Sheriff Creek Wildlife Sanctuary
The Sheriff Creek Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected habitat for birds, mammals, and reptiles located, quite literally, on the edge of the City.
The trails of the Sanctuary bring visitors close to wildlife in a natural habitat all year long - uninterrupted by motorized vehicles. Considering the very modest size of the sanctuary - only 182 hectares, it holds a surprisingly vast abundance of water, wetland, forest, field, meadow and escarpment habitats offering a wealth of plant and animal species - all accessible by foot. Even the choice for parking is one of the attractions of the area - located in the perfect spot for year-round, in-car birding and adjoining the more accessible trails in the sanctuary. ln the winter, right at the gate, numerous finches, woodpeckers and the colourful pine grosbeaks are present throughout the day.
Walking the trails, one finds tracks ranging from wolf and moose to fisher and snowshoe hare. With spring, woodcocks display over open water and fields at twilight while the spring peepers and other frogs compose deafening sounds. On quiet mornings, waterfowl like wood ducks, mergansers and ring-necked ducks perform mating rituals while painted turtles bask on logs and various blackbirds arrive along with the popular sandhill cranes. All of these wonderful creatures, some of which are vulnerable species of concern, are residents of the sanctuary. They are joined by the many migrants headed in and out of the boreal forest just to the north including a large variety of sparrows and warblers. Overhead one might see harriers, broad-winged hawks, eagles or Caspian terns patrolling.
As summer progresses, there are many opportunities to watch swallows and flycatchers at their nests and, from the blind, ducks leading their youngsters while herons and bitterns often wade close by. Summer afternoons are quiet, yet made interesting by a large number of butterflies and dragonflies. As things cool down in later evening, the beavers appear, carrying their loads of sticks or munching the lilies. Primarily a feature of late spring and early summer, Sheriff Creek is a great place for wild orchids - over 14 species to be exact. At certain times of year, they bloom in astonishing abundance. Other unique spring wildflowers include the nodding trillium (very different to the Ontario emblem), at least three kinds of water lilies and stands of lupins - an escapee from early mining settlement. Flowers of other seasons include bristly sarsaparilla, yellow loosestrife, milkweed for the endangered monarch butterflies, duck potato and the old time favourite of visitors, the tamarack, the only conifer to change colour in the fall and lose its needles.
The Sheriff Creek Wildlife Sanctuary is a place to enjoy and to learn about our wildlife heritage. lt is a sanctuary both for our native wildlife and for the people who visit..