2023-05-20 Two Days At Legendary Wye Marsh

Canada Goose - Branta canadensis
I drove 20 minutes from Tiny Shores to Midland Ontario, to spend the day at the Wye Marsh Nature Reserve, a place known for its key role in the recovery of Trumpeter Swans.
Black-Capped Chickadee - Poecile atricapillus
After my first visit to Wye Marsh in Midland Ontario four days earlier, I felt there were more species I wanted to meet. I returned Monday morning, and I tried to collect images of the birds I missed before.

Friday after breakfast, I drove twenty minutes east from Tiny Township to Midland Ontario. There, on the southern edge of town, lies a wetland called Wye Marsh. A 3000 acre ecologically critical location, it was once a major battlefield to save the once endangered Trumpeter Swan from pending extinction. Even now, one third of Canadian swans visit here each year. 

For 200 years, these heaviest flying North American birds were once believed to be extirpated from eastern Canada. But beginning in the early 1980s, biologist Harry Lumsden began a campaign to reintroduce the swans at Wye Marsh, thus re-establishing the Trumpeter Swans into their former range. In 1989, a captive pair of swans were introduced to the marsh, and in 1993 one of their offspring took a mate and began raising a brood of cygnets of their own. After 200 years of absence, eastern Canada’s wild swan recovery was underway.

The reserve features a myriad of trails. Most meander through the dense woods growing on the slopes above the marsh. But it was the boardwalk reaching out into the marsh that drew me in. I wasn’t certain how many avian species I might meet, but I was confident that some of the swans would be here to nest and raise the next generation of swans. My supposition proved accurate. I saw swans on nests, but I didn’t see any signs of eggs, and certainly no cygnets. The season was too young to expect any baby swans.

As is my compulsion, I tried capturing images of every bird species I could. There were Black-Capped Chickadees, Blue Jays, Canada Geese, Caspian Terns, Gray Catbirds, Ospreys, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Song Sparrows, Swamp Sparrows, Tree Swallows, Trumpeter Swans, Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers, and lots of Yellow Warblers.

Several of the birds here announce their presence vocally, but frustrated any of my efforts to capture their images. Flycatchers, Marsh Wrens, American Redstarts, unseen vireos and a Pileated Woodpecker were the main culprits.

After my first visit to Wye Marsh, I felt there were more species there I should meet. I lost some of my better swan images because of some unexpected behavior of the software I use to cull images from my collection. I returned Monday morning, and tried to gather images of the birds I missed before. I didn’t get everything I’d hoped for, but I admit to greediness. The birds I added on Day-2 were American Goldfinch, American Redstart, Common Yellowthroat, Eastern Kingbird, and Red-Eyed Vireo.

This post completes the stories of my stay at Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay. My plan going forward is to pay a visit to nearby Tiny Marsh before driving back to Oakville, then continuing east to the Canadian Maritime Provinces. There may be an impromptu stop or two as I continue my tour of Canada.

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