Once covered by a shallow, warm sea between 450 – 300 million years ago, what is now the Wainfleet Wetlands Conservation Area was the site of a clay and limestone quarry from the late 19th century until the 1960’s. Fossils of the plants and animals that lived in the Paleozoic sea can be seen in the exposed limestone of the Onondaga Formation, in the quarry walls and rock tableland.
Purchased by the NPCA in 1978, today the quarries and clay pits have naturalized and are home for fish, birds, waterfowl, turtles, snakes and plants. Unique alvar communities of rock loving plants also thrive here in the shallow soils, in addition to the site woodlots and meadows.
This wetland is unique as it attracts a large variety of bird species. Over 50 different species of birds has been sighted at the Wainfleet Wetlands. Yellow warblers are the most common, and wading and shorebirds are plentiful. Some of the birds which you are likely to see include great blue herons, egrets, gulls, terns, and sandpipers.
This site is a Bronze Plaque Award winner for quarry rehabilitation work with the Management of Abandoned Aggregate Properties Program, awarded for efforts to increase wetland development and habitat cover for improved diversity and function in the landscape. Make a point of visiting area, rich in natural and cultural history, but please remember to take only photographs and leave natures treasures in place.