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Bird watching at Substation 162

ENMAX Corporation first began preparations to expand Substation 162 to service the growing airport, the land around it was a dry pasture. But following the expansion of Stony Trail, the area became a class four semi-permanent wetland before we broke ground in spring, 2013. This presented a number of environmental considerations.

One hectare of wetland needed to be pumped out for the expansion. Step one in this process was to install a turbidity curtain to help prevent sediment from seeping in to the remaining wetland while water was being extracted. A more difficult challenge was protecting birds in the area and convincing them the site wasn't an inviting spot to nest.

"I walked around the site each day for a couple of months to make sure there were no birds nesting there," said Alison Anaka, Environmental Specialist. "We also took preventative measures such as trimming grass and using a noisemaking gun to keep birds out of the area."

Nonetheless, just before construction started, ENMAX employees found four nests buried in tall grass next to the wetland, each containing four eggs.  It wasn't long before sixteen spotted sandpipers hatched, all but one surviving birth.

As the little grey chicks began hopping around and testing their wings, ENMAX's Environment group installed a snow fence to prevent them from straying onto the busy access road a few metres from their nests. 

"Their nests were marked with flags and everyone on site looked out for them," said Allison. "As soon as they were strong enough they all safely flew away."

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