Our mandate is to preserve habitats in two counties – Frontenac County and Lennox and Addington County. The region stretches from the islands in Lake Ontario through the limestone plains to the boreal forests in Canadian Shield country to the north.

The south part of Frontenac County is cottage country and many lakes and marshes dot the landscape. Further north, the land becomes more rugged with granite outcrops and a more rocky terrain. Given the lack of good, deep soil in most places, farming was never easy here. Much of the land was logged but otherwise undeveloped.

Lennox and Addington County has a gentler topography with fewer lakes and more rivers, notably the Napanee, Salmon, and Skootamatta. The central Napanee Plain is a large area of limestone, alvar, grasslands, and wetlands that provides habitat to at least 19 species at risk. The northern most part of the County is Crown land and mostly dense coniferous forest.

The transition zone between the limestone plain and the granite of the Shield is species-rich. This zone, now referred to as The Land Between is the northern limit for some species — for example, White Oak, Yellow-throated Vireo, Chorus Frog, and Common Crow — and the southern limit for others — for example, Grey Wolf, Moose, American Raven, and Jack Pine.

High species diversity characterizes the overlapping of these two geologically different areas and makes this part of Southeastern Ontario ecologically significant.

Our region includes part of the UNESCO-designated Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve and the Algonquin to Adirondack conservation focus area.

Species at Risk

 

Habitat protection is crucial to the preservation all species. There are many species at risk, which live in the two counties for some or all of the year. For example, birds such as the Eastern Loggerhead Shrike, the only predatory song bird, and the Cerulean Warbler, a song bird that eats mostly insects and winters in South America, require specific habitats for feeding and breeding in the spring and summer. Unless their habitats are preserved these birds will continue their decline and soon disappear.


Butternut Juglans cinerea

Description: A medium-sized, deciduous tree that is in the Walnut family. The tree has compound leaves and produces edible nuts in the fall.

Level of Risk: Endangered provincially and nationally

Butternut-Juglans-cinerea

Butternut
Juglans cinerea


Black Ratsnake (also known as Gray or Eastern Ratsnake)  Pantherophis spiloides

Description: Ontario’s largest snake, adults are shiny black, with white below, particularly on the chin and throat. They are constrictors that prey primarily on rodents and birds.

Level of Risk: Frontenac Axis population is Threatened provincially and nationally

Black-Ratsnake

Black Ratsnake
Pantherophis spiloides


Five-lined Skink  Eumeces fasciatus

Description: A small lizard with dark black or gray color, and five white to yellow stripes the length of its body. Adult males have broad heads with reddish-orange jaws and chin, and juvenile animals have bright blue tails.

Level of Risk: Great Lakes – St. Lawrence population is Special Concern provincially and nationally

five_lined_skink

Five-lined Skink
Eumeces fasciatus


Blanding’s Turtle Emydoidea blandingii

Description: A medium-sized turtle, with a smooth, domed shell. This turtle has a bright yellow throat and jaw.

Level of Risk: Threatened provincially and nationally

blandings_turtle

Blanding’s Turtle
Emydoidea blandingii


Stinkpot Turtle (also known as Musk Turtle) Sternotherus odoratus

Description: A small, aquatic fresh-water turtle. The turtle exudes a musky odor from glands located at the margins of its shell.

Level of Risk: a species of Special Concern provincially and Threatened nationally

Stinkpot_Turtle

Stinkpot Turtle
Sternotherus odoratus


Whip-poor-will Caprimulgus vociferous

Description: A medium-sized, ground-nesting bird, with mottled gray and brown feathers. A species that is active at dusk and in the dark, it is more often heard than seen.

Level of Risk: Threatened provincially and nationally

Whip-poor-will

Whip-poor-will
Caprimulgus vociferous


Monarch Danaus plexippus

Description: Large and bright orange, with black lines and white spots, this is one of our most easily recognized butterflies. Larvae feed exclusively on milkweed, and adults migrate to Mexico to overwinter, their offspring returning to Ontario to continue the cycle.

Level of Risk: a species of Special Concern provincially and nationally

monarch

Monarch
Danaus plexippus


Bobolink Dolichonyx oryzivorus

Description: A medium-sized, grassland bird. Breeding males are black, with white on their backs and a yellow patch on the back of the neck, while females and non-breeding birds are brownish and stripey. In Ontario, Bobolinks are highly dependent on cultural hayfields and pastures.

Level of Risk: Threatened provincially and nationally

Bobolink

Bobolink
Dolichonyx oryzivorus


Eastern Meadowlark Sturnella magna

Description: A medium-sized, grassland bird. A brown and yellow bird with a bright yellow throat and belly, a black “V” on its breast and white flanks with black streaks, and with a strong beak and a relatively short tail. In Ontario, Eastern Meadowlarks are highly dependent on cultural fields and pastures.

Level of Risk: Threatened provincially and nationally

Eastern-Meadowlark

Eastern Meadowlark
Sturnella magna


Common Nighthawk Chordeiles minor

Description: A medium-sized bird, with cryptic plumage, long wings, a wide mouth and a short bill. They are ground-nesting birds, found in open or semi-open areas such as farmland, open woodlands or even urban rooftops.

Level of Risk: a species of Special Concern provincially and Threatened nationally

common_nighthawk

Common Nighthawk 
Chordeiles minor


Snapping Turtle Chelydra serpentine

Description: Canada’s largest turtle, with large dark shells (black, olive or brown), often covered in algal growth. Their shell is keeled, and their tails have triangular crests along their length.

Level of Risk: a species of Special Concern provincially and nationally

snapping_turtle

Snapping Turtle 
Chelydra serpentine


Ribbon Snake Thamnophis suaritus

Description: A slim snake, with three bright yellow stripes running the length of its body, in sharp contrast to a dark background color. These snakes are slimmer, have longer tails, and narrower heads than the similar Garter Snake, and are typically found near wetlands or water.

Level of Risk: a species of Special Concern provincially and nationally

ribbon_snake

Ribbon Snake
Thamnophis suaritus


Milk Snake Lampropeltis triangulum

Description: This snake is grey or tan, with alternating red or reddish brown blotches that are distinctly outlined in black along its back and sides. They use a variety of habitats, but tend to use open habitats such as rocky outcrops, fields and forest edge, and can be common around barns.

Level of Risk: a species of Special Concern provincially and nationally

milk_snake

Milk Snake
Lampropeltis triangulum


Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica

Description: Males have a glossy steel-blue back and upper wings, a rusty-red forehead and throat, a short bill and a broad blue breast band above its tawny underbelly, with long tail feathers that form a distinctive, deep fork. These birds nest almost exclusively on built structures such as open barns, bridges, and in culverts.

Level of Risk: Threatened provincially and nationally

barn_swallow

Barn Swallow 
Hirundo rustica


Golden-winged Warbler Vermivora chrysoptera

Description: A small songbird in the wood-warbler family, they are gray, with pale undersides, yellow wing patches and crown. Males have a black throat and mask, where females have pale gray.

Level of Risk: a species of Special Concern provincially and Threatened nationally

Golden-winged-Warbler

Golden-winged Warbler
Vermivora chrysoptera


Northern Map Turtle Graptemys geographica

Description: A turtle with shell markings that resemble contour lines on a map. The shell is typically olive green and has a distinct centre keel, while both the head and legs have yellow lines on a dark background.

Level of Risk: a species of Special Concern provincially and nationally

Northern_Map_Turtle

Northern Map Turtle
Graptemys geographica


Eastern Wood-Pewee Contopus virens

Description: A small forest songbird, they are olive-gray on their upper parts, with pale undersides, and pale bars on their wings. They have a distinctive “pee-a-wee” song

Level of Risk: a species of Special Concern provincially and nationally

Eastern_Wood_Pewee-

Eastern Wood-Pewee
Contopus virens


Wood Thrush Hylocicla mustelina

Description: A medium-sized songbird, they are rusty-brown, and have white below with dark spots on breast and sides. They are a species of mature deciduous and mixed woodlands.

Level of Risk: a species of Special Concern provincially and Threatened nationally

Wood_Thrush

Wood Thrush
Hylocicla mustelina

Nature notes


Meyer Wood Duck
Wood Duck boxes at Meyer Woods
In 2010, five Land Conservancy members installed four wooden nesting boxes atop long poles in the ponds at Meyer Woods. The boxes were provided by Ducks Unlimited and we report our annual findings to them. The hope is that Wood Ducks will eventually use these boxes for nesting.

The boxes are checked and cleaned every year during the winter months when the ponds are frozen, the ducks are in the south, and access is easier. To join a monitoring trip, please contact Anne Robertson 613.389.6742

2014
2013
2012
2011

BioBlitz at Depot Creek Nature Reserve Between 3 p.m. June 14 and 3 p.m. June 15, 2013, the Kingston Field Naturalists focused its annual BioBlitz at the Land Conservancy’s recently-purchased property. Sixty-two species specialists, keen naturalists, and interested members of the public documented every species that they could find on the property over a 24-hour period.

Classification Species Total different species
Vertebrates 7 mammals, including Chipmunk, Mink, White-tailed Deer 70 birds, including Meadowlark, American Bittern, Ruffed Grouse 10 reptiles & amphibians, including Blanding’s Turtle, Five-lined Skink, Bullfrog 12 fish, including Rock Bass, Northern Pike 99
Invertebrates 31 dragonflies & damselflies, including Powdered Dancer, Sedge Sprite 23 butterflies, including White Admiral, Least Skipper 64 moths, including Luna Moth, Milkweed Tussock Moth 109 other species including: non- insect invertebrates such as 6-spotted Jumping Spider, Millipede, Fresh-water Clam, Leech 227
Vascular plants 19 deciduous and evergreen trees 45 shrubs including various dogwoods and honeysuckles 17 ferns & allies, including Rattlesnake Fern 309 other species including grasses, sedges, and herbaceous flowering plants 345
Spore bearing species Fungi Non-vascular plants including mosses and lichens 20
Total # different species 691

The Depot Creek Nature Reserve provides habitat to at least 691 species. Of these, 11 species are listed by the provincial government as species at risk”: endangered, threatened, or of special concern. You’ll find a complete species list for the Depot Creek Nature Reserve BioBlitz on the Kingston Field Naturalist web site.

Reflections

Minnows

So… unlikely: so many feet above
the lake, in ponds filled with nothing but rain
minnows are springing half a finger length
out of the water, little Gothic windowsflashing and sinking back into rings of ripples.
How did they get here?  —  How did any of us?
A biologist friend explains they must have climbed
the tiny streams whose dry black beds run inches deep

in spring and fall; or birds may have dropped them –
poetic beginnings, romantic but scientific.
Until she said they’d be there I never saw them.
What else lives in here?  A lifetime couldn’t count them all

yet once there wasn’t a single living thing
on earth: chemicals, complex mixes, lightning, and
something began remaking itself, stubborn,
creeping like happiness across the landscape.

John Donlan, from “Spirit Engine”, Brick Books, 2008

 

Links

 

Sustaining our local resources, Frontenac Stewardship Foundation www.frontenacstewardship.ca

Information for rural landowners from the Lanark County Stewardship Council www.natureindeed.com

An ecologist’s blog written by Dr. Gray Merriam, retired landscape ecologist www.ecolandscapes.ca

Notes from cliffLAND in Lanark County by Howard Clifford, www.cliffland.ca

More information about species at risk in Ontario www.ontario.ca/environment-and-energy/species-risk

Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas Program www.ontarionature.org/protect/species/herpetofaunal_atlas.php

Information about “The Land Between”, the transition zone between the limestone plain and the granite Shield www.thelandbetween.ca