One of Canada's Premier Birding and Nature Festivals

Posts Tagged ‘Mark Wiercinski


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Mark BinocsI try to contain myself around these festivals…but inevitably I get too darned excited and just get carried away…I am the bird geek extraordinaire y’know. There. You have been warned. If you want that kind of goofy on your bird hike…then pick me. Be quick though. My one open event – B31 – 6:30 AM – May 31 – DEBATING THE ISSUES – BIRDING BAYVIEW TO BOGNORonly has two spaces left. So, Two Key Words…Register Now:

Invasive species, forest fragmentation, hedgerow removal and wetland modifications are all happening at unparalleled speeds in Southern Ontario. You got questions? Concerns? What issues are affecting the bird populations in Ontario.? Need to know more? Curious about what consequences can be? Well I am too and have plenty of questions all the time. Keeps me up at night actually.

So this hike is going to be a work in progress and a dynamic sort of theme no matter what. The premise is to take on the issues and investigate the situations. Are there answers to all of the problems and questions? I doubt it.

Mr. W. being serious.

Mr. W. being serious.

Bayview Escarpment is a Provincial Park… Bognor Marsh is a public owned Conservation Area with a diverse working group that is involved with the management and access to it. The route between the two places is through farm country and privately owned areas. There are roads and wetlands and towers and fields and forests and waterways and lots of things to consider.

Do you wonder how the future of our environment is going to play out? Have you noticed changes you don’t like or understand? Are there successes in ecology and wildlife management? Or should we re-title that “human management?” Are parks good for you (?) or are they a pain in the butt? Do you like alternate energy? Should we be driving cars on bird friendly trips? Or maybe there is no such thing as eco-tourism!

Heck, if that doesn’t get you fired up a bit..then skip this one. (Did I mention that there are only two spaces left?) I really just want to make you think a bit beyond the identification and lists of birds and birding. Birds will be the background theme here for certain, but the bigger picture and the science and ecology of things will be the more interesting topic. I am not out to piss anyone off and I really don’t want to start any political debates…I just want you to know why birds are a good part of science. My mom taught me years ago not to get too involved in politics and religious differences. I took that to heart and I always do my best to keep an open mind. And we all need to listen to what our mothers taught us. Birds do give us insights into what happens in the natural world and really that is my hope here. Let’s talk about the birds ‘n all that.

Mr. W. practicing his snake charming technique.

Mr. W. practicing his snake charming technique.


The complete schedule of events is available at:

Huron Fringe Birding Festival Registration:

Registration inquiries: or 519-389-6231


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"I'm telling ya' - I saw a Warbler just down the road...there!"

“I’m telling ya’ – I saw a Warbler just down the road…there!”

That’s just Mark Wiercinski. And only Mark knows for sure.

Whatever the answer though, it probably makes a ton of sense…to Mark. Some would say he’s the closest thing to a ROCK STAR you’ll ever see at HFBF. Others would agree that Birders and Biologists can strike you as strange ducks (pardon the pun)… sometimes.

That notwithstanding…be ready to run with Mark on three upcoming events during Huron Fringe 2015. Mark down these dates because he sells out fast…May 25 he’s revealing the mysteries of SEX AND THE SINGLE WARBLERon May 24 he’s WRESTLING WITH WARBLERS…and on May 31 he gets somewhat serious as he is DEBATING THE ISSUES: BIRDING BAYVIEW TO BOGNOR.

Sure this is just a tease. The full story on Mark’s excellent events is coming soon. So, be ready to book.

The full program will be available on-line January 15th 2015 on the Friends of MacGregor website at: and right here on this Blog

 Registration starts on February 1st 2015 at:


Check out this video for a closer look at the festival:

Be sure to mark your calendars with next year’s dates…22nd May to 25th May and 28th May to 31st May 2015.

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twitter: @HuronBirdfest

Recognized as One of Ontario's Top 100 Festivals

Recognized as One of Ontario’s Top 100 Festivals


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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!


Wiercinski’s Ramblings

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Mark Wiercinski is an original (in more ways than one). He has been leading HFBF events every year with the same passion and enthusiasm as he did on his very first hike…but with more (or less) gray hair. If you’re one of the diligent (and lucky) ones to have signed up for any of Mark’s instantly sold out events…here is a primer on what to expect as you try to keep up with his rambling humour in the field.


MARK AND THE ZEN OF BIRDING: We’re off at 600 AM. ‘Really?’ you say. ‘Seriously!’ I say. That is NOT early. Any earlier and none of you would show up and there I would be talking to myself and the birds. Hmm, I guess I do that already. I will try to socialize more. I know I whine about this every year. Earlier is better if we really want to catch the cool stuff and get overwhelmed with the bird song. I like early hikes. They are the best for finding birds. Beware! ‘Cause this is when I’m really on my game. Coffee not required. But it helps. In spite of the craziness, I’ll regurgitate many helpful tips on bird identification through sound, behaviour and habitat. Fledgling or full-fledged birder I always try to inspire and entertain…I’m full of information from birds to plant-life to wildlife and everything in between.

I’m doing a hike on Sex & The Single Warbler. “It’s all about the sex, baby.” Why? Because, I am a Biologist! That is the dominant theme of it all for me. I love the biology and ecology of the birds and the habitat and the bigger picture around birds. And yes, biology and ecology are two different things. I will explain on the hike; or you may just “get it” on your own. Being a biologist means I have about twenty different words (or maybe more) for poop. I do pay attention to the bigger picture around the birds and I try my best to fill in loads of information on the environment and how it all fits. I like that part. In fact it is often more fun to spend time and watch and learn something new on the most common of species out there. Chickadees have brains that grow or shrink depending on the time of year or the emphasis of what they are doing. Cool! And yes it is all about the sex baby…really it is! Biology is the study of life and wildlife biology is a study of that whole process. Don’t forget to ask me about chickadee brains … food in the winter…sex in the spring. Take a guess which season requires the bigger brain? Did I talk about this already?”

Bird song dominates. I always hope it is warm enough to get them singing and keep them going until the hike is winding down. The more they sing the less I have to talk. The forest, pond and marsh habitats will be mixed enough to make it all worthwhile. If the weather sucks, I try to tell lots of stories…anyway…since way too many of you have been on my hikes before I have to keep looking for new material and new one liners! Besides, trying to figure out my humour and keep up to the hyper little birds…that’s the real challenge.

I will do my best to find the cool stuff though.

WRESTLING WITH WARBLERS” Cool a new title – I like it. So we honestly don’t fight with these birds…but it is a fight to figure them all out at times so the word ‘fight’ fits well. Warblers are hyper little critters that seem to conveniently hide behind a twig or leaf just as you spot them. They really are annoying little critters that just don’t sit still. Song is important to this one…warblers are best to learn songs. We always find at least a dozen or so species. Seeing those birds is the goal…but remember I am a song guy and so I hear more than I see. So we cover lots of song identification. If the singing is not happening then we have to really dig in and find them in the trees and if that is not happening them I just make up stuff and fly by the seat of my pants! There are always plants and they conveniently don’t fly away.

I do try to focus on warblers though…we even should get the protected species. Did I say I was a biologist? Yeah I am…so Species At Risk is a big thing for me. And we can see a few if we get lucky! We almost always get the Blue-Winged Warbler or the Golden-Winged Warbler…or both…or the cross over variation between the two. Yeah there are genetics lessons in there too.”

We should track down at least a dozen or so warblers. We will have plenty of Redstarts too, the poster bird for the festival.

Remember, I am a biologist so there is lots to learn! I know learning! Wwwhhhaaaat! This is supposed to be fun! Don’t fret…it will be fun. I can always find a way to bring it back to humour…or sex…or something. And remember I am a Triple A Personality and often get way ahead of myself in topics and side trips…so we won’t be talking just about warblers. It will just be the theme that ties it all together.

Bognor MarshBirding ‘n Botany at Bognor Marsh. No description officially yet so I can say whatever I want! Woohoo! Field, wetland, forest even a bit of escarpment…Bognor will be fun…a learning experience for me as much as whoever comes along for the trip. It is a big swamp – one of the biggest wetland complexes in Grey County – with a good variety of habitat and decent trails as far as I remember. I will try to get there ahead of time and get familiar with it…but I am such a hair brain I will likely forget and just fake it on the day…ha!

But, seriously folks – the best thing is the wetlands. The fun part here will be extra wildlife along the way…snakes and turtles and other stuff. I will always be happy to talk about whatever else presents itself along the hike…hawks, ducks, herons, hawks, plants, turtles, hawks…and well did I say hawks yet? I like to fit it all in and like to put them all into perspective in the ecosystem. I did promise the organizers I would keep it fit for public consumption though and will do my best to stay focussed. Maybe.


For an up-close look at the what you can expect to experience at this year’s Huron Fringe Birding Festival click on:

Recognized as One of Ontario's Top 100 Festivals

Recognized as One of Ontario’s Top 100 Festivals







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A unique award, a silent auction, special presentations by Bradley Fauteux and Peter Middleton, recognition of sponsors and volunteers plus a generous gift from Bruce Power, highlighted the Huron Fringe Birding Festival Banquet on May 25. Over time The Festival itself has grown substantially and is recognized as one of North America’s premier Birding Festivals.

The banquet paid tribute to original and present volunteers, leaders, sponsors and participants who have helped make the Festival what it is today. A sub-committee of The Friends of MacGregor Point Provincial Park, the Festival is now known for new and innovated programs and events featuring first-class leaders.

Organized and operated totally by a volunteer committee, the Festival’s events showcase MacGregor Point Park and the Bruce Peninsula. All revenues go towards new initiatives by the Friends of MacGregor.

Bradley Fauteux, Managing Director, Ontario Parks

Bradley Fauteux, Managing Director, Ontario Parks

In his opening address, Bradley Fauteux, Managing Director of Ontario Parks, said, “…in environmentalism and conservation, I don’t think there is a higher calling than being part of a ‘Friends’ group. Nothing happens in Park infrastructure without volunteers…the ability and desire to volunteer is one of the most important things people can do. Ontario Parks is grateful for your time and support.”

The introduction of the new Norah Toth Award underlined Mr. Fauteux’s comments. This award carries Norah’s name because she represents the values that underlie its origin. Norah is an originator of the Festival as well as a leading and driving force in its successes.

North Toth presents the new award named after her to its first recipient Mary Rapati.

North Toth presents the new award named after her to its first recipient Mary Rapati.

This Award will be presented annually to the individual who has made a significant difference to the Huron Fringe Birding Festival or other local nature activities. The first and obvious recipient is Mary Rapati who for years has made unselfish service to and involvement in the Festival and the Friends of MacGregor a model for volunteerism.

Plaques were also presented to long-time volunteers Doug Martin, Joan Crowe, Mark Wiercinski and again, Norah Toth, for their help in driving the Festival forward.

Bruce Power present a big cheque to Norah and Jim

Bruce Power present a big cheque to Norah and Jim

Bruce Power acknowledged their important, long-term relationship with the Festival and Friends of MacGregor with a generous contribution of $4700.00. Their involvement and donation go a long way in the development of Festival programs and keeping registrations costs low.

Peter Middleton ended the evening with his entertaining answer to the question “Why Do Gulls Perch On White Rocks?”


Peter presented insights gleaned from a long career in Ecotourism that began in the early 60’s. In a striking, visual and often humorous presentation he showed how, “one ventures into the field with a sense of anticipation and discovery. No two days are alike and the wonders of a living planet unfold in remarkable and unpredictable fashion.”

120 people attended yet another successful Huron Fringe Birding Festival Banquet. The Festival ends June 2nd. Planning for the 2014 Festival begins shortly thereafter.

John Cummings was our usual masterful Master of Ceremonies

John Cummings was our usual masterful Master of Ceremonies

Norah Toth and Mark Wiercinski with their award for contributions to HFBF

Norah Toth and Mark Wiercinski with his award for contributions to HFBF

Doug Marti9n - founding president of The Friends of MacGregor Point Park and his award.

Doug Martin – founding president of The Friends of MacGregor Point Park and his award.

Joan Crowe and her award

Joan Crowe and her award

Doug Pedwell gives Norah Toth an award of her very own

Photos (except that of Peter Middleton) courtesy of Steward Nutt and Doug Pedwell