Red-winged blackbird, Brighton Wetland, Eastern Lake Ontario Coast, ON (Photo by David Coulson)
On the shores of Presqu’ile Bay, in the picturesque town of Brighton, are 2.5 kilometres of undeveloped Lake Ontario shoreline and 231 acres (94 hectares) of coastal wetland habitat.
Known as the Brighton Wetland, this special natural gem is one of the last of its kind. Development, recreation and other human activities have altered much of the lake’s shorelines, wetlands and beaches. To find an area still intact is rare.
That’s why in July of 2018, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and our partner Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) jumped at the chance to protect this special place. With just over a month to close the deal, we put out a rally call to the local community and partners to help save the Brighton Wetland.
And now, thanks to an outpouring of support from the Government of Canada, through the Natural Areas Conservation Program, DUC, the Municipality of Brighton, Lower Trent Region Conservation Authority, Northumberland Land Trust, Lone Pine Land Trust, nature clubs and caring individuals, Brighton Wetland will be a natural refuge for future generations.
An important stopover for migratory birds on their long journeys, the Brighton Wetland is a large, intact coastal wetland located between Presqu’ile Provincial Park and NCC’s Willenroth Woods. This unique habitat is part of the Presqu’ile Bay Wetland Complex, a Provincially Significant Wetland, and the Presqu’ile Bay Important Bird Area.
Tens of thousands of shorebirds, geese and ducks stop, rest, nest and feed in sheltered areas of Presqu’ile Bay during spring migration. King rail, wood duck, least bittern, wood thrush, Virginia rail, American bittern, common gallinule, pied-billed grebe, marsh wren and eastern wood-pewee are just some of the many species that have been spotted here. It is no wonder that the bay is such a popular place for birders. The wetlands function as an important fish nursery, and several at-risk turtle species are also likely to be found in this undisturbed natural area.
Coastal wetlands play important roles in filtering water, mitigating floods and providing habitat for birds, fish, frogs, turtles and other species — many of them at risk. They are also areas of great beauty and provide many recreational opportunities.
NCC is now working with DUC to develop a joint management plan for the property, which the organizations will co-own. We have begun field work to learn more about the property and to look at potential plans around future public access.
- Location: 3 kilometres from Presqu’ile Provincial Park in Brighton, Northumberland County, Ontario.
- Habitat type: Wetland and fields (once a farm field that will be restored to a natural meadow and forest).
- Size: 231 acres (94 hectares), including 2.5 kilometres of undeveloped Lake Ontario shoreline. Including the adjacent Willenroth Woods, NCC is now protecting more than 300 acres (121 hectares) and close to four kilometres of Lake Ontario coastline.
- Species of note: This high-priority waterfowl habitat hosts up to 25 species of waterfowl, including king rail, wood duck, least bittern, wood thrush, Virginia rail, American bittern, common gallinule, pied-billed grebe, marsh wren and eastern wood-pewee.