On December 13th, 2021 Ontario Nature announced the 100-acre expansion of its Sydenham River Nature Reserve which permanently protects Carolinian forest, wetland and riparian areas that provide critical habitat for an astonishing 66 species at-risk and rare species.
In celebration of the acquisition, we hosted a tour of the new property on May 15th, 2022 for donors and stewards who supported the acquisition. The following pictures showcase the Sydenham River Nature Reserve new property and the natural beauty some of our donors and stewards were able to experience.
Joined by local naturalists from the nature reserve’s steward groups (Lambton Wildlife and Sydenham Field Naturalists), Ontario Nature members and donors enjoyed interpretive hikes through the woodland and along the river, exploring and learning about the nature reserve’s ecological diversity and experiencing its beauty.
The beautiful male indigo bunting, resplendent in its multiple shades of blue, is Ontario’s only completely blue bird. It is hard to miss among the tall deciduous trees and shrubs found within the nature reserve.
Virginia Bluebells are provincially-rare spring flowers that bloom in early May, covering the forest floor with a magnificent green and blue carpet. They provide early spring nectar for bees and sometimes hummingbirds. The Sydenham River Nature Reserve protects the thousands that bloom there.
As part of the ecological restoration of farm fields on the nature reserve, tallgrass prairie was seeded, trees and shrubs planted and ephemeral ponds created over the past three years, expanding native habitat for species such as butterflies and salamanders.
The Sydenham River is a tributary flowing through the property, which is crucial to maintaining healthy habitat for at-risk aquatic species in the stretch of the East Sydenham River into which it flows. The river is home to the greatest diversity of freshwater mussels in Canada, including several species that are at-risk globally. The protection of the newly-expanded nature reserve has resulted in a 161.24-hectare area habitat core which contributes to habitat connectivity along the East Sydenham River corridor.
This fall, many trees and shrubs will be planted at the new addition of the Sydenham River Nature Reserve and we will need lots of volunteers! If you or anyone you know is interested in lending a helping hand, please keep an eye on the events calendar on the Ontario Nature website for more details.
The acquisition of this new property is a big reason to celebrate. “This was such a special day. Celebrating the addition of 100 acres to the Sydenham Nature Reserves was a wonderful conclusion to our campaign to raise the funds to make this possible. We are hugely grateful Ontario Nature’s members, Nature Network groups and funding partners for their generosity and commitment to protect this area of extraordinary biodiversity,” said Caroline Schultz, Executive Director
This project was made possible by the Government of Canada through the Natural Heritage Conservation Program (part of Canada’s Nature fund) and the Habitat Stewardship Program, the Ontario Land Trust Alliance and Government of Ontario through the Greenlands Conservation Partnership Program, Sydenham Field Naturalists, Lambton Wildlife Inc., Nature London, Essex County Nature, Ingersoll District Nature Club, Nature Guelph, the South West Woodlot Association, Aecon, St. Thomas Field Naturalists and many generous Ontario Nature members.
Kayla joined Ontario Nature in May 2021. Her love of nature started early, growing up with a family cottage on Pelee Island – a biodiversity hotspot in Ontario. After being inspired by the flora and fauna, Kayla pursued a B.Sc. in biology and later an M.Sc. in integrative biology with a focus on conservation biology. While working as a research assistant at Wilfrid Laurier University, Kayla’s work focused on assessing the threats and mitigation for a wetland plant species at risk in southwestern Ontario. In her down time, she loves to go hiking with her dogs and use nature to inspire her paintings.