2012 Frontenac Biothon Results

Baltimore Checkerspot (Chris Dunn)

Our annual Frontenac Biothon was held the weekend of June 9-10, 2012. We were rather nervous about the unstable weather forecast for the weekend but we managed to stay relatively dry and comfortable for the 24-hour blitz. During the inaugural biothon in 2010 we tallied a respectable 431 floral and faunal species in the Big Clear Lake area in the northeast zone of Frontenac Provincial Park. Last year we conducted an extensive tour spanning the rock barrens in the southeast to more mature forest habitats closer to the northwest section of Frontenac. In all, 466 species were identified in 2011. Results from both years combined comprise 727 unique species identified within the boundaries of the park!

Arctic Skipper (Seabrooke Leckie)

This year we opted for less strenuous travel, focusing instead on the lively woods and meadows south of Slide Lake. As the vast majority of the park has succeeded to second-growth and mature forest, the once plentiful meadow habitats that were created by early settlers have gone – except for a few small fields in the Slide Lake area. We found an abundance of insect and plant life in these fields, many of which we hadn’t recorded during previous biothons. Fortunately, our bug guru Seabrooke was on hand to sift through a seemingly infinite sea of invertebrates. Our results for moths and butterflies was considerably higher this year, which will be evident by the photo selection in this post!

Indigo Bunting (D.Derbyshire)

Diversity of birds during the event was a little lower than in 2011, although this is more a reflection of the much smaller area coverage this year. Indigo Buntings are the dominant species in the meadow areas where they occupy scrubby woodland edges. Sightings of Blue-winged Warbler and Blue-headed Vireo were noteworthy and an evening nightjar concert was a highlight.

Young Black Bear (D.Derbyshire)

A session of skipper watching was interrupted when two of us caught a glimpse of a very young Black Bear in the meadow – another biothon first! Mammals are certainly the leanest group of species on an annual basis (6-8 species average) but we’ve not yet attempted any nocturnal trapping and or searching – perhaps next year.

Moth Lights (D.Derbyshire)

The weather on Saturday afternoon alternated between short periods of low dense cloud and sunshine with a moderate breeze. Luckily for us, the winds subsided enough to make for a decent session of mothing in the evening. A total of 77 species were counted in a couple of hours, which was considerably better than the previous year when the moth sheet rippled in the wind and light showers. Seabrooke reports that the best moth of the night was a Silver-spotted Ghost Moth – just her second ever!

Silver-spotted Ghost Moth (Seabrooke Leckie)

This year’s biothon was another success – a productive 24 hours of counting and some much needed dollars raised for Frontenac Bird Studies! Our unofficial total of species counted for the 2012 biothon is 463, just a few shy of our final tally in 2011. It is remarkable how consistent our annual totals have been (431, 466, 463). With the completion of each biothon we make a substantial contribution to a cumulative database on species occurrence information for Frontenac Provincial Park – a valuable asset for Ontario Parks and Frontenac Bird Studies. Having just finished up our third consecutive we are now approaching 1000 species of flora and fauna identified by a small group of friends passionate about the land and its living things.

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. Special thanks to Ken and Vera Shepherd for allowing us access through their beautiful farm for the biothon this year.

Below is a small selection of species recorded during this year’s biothon – hope you enjoy!

Harris’s Checkerspot (Chris Dunn)
Marsh Bluet (Seabrooke Leckie)
Spotted Thyris/Raspberry (Seabrooke Leckie)
Ophioninae (D.Derbyshire)
Baltimore Checkerspot chrysalis (D.Derbyshire)
Rock Sandwort (D.Derbyshire)
Rose Pogonia (Chris Dunn)
Northern Cloudywing/Cow Vetch (Chris Dunn)
Calico Pennant (Seabrooke Leckie)
Silver-spotted Skipper/Cow Vetch (Seabrooke Leckie)

Frontenac in Four Frames

Three Question Marks (Polygonia interrogationis) at sap wells
Egg laying Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)
Flowering arrowwood (Prairie Warblers love this stuff)
Bats were heard calling from their roosts in this slab of bedrock!

Report on Frontenac Biothon 2011

Six-spotted Tiger Beetle (Seabrooke Leckie)

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.

Rock Barrens near Flagpole Hill (Derbyshire)

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!

Waterfall near Moulton Gorge

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!

Meadows south of Slide Lake (Derbyshire)

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!

Prairie Warbler (Chris Dunn)
Sawfly larvae (Seabrooke Leckie)
Silver-bordered Fritillary
Harris’s Checkerspot (Chris Dunn)