Birds at the Bill Mason Centre

The wonderful marsh boardwalk behind West Carleton Secondary School proved once again to be an excellent location for an evening walk. Before even entering the trails we were treated to an American Bittern calling and we soon found it hiding in a line of cattails close to the parking lot. Once we started along the trail we were soon delighted by the aerial acrobatics of Wilson’s Snipes and had the more unusual opportunity to see one perched on top of a snag a few metres from the boardwalk. There was ample opportunity for all of us to see it and many took advantage of the excellent photo ops. Virginia Rails were heard and seen fleetingly. Swamp Sparrows were calling along with Warbling Vireos, Yellow Warblers, Common Yellowthroats and  Veerys. Green and Great Blue Herons flew overhead as did an American Bittern being harassed by a Red-winged Blackbird.

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Photo: Ian Somerville


American Bittern 40

Photo: Jan Meyer 2014


The beautiful flowers of Arum were abundant in the water beside the boardwalk and we had the opportunity to see many different species of fern in their beautiful spring greens (Cinnamon, Marsh, Royal, Sensitive, Ostrich and Bracken), the new growth creating an array of colour and form, pleasing to the eye. The BMC is also home to the rare Blue-Beech, which is really a member of the birch family and is recommended as a tree for landscape planting.

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Photo: Ian Somerville


Wilsons Snipe 122

Photo: Jan Meyer 2014


Along the way we learned about the geological and ecological history of the area and left with a better understanding of why certain species are found in certain areas. We left with the Gray Tree Frogs calling and a rainbow colouring the southern sky.

Many thanks to Art Goldsmith for leading this trip.

June 2, 2014