Last week, we went to Canada to visit our relatives and friends. We’re so lucky that one of my cousins live in Hamilton where we found beautiful gardens, waterfalls and sanctuaries. The Royal Botanical Gardens located in Burlington on Plains Road near Hamilton is one of the places we explored. The gardens are beautiful and we learned that it has more than 27 kilometers of walking trails and 31 trails with various lookouts, boardwalks, and stream crossings. We didn’t have time to explore all of them, so we chose to hike at Hendrie Valley Sanctuary Trails.
“Hendrie Valley Sanctuary Trails is one of three main trails available at the Royal Botanical Gardens which is 4.5 kilometres long and includes five lookouts, five creek crossings and two boardwalks. There are some hills and slopes as you descend into or out of the valley. The trails include forested areas, floodplain wetlands, boardwalk covered marshes and creeks with seasonal spawning fish.”~ funontario.com
Right at the main entrance, we already got excited because we saw bluejays and common ground doves. We became more excited when we saw a white-breasted nuthatch about two meters from us and then four chickadees flitting nearby about five minutes into our walk. We noticed that the birds did not shy away from people. Along the way we met a woman who said she was heading home, then handed us a bag of bird-food and told us that chickadees & nuthatches were used to hand-feeding. We thanked her, placed food in the palm of our hand, then held out and it worked! Hubby was even startled at first when the bird held onto his fingers. It was an amazing experience having a nuthatch & chickadees perched in your hand or fingers.
Then another spectacular moment happened during our walk, when we heard a loud flutter of wings above us. All the birds, including the ground squirrels dispersed and hid. I then saw a huge raptor landing on a branch near us which was about 4-5 meters in front of us. It was the first wild hawk we’ve seen up-close. Woohoo! What an awesome day it turned out to be.
Being so engrossed with hand-feeding birds & hawk-watching, I only noted 10 species: Bluejay 4, Common Ground Dove 6, Cardinal 2, Nuthatch 4, Chickadee 15, Red-winged Blackbird 20, Great Blue Heron 1, Red-shouldered Hawk 1, Canadian goose 10 & (probably) Mallard 16. So looking forward to our next visit since we barely covered the nature areas and more hand-feeding birds.