Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

By Ken Allison

On Saturday, July 4, the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club will be holding the 14th annual Manion Corners Butterfly Count. Similar to Christmas Bird Counts, this event is an all-day survey of a 24-km diameter circle. Although this count is facilitated by the Ottawa club, the count area is centred on Manion Corners (southwest of Ottawa) and includes several important butterfly areas such as the Long Swamp and the Burnt Lands alvar.

Appalachian Brown photo 1

Appalachian Brown butterfly. Photo Ken Allison

Burnt Lands Alvar is home to Burnt Lands Alvar Provincial Park and the alvar itself, much of which is situated within Mississippi Mills, is a designated Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI). If you are intrigued by recent attention focused on the alvar and the guided walks on the alvar this spring (focused primarily on habitat and the unique and rare plant species), this event will give you a chance to see the rich butterfly fauna of the ANSI. Jeff Skevington and Peter Hall are the coordinators for the count. You might recognize Peter’s name as he is one of the authors of The Butterflies of Canada, which is the standard ‘go-to’ guide book on Canadian butterflies.

If you wish to participate in the count, meet at the parking lot at the intersection of Dwyer Hill Road and March Road at 8:30 a.m.  This is a ‘child-friendly’ event and is a great opportunity to introduce children to the interesting world of butterflies. The count goes all day until 4:30 p.m. and this is followed by a meeting, at 6 pm, for a compilation and pot luck dinner. All participants are invited to the compilation and it is always a very enjoyable event with great food and fun interactions with a group of real enthusiasts. If you can’t make it to the compilation, arrangements can be made to get your data in sometime during the afternoon before you leave.

There is a $4 charge to participants, to support the publication of the count results. No experience is necessary – the organizers will put teams together on Saturday morning and match up people so that everyone has a chance to learn from the experts. If you have binoculars and a butterfly net, please bring them along. Butterflies may be captured for identification and release. Rubber boots are recommended, as some of the sites have a lot of poison ivy, especially in the Burnt Lands.

The rain date for this event will be Sunday, July 5 at 8:30 am. Call Jeff Skevington Friday evening at 613-720-2862 if there is any doubt about the weather or for specific questions regarding this event.

 

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Ontario Nature Network News, April 2014

Do you hear frogs calling in your backyard? If so, we need your help. The Back Yard Frog program aims to track the location of Ontario’s frogs and toads through observations submitted by citizen scientists like you. With this information, we can detect changes in population numbers, distribution and calling dates.

We can also use it to develop range maps for the Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas and to estimate the total population for each species across the province.

Bullfrog donaldson (1024x768)

To learn more about how you can help, click here to reach the Ontario Nature page.

 

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Looking for frog call listening volunteers to listen for Western Chorus Frogs NOW! (April-May) at sites on record and report other locations also if heard

Western Chorus Frog

Spring is finally here and along with it the inevitable cacophony of calling frogs. One species, though, the Western Chorus frog (Pseudacris triseriata), may not be heard as often these days. It has seen precipitous declines over the past decade in Quebec, and in Ontario there are signs it may not be as widespread as it used to be. Last spring, David Seburn noted despite the presence of suitable habitat, the frogs were heard at only one of 20 Cornwall area sites where the frogs were heard in 1990.

As a result of these kinds of observations, COSEWIC plans to undertake an evaluation of the species next year to determine if it is “at risk” and if so, to what extent. Therefore there is an urgent need to ‘verify’ as many ‘historic records’ as possible for this species so that up-to-date information can be used. The NHIC has put out a call to SAR staff in the various districts urging them to help verify as many of the old records as possible.

The frogs breeding season starts now and stretches for next several weeks. Kemptville District MNR has ~500 records to check and there are gaps in information which it would be useful to fill. If there is anyone out there interested in helping with some quick checks of historic records in your area over the next few weeks, let me know and I can pass you on the necessary information. This would be an activity you would do on your own (with information & support from me) and the best time to do this in the evening. If anyone opportunistically hears Chorus frogs calling in the next couple of weeks (i.e. you’re not checking a records, but just happen to hear them while going about your business), please take note of the location, time, date to the best of your ability and let me know.

Instructions for verifying presence of Western Chorus Frogs:

• Chorus frogs are very hard to see, and so verification is through listening for their calls
• When breeding in the spring this species is easy to detect by its call, which is quite distinctive (likened to running ones fingernail over the teeth of a comb) – a recording of the call can be found at http://www.naturewatch.ca/databases/frogs/audio/pseudacris_triseriata.wav
• Ideal conditions for calling are mild, calm evenings (dusk to midnight), particularly during or after rain, though during peak breeding they will call during the day and at night
• Many of the sites are easily checkable from the road. I.e. you can drive up in your car, pull over and turn the engine off, get out and listen for a few minutes, and take a few notes (That’s it!)
• Reporting negative results (ie. Not hearing frogs calling in locations where they have been known before) is as important as recording where the frogs are found.
• I have been provided a spreadsheet with the details of all the historic records, including GPS locations – let me know if you are interested in helping out and what geographic area you want to check, and I’ll get you the relevant location information and the reporting form.

Many thanks,
Deb Jacobs, A/ District Ecologist,
Kemptville District OMNR,
10 Campus Drive, Postal Bag 2002, Kemptville, ON K0G 1J0

Tel: 613-258-8235 Fax: 613-258-3920

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Baby Turtle

Turtle Watch 2008

The goal of the Turtle Watch program is to better map out the distribution of the Blanding’s Turtle and Stinkpot (both of which are threatened) in eastern Ontario. All of the data collected will be shared with the Natural Heritage Information Centre of the Ministry of Natural Resources which tracks rare species.

How to Recognize a Blanding’s Turtle
With bright yellow on the underside of the head and neck, it is difficult to confuse a Blanding’s Turtle with any of the other turtles native to Ontario. In addition, the carapace or upper shell is domed or helmet-shaped, in comparison with the flatter carapace of the Painted Turtle. Adult Blanding’s Turtles are typically 13-20 cm in length. Check out the following website for a photo and more on the Blanding’s Turtle: http://www.carcnet.ca/english/reptiles/species_accounts/turtles/Emydoidea/emydoidea.html

How to Recognize a Stinkpot
The Stinkpot is a small turtle rarely more than 13 cm in length. The top shell is brown or black, often with dark lines and dashes. It is highly arched and commonly covered in algae. Two light stripes are present on each side of the head, one above and one below the eye. Older individuals may have a mottled head pattern instead. Check out the following website for a photo and more on the Stinkpot: http://www.carcnet.ca/english/reptiles/species_accounts/turtles/Sternotherus/sternotherus.html

Submitting Observations
Please submit the date and location of your observations. If you can provide the UTM coordinates from a topographic map (or a GPS) that would be great (e.g. 0446250 4972150, Mapsheet 31B/13). Please also provide a description of the location (e.g. County Road 20, 0.5 km east of County Road 18, Township of North Grenville, Leeds and Grenville County) and the habitat (adjacent to Kemptville Creek). Please submit your observations even if you can’t provide an exact location.

Submit observations to
Please put Turtle Watch in the subject header

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