Sunday, May 24, 2009

NOTL Birding

On Thursday evening Jean and I would spend some time birding two sewage lagoons that have been converted into a nature area. The Wetland Ridge Trail is located in Niagara-on-the-Lake and is maintained by the staff and students of Niagara College.

A grassy trail runs around the perimeter of the lagoons and had been recently cut. Good! Less chance of a Brown Dog Tick hitching a free ride. During previous visits we have found these ticks crawling on us.

A young rabbit sought protection in a rock wall as we walked down the gravel road to reach the lagoons.

This Eastern Black Swallowtail was feeding from the nearby flowers.

A pair of Eastern Kingbirds were seen on the branches of a small tree as we looked east towards the sewage lagoons.

In the north lagoon, 2 Pied-billed Grebes and a few Canada Geese were spotted as well as a pair of Wood Duck, as we approached the east end of the lagoon. In this east end we can usually find a shorebird or two. This evening, on the mat of debris, mud and algae, we found 3 Spotted Sandpiper (#145) and 1 Least Sandpiper. The Wood Ducks would fly away to the safety of the south lagoon. There are nesting boxes set out for Wood Duck and we have observed a pair with young in previous years.

We continued our walk along the eastern edge of the lagoons and observed additional waterfowl species in the south lagoon. 2 adult female Mallards were tending to their many young as Bufflehead repeatedly dove under the water in the background.

We walked along the south side of the southern lagoon finding American Robin, Gray Catbird (big surprises!) and a Hairy Woodpecker in the woods on the escarpment slope. Birds observed in the college's vineyard, using our spotting scope, were identified as American Goldfinch.

Back on the gravel road, we found a male Orchard Oriole (#146) as we were leaving the lagoon area.

Additional birds ticked during the short walk included, Killdeer, Barn Swallow, Tree Swallow, Northern Flicker, Northern Mockingbird, Northern Cardinal, Yellow Warbler, Baltimore Oriole, Red-winged Blackbird, Song Sparrow and House Sparrow.

As with the pond on the recently birded Merritt Trail, we would find no herons in either lagoon. We are sure to come across both Black-crowned Night-heron and Green Heron during future walks, if not here then some where else in the region. I would love to see the Common Moorhen again. Our only Ontario observations (3) have occurred at the Wetland Ridge Trail, the last being in 2007.

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