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Witness the Wonders of the Tundra Swan Migration
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By Rick Vandekieft

Right now you are invited to "flock" to Aylmer to see thousands of Tundra Swans as they stop over during their Spring migration between their Atlantic coast wintering areas and Arctic coastline breeding grounds. The Eastern Population of these majestic birds spend their winters in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, and up to 60,000 of them fly through this area in spring.

If you have not yet witnessed this marvel in person, you need to check it out. Come along once and you will return year after year!

Just north of Aylmer, behind the Ontario Police College on Hacienda Rd., is the Aylmer Wildlife Management Area. This area is administered jointly by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Elgin Stewardship Council. The ponds that were created decades ago in the Aylmer Wildlife Management Area do look somewhat similar to the area in the Arctic where the tundra swans nest.

The birds return each year to rest and feast on the 25 bushels of corn the council puts out each day throughout the migration.

There are three viewing facilities with an open-air platform and, on colder days, there is an enclosed platform with excellent sightlines. All three areas are set back from the water behind a fence yet the views from all are spectacular!

Each morning, long-time volunteer Keith Malcolm calls in the day's count of Tundra Swans to the Aylmer-Malahide Museum & Archives to have the message on the "swan line" updated. This is a recorded message that will give the count for the day. The 2013 migration is a bit ahead of schedule this year with the count already at 882 on Thursday March 14th. The number is not near the peak which can hit 5,000 per day but its gaining quickly!

Be sure to visit the Aylmer Wildlife Management Area between now and mid-April. For the daily count, call the swan line (519) 773-SWAN or (519) 773-7926.

Directions from London: take Elgin Rd 73 south towards Aylmer from Hwy 401, turn left (east) onto College Line, then right onto Hacienda Rd and watch for swan signs.