Swans

What’s New at AWMA 2020

New AWMA Brochure

A new brochure for the AWMA has been designed and will be available in the View Stands 1 & 3 shortly.  The updated version is in full colour and reflects the changes that have and will be occurring at AWMA.  The older pamphlet which has developed in 1998 had been out of print since 2018

Osprey Nesting Platform

Our osprey nesting platform installed late in 2019 hopefully will attract some osprey for nesting purposes.  With the restoration of the water in the Tundra Swan Pond (west cell),the fish population should bounce back this year to provide the osprey with sufficient food stuffs.Realistically it may take several more seasons to attract ospreys with sufficient food. Failing that, structure is strong enough to handle our bald eagles if they would like to take up a closer residence.

Pairing Ponds

The five pairing ponds dug in the autumn of 2018 by the Elgin Stewardship Council have all successfully held water during past year and are being naturalized by an assortment of aquatic plants, invertebrates, amphibians and reptiles.  They repurpose the goose pastures with the demise of the 22 year old Goose Relocation Program at the direction of the MNRF. Useage of theinstalled basking logs and turtle nesting sites by native reptiles is anticipated this year. Pond/wetland complexes in front of viewing stands 3 and 4 have enhanced observation opportunities for various migratory and shore birds.  The pairing ponds will provide more habitat for migratory waterfowl nesting and feeding. All the ponds are surface runoff/precipitation fed so water levels will seasonally fluctuated.  The three northern pairing ponds are designed as cascadingoverflows via swales into the Tundra Swan Cell.  Suitable mixtures of dry and wet meadow have been planted around each pairing pond to provide cover and food for wildlife. Additional native shrubs will be planted this spring to for additional cover and mast.  The southern two ponds drain naturally into the Fuller Municipal Drain. Construction of a fifth viewing stand overlooking the northern pairing ponds is under consideration.

 Water Cells Refurbishment/Maintenance

Ducks Unlimited Canada has undertaken a multiyear refurbishment and maintenance of the west and east water cells.  This past season required a full drawdown of the west cell (Tundra Swan Pond) and a partial drawdown of the east cell (Heron Pond) with the removal of stop logs out the water control devices.  Due to sediment issues a channel had to be cut to facilitate the drainage of the west cell.  An extremely wet autumn two seasons ago delayed work on the re-contouring of west cell and replacement of the northern water control.  Four sediment ponds were cut into the western and northern embayments of the west cell better handle the deposition of materials entering via the military drains of the former runways entering from the west and north sides of the compound.  Refurbishment work on the western cell has been be completed and the re-flooding commence late October successfully.  The Tundra Pond will now enter a seven year cycle of regulated draw downs and reflooding to maintain a healthier aquatic habitat under direction of Ducks Unlimited. The complete drawdown of the east cell is scheduled for 2020 to allow for repair to the berm and maintenance with reflooding scheduled for 2022

Tree planting

Eastern Cedars, White Pines, and Tulip trees have been added to the windbreak along College Line to fill in the gaps and to increase biodiversity courtesy of the MNRF and ESC who planted on two days.  Additional conifers species will be planted this spring to enhance the northern and western windbreaks to provide wildlife habitat and better shelter the northern agricultural croplands.

Invasive Species Eradication

Giles Restoration has been hired by the ESC to spray the numerous patches of phragmites that our spreading inside and outside the wildlife refuge compound as well as the extensive woody invaders of the Tall Grass Prairie.  This eradication work was successfully completed this past summer and will be monitored for repeat applications if required.  Wild Parsley, a cousin to noxious Hogweed was discovered and will be eradicated this coming season as well. This winter the KCCA and CCCA invasive eradication programs were hired by the ESC to remove common buckthorn, multiflora rose, Russian and Autumn Olive and other invasive plant species from the northern and southern portions of the AWMA.  Giles Restoration is doing similar work within the Wildlife Sanctuary.

Blue Bird Program

The St. Thomas Field Naturalists continue their efforts to refurbish the new bluebird boxes along the main entrance roadway to the parking lot.  As part of the refurbishing program, all older bluebird boxes are being removed from the fences, repaired and reinstalled on posts.  This will reduce the interference of mice on nesting birds.

Duck Baiting

On-going from September 11th to December 9th

As permitted by the CWS, 400 lb. of shelled corn was thrown into the baiting area every Monday, Wednesday, Fridayfeed by volunteers including the EESS Environmental Leadership Program

The 400 m no hunting exclusion zone was posted as required by the CWS.

Baiting Permission Application for this season is in progress.

 Duck Banding

Due to the extended drawdown of the west cell and the emptying of the east cell, no duck banding was performed by the CWS licenced volunteers this past season. We anticipate a return to normal banding conditions after the disruption of the past two seasons.Year-Round Bird Feeding

Several bird feedersinstalled in front of Viewing Stand #3 providing niger, black oil sunflower, millet and suet to assist the residential and migratory species and to improve birding opportunities for our patrons.

Waterfowl Hunting

Three hunting blinds were prepared for the autumn waterfowl hunting season as usual. However due to the extreme lateness of the corn harvest this past season no actual hunting occurred.  This season’s crop rotation and a better harvest period should eliminate the issue this year.  Please note that small game, deer and turkey hunting are not permitted at AWMA nor is any target or practice shooting. 

Tall Grass Prairie Maintenance

A prescribed burn is required on a regular basis to maintain the grasses and forbs of the prairie and prevent succession to forest. The inability to receive MNRF permission to perform the prescribed burn has resulted in deterioration of Tall Grass Prairie due to woody invasives.

Chemical and physical removal of woody stems has been completed last season in preparation for a possible prescribed burn planned for spring 2020.  The ESC has hired WildFire Specialists to prepare Low Complexity Burn Fire Plans for AMWA and FWMA in accordance with MNRF regulations.  Final permitting for both burns are pending on MNRF approval.  WildFire Specialists will perform both burns hopefully this April of 2020.

Tundra Swan Fall Migration

Due to the lack of water in the Tundra Swan Pond/West Cell last season, the number of visiting swans was greatly reduced to approximately 7000.  With the reflooded Tundra Swan Pond, there is anticipated return to normal in this season’s migration.  The current open winter has allowed up to 5000 Tundra Swans to overwinter in the open waters of Long Point and Rondeau Bays. So sightings have been frequent this past winter along Erie’s north shore.The Tundra Swan Interpretation and daily feeding programs are prepared for their arrival.

Tall Grass Prairie

The encroachment of woody stems into the Tall Grass Prairie has required both mechanical and chemical treatments to prevent the formation of a woodland.  A contractor will perform a systematic chemical treatment of the affected areas later this season which was impeded due to autumn weather conditions.  A new application for a Low Intensity Prescribed Burn has been submitted to the MNRF and waiting approval. 

Wood Duck Boxes

Ducks Unlimited donate twelve new wood duck boxes, the posts and hardware as part of the refurbishing of the west cell.  The MNRF Stewardship Rangers installed the posts, predator guards and boxes this past summer around the new pairing ponds to provide homes to multiple secondary cavity dwellers through all the seasons.

Noxious Weed Removal

Many of you may have noticed the proliferation of Indian Hemp or Elephant Weed in the tailings from the new sedimentary ponds.  This invasive weed is a nuisance in agricultural lands and hard on harvest equipment.  Thanks to MNRF and ESC volunteers the wildlife sanctuary was systematically cleared of this noxious weed.

 

Elgin Stewardship Council

AWMA Managers

Ron Casier    519-318-5279, ronjcasier@gmail.com

Gary Brown   519-765-1633

Please report vandalism or issues to managers.

 

Donations

All Donations are used to feed the wildlife and maintain the property for passive public recreation and enhance wildlife habitat.