Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Sugar Island 

Sugar Island is a private island west of Fredericton in the St. John River.  There are really four islands  in close proximity; Merrithew, Keswick, Upper and Lower Shores and Sugar Islands.  Together they  comprise over a thousand acres.  They are flat agricultural land mostly under cultivation.  The main crops are hay, soybean, corn, and canola.  The edges of the islands and the gullies and cuts are lined with bushes and hardwood trees.  This is an interesting area to visit and bird but unfortunately is not available to the public.  The land is owned mainly by local farmers and it is gated in order to control traffic to and from the area and to keep out the inevitable garbage which comes with human activity.  

With very little snow on the ground recently, we were able to walk the area.  (We are members of the Keswick Island Association and thus have access to the island complex.)  The water was very high and was rushing dangerously between islands.  The landscape was especially beautiful that day.  

The Cut between Upper and Lower Shores Islands

Corn Field Showing Douglas in the Background

Barn on Lower Shores Island
 The Sugar Island area once had many barns.  Unfortunately most of these are now gone.  There are only two left, one on Lower Shores and one on Sugar Island.  Because the crops are now trucked  to barns on the mainland or directly to markets, the barns are no longer used.  It is sad to see them disappear or to fall into disrepair.

Harvested Corn

View of Sugar Island Showing its Expanse

Remains of the Lunch Shack
 The crews working in the fields used to use this small building for shelter and to have their lunches.

Winter Corn
 The islands and the agriculture practiced there contribute heavily to the avifauna of the area.  For some migrants, it is an important stopover during migration.  There they rest and restore their fat stores so that they can continue their flights further south.  The corn, soybeans and other crops left behind after harvest are welcomed by the many birds which go there to feed.  Crows, Ravens and Mourning Doves seem to spend most of their time there until snows get so deep no more food is available.  It is an important staging area for sparrows and other finches.  Waterfowl feed there heavily during migration and lingering flocks of Blacks, Mallards and Canada Geese fly in there every day until they get forced southward by weather and snow depths.

Lower Shores Island Barn at Day's End

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