The second annual Frontenac Biothon was held on June 11-12 in various locations at Frontenac Provincial Park. The inaugural biothon in 2010 was a terrific event – full of interesting observations and we raised some much needed funds for Frontenac Bird Studies at the same time. Last year we compiled a total of 441 species, just shy of our target of 500 for the 24-hour blitz. This year we took to the park with a handicap as our plant guru was home with a recently hatched baby girl! We knew we had to step our game up and I’m happy to report that we did just that.
The 2011 biothon was a sort of grand tour for three of us. Chris, Steve and yours truly logged over 22 kilometres of hiking in just over 24 hours. We visited the abandoned farmlands and rock barrens in the park’s southeast corner, traveled some of the park’s main artery along Big Salmon Lake and also biothoned the length of Moulton Gorge, which took us to the mature forests of the park’s northern region.
All the effort paid off as we visited some markedly different zones. In the rock barrens we found unique plants and insects, Prairie Warblers, a Sandhill Crane and a singing Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. The crane and the flycatcher were highly unusual summer records for the park!
The mature forests were a little more comfortable for hiking due to the shade and cooler temperatures. The diversity here was very high. The highlight for me was the Woodland Jumping Mouse that we startled near a waterfall – a fantastic creature. The excursion concluded with the observation of Cerulean Warblers and Louisiana Waterthrushes feeding young – two Species at Risk successfully raising young within 75m of eachother!
And finally, actual meadow habitat! Lush wet meadows are very rare in Frontenac Provincial Park as nearly all of the abandoned homesteads and farms have returned to forest. The plant and insect life in these meadows south of Slide Lake was exceptional. It was great to have Chris and Steve there to help me sort through the all the non-avian species. Indigo Buntings and Chestnut-sided Warblers seemed to be most abundant during our stay but I’ll have to return another time for a more thorough search for grassland bird species.
Meanwhile, during all of our exhaustive hiking and paddling, Seabrooke was quietly racking up nearly 350 species just at her station near Campsite 6 on Little Salmon Lake! Seabrooke probably considers herself an insect specialist but is a very well-rounded naturalist, too. By the end of the biothon we had recorded 166 species of insects. Dragonflies and butterflies were much more evident this year than last and we still managed to ID a small selection of nocturnal moths despite the wind and rain that moved in during the evening of 11th. Our totals were a little higher for all taxa in 2011 with the exception of moths and fungi/lichens. The lower diversity in both of these groups is due to weather (moths) and event timing (fungi). We are still working on a few identifications but at present our total for Frontenac Biothon 2011 stands at 468, which is 27 species higher than last year. While not quite the 500 mark, our list for 2011 was quite an achievement given that we were missing a key team member and that the weather severely limited our mothing production. Much like our biothon from a year ago we found some truly great stuff, had an adventure and supported the FBS program to boot – all things that make the biothon a great event!
On behalf of the Migration Research Foundation I wish to extend our thanks to this year’s many sponsors who donated to the three biothon teams. Of course, the whole event would not have been possible without the efforts of our dedicated volunteer biothoners; Chris Dunn, Steve Gillis and Seabrooke Leckie! Lastly, thanks to the following Ontario Parks staff for their continued support of Frontenac Bird Studies and the Frontenac Biothon fundraiser; Corina Brdar, Peter Dawson and Bert Korporaal.
Below is a small selection of species recorded during this year’s biothon – hope you enjoy!