be found this morning. 


I decided to get some point counts done in my Lambton atlas square (17TMH34), and succeeded in completing twelve over the course of a couple hours. Point counts happy pretty fast, so no photos! I recorded over 50 species of birds from these counts. One of my best stops was in the field near the corner of Calvert Drive and Kerwood Drive. Here I had a couple singing Dickcissels on territory (one had been present for about a week now, and a second one seems to have joined it), a pair of Upland Sandpipers, and perhaps most exciting, a family group of Common Ravens which flew over just as I started the point count. Pretty eventful five minutes! 

I eventually got to the SRNR around quarter to ten. The area I was to cover was the Buttonwood Drive side, which is on the east side of the river. This is typically not the most "ode-y" side, but I was more than happy to do it—someone has to! 

I began by walking the field to the south of the parking area, skirting the forest edge. It was not nearly as eventful as I had imagined it to be, and for the longest time, I only came across a few Common Whitetails, a pair of Twelve-spotted Skimmers, and of course several Midland Clubtails. It wasn't until I got down to the river I added Powdered and Blue-tipped Dancer, as well as several Stream Bluets and more Midland Clubtails, to my list. 

I was a bit surprised to see some Banded Hairstreaks, my first this year. There were tons of Hackberry Emperors, as well as a few Tawny Emperors, as well. 

Quite a few of these Haploa moths as well. I think they are LeConte's Haploa moths.

While walking at the far end of the field, I was somewhat surprised to hear a Hooded Warbler, the first time I have encountered one at SRNR. Other breeding birds here included Mourning Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireo, Red-headed Woodpecker, Wood Thrush, Scarlet Tanager, and Blue-grey Gnatcatcher. A couple weeks ago I had a Cerulean Warbler here as well. 

I decided it was time to cut into the forest and head towards the river. As I did so, I came across a fairly fresh Black-shouldered Spinyleg, my first for this property. 

I bushwhacked to the river through seemingly endless patches of stinging nettle, a reoccurring theme for the day. As much as I like SRNR, the one thing I am not a fan of is all of the stinging nettle! Although you can't get "zapped" through jeans, today I was wearing my quick-dry field pants, which apparently offer no protection! I found minimal success with side-stepping through the patches, being careful to flatten the plants down before your legs made contact. 

There was less than expected by the river, just a bunch of Ebony Jewelwings and American Rubyspots. I did have a single female Swift River Cruiser and a Fragile Forktail, but that was it for new species. I continued quite a ways upriver, before crossing over and going to the other side. I walked downriver for a bit, and ended up almost to the other entrance for the reserve. Not much to report on ode wise! A long walk in the hot and humid conditions with an abundance of stinging nettle—fun times! (I actually did quite enjoy myself, doing this beats sitting around at home)

I found myself turning my attention to plants quite a bit on the quiet stretches, although I didn't stop to take very many photos. This is the first time I have seen Broad-leaved Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum canadense) in flower. 

Michigan Lily (Lilium michiganense) is always a fun one to come across.

I saw a number of sedges as well. Since this is such a rich forest, I was hoping to come across some rare species, but it was not to be. Nevertheless, I still came across some high quality species. The diversity of sedges you can find in any given area is something that really appeals to me.

Hitchcock's Sedge (Carex hitchcockiana)

Sprengel's Sedge (C. sprengellii)

White Bear Sedge (C. albursina)

Nerveless Woodland Sedge (C. leptonervia)

Inflated Narrow-leaved Sedge (C. grisea)

Eastern Rough Sedge (C. scabrata)

Drooping Sedge (C. prasina)

Smooth-sheathed Sedge (C. laevivaginata)

Fringed Sedge (C. crinita)

The walk back to the car was largely uneventful. I was quite happy to get back and out of the stinging nettle! 

I had planned to go to Reid CA near Wallaceburg afterwards to look for Oak Hairstreaks, but the sky was threatening rain, so I opted to head back home. Perhaps some other day I will go look for this rare butterfly. 

Overall, a very productive day, even if odonate diversity was lower than I had imagined it would be. I expect to get the results of the survey soon, and will update this post once they come out! 

1 comment:

  1. SRNR is indeed a fascinating natural area, with so much to offer. You had some excellent finds!