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BRADDOCK BAY: WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA: Diverse Habitats Supporting a Bird Haven and Outdoor Recreation.

One of the few remaining large wetland areas along the south shore of Lake Ontario lies northwest of Rochester, within the Braddock Bay Wildlife Management Area (WMA). Braddock Bay WMA is a shallow water bay/marsh complex that features a diverse array of habitats, including emergent marsh, open water, forest, grassland, and shrubland. The complex, which is a designated Bird Conservation Area and is listed as an Audubon Important Bird Area, provides important nesting, feeding, and resting habitats for waterfowl, marsh birds, songbirds, raptors, and shorebirds. As a result, it's a great spot for bird lovers.

During the past few years, DEC has worked with multiple partners, including EPA, Ducks Unlimited, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the State University of New York College at Brockport, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, and the Town of Greece, on several wetland restoration projects to improve habitat. Construction of new channels and potholes through dense cattail areas, emergent marsh and sedge meadow restoration, and invasive species control have resulted in greater habitat diversity, and supported a variety of fish and wildlife species. Another project--restoration of the barrier beach off the east spit of Braddock Bay--will protect the existing emergent marsh in the bay and provide quality habitat for years to come.

Because of its proximity to Lake Ontario, Braddock Bay is an important migratory bird stopover site. This means there are plenty of great opportunities to view a variety of migrating waterfowl, songbirds, raptors, and shorebirds. An average of 54,000 raptors, including up to 17 species, are tallied each spring from March through May as part of spring hawk counts conducted by Braddock Bay Raptor Research (https://bbrr.org/). The peak of raptor migration occurs in late April, and the best conditions for raptor viewing are days with southwest winds of 12 mph or stronger.

During March and April, the Rose Marsh Area provides excellent opportunities to see migrating northern forest owls such as northern saw-whet and long-eared owls. Migrating songbirds, including many warbler species, can also be observed on the WMA. The peak spring songbird migration is in mid-May, and the peak fall migration occurs in early October.

The Braddock Bay Bird Observatory (https://braddockbaybirdobservatory.wordpress.com/), a research, conservation and education organization comprised entirely of volunteers, bands songbirds on the WMA and adjacent areas to better understand bird migration, including their migratory stopover locations. Between 1986 and 2017, the organization banded individuals from 140 different species in the spring and 125 species in the fall!

Migration isn't the only time birds can be seen at Braddock Bay. During breeding season, a large assortment of species nest on the area, including waterfowl--such as mallard and wood duck, and several state-listed species, including least bittern (threatened), pied-billed grebe (threatened), American bittern (special concern), northern harrier (threatened), and sedge wren (threatened). During the winter, northern harriers (state threatened) and short-eared owls (state endangered) can sometimes be seen using the grassland habitat. Snowy owls are also occasional visitors to the WMA.

LOCATED IN GREECE AND PARMA, WEST OF ROCHESTER IN MONROE COUNTY; SIZE: 2,125 ACRES

In addition to birds, the 2,125-acre area provides habitat for a variety of mammal, reptile, amphibian, and fish species. Recent wetland restoration projects have improved habitat for amphibians, wetland mammals such as muskrat and mink, and fish species such as northern pike.

The diverse habitats and numerous access features at Braddock Bay, including boat launches, fishing/wildlife observation platforms, and trails, including a marsh boardwalk, provide ample opportunities for hunting, fishing, trapping, and wildlife observation. With abundant open water and wetland areas, fishing and waterfowl hunting are very popular activities on the WMA. Upland hunting is also popular, and DEC releases ring-necked pheasants at three different grassland areas on-site.

With countless recreation opportunities and spectacular views of Lake Ontario, Braddock Bay is a perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts to visit.

Heidi Kennedy is a wildlife biologist in DEC's Iroquois Field Office.

Site Features

NOTES: Open year-round. Access features include multiple parking areas, trails, kiosks, boat launches, and wildlife observation/ fishing platforms (including an accessible platform near where Salmon Creek meets Braddock Bay). There is an additional boat launch at the adjacent Braddock Bay Marina. Special regulations apply to certain activities, including hunting, and permits are required for trapping. For more information on special regulations and permits, please use the contact information below.

DIRECTIONS: Braddock Bay WMA can be accessed from multiple roads near the Lake Ontario State Parkway west of Rochester. The majority of Braddock Bay WMA is in the Town of Greece, but there is also a parcel in the Town of Parma on Bennett Road.

CONTACT: For information on Braddock Bay WMA, call DEC at (585) 948-5182, or write to NYS DEC, 1101 Casey Road, Box B, Basom, NY 14013, or visit www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/24428.html.

Caption: Braddock Bay has a diverse array of habitats.

Caption: Northern saw-whet owl

Caption: Long-eared owl

Caption: Wood duck

Caption: Black-throated blue warbler

Caption: Daena Ford
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Author:Kennedy, Heidi
Publication:New York State Conservationist
Date:Jun 1, 2018
Words:835
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