Wednesday, November 20, 2019
Nature Birding at the Boardwalk Off St. John's Sideroad, Wildlife Sprung Back

Birding at the Boardwalk Off St. John’s Sideroad, Wildlife Sprung Back

Birds are in a full swing, hovering over our gardens, trails and streets of Aurora. Singing away. Yes, nest making and long anticipated mating or even hatching season is happening now. Trees are filling in and grass is getting greener. In fact it is almost green everywhere, of course at this time of the year with noticeable accents of yellow, dandelion yellow. The ice storm, the wind storm – all behind us. We don’t know what to expect in the future as the weather has been temperamental and unpredictable for many years now. Last week’s wind storm caught us all by surprise. Loss of power and loss of shingles followed. I am sure all those American Robins running around the streets during the ice storm and shaken by the high winds survived. They are the loudest birds now. Not just in the early mornings but throughout the day with Mourning Doves and other sometimes unrecognizable creatures making frequent noises in the background, often sounding like a musical chorus. I asked myself the other day, “do we still have a train whistle, I haven’t heard it for a while?

Spontaneously I decided to visit our local boardwalk, a section of Tim Jones Trail, off St. John’s sideroad. It was a beautiful day. I opted for good size flying living things – a birds photo shoot in this section of the town. Shooting macro world was out of the question. I wasn’t going to risk someone mistakenly calling emergency on me while I’m crouched in a motionless child pose looking for tiny critters roaming the ground.

Shooting macro is more appropriate within the treed Sheppard’s Bush Conservation Area – and so I learned what an erroneous thought that was. In the Sheppard’s Bush people suddenly emerge beside you. “What are we looking at?” an older man, leaning over my shoulder asked me the other day, while my face was hovering closely over a heavily deteriorated tree trunk. “Just wondering how it got to this stage,” I replied, being a bit shocked with his sudden presence. After hearing everything he knew about this particular tree trunk, I acknowledged his rational observations and we parted ways.

My visits to the boardwalk, located parallel to the Hadley Grange retirement building, aren’t that frequent anymore. The marshland has undergone a lot of natural weather related change in the past few years. The area that is seen from St. John’s sideroad is much dryer now, overgrown and some aged trees are down. In some instances evidence of the ice storm and high winds was left behind, freshly broken large tree branches. The birds, lots of them are around. They may not be the same species hanging around every season though. Due to a change in water levels I am anticipating more Canada Geese and less Grey Blue Herons in this area, but I could be wrong and I hope I am.

Having a telephoto lens helps. Geese hissing terrifies me; perhaps they are terrified of us as well. Hanging around close to geese isn’t my favourite thing to do either. Often they will block my destination path hissing unconditionally. I usually turn around or wait for a miracle to happen. Having heinous domesticated geese around most of my childhood left a trace of ‘goose fear‘ inside me. That day on the boardwalk I must thank a tiny brave older lady that passed by waving her arms at the geese and signalling them to go away. They got the idea and I thought “miracles do happen after all” as the goose free path was revealed for my successful boardwalk adventure.

Like I said lots of changes on the marsh; however, there are some things that did not change. Unfortunately, despite all the signs telling bikers not to bike over the boardwalk, they still do it.

Anna Lozyk Romeo
Aurora, ON

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