Category Archives: Buffalo Audubon Society

Buffalo Audubon Society

West Seneca Oxbow Wetland Restoration, WNY

As someone who is not exactly from Western New York originally — {:-) — I had no idea that there even were any old oxbow lakes in the area, let alone one on which restoration efforts had been made, but there is and its in West Seneca.

The Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper [BNRK] website states that “West Seneca’s oxbow wetland on Buffalo Creek is just a few miles upstream from the industrialized Buffalo River, a Great Lakes ‘Area of Concern’. As one of only three major wetlands in the lower Buffalo River watershed, it is considered a source area for future habitat and species restoration in the AOC.  Planning studies over the past 40 years have recommended that the oxbow site be protected.”

According to the  ERIE [Ecosystem Restoration through Interdisciplinary Exchange] webpage, “the restoration of the  oxbow wetland began in 2008 as part of the Buffalo River Watershed and AOC  restoration effort.  The project was led by BNRK and funded by a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

“In Fall 2009, six ERIE trainees became involved  in the restoration project… [and] donated over  1000 hours in fieldwork and analysis of flora, fauna, soils and groundwater.  The trainees developed a habitat restoration  and management plan for the 14-acre parcel of the oxbow. The plan used an  adaptive management framework to control invasive plant species and reintroduce  native plants to the site based on historical and nearby reference  communities. ”

To see pictures of the Oxbow and ERIE trainees working on the project (courtesy of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper), click here.

IfI can establish that there is public access to this site, or get us permission to visit, then this seems like a good venue for one of our ‘Wildlife Watchers & Nature Photographers’ group walks.  I’ll let you know the outcome of this.

WWP Group Walk – ‘Identifying Trees in Winter’ – Buffalo Audubon Society

John Sly (Photo copyright 2014, Gerry McIntyre. All rights reserved)

Identifying winter trees?  I often have difficulty identifying them in summer!  It would appear that I’m not the only one, either, because several members of our WWP group came out in today’s modestly below-freezing temperatures and had an enjoyable and instructive walk with John Sly, one of Buffalo Audubon Society’s team of knowledgeable volunteers.  Indeed, John was able to pass on so much information that it was a challenge to keep up.

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Beaver Meadow Arboretum
Beaver Meadow Arboretum

Deciduous twigs opposite or alternate?  If opposite each other then “MAD Horses” are responsible! (Maple, Ash, Dogwood or Horse Chestnut – a great acronym that should prove easy to remember.)

White Pine
White Pine

Compound leaves or simple?  Well yes, this was a question about summer trees, not winter, but as we were apparently not willing to leave any leaf unturned, the questions were still answered.

Display of leaves at the Arboretum
Display of leaves at the Arboretum

Pines with needles in bundles?  If in twos, it could be Red Pine or Jack Pine (though they are very different) but if the needles are in fives it is the remarkable Eastern White Pine – a tree whose timber caused ructions inthe build up to the Revolutionary War.

This wasn’t all, of course.  There were still bark, buds and seeds to consider, not to mention the habitats in which each species found its favoured niche.

Prior to starting the walk, we had the opportunity to briefly look at at John’s own display collection of over 80 species of leaves, together with various seeds, pine cones, twigs and so on.  Interestingly, when I asked him, he added that the leaves would keep their green colouration and remain usable for display for about 15 years.

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Gerry, balancing flash exposure with background snow
Gerry, balancing flash exposure with background snow

 

 

 

 

 

 

Key little tidbits came out during this ‘classroom’ session, such as the indentations in some maple leaves being ‘U’ shaped, which indicated sUgar maple, and others being V shaped. John also passed around several of his older tree-identification books — mostly just printed with monochrome illustrations, unlike today’s brightly-coloured volumes — but showed us the detail in the typically larger illustrations, an aspect which spoke for itself.

Detailed explanation
Detailed explanations

During the first two-thirds of our walk, snow fell quite heavily, and this meant that those of us with DSLR cameras which were not weather-proof had to be cautious about the water getting in.  And some of us (meaning me!) had forgotten to to pack our waterproof compact camera, too, so several photo opportunities were lost!

What started out, perhaps, as just a good reason to get outside and have a winter walk, turned out to be extremely interesting and I,

And then the sun came out!for one, will look for other opportunities to go out on John’s various guided walks because — to use a well-known phrase — he’s a man who has clearly forgotten more about trees than I will likely ever know. And just to end the walk on a high note, the sun came out and graced us with its presence on our way back to the BAS buildings.

Finally, my thanks to Gerry McIntyre, for sharing some of his photos with us in this blog.

Eddie Wren