One of the best places to watch migratory hawks, sometimes in the thousands, is a two-minute drive from Port Stanley.
Hawk Cliff is located off Dexter Line. Hawk Cliff Rd. is the extension of Fairview Rd. once it crosses Dexter. It’s a gorgeous, woody path that takes you to a walking trail and the viewing platform.
Before you start the car, it’s too late in the season to see much there. But plan to go out next year. According to the birders we met on a recent visit, August, September, and early October are prime time. The actual cliff is fenced off because of erosion. It’s too dangerous. But there’s a platform where you can get a safe vantage point, albeit beside a field, not over the water.
Birders we talked to explained that more than 20 types of birds of prey fly past as they make their way to the border. After these majestic and fascinating feathered creatures reach US immigration, show their passports and answer a few questions, they continue on to their southern destinations. The birders didn’t say that. It was implied. Kestrels, hawks, eagles, falcons, and many other feathered fascinators soar past, sometimes in the hundreds and even thousands. Monarch butterflies also love it here.
Hawk Cliff Woods is 230 acres of walkable wooded area a stones throw from the viewing area. There are beautiful trees and rare birds. They include the Eastern Wood-Pewee and Louisiana Waterthrush.
Best not to go after it rains. The grounds can get marshy and muddy. But on a dry day, you might find people laying back on blankets, binoculars pointed at the sky, calling out names of the birds they spot. There’s no place quite like it.
Bird and nature lovers have been visiting Hawk Cliff since at least the 1950s. On weekends during migration season, you’ll probably run into somebody who knows all the local bird trivia you’d ever need. There’s still plenty of room to view fly-bys despite the closure of the cliff. Hawk Cliff is known around the world as a rare sighting spot for raptors. How lucky are we that it’s right in our back yard.