To help pass this stay-at-home period and too organize my time, I’ve been trying to come up with a project I can do daily that a) is interesting (to me); b) doesn’t involve the skilled use of tools (to which I’m allergic); c) might provide useful data over time; and d) won’t eat up too much time.
I’ve been trying to keep active every day, usually by doing some cycling, much of it along reclaimed railroad beds in the area. There’s a really good 18.5 km loop that runs from York, NE along Regional Road 9 to the Gypsum Mine Tract Trail, along it to McClung Road in Caledonia, south down McClung to the Grand River, and then back to York along the Rotary Club Riverside Trail. And to get into Hamilton, I follow the first part of this loop to McClung Rd and then take the Chippawa Trail to Albion Falls and the Mountain brow. [The other day I hopped onto the Chippawa Trail where it crosses Unity Rd. right next to the Kilman Zoo. One of the lions started roaring. I had never heard this in Africa. It is REALLY impressive. Don’t think I’d want to hear it right outside my tent though.]
The thing I’ve noticed about these trails is that they’re bordered by fairly dense vegetation ranging from shrubs to stands of trees; in fact, in some places the trails go through actual forest. As cities continue to expand these vegetated corridors will become ever more important for wildlife – for both flora and fauna. What do we know about the trails in our area right now? What species of birds nest along them? Do birds move along them during migration? Do animals travel along them from one area to another? I don’t think we know much; I’m not aware of any assessment that’s been done (if there has been some I’d love to know about it!).
So….as often as possible I’m going to take an hour in the morning to walk a section of the Gypsum Mine Tract Trail (the newest one) and do a bird count. I’ll post the results on eBird so there’s a record. Sometime in the future, during migration, I’d love to net along the trail in one spot and run another set of nets a kilometer further along to see if migrants continue to move during the day using these corridors. I did the section between Young’s Rd. and Stoney Creek Rd. this morning and came up with 33 species including Yellow-billed Cuckoo (at least 4 of them).