Erica Nol, Songbird Research – Feb 16, 2017

Members and friends of Northumberland and Lone Pine Land Trusts attended Dr. Erica Nol’s talk on February 16 at the Cobourg Public Library entitled, “Can humans and songbirds coexist in southern Ontario.” Dr. Nol is a professor at Trent University and along with her graduate students, she studies influences on bird population dynamics.

Dr. Nol first put her talk in context; birds compete with humans for lands that are converted into more and more houses. Woodland song birds such as Veery and Rose-breasted Grosbeak are facing mild declines while grassland birds like Bobolink and Field Sparrows are showing steep declines. Common native birds such as Robins, Grackles, and Brown-headed Cowbirds are increasing. As examples, Dr. Nol expanded on various studies she has participated in that focus on songbirds in forests or grasslands including: Ovenbirds, the impact of trails on songbirds, Bank Swallows, Brown Creepers, and Bobolinks.

A male bobolink enjoys the meadow at the Braham tract. (credit: Doug McRae, Shrew Solutions Inc.)

The ovenbird nests on the ground and their success is related to the abundance of their invertebrate food source. The research found that larger woodlots have more ovenbirds. This is related to lower temperature, higher moisture, and less wind in larger woodlots. Large woodlots are therefore better for maintaining ovenbird populations.
Next Dr. Nol highlighted research conducted in the Northumberland Forest that related trail width to abundance of forest-interior songbirds. When trails were wider, the researcher was less likely to hear songbirds, especially compared to areas that did not have trails. Nest success of Eastern Wood Peewee was less in pine plantations compared to deciduous forests and was positively influenced by forest gaps. Early thinning of pine plantations that results in faster deciduous regeneration is advantageous for this species.
The Bank swallow, a threatened species in Ontario, can reproduce in aggregate pits with appropriate soils. Compared to the Lake Ontario lakeshore, the abundance of nests was lower in aggregate sites but clutch and hatchling number were similar. Gull predation was higher at the lakeshore sites.
Brown Creepers nest under bark. A study conducted in Algonquin park found that any tree harvesting reduced numbers of creepers but populations were more likely to be sustained when yellow birch trees were left standing.
In a study examining rotational grazing effects on Bobolink, any grazing reduced the bobolink population by half (cattle were good at trampling nests). Cattle in larger fields with lower stocking densities had a lower impact but Bobolinks had the greatest reproductive success in hay fields that were cut after July 1.

I found Dr. Nol’s explanation of impacts of humans on various aspects of songbird success to be enlightening. The research examples presented demonstrated the myriad of ways that birds are influenced by our development.
While Dr. Nol did not truly answer whether humans and songbirds can coexist, it is clear that human choices have often unlikely impacts.

Lone Pine Land Trust in the Community

Lone Pine Land Trust attends events in the community to reach out to potential members and support local events. Here are photos of us at some events we participated in 2016.

Earl Arsenault, property steward (right), at For the Love of Wood (Hilton Hall), May 2016.
Earl Arsenault, property steward (right), at For the Love of Wood (Hilton Hall), May 2016.

 

Gary Bugg (left) at Codrington Farmers’ Market, Aug 2016.

 

Sara Kelly and Dalila Seckar at Prairie Day (Alderville Black Oak Savannah), Sep 10, 2016.

 

Speaker attendees at Keeler Centre, Nov 17, 2016.

If you have a suggestion of where we should bring our display, let us know!

Species of Concern – Nov 17, 2016

On November 17, Donald Sutherland spoke to members and friends of the Lone Pine and Northumberland Land Trusts about Species of Concern. Don Sutherland is a zoologist with the Natural Heritage Information Centre (NHIC).
The Natural Heritage Information Centre of Ontario is a member of NatureServe. NatureServe is a network of data centres in North and South America that maintain data on species’ abundances and distributions. A common methodology is used by all of the data centres and this makes the observations comparable across the full geographic area.
NatureServe’s most important definition is the element occurrence. NHIC defines an element occurrence as:

an area of land and/or water where a species or plant community is or was present. They represent areas important to the conservation of a species or plant community such as the courtship, nesting, rearing and feeding areas of a bird.

Element occurrences are used to produce species ranks that estimate the risk of extinction of a species (or subspecies). There are subnational ranks (defined in Ontario by NHIC), national ranks, and global ranks. Don Sutherland provided examples of species that meeting the five levels of subnational ranks in Ontario with photos and descriptions. The examples helped the audience understand the ranks and types of species that meet the criteria.
For more information on the Natural Heritage Information Centre or NatureServe, click the above links in the article.

Don Sutherland talks about Species of Concern, Nov 17, 2016. (credit: Dalila Seckar)

There are two more speakers in our winter speaker series partnership (with Northumberland Land Trust). Erica Nol will speak about songbirds on Feb 16 and James Conolly will talk about human settlement in Northumberland County. Both talks will take place at the Cobourg Library Rotary Room at 7pm.

Early Summer Walk at Braham Tract – Jun 11, 2016

On June 11, members joined the board of directors of Lone Pine Marsh Sanctuary for a walk at the Braham tract. Despite warnings for thunderstorms and showers, there was no precipitation and a heat wave set in. Thanks to George Wilkinson’s mowing efforts, members were able to traverse the northern meadow loops more easily. Bobolinks and meadowlarks were observed in these grassed areas.

Doug McRae tells members about bobolinks and meadowlarks during a guided walk (Braham Tract, Jun 11, 2016). (credit: Dalila Seckar)
Doug McRae tells members about bobolinks and meadowlarks during a guided walk (Braham Tract, Jun 11, 2016). (credit: Dalila Seckar)

At the beaver dam, dragonflies and arrowhead were observed.

Members observe dragonflies beside the creek and weir (Braham Tract, Jun 11, 2016). (credit: Dalila Seckar)
Members observe dragonflies beside the creek and weir (Braham Tract, Jun 11, 2016). (credit: Dalila Seckar)

Members then went south to the observation deck and followed the edge of the marsh south through the shrubs (which Doug McRae had recently pruned). Ferns (sensitive and cinnamon) were lush adjacent to the trails.

Ferns and cattails on the edge of the marsh (Braham Tract, Jun 11, 2016). (credit: Dalila Seckar)
Ferns and cattails on the edge of the marsh (Braham Tract, Jun 11, 2016). (credit: Dalila Seckar)

At the edge of the forest (where they were finally beset by mosquitoes) members stopped and Gary Bugg pointed out the new trail loop into the southern forest.

Gary Bugg points out the new trail loop into the southern woods (Braham Tract, Jun 11, 2016). (credit: Dalila Seckar)
Gary Bugg points out the new trail loop into the southern woods (Braham Tract, Jun 11, 2016). (credit: Dalila Seckar)

Members turned back before completing the loop south forest loop due to time constraints (and remaining poison ivy on the trail).

Members walk through grass between pines and the marsh (Braham Tract, Jun 11, 2016). (credit: Dalila Seckar)
Members walk through grass between pines and the marsh (Braham Tract, Jun 11, 2016). (credit: Dalila Seckar)

Following the walk, members had lunch and met to discuss special resolutions and hold the annual general meeting.

Odonates at Braham Tract – Jun 7, 2016

I visited the marsh at Braham Tract today and walked north along the creek. I stopped to visit the beaver dam but the highlight was the many Odonates (dragonflies and damselflies) that I saw in the meadow near the creek. Using Ontario Nature’s online Odonate guide, I identified five species.
I hope you enjoy these photos (all are cropped – I was not able to get that close to the flighty insects).

Male common baskettail (Epitheca cynosura) (Jun 7, 2016). (credit: Dalila Seckar)
Male common baskettail (Epitheca cynosura) (Jun 7, 2016). (credit: Dalila Seckar)

 

Dot-tailed whiteface dragonfly (Leucorrhinia intacta) on milkweed (Jun 7, 2016). (credit: Dalila Seckar)
Dot-tailed whiteface dragonfly (Leucorrhinia intacta) on milkweed (Jun 7, 2016). (credit: Dalila Seckar)

 

Female twelve-spotted skimmer (Libellula pulchella) (Jun 7, 2016). (credit: Dalila Seckar)
Female twelve-spotted skimmer (Libellula pulchella) (Jun 7, 2016). (credit: Dalila Seckar)

 

Male sedge sprite (Nehalennia irene) on goldenrod (Jun 7, 2016). (credit: Dalila Seckar)

 

Male bluet (Enallagma sp.) on a leaf (Jun 7, 2016). (credit: Dalila Seckar)
Male bluet (Enallagma sp.) on a leaf (Jun 7, 2016). (credit: Dalila Seckar)

 

Male chalk-fronted corporal (Ladona julia) on the picnic table (Jun 7, 2016). (credit: Dalila Seckar)
Male chalk-fronted corporal (Ladona julia) on the picnic table (Jun 7, 2016). (credit: Dalila Seckar)

 

Mating sedge sprites (Nehalennia irene) (Jun 11, 2016). (credit: Dalila Seckar)
Mating sedge sprites (Nehalennia irene) (Jun 11, 2016). (credit: Dalila Seckar)