Wetlands are hugely important to a healthy landscape. For example they help contain runoff from rainfall so there is less soil erosion and degradation of our lakes, rivers and streams. They recharge the ground water table which keeps water wells supplied and forests healthy. Unfortunately their benefits have been ignored by many, so the majority of them have been drained for various kinds of development. Based on soils and early surveys, it is estimated that at the time of settlement more than 66% of what is now Chatham-Kent was one type of wetland or another (marsh or swamp). By 1982 less than 4% of the municipality was in wetland. That has since dwindled further, as currently only about 4% of the entire municipality is in any kind of natural cover.
Wetlands are a fun place to explore, but the best time is in the early morning or evening, unless you like the heat! There is an abundance of plant and animal life out there, although some of it takes more than a bit of effort to find.
June is prime egg-laying month for many turtles.
|Midland Painted Turtle|
The openness of the wetland landscape is great for seeing a multitude of birds. Waterbirds, including herons, egrets and terns are frequently seen.
|Mute Swan and cygnets|
Much smaller things with wings are common, especially dragonflies. The Calico Pennant is one of the more striking dragonflies, in my opinion.
|Blue Dasher male|
|Blue Dasher female|
The Black Horsefly is a huge fly, with the body length up to 28mm. Fortunately it seldom bites humans, but it can be a nuisance to livestock.
Plants are numerous in a healthy wetland, with a constantly changing array in flower. Right now, things like Fragrant Water Lilies (Nymphaea odorata) dot the surface of wetlands, poking up through the covering of lily pads.
Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) is not a weed at all, but an attractive flower which pollinators such as bees like.
Arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia) is a common plant in shallower water.
A less obvious wetland plant is Giant Bur-reed (Sparganium eurycarpum).
|Giant Bur-reed, male flowers|
|Giant Bur-reed, female flowers|
Tufted Loosestrife (Lysimachia thrysifolia) is found along wetland edges.
There are many, many more things to get your attention.....I encourage you to get out and enjoy a wetland!