Monday, 19 March 2012

A hidden gem...Confederation Park

Confederation Park…most people when they hear that think of Hutch’s, Wild Waterworks, Adventure Village or one of the other establishments located along the beach strip. To others this area is actually a diverse narrow strip of land sandwiched between the QEW and Lake Ontario. Many people don’t know that it is owned by the City of Hamilton. In 1980 the Hamilton Conservation Authority began managing the park for the city. 

The park is rich in history, natural beauty & wildlife and it is located along the shores of Lake Ontario.  Because of the parks location it is easy to access and is an ideal place to visit for an hour or for the day.  There are many activities to do in the park which are only limited by your imagination. 

One of the main features, is the Breezeway trail which runs the entire length of the park from Grays Road and continues through to Spencer Smith Park in Burlington for a total of 12 kilometers. In 2011 a new link was added joining the Red Hill Valley trail to the Breezeway making it possible to come from the Hamilton mountain all the way to Lake Ontario. 

There are many areas through the park to explore and discover, from the many ponds, wooded areas to the shores of Lake Ontario. You never know what you will see, if you are lucky you may spot a deer, coyote, bald eagle or one of the many other raptors and animals which make this park their home.
People come daily to go walking, jogging, biking, roller blading, picnicking, beach combing, boating, kayaking, surfing, fishing, bird watching, sun bathing, swimming, playing and the list goes on and on. Visit the park when there is a strong east wind and watch the giant waves crash onto the beach, you would think you were at the ocean all you need is the smell of salt air to complete the picture. This park is a place to come and enjoy at any time of season. 

Before the park was established in 1967 this strip of land was a thriving beach community with many cottages and farms along the shore line. You can still see remnants of these today. Baranga’s on the Beach Restaurant  restaurant is the old public school which closed in the early 60’s. Imagine going to school right on the lake what a great place to go for recess! For those interested in more of the history of the beach strip 

Confederation Park a jewel on the shores of Lake Ontario waiting to be discovered, so come for a visit and see all the beauty.

Paul Karbusicky
Confederation Park Superintendent

Monday, 5 March 2012

A Trail of Two Ravens - Part 2

Recently on a winter hike at the Fletcher Creek Ecological Preserve, my wife and I were not alone. Flying nearby and then landing in far off trees two Ravens were spotted.  It was their wild call that first caught our attention. It is truly a sound of the north. Not the caw of a crow but the croak of the Raven.

Ravens are indeed uncommon in this area. It was only recently, that in the fall of 2001 Ravens started to be seen in the Kelso/Flamborough area. We now find that this pair or maybe pairs of Ravens stay in the area year round. The presence of this bird species speaks volumes about the habitat of the area and how it can support a myriad of life forms.  

Ravens are the largest black bird in the world. Their range takes them to almost every continent. They are considered to be the most intelligent of birds and are very much involved in native folklore. In West Coast cultures they are known as the “trickster”. Having this bird in Hamilton brightens our sky.

Ravens are best told from their close relative the crow by their much larger size, a robust throat and a diamond shaped tail on this black of black birds. The wings in flight are long and sickle like in shape. The tail of a crow has a square or flat end. Listen for the croak

In 2011 a pair of Ravens successfully nested in the north part of  Flamborough. Ravens are now being seen regularly in Flamborough all year and last fall and into this winter Ravens are now being seen on a somewhat regular basis flying across the lands across the top of the Stoney Creek Mountain and in the skies over Grimsby. It is very likely that another nesting will occur, time will tell us where in the Hamilton area. 

It is always interesting to see how lands and their inhabitants do not stand still as time moves along. Old fields become forests, tree species change over time as the forest is left on its own and the wildlife, whether it be a Monarch Caterpillar feeding on a milkweed or a Cooper’s Hawk patrolling the forests for smaller birds, always reflects the vegetation and habitats of the day. As the habitats change so do the animals living in them.

Now in midwinter the Raven stands out in the sky and it is one of about 25 bird species that might be found on a winter hike in the Fletcher Creek area. 

Bruce Mackenzie
Manager of Customer Service & Operations
Hamilton Conservation Authority

How to get there:
The Fletcher Creek Ecological Preserve is located on the east side of Puslinch Concession Rd 7. Take Highway 6 North from Hamilton to the Gore Rd, about 3 km north of Freelton. Turn west on Gore Rd (Concession 11 W.) and follow it for about 5 km and turn north on Concession  Rd.7 and the entrance is on the right very shortly after you turn.  If the snow is right the cross country skiing here is wonderful. Create your own ski tracks on the trail through this pristine area.