Napanee Limestone Plain (ON152)
Altitude 100 - 150m
The Napanee Limstone Plain is situated in eastern Ontario, with the town of Napanee at its centre. The site includes natural upland habitats between Belleville and Kingston, north to Erinsville and south to the Bay of Quinte. The area is a mosaic of shallow soil habitats such as savannah grasslands with scattered Red Cedar or hawthorrn and small wood-lots. Grassland habitats are in the early stages of succession, having been originally cleared for settlement. Land-uses in the area include cattle grazing, mixed farming, rural residential, and limestone and aggregate quarries. There are numerous rare plants growing here, including Prairie Smoke, Carolina Whitlow Grass, Upland White Goldenrod, Mock Pennyroyal and several aster species. Four regionally rare snakes are present: Eastern Ring-necked, Eastern Milk, Dekays and Eastern Ribbon Snake.
The Napanee Limstone Plain is important for its grassland and alvar bird populations. Thirty or more pairs of Loggerhead Shrikes breed on this plain. This is about 20% of the Canadian population of the nationally endangered eastern population, and about 75% of Ontarios breeding shrikes. The Upland Sandpiper is also found here in nationally significant numbers. It is estimated that 150 to 200 pairs breed here annually, which is perhaps 2% of the Canadian Upland Sandpiper population. Also of national significance is the nationally endangered Henslows Sparrow, which is has been present regularly in low numbers (1 to 5 pairs). However, there have been no recent records for this rapidly declining, but also hard-to-find species.
Additional species of interest in the IBA, and their estimated breeding populations, are: Northern Harrier (20 to 30 pairs), American Kestrel (25 to 50 pairs), Common Nighthawk (20 to 30 pairs), Grasshopper Sparrow (150 to 200 pairs), Clay-coloured Sparrow (10 to 20 pairs), Vesper Sparrow (150 to 200 pairs) and Eastern Meadowlark (200 to 400 pairs).
Natural succession is the critical factor that will affect the nesting areas of the species currently here, especially the Loggerhead Shrike. The active quarrying of aggregates is another important factor that changes habitat and leads to increased traffic. Road kills are known to be one cause of shrike mortality.
There are numerous conservation measures in place for this area. The Loggerhead Shrike Recovery Team has a plan to restore the habitat. Some fences have been repaired and shrubs have been thinned in places to slow succession. A video has been prepared for use as an educational tool to help in the areas conservation. A contact programme has been launched for landowners in the area, whereby they have been approached to increase their awareness of shrikes and help them plan their activities to minimize damage to the ecosystem. There are several provincial Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSIs) sites within the site: Westplain Mud Lake fen, Salmon River alvar, Roblin Hell Holes, Camden East Alvar, Camden Wildlife Area, and the Asselstine Alvar. In these areas, which include shrike habitat, landowners are eligible to participate in the Conservation Land Tax Incentive Programme.
Potential or Ongoing Threats