NeilyWorld Birding Ottawa - Southwest - Mississippi River Valley Loop
ALMONTE SEWAGE LAGOONS
Spring: ** Summer: *** Fall: ** Winter: *
Warning: Sewage lagoons generally do not welcome visitors. Liability insurance is behind much of their reluctance. In the past, they have often made an exception for birders. For some lagoons, the OFNC and/or independent birdwatchers have arranged special access with the operators or wardens. Contact the OFNC to find the current arrangements, if any. Some lagoons are partly visible without crossing the fences, though because of the brem construction, many are not visible from the road. Lagoons are generally not heavily patrolled or impassibly fenced, and when trespassers are unwelcome they are usually just asked to leave; so many birders assume the "No Tresspassing" signs are for someone else (especially given past tolerance). Once in a while, especially in hunting season, hunters make the same assumption. They are less welcome than birders though and are often reported by the locals. After one of these incidents, patrols may be more frequent. The rules seem to change as often as the folks assigned to enforce them; some are more tolerant than others (some are downright helpful). Use courtesy and common sense. And when you park near a sewage lagoon, please don't block the access roads. Even without crossing the fences, a patient and competent birder can see many species as they fly into and out of the lagoons.
Independent Directions to this Site: From Highway 417 (The Queensway) take exit 155 (March Road or Regional Road 49). Turn left or southwest onto March Road and follow it for 16.0 km through Almonte to the gates on the right or northwest for the Almonte Sewage Lagoons.
Mississippi River Valley Route Directions: From The Burnt Lands Alvar PNR - NW Block, return the 1.5 km southeast on Ramsey Concession 12 to Regional 49 or March Road. Turn right or southwest and proceed 4.9 km through Almonte to the gates on the right or northwest for the Almonte Sewage Lagoons.
Map of the Almonte Sewage Lagoons area
Site Description and Birding Information: The five irregularly shaped ponds that make up this set of sewage lagoons have something no other sewage lagoons within the Ottawa Checklist Circle have: a viewing tower. But first, view what little you can see from the gate area. A scope is always useful. There are usually some waterfowl and shorebirds present during their migrations.
Google Satellite Map of the Almonte Sewage Lagoons Area
After checking from the gate area, drive southwest 0.7 km to Ramsey Concession 8 on what has changed as you drove through town from March Road, to Ottawa Street, to Main Street, to Almonte Street and finally to Wolf Grove Road without breaking stride. Turn right or northwest onto Ramsey Concession 8 and go 0.3 km to just beyond the pavement's end and beyond a gated road into the lagoons on the right, to a trail also on the right or northeast. Watch for the "Birders Welcome - Enter at Own Risk" sign near the entrance. The trail leads, after a short but delightful walk, to the viewing tower on the western edge of the largest pond. The tower was built and is maintained by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN), who are based in nearby Carleton Place.
Rarities include a Western Sandpiper (Aug. 4, 1974).
On a sad note for birders, Mike Jaques (through Chris Lewis) reports that: "In February 2010 Mississippi Mills had funding approved for a mechanical sewage treatment plant in Almonte. In the latest local rag I see that the project is expected to tender in April or May. That will be a six-week process and construction will take two years. The new plant will be located just inside the the gates of the existing lagoons. Three lagoon cells will be eliminated and one cell will be used for temporary storage. So it looks like we are going to lose this good birding location pretty soon."
Viewing Tower at the Almonte Sewage Lagoons
View from the Tower at the Almonte Sewage Lagoons
Mississippi River Valley Route Directions: From the Almonte Sewage Lagoons viewing tower trailhead, where you are parked, continue northwest for 4.7 km on Ramsey Concession 8 to the turnoff, on the right or northeast, to the next site on this route, the Mill of Kintail Conservation Area.
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Copyright © 2000 - 2010 Larry E. Neily
Last update: June 9, 2010