June 6, 2014: We headed to the Niagara area in the hope of enjoying a combination of touring, dining and birding. Our first stop was Merritt Island, a park sandwiched between the Welland Canal and the Welland River. It is a perfect spot to spend the day fishing, strolling, sunbathing, etc.
Our next stop was Lock 8, St. Lawrence Seaway, in Port Colbourne. This lock links Lake Ontario to Lake Erie. Here, we stood enthralled as we watched the Kaministiqua pass through the lock. Researching this week, I found an explanation of the process here and the opportunity to track and identify the ships as they navigate the seaway here. A good number of informative resources are available on the website.
We left for Mud Lake Conservation Area in Port Colbourne. We were really excited at the prospect of accessing the three duck blinds located within the park. We barely parked the car when the chap parked next to us uttered a few choice expletives as he plucked a tick from his leg. We took a brief walk in the park but called it a day given that the trails were somewhat overgrown and teeming with mosquitoes. We were sorely disappointed. Perhaps we will revisit when the insects are less active.
Our next stop was Fort Erie. We stopped along the Niagara Parkway just west of the Peace Bridge. Here terns and gulls plucked shiners from the Niagara River while swallows darted back and forth over the walkway. The two birders present were taking flight and diving shots. One hailed from Burlington. We laughed in agreement when he said, “Who else but us would travel all the way out here to photograph birds?”
We tried our hand at photographing the feasting gulls and terns.
Walking east towards the Peace Bridge we observed the landing of a great blue heron.
The heron ultimately perched atop the railing.
I couldn’t resist taking this photograph.
Some time later we departed for the patio of Happy Jacks Restaurant, in Fort Erie. We waddled out of the restaurant almost an hour later after having hoovered hot and spicy beef, shrimp and chicken war bar, Cantonese chow mein, etc. and the BEST spring rolls in the universe!
We stopped at several lookout points along the Niagara Parkway to take photographs and chat with fishermen. On one such stop we spotted a night heron in a tree on the west side while on the east we were treated to a parade of two groups of goslings of varying sizes. By my tally there were at least 50 goslings!
Next stop we found a great egret and finally a pair of juvenile cormorants.
Our day ended with a nip into a convenience store in Chippawa for, of all things, a round of freezies!
Below are some photographs taken during our tour.