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Ojibway Nature Centre
Friends of Ojibway

Nancy Pancheshan
The Friends of Ojibway Prairie Inc.
c/o Ojibway Nature Centre
5200 Matchette Road
Windsor, ON
N9C 4E8
(519) 966-5852
e-mail: Friends of Ojibway Prairie



Virtual Tour of Ojibway Prairie

image of Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature reserve, Windsor, Ontario

Welcome to Ojibway’s Virtual Tour. The tour features a late summer walk through the Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve. The park’s acquisition began in 1973 and is now over 105 hectares in size (1.25 km in length by 1.05 km width).

aerial view of nature reserve trail after spring burn

This photo looks east (towards Malden Road) over the northern portion of the Nature Reserve. We begin at the wooden observation deck (located at word “parking”). The deck is on the south side of the Titcombe Bikeway (gravel road across from Ojibway Park’s parking lot) just beyond the yellow barriers. This tour follows the solid green line, however, the path heading south into the park is equally impressive.

Dense Blazingstar

  Dense Blazingstar

Mantid fly

  Mantid Fly
view from observation deck

This is the view from the observation deck. Take a moment to observe. Prior to the 1840’s, this was what a large portion of west Windsor looked like.

Tallgrass was once found throughout the central U.S. and in Southern Ontario and Manitoba. It covered an estimated 90 million hectares, about the size of British Columbia. Now only 1.5 million hectares (about one percent) remains Carolinian Canada.

Tallgrass prairie is one of Canada’s most endangered ecosystems. Essex County has approximately 79 hectares remaining (Pratt, 1994).

Ironweed in bloom

  Tall Ironweed

Grey-headed Coneflower in bloom

  Grey-headed Coneflower
start of walking trail

Walking down the steps, sound, smell and climate change.

Two-spotted Tree-cricket

  Two-spotted Tree-cricket is one of many singing insects at Ojibway

bug in milkweed

  Ambush Bug in Swamp Milkweed  
fork in trail

About 10 paces from the steps, there is a fork in the trail, stay left. You are in the prairie! Everything is much taller. The biodiversity of species and communities is incredible. For example over 3,000 species of insects likely inhabit Ojibway.

In 1999, Windsor’s Butterfly Count reported the highest total for Canada with 56 species and also recorded the highest count (16) for Duke's Skipper in North America. Since 2002, the Friends of Turkey Creek Watershed Frog Monitoring Program has seen a population decrease for most species monitored.

Wild Indigo Duskywing

  Wild Indigo Duskywing

Delaware Skipper

  Delaware Skipper
walking trail with Prarie Thistle and Tall Sunflower in foreground

Up ahead, are the Black Oaks that form an arch way of sorts into the savanna. These trees are over 150 years old. A single large tree can produce the cooling effect of 10 room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day (USDA pamphlet #FS-363). “Reduced air temperature …can improve air quality because emissions are temperature dependant. Decreased air temperature can also reduce ozone formation” (David J. Nowak).

Northern Leopard Frog

  Northern Leopard Frogs often stray far from water
  Sassafras trees turn golden in fall
canopy of Black Oaks

Here is a closer view. They are quite majestic and helpful. A study from the Chicago area estimated that their trees removed 591 tonnes/year of pollution. Another study stated “annual air pollutant uptake at 3.7 lb/tree”. Over 1000 mature trees are present in the reserve.

Black Locust thicket

After walking through the grand stand of oaks, there is a thicket of Black Locust, a non-native species.

savana with Big Bluestem in the foreground

Here is a side glance, looking right (south). This view shows the savanna in the distance, young oaks at centre stage and Big Bluestem in the right corner.

prescribed burn in 2001

  Prescribed burn in April 2001

Spring burn

scarred trunk

We’re halfway through the tour now, where we find this oak. Prescribed burns take place approximately every other year during April. Burns improve the richness of the prairie, stimulating the deep root systems through the warming of the soil. The last burn is evident by the scorch marks of this oak.

wet prairie meadow

Here we see the savanna with Prairie Cordgrass in the forefront. This view is looking west, toward the Detroit River (approximately 2.5 km away). Research from the Universities of Iowa and Washington confirms trees filter pesticides and carcinogenic groundwater (Black 1995). Stormwater runoff is also reduced by 845 gal/tree/year (McPherson, Simpson, Peper, Xiao et. al., 1999). This helps secure our water supply and makes our creeks to the Detroit River less murky. Turkey Creek runs through the southeast corner of the complex.

Butterfly Milkweed

  Butterfly Milkweed

Big Dipper Firefly

  Fireflies light up the reserve at night.
Tall Coreopsis in bloom

Approximately 20 paces from the last photo, we find a more colourful prairie.

T junction in trail

Stay left. We are coming to the end of our tour.



American Goldfinch

  American Goldfinch
Red-bellied Woodpecker

About 35 paces from the last left turn, there are some dead trees on the right. This is an excellent place to spot birds. Can you find them? Dead trees are often used as perches by birds such as Northern Flicker, Red-bellied Woodpeckers Indigo Bunting, Eastern Bluebird, Field Sparrow and Common Yellowthroat.

Canada Wild Rye

  Canada Wild Rye

Willow Aster

  Willow Aster
thick stand of Big Bluestem borders trail

The large stand of Big Bluestem is the first to wave you through the end of the tour.

Indian Grass in flower

The last photo is the stand of Indian Grass.It almost glows.

Titcombe Bikeway and return to trail head

Our children’s children will be the ones to realize benefits from trees planted within the last 20 years. Unfortunately for Essex, the ash borer will eliminate the ash tree which was the dominate species planted within this time frame. This makes the Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve even more of a sparkling jewel. It has so much to see and is so helpful to our air and water, now and for the future.

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Information last updated : 8 September 2005. All photographs ©
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