Thursday, March 26, 2015

Stewart Wetland Over the Years

Work has been progressing on the berms at Roberta Stewart Wetland.  It is a mucky mess right now, but will be better in the long-run.  Muskrats have compromised the dikes in recent years and some cleanup has been needed.


Phragmites was finally tackled last year by chemical and it was nice to see that knocked down.  The edges had been getting overgrown and it was difficult to see anything, let alone walk.
This area was naturally marsh all the way through to south of the Walpole Bridge.   In the last 100 years, most of it was drained or filled in for farmland--a normal practice back then.

Adjacent MacDonald Park was was created by fill and dredging a long time ago.  Much of it was debris and glass bits from the local glass factory, so you will see remnants from that along the shoreline.  It was owned by the MacDonald family until it was obtained by Chatham-Kent many years ago.

Lately, gulls have been numerous.  A couple of evenings ago there were well over 200 and among the Ring-billed and Herring was an adult Glaucous.

Note recent berm work in the background

I have been keeping a list of birds seen there since the wetland was created in 2006.  The Glaucous was new and tonight, a Bald Eagle flew over and perched in a tree across the Snye on Walpole Island.

The land was originally owned by the Stewart family until sold to the municipality.
When the wetland was first created in the summer of 2006, it was fabulous for shorebirds and gulls since there was lots of mud.  Of course over time, vegetation naturally formed.  It is still good for shorebirds when the water is low.

Last fall much of the water was pumped out in anticipation of the current rehabilitation work and still remains fairly low.

Without a lot of rain in the next while, it should attract shorebirds.

Some good birds have shown up at the wetland over the years. The spring of 2006 was very good.  I had a very early Long-billed Dowitcher April 23-26.
On May 8-9, 2006 I found a female Ruff there.

Interestingly, just over a week previous to that, a male Ruff was Bossu Wetland a few kilometres to the east of the wetland and north of Wallaceburg.

I have found Cattle Egret there a couple of times.  The first being October 14, 2010 during the invasion year.  One was there last year 16 May.

Of course there have have been lots of other birds. I have recorded 123 species there--in the wetland or seen from the property.  Who knows what has been there when nobody was looking!

Monday, March 23, 2015

March Madness?

Yesterday I did quite a bit of driving around, but did not see too many birds.  It is still too frozen out there yet!.  I guess in the grand scheme of things, we have been spoiled the decade or so with milder weather in late winter (with the exception of last year).

Many rivers have cleared of ice, but some lakes are still frozen over.  The east branch of the Sydenham River finally broke up Saturday night, so we are all clear here!

Looking at my notes, I have seen Eastern Phoebe by this date many times, among other things.  Even this coming weekend the forecast looks waaaaay below normal.  No sense for those Phoebes coming back yet!

White-breasted Nuthatch from Sunday

There has been lots of waterfowl, but I don't know where they are going with many spots still frozen.  Two years ago on this date, we found an impressive 44 Greater White-fronted Geese at Hillman Marsh--the highest number I have ever seen at once.  Several Snow Geese were also present.

I ended up at Pinery yesterday, but actually saw fewer birds (if you discount the blackbirds and robins) than my visit a few weeks ago!
Some of the same birds were looking for handouts at P9.  I had nothing for them though.

Wednesday looks like the warmest day this week and perhaps there will be some movement of birds.  Then it is downhill with the temps yet again!  Brrrr!