Flocking to learn more about waterfowl
Marcie Jacklin, left, Peter BonEnfant and Ron Stockton scanning the Niagara River in Fort Erie last Saturday for waterfowl. Kris Dube/Special to Postmedia Network
The Bert Miller Nature Club is inviting the public to learn more about mallards, mergansers and the many other waterfowl that call the Niagara River home during the winter months.
Many days throughout the week, the Niagara Parkway and Lakeshore Road area in Fort Erie is a place where birdwatchers flock to enjoy their hobby.
Last Saturday, several members broke out their scopes and long-lensed cameras to appreciate some of the rarities along the waterfront. Within minutes of arrival, the local birders were already excited by the sight of a Harlequin Duck, a bird that doesn’t appear locally too often.
“Each day you’re out here, there’s a great chance at finding something uncommon,” said Peter BonEnfant, one of the members of the local environmental club who organizes the birding days along the shoreline.
The Niagara River is a major wintering area for numerous species of ducks, geese, swans, and other waterbirds.
The swift current keeps it free of ice, providing access to water and food sources when other waterways along birds’ migratory paths are frozen over.
The 56-kilometre stretch of water between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario has received international recognition as a globally-significant Important Bird Area, a designation given by conservation groups worldwide.
Marcie Jacklin says it is a regular occurrence to be joined along the river by people from far way places who travel to Fort Erie for the birding scene.
“A lot of people come from out of province to bird in the area,” she said.
Asked about the rarest sights the group has had over the years, both BonEnfant and Jacklin said a Brown Booby and Elegant Tern, both native to the Caribbean, were discovered in 2013 along the river.
The Bert Miller Nature Club is inviting the community to learn more about the Niagara River Waterfowl by visiting them along the shore behind the Old Fort on Sunday. The group starts the day around 10 a.m.
When the group set up last week, several species were spotted including a Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Red-breasted Merganser, Common Merganser, Hooded Merganser, Long-tail Duck, Mallard, Greater Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, Redhead, Canvasback, Black Duck and Horned Grebe.
The Harlequin Duck as well as a King Eider are two rarities the club has not seen before in its local experiences. To learn more, you can visit www.bertmillernatureclub.org.