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SIFTON BOG

LOCATION
DESCRIPTION
HISTORY
USES/TRAIL
HABITAT
WETLAND



LOCATION

The Sifton Botanical Bog is located on the south side of Oxford Street, west of Hyde Park Road in the City of London, Ontario. It is owned by the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority and jointly managed with the City of London.
There is a small parking lot at the entrance to this 28 hectare natural area. There is ample parking across Oxford St. at Oakridge Mall.


DESCRIPTION

The Sifton Bog is a Class 2 Provincially Significant Wetland. Bogs of this type are often found in more northern climates. Sifton Bog is the most southerly large acidic bog in Canada and therefore an invaluable study area, especially since it is located in a large urban area. The bog is surrounded by upland forest including some Carolinian species. This makes it a very interesting natural area to visit. There is a wide variety of habitat to experience.

The bog depression was once a large block of ice. The ice block was left when the last glacier melted about 13,000 years ago. There is a thick layer of peat under the vegetation. This sits on the stony soil that once surrounded the ice block. When the block melted, the depression or kettle remained.

Today a central pond, called Redmonds Pond, is surrounded by a floating bog and a swampy lowland wooded area. This area is surrounded by upland deciduous forest slopes. There is a trail and boardwalk that leads through the lowland woods, across the floating bog to the central pond.

The Sifton Bog has been previously disturbed by many human influences including a gravel pit, agriculture, and residential development, however, through time the bog has continued to be self-sustaining.

HISTORY
Some interesting facts about Sifton Botanical Bog:

? One of the earliest uses for the Sifton Bog was as a hunting ground by Aboriginal People.

? From 1854-100 the Redmond Family and George Foster owned the property that contains Redmonds Pond. During this time the bog was known as Byron Bog.

? During WWII the Alder Buckthorn was removed for use in the production of gunpowder.

? In 1957, W.W. Judd, of University of Western Ontario, led a movement to preserve Byron Bog.

? In 1958, the owners of Byron Bog were: William Duyker, Arthur Thompson, Clare Wright and Mowbray Sifton. Each owned a different tract of land on which the Byron Bog was located.

? From 1958-1966 the four owners sold their properties to UTRCA (Upper Thames River Conservation Authority).

? During 1962-1967 there were negotiations made to have the bog preserved.

? On September 23, 1966 the UTRCA (Upper Thames River Conservation Authority) acquired the area through both a grant from the Province of Ontario and a donation from the Sifton Construction Company. It was then renamed the Sifton Botanical Bog.

 



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A HISTORY OF MANAGEMENT PRACTICES

During the 20th Century the owners of the Sifton Bog tried to exploit the Bogs natural resources in several different ways. They attempted to drain the land to grow celery, removed layers of peat for sale, and sold Black Spruce for Christmas Trees.
Some of the management practices that have taken place at Sifton Bog are:

After the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA) purchased the property, the property was made to be more easily accessible to the public. Some of the improvements were:

? Parking lot built in 1968

? Field house constructed in 1968

? Hanging sign erected at the edge of Oxford Street in 1968

? Trail system developed in 1968

? Boardwalk built leading from the property entrance to Redmonds Pond in 1973

? Permanent sign erected at the entrance gate in 1974

TRAILS
From the main parking lot, a trail leads through part of the lowland swamp to the boardwalk. The boardwalk leads over the open, floating sphagnum mat area of the quaking bog and ends at an observation platform at the edge of Redmonds Pond. Visitors must stay on the boardwalk because there are many fragile plants in the bog. Many people come here to walk among nature and to take photographs of the wildlife that live in the wetland habitat. It is presently being used for educational and passive recreational purposes by natural history clubs, service clubs, local residents and students of all ages.

HABITAT
The Sifton Bog Natural Area is rich in diversity of habitat. There are four different types of ecosystems. There is a wooded slope habitat, a low woodland habitat, a floating bog habitat, and a pond (aquatic) habitat. Deciduous upland forest can be found on the slopes and swampy lowland forest species can be found surrounding the floating bog vegetation. In the center of the bog there is Redmonds pond. The central bog communities are relatively undisturbed and are the most significant feature of the area. Sifton Bog is a Class 2 Provincially Significant Wetland.


WETLANDS AT THE SIFTON BOG

The Sifton Botanical Bog is a floating mat of sphagnum moss that is alive at the surface and decaying below. The mat is underlain by up to 33 feet of saturated peat. This community tends to incorporate marsh and bog vegetation. Many shrubs can reach up to 20 feet high with the occasional tree species as you move toward the forested area. Some of the ground cover vegetation found at Sifton Bog:

Sphagnum Moss Bog Rosemary
Highbush Blueberry Smalls Spike-rush
Black Huckleberry Short-stalked Bedstraw
Pussywillow Sensitive Fern
Leatherleaf Marsh Fern
Mud Sedge Dyers Bedstraw
Tawny Cotton-grass Glossy Buckthorn
Brown-fruited Rush Three-fruited Sedge


Many of the species found at Sifton Bog are considered nationally, provincially, or regionally rare. This means that these species numbers are declining due to habitat loss, human influence or environmental concerns. The following plants are considered rare and are mostly found within the wetland and aquatic habitats.


Atlantic Sedge Horned Bladderwort
Dodges Hawthorn Dyers Bedstraw
Yellow Pond-lily/Spatterdock Brown-fruited Rush
American Ginseng Swamp fly Honeysuckle
Smiths Club-rush Three-leaved False
Solomons Seal Snake Mouth
Dragons Mouth Bog Laurel
Water-shield Bog Rosemary
Grass-pink White Beak-rush
Brownish Sedge Northern Dewberry
Hairy-fruited Sedge Purple-flowering Raspberry
Mud Sedge Pitcher Plant
Stunted Sedge Smooth White Violet
Three-fruited Sedge Sundew
Leatherleaf Spikerush
Olive-fruited Spike-rush Black Spruce
Tawny Cotton-grass Cranberry
Short-stalked Bedstraw Northern St. Johns Wort

There are five species of carnivorous plants found at Sifton Bog. There are the Pitcher-plant, two Sundews, and two Bladderworts. Carnivorous plants eat insects to obtain nutrition because the bog peat does not contain many nutrients.


The following insects are found in this natural area because of the acidic bog vegetation:

Pitcher-plant Moth
Bog Copper Butterfly
Bog Elfin
Bog Crickets
Mosquitoes



GENERAL INFORMATION ON WETLANDS

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:


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


There are four types of wetlands found in Ontario; 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 deep 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.


The following is a general species list of life you might find in a marsh, swamp, bog or fen.

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
? Pine Grosbeak ? Green Heron
? Great Blue Heron
? Great Egret
? Solitary Sandpiper
? Common Moorhen
? American Coot
? Greater &Lesser Yellow Legs
? Wilson Phalarope
? Evening Grosbeak ? Pectoral Sandpiper
? Dowitchers
? Common Snipe
? Belted Kingfisher
? Killdeer
? Virginia Rail
? Yellow Rail
? Sora Rail
? Marsh Wren
? Sedge Wren
? Marsh Hawk
? Spotted Sandpiper
? White-winged Crossbills
? Pine Siskins
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 ?
?
?
?
? ?
AMPHIBIANS AND
REPTILES ? American Toad
? Green Frog
? Spring Peeper
? Wood Frog
? Bull Frog
? Pickerel Frog
? Leopard Frog
?
?
? ? Mudpuppy
? Red Spotted Newt
? Blue Spotted Salamander
? Red-backed Salamander
? Four-Toed Salamander
? ? Snapping Turtle
? Map Turtle
? Painted Turtle
? Blandings Turtle
? Spotted Turtle
? Five-lined Skink
? Brown Snake
?

? Eastern Garter Snake
? Eastern Milk Snake
? Ribbon Snake
? Eastern Hognose Snake
? Smooth Green Snake
? Black Rat Snake

INSECTS ? Dragonflies
? Damselflies
? Mayfly Nymph
? ? ? Mosquito
? Various Species of Flies
? ? Various Species of Bees and Wasps
? ? ?
?
?
? ?
PLANTS ? Cattail
? Bulrush
? Various Sedge Species
? Various Grass Species
? Pond Weed
? Swamp Milkweed
? Jewelweed
? Rose Pogonia
? Grass-pink ? Waterfoil
? Pickerel Weed
? Arrowhead
? Blue Flag
? Smartweed
? Marsh Marigold
? Dense Blazingstar
? Skunk Cabbage ? Choke Cherry
? Crab Apple
? Hawthorns
? Autumn Olive
? Red-Osier Dogwood
? Sundew
? Pitcher Plant
? Leatherleaf
? Bog Laurel
? Tawny Cotton-grass ? White Birch
? White Elm
? White Ash
? White Cedar
? Trembling Aspen
? Red Maple
? Silver Maple
? Ironwood
? Poplar
? Black Spruce
? Tamarack


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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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