Grassland that looks much the way Southern Ontario looked 75 year ago
Alvars are globally rare habitats, plains of exposed flat limestone bedrock or covered thinly with soil and sparse vegetation. Plant growth is restricted by heavy spring wetness followed by summer drought. These stressed habitats often support rare plants and animals, many of which are more commonly found on grasslands.
Most of the worlds alvars occur in Europe or around the five Great Lakes, and more than half of those are in Ontario. Unfortunately many in southern Ontario have been degraded by agriculture.
A marks the Carden Alvar
The Carden Alvar is northeast of Lake simcoe, lass than an hour from East Gwillimbury. It is home to several endangered species as well as many species at risk. It's also a wonderful place to see birds. This alvar supports 238 bird species, more than two-thirds of which I have not yet added to my life list so I foresee many happy days, weeks and months ahead with my camera up to my eyes.
Prairie smoke in early June
Much of the Carden Alvar is private property so birdwatching there must be done from the road. That's okay, as many birds can be easily seen from the public side of the most fences. The one caution is to watch out for poison ivy.
Cattle grazing maintains the short grass favoured by many grassland birds.
One popular field is home to many bluebirds, which can be seen easily from the road. Sadly, clouds covered the sun when I took this dark photo.
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