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THE
MEDWAY HERITAGE
VALLEY


LOCATION/ MAP
HISTORY
USES
LANDFORMS
HABITAT AREAS
Forest
Aquatic
Grassland
Wetland
RARE SPECIES
INVASIVE SPECIES
VISITING A NATURAL AREA
PDF Format of this document
PDF of the checklists in this document
PDF of the visiting a natural area section of this document


LOCATION
The Medway Valley Heritage Forest is located in the northwest part of the City of London, Ontario. The area is owned by the City of London; the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority and several private land owners.

THE HISTORY OF THE MEDWAY VALLEY HERITAGE FOREST

500 years ago: The Medway Valley was occupied by a late Ontario Iroquois tribe of about 1000 in numbers. The Neutral Indian Village stood on a bluff overlooking Snake Creek and the Medway River, which is now the site of the Museum of Archaeology. The rest of the valley was used for food gathering, hunting and fishing by the tribe.

1813+: This is the time when land was first granted for settlement use by the European Immigrants. At the same time forestry and logging became the major source of livelihood in the area. This meant that the forests were logged for both local use and for European export. After logging the clearings were either converted to pastureland, planted with grain for new crops, or used as orchards.

1818-1823: The Village of Arva was settled.

1850: William Turville constructed two gristmills, the remains of the dike that retained the mill pond are still visible today.

1850+: Residential settlement was limited during the next 125 years
due to the development of farmsteads and rural estates.

1850s-1860s: Some Archaeological artifacts were discovered and excavated within the Valley.

1877: The Elsie Perrin Williams Estate was built.

1878: The development of walkways, bike paths, river crossings, and picnic areas introduced people to the natural features of the valley.

1880: Significant deforestation is present due to the expanding agricultural use.

1928: A substantial increase in forest cover developed as a result of natural succession on the ungrazed pastures. This occurred because the lands were left idle during the shift from agriculture to residential land use.

1950s: Medway Heights was the first subdivision to be built on lands adjacent to the Valley. The land was primarily used for rural agriculture.

1950s: Informal excavations on the site continued. Many of the artifacts were found until this date.

Since 1960s: The Medway Trail was developed and maintained by the private landowners. The trail extended from the University of Western to Fanshawe Park Road. The Thames Valley Trail Association presently maintains it.

1979: The Elsie Perrin Williams Estate became property of the City of London, it is a manicured park setting that once included a golf course.

June 1989: The Medway Valley Heritage Forest was designated a Natural Area in the City of London Official Plan.

1989: A Life Science Inventory of the Lower Medway River was prepared. As well, a Conservation Master Plan was prepared.

1989: The most popular activities within the Valley included walking, nature appreciation, bird watching, cross-country skiing and jogging.

1990s: Land division continues today, leaving a river environment that is almost completely surrounded by residential and institutional land use.

1990: An amendment to the Conservation Master Plan was completed. The City Council deleted the no bikeways recommendation.

1993: An independent group of cyclists constructed a switch back improvement to the pathway system that re-routed an existing trail traveling down a steeply sloping section of the Valley wall. Subsequent investigations by the City of London Police Department in conjunction with the City Council led to the restriction of any form of cycling in the Medway Valley Heritage Forest. Enforcement is difficult and today, cycling continues.

1995: A Site Planning Study was conducted.

1999: Today the perimeter of the site is now entirely urbanized. There has been an increase in forest cover due to the decline of forestry practices, and an increase in residential use.

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USES OF THE MEDWAY VALLEY HERITAGE FOREST
The Medway Valley Heritage Forest is used by a number of people who enjoy walking, hiking, nature appreciation, bird watching, cross-country skiing, jogging and/or limited fishing. For those people who enjoy picnics and easy family outings there are picnic tables and walking trails located on the Perrin Williams Estate, operated by the Public Utilities Commission and Heritage London.

The City of London By-laws prohibit the riding of bicycles in the Medway Valley Heritage Forest. However, many cyclists use the valley regularly. Bicycles are prohibited because they;

  • increase the pressure of trampling, compaction, churning and trail width expansion on existing path
  • there is an increased rate of degradation from recreational pressure.

Educational opportunities within the Forest include interpretive hikes and environmental projects. Educational activities are usually carried out by local youth groups and schools. Several trail guides, walking tours and information brochures have been published by the Medway Valley News. Nature walks are offered by the McIlwraith Field

Naturalists of London and the Medway Valley News Association. These walks are the result of the Thames Valley Trail Association and the Medway Valley News Association who maintain the established system of footpaths and hiking trails.

The University of Western Ontario tends to use the Medway Valley as a teaching resource and as a natural lab for individual student projects and class exercises. The ecological processes that can be seen here include: succession, wetland development, erosion, nutrient recycling, alien species invasion and the effects of pollution and recreation pressure.

As a result of the natural features of the land, the Valley has been designated as a Natural Area. This is mainly due to the fact that it is one of the largest of a few unmanicured green areas within London. This Natural Area is predominantly used for passive recreation. It offers its visitors many urban wilderness recreational and experiential opportunities and also holds high educational value. As well, the Medway Valley Heritage Forest contains unusual vegetative habitats, including a black walnut savannah and a small wet flood plain meadow.

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LANDFORMS IN THE MEDWAY VALLEY
The Medway Valley area consists of 4 different landform types. These are:

  • Valley Slopes
    A Valley: a long depression in the land usually containing a river
  • River Bluffs
    Bluffs: a steep bank or cliff formed by river erosion on the outside bend of a meander
  • Flood plain
    Flood plain: the flat area bordering a river, composed of sediment deposited during flooding
  • Riparian Community
    Riparian: inhabiting or situated on the bank of a river

HABITAT AREAS IN THE MEDWAY VALLEY

The Medway Valley Heritage Forest is approximately 5 acres in size. The Medway River runs through a valley creating upland forest areas and valley slopes. The Medway River provides an aquatic habitat for many species. There is forest habitat, flood plain (wet meadow) habitat and seasonal wetland areas. An upland forest is surrounded by residential property on the south and west, an open field to the east, wooded river bluffs on the west and north, as well as a steep open slip face to the northwest.

There is an open meadow that is succeeding to a walnut savannah. Old orchards and abandoned pastures have been overcome with hawthorn, grey dogwood, apple, white elm, basswood, black locust, Manitoba maple, and aspen. The grassy meadows contain a variety of wildflowers.

The flood plains beside the Medway River contain many of the same tree species as the valley.

COME AND ENJOY THE FOREST HABITAT...

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FOREST HABITAT
Woodland areas are important habitat for a variety of species including birds, reptiles, insects, amphibians and mammals. A habitat is where all plants and animals live; it is their home. These homes in the forest can be large old hollow trees known as den trees, or standing dead trees called snag trees. These trees are very important within the forest ecosystem because animals like raccoons and flying squirrels make their nests in den trees, while birds like woodpeckers nest in snag trees.

Many nut producing trees (mast trees) such as oak, beech and hickory supply food for the woodland creatures. Without these trees in the forest the animals would either starve or move to another forest that contained these trees.

Conifer trees or evergreens are important because they are used as shelter and cover from the snow, wind and rain by many forest animals.

Even dead trees have a place in the forest since all of the dead logs and leaves on the forest floor provide habitat for insects and amphibians, which in turn are food for other animals.

THE CAROLINIAN FOREST LIFEZONE:
Carolinian Canada is one of Canadas most significant landscapes. Often known as the banana belt, this area supports an amazing diversity of wildlife and natural habitats. The area has a relatively warm climate, providing suitable habitat for many species that are not found anywhere else in Canada. The area has the warmest average temperatures and the longest frost-free seasons in Ontario. This results in relatively mild winters compared to the rest of Ontario. The Carolinian forest reaches its northern most limit in Southern Ontario.

Much of Ontarios rare and endangered species can be found nestled away in the last remaining acres of the Carolinian Forest. Species that can be seen here include trees such as Sassafras, the Tulip Tree, Blue Ash, Flowering Dogwood, Chestnut, Hop Tree, Paw Paw, Black Gum, Cucumber Tree and the Kentucky Coffee Tree. The Green Dragon, the Creeping Fragile Fern, Swamp Rose Mallow, Lizards Tail, Yellow Mandarin, Virginia Bluebells and Oswego Tea are a few of Canadas rare plants existing now only within the Carolinian Zone. Bird species, such as, the Acadian Flycatcher, Summer Tanager, Carolina Wren and the Prothonotary Warbler can be seen flying overhead. Some mammals are restricted to this area, these include the Badger, Eastern Mole, the Southern Flying Squirrel and the Opossum.

Unfortunately this life zone is one of the most threatened landscapes in Ontario, covering less than 1% of Canada, but yet it is home to more rare plants and animals than any other region in the country. This is mainly because the species found here are at the northern most point of their habitat. As well, these species live in developed and settled landscapes, resulting in a minimum amount of habitat remaining. It is found within an extremely busy corridor between Windsor and Toronto. Urbanization, agriculture and industry have destroyed a large portion of this beautiful forest. Because of this the Canadian Carolinian Forest has been a focus for conservation and stewardship.

If you would like to learn more about the Carolinian Life Zone, or have any questions please do not hesitate to contact:

CAROLINIAN CANADA
TELE: 519-873-4631
www.carolinian.org

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LIFE IN A FOREST
Here are some wildlife species you might see in a forest habitat in our area:

BIRDS
American Woodcock
�Downy Woodpecker
�Eastern Kingbird
Chickadee
American Crow
�Cedar Waxwing
American Goldfinch
Various Sparrow species
Eastern Screech Owl
Hairy Woodpecker
�Purple Martin
�Junco
�Nuthatch
European Starling
Common Grackle
Various Warbler species
Great Horned Owl
Pileated Woodpecker
�Blue Jay
American Robin
Wood Thrush
�Ruffed Grouse
Rose-breasted� Grosbeak
Mourning Dove
Flicker
Cardinal
Gray Catbird
�Wild Turkey
Red-tailed Hawk
MAMMALS
Eastern Cottontail Rabbit
Various Bat species
Red Fox
Raccoon
Gray Squirrel
Coyote
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White-tailed Deer
Red Squirrel
Opossum
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Skunk
Groundhog
American Badger

AMPHIBIANS AND
REPTILES
American Toad
Wood Frog
Tree Frog

Eastern Redback������� Salamander
Blue-spotted Salamander
Milk Snake
�Little Brown Snake

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INSECTS
Mosquitoes
Yellow Jackets
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Ants
Termites
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Millipedes
Wasps
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Centipedes
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PLANTS
May-apple
Bloodroot
Jack-in-the-pulpit
Canada Anemone
Trout Lily (yellow and white)
Wild Columbine
Canada Violet
Solomon�s Seal
Wild Bergamot
White Trillium
Red Trillium
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Ostrich Fern
Christmas Fern
Maidenhair Fern
Lady�s Fern
Sensitive Fern
Poison Ivy
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Honeysuckle
Witch Hazel
Common Elder
Hawthorn
Wild Grape
Spicebush
Nannyberry
Serviceberry
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Sugar Maple
Silver Maple
Red Maple
Red Oak
White Oak
Black Cherry
White Ash
Bitternut Hickory
Shagbark Hickory
Eastern Cottonwood
Black Walnut
American Beech
Trembling Aspen
White Birch
White Cedar
Ironwood
White Elm
Basswood
Eastern White Pine
Blue Beech
Tulip
Hackberry
 

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WELCOME TO THE MEDWAY VALLEY AQUATIC HABITAT
AQUATIC HABITAT

Aquatic habitats are lands that experience some form of water saturation at any point in the year. These wet areas tend to reduce flooding in the nearby areas as well as act as a natural filtration system. Streams, rivers, ponds and lakes are all examples of aquatic habitat areas. Wildlife like to use these areas because the aquatic ecosystems are filled with food, hiding places from predators, shelter and an abundance of water. The vegetation in wet areas can often include cattails, some tree and shrub species, reeds and grasses.
Animals such as turtles can be seen basking on logs, frogs can be heard communicating with each other, toads can be seen hopping away, salamanders hiding, birds flying overhead, beaver busily building, muskrats swimming by, and much more!

AQUATIC LIFE
If you are enjoying a hike by the Medway River or are out exploring the fishing that can be found here you will likely find the following:

  • Cold water fish: Trout
  • Warm water fish: Bass, Pike and Perch
  • Minnow, carp, and darters are most often found in the Medway.

Fishing is mainly for recreation, by children and teenagers from the nearby residential area.

Here are some aquatic habitat species that you might find:

BIRDS
Common Loon
Canada Goose
Mallard Duck
Hooded Merganser
American Pipit
Cliff Swallow
Bank Swallow� ����
�Rough-winged Swallow
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Double �crested Cormorant
Spotted Sandpiper
Red-winged Blackbird
Northern Pintail
Great Blue Heron
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American Black Duck
Wood Duck
Brown-headed Cowbird
Ring-necked Duck
Green Heron
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Killdeer
Belted Kingfisher
Herring Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Ruddy Duck
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FISH
Common Carp
Catfish
Walleye
Rainbow Trout
Shiners��
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Minnow
Sunfish
Brown Trout
Brook Trout
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Johnny Darter
Crappy
Chub
 
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Bass
Pike
Rock Bass
Perch
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AMPHIBIANS AND
REPTILES
Pickerel Frog
American Toad
Spring Peeper
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Bull Frog
Green Frog
Gray Treefrog
�Leopard Frog ����
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Snapping Turtle
Painted Turtle
Map Turtle
Blandings Turtle
�Soft-shelled Spiny Turtle���
 
Mudpuppy
�Northern Water Snake����
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INSECTS
Dragonflies
Damselflies
Mayfly Nymph��
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Water Strider
Mosquito
Water Beetle
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Water Spider
Water Boatman
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PLANTS
Yellow Water Lily
Common Duckweed
Water Milfoil
Cattails
Water Plantain
Algae
 
Blue Flag
Bulrush
Bladderwort
Arrowhead
Reeds
Bugleweed
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Black Ash
Blue Beech
Various species of Willows
Silver Maple
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Bur Oak
Large-toothed Aspen
Red Maple
Sycamore
Eastern Cottonwood
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*Many mammals use the aquatic habitat for water, food and shelter. Beaver, muskrats, mink, opossums, and raccoons are some of the mammals you might see in or near an aquatic area. Very often you will be able to find their tracks.

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WELCOME TO THE MEDWAY VALLEY
GRASSLAND HABITAT

An open field surrounds the upland forest. This open meadow is in the succession process and is becoming a walnut savannah. The old orchards and abandoned pastures are mixed with forest species and grassy meadow.

GRASSLAND HABITAT
Grasslands are open areas where few or no trees grow. A true grassland is sometimes called a prairie. A prairie is a long-lived grassland that is dominated by native grasses. In comparison, the grasses that you may see growing along the side of the road are called meadows, they are not true prairies or grasslands.

A meadow is an open, treeless area covered by grasses and is usually the result of a disturbance. Meadows are the first stage of forest regeneration. These areas have hundreds of different species of grasses and wildflowers. Grasses make up between 50-75% of all plants found in tall grass prairies. The most common grasses found within a Tall grass Prairie includes: Big Bluestem, Little Bluestem, Indian Grass and Switch grass. Some plants that can be found within this habitat include Wild Lupine, Gray-headed Coneflower, Prairie Smoke, Wild Bergamot, Butterfly Weed, Blazing Asters, Goldenrods and Sunflowers.

Before European Settlement tall grass prairies were abundant in Southern Ontario. Now, they are endangered. Less than 3% of the original tall grass prairies still exist in Ontario today. The prairies were converted into agricultural fields and pastures. However, restoration projects are underway in Southern Ontario to help save the prairie. Unfortunately, along with the loss of habitat comes the loss of species. Of the plant species considered rare in Ontario, approximately 20% are associated with prairie ecosystems.

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LIFE IN A GRASSLAND

BIRDS
Red-tailed Hawk
Brown-headed Cowbird
Killdeer
Field Sparrow
Rock Dove������
Barn Owl *at risk
Eastern Meadowlark
Barn Swallow
Turkey Vulture
Song Sparrow
�Short-eared Owl *at risk����
Eastern Bluebird
American Goldfinch
Pheasant
Northern Harrier
American Kestrel
�Loggerhead Shrike� *at risk
 
Wild Turkey
Bobolink
Horned Lark
Snow Bunting
Northern Bobwhite *at risk����
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MAMMALS
Deer Mouse
Field Mouse
Short-tailed Shrew
Common Shrew
Eastern Cottontail Rabbit
Red Fox
Smoky Shrew
 
Meadow Vole
White-tailed Deer
Skunk��
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Groundhog
Star-nosed Mole
�American Badger *at risk�����
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INSECTS
Dragonflies
Crickets
Preying Mantis
Various Species of Flies
�Various Species of� Spiders (not insects)����
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Damselflies
Grasshoppers
Ants
Bees and Wasps
Ladybird Beetles
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Monarch Butterfly
Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly
Great Spangled Fritillary Butterfly������
Red Admiral�����
American Painted Lady Butterfly
Cabbage White Butterfly
�Summer Azure����
�Clouded Sulpher�����
��Orange Sulpher������
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REPTILES
Eastern Garter
Snake
Eastern Milk
Snake
 
Eastern Hognose
Snake
Fox Snake *at risk
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Smooth Green Snake
Eastern Ribbon Snake
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PLANTS
Tall Fescue
Big Bluestem
Little Bluestem
Indian Grass
Red Fescue
Canada Wild Rye
Switch Grass
Wool Grass
Quack/Twitch
Grass������
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Canada Tick-
Trefoil
Black-eyed
Susan
New England
Aster
Virginia Mountain
Mint
Blazingstar
New Jersey Tea
Tall Sunflower
Canada Thistle
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Goldenrod
Wild Bergamot
Gray-headed
Coneflower
Purple
Coneflower
Prairie Dock
Smooth
Beardtongue
Common
Dandelion
Joe-Pye-Weed
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Wild Carrot
Common
Milkweed
Swamp
Milkweed
Butterfly Weed
Common
Plantain
Meadowrue
Common
Burdock
Hawthorn������
�Grey Dogwood
�������
 

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WELCOME TO THE MEDWAY VALLEY WETLAND HABITAT
The flood plain and riparian environments support many wetland species. The tree and shrub species found here are similar to the forest species.

WETLAND HABITAT
A wetland is an area that has standing water at or near the surface for most of the year. Wetlands may be located along shorelines and riverbanks or can often be found in isolated depressions or hollows. Wetlands are very important within nature for the following reasons:

Wetlands provide habitat (food, water, shelter and space) for mammals, reptiles, amphibians and many bird species.
Wetlands act like a giant sponge, holding water that reduces flooding.
Wetlands release water slowly, supplying water to other communities.
Wetlands help to control erosion.
Wetlands act like water filters.

There are four types of wetlands found in Ontario;

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marshes, swamps, bogs and fens.

MARSHES
These are found along the edges of rivers, streams, ponds and lakes. They support many plants that are rooted in the soil and grow out of the water called emergent plants. Cattails and Arrowheads are two examples of emergent plants. Marshes receive their water from the body of water next to them, groundwater, rain or snow. As a result of this the water levels can vary from a few centimetres up to two metres.

SWAMPS
Swamps can be either isolated or found along rivers, streams and lakes. They are formed as a result of flooding during the spring snowmelt. They are covered with water for most of the year, although they do not flood as deeply as marshes and can dry up during periods of drought.

Some of the trees that can be seen in a swamp include Eastern White Cedar, Balsam Poplar, Red Maple, Silver Maple, Black Ash, Tamarack and Spruce. A variety of shrubs are located here: Alder, Willow, Button Bush, Winterberry and Dogwood. The ground is carpeted with mosses, ferns and wildflowers including Marsh Marigold, Skunk Cabbage and Orchids.

BOGS
Bogs are commonly found in the northern parts of the province. They are located in deep, bowl-like depressions and are filled with layers of peat (slowly decaying plant material). The water becomes covered with floating and decaying vegetation. The dominant vegetation here is sphagnum moss. Some tree species found here are Black Spruce, Tamarack and White Cedar. Plants include Leatherleaf, Labrador Tea, Bog Rosemary, Blueberries, Cranberries, Three-leaved-Solomons Seal, Sundew and Pitcher Plants.

FENS
These are areas that are usually located in low-lying areas of Northern Ontario. Within Fens water slowly flows in and out of the peat layers. However, fens may dry up in the warmer months. They are one of the most interesting wildflower and insect habitats and are a great place to find Orchids and other rare plants.
Fens are dominated by grasses, rushes, and sedges. Other plant life consists of: Horsetails, Brown Moss, Tamarack, Black Spruce and Birch. Wildlife in a Fen can include shrews, mice, voles, lemmings, coyote, muskrat, raccoon, beaver and weasels.

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LIFE IN A WETLAND

BIRDS
Tundra Swan
Canada Goose
Mallard Duck
American Black Duck
Wood Duck
Hooded Merganser
Gadwell
Northern Shoveler
Red-winged Blackbird
Sandhill Crane
 
Greater &Lesser Scaup
Common Goldeneye
Bufflehead
Green-winged Teal
Pied-bill Grebe
Horned Grebe
American Bittern
Northern Harrier
Least Bittern
Snow Goose�
Green Heron
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Solitary Sandpiper
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Greater &Lesser Yellow Legs
Wilson Phalarope
Spotted Sandpiper
 
Pectoral Sandpiper
Dowitchers
Common Snipe
Belted Kingfisher
Killdeer
Virginia Rail
Yellow Rail
Sora Rail
�Marsh Wren
Sedge Wren
Marsh Hawk
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MAMMALS
Beaver
Mink
Red Fox
Weasel
Coyote
Raccoon
Various Mole Species
Various Vole Species
Various Shrew Species
Skunk
Grey Squirrel
Opossum
White-tailed Deer
Muskrat
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AMPHIBIANS AND REPTILES

American Toad
Green Frog
Spring Peeper
Wood Frog
Bull Frog
Pickerel Frog��
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Mudpuppy
Red Spotted Newt
Blue Spotted Salamander
Red-backed Salamander
Four-Toed Salamander
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Snapping Turtle
Map Turtle
Painted Turtle
Blandings Turtle
Spotted Turtle
Five-lined Skink
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Eastern Garter Snake
Eastern Milk Snake
Ribbon Snake
Eastern Hognose Snake
Smooth Green Snake
Black Rat Snake
Brown Snake
INSECTS
Dragonflies
Damselflies
Mayfly Nymph�
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Mosquito
Various Species of Flies����
 
Various Species of Bees and Wasps��
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PLANTS
Cattail
Bulrush
Various Sedge Species
Various Grass Species
Pond Weed
Swamp Milkweed
Jewelweed���
Spotted Joe-Pye-Weed
Blue Vervain
Waterfoil
Pickerel Weed
Arrowhead
Blue Flag
Smartweed
Marsh Marigold
Dense Blazingstar
Skunk Cabbage
Horsetails
Choke Cherry
Crab Apple
Hawthorns
Autumn Olive
Red-Osier Dogwood
�Sandbar Willow���
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Various species of Willow��
Sycamore
Hackberry
Eastern Cottonwood
Green Ash
Black Ash
White Cedar

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RARE SPECIES IN THE MEDWAY VALLEY

There are numerous plant and animal species that have become rare or endangered all over the world. The causes of rarity include species at the limits of their range, as well as the shortage of suitable habitat due to human activity. It is important to protect their habitat in order to prevent local extirpation.

There are seven rare plant species within the Medway Valley:

False Rue Anemone
American Gromwell
Meadow Sundrops
Cream-coloured Violet
Sedge
Red Mulberry
Green Dragon

As well, there are three rare fish species found in the River:

Stoneroller
Silver Shiner
Redfin Shiner


INVASIVE SPECIES

You can also see a number of invasive plant species. These plants are non-native to the area and will choke out the natural plants. Some of the invasive plants you might see are:
Common Buckthorn
Tartarian Honeysuckle
Goutweed
Garlic Mustard

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VISITING A NATURAL AREA

DRESS APPROPRIATELY

You want to enjoy your nature experience

  • long sleeves
  • long pants
  • a hat
  • shoes and socks
  • sun screen and bug spray
RESPECT THE AREA


Many species make this area their home

  • don�t litter

  • take only pictures

  • don�t disturb anything

  • don�t pick flowers

  • if you observe something place it back where you found it
STAY ON TRAILS


�You could trample wildlife and plants

  • �don�t damage vegetation

  • don�t disturb dead wood, it is decaying

  • stay away from leaflets three, it is poison ivy

  • minimize human impact on the area
ENJOY YOUR VISIT!


Your natural area is important to you

  • the quieter you are, the more you will see

  • leave everything in its natural setting

  • come back and visit again

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