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Posts Tagged ‘Bruce Peninsula National Park


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Eastern Phoebe - a Bonnie Patterson Collins Photograph

Eastern Phoebe – a Bonnie Patterson Collins Photograph

Lots of open events remain. Take a look and you’ll see there are plenty of opportunities left for great birding, hikes, wildflowers, photography and more. Reserve the events you want now. Space is available. But events are filling up fast because the snow is gone and the birds are back.

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A2 – 6:30 AM – LOVING LAGOONS IN LOWER BRUCE – Judith King – Explore the Ripley and Kincardine lagoons, and then continue up the shore of Lake Huron. The emphasis will be on warblers, with as many as 20 species possible at the lagoons. Pockets of migrating warblers may be found along the shore. (easy, car-pool, bring lunch – limit 20)

A4 – 7:00 AM – BIRDING MacGREGOR’S BOUNDARY – Mike Burrell – Join Mike for a morning of birding some of the hotspots around the edge of MacGregor Point. We will rack up a surprising list without going too far. Several warbler species, Indigo Bunting, Rose-breasted Grosbeak as well as a few grassland species are all possibilities. (easy, car-pool – limit 20)

A5 – 7:30 AM – BIRDS OF WOODLAND, WETLAND & FOREST EDGE: TOWER TRAIL – Justin Peter – Diverse habitat along the Tower Trail makes it a mecca for an eclectic mix of warblers, flycatchers, and thrushes. Justin will help us find these birds using his fine-tuned hearing skills, and will share tips for the interpretation of bird behaviour. (easy, car-pool – limit 20)

A7 – 1:30 PM – NATURE RAMBLE – TOWER TRAIL – Terry Crabe – Ramble along the Tower Trail to the Ducks Unlimited wetland. This event is geared for a wide level of birders who simply want to enjoy the MacGregor Point landscape. There is always an abundance of species to discover along this trail. (easy – limit 20)


A10 – 6:00 AM – CAPE CROKER – FROM BLUFFS TO SHORES – Joy Albrecht – Explore the seldom-birded Cape Croker peninsula with its abandoned fields, Georgian Bay shoreline and wetlands. As a special added treat we will visit the bird rich woodlands of Malcolm Bluff Shores Nature Reserve. (moderate, car-pool, bring lunch – limit 20)

A11 – 6:30 AM – HURON SHORE TO MALCOLM BLUFFS – Mike Burrell – We’ll cover all the birding bases – stops for shorebirds, ducks, grassland and forest birds. You’ll be amazed at the incredible diversity. We may even find a Cerulean Warbler on territory. (easy, car-pool, bring lunch – limit 20)

A12 – 6:30 AM – BIRDING SOUTH BRUCE PENINSULA – Todd Pepper – The southern Bruce Peninsula boasts a number of landform features found both within the Huron Fringe and along the Niagara Escarpment. Wetlands and lakes, hardwood forests, fields and hedgerows all provide varied habitats for you to discover. Participants will benefit from Todd’s knowledge of birdsong and breeding bird behaviour. (easy, car-pool, bring lunch – limit 20)

6:00 AM to Noon – BIRD BANDING – Brendan Toews

A16 – 8:00 AM – BIRDING THE EDGE – Terry Crabe – Bird the Lake Huron shoreline on a leisurely walk along the Old Shore Road Trail. We will walk through a variety of habitats that should enable us to view a variety of birds. (easy – limit 20)

11:00 AM – EAGLE OPTICS – During the lunch break Eagle Optics will have binoculars and telescopes on display and for sale.

A17 – 1:30 PM – Keeping the Birds & the Bees on the Farm – Art Wiebe & Janice McKean – You will see both wetland and grassland birds on the farm that Art and Janice manage. They will point out farming practices that enhance wildlife habitat as you walk the trails around their ponds and pastures. (easy, car-pool – limit 20)


A22 – 6:00 AM – A BIG DAY ON THE BRUCE – Michael Carlson – Are you a ‘lister’? Do you ‘tick’? From warblers just after dawn to Whip-poor-will at dusk, you will keep tallying up your numbers. Your day’s list could be over 100 species. Michael found a Kirkland’s Warbler in 2014 and plans to revisit that spot. (moderate, car-pool, bring lunch – limit 20)

A23- 6:30 AM – FLOWERPOT ISLAND – A REMOTE GEORGIAN BAY HABITAT – Don Wilkes – An exhilarating open-air jet boat will take you from Tobermory to the showcase island of Fathom Five National Marine Park. Flowerpot Island is famous for shoreline flowerpots, perched caves, rare orchids and birdwatching. If Lake Huron is too rough, a “Tip of the Bruce” tour will be a worthy … no amazing …substitute! (difficult, car-pool, jet boat, bring backpack & lunch – $40 extra per personlimit 22)

A24 – 8:00 AM – INVERHURON – BIRDING & BOTANY HIKE – Scott Taylor – Inverhuron Provincial Park may be small, but the diversity of habitat and its shoreline location make it an excellent place to look for migrating songbirds and unique plants. Join us for a day-long exploration of the forest and shoreline habitats. (easy, car-pool – limit 20)

6:00 AM to Noon – BIRD BANDING – Brendan Toews

A26 – 7:00 AM – AROUND THE EDGE OF MacGREGOR – Ken Burrell – Birding enthusiast and expert Ken will lead us around the periphery of MacGregor Point. We will look for Indigo Bunting, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and many other bird species. (easy, car-pool – limit 20)

A27 – 7:30 AM – BIRDING THE J/I LINE – Todd Pepper – Grasslands are in decline and grassland bird species are in jeopardy. Bruce County provides a community pasture where Upland Sandpiper, Bobolink, Grasshopper and Clay-coloured sparrows can still be found. Todd’s experience and hearing skills make him an excellent choice to take you on this driving tour. (easy, car-pool – limit 20)

A28 – 8:00 AM – UP WITH THE BIRDS – Doug Martin – This hike has been a tradition since before the beginning of the Huron Fringe Birding Festival –a morning walk along the Tower Trail to the Viewing Tower. Past experience on this hike has resulted in a species list that will rival many other events. Can we do it again? (easy, car-pool – limit 20)

A31 – 1:30 PM – O’KEEFE GRANGE – A HERITAGE APPLE FARM – Bill & Lyn O’Keefe – We will visit O’Keefe Grange, a heritage apple and pear farm. Bill and Lyn O’Keefe have spent many years collecting and growing these fruit trees. These citizen scientists will share their knowledge and passion as you browse their farm store and taste apple cider donuts. (easy, car-pool – limit 20)

A33 – 1:30 PM – NATURE SKETCHING & JOURNALING – Sarah Rupert – Nature journaling documents your adventures and helps you to hone your observation skills. Everyone can keep a nature journal, even if you think you can’t draw. Sarah will show you some easy tricks to start sketching and really observing nature in the field. (easy, bring pencil & notebook – limit 20)


A35 – 6:00 AM – HOTSPOTS OF THE LOWER BRUCE – Alfred Raab – Habitats will be varied on this outing. We will visit Sauble Beach for a chance to see Piping Plovers; inland lakes including Boat, Isaac and Sky lakes; grasslands around Ferndale and Black Creek Provincial Park. Alfred is a favourite leader for local birding outings. (easy, car-pool, bring lunch – limit 20)

A36 – 6:30 AM – CABOT HEAD – A BIODIVERSITY HOTSPOT – Rod Steinacher

This driving tour will take us to the Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory (BPBO), the Bruce Alvar Nature Reserve, and a nearby Nature Conservancy property. Rod is a retired science teacher and President of the BPBO.  He is always eager to share his expertise. (easy, car-pool, bring lunch – limit 20)

A37 – 8:00 AM – THE BRUCE RE-BECKONS – Willy Waterton

Join Willy in a quest to rediscover Sherwood Fox’s Bruce Peninsula, based on his landmark 1952 book “The Bruce Beckons”. You will spend the day exploring Fox’s Bruce to see what still exists after 63 years. (easy, car-pool, bring lunch – limit 20)

A38 – 6:00 AM – BRANT TRACT, PAISLEY & BLIND LINE – Judith King – Explore the Brant Tract with its mixed woods and stream by travelling along an old road to the bottom of the valley. Paisley will showcase bird feeders and several species of swallows. The Blind Line parallels the Saugeen River and passes through fields and mixed forest. (easy, car-pool, bring waterlimit 20)

A39 – 7:00 AM – BIRDING MacGREGOR – Scott Taylor – A late spring walk around the Ducks Unlimited wetland is sure to turn up migrants. Join Scott to hear about the importance of wetlands for migrating birds. You will also identify some of these spring beauties. (easy, car-pool – limit 20)

A41 – 1:30 PM – BIRDING & EBIRD ENTRY – Mike Burrell – Grab your binoculars AND your notebooks. We’ll go for a short walk to find some birds around the Visitor Centre. Then Mike will introduce you to eBird. You’ll find out how easy it is to contribute your everyday bird observations to this massive citizen science project. (easy – limit 20)

A42 – 1:30 PM – BOTANY ON THE FRINGE – Laura Cook – The Huron Fringe is made up of wave-cut terraces, gravel bars and sand dunes found adjacent to the Lake Huron shoreline. Within MacGregor Point, this habitat contains unique shoreline plants including Dwarf Lake Iris. Laura will introduce you to these plants and more. (easy – limit 20)

A43 – 7:15 PM – ONTARIO’S TRUE NORTH – Mike Burrell – Over the past several years Mike has had the chance to visit Ontario’s little known north coast at sites on James and Hudson bays. Come on this visual journey about these amazing landscapes. You will learn about the plants, animals and habitats that are found there. (indoors – limit 60)


B2 – 7:30 AM – GEOLOGY OF THE NORTHERN BRUCE PENINSULA – Bob Gray – Join Bob in exploring the unique geology of the Bruce Peninsula and Ontario’s Niagara Escarpment. (easy, car-pool, bring lunch – limit 20)

B3 – 9:00 AM – BUTTERFLY WORKSHOP – Audrey Armstrong – This workshop will teach you how to nurture butterfly populations by learning about their lifecycle, threats to the monarch population and how to create monarch friendly habitat including growing your own butterfly garden. There will be a slide show in the morning. The afternoon will be outdoors looking for monarchs, eggs and larvae. (easy, car-pool, bring lunch – limit 20)

B4 – 7:30 AM – BIRDING THE SAUGEEN AMPHITHEATRE – Joy Albrecht – The beautiful amphitheatre gardens high above the Saugeen River will be the setting for this hike. Stone stairways and walkways provide access to locations where we can overlook the river and riparian habitat. We will be observing spring migrants, nesting species, shorebirds and raptors. (easy, car-pool – limit 20)

B5 – 8:30 AM – BEGINNING BIRDING FOR ADULTS – Doug Pedwell – This event is designed for those who wish to know about the world’s number one hobby – Birding. Topics include binoculars, field guides and identification marks of birds. There will be a short indoor session and a bird hike. (easy, car-pool – limit 20)

B6- 1:30 PM – BOTANY OF THE FRINGE – Barbara Palmer – The Huron Fringe is a physiographic unit between the former glacial Lake Algonquin shoreline and the present day Lake Huron shoreline. Former cobble beach ridges, swales and ancient miniature dunes each provide their own combination of plants. Barbara will help you identify them. (easy – limit 12)

B7 – 1:30 PM – WOULDN’T IT BE PLOVERLY – Stewart Nutt – Join Stew to visit endangered Piping Plover at their nesting grounds located nearby. You will observe their courtship as well as other behaviours and learn about the perils these birds face. You will find out how local involvement has helped this species recover. (easy, car-pool – limit 20)

B8 – 7:15 PM – THE WONDERS OF BIRD MIGRATION – Dave Brewer – Dave gets lost in Toronto but Bobolinks navigate to Argentina. Are they smarter than Dave? Dave’s talk about bird migration will emphasize their navigation. He will look at historical interpretations and recent techniques including satellite tracking and geolocators. (indoors – limit 60)


B12 – 8:30 AM – LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY – Kerry Jarvis – Grey and Bruce counties beckon all photographers to capture their raw beauty. Kerry will help you learn techniques which will enhance your landscape photography skills as you discover some of the majestic vistas in Grey Bruce. Tripods recommended. (easy, car-pool, bring lunch, compact or digital SLR – limit 20)

B14 -1:30 PM – ROADSIDE BOTANY RAMBLE – Larry Lamb – Explore various roadside habitats in the vicinity of the Visitor Centre. Learn to use identification keys and Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide (bring yours along!) (easy, car-pool – limit 12)

B16 – 1:30 PM – PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP: LANDSCAPES & NATURE WALK – Fran Sanagan – Fran will facilitate this hands-on workshop. Participants will learn how careful observations of the environment around them will improve their photos of nature and landscapes. Bring tripod if you have one. (easy, bring camera – limit 15)


B20 – 8:00 AM – WALKING FOR THE FERN OF IT – Brett Woodman – Brett will introduce you to natural areas along the escarpment where hunting for ferns will also lead you to a variety of interesting habitats. His birding and wildflower identification skills will help to enhance this all day field trip. (difficult, car-pool, bring lunch – limit 20)

6:00 am to noon – BIRD BANDING – Dave Brewer

B22 – 8:00 PM – BIRDING THE OLD SHORE ROAD TRAIL – Bill Crins – The Lake Huron shoreline as well as fen and edge habitats are featured during this walk north from the Visitor Centre. Bill is an active birder and naturalist. We always benefit from his experience as an interpretive naturalist. (easy – limit 20)

B23 – 9:00 AM – SCOPING IT OUT – Andalynne & Richard Tofflemire – It’s more than just identifying what you see. We will focus on how birds and bugs interact with each other. But don’t expect to cover a lot of distance because there’s soo… much to see right at your feet and above your head! (easy, car-pool – limit 20)

B25 – 1:30 PM – ROADSIDE BOTANY RAMBLE – Larry Lamb – Explore various roadside habitats in the vicinity of the Visitor Centre. Learn to use identification keys and Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide (bring yours along!) (easy, car-pool – limit 12)

B26 – 1:30 PM – O’KEEFE GRANGE – A HERITAGE APPLE FARM – Bill & Lyn O’Keefe – Bill and Lyn O’Keefe have spent many years collecting and growing over two hundred varieties of apple and pear trees. These citizen scientists will share their knowledge and passion. (easy, car-pool – limit 20)

B27 – 1:30 PM – PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP: LOOKING AT MacGREGOR CLOSE UP – Fran Sanagan – Fran will be facilitating this hands-on workshop where participants will learn how to look at nature close up, through a macro setting or lens. Bring a tripod if you have one. (easy, car-pool, bring camera – limit 20)

B28 – 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM – BRUCE COUNTY BEEF DINNER – Harrigan’s Catering, Southampton – MacGregor Point Provincial Park – Additional charge of $17. Dinner combined with B29 as a single event, $23. (Pre-registration required – limit 60)

B29 – 7:15 PM – ONTARIO NEST RECORD SCHEME & PROJECT NESTWATCH – Mark Peck – Join Mark as he discusses the metamorphosis of the Ontario Nest Records Scheme into Project NestWatch and learn how as a citizen scientist you can both learn and have fun providing valuable information to conservation initiatives. (indoors – limit 60)


B31 – 6:30 AM – DEBATING THE ISSUES – BIRDING BAYVIEW TO BOGNOR – Mark Wiercinski – Invasive species, forest fragmentation, hedgerow removal and wetland modifications are all happening at unparalleled speeds in southern Ontario. On this walking / driving tour Mark will talk about issues that are affecting the bird populations in Ontario. (difficult, car-pool, bring lunch – limit 20)

B32 – 8:00 AM – BIRDS & BEACHES: HOW DO OUR BEACHES LOOK FROM THE SKY? – Karen Alexander – During this shoreline tour of varied coastal areas, Karen will describe how different types of beach stewardship can influence the health and quality of coastal ecosystems. (easy, car-pool, bring lunch -limit 20)

6:00 am to noon – BIRD BANDING – Dave Brewer

B35 – 1:30 PM – BIRDS OF PREY – Wild Ontario – Enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff and volunteers are supported by non-releasable birds of prey during a program that is loaded with fantastic facts, a healthy dose of humour, an inspiring message and lots of “WOW” moments. (outdoors)

B37 – 8:00 PM – SUNSET WALK – Doug Pedwell – Join Doug for a leisurely stroll along the shore of Lake Huron to discover the sights, sounds and smells of a late May evening in MacGregor Point Provincial Park. (easy – limit 20)



One parent/guardian must accompany children from the same family. This person is allowed to participate in the event free of charge. See the website for parent/guardian registration details.


6:00 am to noon – BIRD BANDING – Dave Brewer

FAM1 – 9:00 AM – BIRDING 101 FOR FAMILIES – Doug Pedwell – Birding is a family-friendly hobby. Doug will talk about the equipment needed; how to recognize family friendly field guides and, of course, how to identify birds. (limit 40)

FAM2- 1:30 PM – AFTERNOON ADVENTURES (Children will be divided into two groups. Each child will attend both afternoon programs – limit 40)

BINO BOY & ELYTRA GIRL – Andalynne & Richard Tofflemire –Time to go on an outdoor adventure! With Bino Boy’s binocular vision and Elytra Girl’s power of magnifying, we’ll be out to discover all that can be found in an exciting, entertaining way!


CHICKADEE NEST BOXES – Kerry Jarvis – Build a chickadee nest box. No carpentry skills are required. Participants will assemble their own boxes. Imagine the thrill of seeing a Black-capped Chickadee choose your nest box to raise its family! (Chickadee nest box kit – $10 extra per child)

FAM3 – 7:15 PM – DOWN WITH DR. ENTO – CAMPFIRE PROGRAM – Matt Cunliffe – Fascinated by the insect world? You can learn more about these incredible creepy crawlers from world renowned Dr. Ento…Mologist, through songs, games and trivia… 6 legs, 3 body parts, 1 campfire


FAM4 – 9:00 AM – MORNING EXPLORATIONS (Children will be divided into two groups. Each child will attend both morning programs.) (limit 40)

POND EXPLORATION – Andalynne & Richard Tofflemire – Join Richard and Andalynne for an informal, hands-on look at the fascinating critters that make the pond their home. Dip nets, basins and hand lenses will help us look at the often-unseen animals that live in pond water.


BIRDING 102 FOR FAMILIES – Doug Pedwell – This hike will take place at the Duck’s Unlimited wetland where we will use the bird blind and the tower to see what is in the wetlands. (car required)

FAM5 – 1:30 PM – BIRDS OF PREY – Wild Ontario – Enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff and volunteers are supported by non-releasable birds of prey during a program that is loaded with fantastic facts, a healthy dose of humour, an inspiring message and lots of “WOW” moments. (outdoors)

The complete schedule is also available at:

One of the 100 Festivals in Ontario for the second straight year. The Only Birding Festival in Ontario to earn this distinction

One of the 100 Festivals in Ontario for the second straight year. The Only Birding Festival in Ontario to earn this distinction

Huron Fringe Birding Festival Registration:

Registration inquiries: or 519-389-6231

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twitter: @HuronBirdfest



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…we just bird … and do so to the extreme.”  (Mark Wiercinski)

Jon, Ethan and Mark looking and listening.

Jon, Ethan and Mark looking and listening.

On Monday May 19, at 2:00 AM, Ethan Meleg, Mark Wiercinski and John Haselmayer left Wiarton to begin their 10th Annual Bruce Peninsula Birdathon. Nineteen hours, 380 kilometres and 167 species later (their third best total) they made it to Tobermory, bleary-eyed, sleep deprived, but happy.

According to Ethan, “Mark, John and I are recovering.”

Ethan then commented on a major accomplishment of their day, “We ate relatively healthier on this birdathon than ever, but still included gallons of coffee, Twinkies, pepperoni, chocolate covered almonds and licorice sticks in our high performance birder diet. Cholesterol levels should subside by the time we do this again next year.”

On a more ‘birdathon-centric note he went on to say, “Calm conditions were ideal to hear the expected nocturnal species. Morning at MacGregor Point Provincial Park was chilly, but once it started warming up bird activity came alive and remained good throughout most of the cool day, as we worked our way north to finish at 9:00 PM in Bruce Peninsula National Park.”

Birding Highlights:

• Whip-poor-wills: calling at many locations, notably the Duck’s Unlimited (DU)

Pond at MacGregor Point Provincial Park (MPPP).

• Least Bittern and Common Moorhen: great views at the DU Pond @ MPPP

• Piping Plover: at Sauble Beach

• Brewer’s Blackbird and Upland Sandpiper (local specialties) in the

agricultural lands around Ferndale

• Red-necked Grebes and Horned Grebes in Dyers Bay

• 25 warbler species (ties our best warbler tally)

• Low diversity of diving ducks (we didn’t find a single scoter) and


“Overall, we found the diversity of migrant songbirds to be good, including a mix of early and later species. Early breeding birds were well established on territories, but the later arrivals were either not on territory yet or simply not active. This could have been due in part to the cool temperatures. Our most embarrassing misses included Golden and Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Hermit Thrush (all local breeders).”

Our three intrepid birders are long-time friends of the Huron Fringe Birding Festival having led events and made presentations over the years. Ethan is a renowned outdoors photographer. Mark and John are biologists. All are well respected for their expertise in Ornithology.

Our three intrepid birders are long-time friends of the Huron Fringe Birding Festival having led events and made presentations over the years. Ethan is a renowned outdoors photographer. Mark and John are biologists. All are well respected for their expertise in Ornithology.

If anyone wants an Excel copy of their Bruce Big Day Bird Count with a summary of results you can contact them with your request.

Ethan Meleg email:

Mark Wiercinski 

 Happy birding!


FLOWERPOT ISLAND *A24, SUNDAY MAY 25. What are you waiting for?

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A view from the Jet Boat

A view from the Jet Boat

If you’ve ever wanted to explore FLOWERPOT ISLAND, this is the perfect opportunity. If you’ve ever wanted to experience FLOWERPOT ISLAND with someone who knows this marvelous natural wonder inside out, then book this exclusive HFBC excursion now.

As of this posting there are only ten openings left.

Don Wilkes is your guide to this remote Georgian Bay Habitat. Flowerpot Island, within Fathom Five National Marine Park, is a magical place. Designated in 1930, it is considered to be one of Canada’s most remarkable islands. Its unique natural features include 2 large rock flowerpots, caves, cliffs, ferns and orchids.

You’ll be boarding a Jet Boat at the Blue Heron Dock and heading out to visit the island by first crossing 5 kms of crystal-clear waters from Tobermory. It’s an exciting ride and the tour boat gives you a great water-view of your destination.

On the island the tour will follow a loop trail to the flowerpots, the caves, the light station and a variety of habitats. During migration birds pile up on the island as they cross the narrows to Manitoulin Island, so there are good bird watching possibilities.

Calypso' Fairy Slipper. (Calypso bulbosa)

Calypso’ Fairy Slipper. (Calypso bulbosa)

An added bonus will be the Calypso Orchids, for which the island is famous. They may be up at this time.

If the wind is too high and Georgian Bay to rough for the jet boat to operate safely, we will stay on the mainland and tour from Cyprus Lake to the Grotto which is equally rich with birds, world-class scenery and fun nature to explore.



Don Wilkes

Don Wilkes

Don Wilkes obtained a BSc in Zoology at the University of Alberta. Don worked as a student Park Naturalist at Prince Albert National Park just when national parks were establishing interpretive programs. Don obtained a permanent job at Point Pelee National Park supervising the interpretive program. When Parks Canada began operating the new Bruce Peninsula National Park and Fathom Five National Marine Park, Don was invited to manage the heritage education and visitor services operations and successfully established a visitor centre for the two parks. In 2000, he helped develop a national training program. Now, Don does tours and continues to develop exhibits for national and provincial parks.

HFBF TITLEMAY 23 to MAY 26 – MAY 29 tor JUNE 1 -2014


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Mary Rapati named the first Norah Toth Award Winner

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SnapspeedPerhaps the selfless giving of her time is embedded in the DNA of Mary Rapati.

She was, after all, a Candy Striper at the age of 14. Maybe the seeds of her enthusiasm for volunteering were planted then.

Today, thankfully, her penchant for giving freely of her talent, for getting involved, has contributed to the mutual benefit of the Huron Fringe Birding Festival (HFBF), the Bruce Birding Club and the Friends of MacGregor Point Park, to name a few.

Though, when you talk to her about her volunteering, as Fred Jazvec did recently, she humbly deflects all her accomplishments by simply saying, “You know it takes a large group to run something…”

True, but Mary has always been a catalyst. And because The Norah Toth Award is presented to the individual who has made a significant difference to the Huron Fringe Birding Festival or other local nature activities then its obvious that Mary should be its first recipient.

Originally from Alberta, Mary moved to Port Elgin with her husband, by way of Peterborough, in 1989. Some time around 1998, when the HFBF was in its infancy, Mary came along prepared to work hard for something she loved and believed in. At that time there was no pre-registration, no big committees, no brochure and nothing on-line. Obviously Mary liked the challenge because she made-ready a brochure, picked up mail daily, suggested alternative events, organized hand-written hike lists, sent out confirmation letters and handled conflicts by phone. She worked tirelessly on all aspects of the Festival from suggesting and writing nametags and distributing brochures to introducing the idea of Liability Insurance, Risk Management Procedures and Co-Coordinator Manuals.

Nothing escaped her attention. She initiated improved signage in the Park to help direct people. She was there in the dark to welcome and hand out registration packages to 6:00 AM hikers.

But Mary wasn’t alone in her dedication to the Festival. While always working along with other volunteers she also made her involvement a family affair. Her husband Tony designed a computer system for better organization of Festival people and events. Her son worked on the early website for the Friends of MacGregor Point Park. And her three children worked for the Park during the summer.

Her volunteerism went beyond the Festival as she kept birding records for HFBF, the Bruce County Bird Finding Club, the Bruce Birding Club and birding author Mick Pickup.

Mary led the committee that ran the Circle of Friends Workshop hosted by the Friends of Macgregor Point Park. The Workshop involved co-operating associations with provincial, national or municipal parks, museums and historic sites, members of groups involved in preserving the natural and cultural history of Ontario and park staff and site staff who would like to know more about setting up and maintaining a partnership with co-operating associations.

It was no small task. The agenda offered 10 courses over three days. The conference reflected the typical Rapati enthusiasm through the brochure, dinner by a renowned chef, fund raising, silent auction and Justin Trudeau as the keynote speaker. She asked for funds from Bruce Power so that students from Kincardine to Owen Sound could experience his presentation.

Mary Rapati and friend.

Mary Rapati and friend.

It was a successful event because, as Mary said, “I got to hug Justin Trudeau.”

If all of the above isn’t enough Mary and her husband are considered butterfly experts. They were, for a time, the only Canadians to identify the rare Cherry Gull Azure. Up until then it was thought to only exist in New England, but they found it in Bruce County and again at MacGregor and Inverhuron Parks. They then went on to find it in other provinces across Canada.

Twice a week for 6 years they went butterfly hunting, almost overwhelming the Lepidoptera Society with their records. The society puts out a Butterfly Atlas every year and the Rapati’s are acknowledged as contributors.

From 2000 to 2007, they ran a Butterfly Count sponsored by MacGregor Point Provincial Park, training enthusiasts, providing slides and giving them resources to work with. Their Bruce County Butterfly lists are now included in all HFBF registration packages, and can be printed off the website of the Owen Sound Field Naturalists. They started the Annual Butterfly Count for the Bruce Peninsula National Park. Mary and Tony have made Butterfly presentations all over the province to Naturalist Groups and especially to Horticultural Societies who want to know what plants attract which species. Both are qualified to band Monarch Butterflies as two of only 25 people in Ontario.

Enthusiasm, involvement, determination, commitment the adjectives describing the quality of Mary’s attitude towards volunteerism could fill pages. Needless to say we are pleased to recognize Mary Rapati as the first winner of the new Norah Toth Award.

 (With notes from an interview by Fred Jazvec)



Some events are already full


MAY 24 to MAY 27 – MAY 30 tor JUNE 2