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Celebrating World Migratory Bird Day at Gonder’s Flats: For Flora and Fauna’s Sake

Christine Whelan FEO, April 25, 2024, VOL. 5 ISSUE 17

World Migratory Bird Day is a global awareness-raising campaign, held on the second Saturday in May and October to promote the conservation of these migratory species that travel through our area and celebrate the amazing journeys of migratory birds.

Some of these birds travel great distances to their breeding grounds in the north and then back in the fall to their wintering grounds as far south as Chile and Argentina. 

This Year: The Importance of Insects

The campaign this year focuses on the importance of insects for migratory birds and the need to conserve them as an essential food source. This includes reducing the use of pesticides and herbicides. Birds play crucial roles in pollination and pest control, and a lack of insects disrupts these important ecosystem functions.

The Town Council has been asked to declare May 11, 2024, as World Migratory Bird Day in Fort Erie. 

In celebrating this special day by promoting proactive conservation measures, you are invited to visit and learn about the new and improving Gonder’s Flats on Saturday, May 11 at 10:00 am.

Lynda Goodridge, of the Bert Miller Nature Club, is so pleased that Niagara Parks has taken on this project to restore Gonder’s Flats.

“I want people to know what a nice place it is for bird and butterfly watching, for strolling, just for enjoying nature.” And connecting it to the Migratory Bird Day, she thought, was a great way to bring that attention to the area. “It’s the perfect green space for that day.”

Gonder’s Flats

Travelling north, along the Niagara Parkway, coming out of Fort Erie, just after Townline Road, before coming to Black Creek, Gonder’s Flats is the wider piece of land with grass, trees and a pond on the right, between the road and river.

At one time and for many years, locals knew it as “The Bullrushes.”

Lynda talked about the role of places like Gonder’s Flats along the migratory path of the birds. The area serves as a place to stop and eat. Insects are on the menu.

“I know we all, including myself, would like insects to just go away. But they play an important part. These migratory birds use up so much energy during their travels. They have to constantly refuel.”

She added, “The insect population is declining which is concerning because they help balance out the system.”

This delicate, ecological balance needs these green spaces like Gonder’s Flats.

Gonder’s Flats Restoration Project

Donated to Niagara Parks in the 1930s, this unique site holds the potential to become a highly functional wetland, due to a combination of its soil characteristics and vegetation, in this ideal location.

Over the past several years, the area has been gradually restored as it has been severely degraded.

Under active restoration since 2014, with support from both Federal and Provincial governments, prior project accomplishments at Gonder’s Flats have included the design and installation of a protective coastal habitat in the river and the establishment of the site’s first hiking trails.

The current construction phase will build upon the recent restoration of the shoreline habitat and will include wildlife habitat conservation work, trail upgrades and educational signage.

Phase three of the extensive wetland restoration and enhancement project at Gonder’s Flats is officially underway, thanks to the collaborative work of project partners and recent funding support through the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA), Ducks Unlimited Canada and Land Care Niagara.

The current construction phase will continue into the fall, with project highlights including the excavation of a 1.5 hectares (4 acres) pond, and hundreds of native plantings, including trail upgrades to enable greater public access. Visitors will also gain a deeper understanding of this rare ecosystem through new interpretive signage on the property.

The restored area will continue to naturalize gradually over time and once successfully established, the wetland will improve water quality, support local biodiversity and protect species at risk. Other benefits include the prevention of erosion and flooding while building climate resiliency and the creation of engaging recreational opportunities for the community.

To learn more about Gonder’s Flats and the restoration project, go to the Niagara Parks webpage: niagaraparks.com/gondersflats

To experience Gonder’s Flats personally and learn about the journey of the migratory birds contact the Bert Miller Nature Club at bertmillernatureclub@gmail.com about the group outing on World Migratory Bird Day, Saturday, May 11 at 10:00 am.

There are no upcoming events at this time.