My wife shouted at me, a wide grin spread across her face. She was right, there it was in all its colourful glory, feeding on the berries of our neighbour’s tree. Three years earlier, we had moved to the Bay of Quinte from Montreal, bought a bird feeder, and watched in amazement as birds we had never heard of began to visit our yard: Black-throated Blue Warblers, House Wrens, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, just to name a few. In the space of a few months, we became “birders;” we were obsessed, but we didn’t know where could we find more birds.
Luckily, the BoQ is blessed with countless nature trails ideal for bird watching, and my wife and I have taken full advantage. Some of our favourite trails are part of Quinte’s Conservation Areas. Established to protect the BoQ’s “natural ecology,” Quinte’s Conservation Areas are perfect for a day out with the family, “hiking, birdwatching, and picnicking.”
TIPS AND TRICKS
Before you head out the door, here are some helpful tips to get the most out of your day birding and hiking. Most importantly, remember that birding is for everyone and you don’t need any advanced knowledge to see some incredible birds and have fun:
1. Even if you have 20/20 vision, you’ll need a pair of binoculars to see birds up close and personal.
2. To help identify birds, consider downloading an app to your phone or purchasing a bird book. I recommend the Merlin Bird App and David Bird’s Pocket Birds of Canada, 2nd Edition (and yes, that’s really his name!).
3. Make sure to bring sunscreen and water to stay hydrated on your adventures.
Now that you’re ready, let’s get started!
H.R. Frink Conservation Area and Outdoor Education Centre (SOUTH)
384 Thrasher Rd., Plainfield
There are five trails to choose from, but my favourite is undoubtedly the Pond Trail and Wetland Ecology Boardwalk. Children (and adults), will love the soaring red cedar trees lining the trail and will be captivated by the nature and wildlife that can be seen from the boardwalk. During a recent visit, my wife and I saw Painted Turtles, a beaver and large, sapphire blue dragonflies. But the star of the show was a Virginia Rail traipsing through the wetland’s long reeds – a bird we had never seen before and added to our list.
H.R. Frink Conservation Area and Outdoor Education Centre (NORTH)
384 Thrasher Rd., Plainfield
With eight trails to choose from, it’s sometimes hard to decide which one to take. The Drumlin Trail is 1.9KM in length and takes you from a shadowed forest path to stunning views of the Moira River. Along the way, you can expect to see Cardinals, Blue Jays, and Black-capped Chickadees. If you’re really lucky, you might even see a Downy Woodpecker or Evening Grosbeak. My wife and I weren’t so fortunate, but we did see some lovely American Gold Finches. There are also shorter trails, equally as beautiful, if you’re not able to walk long distances.
Sidney Conservation Area
379, Airport Rd., Quinte West
All three trails at Sidney Conservation Area are linked to one another, but my preferred trail is Pine Way. Towering Pine trees line the trail, their needles cover the ground, and sunlight peeks through the branches illuminating beautiful wild flowers on the forest floor. Toadlets, frogs, and chipmunks can be observed running through the underbrush and swimming in the forest’s streams and creeks. On my last visit, I was surrounded by dozens of Black-capped Chickadees and Eastern Wood-Peewee’s with their distinctive song: Peee-a-weeee.
Potter’s Creek Conservation Area
2061 Old Hwy 2, Belleville
Potter’s Creek is the home of Quinte’s Conservation Areas offices, and as a result, has several long trails to explore. My favourite is the Wetland Trail, a short (0.5KM) walk through lush, green trails lined with beautiful wild flowers like the purple, Scottish Thistle. During our recent visit, my wife and I were unable to spot any “unique” birds, but it didn’t matter because the surrounding nature was reward in itself. A word to the wise: the trails at Potter’s Creek are not groomed, so wear long pants to protect yourself, but don’t let that stop you from a wonderful day out in the BoQ.
ON THE TRAIL AGAIN
Graeme’s favourite trails are just a couple options that you can explore around the BoQ. Take a hike with some of our other trail suggestions in the region.
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