Thursday, November 17, 2016

Early Winter Insectivores in the Western GTA (Part 2)

I've gone over some basic ideas of where these birds hang out and how I think you should look for them, so here's the first of a couple of posts listing some good areas to check and why I think so. This list is by no means exhaustive, and practically any vegetation within urban and suburban areas could yield results.

Humber Wastewater Treament Plant

Map link

I’ve never been here, I don’t know of any track record for this location, and it looks like a different setup than the one at places like Sedgewick Park where there are extensive areas of exposed water tanks. But there is a footpath running around the well vegetated exterior of the plant and along the open water of the Humber River, and I would think it’s worth checking out, especially the spot with the yellow arrow.

Humber Bay Park

Map link

There are two peninsulas here – the eastern one is mostly well vegetated with shrubs, the western is mostly manicured, but both are definitely worth checking. There is a pretty decent track record here:

Magnolia Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
2 Orange-crowned Warbler, 2 Hermit Thrush
Gray Catbird

Colonel Sam Smith Park

Map link

This well-birded park includes a large and densely vegetated peninsula with a pretty good track record of interesting birds. Although the park seems fairly small, it would be easy to spend a couple of hours carefully looking for songbirds here.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Common Yellowthroat, Chipping Sparrow
Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Orange-crowned Warbler
Hermit Thrush
Nashville Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler
Marsh Wren

Lakeview Water Treatment Plant

Map link

This place looks like it should be phenomenal for wintering songbirds, but there has never been anything seen as far as I know. Good numbers of waterfowl use this spot, including good winter birds like Wood Duck. The main issue is access. The only directly adjacent area that is accessible is a little bit at the northeast corner (in red). I have checked here in the past without any luck. Note that the wooded area west of here is mostly fenced off. The woodlot in yellow was formerly accessible, but the construction will likely block this soon if it hasn’t already. The purple arrows point to interesting looking areas that are currently completely off limits.
The good news is that work is underway on a new conservation area that is being built out into the lake here with clean fill. Construction has just begun so this is many years away, but in the future this area will become much more accessible.

Lakefront Promenade Park

map link

This area, technically consisting of several different parks on a couple of peninsulas, is mostly pretty well-manicured although there are still lots of dense shrubs for birds to hide in, and I think it is all well worth checking. The western peninsula (R. K. Mcmillan Park) is naturalised and has a bit of a track record for interesting songbirds.

2 Orange-crowned Warbler, Nashville Warbler
20 Yellow-rumped Warbler

Snug Harbour, Port Credit

map link

This is perhaps the most reliable spot in the province to see overwintering Yellow-rumped Warblers. However, the explanation here is not really insects but instead planted Wax Myrtles, which Yellow-rumps are adapted to digest (incidentally, this is where the name “Myrtle Warbler” for the eastern subspecies comes from). Still, the open water and the presence of other warblers could entice something unusual to drop in here.

Lakeside Park

map link

Just north of Lakeside Park is a large sewage treatment plant. It is completely inaccessible, and it doesn’t look like there’s much vegetation for birds to use. Still, it’s a spot that likely hosts interesting birds on occasion. Large numbers of waterfowl spend the winter in this area, flying back and forth from the sewage plant and Lake Ontario.

Lakeside Park itself is well vegetated with one stream, and there are a few interesting songbirds that have been seen here. The Wilson’s Warbler hung out at the extreme western edge of the park, even though there is no obvious reason that area would be attractive. Note that a lot of the vegetation in this area (everything outside the red lines) is not accessible.

Wilson's Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Gray Catbird

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