NeilyWorld  Birding Annapolis County - Middleton


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
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
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, but sometimes up to 100. Sometimes you will get a bonus Common Nighthawk hawking over the town.
         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 and a wet gully separating the park from the sewage lagoons to the west. It was here that an Orchard Oriole turned up in late June 2022.
Orchard Oriole at Riverside Park, Middleton, NS on June 24, 2022 - Larry Neily
Orchard Oriole at Riverside Park, Middleton, NS on June 24, 2022 - Larry Neily

         The Annapolis River forms the southern bound of the park and hence has the usual fishermen's paths. Watch the river toward the bridge for Cliff Swallow in breeding season. They nest under the bridge. 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. Sparrows in autumn seem to prefer the SW corner, adjacent the river. The map below shows more details regarding the park and adjacent sewage lagoons.
Map of Riverside Park and Middleton Sewage Treatment Plant
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 might be able to drive in, about 400 metres from Main Street to the lagoons, or about 320 m from the gate; but it is not encouraged. It is best to walk in anyway, birding along the way. The area along the stream to the left of the road is good for land birds. There is a large area of tangles and thickets that hid many birds, especially in migration. A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher spent over a month here from late July through August 2020.
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher at the Middleton Sewage Lagoons, NS on July 26, 2020 - Larry Neily
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher at the Middleton Sewage Lagoons, NS on July 26, 2020 - Larry Neily

         There are two lined sewage treatment ponds, both of which may be viewed from the fence, which is thoughtfully provided to deter swimming. Remember that this is a working operation, so 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, Belted Kingfisher, Eastern Phoebe, swallows & Cedar Waxwings hawking for insects, and gulls during the spring through fall period. Common Nighthawks can be seen on August evenings. The South Shore - Annapolis Rail Trail passes along the SW end of the lagoons. The ponds can be reached easily from there, as well.
The eastern pond of the sewage lagoons from the rear.
The eastern pond of the sewage lagoons from the rear.

         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. Most shorebirds prefer the NW pond (often the near edges), while most ducks roost on the booms in the SE pond. Because the ponds stay open later than most open water in the area in winter, a few hardy ducks have lingered here, such as Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, Northern Pintail, and Ring-necked Duck. Rarer birds seen here include a Long-billed Dowitcher that spent a week or so here in late September 2019 and a Wilson's Phalarope that spent August 20 to 23, 2021. Unusual inland was a Great Cormorant in late Sep. 2022.
Long-billed Dowitcher at the Middleton Sewage Lagoons, NS on Sep. 27, 2019 - Larry Neily
Long-billed Dowitcher at the Middleton Sewage Lagoons, NS on Sep. 27, 2019 - Larry Neily
Wilson's Phalarope at the Middleton Sewage Lagoons, NS on Aug. 22, 2021 - Larry Neily
Wilson's Phalarope at the Middleton Sewage Lagoons, NS on Aug. 22, 2021 - Larry Neily

         There is an elongated sliver pond 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. Watch here for Baltimore Orioles, which nest in the neighbourhood.
One of the sliver ponds east of the sewage lagoons
One of the sliver ponds east of the sewage lagoons

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Last update:  Dec. 15, 2022