Monday, January 4, 2010

2009 Niagara Falls CBC

Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOTL), home of the Shaw Festival and the controversial jet boat, is situated at the mouth of the Niagara River, on the southern shores of Lake Ontario.

Image courtesy of Dave Van de Laar

The gazebo pictured above was constructed by a production team for the 1983 film The Dead Zone and has been a prime photo location for tourists and wedding parties ever since.

OK, enough of the tour. I could go on and on describing the sites found in the historically significant town. It has been almost three years since yours truly ran down the main street in a kilt to obtain the liquor licence required for my brother-in-law's wedding reception at the old court house. More recently (December 27, 2009), Jean and I assisted with the Niagara Falls Christmas Bird Count. The shoreline and river were left to other groups. We would assist Denys with 3 additional birders, in the same area we covered last year with John Black. John was required at the Port Weller east pier, so Denys led the group for this year's count.

Our first stop had us walking along the frosty, quiet streets west of the tourist laden main drag. Feeders come and go but we managed to observe a fair amount of activity in some of the yards. In all, 23 species were counted, including 2 Mute Swans flying inland, most likely bound for the open waters of the NOTL sewage lagoons.

Driving by the former MND rifle range we spotted 10 Wild Turkeys feeding in the field.

Looking through the locked gate of the NOTL sewage lagoons we had some great finds. A Northern Pintail and Green-winged Teal (1) were spotted with the many Mallards and Canada Geese.

John received permission to bird the property of a winery by Four Mile Creek.

The temperatures had still not been cold enough to hand-pick grapes for the ice wine harvest. Later in the week though, the thermometer dropped below -8 and production at many wineries in the Niagara Region was set in motion.

We walked along the edge of the creek surveying the brush and trees. The meandering creek was flowing and yielded a Great Blue Heron. Another interesting find was a male Red-winged Blackbird.

Niagara Shores Conservation Area did not produce much at all. We were unable to find a Golden-crowned Kinglet in a stand of conifers by the entrance.

Our group then explored the area surrounding Four Mile Pond but there was no repeat of last year's Swamp Sparrow. A quickly glimpsed Winter Wren was all we could find in the mass of bullrushes.

After a lunch break, we were reduce to 4 birders and we checked out a new location for Jean and I. We walked a trail near Butler's Burial Ground but did not tick any birds until reaching the end of the trail. Standing on a mound of clay (more like clumps of clay) we ticked the last two species for the count, a Northern Mockingbird and a Song Sparrow.

In all, we observed 36 species, 5 more than last year. A well enjoyed day of birding.

The Port Colborne CBC was yesterday but we were unable to assist with the count. If any of you watched the Bills/Colts game then you know the conditions that birders endured while counting birds in the Port Colborne area.

Next week is the Duck Count. We helped John Black last year, counting waterfowl on Lake Ontario from Fifty Point CA in Grimsby to Vineland. This year, we'll be covering the shoreline from Vineland to Port Weller. It's sure to be a cold one.

I received preliminary results for the St. Catharines CBC.

A total of 81 species (above average) were counted on December 20.

Unusual species found included, Snow Goose, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Black Scoter, Merlin, Little Gull, Glaucous Gull and Hermit Thrush.

Our participation in birding activities has increased over the last couple of years and I look forward to future CBC's and other counts. Hopefully we will find time for the Port Colborne count next year. If you're a birder, I recommend attending a CBC in your community. You'll enjoy it!

By the way. I know some birders will, but did you notice anything odd in the image, provided by Dave, at the top of the post? He can be sneaky at times.


  1. very good article Bob. I like you vineyard photo. very nice

  2. Wonderful post! I introduced my five-almost-six-year-old daughter to Christmas Bird Counts this year and she had a blast. It helped that we had crippling looks at an adult Bald Eagle patroling the river, and a couple of small parks with playgrounds, but it was all about the birds. Really!

    Interesting bird in that top image, BTW.