This week's virtual tour brings us to our Stobie Creek Preserve. This is an 85-acre property located just east of Desbarats where the Stobie Creek flows into the Portlock Harbour. Most of the property is forested with a pretty typical mixed of hardwood and softwood, much like most of the forests in our area here. The wetland portions are known as the Stobie Creek Wetland and is designated as a Provincially Significant Wetland, much like the Kensington Complex, which I've mentioned in numerous virtual tours. This designation gives the wetland extra protection from development or any other kind of negative site alteration.
I started my hike at the north end of the property from Bear Road and bushwhacked my way south. There were a lot of large trees that had fallen over the past few years from windstorms that I either had to climb over or find a way around. One fallen tree was so big that it created quite the large opening in the canopy after it fell, as you can see in the photo to the left. It'll be interesting to visit this location over the next few years and see if any new plants species take advantage of the abundance of sunlight that now shines here.
As I hiked through the forest, I didn't find much out of the ordinary. Lots of warblers were singing from the treetops and the usual forest flowers were out, like Canada mayflower, bunchberry, and starflower. I did come across these interesting fungi though. I'm not sure what species they are and I may never know, as fungi are notoriously difficult to identify. I'll post them on iNaturalist though and see if someone does know!
I eventually made it down to the south end of the property, where there is an open rock face that overlooks the mouth of the Stobie Creek. What a view! This photo is another example of how high the water is in our area this year. Before the high water of the past couple of years, you wouldn't have been able to see any standing water in the actual wetland area like you do now.
Unfortunately, the nice view does not extend directly to the south over the Portlock Harbour. The two photos below give you an idea of how far south you can see from here.
This open area did seem to have a little more to find than the forest did, in terms of insects. Here is a Little Wood Satyr, a species of butterfly, and a Racket-tailed Emerald, a species of dragonfly. Both of these were species I had never seen before, so that was exciting for me.
From here, I worked my way down and around to get to the very south end of the property that does overlook the Portlock Harbour, although from at water level. The line of trees gives you another idea of how high the water is, as they've died from too much water.
I saw two duck families from here! The first one below is a family of Common Goldeneyes and the second one is a family of Wood Ducks. Both mothers did an excellent job at getting their ducklings away from me as fast as possible. I wish I could've said sorry for accidentally disturbing them!
I hiked around through the forest some more, but the bugs were getting bad, it was getting hot out, and I wasn't finding much of interest. So I worked my way back to my car and drove around the public access point on the east side of the Stobie Creek so that I could take in the view of the wetland from this angle. The view is below!
There were a lot of birds to be seen and heard here. Marsh Wrens and Common Yellowthroats were singing, Red-winged Blackbirds were all over, a Belted Kingfisher was making a racket, a couple Soras were calling, and Common Terns, a Caspian Tern, and an Osprey were fishing over the wetland. Then, all of the sudden, I heard a low, distant "coo coo coo coo" coming from the middle of the wetland. A Least Bittern! It called repetitively for the rest of the time I was there. If you're not familiar with Least Bitterns, they're a very small, heron-like bird that's super secretive. They are considered a rare bird for the area and is listed as "threatened" on the Ontario species at risk list. This is the first modern record of one within the TKC focus area and I'm excited that it's in a wetland that TKC protects! I managed a recording of it on my phone, which can be heard here. It's hard to hear, but it's best heard in the first few seconds of the clip.
As I was standing there, I caught some movement in the water out of the corner of my eye. It was a fish in the water! I managed some photos and it turned out to be a Pumpkinseed, a common fish species to find in a wetland like this.
Thanks again for taking the time to read my virtual tour! If you've missed any past editions, they can be found here.