Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Windermere Basin Hike

April 25th. It is a perfect day for a hike.  I, at least am seeing a part of Hamilton that I have long known about but never actually visited; The Windermere Basin, once a contaminated site, now a remediated natural parkland and getting closer and closer to what it was before: a Great Lakes costal wetland and mud flat, benefiting diverse and local wildlife and fish.

City of Hamilton (the owners of the land) can be proud.  A startling sight it is to observe the industrial stacks on the horizon, puffing gently today (north, west and south). Below, along the harbour, fishermen wait patiently for fish to bite.

Breeding cormorants and seagulls dot the landscape and tall, native prairie grasses come to life in the wind. We are lucky: we have two birders with us: Len Manning from the Hamilton Naturalist Club and Caleb Scholtens from Arocha.

Together, they tell us, a group of twenty odd nature enthusiasts about the habits of the tree-swallow, a species with nesting colonies in the specially made wooden boxes of this parkland. Looking through Len’s powerful binoculars, he point out that males are the beauties of this species—gorgeous, iridescent blue backs, diving in and out of the grasses while a small falcon watches, his chest puffed, silent.
“They’re in trouble,” Len tells us. Loss of habitat is one major culprit.
Other species like the Common grackle and the Chimney swift are also on the decline. Chimney swifts eat insects on the fly, so if there are no insects---they starve to death. That’s why projects like this are so important for birds, insects and wild life.

Then there is the issue with invasive Sweet White Clover—which is not so sweet. It grows in these grasslands and we hear from the Redeemer College student who is accompanying us on the walk, that napping it in the bud when it flowers is the best way to get rid of it, since the roots die if you do this.  Who wants to take ownership of this land and steward it further?

Windermere Basin is a receiving basin for the Red Hill Creek prior to the water entering Hamilton Harbour and is located at the south east corner of Hamilton Harbour (adjacent to the Queen Elizabeth Way (Q.E.W.), Eastport Drive and Woodward Avenue). The creek serves a watershed of parts of Hamilton, Stoney Creek and Glanbrook.

Note: Thespec.com covered our hike. Read here.