I recently spent a very enjoyable morning photographing birds at Hendrie Valley Sanctuary at the Royal Botanical Gardens in the Hamilton Ontario area.
Photography Life reader Ray Miller suggested this location to me, and since I’m relatively new to bird photography I jumped at the chance to join him during his latest visit.
We spent about 3 hours at the sanctuary photographing various birds. Many of the smaller species are quite acclimatized to people and if you bring some bird seed with you it will generate a lot of interest and action from the birds…you’ll need to keep the squirrels at bay!
The Hendrie Valley Sanctuary covers 100-hectares. There is a good sized river-mouth marsh complex as well as four creeks which create a mixed habitat that appeals to a variety of bird species.
The sanctuary is named after William Hendrie, a Scottish immigrant to Canada, who purchased land here in the 1870’s. As a memorial to his father, son George donated the property to the Hamilton Parks Boards. About a decade later it became a part of the Royal Botanical Gardens.
In addition to the marshlands, oaks, hickories and Black Cherry trees are in abundance. Given its current beauty it is hard to imagine this same area being a series of shallow, muddy ponds a few decades ago.
By the 1990’s the marshland area had been destroyed by carp and a major initiative, Project Paradise, was undertaken. This project involved the installation of carp barriers and artificially constructed river banks to restrict the invading carp.
The Hendrie Valley Sanctuary now features 4.5 km of trails, 5 lookouts, 2 boardwalks and 5 creek crossings. It attracts a lot of visitors from the area, especially on weekends so if you can plan a mid-week visit you’ll find it much less crowded.
While I’m able to identify some of the more obvious species like red-winged blackbirds, cardinals, and black-capped chickadees readers can feel free to share their knowledge of birds species!
All images were shot hand-held using a Nikon 1 V2 and a 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 zoom lens.
I used center-weighted metering, auto white balance, and shot in Manual with an Auto-ISO setting (Auto-ISO 160-3200).
My standard workflow of DxO OpticsPro 10, CS6, and Nik were used to process RAW files.
There really wasn’t anything special required to process the files. I just let DxO do its automatic lens corrections, added a touch of sharpness, then ran the files through PRIME noise reduction. A couple of small tweaks in CS6 and Nik finished them off quickly.
While at the Hendrie Valley Sanctuary we came upon a few young mothers out for a stroll with their toddlers.
It was wonderful to see the expressions of awe on the faces of the young children as their mothers held out bird seed in the palms of their hands, then had black-capped chickadees land to feed. This struck me as a terrific way to introduce a love of nature to the next generation.
If you are in the Hamilton Ontario area I would certainly recommend a visit to the Hendrie Valley Sanctuary if you enjoy photographing birds or like to go for a pleasant walk in a natural setting.
Article and all images Copyright Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, adaptation or reproduction of any kind is permitted without written consent. Photography Life is the only approved user of this article. If you see it reproduced anywhere else it is an unauthorized and illegal use.