Whats New at AWMA 2023
What’s New at AWMA 2023
East Cell Reconfiguration
Work will continue the reconfiguration of the East Cell (Heron Pond) this season into several smaller ponds. A complete drawdown of the water was accomplished last year.Wish to retain the excellent stand of knotweed that developed during the drawdown. It is an excellent food source for waterfowl.The east cell is partially reflooded for the winter and migratory seasons. Continued elimination of invasives such as phragmites is scheduled to continue this season.
The original three cascading ponds in the southern end of the east cell will be restored. The old water control structure will be decommissioned and replaced with a modern control. The size and depth of the remaining east cell will be reduced to create better habitat for waterfowl.
Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Elgin Stewardship Council created an additional seven new wetlands in 2021. Six of the new wetlands stretch across the northern wildlife corridor (northern most former runway). Two larger ponds anchor the east and west ends of the corridor with four smaller acting as linkages. A trail will be extended along this corridor for hikers to use during the non-hunting season. The planting of native shrubs and seeding of native forbs and grasses has been completed. Interpretative signage,wood duck nesting boxes and Prothonotary Warbler boxes will be installed shortly. The seventh pond is located with in the wildlife sanctuary in conjunction with the East Cell (Heron Pond) which is undergoing rejuvenation under the direction of DUC. Several wetlands are not holding water as anticipated and will be rehabilitated to achieve the desired water retention.
Osprey Nesting Platform
Our osprey nesting platform installed late in 2019 did attract a single osprey for a short period this past season again. 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.
The five pairing ponds dug in the autumn of 2018 by the Elgin Stewardship Council in the wildlife sanctuary continue to naturalizewith an assortment of aquatic plants, invertebrates, amphibians,and reptiles. A colony of painted turtles is making useage of theinstalled basking logs and turtle nesting sites as observed last season. Addition aquatic colonizers are anticipated this year and the seeding and planting of assorted native aquatic and emergent species continues.Construction of a fifth viewing stand overlooking the northern pairing ponds was delayed due to the pandemic but hopefully be under consideration again this summer.
Water Cells Maintenance
Ducks Unlimited Canada has undertaken a multiyear refurbishment and maintenance of the west and east water cells. Rehabilitation of the west cell (Tundra Swan Pond) is now complete. The west cell will be required to be drawn down again this year to assist with the eradication of phragmites in July.The west cell will undergo seasonal draw downs and refloods to provide appropriate shoreline habitat for migrating waterfowl and shore birds.
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 remaining woody invaders of the Tall Grass Prairie for this summer. Again this winter,the invasive eradication program was continued to remove common buckthorn, multiflora rose, Russian and Autumn Olive and other invasive plant species from the wildlife refuge. In November, a forest mulcher will be employed to breakdown the standing dead thickets and prepare the sites for replanting.
Black Walnut Maintenance
Black Walnut trees that were planted at the AWMA several decades ago are being trimmed to make better timber trees as a demonstration of proper forestry practices. This project is being undertaken by the membership of the Elgin-Middlesex Woodlands Association, a chapter of the Ontario Woodlot Association
Purple Martin House
Our new Purple Martin House was installed and was visited by returning Purple Martins in the spring and autumn migrations but had no nesters. We hope to attract a colony this coming spring.
As several species of native bats are endangered, two large bat colony boxes will be soon installed. This is to provide safe diurnal shelter and maternity wards in support of local bat populations. Special thank you to the St. Thomas Field Naturalists for the construction of several bat colony boxes for distribution to all the wildlife management area.
Blue Bird Program
The sixty three Blue Bird boxes along the main roadway, Canada Wayand Barn trail have been repaired and cleaned in preparation for another season of nesting of blue birds, tree swallows and Carolina wrens. Refurbishing of older bluebird boxes and relocation to poles is on going.
The annual autumn baiting was cancelled this past season due to on going concerns of the Avian Influenza. Baiting Permission Application for this coming season is in progress.
Due to Avian Influenza, duck banding was suspended for the last season. CWS monitored the site for evidence of the Avian Influenza and 18 dead Canada Geese, and two dead cormorants were positive for the disease.
Year-Round Bird Feeding
Several bird feedersinstalled in front of Viewing Stand #3 provide Niger, black oil sunflower, millet, mixed grain and suet to assist the residential and migratory species and to improve birding opportunities for our patrons.
Three hunting blinds and parking lots were prepared for the autumn waterfowl hunting season as usual. The corn crop was harvested by mid November providing ample opportunity for waterfowl hunting. The hunting blinds were well used with new hunters making use of the opportunity. 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
Invasive woody species were again sprayed to eradicate their presence. Additional prairie seeding will beperformed this spring to infill areas left open by destroyed woody vegetation. Preparation work for a prescribed burn for next season will be commenced.
Tundra Swan Fall Migration
The usual swan sightings at AWMA this autumn were typical with small groups stopping for a few hours before continuing south. Approximately 1500 Tundra Swans overwintering at Long Point and Rondeau Bays this season so sightings at AWMA and surroundings have been reported in our mild February winter.
Tundra Swan Spring Migration
We anticipate a return to a more normal swan migration program this season. All viewing stands will be open this season and the Interpretation Program will operate. Due to the threat of Avian Influenza, morning feedings of the swans will be limited until it can be determined if feeding is a contributing factor or not to the spread of the disease. We anticipate a good migratory season with a full Tundra Swan Pond.
Duck Boxes and nesting Tubes
The five nesting tubes been removed for refurbishment ed and installed for the up coming season. The 29 Wood Duck boxes have been cleaned,repaired and restocked with wood shavings.
Feral Cat Problem
Ground nesting birds: Meadowlark, Bobolink, Savanna Sparrows, etc continue to be decimated by the release of feral cats into the wildlife management area. There have been no nesting of Bobolinks in the meadows for two seasons now. The loss of the Bobwhites that appeared several seasons ago can also be contributed to predation by feral cats. We ask the public to not abandon cats or any domesticated pet in the wildlife area and not to feed or assist these invasive and destructive species.
All Donations are used to feed the wildlife and maintain the property for passive public recreation and enhance wildlife habitat.Funding for a new viewing stand (#5) is being sought.
Elgin Stewardship Council
The Elgin Stewardship Council is responsible for the care and maintenance of the three Wildlife Management Areas in Elgin: Aylmer, Calton Swamp, and Fingal under an agreement with the MNRF.
Ron Casier 519 318 5279, email@example.com
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