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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!