Prothonotary Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Some Natural Areas of Chatham-Kent, Part 5

This post features the Mitchell's Bay South Nature Trail. It is located between the south side of the village of Mitchell's Bay and Angler Line. The photo below has been turned 90 degrees, so that north is actually at the left hand side of the image. You can see a bit of Mitchell's Bay. The hard surface road at the right hand side of the image is Angler Line. The 'X' at either end of the blue line, which depicts the walking trail, represents the location of a small parking area. The 'B' marks the location of a boardwalk that goes out into the lake.


From the Angler Line parking lot, you will see two trail entrance signs.
 The trail has a fine textured gravel surface, perfect for walking or biking.
The trail is situated on top of a berm that was constructed decades ago, to protect the farmland from the fluctuating water levels of Lake St. Clair. Therefore looking east from the trail you will see all farmland, which is sometimes good for finding shorebirds such as Black-bellied Plovers and Ruddy Turnstones early in the season, especially if the land has just been worked up. On the west (lake) side of the trail, there is a canal as well as a mix of some woodland and wetland separating the trail from the lake.

The canal is an excellent vantage point to see things like turtles. On occasion I have seen more than two dozen Painted Turtles.
Painted Turtle
 There are other turtle species in the vicinity, although much more challenging to see. The next photo is of a Musk Turtle, a legislated species officially listed as 'Special Concern'. It is a small turtle that spends most of its time in the water, hence the mossy look to it which is actually algae growth from being in the water so much. I took this photo a short distance away from this trail, as it was crossing Angler Line going from one wetland to another.
 Herons are sometimes seen in the quiet water of the canal, such as this Green Heron which I watched hunting for frogs.

A small population of another 'Special Concern' species, Swamp Rose Mallow, can be found along the edge of the lake, and is best viewed from the boardwalk. It is most obvious in August and early September.


Great Egrets are often in the vicinity, either along the shallow water of the lake shore, or sometimes flying overhead.
 Raptors are often seen, depending on the season. Osprey don't nest in the area, but can sometimes be seen hunting for a fish to catch.
Osprey
 On other occasions, things like this Peregrine Falcon may be in the area watching for small birds to try and capture.
One bird species that is a highlight to find, and has been seen annually somewhere along the Lake St. Clair shoreline area for a couple of decades, is the Yellow-headed Blackbird. It is a western species that is very much at the eastern edge of its range here. A small colony has nested in the wetlands of the Mitchell's Bay vicinity for about the last decade. Sometimes their colony has been right along the road making for excellent viewing opportunities, but in the last 3 years they have been nesting in wetlands out in the lake. They can be seen mixed in with flocks of other blackbirds, foraging on lawns or in nearby fields.



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