Westminster Ponds/ Pond Mills Westminster Ponds/ Pond Mills

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Westminster Ponds/ Pond Mills Westminster Ponds/ Pond Mills
other areas of swamp forest, Red Maple, Yellow Birch, Silver Maple and
American Elm dominate. The cool, shady conditions support a mixture of
northern and southern plants.
Along the margin of Saunders Pond and throughout the Dayus Creek
Valley, cattails, sedges and rushes thrive in marshy areas.
Upland Habitats
The drier slopes and ridges around the ponds support typical eastern
hardwood forest species. Sugar Maple, American Beech,White Ash, Basswood
and Red Oak are present, as are southerly species such as Shagbark Hickory.
The ESA’s largest tree, an ancient White Oak, is a recognized Heritage Tree
under Trees Ontario’s Ontario Heritage Tree program. Various wildflower
species bloom in the spring.
Old field, thicket and plantation sites contain many introduced plant
species, but are used by a number of wildlife species.
At approximately 200 hectares, Westminster Ponds / Pond Mills
Environmentally Significant Area (ESA) is the largest publiclyowned ESA in London. The ESA is significant for its size and for
its great variety of natural habitats within the boundaries of a
major urban centre. The site is also designated as a Provincially
Significant Wetland.
The ESA is located south of Commissioners Road and east of
Wellington Road, adjacent to the Tourist Information Centre, and
extends eastward to Pond Mills Road.
Wildlife
Trails
Please keep all pets on leash at all times when in the ESA.
The ESA has three main access points with kiosks (see map on reverse)
and 10 km of managed trails. Most of the trails are gently rolling, with the
occasional short, steep hill. Almost all the trails are on clay or muck soils, which
are very prone to becoming muddy. Boardwalks cross some lowland areas.
Please stay on the marked trails and use the boardwalks and
floating docks to minimize damage to sensitive plants and
disturbance to wildlife.
Geology
Westminster Ponds / Pond Mills ESA is located on the Ingersoll Moraine,
an east-west ridge of stony soil (till). This material was deposited by
meltwater pouring from a glacier when its leading edge stalled at this
location for a time. Large blocks of ice also broke off the glacier and became
embedded in the moraine. When the ice sheet receded 13,000 years ago,
the ice chunks melted to create water-filled depressions. These kettle
ponds are prominent features of the ESA today.
History
European farmers first settled the area along Commissioners Road in
1810. The railway track that cuts across the ESA was constructed in 1915 as
part of a line from London to Port Stanley.
In the 1940s, several veterans’ residences and other facilities were built
north of Saunders Pond, as part of Westminster Hospital. In the 1960s, part
of the area was used as a sanitary landfill site.
This large block of land remained undeveloped because much of it was
federal hospital property during the crucial development decades for that
part of the city.
Spettigue Pond
In the 1970s,the City of London and the Upper Thames River Conservation
Authority (UTRCA) purchased approximately 200 hectares for the purpose
of establishing an urban conservation area. More land has been acquired
since then. In 1990, the City designated the tract as an ESA. Publicly owned
portions of the ESA are open to the public.
Natural Communities
Five large kettle ponds and a beaver pond are surrounded by lowland
and upland habitats. Approximately 60% of all plant species found in
Middlesex County can be found in the Westminster Ponds / Pond Mills ESA.
Lowland Habitats
Bordering Spettigue Pond is a very narrow, sensitive band of bog habitat,
an uncommon feature in southwestern Ontario. Tamarack and Leatherleaf
are among the species growing from a thick mat of peat. Nearby and in
The ponds and the mixture of habitats
make this site an excellent place to view
wildlife. More than 200 species of birds
have been recorded in the area. It is an
important stopover for migrants, with
almost all the warblers, flycatchers,
thrushes and finches in the London area
being reported, as well as ducks, grebes,
herons and other water-birds.
Summer residents include forest birds
such as Great Crested Flycatcher and Wood Great Horned Owl
Thrush, and open-country species such as
Field Sparrow and Eastern Meadowlark. Great Horned Owl and Red-tailed
Hawk also nest in the ESA.
Mammals common to urban areas may be seen in the ESA. Beaver, Coyote
and White-tailed Deer are relatively recent arrivals. In wet areas, you may hear
or see several frog and toad species. Turtles and snakes bask in open areas or
on fallen logs, while salamanders find shelter in dark places. Several species
of fish have been recorded in the ponds, although not in great numbers.
Watch for insects such as dragonflies, damselflies and butterflies, as well.
For More Information
For more information on London’s ESAs, please contact:
• Upper Thames River Conservation Authority
(519-451-2800 ext 281, www.thamesriver.on.ca)
• City of London Planning Services (519-661-4980) (www.london.ca)
Westminster Ponds/
Pond Mills
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ST
Please use the official access points indicated on the trail maps.
Stay on the managed trails (marked with yellow blazes).
Bicycles are permitted only on multi-use pathways.
Access is allowed from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Keep the ESAs litter free.
All pets must be on leash (2 m/6 ft max.).
Do not feed the fish and wildlife.
Releasing or dumping fish or wildlife of any kind is prohibited.
Fishing is permitted with a provincial fishing licence. No hunting is
permitted.
• See additional rules
on signs at ESA entrances.
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Westminster Ponds/
Pond Mills
Rules to remember in London’s ESAs
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BASE LINE
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Map produced by UTRCA with data
provided by the City of London.
Copyright © UTRCA 2015.
Rev. 12/15