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Van Wagners Beach Viewing Platform- Hamilton Ontario
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Bon Echo
N 43° 15.736 W 079° 46.091
17T E 599976 N 4790675
Quick Description: Part of the West End of Lake Ontario Important Bird Area
Location: Ontario, Canada
Date Posted: 5/9/2018 1:18:33 PM
Waymark Code: WMY8C1
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Bear and Ragged
Views: 3

Long Description:

The viewing platform at Van Wagners Beach is part of the West End of Lake Ontario Important Bird Area:

Site Description

This site is defined generally as the part of Lake Ontario west of a line stretching from Port Credit on the north shore to the mouth of the Niagara River on the south shore, and bounded on the west by Burlington Bar. The shoreline is one of low relief (<10m), with unconsolidated cliffs of clay-silt sediments. The coast is straight, with beaches across the mouths of small rivers ('Southeast Coast' subdivision), sedimentary rock outcrops ('Burlington Bar System' subdivision), and a wide sand barrier, up to 2 m, high across Hamilton Harbour. There is widespread artificial protection of the shoreline. Erosion rates are low as shoreline is relatively sheltered and prevailing winds are westerly. Shore-zone ice can persist up to 4 months; ice forms at west end of the lake by late December, and breaks appear in late February. Water currents are sensitive to wind direction, but appear to be predominantly counter-clockwise around Lake Ontario. Water temperatures reach 24 degrees C in late summer. Maximum lake depth at the west end of the lake is 100 m; lake contours indicate a gradual slope from the shoreline to this depth.


The west end of Lake Ontario is not a discrete area, but is defined by the impressive congregations of waterfowl which have gathered there annually since about 1990, primarily in late winter and early spring. Flocks of mainly diving ducks number in thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, with the more abundant species being Greater Scaup, White-winged Scoter, and Long-tailed Ducks (these three species all occur in numbers greater than 1% of their estimated North American population). Amongst these huge flocks, several other species of diving duck occur in impressive numbers for an inland location - including Common Goldeneye, King Eider, Red-breasted Merganser, and Surf Scoter.

Where the flocks gather within this area appears to be weather dependent; that is, strong winds cause the flocks to shift locations, presumably in response to demands for shelter and feeding opportunities. The concentrations of waterfowl are most likely in response to the invasion and colonization of the shallow waters by dreissenid mussels, Zebra Mussel Dreissena polymorpha and Quagga Mussel D. bugensis. It is likely that most foraging for mussels by scaups, goldeneyes and scoters occurs on shelves less than 20 m deep around the perimeter of the lake; however, Long-tailed Ducks can forage in depths up to 100 m.


To date, 184 species have been reported to for "Hamilton--Van Wagner's Beach (Lakeland Centre") and 255 species have been reported to for "Hamilton--Van Wagner's Beach".

Uncommon pelagic birds recorded at Van Wagner’s Beach include jaegers (Parasitic and Long-tailed jaeger are observed several times each season, while Pomarine are infrequently observed), black-legged kittiwakes, various gull species (Sabine's, glaucous, lesser black-backed, greater black-backed, little, Bonaparte’s), and black tern.
Shorebirds have frequently been observed along the beach or in flight, including American avocets red-necked phalaropes, red knot, sanderling, dunlin, willet, purple sandpiper. Loons (common and red-throated), scoter (surf, white-winged and black), grebes (red-throated, pied-billed, horned) and a number of species of duck can usually been seen out on the lake in fall or winter.
Rare sightings include records for Manx shearwater, Wilson’s storm-petrel, Leach’s storm-petrel, northern gannet, long-billed curlew, brant, snow goose, and king eider.

Two information signs provide details on the Western End of Lake Ontario IBI and why the particular location at Van Wagners Beach is important:

The Best Place in Inland North America to see Pelagic Birds

You are standing at Confederation Park, at the heart of the West End of Lake Ontario IBA. This site is one of the best places in inland North America to see "pelagic" birds, which spend most of their lives on the open ocean. only coming to shore to nest and raise young. Pelagic Birds on Lake Ontario Most of the pelagic birds that show up here are Arctic-nesting gulls and their close relatives called jaegers. Northern Gannets also occur on occasion. The rarest to appear here have included Manx Shearwater, Black-capped Petrel, Wilson's and Leach's storm-petrels, and Northern Fulmar.

What makes Confederation Park so Special?

Several pelagic bird species that nest in Canada's Arctic pass over Lake Ontario while migrating from the bottom of James Bay to the Atlantic Ocean. Others that nest in the Gulf of St. Lawrence end up here by flying up the St. Lawrence River. While flying over Lake Ontario, these birds usually stay so far from shore they're seldom seen — but strong easterly winds from storm systems may blow them closer to this shore. When that happens, birders line up to catch a rare glimpse of them.

Pelagic Birds on Lake Ontario

Most of the pelagic birds that show up here are Arctic-nesting gulls and their close relatives called jaegers. Northern Gannets also occur on occasion. The rarest to appear here have included Manx Shearwater, Black-capped Petrel, Wilson's and Leach's storm-petrels, and Northern Fulmar.
Park Name: Confedation Park

Sponsoring Organization: Bird Studies Canada, Ontario Trillium Foundation, Hamilton Industrial Environmental Association, Hamilton Conservation Authority, Hamilton Conservation Foundation

Handicap Accessible?: Yes

Website: [Web Link]

Entrance Fee: 0.00 (listed in local currency)

List any Hides, Birding Towers, or other structures to assist in Birdwatching found at the location:
viewing platform

Parking Coordinates: N 43° 15.716 W 079° 46.138

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