This large natural area, located on the east side of the City of Hamilton, encompasses much of the re-entrant in the Niagara Escarpment now occupied by Red Hill Creek. It is part of a branching urban greenspace that includes floodplain lands, and active and passive recreational areas. Most of the study area is publicly owned parkland, but it is traversed by roads, railways, hydro corridors, sewage mains and the Red Hill Creek Expressway.
City of Hamilton Environmentally Significant Area (ESA) Criteria:
• Significant Earth Science Feature
This study area crosses the trend of the bedrock structure and includes a relatively complete cross-section of the regional geology. The sedimentary rocks underlying the Red Hill Creek Escarpment Valley range in age from upper Ordovician through to the middle Silurian (460 to 425 million years before present). Below the Niagara Escarpment, red shales of the Queenston Formation are present; these are locally exposed, particularly in bluffs alongside the creek. Dolostone of the Eramosa Member of the Lockport Formation was formerly quarried along the Eramosa Escarpment near Hannon, at the southern edge of the study area.
This natural area encompasses terrestrial, aquatic, and wetland habitats. Upland, escarpment, and floodplain woods and second-growth fields, thickets, and plantations are most common. The present plant community structure and composition is strongly influenced by past disturbances. The Red Hill Creek Escarpment Valley ecosystem, however, is inherently diverse due to the varied topography, substrates, moisture regimes, and micro-climates.
A total of 352 species have been documented including 17 locally uncommon species, 15 locally rare species, two locally and provincially significant species, Green Violet (Hybanthus concolor) and Slender Satin Grass (Muhlenbergia tenuiflora), 17 Carolinian species and 46 (13%) introduced species.
From 1989 to 1991, 36 species were observed in this area including one locally rare species, Northern Cloudy-Wing (Thorybes pylades), and one COSEWIC special concern species, the Monarch (Danaus plexippus).
Red Hill Creek flows through the Red Hill Creek Escarpment Valley natural area. The creek drops over the Niagara Escarpment at Albion Falls, then tumbles rapidly down through stepped pools in the steep gorge, being then joined by the tiny Buttermilk Creek. Fish have been assessed in the Red Hill Creek Escarpment Valley between 1967 and 1997. In total, 26 species have been collected with 15 species recorded since 1990.
From 1984 to 1999, 12 species were observed including one COSEWIC special concern species, Eastern Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum).
This area provides habitat for a rich diversity of bird species including a number of species that inhabit interior forest. Nature Counts surveyors recorded 88 species in 2001 or 2002. Of these, nine are interior forest species, 28 are locally uncommon and eight are locally rare: Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus), Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii), Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor), Long-eared Owl (Asio otus), Purple Finch (Carpodacus purpureus), Sedge Wren (Cistothorus platensis), Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus) and Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus).
A study was conducted during the late 1990s and the early 2000s documenting a number of southern flying squirrels (Glaucomys volans) in the area. From 1976 to 1999, 11 species were observed including one COSEWIC special concern species. Five species were documented previous to the 1300s, including the black bear (Ursus americanus).
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