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Photo by Chris Miner

The Elbow Lake Environmental Education Centre (ELEEC) is the result of an agreement between the Queen’s University Biological Station (QUBS) and the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC). QUBS is one of the pre-eminent biological field stations in Canada known for research excellence and quality undergraduate learning experiences in field biology and other fields. NCC is Canada’s leading national land conservation organization that partners with corporate and landowners secure properties for conservation of biodiversity in perpetuity. The Education Centre was created in June 2011 to serve as a major site for environmental outreach and education for QUBS.

Our Mission

  • Conserve and protect the natural heritage of Elbow Lake and environs for future generations of Canadians.
  • Provide a unique venue for public outreach and educational programs in biodiversity conservation and environmental stewardship.
  • Engage in programs for public awareness of biodiversity and environmental issues for people of all ages.
  • Provide outdoor programs to enhance biological and natural history teaching components of school curricula.
  • Foster partnerships with like-minded educational and conservation organizations.

The Elbow Lake Environmental Education Centre can host a range of activities including school field trips, field courses, club meetings, individual or group retreats, and small conferences. We welcome visits from educators, academics, environmental organizations, and other conservation partners, and would be pleased to work with you to offer customized programming specific to your interests and needs.

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1st Annual Frontenac Christmas Bird Count a Success!

Posted on December 29, 2015

On Saturday, December 19, five teams consisting of birders and general outdoor enthusiasts spread out across a 45,000 ha area centred north of the nearby village of Sydenham to celebrate our local avian diversity by counting birds.  Here at Elbow Lake, on the eastern end of the survey area, two families participated in the first annual Christmas Bird Count for Kids (CBC4K) workshop and an additional three volunteers walked the trails and grounds in search of birds to count.

Four young participants in CBC4K, ranging in age from about 5 to 12 years, enjoyed a short indoor presentation on local bird identification and observation skills, followed by a 2.5 km hike of the Red Trail loop in mild, sunny weather.  Each member of the “Woody Woodpeckers” team fell comfortably into their preferred role – from trailblazer, to observers, to data scribe – and their hour of search effort was rewarded with a whopping 39 birds counted!  These included:

ü 12 Mallard:  Our most recognizable member of the “dabbling” ducks – those that feed by tipping their heads down into shallow water – these flew overhead in a single flock, circling around for a second pass that allowed surveyors to count them.

ü Four (4) Hooded Mergansers:  Some of the smallest local representatives from the “diving duck” group, these ducks feed almost exclusively on fish that they catch with their serrated bills.

ü An additional six unidentified species of duck.

ü One Hairy Woodpecker:  This species can be distinguished from the incredibly similar, but generally smaller, Downy Woodpeckers by their larger, thicker beaks.

ü Nine (9) Black-capped Chickadees that gave the group pause to consider: Which of these charismatic little individuals are following along with us on the hike, and which are new birds to be counted?

ü Three (3) White-breasted Nuthatches: Similarly small black-capped like a chickadee, this deciduous forest resident lacks a black bib but is most easily distinguished by its behaviour of creeping downward along tree trunks and limbs.

ü An additional four unidentified species of perching birds or “passerines”.

The post-survey wrap-up over hot chocolate and candy canes was a hit with the Woody Woodpeckers!  Parents also appreciated the workshop as an opportunity to escape the Christmas chaos and get the family outdoors for some fresh air and exercise.

Photo by Laurie Swinton.

Photo by Laurie Swinton.

Photo by Laurie Swinton.

Thank you to Laurie Swinton for sharing such lovely photos of the young birders on their count!

Systematic counts of the Elbow Lake property, which are recorded as part of the official Frontenac Christmas Bird Count, included coverage of the Red Trail, Green Trail, waterfront and facility area, as well as the main laneway out to North Shore Road.  Thank you to ELEEC staff Joanna, and volunteers Krista, Nick and Mike for counting “our” birds!  These surveys added Ring-necked Duck, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, Common Raven, American Robin, American Goldfinch, Dark-eyed Junco and Ruffed Grouse to the species list.  Full count results from the official Frontenac Christmas Bird Count and other insights of the day are summarized separately in a short report.

Unfortunately, the Elbow Lake counts did not capture a few other species noted on the property in the days leading up to and following the official count date: Brown Creeper, American Tree Sparrow and Bald Eagle.  Maybe next year!

For more information on Christmas Bird Counts, including the Frontenac CBC, please visit Bird Studies Canada's website.

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