Monday, June 17, 2013

Peers Wetland Wallaceburg

Recently, a significant piece of land on the edge of Wallaceburg was preserved through various individuals and agencies. Affectionately known as Chicken Island by local residents, it is now called Peers Wetland in memory of Francis Peers who owned the land in the area.
The island part is now connected due to the diking of Otter Creek decades ago.  It really was an island by itself surrounded by marsh and open water in the old days.
Mid 1990's (note open water)

Years ago it was a 'must' of young Wallaceburg folk to hike to Chicken Island.  I even did it with friends when I was about ten years old!  There was nothing special about it, but it was the thing to do.
There was always an open patch of water where ducks and other waterbirds congregated.  In the winter it was a place we went to skate and play hockey.
By 2000 things got a little drier and vegetation started growing in.  Unfortunately the surrounding marsh almost dried up and trees started growing.

Before that in spring and fall migration I noted shorebirds there from time to time.  For example, I extracted from my notes the following:
May 18, 1999:  Chicken Island.  30 Short-billed Dowitchers, 90 Dunlin, 1 Solitary Sandpiper, 1 Lesser Yellowlegs, 12 Semipalmated Plover, 10 Semipalmated Sandpiper and Killdeer.
Also had a Ring-necked Pheasant.
I still see pheasants there, one of the few places left to find them in the area.

There is still some good cattail marsh where Marsh Wrens and Common Yellowthroat nest.  The island itself has a pretty good variety of trees and shrubs according to Larry Cornelis.
Recently Ducks Unlimited has done some dyke work to stem the drainage of the wetland.  Now it will be preserved and maintained.

1 comment:

  1. The official opening was today, attended by many sponsors. Four acres of trees and one acre of prairie grass have been planted so far. Dyke work has been done and trail work is underway. Sydenham Field Naturalists reached out to the townspeople, the business owners and local charitable organizations for support in raising funds because we realized there is a strong community connection to this particular piece of land and we were correct in believing the caring people of Wallaceburg and surrounding area would come forward. Thank you so much to those who helped.