I will state, right here, right now that the Lake Ontario shoreline in the GTA ( Greater Toronto Area for non-locals ) is extremely underrated for both nature and birding. Yes, the natural bits are isolated islands in a sea of roads, industry and subdivisions, but they are wonderful in their accessibility. And for birders, these areas are migrant traps for many species. Fans of Point Pelee, Rondeau and the north shore of Lake Erie may snicker but believe it, friends...birding lives in the GTA.
One of the bonuses many of these areas are easily accessible and the trails are multi-use. Great for taking the kids out for an early spring stroll.
Ajax's Rotary Park is a great example. A typical municipal park with playgrounds and an event pavilion, it is adjacent to Duffins Creek Conservation Area. Following the Lakeshore Trail through these parks allows one to survey several different habitats. The open water of the lake, beach, marsh ( the Duffins Creek Marsh is huge and usually has prominent mudflats exposed ), meadow and secondary forest.
Secondary forest, it gets thicker as you travel east. I've never birded this area in May as there are more well-known birding sites nearby ( Thickson Woods, Lynde Shores / Halls Rd ) but it may be worth a try. Lots of AMERICAN ROBINS here on Sunday. Heard a NORTHERN FLICKER too.
Duffins Creek Conservation Area is essentially a successional meadow. On Sunday, RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS, COMMON GRACKLES and EUROPEAN STARLINGS were hopping through the short trees. Also saw a small group of AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES, a species that is usually around during the winter ( around my bird feeders, in particular ) but have been flying under my radar so far this year.
Duffins Creek Marsh is expansive and those mudflats have yielded some interesting species in the last few years ( American avocet, Hudsonian godwit ) but is still probably under-birded ( don't know if that's a proper word so please suggest an alternative ). Sunday featured a huge flock of gulls that would have been great to check out if a) I had my scope and b) if I had 2 kids more interested in identifying gulls. Lots of CANADA GEESE, MALLARDS, a few BUFFLEHEADS and 4 GADWALL , my first migratory waterfowl of the year.
A beautiful day, a nice walk with the kids and some nice birding. How can an early spring walk be better ?
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