Wetlands in Saint-Laurent’s Technoparc are quickly becoming a hotspot for bird watchers, where a section of the eco-territory is slated for development starting in September.
For the remaining Tuesdays in August, birders can tour the marshes with ornithologist Joël Coutu, who first raised alarms about the Eco-campus Hubert Reeves development in July. Before then, the spot was little known to bird-watchers.
Green herons, Merlins (a small but tough falcon), and the vulnerable Least Bittern are just a handful of the bird species at the park that can be seen with bare eyes, binoculars or a telescope.
Les Nouvelles Saint-Laurent, Coutu and a pack of bird enthusiasts witnessed 46 different species by 11 a.m. on august 2nd. Over 160 species have been documented on ebird.org, a site where bird watchers from around the world can post their findings.
There are three marshes that Coutu shows the group, clad in functional sneakers, hats, binoculars and bug spray. One large marsh, on the property of Aéroports de Montréal, connects seamlessly to the future Eco-campus Hubert Reeves.
On our tour we waited patiently for the Least Bittern, the “little star,” as Coutu called the vulnerable species, while geese dipped in and out of the water.
People murmured, pointing, “Did you see it, where is it,” then grew quiet as the small, brown and black creature with round, unmoving eyes popped it’s pointed beak in and out between the reeds across the water before hopping away as quickly as it appeared.
“I’ve seen six in total,” said Coutu, a number confirmed by one of the birders.
The presence of mice and the predator birds that eat them are a good sign of a functioning ecosystem, according to Coutu, who first visited the area in November and made a point to return in the spring.
One small marsh has dried out, likely from the heat, and the 3 km area is set to become a parking lot for the Eco campus.
“It’s very unique on the island of Montreal.”
Coutu doesn’t know what drew him to area, but frequenting since April he has seen the nesting and migratory “jewel” grow in popularity to the point where he is rarely alone in the green space.
Over the past month more and more people have been turning out to experience the nature in St. Laurent, north of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport.
Between 1978 and Dec. 2015, seven people submitted Technoparc entries on ebird.org, compared to 23 new names from Jan. 2016 to now.
Coutu will be at the wetlands at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 16 and 23 at the corner of Alfred-Nobel Blvd. and Alexander-Fleming St. For more information visit facebook.com/falcoornitho