Wildlife at the Lawson Nature Reserve
Amphibians and Birds
The Lawson Nature Reserve is a great place to watch birds and view small animals year round. In the spring and early summer, activity always seems the busiest around the two ponds. Male Wood Frogs begin calling as soon as the ice clears from the water surface. Spring Peepers and Striped Chorus Frogs are always in abundance in the reeds. Warm spring evenings bring male Gray Tree frogs calling high from the treetops and surrounding shrubs.
The shallow waters of the pond allow for great viewing of both the frog and salamander jelly-like egg masses. Tadpoles can also be numerous at certain times of the season. Adult Leopard Frogs, Green Frogs, Bull Frogs and American Toads are often seen basking along the water’s edge or on moss-covered semi-submerged logs. And of course salamanders, water striders, diving beetles and whirly bugs are always great fun to watch. Be ever observant for racoon tracks at the pond’s edge (racoons routinely wash their food before they eat it).
Several bird feeding stations have been placed along many of the trails. Sparrows, Black-capped Chickadees and Goldfinches can be observed coming and going from these stations. Mourning Doves, Grosbeaks and Blue Jays frequent other feeders. A good variety of Woodpeckers, Brown Creepers and Wrens can be seen scaling the sides of trees looking for insects. Red-winged Blackbirds territorialize around the large pond and evidence of the presence of a Pileated Woodpecker can be seen throughout the trail system. There is a waterfowl nesting box on the small island at the end of Bucknell Wetlands Loop. For the past several years, a pair of Canada Geese have nested at its base and it’s not unusual to see Wood Ducks or Blue Herons stopping by the pond for a rest.
Treed Communities and Flowering Plants
The Tract can be divided into 4 very diverse habitat areas. Each area is unique and is well-defined in character and identity. Within each area, there is a tightly knit community of flowering plants, shrubs and mature trees. These plants adapt to the environment given to them (ie. soil moisture and light differences). There is some overlapping of species from area to area.
The mixed forest area flanks both sides of the Falconer Trail and Phillips Trail. Mature Black Walnut, Basswood, Sugar Maple, White Cedar and Black Cherry dominate this area. White Cedar, Yellow Birch, maple and aspen flourish under the relatively open canopy. It’s a photographer’s paradise here in the spring and summer. White Trilliums, Jack-in-the-pulpit and Dog-toothed Violets blanket the ground. Christmas Fern and Cinnamon Fern thrive in this community along with Mayapple, asters and Spotted Jewelweed. Peepers pond is covered with algae for much of the year and is surrounded by cedar, poplars, dogwoods, willows and Sensitive Fern.
Approximately 4.8 ha of the LNR is treed swamp known as The Salford Swamp, and is considered a Provincially Significant Wetland. The canopy consists of White Cedar and Yellow Birch. Soft maple, Black Ash and Trembling Aspen are also present. The understory is fairly open and dominated by soft maple. The ground cover is dense with ferns, large patches of Wild Ginger, Skunk Cabbage, Marsh Marigold and Spotted Jewelweed.
The open wetland and meadow area is primarily located along the Bucknell Wetlands Loop. Vegetation around the pond includes cattails, reeds, sedges, arrowhead and shrub willow. Water level drops over the summer months exposing mud flats where moist mosses will continue to thrive. Red-osier Dogwood, Serviceberries and Nannyberry grow in near-shore areas. A buffer of trees, such as White Cedar, Staghorn Sumac and Sugar Maple are planted between the pond and the road. Thistles, goldenrods, asters and raspberries dominate the open meadow area.
The dominant conifer forests cover approximately 2.5 ha in the central and western areas of the property. A very dense canopy of White Cedar dominates the area. Very little understory or ground cover is present, although there are some patches of Wild Ginger. Towards the edge of this community you will notice some ash, birch and Sugar Maple trees, ferns and Mayapple.