Notes from a Birder: Birch Cove Lakes Area
With thanks to the author, Bob McDonald, Halifax NW Trails
My initial excursions into the Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes area were on field trips sponsored by the NS Bird Society along a historic logging road off Kearney Lake Rd near the site of a former drive-in. (Does anyone else recall a drive-in here?) These field trips took place in the early 1980’s before any development in Kingswood, Bedford West or off Kearney Lake Rd. The trips took place in spring and summer with a focus on warblers and flycatchers.
A few years later, when there was the pressure of development in “our” birding area, several of us assembled a bird list of 103 species which had been sighted during these outings.
During the second Maritime Breeding Bird Atlas (2006-2010), my 10X10-km square included much of the BMBCL area and I censused birds along many of the existing trails into Susies and Charlies Lakes and into Blue Mountain. There were fewer trails then than there is now. The BMBCL Wilderness Area was designated in 2009, the same year that a BioBlitz, sponsored and organized by St Mary’s University, took place. This BioBlitz was a one-day inventory of all flora and fauna which we could find.
The “Bird Twig” which consisted of ornithologists (and their students) from local universities as well as many members of the NS Bird Society were able to detect (see or hear) 75 bird species during this 24-hour period! As part of the BioBlitz, two of us spent several hours doing a nocturnal owl survey along the Blue Mountain trail where we heard Northern Saw-whet, Barred and Long-eared Owls.
In September 2017, the Ecology Action Centre organized a second BioBlitz in BMBCL and although the timing was not the best for bird surveys, more species were counted.
Currently, many keen birders use an “app” called ebird to keep personal lists of species seen, as well as location lists. Significant locations for birds are designated as “hotspots”.
HOTSPOTS: I checked recently and it looks as though there are only 2 hotspots so far in BMBCL, one along the Blue Mountain and surrounding trails (54 species) and the other is the trail into Susies lake from Bayers Lake Business Park (11 species). I encourage others to post their bird sightings on either of these hotspots or at other user-specified locations within BMBCL.
I have attempted to compile a master list of birds which have been observed (by me or others) in the BMBCL area, and I came up with a collection of some 114 species. It is worth noting that this list includes several species-at-risk and uncommon species including Common Nighthawk, Black-backed Woodpecker, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Canada Warbler and Rusty Blackbird.
Below is a partial list of the many bird species found in the BMBCL.
Bird Species recorded in the Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area & Buffer Lands (partial list)