Birding around the Forest City this past week has been quite productive with several first of year species added to my years list. It didn’t seem to matter where I birded, there was always something to see, and new migrants appearing. Two of the more productive locations I visited this past week were Kilally Meadows ESA and Westminster Ponds ESA.
Located in the city’s northeast end, Kilally Meadows offers a variety of habitat including: open meadows, low lying swampy areas, and wooded areas; this mixed habitat attracts a wide variety of species. On my visit, 28 species were observed including firsts of Gray Catbird, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Field Sparrow, and Palm Warbler. As has been the case with most places I’ve birded this spring, Yellow Warblers could be seen and heard, and several Baltimore Orioles were also observed. I found the area in the open meadow with scattered shrubs at the Windermere Road access to be the most productive, but along the river in the forest revealed several resident species including Red-bellied Woodpeckers and Northern Flickers. A Great Blue Heron was observed stalking its prey on this section of the Thames.
Westminster Ponds on the south side of town was where I observed the most birds. Like the other city ESAs, the mixed habitat provides a favourable home to almost any species of bird found in our area. It was here where first of year Brown Thrashers and Swainson’s Thrush were observed. Warbler species observed within the ESA were: Yellow, Yellow-rumped, and Chestnut-sided. Recently, a Prothonotary Warbler was reported to eBird from Westminster Ponds ESA, so keep an eye out for this endangered species if you visit.
Other Species at Risk that can be observed within the ESA that I came across on my visits this week were the Eastern Meadowlark and Chimney Swift, both currently listed as threatened. As the name suggests, Eastern Meadowlarks prefer an open grassland habitat, and can be seen when entering the ESA from either access point off Commissioners Road. These birds build their nests on the ground making it very important to stick to the marked trails so nests are not disturbed or inadvertently stepped on. Please remember that dogs are to be kept on a leash. Not only is it a rule of London’s ESAs and enforced by Animal Control, it will prevent your dog from disturbing this delicate species as well.
Another notable species that can be found within the Westminster Ponds ESA are Pileated Woodpeckers. These large, crow-sized woodpeckers are quite a sight to see. Listen and look for them around the wooded trails that circle Spettigue Pond in the centre of the ESA.
City parks along the Thames River are also excellent places to bird, with Greenway Park being one of my favourites. Over the years I have submitted several checklists to eBird from this location totaling 86 species. It is great for birding year round, but many migrating species use the river as a corridor, and can be seen as they feed and rest in the various trees and shrubs that line the banks. This past week in Greenway Park I observed my first of year Orchard Oriole. Warblers, vireos, swallows, waterfowl, and birds of prey can all be observed from within the park. Several species including: Yellow Warblers, Red-winged Blackbirds, Northern Flickers, Tree Swallows, Northern Rough-winged Swallows, and of course, Canada Geese, are all nesting in the park.
Next week I hope to check out a few more of London’s beautiful parks and ESAs in an effort to add to my ever growing year and life lists. Currently my year list consists of 123 species, most of which have been observed right here in the Forest City. I hope you get the chance this week to get out and enjoy some of the beautiful species found within our great city.