Tag Archives: GREAT BLUE HERON

Wetlands – Cootes Paradise Marsh- Hamilton

History of Cootes Paradise Marsh

September 15 2013

Blue heron in flight
Blue heron in flight

 

Prior to the 20th century, the nutrient-rich, shallow waters of Cootes Paradise thrived as a coastal freshwater marsh habitat. Almost 100 percent of Cootes Paradise was covered with emergent aquatic plants like wild rice and submergent plants like wild celery, providing food, shelter and migration stop-overs for a variety of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects. The lush wetland also provided ideal spawning, nursery and adult habitat for many fish like bass, perch, pike, herring and trout. This lead to its protection, first as a fish sanctuary in the 1870’s, and then as a wildlife preserve in 1927, and finally through the formation of the Royal Botanical Gardens in the 1930’s.

Blue heron in flight
Blue heron in flight

The plentiful flora and fauna of Great Lakes coastal freshwater marshes did not go unnoticed by settlers in the 1800s. Cootes Paradise and its surrounding natural habitats offered abundant fishing and hunting opportunities, fertile farmland and convenient access to water. However, human settlement of Hamilton Harbour and its surrounding natural lands brought with it several Stressor’s  that, over time, had a cumulative impact on the natural abundance of Cootes Paradise and neighboring lower Grindstone Creek marshes. Throughout Cootes Paradise’s watersheds, agricultural practices and residential, commercial and industrial development contaminated connecting creeks with sewage effluent, eroded soil and sediment and chemical runoff and destabilized flow patterns. In 1852 the Desjardins Canal, a shipping channel dissecting the marsh was recut through the centre of Burlington Heights directly connecting the marsh to the lake water levels, and disconnecting it from the Grindstone Creek marshes. In 1957 the lake water level became regulated with the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway further disrupting natural water cycles in the marsh.

Good morning
Good morning
Bee eye reflect
Bee eye reflect

Introduced European and Asian species thrived in this altered environment. Among the first non native species (1870’s) the common carp was purposely introduced as a replacement for the disappearing salmon. The feeding and spawning behaviors of non-native carp uprooted and destroyed marsh plants and re-suspended sediment muddying the waters. By the end of the 19th century, in addition to the rapidly rising carp population, exotic plant species like purple loose-strife and reed manna grass, also purposely introduced to North America, began successfully out-competing and eradicating, native plants in the wet meadow areas.

Downey Woodpecker
Downey Woodpecker
Blue Jay
Blue Jay
Natural
Natural

As human pressures on the watersheds increased, the decline in the health and biodiversity of Cootes Paradise became markedly visible. By the 1930s Cootes Paradise experienced a 15% permanent reduction in marsh vegetation, and by 1985 the level of plant loss reached 85% of its original coverage. This permanent loss of aquatic flora had a direct negative impact on water quality and the fish and wildlife inhabitants and economies of Lake Ontario. Since its dramatic decline began the Garden’s has been focused on restoring Cootes Paradise, with carp removal first attempted in the 1950’s.

Green Heron and Dinner
Green Heron and Dinner
Green Heron
Green Heron
Green Heron
Green Heron

Concerns over environmental degradation led the International Joint Commission to designate Hamilton Harbour as one of 42 Areas of Concern in the Great Lakes. In 1986, the Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan was initiated to address this environmental degradation in the Harbour and key remaining areas like Cootes Paradise and lower Grindstone Creek. Under this plan, a variety of new conservation projects and monitoring programs have been implemented by a variety of stakeholders to control pollution, restore and improve fish and wildlife habitat and communicate the health status of the wetlands.

Osprey
Osprey

 

Snake
Snake

For the last four years, I have been Biking the Harbourfront trail, Hiking into Cootes Paradise and learning more each day.As you notice, the Wildlife seem’s to be getting better in our wetlands.

 

Enjoy The Images

Doug Worrall Photographer

Drought leaves Southern Ontario Thirsty

Cootes paradise our filter “Aquifer” almost dries-up
Friday September 14 2012
Dry Cootes Paradise
Thirsty for clean water
Thirsty for images
Seasons dictate life and beauty
We are heading into Autumn……………………………NOW
Another day
I hope we have not sealed our fate regarding pollution, degradation and population.  In my opinion, awareness and education do not seem to be working.  High school grads are now overweight and hooked to their cell phones, and are mostly still ignorant about their environment after years of education.  Immigrants seem to be unable to read signs that are not in their language.
As above so is below
Our water has to deal with so much.  How long can we sustain what sustains us?  If we are “what we eat,” we are full of crap ;).
Juvenile Black crowned night heron
Black crowned night heron
This year the images were hard to come by due to the lack of visible wildlife along many of our regional hiking/biking trails and conservation areas.  The City of Hamilton has outdone themselves by oiling mute swan eggs to the point that only one signet was born in Hamilton Harbour.  Still, this year was worse than all other years for e-coli bacteria.  So why do they blame the swans?  It is unwarranted and heavy handed management.  At least the RBG does not oil the eggs of mute swans.
Broad-winged Hawk
Southern Ontario Lacking Water
Continuing poor seasons threatens our way of life.
Southern Ontario’s severe weather leaves farmers with crop losses.
Water quality suffers, and all that feeds or lives from the water, which includes humans, suffer also.  Coulson said the warm spate of weather has been caused by warm fronts moving in from the southern states, which is not unusual but, because of the lack of snow, the air is not being cooled by the time it reaches Ontario.
Busy Canadian Beaver
Normally we still have snow cover over winter.  The warmer air masses, when they encounter snowpack, it modifies them and cools them off.  They would have travelled hundreds of kilometers over snow.
Monarch Butterfly

Big rain was too little, too late

Last Year -much needed water this year

Farmer Jim Vuckovic has been wishing for rain for weeks. But the way it came pouring down Sunday in a torrential storm wasn’t what he had in mind.

Great Egret with Fish

Rather than helping his dried out crops, the winds and heavy water further damaged some of his distressed corn.

Great Blue Heron

And now the 35-year-old corn, wheat and soy farmer in Beamsville finds himself contemplating one of his worst growing seasons in memory — at least with his corn fields, which are about half as high as they should be for this time of year.

Hide and seek

“I don’t ever recall it being this dry. A lot of the crops are damaged beyond saving,” says Vuckovic. “A lot of the damage is irrevocable … It’s been a bad year. Obviously, yields will be nowhere near what we’re use to.”

In Flight

Vuckovic’s farm was toured by provincial Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Minister Ted McMeekin on Tuesday.

“I saw a field of corn (Tuesday) that was clearly distressed,” McMeekin said. “The soy beans were doing OK. More importantly, the farmer was pretty distressed with the situation.”

Greater Yellowlegs

Gross Goo! Antibiotic Resistance Flourishes In Freshwater Systems

Green Antibiotic resistant -Goo
McMaster University researchers have now discovered that floc – “goo-like” substances that occur suspended in water and that host large communities of bacteria – also contain high levels of antibiotic resistance.
“This has important public health implications because the more antibiotic resistance there is, the less effective our antibiotic arsenal is against infectious diseases,” said Lesley Warren, the principal investigator for the study that looked at floc in different freshwater systems.The research was led by Warren, professor of earth sciences and Gerry Wright, scientific director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, both of McMaster, along with Ian Droppo, a research scientist at Environment Canada.

Morning flights

They examined floc collected from Hamilton Harbour, which is impacted by sewer overflow; Sunnyside Beach in Toronto, which is impacted by wastewater; a rural stream near Guelph, impacted by light agricultural activities; and a remote lake in a natural preserve area in Algonquin Park, accessible only by float plane.

One fine morning

Researchers analyzed the water and floc samples for trace element concentrations and the presence of 54 antibiotic resistant genes.

Sixteen egrets

They were surprised to discover that genes encoding resistance to clinically relevant antibiotics were present in floc bacteria at all four sites, although resistance varied in intensity based on human influence. That is, there was less antibiotic resistance detectable from Algonquin Lake compared to Hamilton Harbour, which harbored the highest concentration of floc trace elements.

“What this tells us is that antibiotic resistance is widespread in aquatic environments ranging from heavily impacted urban sites to remote areas,” said Warren. “Yet, it also demonstrates that areas with greater human impact are important reservoirs for clinically important antibiotic resistance.Floc are vibrant microbial communities that attract contaminants such as trace metals that are markers of resistance, Wright said.
Warren added the study of antibiotic resistance in floc has never been done, “and we are only scratching the surface. The presence of environmental bacterial communities in aquatic environments represents a significant, largely unknown source of antibiotic resistance,” she said. “The better we understand what is out there, the better we can develop policies to safeguard human health as best we can.”The research has been published in the science journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Funding for the study was received from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and Environment Canada.

Wild Orchid

Contacts and sources:
Veronica Mcguire

McMaster University

Environment Canada.
Wikipedia
Photography
Doug Worrall
Lois Mcnaught

Information on Dragonflies,Oiling of eggs Hamilton

Information on Dragonflies Hamilton

Thursday July 12 2012

Dragon Flies so colourful

Wildlife This year at Harbour-front Trail, Cootes Paradise and the great lakes are few and far between.The lack of snow-pack , Spring rains has left the water level three feet less than last year, therefore less wildlife and fewer Images. Last year there was over 12 Signets born in Hamilton Harbour, this year due to the City of Hamilton Oiling Swan eggs and Canadian geese eggs there was only one signet born, all because they say the swans are causing e-Coli Bacteria and making it dangerous for people to swim in the water. I am against the oiling of eggs because the swans sit on the eggs for three Months without any offspring. People complain to the city that there is too much Canadian geese  droppings where they walk. The wildlife was here before us, please leave Mother Nature alone, Humans think they can control everything they come in contact with. Now look at the world we live in, nothing for children too be amazed and nothing to learn, It is like a Silent Spring-Shame- Shame

eight eggs and only one signet-city oils eggs Hamilton

Readers at pics4twitts send me images quite often, Lois McNaught also walks the Harbour-front trail  Daily and has the same observations as most regulars, “where have all the wildlife gone?”

Morning Hamilton Harbour

Doug Worrall

Information on dragonflies. Did you know that they eat mosquitoes, have over 20,000 eyes, have been the subject of an old wives tale, and have even been mistaken for fairies? Find out many more interesting fact…

Dragonflies

Usually living near water, the dragonfly is one of earth’s creatures that are not only very useful, but also beautiful. They belong to thee insect group Odonata. Dragonflies come in varied colors; their bodies often blue, green, purple, and even bronze. Their wings seem to shimmer as if made of silver, especially when under the moonlight.

Dragon Fly

Starting out life as small nymphs underwater, they grow to be approximately three inches long, with a wingspan averaging two to five inches in width. While this may seem large for an insect, keep in mind that as they have evolved from pre-historic times, they have gotten considerably smaller. Evidence shows that at one point in time they may have had a wingspan of over two “˜feet’! One very interesting fact of the dragonfly is his six legs. Each of the legs is covered in short bristles. Using their bristle-covered legs to form an oval shaped basket allows them to scoop insects, such as mosquitoes, right out of the air. Dragonflies not only eat mosquitoes; they also keep the fly population and other flying insects under control.

Eastern-Tiger-swallowtail
Eastern-Tiger-swallowtail

Surprisingly, dragonflies will spend only a very short part of their life span as actual dragonflies. They will live as nymphs for up to four years, shedding their skin up to fifteen times, yet when they finally mature into adults, the dragonfly stage, they will survive only a few months.

Gray catbird

Dragonflies have fascinated modern man for years. They have become the basis of both legends and old wives tales. One such old wives tale refers to a dragonfly as a “˜darning needle’. An old legend tells of people who would wake up after falling asleep outside to find their ears and eyes sewn shut by these crafty insects. If dragonflies were seen swarming over a doorway, it was said to foretell of heavy rains on the way.

Mangrove Tree Nymph

For as long as man and dragonflies have coexisted, people have mistaken dragonflies for fairies. “˜Fairy tales’ have been told of little people fluttering about worldwide. Upon closer inspection, the fairies are found to be groups of dragonflies.

Painted Lady Butterfly on Coneflower
Painted butterfly.

Facts about Dragonflies

Question Mark Butterfly

 

How fast can dragonflies fly? In excess of sixty miles and hour!

How many eyes does a dragonfly have? They have two main eyes, but each of these eyes are made up of approximately 20,000 to 25,000 tinier eyes, allowing them to zero in on the flying insects that are their daily meals.

Post and image Doug Worrall

Doug Worrall

Photos by Lois McNaught