Did you know that the annual southern migration of raptors, also known as ‘birds of prey’, goes right past our front doorstep each fall? Bald Eagles, Ospreys, Peregrine Falcons, Turkey Vultures, Broad-winged Hawks, and even Golden Eagles fly by each day during this period. When conditions are right, they soar right through the Beach area.
A couple of kilometres east of the Beach area we run what is called a Raptor Watch. Almost daily from the middle of August until the end of November, we are watching and counting the migrating birds of prey. Although bird times do vary, the best time of day for viewing the birds is most often between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. This is when the warm air or ‘thermals’ are rising up off the land. The optimal conditions for a large movement of birds of prey are days when the winds are moderate to heavy and blowing from the north-west.
On any given day during the peak period, any or all of the raptor species can be seen flying along the north shore of Lake Ontario. Some birds, if we’re lucky, may land briefly in the trees, many will circle above, beside, or even below us, while most others will often just fly past as they continue their long journey southward. In past years, between 4,000 and 6,500 raptors have been observed during the migration months. Our best ‘single day’ count happened last year with a total 946 birds tallied.
Our Raptor Watch is conducted at Rosetta McClain Gardens, a small park situated on top of the Scarborough Bluffs overlooking Lake Ontario. The park is located on the south side of the Kingston Road and Glen Everest Road intersection, one stoplight east of the main intersection of Kingston Road and Birchmount Road. The Gardens are fully wheelchair accessible and have washrooms and parking. Note the following items are NOT ALLOWED in the park: dogs, picnics, bicycle riding and/or ball playing.
If you are interested in coming out and seeing the raptors, please bring any of the following items: a pair of binoculars, a scope, a camera, a birding book, a snack to eat, and a small folding chair. If you have children, bring them as well.
We look forward to seeing you there!
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