by Leslie Abram
Each time I visit Lone Pine Marsh I know I am in for a surprise. My very first visit to Lone Pine Marsh was in February, and a walk in the woods revealed a Barred Owl with half a rabbit in its talons. Later in February I heard Eastern Bluebirds flying over the nest boxes. Though no bluebirds used the nest boxes this year, once spring came the boxes were occupied by 4 families of Tree Swallows and 5 families of House Wrens. One highlight of my monitoring was a canoe tour through the marsh at the end of May. We heard and saw Least Bittern, American Bittern, Great Egret, and Pied Billed Grebe. Countless Grey Tree Frogs were calling. Summer brought a high count of 35 Bobolink in the upper fields. It was fascinating to watch the males performing their display flights and calls. In late summer, insects were the stars of the show. On a late August visit to the property I was treated to the sight of hundreds of Monarch Butterflies, as well as numerous dragonflies, damselflies, and bees. My visit in October yielded a Merlin keeping a close eye on the marsh, and barely any other birds. This property is a gem, and I cannot wait to see what I find on my next visit.
On February 23rd, members met at the Lone Pine Marsh – Braham tract for a winter walk. It was sunny and not too cold so it made for an excellent day for a walk.
We heard bluebirds and cardinals from the parking lot while waiting for everyone to arrive.
The snow was very crunchy on top due to a thaw the previous day, followed by cool overnight temperatures. This made discerning tracks challenging. We saw caanid tracks (a fox or a local dog?), rabbit, and grouse tracks. We first went north and visited the dam at the northeast side of the property.
On the north side of the dam, we saw an interesting fuzzy blob attached to a sapling nearby which was later identified as a cecropia moth pupa. The beavers appeared to be constructing a dam a few metres north of the human dam.
We then walked south, into the small birch forest. There, beavers have been cutting many trees and a number have fallen over the path. We also saw grouse tracks in the snow.
The sun came out for our walk and we all enjoyed getting out and visiting the Lone Pine Marsh this morning!
written by Doug McRae
The acquisition and wise stewardship of biologically important properties is a land trust’s greatest responsibility and we take this very seriously, which is why all of our holdings have management strategies that guide our actions.
Our flagship property, the Lone Pine Marsh – Braham Tract, has seen great changes since we acquired it nearly a quarter century ago. The original purchase by our founder, Murial Braham, was essentially the large cattail marsh only. A subsequent purchase allowed us to take control of the adjacent cornfields and begin the conversion to habitats more suitable to our biodiversity goals. While the marsh habitat itself hasn’t changed significantly, the surrounded lands are now unrecognizable from their corn field days.
Some areas along the western boundary regenerated naturally and have since filled in with alder and birch, while others areas were planted with hundreds of trees. Those earliest plantings now constitute a 20 year-old forest that connects to the existing forest along the southern boundary. This spring we had two Grade 9 classes from Cobourg plant 200 more trees in this area to fill in some gaps that didn’t take in the first planting.
The two fields north of the marsh are being managed as grassland habitat to provide a nesting place for Bobolink and Meadowlark, both listed as Threatened under Provincial and Federal legislation. At present we have about 8 pairs of Bobolink and one pair of meadowlarks nesting here. To improve their chances of breeding successfully we do not permit hay to be cut from the fields until August, well after the young have fledged.
We suspect that the area could support greater numbers if we undertake some management efforts so we are presently investigating our options regarding improving the quality of this habitat through reseeding the fields to benefit grassland birds, butterflies and other pollinators.
Another issue we have looked at is the thin line of conifers that were planted along the west side of these fields, and in an east-west line dividing them. These trees were planted about 15 years ago before we had defined our grassland management strategy and unfortunately they are now starting to get to a height where they will negatively impact grassland birds that prefer wide-open spaces. Short shrubs like the dogwood and sumac that are currently there are not a problem, however a wall of tall trees will be. Once the spruce and pine get much taller they will reduce or eliminate the suitable grassland habitat.
After much discussion and consultation with the Ontario Heritage Trust (OHT holds an easement on this property) and others, we have decided to cut the row of planted conifers. While we generally don’t like to remove trees (besides invasive species which we remove regularly) this is a necessary action for the long-term health of our grassland habitat.
written by Doug McRae
Chris Ketola, and avid naturalist and educator with our friends at the Willow Beach Field Naturalists, led a very well attended bat walk at the Lone Pine Marsh on the evening of September 16th. After some introductory remarks about bats, their life history, and the severe conservation issues they presently face Chris produced an amazing piece of technology called an Echo Meter Touch.
This small gadget plugs into an iPhone and can then detect the ultra high frequency sounds made by bats flying overhead in the darkness! This device records the frequency, pattern, and amplitude of bats sounds then reproduces them in visual and audible representation within our hearing range allowing for species level identification. Sure enough as darkness fell the bat sounds began and based on the characteristics of the calls heard that night we found both Hoary and Big Brown Bat hunting for insects over the Bobolink fields. In a previous visit to the site Chris also found Silver-haired Bat. In fact Chris visited several of our properties this past summer and gathered some initial data on bats living on the lands we protect – something we know very little about.
written by Gary Bugg
Visitors to the Lone Pine Marsh can now take advantage of the new viewing platform which was completed in early June 2017. Made possible through Trillium Foundation funding, the construction began with hired installation of four concrete base columns in 2016. The wooden structure was started in May 2017 and features a 10’ by 10’ Trex covered viewing platform which is raised more than six feet above marsh shoreline. At this height it is possible to view all parts of the marsh.
Construction was carried out by volunteers Tim Whitehouse, Rob Kennedy, James Munn, Doug McRae, Jim Moore and Gary Bugg. Special thanks go to Bill Wilson for his design advice and to Marg Fleming for co-ordinating the base installation. Thanks also to Paul Steels and Helmut Enns for the use of their generators.