Big Salmon Lake by canoe

Common Loons (Big Salmon Lake)

.

At nearly five kilometres long, Big Salmon Lake is the largest lake within Frontenac Provincial Park boundaries. The lake has over fifteen kilometres of shoreline and has a maximum depth of 42.3 metres. Bisecting the park along a northeast-southwest axis, Big Salmon has long been a gateway to the Frontenac backcountry and a focal point for early mining and logging industries. Geologically, the lake also marks a divide between two distinct zones – granitic gneiss and marble to the northwest and a large dome of diorite in the southeast.

.

.

Yesterday, I ended up paddling the entire length of Big Salmon to reach two remote streams for the ongoing Louisiana Waterthrush inventory. This long oligotrophic lake was absolutely stunning and a joy to travel across. Steep cliff faces with ancient bonsai-like conifers, Cerulean Warblers singing from mature oak-maple canopies and windswept white and red pines on small rocky islands were just a few of the highlights during the trip.

.

Canadian Tiger Swallowtail and Juvenal's Duskywing

.

The sightseeing was a nice diversion but my main priority was to find two streams, which to me were nothing more than tiny blue lines on a map. I’ve visited fifteen streams so far this spring and never really know what I am going to encounter. Some streams are pristine, fast moving waterways in steep sloped ravines while others are completely dry and sun drenched. Regardless of their condition, the purpose of the project is to index as many sites as possible to evaluate current stream conditions, habitat preferences, aid future inventories, and to model population parameters of Louisiana Waterthrushes in the area.

.

.

This particular stream was an absolute gem and ‘ticked all the boxes’ for Louisianas in terms of aquatic characteristics as well as slope, canopy closure and presence of suitable nest sites. The meandering stream was teeming with life. My survey of its length revealed a considerable forage base for waterthrushes and very high biodiversity with one glaring exception – no Louisiana Waterthrushes! There was no response to playback following an unsuccessful ground search for the species. This was surprising at first but a broader scan of the site indicated that the mature forest shading the stream was a relatively small patch bordered by younger growth and even small rock barrens. Louisiana Waterthrushes are area sensitive and therefore need large contiguous tracts of mature forest to breed, which would make this site unattractive. Forest succession might make this site suitable for LOWA in the not so distant future.

.

.

The stream itself has been around for quite awhile, evidenced by the erosive passage of water over and through the rocks of the stream. The rectangular finger-shaped rock on the right in the photo above has water passing through it and looks oddly man-made. I’ve uploaded a short video clip of this interesting feature below.

.


.

Green Frog

.

Last but not least, a Green Frog (Rana clamitans), one of the many inhabitants of the stream. This fellow was sitting in the middle of the watercourse, faced upstream. Maybe this frog is just chillin’ but I think this might be an excellent way to catch some lunch – let the stream bring it right to you.

.

I am starting to run out of accessible waterthrush sites but still have a few more left to visit before the whirlwind of our other breeding bird work begins in early June. I will miss these shady ravines….

.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Big Salmon Lake by canoe

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s