Outing Report: Walkerton Birding May 20, 2017

A handful of Saugeen Nature members and one prospective member met at the Mother Theresa School at the south end of Walkerton at 9:00 a.m. The idea was to look at a few of the interesting features of the town and, at the same time, try to find some spring migrant birds.

The first stop was at the old power dam on the Saugeen River south of Walkerton. There the dam still impedes the river’s flow and other evidence of human industry is hidden beneath willow- dominated tree and shrub growth. It is an excellent habitat for wildlife, and the birds put on a vocal welcome for the group. Highlights of the stop were: a yellow warbler building her nest; good views of a singing catbird and a quietly foraging Swainson’s thrush; a mature bald eagle overhead; male and female American redstarts searching nearby thickets for insects; Baltimore oriole, rose- breasted grosbeak, cedar waxwing, great-crested flycatcher, yellow-bellied sapsucker, and more keeping the trees busy around us.

The other stops were closer to the heart of Walkerton, at the river near Sacred Heart school and north of the downtown business district. At the latter location the river runs at the base of a huge bluff of unconsolidated sediments. A colony of bank swallows makes its home there, a collection of tunnels grouped together on an inaccessible vertical face of the bluff. The swallows come and go in a cloud of swirling activity. Nearby, a belted kingfisher has established a similar, but solitary, tunnel nest.

There is more to see in Walkerton but we had already passed the three-hour mark; it was time to head for home and lunch.

Submitted by Angus Inksetter

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