Tag Archives: Lake ontario

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

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.




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

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…


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.


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

Hamilton Harbour Fish and Wildlife Restoration Project

Hamilton Harbour Fish and Wildlife Restoration Project

Wednesday December 28 2011

Signet Mute Swan


As Site Coordinator the  next post will be a year in review at Elements Photoblog.


I wish everyone a great New Year with the Optimism we need to  keeps  Nature reviving.

Text or to scull a bit

Many new images of people, places and a few older images.

Dundas Conservation area

All the best


Doug Worrall

Strong wings

In 1997 the operation of a carp barrier/fishway began at the Cootes Paradise marsh, blocking the passage of carp into the marsh during spawning season but allowing the migration of all other spawning fish. As a result, aquatic vegetation has made a dramatic recovery throughout Cootes Paradise and the harbour. Fisheries monitoring has indicated a positive change in the composition of the fish community, including an increase in numbers of top predators and in species diversity. Recently, over 200 spawning pike were counted at the Cootes Paradise fishway. Prior to restoration, only 19 pike were recorded at the fishway. Similarly, waterfowl numbers in Cootes Paradise have increased dramatically due to the increased distribution and abundance of aquatic plants. Birds have been staying longer in the marsh and gaining strength for their migratory flight south.


The Grindstone Creek pike spawning marsh has been a 20-year restoration effort. The Grindstone Trail, connecting Cherry Hill Gate to Sunfish Pond is open to the public and provides educational interpretation and protects the flood plain by directing the large number of visitors to the boardwalk. Tours are open to groups and can be arranged by contacting Royal Botanical Gardens.

Mated Mallard ducks June 1 2011
Female mallard June 1 2011

To date, habitat restoration efforts and improvements to public access have laid a strong foundation for continuing enhancement. Research and monitoring provide essential feedback for the design and construction of the next phases of habitat and public access projects.

Harbourfront park june 13 2011


Scientists with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Canadian Wildlife Service, McMaster and Brock Universities and the Royal Botanical Gardens are co-ordinating monitoring and research to advance fish and wildlife habitat restoration throughout the Great Lakes. The Fish and Wildlife Habitat Restoration Project in Hamilton Harbour and Cootes Paradise proposes to create 372 ha of fish habitat, 299 ha of wildlife habitat, 16 km of shore habitat for fish and wildlife and 9 km of trails. Substantial progress has already been made:

Sculling Partners
Invasive species
  • Shoreline rehabilitation and a new trail at Chedoke Creek
  • Development of a carp barrier/fishway, aquatic plant nursery and breeding and nursery ponds for amphibians and reptiles in the Cootes Paradise marsh
  • Pike spawning habitat, rehabilitated flood plain habitat and a new boardwalk at Grindstone Creek
  • Restoration of the lower Grindstone Creek, employing recycled Christmas tree
  • Shoreline naturalization and development of underwater reefs at Bayfront Park
  • Shoreline naturalization, beach restoration, development of reefs and a new trail at LaSalle Park
  • Shoreline naturalization, and the development of colonial nesting bird islands, underwater reefs, trail and lookout at the Northeastern Shoreline
  • Sand dune rehabilitation and a new trail at Burlington Beach

Decline and Recovery of Cootes Paradise

Cootes Paradise

Once nearly 100% covered by emergent and submergent
aquatic plants, the extent of marsh vegetation has declined to
85% cover in the 1930s, and to only 15% in 1985. A variety
of stresses were responsible for this decline. Human development
and farming in the watershed contaminated the marsh’s
tributary streams with sewage effluent, eroded soil, and chemical
runoff. Within the marsh, carp activity physically damaged
and destroyed the marsh plants. Carp activity and eroded soil
from the watershed also muddy the marsh water, limiting light
penetration and plant growth. Controlled lake water levels,
and the introduction of non-native plant species have also
disrupted marsh ecology. For the restoration of Cootes Paradise
to be successful, RBG and other partners in the HH-RAP
agreed that an effective carp control program and pollution
abatement programs in the watershed were necessary.

Redwinged blackbird feeding


Doug Worrall Photographer