The Tiffany Falls study area is in the northeast corner of Ancaster, immediately west (downslope) of the Highway 403 roadcut across the Niagara Escarpment. This area encompasses a scenic ravine with small waterfalls and forested lower escarpment slopes. It also supports a few rare species and constitutes a crucial link between the greenbelt along the Niagara Escarpment in the Hamilton urban area to the east, and the extensive natural areas in the Dundas Valley to the northwest. The Bruce Trail winds through this valley below the escarpment cliff rim.
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Designation:
• Regional Earth Science ANSI (Area of Natural and Scientific Interest)
City of Hamilton Environmentally Significant Area (ESA) Criteria:
• Significant Earth Science Feature
Tiffany Creek occupies a broad valley above the escarpment, and a
V-shaped ravine below the waterfalls. Slopes of up to 30 degrees are
common. The natural rock exposures in the valley and artificial
rock-cuts along Highway 2/Wilson Street and Highway 403 exhibit
representative sections of the local bedrock, from the upper Grimsby
Formation (at the top of the Cataract Group), to the Ancaster chert beds
in the Goat Island Member of the Lockport Formation.
The headwaters zone of Tiffany Creek consists largely of cleared agricultural, industrial and residential lands. Parts of the upper stream have been channelized, and the stream passes through a culvert under Highway 403. During dry periods, flow over Tiffany Falls is reduced to a trickle. The confluence of Tiffany Creek and Ancaster Creek is situated immediately downstream of this study area, and the forests on the steep slopes in this area are important to stabilizing the soils and maintaining water quality in Ancaster Creek, which has important fish habitat.
The Tiffany Falls natural area is located within a V-shaped ravine which contains a number of provincially rare vegetation types associated with the Niagara Escarpment. Provincially rare open carbonate cliff rim communities are mainly comprised of unvegetated exposed bedrock topped by mature Black Maple (Acer saccharum ssp. nigrum) and Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum ssp. saccharum) trees rooted in the talus slopes. Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense), Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis), Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum), Zig-zag Goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis), and Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) are some of the wildflowers that are abundant in this community. Within Ontario, this vegetation type is considered very rare.
Nature Counts surveyors recorded 218 species, including 41 (19%) non-native species, three new to the area, locally uncommon species, and two locally rare species, Cow-wheat (Melampyrum lineare) and Great-spurred Violet (Viola selkirkii).
The 1991 NAI recorded 18 species in this area, including a locally uncommon species and a locally and provincially uncommon species, Hickory Hairstreak (Satyrium caryaevorum).
Surveys performed in 1999 and 2000 revealed a total of eight common fish species in this natural area. A major new development along Tiffany Creek before it passes under Highway 403 has caused flows to become increasingly flashy. Groundwater discharge into the stream as it flows through the gorge creates an area downstream where Rainbow Trout, considered uncommon in the City of Hamilton, can be found.
The 1991 NAI and the Hamilton Herpetofaunal Atlas documented 12 species, including three locally uncommon species and the locally rare Ringneck Snake (Diadophis punctatus).
Nature Counts surveyors recorded 19 species including one interior forest species and four locally uncommon species. Two new, locally rare species were also documented during 2001, Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus) and Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor), with the latter also considered rare in Ontario. Between 1980 and 1991, 39 species were documented.
The 1991 NAI field surveys and one small mammal trapline documented nine common species here.
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