Sights and Sounds of Spring

Mike Pickup

Sights and Sounds of Spring

On a warm sunny morning, what is better than to get outdoors and look for signs of spring?

So, on a warm spring day in mid April 2008 I found myself heading for the great outdoors. With MacGregor Point Provincial Park beckoning me, and its many hiking and biking trails, I head for the Tower Trail.

Pileated Woodpecker

This trail is a 3.5 km loop around a Class I wetland, the DU Pond. Grabbing my binoculars and camera and heading out on the trail, the first sound I hear is a loud "rap-rap-rap-rap-rap" of in the distance. I am intent on finding the perpetrator, who has broken the silence of the moment. Looking high up on a dead snag I notice a bobbing head. The large black and white body and a splash of red on its head I finally notice a Pileated Woodpecker. This is the largest of the North American woodpeckers and it is in its favourite habitat hunting for insects or excavating a home.

Next I hear the all too familiar song "springs-here" and the "chick-a-dee-dee-dee-dee", of the Black-capped Chickadee. This tiny grayish coloured bird, with a white belly and its black cap is a harbinger of spring. After spending the winter in our neck of the woods it is great to hear its loud call on spring day.

 Farther along the trail, with the temperature rising to the mid teens, a Mourning Cloak Butterfly takes to the air and flutters about in the warm breezes. An Eastern Phoebe can be heard of in the distance repeating its name, "Phoe-be" with the pronunciation on the last syllable. The musical warbles and trills of the Winter Wren are also heard in the dense woods along the trail. Often heard calling above the bird songs is the loud "peep-peep-peep" of the Spring Peeper. Once the weather warms up it is time for this species of frog to start its daily ritual as it calls all day long.

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Belted Kingfisher

Walking out of the forested canopy you head out onto a diked area along the edge of the DU Pond and hear the dry rattle of Belted Kingfisher, the twitter of Tree Swallows above, the honking of the Canada Geese and the "Kuk-Kuk-cow-cow-cow-cow-cowp-cowp" of the Pied-billed Grebe, the familiar sounds of the wetlands at this time of year.

Painted Turtle

Looking out over the still, quiet waters you will find Painted Turtles sunning themselves on the dead logs. You may see one or you may see three or four or you may even see seven or eight.

Take a rest at the viewing tower on one of the benches provided as you scan the pond. Mallards, Blue-winged Teal and American Wigeon are see swimming in secluded sections of the pond. Farther along the trial Wood Ducks are flushed as you walk by, another Pileated Woodpecker cruises past on its daily routine, a Downy Woodpecker is heard quietly drumming on a Silver Birch tree, more songs of the Black-capped Chickadee are heard and a couple of more Mourning Cloaks flutter by.

There is no better place to be outdoors on a warm spring morning, than to be at MacGregor Point Provincial Park. You can spend an hour, or three or four hours strolling along the trails, looking and listening for the sights and sounds of spring.

Mike Pickup April 2008