On Saturday, Sept. 20th approximately 360 visitors visited the Alderville Black Oak Savanna for our 7th Annual Prairie Day. This day was a celebration of the remnant tall grass prairie and savanna ecosystems. These rare ecosystems are supported by the Rice Lake Plains Joint Initiative (RLPJI) who are a multi-partner conservation and stewardship project committed to its restoration since 2002.
Sponsored by the Friends of the Greenbelt, the day was filled with many activities, tours, displays, music and entertainment. Fun for the whole family, students and field naturalists alike, the day started off in the early morning with bird banding. Elizabeth Kellogg and Roger Frost from the Willow Beach Field Naturalists (a RLPJI partner) were assisted in banding 9 species of birds for a total of 41 birds.
Interactive displays included traditional practices of wild rice harvesting with Jeff Beaver, having many volunteers parching, dancing, winnowing, and asking questions about gathering, planting, and benefits of wild rice. Rick Beaver, the Research and Restoration Coordinator at the Alderville Black Oak Savanna, guided a tour on the traditional uses of prairie and savanna plants.
The Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre, a registered charity that provides outreach, education, and conservation initiatives, introduced curious onlookers to a snapping turtle. Visitors left with a deeper concern for turtles, with 7 of the 8 species of Ontario's turtle listed as a species at risk.
The Lone Pine Marsh Sanctuary (a RLPJI partner) described that Prairie Day was an opportunity to provide visitors with basic information on land trusts, providing information on outdoor recreational activities available on the conservation lands, and a great opportunity for partners to raise awareness in what they do. In addition to on-going activities, a short bus trip took nature enthusiasts to Hazel Bird Nature Reserve, a Nature Conservancy of Canada property. The Nature Conservancy of Canada, a private land conservation organization, is a key founder in the Rice Lake Plains Joint Initiative.
Entertainers included Waaban (a hand drumming duo of Jordan Mowat and Nathalie Restoule), Cale Crowe, Ken Whiteley, the Barnburners, and Chad Solomon (with his puppet show Rabbit and Bear Paws). This exciting day seemed to pass quickly!
The 2014 Prairie Day was a tremendous success. Thanks to all the entertainers, presenters, tour leaders, organizers and volunteers for a great day. We look forward to seeing you at next year's Prairie Day!
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