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Skunk's Misery Complex (ON010)

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Skunk's Misery Complex (ON010)

Bothwell, Ontario

Latitude 42.650°N
Longitude 81.806°W
Altitude 210 - 213m
Area 33.13km²

Site Description

The Skunk's Misery Complex is located in southern Ontario about 40 km northeast of Chatham. It is comprised of a group of relatively large deciduous forests located on the Bothwell sand plain to the west of Bothwell and to the north and south of Newbury. The topography is flat to gently rolling with the surficial deposits being comprised of sands overlying clay. The result is a mixed sandy area with water-soaked soils that are unsuitable for agriculture unless extensive drainage occurs. This is likely the reason why these large forests have not been cleared.

A variety of forest habitats are present in this complex, ranging from pine plantations, to closed canopy swamp forest (Silver Maple / Black Ash / Swamp White Oak) with standing water into July, to recently logged and regenerating upland forest. In addition to supporting significant concentrations of birds, these forests also support many other species of provincial and national significance, including Butlers Garter Snake, and Large Whorled Pogonia.

Birds

The Skunk's Misery Complex supports a significant population of Hooded Warblers (nationally threatened). Within the entire complex, detailed surveys have been completed at only two sites, with a total of 12 15 Hooded Warbler territories being recorded in 1998 (as much as 10% of the estimated Canadian population). Acadian Flycatchers (nationally endangered) are also present with three and four pairs in 1999 and 2000, respectively; at least one pair occurs annually on a long-term basis. Cerulean Warblers (nationally vulnerable) appear to be scattered throughout the complex, especially on the slightly higher sites where White Oak is more noticeable (as many as eight contiguous territories were recorded at one site in 1998). A Red-headed Woodpecker (nationally vulnerable) was also recorded.

In addition to nationally threatened species, the site also supports a rich assemblage of species that are largely restricted to eastern temperate forests (19 of 28 species) or are regionally uncommon. These species include: Broad-winged Hawk (2 pairs), Yellow-throated Vireo (5 + pairs), Black-and-White Warbler (3 + pairs), Mourning Warbler (3 + pairs), Chestnut-sided Warbler (5 + pairs), and Northern Waterthrush (6 + pairs). A cumulative total of 13 species of breeding wood warblers was encountered at this site on 4 visits in 1997 and 4 visits in 1998.

Conservation Issues

The large amounts of regional forest cover in the Skunk's Misery Complex are critical to the long-term presence of the significant bird populations that occur at this site. Although this aspect is recognized, conservation efforts are complicated by multiple ownership (both public and private). The Middlesex Stewardship Council and Stewardship Kent have worked on a community-based Conservation Strategy and a Community Stewardship Program. In addition, the County of Middlesex and the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority have worked on a forest management plan.

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Rusty Blackbird
Number Year Season
1002015Fall
Acadian Flycatcher
Number Year Season
1 - 82017Summer
1 - 32017Spring
22016Summer
1 - 22016Spring
1 - 42015Summer
12015Spring
22014Fall
22014Summer
12014Spring
12013Summer
1 - 32012Summer
12012Spring
12011Summer
1 - 22011Spring
12010Spring
12009Summer
22005Summer
22005Spring
22005Winter
22003Summer
3 - 42002Summer
12002Spring
4 - 172001Summer
22001Spring
82000Summer
11999Fall
4 - 61999Summer
1 - 21998Summer
1 - 41997Summer
Cerulean Warbler
Number Year Season
131998Summer
201995Summer
Prothonotary Warbler
Number Year Season
12015Summer
12014Summer
12014Spring
12007Summer
12001Summer
Yellow-breasted Chat
Number Year Season
12010Spring