Bird Watching at Lake Whittaker
Every Tuesday, I travel out to Lake Whittaker Conservation Area to complete weekly water testing in and around Lake Whittaker. Lake Whittaker is an 11 hectare, groundwater-fed kettle lake surrounded by Provincially Significant Wetland settled in the heart of the Carolinian Eco zone. While I work around the park, I make notes on the bird species I see and hear—hear being the most important part. Birds can be often identified by song alone, making it easy to distinguish one bird from another even if you can’t see the bird.
Some birds are easy to identify by song, such as the ubiquitous Black-capped Chickadee whose song is a drawn-out “chick-a-dee-dee-dee” or the common Yellow Warbler who sings a bright, musical “sweet-sweet-sweet-I’m-so-sweet.” Like any skill, it takes a bit of practice and time to learn the songs. I used to listen to the Peterson’s Field Guide to Eastern Bird Song CDs on long trips. Now, with smart phones it is even easier to learn to bird by ear. There are many bird identification apps including the iBird Pro Guide to Birds (for Android and iOS) and many others.
If you are new to birding and want a bit of help with the basics, a good place to start is your local field naturalist group. They often schedule guided bird watching trips to local birding hotspots with many experts to help with identifications.
Lake Whittaker offers a variety of habitats to explore from wetland to mixed deciduous Carolinian forest, historical pine plantations, open fields, wetlands and the lake – all habitats for a variety of birds. Not only is birding a fun way to explore nature, it is a great way to get some exercise! Lake Whittaker Conservation Area has a moderately difficult, two kilometre walking trail that winds through several different habitats. Why not combine an outing to Lake Whittaker’s Trail with some swimming, boating and a picnic or an overnight stay at the campground? As an added bonus your park permit gives you access to several other trails in the Kettle Creek watershed including Kirk Cousins Trail and the longer Dalewood and Dan Patterson Trails.
At the very least, grab a pair of binoculars, a good bird identification guide and get outside—you never know what you might see, or hear!