[Ontbirds]Aurora's McKenzie Marsh

Ronald J. Fleming "ronaldj..fleming" at sympatico.ca
Mon Aug 16 08:53:09 EDT 2004

Delivered from the usually incessant vehicular bustle that has marred
its existence for decades now, the hands of time seemed to turn back on
Aurora's McKenzie Marsh this weekend.  This precious little wetland just
east of Yonge Street in the north part of suburban Aurora is bisected by
St. John's Sideroad, which has now been closed for widening and will
remain that way until December.  With construction crews roosting
elsewhere for the weekend and traffic entirely cut off by construction
barriers, the marsh was granted a stretch of solitude it has not
experienced in a long, long time.

After parking on Old Yonge Street just west of the marsh yesterday
evening, I walked in to check for the American White Pelican that was
seen by numerous birders between August 5-7.  My visit was prompted by
an e-mail from area resident Mary Carnahan, who rediscovered the pelican
on Tuesday, August 10th while I was away at Manitoulin Island (one of
the most reliable places in Ontario to observe Sandhill Cranes, by the

The pelican was not evident, but I was surprised to see both Green Heron
and Black-crowned Night Heron hunting right at the roadside, literally
feet away from me as I walked the silent stetch of road between
slumbering bulldozers and tall metal cranes.  Even without the aid of my
spotting scope, I easily observed 4 Pied-billed Grebes (2 young), 8
Common Moorhens (6 young), no less than 10 Black-crowned Night Herons (7
of them juveniles), 4 Green Herons (2 juveniles), 5 Great Blue Herons, 6
Caspian Terns, 5 Belted Kingfishers and 2 Spotted Sandpipers, all of
them enjoying a freedom of movement that dovetailed perfectly with a
strolling birder's most hopeful wishes.  Despite the upheaval caused by
construction during the course of each week, the combination of
vehicular inactivity, increasing numbers of migrants, and family
dispersal of several species, McKenzie Marsh could prove to be a
worthwhile destination for local birders over the next several weekends.
And, who knows, the White Pelican might still put in a cameo appearance.

Ron Fleming, Newmarket

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