June 17, 2017
Westminster Ponds ESA is located in London, Ontario adjacent to the Tourist Information Centre along Wellington Road. This environmentally significant area is approximately 200 hectares in size and has 10 kilometres of managed hiking trails. It contains a wide variety of natural habitats and has been named a provincially significant wetland.
The area contains six ponds that are surrounded by the various lowland and upland habitats. Along the border of one of these ponds is a band of bog habitat that allows a diverse mixture of plant and tree species to thrive. The ESA also offers excellent viewing of wildlife including 0ver 200 species of birds which have been recorded in the area. There are also mammals that can be seen including beaver, coyote and white tailed deer. You may also see frogs, turtles, snakes and salamanders in the wetland areas.
On this particular Saturday afternoon I parked my car at the tourist centre and started my hike at Saunders Pond. I walked down to the viewing platform and got out my camera hoping to see some wildlife. To my surprise there was a female Wood Duck and 18 babies following her around the pond. I couldn’t believe that she had so many little ones all at once.
As I looked around the pond I also saw a family of Canadian Geese who had built their nest on the edge of some of the plant life. They had two little ones with them who stayed very close to mom and dad. The babies still had their yellow fuzz exterior but were starting to develop their wings, beaks and feet.
I left the viewing platform at the pond and headed down the trail towards Parkwood Hospital. After walking for awhile I reached a point on the trail where the forest turned into a sea of green. A boardwalk winded through the plant life on the forest floor and the trees acted as an amazing backdrop which made for a beautiful photo.
After walking a bit further down the trail I decided to turn back around towards the pond. When I reached the boardwalk I saw a bird in the brush enjoying some berries. I looked through the lens of my camera and determined it was a Rose Breasted Grosbeak.
As I got closer to where I had begun my hike I heard a tapping sound on a tree trunk close by. I looked up and saw a White Breasted Nuthatch listening for insects. It moved along the tree using its beak to feel vibrations underneath the bark.
Finally as I made my way back by Saunders Pond I encountered a second Canadian Geese family. This time there were three little ones following mom and dad in the water. They were around the same size as the babies I had seen earlier and appeared to be developing at about the same rate.
When I got back to my car I packed up my camera and replaced the lens cap. I couldn’t believe how much wildlife I had seen on my hike and I was so excited to get the photos off my camera. Below are the images I captured on my visit.