huronfringefest

One of Canada's Premier Birding and Nature Festivals

Spring has Arrived….Maybe!!

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As I sit and start this edition of the blog, I am watching as snowflakes whiz by the window driven by a stiff, cold, northwesterly wind. It’s hard to believe its May as we see some snow caught in the grass and the birds fluffed out and looking quite cold in the yard. I guess each year can hold its surprises, but this kind of a surprise isn’t pleasant for our migrating birds.

Although several of our expected migrants haven’t showed up in this area yet many are indeed here and are working their way north to their breeding grounds. Since we have no festival to gather bird sightings from this year, we’ll rely on eBird to let us know what has been happening in Bruce and Grey counties so far. There actually have been several interesting birds seen so far with more to come in the days ahead as May hopefully starts to warm up a bit. A Neotropic Cormorant was seen earlier in the month as it was winging its way north with its larger Double-crested cousins. Flying with the larger birds gave a great comparison to be able to see the smaller size and longer tail of the Neotropic bird. A few Northern Mockingbirds have already been seen in various locations from Kincardine all the way to Tobermory and it appears that this species is more common in this northern area at least this year. Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Green Herons, American and Least bitterns have already been seen. Some of the warblers have shown up as Yellow-rumped in relatively large numbers have been migrating through trying to find a few bugs that are hiding in the cold trees. Palm, Pine, Magnolia, Northern Parula, Orange-crowned, Nashville, Black-throated Green and Black-throated Blue warblers have also been seen but there are still many other species yet to brave the cold weather and start to work their way north.

A Cinnamon Teal made a brief appearance at the Kincardine Lagoons to the thrill of a few birders that managed to see it. Many of the northern ducks have reduced in numbers here as they head to Canadas north to breed but many Bufflehead are still with us, possibly due to the cold weather we’ve been having in April and now May. Both Red-necked and Horned Grebes have been passing through dressed in their breeding colours and Common Loons by the dozens have been seen out on the lake as they work their way north. Two days ago I counted 58 visible as they foraged in the lake as they moved north.

Shorebirds are also heading north, and several species have been seen in the area at some of the few spots for them to be able to forage. With the high lake level much of the coastal habitat has changed and is more flooded. Due to the lower level of rainfall there aren’t as many ponds with suitable habitat either but still Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Solitary, Spotted, and Pectoral Sandpipers have been seen as well as one White-Rumped. Two sightings of Long-billed Dowitchers and many sightings of Wilsons Snipe round out some of the shorebirds seen recently here so far. In the spring many of these birds don’t stop as they are in a hurry to get the best breeding grounds and start their families in the north. The fall migration will probably lead to more sightings as the birds are not in as much of a hurry at that time of year.

This time of year you just never know what might show up at your feeder, especially with the cold weather and the lack of natural food for the birds. A Lark Sparrow was seen at a feeder for a few days and a Harris Sparrow was also seen several times through the spring at another feeder.

I took a short break of a few days before continuing this blog and suddenly everything has changed. Warm weather hit with a vengeance and the warblers flew into the area in large numbers. About the same time the Huron Fringe Birding Festival would have started there have been more than 20 species of warblers seen in the area and thrushes have been migrating through in numbers. Swainson’s and Grey-cheeked were moving through and Veerys and Wood Thrushes moved in. Catbirds, Brown Thrashers, and several species of flycatchers are now common sights and sounds throughout the area. It’s amazing how quickly bird activity can change when warm weather brings out the bugs and birds busily feed in the trees as they move along.

Now as June is getting closer the migrating warbler numbers have decreased in the south of Bruce County and numbers have risen towards the more northerly sections of the county. Tree leaves have suddenly blossomed out and its getting much more difficult to have unobstructed views of the birds in trees as they sing on their territory or rush around carrying nesting material to their hidden nesting sites. This time of year the excitement and camaraderie of the festival is sorely missed as we travelled from area to area seeing what birds would show up to see and to pose for a few photos. Now the travelling is more limited and much more backyard birding is being done to comply with provincial guidelines here in Ontario. The birds have none of these limitations and are busily going about their normal spring activities as we try to enjoy them as much as possible.

Enjoy the birds and natural world as much as you can and hopefully things will return slowly to a more normal world in time for a much more normal Huron Fringe Birding Festival in 2021. Hope to see you all out again then to share some of your stories and sightings from 2020.

Written by huronfringefest

May 29, 2020 at 10:36 am

Posted in BIRDING

The 2020 Huron Fringe Birding Festival Status.

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This time of the year as the birds are returning from their warm southern wintering habitats, we are eagerly getting ready for all the spring events to welcome them back. This year is somewhat different and its different in the whole world these days. A coronavirus called COVID-19 has gotten loose in the world and is changing many peoples lives as they try and cope with the new rules and regulations meant to limit the spread of the virus. Due to the safety aspects associated with group gatherings and the timeframe of the spread of this virus the Huron Fringe Birding Festival committee has decided to cancel this year’s festival. Hopefully everyone can stay safe and we can avoid faster spread of this virus. You can see the full context of the cancellation notice here on the festival website:

https://friendsofmacgregor.org/page/huron-fringe-birding-festival

Even though the festival has been cancelled for 2020 I will keep you updated as to what birds are being seen around this area. The birds will be arriving and for those who can safely get out for a walk or a drive it will be interesting to see just what is arriving and when they get here. We can share some of our sightings and experiences and try to make life for all of us as interesting as possible.

The Huron Fringe Birding Festival Facebook page has been putting out some great information and giving folks a few more tools to check out so you can do some birding on your own and still ID the birds. If you want to find out what birds you can expect to see in a certain area head to Birdscanada.org and check out the “birds in your area” selection.

https://www.birdscanada.org/apps/checklist/index.jsp

In order to see what birds are being seen in a specific area anywhere in the world head off to eBird at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and check it out using the “explore” button initially. Its easy to join eBird and then you can explore what is being seen anywhere in the world without travelling outside of your house.

https://ebird.org/home

When you get out and see some birds you can also input that information to eBird to help provide data and also to help you keep track of what birds you’ve seen and when you saw them. Its relatively easy to sign up but does take a bit of time to get used to all the features the program provides. Here is a video provided by Justin Peter regarding how ebird works.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=bQqsG94LMb4

Now is a time to embrace technology and learn how to use all the tools that are now being provided to enhance our experiences and learn more about the birds we so much enjoy.

Presently here in Bruce County American Robins have arrived in large numbers and today there was one out gathering nesting material to get started on their first family. Often these birds have two and possibly three families in one season if the food supply is plentiful. Some of the first shorebirds have been seen recently as two Pectoral Sandpipers and one Greater Yellowlegs signal the start of the great flight north for several species of shorebirds that breed in Canadas north. Today I also noted more insects flying in the area so the colourful warblers will soon be flitting around in the trees trying to find some food to fuel their bodies as they settle in or move further north. The Eastern Bluebirds have been checking out several of the bird boxes in hopes of finding the perfect home to start a family. It is a busy time of the year as birds arrive so get out as much as safely possible to enjoy the spectacle and keep a spot open on your 2021 calendar for the Huron Fringe Birding Festival when it returns again to help satisfy your love of birding.

Written by huronfringefest

April 1, 2020 at 9:45 pm

Posted in BIRDING

Countdown to Planning for Spring Birds!

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Canada warbler.jpgCanada Warbler

As the sunshine increases and the days get longer its time to think about what you would like to do when the spring migration starts. Those of you that have been participants in the Huron Fringe Birding Festival that is based at MacGregor Point Provincial Park will be eager to register for some of this years events and hopefully pass the word along to friends regarding the variations of events at the festival. You don’t have to wait long now as the start of registration for the festival is:

March 1st 2020 at 6:00 am and here is a link https://friendsofmacgregor.org/page/registration

The bird migration will be in full swing when the festival starts as colourful warblers and a variety of other birds arrive in Bruce and Grey County. Even towards the end of the festival birds are beginning to set up their nests on their territories and can be heard and viewed as they pick their preferred nesting location and carry nesting materials to start their annual summer jobs.

Bruce and Grey Counties make up the Bruce Peninsula and this peninsula is a funnel for birds as they come from the south and work their way northward along the shoreline to their prospective breeding locations. Some birds stay in this area and some head farther north, but all traverse the peninsula as they avoid, if possible, passing over open water on their way to their breeding grounds. Bruce has one of the highest number of breeding species in Ontario as shown in the latest Breeding Bird Atlas of Ontario.

Cerulean 1.jpgCerulean Warbler

As well as the birds we normally see here each year migrants that take a different path due to weather or their guidance systems we see unique birds as well. During winter months we have seen both Common and King Eider ducks as well as Harlequin and Barrows Goldeneye drop by for a rest on their way to or from their wintering areas. In the Spring a few sightings of Sage Thrashers, Glossy Ibis, Loggerhead Shrike, Kirtland’s warblers, Cerulean warblers, Yellow-throated warblers and Hooded Warblers can produce a lot of excitement when seen or heard  during the Huron Fringe Birding Festival.

Kirlands warbler 1.jpgKirtland’s Warbler

Piping Plovers have been making a bit of a comeback recently in Ontario and during the festival you get a chance to see these birds nesting along the Sauble Beach shoreline. The nesting occurs during the festival schedule and you may get to see the plovers as they trade incubation duties to give each other a break and time to forage along the shore. This sandy area was also the location that Sage Thrashers have been known to visit on occasion during the festival weekends.

Sage thrasher 1.jpgSage Thrasher

During the festival breeding colonies of Brewers Blackbirds can be seen along the side of some of the area roads. This western bird is rare in Southern Ontario but shows up each year in Bruce to begin another generation of these interesting blackbirds.

Brewers male.jpgBrewers Blackbird male

A juvenile Reddish egret dropped by Oliphant to practice its unique method of fishing and drew interest of birders from across the province. Due to the coloring of the juvenile bird and the distance from its traditional range there was much discussion as the species identity was verified. This is far north of the range of this bird but it settled in nicely and stayed for some time as it foraged close to its Great egret cousins.

Reddish egret s.jpgReddish Egret

Even when the festival is over birding this area has brought several surprise birds during the remainder of the year. Eurasian Tree sparrows, Mountain Bluebirds, Hudsonian Godwit, Pacific Loons, Eared Grebes as well as a variety of Jaegers and Gulls.

Eurasian Tree sparrow 1L.jpgEurasian Tree Sparrow

Over 330 species of birds have been seen in the area that the Huron Fringe Birding Festival covers and during the festival the species count approaches 200 most years. One location for an event in the festival is the Kincardine Lagoon area fondly referred to as “Pelee North” by the locals as there have been 28 species of warblers seen there over the years.

This is a wonderful area to bird and the Huron Fringe Birding Festival gives you an opportunity to see specific locations under the guidance of some of the best leaders in the province. Get the word out to your birder friends before March 1st and then log in to schedule some time exploring a special part of Ontario during the most active birding period of the year. It’s difficult to cover a description of the large variety of events this year so check out the schedule of events here:

https://friendsofmacgregor.org/page/schedule-of-events

 

Looking forward to seeing all of you out for another Spring Birding Bonanza at the Huron Fringe Birding Festival 2020!! Then come back again other times of the year so you can enjoy other birds that visit this interesting part of Ontario.

Glossy ibis 2.jpgGlossy Ibis seen during the 2018 festival

Written by huronfringefest

February 23, 2020 at 1:12 pm

Posted in BIRDING

It’s a New Year and Time to Make Some Spring Plans!

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The snow has been giving us a bit of a break so far this year but there will be some ahead. It will soon be time to sit somewhere warm, get your computer or iPad going …….or maybe just peruse the paper copy of the Huron Fringe Birding Festival program and see what events might best fit with your interests. January the 15th the program is available online at:

https://friendsofmacgregor.org/page/huron-fringe-birding-festival

and soon after paper copies of the program will be available at various locations in your communities. Registration will go live online at 6am on Sunday March 1st so you have time to think about what events will interest you most and possibly be fun for others in your family to participate in as well. Many of our leaders will be returning to lead some of the favourite hikes but there are also new leaders and new events this year so make sure you check out events for both weekends and see which appeal to you most. As you read this blog get your calendar out and mark May 22-25th and May 28-31st as weekends to get out and enjoy a bit of nature with former and new birding friends at the 2020 Huron Fringe Birding Festival.

Even sitting here typing and thinking about spring and all the migrating birds and the warmer weather gives me a warm feeling and seems to make the winter seem just a bit shorter.

We’ll get back to you with more information as the program becomes available and point out some of the highlights of this year’s festival. Meanwhile head off to the previous webpage link and make a shortcut in your browser so you can quickly see what’s happening in the festival this year when January 15th rolls around.

Many of the birds we will see are relaxing in the sunny south just waiting to get their new breeding plumage and make the trip north to entertain us in May. They make the effort to fly thousands of miles to, as well as through our area and its up to us to get out and enjoy as much of the spring bird and nature extravaganza as we can. Teaching all we are able of this seasonal event to our children and grandchildren and helping them enjoy it as well can be almost as rewarding as experiencing it ourselves. The world is changing so let’s enjoy nature each year as much as we can. Hope to see many of you in May at the 2020 Huron Fringe Birding Festival as I’ll be enjoying many of the events myself.

Written by huronfringefest

January 6, 2020 at 4:35 pm

Posted in BIRDING

There’s Still Time for Some Great Spring Birding in the Bruce

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The first weekend of the Huron Fringe Birding Festival came to a close Monday with a total of 182 species of birds seen or heard on the various events. Now we get to see how many more we can add to the total as the second weekend begins tomorrow (May 30 ). It will be interesting to see if we can break 200 species for this festival.

If you still have the urge to see a few birds, identify a few trees or wildflowers, or learn a bit of the history of the area there are still events available. Many are fully booked but you can register for a few that will give you an opportunity to meet some fellow nature lovers and learn from the knowledgeable leaders. We have some of the best event leaders in Ontario as you can see from their biographies at:

http://friendsofmacgregor.org/page/leader-biographies

Take a few minutes to read about them and then take a bit longer to register and come out and enjoy the event that they are leading. Act quickly as events are nearing capacity on a few of the days.

http://friendsofmacgregor.org/page/registration

Its been great weather so far other than 1 torrential downpour that caught several of us in the woods on a morning hike but soon we were dried out and all was forgotten as the birds just kept showing up.

Red headed.jpg

These are a few of the birds we have seen during the first weekend and I’m sure many will be still moving through in the few days ahead, but we’ll also see some of the birds that are now starting to nest.

Chestnut sided.jpg

There were many bird squabbles as the colourful males were fighting over territory and not worrying much as to how close we were to the action. This Chestnut-sided warbler was one of those that had other males vying for the same territory.

Bobolink.jpg

Some species like this Bobolink travel over 6000 miles to grace us with their presence before they stake their claim, raise their family and then head back to Argentina during our cold winter. Its just hard to imagine what some of these small feathered friends go through to come and see us during the summer.

Cape May.jpg

This Cape May warbler will head to the north of us to raise their family so this will be the only chance we have to see them in their bright breeding colours. In the fall they will head back south in much more reserved attire.

Scarlet tanager.jpg

A bright spot in anyone’s Spring migration is the Scarlet Tanager as it returns to our area. This bird breeds in this area and it’s well worth the hike into the woods to hopefully see the brilliance of the male as it stakes out its territory.

There are still photography events, botany events, birding events and events where you can sit and wait for the birds to come to you, as you make new friends and chat about your festival highlights

Its one of the top 100 festivals in Ontario and I’m sure looking forward to an early morning start for another 4 days of Spring action in Bruce and Grey Counties.

Written by huronfringefest

May 29, 2019 at 7:19 pm

Posted in BIRDING

May is Here and the Birds are Arriving!!

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May has arrived and more migrating birds are appearing every day in Bruce and Grey Counties. There are still opportunities to register for both all day and half day hikes during the Huron Fringe Birding Festival. Some of our excellent leaders have room on some of their hikes for nature lovers that want to learn more about Bruce and Grey Counties in general or more about the birds and botany of the area specifically. I’ve lived here most of my life and I’m still finding new locations that offer many interesting birds, plants and scenery. Let one of our knowledgeable leaders introduce you to our area and the sights and sounds that spring migrations and a walk closer to nature can provide.
Here’s a link to the Festival web pages where you can check out the schedule of events, read over the leaders’ biographies, see what birds we have seen during past festival and most importantly register for one event or more to join in the fun.

http://friendsofmacgregor.org/page/huron-fringe-birding-festival

Any photos in these blogs are birds that have been seen or events that have been run at previous festivals.

This is one of Ontario’s top 100 festivals and if you sign up for an event or two, I’m sure you’ll see why. MacGregor Provincial Park is itself a beautiful place to visit and events that take you out to various habitats show the diversity of birds, plants and other wildlife in the area around the park.

Take a few minutes to check us out or tell a friend about the festival if you’ve been here in previous years. It’s a great place to meet new people, see new birds, get some fresh air on some interesting hikes and thoroughly enjoy what nature provided us in this part of Ontario.

We have diverse habitats, many migrants as well as nesting birds and would love to share our area with you the last weekend in May and the first weekend in June. Join in the fun and pick one or two events that seem to interest you the most. Hope to see you out on the trail or sitting with your binoculars waiting for the birds to come to you.

 

Huron Fringe Birding Festival

Written by huronfringefest

May 2, 2019 at 12:19 pm

Posted in BIRDING

Get Ready for Some Nature Appreciation Days!!

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Soon the temperatures will start to rise and the snow will begin to disappear. Even though we are still in the grip of winter there is hope for the future. Registration opened for the Huron Fringe Birding Festival on March 1st and already people are signing up to enjoy many of the 90+ events the festival has to offer. Some of the events are already full but with so many to choose from there is still time to check it out at:
http://friendsofmacgregor.org/page/huron-fringe-birding-festival
and pick something that interests you and gives you a spring song to listen to. The birds will be migrating through our area, leaves on the trees will be coming out and the air will be warming up. Take a little time in late May or early June to join us at the festival and go on a few events with our knowledgeable leaders to learn about, enjoy and appreciate all that nature has to give us.
It’s a perfect opportunity to ask questions, make new friends, explore new territory and enjoy spring in Bruce and Grey Counties.

Looking forward to seeing you there!!

Written by huronfringefest

March 8, 2019 at 3:19 pm

Posted in BIRDING