Like everything else at Lake Ontario’s Hamilton Harbour, dawn arrived in its own good time. The flat black of night slowly deepened to a midnight blue that lightened in lazy steps, gradually giving form to the spike of a tree, the tongue of a weathered wood boat launch – and that was on a clear day. On this day, fog slowed the process of delineation, reducing the lake to a pool of milky glass and the shoreline to a haze wash of orange, gold and green where, normally vibrant fall colours would be. Details are lost in the mist, like the separation of reflections and the shore. The effect, with the air quiet and still, was that of a protective cocoon. It was a special moment, to listen to the silence and the water slowly lapping against the shoreline. That view of the lake keeps one focused and sane.
The sent of autumn is a fine seasoning in the air. It is a long steady sound with a dip at the end of the canoe paddle that gave the lake a primitive feeling to the autumn air. A gaggle of mallards emerged from the mist of the lake to swim past the boat launch at one point. The tiniest sough of water against the shore can be heard. This sound sends a hypnotic something to the serenity of the moment. If you sit long and quiet enough in a canoe, the swan family will think you are a tree ! Bugs hover, thunder rolls, lightening strikes and the swan family either sit on the shoreline or sit quietly in the water preening. Or, the young cygnets flutter their wings. Like statues, the swan family sits quietly taking in the serenity of the lake which is still and the reflection is clear. The pool of milky glass gives way to a vibrant reflection of the swan family in the lake.
The beauty of the night, the lake and the swan family was like a tight-woven tapestry. In October the water in the lake is cold. It can be coined as “Cold as a trout outta the lake in October.” Under the mud at the bottom of the lake, hides a timid frog. The morning air was cool, but not too cold. The air was clear and the fall foliage is gloriously reflected in the water as the sun comes over the horizon.
Stretch your arms as wide as you can. Now picture a bird whose wingspan is at least that wide. This is the Great Blue Heron, the largest, most widespread North American heron. An up-close encounter with this graceful bird is unforgettable, whether by canoe you come upon one stealthily hunting in a shallow river, or see one fly overhead, its huge wings slowly flapping, across a field or along a lakeshore.
The Great Blue Heron is a large, slim wading bird with a long, curving neck and long legs. Most often confused mistaken as a Sandhill Crane, in flight the Great Blue Heron folds its neck back over its shoulders in an S-shape, while cranes hold their necks outstretched in flight. While hunting, the Great Blue Heron stands nearly motionless, and despite its size can be easily overlooked.
Conservation vs Control in Coote’s Paradise Hamilton
FRIDAY JULY 23 2010
In 1974, a request came form RGB for control of Coote’s Paradise. But, the Hamilton Harbor Commission held tightly to the control it claims it had under the 1912 Act Of Parliament by which it was created. In fact, the 1912 Act of Parliament …supercedes the 28 year-old RGB legislation.
Now, the conservation issue in 1974, was the preservation of Coote’s Paradise being in doubt because of a recommendation that would doublethe release of sewage into Coote’sParadise. It was suggested to construct a sewage line along the base of Coote’s Paradise and Burlington Bay to the east-end Woodward plant. Then RGB director, Leslie Laking, had great concerns about the decision. he said “The RGB would have no effluent in Coote’s Paradise from here on in.” And, chairman of the Harbor Board, Ed Tharen, ” pointed an accusing finger at the Dundas sewage treatment plant as the major polluter responsible for that gunk being poured into Coote’s Paradise.”
Stewart Morison, Ducks Unlimited Canada which is an offshoot of the U.S. group, in 1987, expects to spend $43 million in 1988 to build and restore wetland habitat for waterfowl. Morison looked at prospects for involvement in a Coote’s Paradise project proposed by RGB biologist Len Simer. From the high level bridge, Simer described the marshland’s problems and potential underlining three issues that hamper growth of plants needed for good wildlife habitat. Perceptual opportunities for current difficulties hampering wildlife habitat in Coote’s are a justaposition of elements and how they relate to each other, such as :: (1) wind-stirred mud; (2) bottom-feeding carp, and, (3) changing water levels. Carp and other invasive species continue to be an issue, even in 2,010 , Reduction of Carp is due to the Fishway operation. This allows other fish and plants to return to the marshland.
In 1988, Ducks unlimited Canada said “Half of Coote’s Paradise can be restored to the wetlandwildlife preserveit was earlier this century. DUC, provincial manager John Blain told RGB board of directors. The now flooded swamp and surrounding wetlandsat the far west end of Hamilton Harbor are part of RGB property. Blain said “Coote’s Paradise restoration – We believe it’s feasible in terms of both biology and engineering and asked the conservationgroup to investigate.
In 1988, DUC would build more than 3 km (2 miles of earthen dikes to wall off 3 km (250 acres) of open water below the McMaster UniversityCampus. This exciting initiative included: (1) Water depth would be lowered to foster the growth of natural marsh plants needed for good wildlife habitate; (2) There would be NO CARP to uproot young plants; and, (3) There would be less wind-stirred MUD to block sunlight.
Coote’s Paradise had another concern in 1988 because the region set sites on a Perimeter Road (now hwy. 403). The north-side alternative was cheapest to build at $48 million. Planners backed the north-south site because it would offer drivers an attractive view of the waterfront. The Hamilton Harbor Commission would have to approve the scheme. Now the negative side is beastly ugly because it includes three issues:
(1) Noise would affect the western harbour and
proposed waterfront park. ( Now in 2,010 we
have a beautiful waterfont part with little
(2) The harbor’s surface area, volume and fish
habitat would be reduced.
(3)Fill would be needed in Coote’s Paradise. And, thank goodness for former Alderman Mary Kiss, who recommened “to build 403 hwy WITHOUT PUTTING FILL IN COOTE’SPARADISE – one of the most ecologically important areas
Memory is like Jazz. Life jazz, memory has more to do with now than then. Then is just fiction now.
in Two Sides of a Centre
Robert Clark Yates
Would like to thank Robert Yates for his inspirational books and watchful eye on Cootes paradise.
Enjoy the pictures and information today and have a great weekend.