Marsh at Colborne and Hwy 35 formed while development stalled

By Luigi Richardson

Luigi Richardson is a student in the Fish and Wildlife Program at Fleming College’s Frost Campus. He is a lifelong angler and birdwatcher, who also enjoys reading, as well as writing in various genres of literature in his spare time

Marsh at Colborne and Hwy 35 formed while development stalled

Most residents of Lindsay are well aware of the construction efforts taking place at Colborne street and highway 35. Talk of a new Walmart, along with plans for more housing is making this a hot topic.

However, it is fair to say that many people are probably unaware of the finer details of the whole matter.

When topsoil was removed from the site some 10-15 years ago, a layer of clay from beneath the ground was exposed, which allowed spring rainwater to pool and accumulate. Over time, this formed a small marsh, which has now become home to numerous species of plants and wildlife. Some of these species are plants like Asters, Reeds, Horsetails and Water Plantain. In addition, Raccoons, Muskrats and Coyotes have also chosen to call the marsh home.

However, various migratory bird species like Sandpipers and Plovers, have attracted birdwatchers to the site. Species like Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Pectoral Sandpiper and Dunlin have frequented the Colborne wetland for the past decade, using it as a “stop-over” on their way south during migration. Wetlands with wide open spaces and clay substrate form ideal feeding grounds for Sandpipers and Plovers, which use their slender, needle-like beaks to extract invertebrates (like insect larvae) from the ground.

John Knight, who’s tenure as Professor of Wildlife Sciences in the Fish and Wildlife Program has spanned three decades, has been vocal with his concern for the wetland towards his students.

“We have two wetlands on-campus, so the net loss is not great,” Knight says, “but wetlands for shorebirds are in short supply around here.”

“We don’t have many mudflats that shorebirds need.”

Knight has spent a great deal of time observing birds at the Colborne Marsh, and has recorded numerous species such as Cackling Goose, Pectoral Sandpiper, Dunlin, Great Egret and even Black Ibis, an occasional visitor from the Atlantic Coast. Professor Paul Ashley, coordinator of the Fish and Wildlife Program at Fleming College, provided his opinion on the situation and the future of these unique bird species in Lindsay.

“We’ve lost a fairly significant staging area,” Ashley says, “but we have to realize that it was created by the development process.”

Taking all this into account, it may seem as if Lindsay will lose a significant portion of its wildlife habitat once construction starts to heat-up. However, we must take into account the fact that the lands adjacent to the construction site do not constitute untouched or pristine habitat for birds or mammals. This wetland mudflat was created by the development efforts which commenced over a decade ago, and was taken up only thereafter by various wildlife species.

There are still numerous habitats just like this all over Ontario, which wildlife and migratory bird species can utilize during migration. The dozens of provincial parks across Ontario, which have and will remain intact into the future, along with protected habitat areas, wetlands, mudflats, beaches and riverbanks, still hold refuge to these species, and will help to ensure their perpetuity into the future.

1 Comment

  1. Very interesting perspective on the Colborne St. project, Luigi. It is heartening to learn that shorebirds were able to take advantage of the mudflats created when development got underway; it is saddening that, ultimately, there will be habitat loss.

    Always useful to have Fleming College expertise applied to situations.

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