Otty Lake Association


Herron by Nikki Porra

Flora and Fauna

The Otty Lake watershed is rich in plant and animal life.

To see complete lists of species observed around Otty Lake, consult the appendices of the 2007 State of the Lake report.

>> Plants
>> Submergent and Emergent Vegetation
>> Birds
>> Fish
>> Mammals, Reptiles and Amphibians
>> Species at Risk

A few other species have been noted since the above lists were produced:

Bushes and Shrubs - Maple Leaf Viburnum Viburnum Acerifolium

Deciduous Trees - Choke Cherry Pruns Verginiana

Understory Plants - Yellow Lady's Slipper Cypripedium calceolus

Understory Plants - exotic - Bladder Campion Selene Cucabalus

Nature and the OLA

In recent years, the OLA has organized Bio Blitz's as well as nature hikes, led by Roger Nuttall. Some turtle identification and wetland workshops have also taken place. Check the Events page to see if one is in the planning stages, or let us know if there is something you think would be of interest to other lakers.

 

Species of General Interest   |   Invasive Species   |   Species at Risk

 

Species of General Interest

A few species of general interest to residents and cottagers are noted below.

Bears   |   Black Rat Snake   |   Loons   |   Wild Turkeys |  Green Algae | Clams |

These species are considered invasive. Their descriptions are on the invasive species page:

Eurasian Milfoil   |  Rusty Crayfish |  Banded Mysterysnail |   Zebra Mussels |   Spiny Water Fleas | European Frogbit

Loons

Loon by David ReesorOtty Lake is home to several families of loons. Bill McLeish is our official "Loon Monitor". In 2014 he reports that there appear to be more loon chicks on the lake than usual, however, it does appear (although further investigation is necessary) that fewer loons are choosing Otty as a summer home.

 
 
 
Keeping Loons Safe

When boating:

  • watch for loons and keep your distance
  • slow down if you suspect you are near diving loons
  • if you discover a nest, move away
  • enjoy loons from a distance with binoculars - don't come too close

When fishing:

  • do not use lead based fishing tackle, it is fatal if ingested by loons. Note it is illegal to use or possess lead fishing sinkers or jigs in Canada’s National Parks and National Wildlife Areas.
  • reel in around loons! Loons may die from becoming tangled in fishing line
  • Dispose of monofilament properly
  • Avoid fishing for prolonged periods in secluded coves where loons may be nesting or feeding

On land:

  • don't allow your pets to run wild along shore and harass wildlife

Hinterland Who's Who fact sheet.   |   Loon Behavior and Calls.

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Wild Turkeys

wild turkey flockWild turkeys have been reintroduced to Eastern Ontario, including Lanark County, since the mid-80s to be a game bird for hunting purposes. The birds have been increasing in numbers ever since. A flock of 30 wild turkey appeared in Maple Glen Estates one year and stayed throughout the winter. They come quite boldly right up to residents' front doors. A word of caution: Give these creatures their space, as they can become quite nasty if they feel threatened, and they are extremely aggressive in protecting their young. MNR info on wild turkeys >>>

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Bears

bear at feeder - MNR photoThere have been bear sitings around Otty Lake in the spring of 2014. However, we have no reports of any human-bear conflicts. Some information was provided in the 2014 Summer Information packages on how not to attract bears to your property, what to do if you see a bear in the wild, and what to do in the unlikely event of an conflict.

These materials can be found on the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources "Bear Wise" website.

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Grey (Black) Rat Snake

grey rat snake around feetRegulations are in place to protect the habitat of the threatened grey ratsnake. This is Ontario's largest snake, but not to worry, they are non-venomous and non-aggressive. They can often be seen sunning themselves on roads around Otty Lake. The north shore and southwest shore have been identified as ratsnake habitat because of verified observations of the snakes and their hibernacula, where they hibernate for six months of the year. Activities in their habitat can continue as long as the function of these areas for the species are maintained and the species are not killed, harmed or harassed. Do not remove or alter hibernacula, and avoid disturbing any egg-laying sites you may encounter in compost piles or rotting logs. Read full story from October 2013 newsletter.

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Clams

Eastern ElliptioHave you noticed that the clams that were so prevalent in the lake a few decades ago aren’t so plentiful?  Muskrats enjoyed this food source, one species being the Eastern elliptio shown here.  But there is a “mussel crisis” in Ontario.  Of the 41 native mussel species found in Ontario, 11 are endangered and one threatened.   And one of the reasons is the zebra mussel.    Besides out-competing the native mussels for food and oxygen and spreading disease, the zebra mussels attach themselves to freshwater clam shells and weigh them down, or block openings so that it is difficult for the clams to feed or burrow.   There have been observations that muskrats in particular are now feeding on zebra mussels.  Muskrats will discard the shells in discreet piles or middens. Read more about Ontario's mussel crisis in ON Nature.

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Green Algae

algae on lakeGreen algae is naturally occurring, and is not considered invasive, although there have been an  increased amount of blooms of green algae at Otty Lake over the past five years. The distinction is that lower amounts of algae can be distributed throughout the water column and are not readily apparent.  It is when the algae become more abundant that they form algal blooms, which are unappealing to human water users.  Later in their life cycle, decomposing aquatic plants and algae uses up too much oxygen, degrading the aquatic ecosystem, leading to changes such as fish kills.

There are many types of algae, but the algal blooms at Otty are a green filamentous type. Two species of green algae found at Otty are Spirogyra and Mougeotia.  Algae are at the bottom of the food chain, and how well they do depends on temperature, light and nutrients.  They use chlorophyll to produce their food.  They are useful as they take in nitrogen (from animal feces), are a food source for other animals, and when dense can provide cover for other animals. However, excess nutrients, particularly phosphorus, can make them grow very quickly.  So Otty Lake dwellers are being asked to reduce the amount of phosphorus they allow to enter the lake via fertilizers, phosphates and wood ash, and create a shoreline buffer so less of this nutrient runs off into the lake. In 2014, a collaborative group received Trillium funding to study aquatic plants and algae in this area, and Otty will be one of the study lakes. See MVCA news release.

See interesting photos of some other green algae species.

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Species at Risk

More than 200 plant and animal species are at risk in Ontario, and 26 species are at risk in Lanark County. These include a number of birds, fish, turtles, snakes, insects, lichens, lizards and plants.

Species at risk are classified into five categories, based on the degree of risk it faces:

  • Extinct: no longer lives anywhere in the world
  • Extirpated: lives somewhere in the world, and at one time lived in the wild in Ontario, but no longer lives in the wild in Ontario
  • Endangered: lives in the wild in Ontario but is facing imminent extinction or extirpation
  • Threatened: lives in the wild in Ontario, is not endangered, but is likely to become endangered if steps are not taken to address factors threatening it
  • Special concern: lives in the wild in Ontario, is not endangered or threatened, but may become threatened or endangered due to a combination of biological characteristics threats
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Dragonflies and Damselflies

Did you know that the larvae of dragonflies and damselflies are excellent predictors of water quality? Eagle Lake cottager Irv Dardick has posted his photos of 24 species of dragonflies and nine species of damselflies.

Eagle Lake dragonflies>>>