-visiting my grandparents at their cottage as a young tyke;
-to biking and exploring with my friends as a teen;
-to working at the park over a 13 year period, and ten of those as the park naturalist;
-living full time in the park for five and a half of those years;
-a continued connection with the park as part of my MNR role;
-to upwards of 60 or more visits a year in my retirement years,
There is no question that Rondeau has had a huge influence on me.
One could spend quite a few posts covering the features and importance of Rondeau to Ontario's natural heritage. In fact I am writing a book on exactly that, although I cannot say when it will be on the book shelves. Hopefully sooner rather than later, but I've been saying that for awhile now.
Rondeau is a sandspit along the Lake Erie shoreline. It encompasses the majority of the peninsula as well as about a third of Rondeau Bay, totalling 3254 hectares (~8040 acres).
There are several significant habitat types here, including: a dynamic beach and dune system....
|Pine-oak forest type|
|American Beech-Sugar Maple type|
If you took an east-west cross-section of Rondeau about mid way down the peninsula as shown in the next photo, you would cross all of these habitats.
Red Mulberry (Morus rubra) is one of the rarest trees in Canada, found only in three or four other locations in Ontario. It is legally endangered.
Most of the other locations have been heavily affected by the hybridization with the non-native White Mulberry. Rondeau's population appears to be less affected by the hybridization.
One of the rarest plants in Canada is a diminutive orchid called Nodding Pogonia (Triphora trianthophora). It only occurs at Rondeau. Needless to say it is legally endangered too.
The sloughs are home to one of Canada's rarest breeding birds, the brilliant Prothonotary Warbler. It was first discovered nesting in Canada at Rondeau in the early 1930s, and the park has been considered the stronghold for the species. In an average year, there are likely fewer than 15 pairs of this endangered species in Canada. While back in the early 1980s there were at least 24 pairs at Rondeau, and possibly as many as 50, sadly the population has declined with probably only 3-4 pairs nesting in an average year.
|Immature Bald Eagle|
There were a few years where they weren't successful in raising any young, but they tried. For many years they were a legally endangered species in Ontario. Of course in the last two or three decades they have become much more common place even in southern Ontario. Currently there is an estimated 18 active pairs in Chatham-Kent alone! It has been down-listed from endangered to special concern.
Rondeau is a delight to visit at any time of the year.