NeilyWorld Birding Annapolis Valley - Middleton
Spring: ** Summer: *** Fall: *** Winter: **
Directions to this Site: If you are coming from the east (say Halifax), take exit 18A from Highway 101 (Main Street) and turn left or south on Victoria Road. Travel 1.3 km south to Highway 1 (Main Street) and turn right or SW on it. Travel 1.8 km and you are in the centre of Middleton, the Heart of the Valley. From there, the three sites mentioned in the text are all easily accessible.
If you are coming from the west (say Yarmouth), take exit 18 from Highway 101. Turn right or SSE onto Brooklyn Road and proceed 1.6 km to Highway 1 (Main Street). Turn left or ENE on Highway 1 (Main Street) and go 1.2 km to the centre of Middleton, the Heart of the Valley. From there, the three sites mentioned in the text are all easily accessible.
Location Map of the Middleton area
Middleton Site Map: Middleton has three sites of interest in close proximity to the centre of town (herein the corner of Main & Commercial Streets): the Sewage Treatment Plant, Riverside Park and the Chimney Swift Roost. The map below shows the location of each of these attractions.
Map of Sites in the Middleton Area
Site Description and Birding Information: The closest to "downtown" is the Chimney Swift Roost, so we'll start there. From the town centre (Main & Commercial Streets) go WSW 90 metres to School Street. Turn right or NNW and go 130 metres to where you can see the chimney of the Middleton Regional High School on the left and the chimney of the Subway restaurant on the right. Here you have a good view of the Subway chimney at 70 m and a poorer view of the school's at 150 m. This site is known for a single species (Chimney Swift) and is only worth a visit at dusk - to see them return to their roost. About 100 swifts used to be seen to dive into the chimney at the high school within a few moments of each other each night during their short breeding season (mid to late May until early July). In the last few years the school's been deserted in favour of the Subway's chimney, where only 10 to 20 swifts have been seen entering regularly. Sometimes a Common Nighthawk can be seen hawking over the town.
The chimney the swifts use at Middleton Regional High School
Riverside Park is a small greenspace along the Annapolis River just south of town. From the town centre (Main & Commercial Streets) go WSW 120 metres to Bridge Street or Highway 10. Turn left or SSE and go 500 metres to the entry on the right to the parking area at Riverside Park. This site is relatively new and is mostly bushes and tangles, with a small amount of larger trees in the park proper and lines of taller trees separating the park from the housing to the north and the sewage lagoons to the west. The Annapolis River forms the southern bound of the park and hence has the usual fishermen's paths. The park itself has a shorter doubled loop and a longer loop outside that. The tangles directly to the west of the parking lot and off the north edge of it are both good for skulking birds, especially in the autumn. A Yellow-breasted Chat appeared in both of these thickets in the fall of 2016. Off the west end of the inner loop is a small copse of trees that seems to be the best spot for fall migrants, especially warblers. The map below shows more details regarding the park and adjacent sewage lagoons.
Map of Riverside Park and Middleton Sewage Treatment Plant
That brings us to the Middleton Sewage Treatment Plant, likely the single best birding site in town. It can be reached by going WSW 550 metres from the town centre (Main & Commercial Streets) along Main Street until you reach St. John's United Church on the left. Turn into the parking lot just east of the church and drive through it to the rear (this is the road into the lagoons!). There is a gate at the rear of the parking lot, which is sometimes open during working hours on weekdays. You can drive in, about 400 metres from Main Street to the lagoons, or about 320 m from the gate. But it is best to walk in, birding along the way. There are two lined sewage treatment ponds, both of which may be viewed from the fence. Remember that this is a working operation, so if you drive in, park off to the side if you leave your car and stay clear of any activity, and watch for staff leaving who may lock the gate. The lagoons are plastic wrapped so don't expect too much, but there are Mallard, Wood Duck, Green-winged Teal, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Eastern Phoebe, swallows and gulls during the spring through fall period. Common Nighthawks can be seen on August evenings. There are two sliver ponds east of the lagoons which attract a variety of birds, including Solitary Sandpipers in late summer and fall. In the SE corner, the Annapolis River can be seen, sometimes producing Hooded or Common Mergansers. The South Shore - Annapolis Rail Trail passes along the SW end of the lagoons. The ponds can be reached easily from there, as well. In late summer through fall, shorebirds can be found in small numbers. Spotted, Solitary, Semipalmated & Least Sandpipers, and Lesser & Greater Yellowlegs are the most regular. Rare birds seen here include a Long-billed Dowitcher that spent a week or so here in late September 2019 and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher that spent over a month here from late July through August 2020.
One of the sliver ponds east of the sewage lagoons
The eastern pond of the sewage lagoons from the rear
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Last update: Oct. 26, 2020