Today, the area is a natural refuge. Forests and meadows have taken over the old farmers’ fields, attracting butterflies and moths. In fact, the park is known as a resting spot for migrating monarch butterflies, which rely on the park’s fields of golden rod during their fall migration in late September. In 1999, three of the 500 monarchs tagged in Darlington were found in Mexico. Lake Ontario, Robinson Creek and the McLaughlin Bay marsh attract a variety of migrating shorebirds in April and October, including Canada geese, dunlins, least sandpipers, pectoral sandpipers, plovers sanderlings, semipalmated sandpipers, stilts and swans.
The rest of the year, look for the American woodcocks, killdeers and spotted sandpipers that nest in the park. You may also spot one of nine different species of owls, including barred, common barn, eastern screech, great horned, long-eared, northern saw whet and short-eared owls. The area is also known for a wide variety of songbirds, great blue herons and Coopers hawks that soar around the entrance of the park at dusk. You’ll also notice several tree sparrow boxes along the trails. This trail guide includes Burk Trail, McLaughlin Bay Trail, Robinson Creek Trail, and Waterfront Trail.
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