Southwest Elgin Forest Complex (ON048)
Altitude 180 - 215m
The Southwest Elgin Count Forest Complex refers to a 20 kilometre stretch of discontinuous woodlots that are within 5 kilometres of the Lake Erie shoreline in southwest Elgin County. The site includes John E. Pearce Provincial Park at the eastern end, with the Elgin-Kent border on the west. This site has fairly good forest cover in privately owned woodlots, and has several very deeply incised, treed ravines. This part of Elgin County has relatively large amounts of forest cover, and has larger unfragmented woodlots than in many counties in southwestern Ontario. The woodlots are deciduous in character (often Sugar Maple and American Beech), and have a strong element of less common species such as Sassafras and Tulip Tree. Most of southwest Elgin County lies on an eastern extension of the Bothwell Sand Plain.
Hooded Warblers have been reported at woodlots in the Southwest Elgin Forest Complex for many years. The warblers are sometimes found in the same woodlots and at other times in new locations, primarily because there is still good forest cover and a fairly frequent logging cycle. Together these factors provides continuous Hooded Warbler habitat. There are usually 1 to 2 pairs per woodlot. However, there are also many logged woodlots in the site which are never visited, thus the Hooded Warbler population is probably in the range of 10 to 20 pairs. In 1997, Hooded Warblers were confirmed as present at three sites. Thus, between about 5 and 10% of the national population of this nationally threatened species is found here.
There are also three to five steep-sided closed-canopy ravines entering Lake Erie, with similar habitat to that of known Acadian Flycatcher sites. This species is nationally endangered. These ravines were surveyed in 1998 and two sites had at least one Acadian Flycatcher present (at one, a female incubating three eggs, and at the other, a single territorial male). Acadian Flycatchers were found at another location in 1985, 1986 and 1990, but not in 1987 or 1997. The area where this pair was found was heavily logged in 1996 explaining their absence in 1997; a pair of Hooded Warblers, however, were found there in 1997.
Logging affects bird habitats, like the woods of Southwest Elgin, both positively and negatively in that it improves the habitat for Hooded Warblers, but degrades it for Acadian Flycatchers. The woodlots in Southwest Elgin County have been shown to provide suitable habitat for Acadian Flycatchers but since logging is ongoing it is unlikely that larger numbers will be present in the foreseeable future. At present, these woodlots have no protection or conservation measures planned. All the land is privately held, with the exception of John E. Pearce Provincial Park (100 hectares) and the Ernie M. Warwick Conservation Area (~ 100 hectares).
Potential or Ongoing Threats