And Michigan Lily (Lilium michiganense).
On extremely rare occasion, such as a few months after a particularly hot fire, followed by a good amount of rainfall, the alvar can look quite lush. This next image is an example. There had been an extremely hot fire in the late summer one year, and I remember getting calls at my office from quite outraged people complaining that the alvar had been severely damaged......burned to a crisp. After listening to their concerns and discussing the role of fire, I suggested that they wait until the next growing season to see if their initial assessment was accurate. As it turned out, over the winter and early spring there was a bit more precipitation than normal, and by late June it was looking as lush and fresh as I have ever seen it. It was fresh and colourful looking in every direction!
|Nodding Wild Onion, Gray-headed Coneflower and Whorled Milkweed following a fire|
|Climbing Prairie Rose|
|Sign along the trail of Stone Road Alvar with Gray-headed Coneflower dominating the scene|
Yellow-breasted Chat, if it is likely to nest anywhere in Ontario, will nest in the vicinity of Stone Road Alvar with some regularity.
|Vin Villa ruins|
A residence in much better condition, and which dates back to 1894, is this one also on a portion of Sheridan Point. It was built from limestone extracted from a nearby quarry, typical of several early buildings on the island.
Wild Turkeys were released on the island about 15 or so years ago. It is not absolutely certain whether they were there naturally before or not, but they are now! The population has done quite well with the abundance of food and the mild weather, so now there is an open season for them. This next photo was taken shortly after the hunting season ended, and they are still exceptionally wary.
The wetland is a prime area for visiting naturalists to explore to look for the area's flora and fauna. Great Egrets nest on nearby uninhabited islands, and find it convenient to fly to Pelee Island for food, both during the nesting season as well as after they have left their heronries.
Surprisingly, there are birds that don't normally like to fly over water that appear on the island quite regularly. Raptors which rely mostly on thermals, that is the rising air as a result of the sun warming up the land, seldom fly over water but prefer to take the longer route along the lake shore. Nonetheless, some do attempt the crossing as they 'hop, skip and jump', figuratively speaking, of course, across the chain of islands from Ohio to Ontario. Pelee Island is the largest of the chain, and is situated at about the half way point, so birds crossing this chain will often stop in.
Turkey Vultures are regularly seen in small numbers. This group is resting at the end of the day, on the tops of gravel piles in the local quarry, where they are fairly safe from predators.
|Turkey Vulture feeding on road-killed raccoon|
A lighthouse was erected in the early 1830s at the very north end of this nature reserve....hence the name.....due to the numerous ships passing through what is known as the Pelee Passage, a relatively shallow and narrow corridor between Pelee Island and Point Pelee through which ships plying the Great Lakes upstream of Lake Erie must pass. The western basin of Lake Erie is shallow, and can get roiled in a hurry. As a result, there have been hundreds of ships wrecked in the shallow waters especially around some of the Erie Islands. The lighthouse has helped many ship's captains from becoming victims of the lake's idiosyncrasies. This lighthouse was replaced by a more modern, automated lighthouse out in the lake, and so over the years all of the wooden parts of this structure disappeared. I took this photo at sunrise in the late 1980s.
Stay tuned for Pelee Island: Part III which will deal with some of the herps (a.k.a. reptiles and amphibians), some of the research, and some of the challenges in dealing with many species at risk in a small community.