On Sunday September 11, 2016 a small group from Saugeen Nature set off for a canoe outing on Luther Marsh. This wildlife management area lies just to the south of eastern Grey County, and forms a major part of the headwater system of the Grand River. It is closed for the spring and early part of the summer, but canoes and kayaks are allowed on the water starting in August and motorized boats in September and October.
The marsh is a major breeding bird sanctuary and since it is so protected while the birds are allowed to breed, it is a wonderful place to visit in late summer and early fall. The group from Saugeen Nature saw more than 20 majestic white egrets as well as several Great Blue Herons feeding and flying around the edges of marsh. A pair of loons with a young one was paddling around and feeding in the productive waters, while a rare Virginia Rail was seen lurking in the cattails along the shore. The group saw many ducks, but was not able to identify them. The birds were very shy and would not allow the boats to approach as they do in some other wildlife areas. Hunting is allowed in the marsh in September and October, but only on certain days.
The now rare Monarch Butterfly must find the marsh habitat congenial. The water is surrounded by upland meadows filled with brightly coloured wildflowers. Twelve Monarchs were seen fighting their way across the water against the north wind that had strengthened over the morning hours. They managed to travel faster than the canoes as the group struggled to get back to our cars after lunch.
A wild and lovely day was enjoyed by all on Luther Marsh. The absolute quiet of this isolated sanctuary is one of the rewards of a visit. Similar outings are hosted once a month by the members of Saugeen Nature. The public is welcome and most of the outings are free unless there is a charge to get into a sanctuary. On October 1st there is a hike along the Bruce Trail in the Beaver Valley and on November 19th in Hanover Saugeen Nature is hosting a hands on demonstration of Reptiles at Risk put on by the Ministry of Natural Re- sources and Forestry. Go to www.saugeenfieldnaturlists.com for details.
Submitted by Nikki May, Publicity, Saugeen Nature