[Ontbirds] 12 Great Egrets roosting at Lynde Shores Conservation Area - Whitby

Weseloh,Chip [Ontario] Chip.Weseloh at ec.gc.ca
Fri Aug 23 09:58:14 EDT 2013

This morning, from about 0603-0613, John Brett and I observed 12 Great
Egrets disperse from their roosting area along Lynde Creek in the Lynde
Creek Conservation Area (LSCA) in Whitby. The birds roosted in live
trees on the west side of the creek as well as in the lower reaches of
shrubs and small trees on the west side of the north end of the only
large island in the creek south of Bayly/Victoria St. The extent of the
roosting areas was perhaps about 100m. Ten minutes later, at the east
side of Cranberry Marsh, there were 13 egrets present.


This roosting area has been under regular observation for more than a
year. In 2012, when water levels were much lower, the egrets (up to 30+)
roosted in a tight group (10-20m diameter) on mud flats at the south end
of the large island. On dispersing from this roost, the egrets usually
fly to the south, then veer west and go directly to Cranberry Marsh, < a
km away. Occasionally, they go to the north where they would be easily
visible from the facilities near the LSCA parking lot and boardwalk.
Some of the AM and PM roosting activity of the egrets is visible from
the very end of the boardwalk, if one looks to the south, but the tall
surrounding cattail growth to the south obstructs much of the view.


Observations at dusk at Cranberry Marsh show that virtually all the
egrets then foraging there, fly off to the ENE headed for the roosting
area along Lynde Creek. Similarly, if one waits at the roosting area at
dusk, virtually all egrets arrive from the west. This roosting-foraging
area,  from Lynde Creek to Cranberry Marsh, covering a distance of < 1
km, is one of the smallest, most confining such areas, I have found in
documenting more than 30 egret roosts in southern Ontario. In many
cases, and especially with small egret roosts, I suspect the birds
probably do not venture more than about 5 km from their roost to forage.


There were no tagged egrets among the birds observed this
morning.......but please keep watch for them.




Directions:  From Pickering, Ontario, take HWY 401 east to the Salem Rd
exit, go right (south) to Bayly (Victoria) St., go left. Follow it
eastward for a couple kms, past Hall's Road on your right. The next
right turn goes in to the LSCA parking lot. The boardwalk can be
accessed from the east side of the parking lot. To observe the roost
directly is a bit more tricky. Take the main trail to the south; it is
located east of the private roadway - do not take the  roadway. Walk
south for about 10-12 minutes until the trails makes a 900 turn to the
right. At the turn, there will be a slightly discernible "path" going
off to the left; follow it to the creek - the large island will be
directly in front of you. There is another discernible trail that
parallels the creek here...follow it to the left to see the north end of
the island or to the right to see the south end of the island.  Good

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