Birding by the Confluence of the Grand and Speed Rivers

This past weekend, the temperatures edged a little above freezing and the sun was in full evidence in the sky. Hope blossomed in everyone’s hearts that spring might actually be approaching. Birds were more active and calling eagerly to each other, which prompted my partner and I to grab the binoculars and head out for a little early-morning birding in Preston, Ontario.

Although I have been to Preston many times in my life, the Bob McMullen Linear Trail was a pleasant surprise for me. This natural trail is normally covered in manicured stonedust as it follows the floodplain from Hamilton Street to the Preston Auditorium (City of Cambridge, 2014). We walked the entire length of the trail and found that treacherous ice still covered much of it after this year’s harsh winter. Our walk was slow as a consequence, though this situation seemed unimportant given the prevalence of birds that we observed during our walk.

The trail follows along the Speed River and eventually meets up with the Grand River (City of Cambridge, 2014). Incredible views of both rivers can be had along the trail, especially in the late winter and early spring when there is less foliage to provide a barrier between the trail and the river’s shoreline. Limestone bluffs associated with the rare Conservation Reserve can also be viewed closer to the Preston Auditorium end of the trail. We observed a series of exciting bird species, including: woodcock, mergansers, buffleheads, goldeneyes, and blue-winged teals. (We also observed, unsurprisingly, many Canadian geese). Experienced birders may find this spot a little dull, but for a novice birder like myself it was quite thrilling – and the trail itself comes highly recommended for its walkability and views!

To view a PDF brochure of the Bob McMullen Linear Trail, click here. There is also a PDF overview of the bird species viewed at the confluence of the Grand and Speed Rivers available here.

Parking is located at Bishop St. and Hamilton St. in Preston, Ontario.

Will watches for birds through the binoculars.
Will watches for birds through the binoculars.
The author sits on a willow branch over the Speed River.
The author sits on a willow branch over the Speed River.
Looking out at limestone cliffs across the Grand River.
Looking out at limestone cliffs across the Grand River.
A sturdy bridge just before the Preston Auditorium end of the Linear Trail.
A sturdy bridge just before the Preston Auditorium end of the Linear Trail.

 

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