Kilally Meadows ESA
|Character:||Environmentally Significant Area|
Kilally Meadows ESA
By Upper Thames River Conservation Authority
Kilally Meadows Environmentally Significant Area (ESA) is located in northeast London. The publicly-owned portion of the ESA (146 ha) stretches between Adelaide Street and Highbury Avenue, along the North Thames River and Meander Creek.
This ESA is situated within the floodplain of the Thames. The site varies from shady river-side woods to open meadows to wet swamps.
The map shows the access points and trail system. The main access points are at the east end of Windermere Road and the west end of Kilally Road.
There is a variety of trails within this site, totaling 11 km. Most of the trails are flat and easy to walk.
The managed trails are marked with yellow blazes. The Thames Valley Trail also uses the trails on the north side of the river. On the south side of the Thames, the paved, multi-use Thames Valley Parkway extends between Adelaide and Highbury.
Please stay on the marked trails and keep pets on leash, to protect the sensitive environment.
In the 19th and 20th centuries the site was farmed and used to graze cattle. In the 1960s, sand and gravel were extracted from several areas that are now regenerating into meadows and woods. The City of London purchased much of the site by the early 1970s, with additional lands purchased since then.
The property was designated as an ESA in 1999 owing to several factors, including its unusual plant communities, rare plants, large size, and groundwater recharge.
Shaping the Landscape
As the last glacier was retreating 10,000 to 14,000 years ago, large beds of sand and gravel were left behind in the meltwater. The ancient Thames Spillway cut its way through these deposits. Over time, the river meandered and shifted from side to side across its broad floodplain. This process created the terraces, meander scars, oxbow ponds, and linear marshy depressions that are visible today.
A variety of vegetation communities can be found in the Kilally Meadows ESA, including riverine woodlands, shrub thicket swamps, marshes, and dry and wet meadows.
In the sunny meadows, Orchard Grass, Smooth Brome, and Reed Canary Grass are found along with asters, Wild Bergamot, goldenrods and Joe-Pye Weed. Some tallgrass prairie species such as Indian Grass, Big Bluestem and Butterflyweed are also found here.
Sycamore, poplars, elms and willows grow along the river. In low wet areas, dogwood and willow thickets dominate. The valley slopes support poplar, Hackberry, Bur Oak and Sugar Maple. A stand of Black Maples, unusual in London, is found on the tableland near Meander Creek.
Springtime brings a variety of wildflowers in the wooded areas including Marsh Marigold, Wild Leek, White Trout Lily, Dame’s Rocket and Yellow Violet.
The river and diversity of habitats makes this site an excellent place for wildlife. Birds use the river as a corridor. Look for Belted Kingfisher, Bank Swallow and Mallard. In the nearby floodplain, nesting species include American Woodcock, Hairy Woodpecker, Gray Catbird and Yellow Warbler.
In wet areas, you may see or hear the calls of the Tetraploid Gray Treefrog, Northern Spring Peeper, or Green Frog. Midland Painted Turtle and the endangered Spiny Softshell Turtle may be seen basking on logs in the river on sunny days.
Mammals common to urban areas may be seen, including Grey Squirrel, Raccoon and White-tailed Deer. The presence of beaver dams along Meander Creek indicates these animals have been active as well.
The meadows attract a diversity of butterflies and moths. Great Spangled Fritillary (above), Viceroy and Black Swallowtail are commonly seen in mid summer. Dragonflies, damselflies and many other species of insects can also be found.
The most common species of fish in this stretch of the Thames are Smallmouth Bass, Greenside Darter, Northern Hog Sucker and Spotfin Shiner.