Discovering a Hidden Gem with Adrian Jones

Our guest blogger is Adrian Jones, a graduate of the 2014 Master Naturalist program. He’s one of those quiet types who only says things when things are worth saying. When he spoke on this natural gem, we listened. To the average Edmontonian, the Wedgewood Ravine is a small gully they drive over on the southwest corner of the Henday. To Adrian, it’s a prehistoric treasure worth sharing today and saving for tomorrow. And he needs your help.

Coyote prints_Fotor

Wedgewood Ravine fascinates me, an almost pristine area within the city, minimally used except for the road running through it connecting 184 St to Cameron Heights (the old road to the Smith Water Treatment plant).

An ichneumon wasp

Ichneumon wasp

A brief history: the ravine runs almost on top of the old, pre-glacial valley, Stony Valley, that drained into Beverly Valley, close to where the North Saskatchewan river now flows. Stony Valley was presumably then filled with glacial till, a mix of sand, mud, and rocks that lay under the glacier. The glacier arrived around 21,000 years ago and melted around 12,000 years ago leaving a real mess of rubble and a large body of water, Lake Edmonton, from whence cometh our clay!! As this dried, winds blew up big sand dunes which are now most prominent south of Stony Plain and are drained by Wedgewood Creek.

IMG_1122

The beavers are active in the ravine bottom.

The creek cut down through the rubble depositing much sand as it went plus leaving large boulders brought along under the glacier, sandstone, gneiss and granite, the latter from NWT plus quartzite from the Rockies.

The south side, facing north, is mainly clothed by coniferous forest, mostly White Spruce. While the north side, facing south is mainly clothed with deciduous trees, mostly aspen poplar but with a great variety of other trees including Birch, Alder and on the bottom meadows, Beaked Hazelnut, Alder, Willows, Balsam Poplar and many shrubs such as High Bush Cranberry, Chokecherry, Saskatoon, wild raspberries, Sarsaparilla and much more.

An osprey seems to have stolen a koi out of a neighbourhood pond.

An osprey seems to have stolen a koi out of a neighbourhood pond.

Birds mostly commonly seen and heard are Chickadees, Nuthatches, Ravens, and various woodpeckers. In the summer warblers and Vireos are “heard but not seen” – the opposite to the perfect Victorian child! Interestingly the Magpies don’t particularly seem interested in the place. There are many other birds flitting through the underbrush or in the treetops and SawWhet Owls are heard in the early spring.

The most common mammals seen are squirrels, deer and coyotes and the 2 families of beavers resident in the ravine however there will be many species in the undergrowth that we rarely ever notice.

Wedgewood Ravine needs a group of interested people to work together to protect and nurture it. Please help me to maintain Wedgewood Ravine as a resource for Edmontonians now and in future generations. The group would work to reduce noxious weeds and maintain the area, but mainly to catalogue the species who call the ravine home: bird watching, plant identification and recording and anything else that the group felt was important. 

I look forward to working with you.

 

Adrian will be holding a meeting of like-minded citizens interested in stewarding this wonderful natural area later this Fall. Please contact us at edmontonmasternaturalist at gmail dot com to learn more about Wedgewood Ravine or to volunteer with Adrian in his stewardship. 

 

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