Saturday, June 14, 2014

Mixing Oil and Nature

Today's feature event was going to the Fairbank property at Oil Springs and the root of North America's first oil producing area.  However, the outing was not begin until 10 a.m., so I checked out some other spots beforehand.
First stop was Blackwell Sideroad, Sarnia.  Here there is an old landfill and an extensive solar farm that I have mentioned a few times before.  Two years ago Dickcissels and Grasshopper Sparrows were in abundance with other grassland species.  This year, a couple of Grasshopper Sparrows were at the solar farm, but little else in the landfill.  I only got a couple of Eastern Meadowlarks this time.  Like all grassland species, they are down in numbers compared to many years ago.
A couple of Great Egrets were in the landfill pond.

Back of the landfill is the well-known Perch Creek Habitat Area.  I walked that too!  There was not really much of interest there and not a lot of birds, which seems to be the trend everywhere this year.

With a little time left, I went to Marthaville Habitat Area near Petrolia.  This is a neat little spot with a nice pond and marshy area.  First off I heard  White-eyed Vireo singing away!  Not one I expected this morning.
Some dragonflies included Dot-tailed Whiteface.

On to Oil Springs....

The outing at the oil fields, led by Larry Cornelis, was interesting.  There are 600 acres with mostly grassland and scrubby-type habitat with a couple of decent woodlots.  Owner Charles Fairbank accompanied us.

Charles Fairbank, left and Larry Cornelis

Here they have the primitive jerker-rod system that was developed early on.  It is highly effective though, with an endless network of rods throughout the property moving back and forth driven by electric motors. (In the old days it was steam).

With all the wells and jerker-rod lines, the area is not suitable for modern farming, so there is a lot of habitat for meadowlarks and other birds.  Oil and nature do mix!

I noted quite a few Orchard Orioles as well.
No Grasshopper Sparrows were detected, but as usual these are difficult to find anymore in this part of the province.

By noon, the tour was done, but I was not.  I headed over to Skunk's Misery in hopes of finding some butterflies.  The poor year continues, as I did not see many there!  Some Juvenal's Duskywings were still flying among other species.

Dragonflies were better this week, with many species. Black-shouldered Spinylegs and some clubtails out today including this one.

Midland Clubtail

I noticed lots of the very large darners, which could have been Swamp Darners.
Birds were rather quiet by this time of day, so I did not hear many.

Not far away, west of Wardsville, is Thames Talbot's Wardsville Woods (the old Mosa Hills golfcourse). Here I found quite a few butterflies including Peck's Skippers, Tawny-edged Skippers, European Skippers, lots of Silver-spotted and others.

A couple of Blue-winged Warblers were on the property.

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