I’ve been employed by the Marsh for a month now and love it. Well, I am not so thrilled by the pay, but the location is everything I wanted to experience when I planned to return to Ontario.
The area is full of attractions. Sainte Marie Among the Hurons is a reconstruction of the earliest European settlement in Ontario with the original site dating back to 1639. The conservation area is next to the reconstructed village and extends for around 100 hectares. The Wye River, of which the Marsh and the village sit nearly at the mouth, empties into Georgian Bay and the Tay-Midland Trail offers excellent paved cycling/rollerblading/… paths from Midland to Waubaushene, a remarkable distance.
Back to the Marsh. My work involves leading school groups on trails along the marsh and across it on long, floating boardwalks. We dipnet and look for dragonfly larva, watching swans, geese and many more birds and discuss ecological concepts. Oh, I also show the students turtles and snakes, which means I get to handle them: the dream job for ten-year-old Surprises!
The Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre runs a breeding programme for Trumpeter Swans. The centre, and its volunteers, monitor approximately one-third of all trumpeter swans in Ontario. The swans had been absent from the marsh until a reintroduction programme by Harry Lumsden in the 1980s, as an employee of the Ontario Department of Natural Resources. Archeological evidence collected by Jesuit missionaries in the 17th century suggests that the area previously had significant concentrations of Trumpeter Swans, and historical references indicate the same. While hunters armed only with bows and arrows would have had a difficult time hunting the swan, the introduction of firearms by European explorers would have made the swan a tempting target for hunters. By 1850, only small numbers of the swan remained in Eastern Canada, and the last sighting of a Trumpeter Swan in Ontario before reintroduction occurred in 1884. Among Ontarians, the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre has is known as the Home of the Trumpeter Swan.
The marsh is also an important breeding site for Black Terns and Least Bitterns. At least 1% of the breeding pairs of Least Bitterns in Canada nest in the Wye Marsh.
I am not at all involved in the research that goes on at the marsh, but I make a small attempt to keep up with it. A quick Google Scholar search reveals a variety of studies in the area but most appear to be behind paywalls. The Conservation Action Plan of 2001 and Origin of Wye Marsh PDFs are available, though. If any reader has JSTOR access, I would like to read about silver-haired bats and the overview of the trumpeter swan reintroduction program.
Okay, I know you are really here for the pics(more can be found here):
This trumpeter swan has orange feathers, most likely due to eating in iron-rich water. This snapping turtle and frog can be found in the Welcome pond, near the parking lot at the Marsh.Canada geese and goslings are everywhere these days. Still haven’t seen any cygnets.
Very happily surprised to see this deer. near the blind on the ID trail.