May Species Count for Birds at Wagner Natural Area                May 27, 2017  - Dave Ealey

May species Counts are well-justified excuses to throw off the shackles of winter and celebrate the arrival of spring!
In late May, birds are at their most glorious....all are in full breeding plumage, colours galore. In the coniferous wooded areas of Wagner, it can be difficult to spot birds, so their territorial songs provide an additional means of detection.

Red-winged Blackbird
Yellow Warbler
Red-tailed Hawk
Tree Swallow

Wagner Natural Area May Species Count for Birds – May 27, 2017 -- by Dave Ealey 

This year’s count sampled three parts of the natural area: the Marl Pond Trail; the Villeneuve field and old cabin trail south of that field; and the abandoned beaver pond south of Atim field and along the service road bush. A mostly sunny day, the temperature rose from about 10 C to 22 C over the morning, with a light NW wind of about 13 km/h. Except for busy traffic noise, conditions were good for birding.
Starting at 06:00 a.m., I was met by a new visitor to Wagner Natural Area—Ron. We started with the Marl Pond Trail and encountered numerous fallen trees along the trail, a result of the extreme winds and rain that occurred on May 24. The trail has been closed for public visits while repairs are made. By 8:00 a.m. we had concluded the trail hike after negotiating several detours caused by the extensive areas of tree blowdowns.
From 8:00 to 10:00, I traveled the north side of the natural area and birded the Villeneuve field and the forest south of that field along a former trail. The final trek, from 10:00 to 11:00 was from the central field by the picnic shelter to an abandoned beaver pond that links to the Atim road field and then checking for birds along the service road back to the parking lot. Although the extensive amount of ponding and runoff water likely led to more bird species that use aquatic habitat being recorded, the late start to the spring has meant that fewer species than normal were detected.

For the bird count results of 2017 please click here


In addition to the rich plant life, Wagner Natural Area is home to a wide variety of fauna. Birds, amphibians and butterflies are among the best studied in the Natural Area, while the mammals also provoke considerable interest. Wagner is also noted in zoological circles as the home of an isolated population of the Western (or Boreal) Toad. Because the marl ponds are critical habitat for amphibians such as frogs and toads, please do not walk in the white marl ponds, even if they appear dry. Instead, from the boardwalk watch in the early spring for the tadpoles as they grow from little black specks on the white marl, through to attaining their adult state. Wagner’s relatively small physical area, and close proximity to large urban areas, somewhat limits the number of large mammals found in the area. White-tailed deer, coyote, beaver and even moose can be seen in the area frequently.