huronfringefest

One of Canada's Premier Birding and Nature Festivals

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Celebrating Birds as the Spring Migration Arrives.

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As the days of Spring move along new migrant birds are arriving from the south to start a new generation for the year. The colder weather has slowed down the migration a bit but soon it will be busy as the temperature rises and the bugs come out to breed as well. These migratory birds pick a variety of areas in Ontario and farther north to breed depending on the particular species but many travel through this area to get to their breeding grounds. The Huron Fringe Birding Festival has celebrated these birds for many years by organizing the festival to run during the last weekend in May and the first weekend in June. This event gives birders a chance to enjoy seeing the birds on organized hikes and renewing friendships made during previous years.

Due to the devastating arrival of the Covid-19 virus last year the festival had to be cancelled but this year it was decided to do something just a bit different rather than cancel the event totally. This year we have planned some virtual events for people to enjoy on the same days that the festival would have originally run. These events will run in the evenings so people can be out in the daylight hours to enjoy seeing and hearing the birds as they work their way through the Bruce and Grey County areas. The added benefit of the virtual programs means that no matter where you are in the world you can enjoy birding in your area and still tune in to hear the knowledgeable speakers that we have lined up to present on a variety of topics. Here is an overview of the festival with dates and presentations.

Registration is still required for the events as outlined in the previous photo and here is the website to register to enjoy one or all these presentations by well known and knowledgeable presenters.

Huron Fringe Birding Festival – Registration

Hopefully by 2022 we will again be able to offer in-person hikes and enjoy the days exploring the many natural areas of Bruce and Grey Counties as we enjoy the migratory birds. We will work towards that goal keeping in mind that safety and the health of our participants are the most important components of our festival. So, come join us this year online and in the coming years in person to be a part of this long running festival to Celebrate Birds.

This is also the time of year we find out who is the recipient of the Norah Toth Award. This award is presented annually to someone who has made a significant difference in Bruce or Grey Counties either through the Huron Fringe Birding Festival or due to their involvement in other local nature activities. The award was set up by the Festival Committee to honour Norah’s contributions to MacGregor Point Provincial Park and in particular to the Huron Fringe Birding Festival. Norah has been a leading figure in maintaining and building the festival since its beginning over 23 years ago.

This year the recipient of the award is John Cummings who in his own words has been birding and interested in nature since he was “knee high to a grasshopper”. He was brought up in a family that was involved in naturalist organizations and continued with this association when moving to this area. He assisted as an atlaser with the second edition of the Breeding Bird Atlas of Ontario and participated in many of the Christmas Bird Counts in the Kincardine, Walkerton and Saugeen Shores areas. He attended his first Huron Fringe Birding Festival in 2003 and being a birder and very social person became hooked on this wonderful event. It also helped that he was the winner that year of the 24-hour birding challenge the festival organized 😊. He was on the festival committee for several years and helped organize and grow the festival over his years on the committee. Many of his ideas and organizational elements brought forward when he was the chair of the committee are still used today. He was also on the board of the Friends of MacGregor Point Park from 2006 to 2014 and assisted with projects both physically and organizationally during that time.

John has been part of the Bruce Birding Club for many years and has also hosted outings from his home. He can strike up a conversation about birding or just about any other topic both with birding friends and others who stop to chat. He continues to enjoy birding and gets out whenever he can to assist with keeping nature as natural as possible. As a very worthy person of this award, we hope to see John out to more of the festival and birding club outings once things get back to a more normal post-Covid time.

It will not be long until the Festival-Lite this year begins so if you would like to enjoy some interesting presentations as well as going out to see, photograph or just enjoy the birds and nature as Spring brings the area to life again log in and register for some of the wonderful evening presentations.

Written by huronfringefest

May 11, 2021 at 12:06 pm

Posted in BIRDING

The 2021 Huron Fringe Birding Festival Virtual-Lite

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There are still physical limits due to Covid-19 for an in-person festival, but our “Festival Virtual-Lite” has been organized and registration is now ready to go. You can visit our website at:

Friends of MacGregor Point Park – Huron Fringe Birding Festival

and check out the seven evening presentations that have been organized for your delight.

We are excited to announce our webinars for the “Festival Virtual-Lite” which will run during our normal Festival dates of May 28 – 31 and June 3 – 6, 2021. They are scheduled for 7:00 pm on each of the following seven evenings to ensure you have the opportunity to get out birding during the day.

May 28 – Birding in Algonquin Park with Michael Runtz

May 29 – Black Bears of the Bruce Peninsula with Dr. Martyn Obbard

May 30 – Fifteen Years of Ontario Piping Plovers with Andrea Gress

May 31 – A Holistic Approach to Learning Bird Songs and Calls with Ian Shanahan

June 4 – Birders Gone Wild: 24 hour Bruce Peninsula Birdathon with Ethan Meleg

June 5 – Bird Banding at the Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory with Stephane Menu

June 6 – The Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas -3: Focus on the Females with Mark Peck

We are so appreciative of the continuing support of our Corporate Sponsors – Quest Nature Tours and Ontario Power Generation, and our Community Sponsors – Handy Andy Services, Hills Insurance, D. C. Johnston Realty and Super 8 Hotel. These sponsors allow us to offer the Huron Fringe Birding Festival Virtual-Lite at no cost to our participants.

Being able to get out in the day and safely enjoy the spring migration while having presentations to enjoy in the evening will make for an enjoyable and original approach to a Festival-Lite. We look forward to the years ahead when we can again socialize with our friends as we compare bird stories and unique birding discoveries. For now, we’ll gather in an electronic format to celebrate birds and remember just how special this time of year is.

Migration has already begun for some of our hardy feathered friends as we are welcomed in the morning with Northern cardinals, American robins, Ring-billed gulls and Mourning doves filling the previously quiet morning with their songs. Ponds (whenever the ice thaws) are full of Canada geese and a variety of dabbling and diving ducks and often several Tundra swans that are presently working their way to their breeding grounds. By May, those colourful warblers will be winging their way north feasting on the newly hatched clouds of insects that provide their travel meals. Some will stay in the area to raise their families here while others travel much farther north where food is even more abundant.

Our scheduled evening presentations will give you more of an insight into aspects of birding and nature in our area of Bruce and Grey Counties and even farther afield than that. Plan your birding time and plan your relaxing time to join with us in our 2021 Huron Fringe Birding Festival Virtual-Lite.

Written by huronfringefest

March 17, 2021 at 11:37 am

Posted in BIRDING

Preparing for a Festival-Lite

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As the snow is falling and the birds are trying to find enough food to make it through the winter, we can now plan ahead for the Huron Fringe Birding Festival Virtual-Lite.

Moving ahead with the 2021 Huron Fringe Birding Festival Virtual-Lite!

Our plans for the 2021 Festival Virtual-Lite are coming together and we are excited to give you more details about our on-line event which will run during our normal Festival dates of May 28 – 31 and June 3 – 6, 2021. 

The Huron Fringe Birding Festival Committee hopes that you will join us for our series of Webinars at the end of May! They are planned for 7:00 pm on each of the seven evenings to ensure you have the opportunity to get out birding during the day.

We have excellent presenters lined up for you – Andrea Gress, Ethan Meleg, Stephane Menu, Martyn Obbard, Mark Peck, Michael Runtz and Ian Shanahan.  They will entice you with stories about Bird Banding, Big Days, Breeding Bird Atlassing, Bird Song, Piping Plovers and Black Bears.

Details about each evenings’ presentation will be available in February. Specifics about the registration process will be available in April or before. 

We are so appreciative of the continuing support of our Corporate Sponsors – Quest Nature Tours and Ontario Power Generation, and our Community Sponsors – Handy Andy Services, Hills Insurance, D. C. Johnston Realty and Super 8 Hotel. These sponsors allow us to offer the Huron Fringe Birding Festival Virtual-Lite at no cost to our participants. 

Stay tuned for our next update. Until then, good birding and be safe!

Regards,

Norah Toth, Chair

And the Festival Committee who are committed to ensuring you have an extraordinary experience:

Margaret, Liz, Nancy, Lynne, Norah and Fred – Program Committee

BJ, Anne, Becky, Carole, Norma – the “Tent Ladies” (Registration and Volunteers)

Bob, Bruce, Fred, Norah, Doug P, Doug M – Publicity

Nancy, Kathleen, Bruce – Logistics

Arlene – Silent Auction

Marilyn – Finances

Celebrating Birds

The Huron Fringe Birding Festival is a birding and nature event which runs for two four-day weekends. The Festival is sponsored by the Friends of MacGregor Point Park.  Festival headquarters are at the Visitor Centre at MacGregor Point Provincial Park, 1593 Bruce Road 33, Port Elgin, Ontario N0H 2C5. The registrar can be reached at huronfringebirdfest@gmail.com or 519-375-1889. huronfringebirdingfestival.ca or hfbf.ca

Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HuronFringeBirdingFestival 

Follow our blog: huronfringefest.wordpress.com

twitter: twitter.com/huronbirdfest

Our corporate sponsors: Ontario Parks / Ontario Power Generation / Quest Nature Tours / Vortex Canada / Armstrong Milling

With this news you can now plan those two weekends out with birding through the day and enjoying presentations in the evening. Hopefully, we will have good opportunities to get out to enjoy Spring and the birds that come with it if Covid-19 is more under control so we can travel a bit farther than our own yards. For now, we have to do our part to help reduce transmission of the virus by staying home and also help our yard birds make it through the winter by making sure they have some food when the snow covers up their normal supply.

Take a bit of time each day to look out the window and see if there are any birds visiting your yard. From early morning to late in the evening its surprising just what might come along to entertain you.  A break to enjoy nature always makes a day go a bit better. The days are now getting longer and soon the buds will start forming on some of the trees indicating even the plants are noticing the lengthening days.

There are presently many online events running that might interest you and keep the thoughts of spring in your mind. Our Facebook page as well as some of our naturalist group pages are good places to look to see what events might interest you now.

https://www.facebook.com/HuronFringeBirdingFestival

Recently we had an evening visitor that dropped by to see what might be coming to clean up some of the bird seeds that spilled from the feeder onto the ground. These are the times we can really appreciate the beauty that nature sometimes blesses us with.

Stay tuned for updates and enjoy your yard!!

Written by huronfringefest

January 26, 2021 at 3:41 pm

Posted in BIRDING

A New “Festival-Lite” Format

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These uncertain days of Covid have certainly changed the way our lives play out every day now. Seeing that the uncertainty might last well into next year we have decided to alter the format of the 2021 Huron Fringe Birding Festival. Unlike 2020’s festival which was theoretically pushed ahead a year to 2021 this one will proceed but in a very different way.

The festival has always been about celebrating birds but has also been a gathering where we meet new people and add to our knowledge of our feathered friends and other aspects of nature. Meeting new people in person presently has its hazards so that part of the festival won’t be happening until another time when its safer to do. However, keep those dates highlighted on your calendars (May 28-31 and June 3-6 2021) as we will be having evening webinars each of these days. That leaves the daytime hours for you to do your birding on your own and enjoy the amazing spring migration event as our colourful warblers and other interesting birds return. We will gather in the evenings to hear from our presenters and remember our birds from the day.

The webinars will give you a chance to relax after a busy day of birding and learn about a variety of topics from exciting speakers. The full list of speakers will be posted later when more of the format and topics to cover are finalized. There will be topics to interest everyone!

During this pandemic birding has flourished as it is one pastime that you can participate in by yourself or in small groups following the Covid protocol for distancing to prevent virus spread. My wife and I love to go for a drive and/or a walk even this time of year to see if anything new has wandered into the area lost or come south to look for food. It’s been a great fall for finches, and Snowy owls have started to show up in small numbers as well. It would be nice to be able to be with other birders to talk about what we see or have seen but for now we’ll just have to share our sightings and photos online and by email and hope next year brings some normality to our birding lives.

Make sure to check out the Huron Fringe Birding Festival website for further information on the festival as it becomes available. Friends of MacGregor Point Park – Huron Fringe Birding Festival

Enjoy your Winter birding days and we look forward to having everyone join in for our “Festival-Lite” event in the spring.

Written by huronfringefest

December 12, 2020 at 3:05 pm

Posted in BIRDING

Fall Migration is Starting as is Planning for Next Years Festival!

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Its hard to believe that summer is almost gone, and we had no Huron Fringe Birding Festival to even welcome the start of it. It has been and continues to be a very different year as well as a very different world out there. While people’s lives have changed immensely the birds continue their lives oblivious to the change. The birds migrated north in the spring and now are heading back with their new offspring to spend some time in a more southerly climate. Birding was one pastime that we could still enjoy on our own or with small groups and more people did seem to take up the activity.

As we make our way through the rest of this year planning has to be done to see if we can run the festival in 2021 with possibly new formats that fit better into the restrictions that Covid could dictate to us even next year. Stay tuned as we work through the logistics and keep May 28-31 and June 3-6 ready as we hopefully plan for our 2021 Huron Fringe Birding Festival.

Even with the festival being cancelled some presentations were still carried out, one of these being the Norah Toth Award presentation. The Norah Toth Award is presented annually to someone who has made a significant difference in Bruce Grey counties either through the Huron Fringe Birding Festival or due to their involvement in other local nature activities.  The award was set up by the Festival Committee to honour Norah’s contributions to MacGregor Point Provincial Park and in particular to the Huron Fringe Birding Festival. Norah has been a leading figure in maintaining and building the festival since its beginnings, over 23 years ago. This year the Huron Fringe Birding Festival Committee felt that Gwen and Dennis Lewington would be very worthy recipients of the Norah Toth Award and therefore, even though the 2020 Festival was cancelled, Dennis and Gwen were presented with their award.

Gwen and Dennis

* They have both been active and long-time volunteers in the birding community; volunteering with the Piping Plover program at Sauble Beach in the past and maintaining Eastern Bluebird nesting boxes in the Amabel/Sauble area.

* They donated property which now makes up the 51-hectare Ontario Nature Sauble Dunes Nature Reserve which sets aside unique Huron Fringe features including plants, animals, habitats and landforms.

* They have been involved with the Ontario Eastern Bluebird Society for many years. Their first Eastern Bluebird nest boxes were put in place in 1982, 38 years ago.

* They continue to check 100 boxes on their Bluebird Trail and their records, which have been maintained by Gwen since the beginning, show that their boxes have fledged 3,008 Eastern Bluebirds as of early July, 2020.

* They are listed as participants in the Ontario Bird Atlasing Project from 1981 – 1985 and 2001 – 2005.

* Since 2015, they have shared their passion for the Eastern Bluebird to participants of the Huron Fringe Birding Festival.

Eastern Bluebirds

Here are some of the results that Gwen and Dennis have noted this year.

  OUR RESULTS FOR 2020  ON OUR EASTERN BLUEBIRD TRAIL UP IN

                                               BRUCE COUNTY ARE AS FOLLOWS:

                           EASTERN BLUEBIRD                  95 EGGS          83 YOUNG          78 FLEDGED

                           TREE SWALLOW                      168 EGGS         155 YOUNG         132 FLEDGED

                            HOUSE WREN                            62 EGGS          62 YOUNG          62 FLEDGED

                            THE GREAT-CRESTED FLYCATCHER’S NEST FAILED THIS YEAR.

                             THIS YEAR WE HAD 74 BOXES ON OUR TRAIL, WHICH, WITH TWO AT EACH

                             STOP, MAKES FOR 37 SITES, AS WE ALWAYS PUT 2 BOXES WITHIN 12 FEET,

                             AS A BLUEBIRD WOULD TAKE ONE, AND A TREE SWALLOW THE OTHER.

                            THIS NOW MAKES A GRAND TOTAL OF 3,050 EASTERN BLUEBIRDS THAT

                            WE HAVE FLEDGED IN THE 35 YEARS WE HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN HOPING

                            TO INCREASE THE POPULATION OF THE EASTERN BLUEBIRD.

                              WE PROBABLY HAVE FLEDGED WELL OVER 7,000 TREE SWALLOWS IN THE

                              35 YEARS.

                                                                         DENNIS & GWEN LEWINGTON

Many thanks for the time and effort these two have put into helping both the Eastern bluebirds and the Tree swallows keep their numbers increasing in this area.

During this fall migration finches have been showing up in numbers not seen for several years. Many people in this area as well as far to the south have had Evening grosbeaks at their feeders to use up their winter supply of sunflower seeds. Common redpolls as well as several Hoary redpolls have been visiting weeds along the side of many of Bruce County’s sideroads. Pine siskins and both Red and White-winged crossbills have been heard by many while zipping overhead this year.

Evening Grosbeaks

Other northern birds have arrived as many have had the good fortune of seeing the rusty undertail covert and beautiful plumage of Bohemian waxwings as they forage on the many berries that the trees grew over the summer.

Bohemian Waxwing

Before I get carried away talking about all the birds now coming through I’ll get this blog posted and see if I can give a few more details on the upcoming format for the Huron Fringe Birding Festival for 2021 in our next post.

Written by huronfringefest

November 28, 2020 at 3:15 pm

Posted in BIRDING

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.

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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.

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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