huronfringefest

One of Canada's Premier Birding and Nature Festivals

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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.

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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: http://youtu.be/0_vvcLJdE74

Recognized as One of Ontario's Top 100 Festivals

Recognized as One of Ontario’s Top 100 Festivals

CHECK OUT THE EVENTS THAT ARE STILL OPEN: http://www.friendsofmacgregor.org

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HURON FRINGE BIRDING FESTIVAL  – MAY 23 to MAY 26 – MAY 29 to JUNE 1 -2014

MacGREGOR POINT PROVINCIAL PARK – PORT ELGIN, ONTARIO

Email: birdfest@rogers.com

 

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THE FESTIVAL TAKES SHAPE

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 HURON FRINGE BIRDING FESTIVAL – MAY 23 to MAY 26 – MAY 29 to JUNE 1 – 2014

Spread out in front of me is an almost final draft of the upcoming HFBF Schedule of Events. Next steps are final proof reading, design and printing. But here’s even better news – the complete Schedule of Events will be available for viewing ON LINE beginning January 15, 2014. ON LINE REGISTRATION BEGINS FEBRUARY 1, 2014.

By my count there are over 40 birding activities over the two weekends in MacGregor Point Park as well as all over Bruce and Grey Counties and the rugged and beautiful Bruce Peninsula. New this year will be two sessions all about bumblebees. The trip to Flower Pot Island is back. You can bike the trails in MacGregor. You can even stay up late stargazing when even the birds are sleeping.

So if you have an interest in birds, botany, outdoor photography, geology, geomorphology, wildflowers, warblers, bees, bird banding, heritage farms, the secret sex lives of plants, or sex and the single warbler – Huron Fringe Birding Festival is where you want to be. And that’s only a partial list. Your favourite leaders will be back to share their knowledge, plus a new line-up of leaders will join the group to broaden the scope of what the Festival has to offer.

Needless to say, as usual, HFBF has something for everyone whatever your outdoor interest. As soon as the program is finalized, this Blog will begin bringing you more details on all programs and their leaders.

Keep reading.

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Email: birdfest@rogers.com 

Visit and “Like” us on Facebook:

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Mark Wiercinski – In His Own Words!

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Mark will be Event Leader on three different hikes for the Huron Fringe Birding Festival this year. We asked him to tell us what to expect and here – in his own words – is the full story as he sees it.

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“Okay it says early but 6 AM isn’t really early in bird world…six is almost too late! Seriously folks, some of these birds are up at 4:30! I know, I know, it is early for humanity…but hey, if I was doing a real bird survey it would have to start by 5 at the latest! I know…I know we tried that once and it was voted down…Alright so the hike itself…it is good. Lots of things still calling and lots of things moving around. The forests and wetlands are rich around MacGregor and it makes it easy to hear and see things. I do almost all of my bird identification by sound…so there is a lot of that on the hike. I get obsessed with finding the Least Bittern in the DU Ponds…and I always fit in a lot of biology of birds. Birds are just too cool…way too many interesting adaptions and behaviors…so it is easy to observe a bit and learn a bit and still have a blast.”

*(Saturday, May 25)

Sunday* – Warbler Wrestling: 6 AM to 11 – ish…

Wrestling…cool a new title for this program – 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. Song is important to this one…warblers are best to learn songs. We always find at least a dozen or so species. There are certainly lots of other things to see and hear there so of course we find them too. 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! There is always a stop on the way out of the pond area…and 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.”

*(Sunday May 26)

*Bayview – Coffin Ridge Hike and Wine Tasting!!!

“Okay so the wine tasting is best part of this one…but I do like the Bayview Escarpment trails. So it is fun too. There are loads of things to see…birds, plants, trees, rocks, and yep even a cave or two. But we really don’t go down into them. Last year we had a monsoon and cold winds dominated the hike so it was a challenge to get over ten species of birds on the hike. So this year is a cinch to beat that count. And talk about Species At Risk. We have them here too. Lots to take in for the hike part but seriously folks I can’t compete with the winery! It really is great part of this program…and who knew we could produce such lovely wine in our home turf! Way too cool.”

*(Saturday, June 1, 7:00 AM)

Mark takes a closer look at a Shrike.

Mark takes a closer look at a Shrike.

“Mark is one of the original Huron Fringe Birding Festival leaders and has participated every year with the same passion and enthusiasm as he did on his very first hike…but maybe more gray hair. The early hikes are the best way to find the most birds and it is at this time that Mark is really on his game…coffee not required, but it helps. Along the way, Mark provides many helpful tips on bird identification through sound, behavior and habitat. His hikes are always full of information from birds to plant-life to wildlife and everything in between. Whether you’re a full-fledged birder or just starting out, his hikes will always inspire and entertain…it’s all about the sex, baby! ”

Okay that is what the web says…hmmmm makes me sound old…gray hair and an original from the first bird fest…you know I was only 11 on that one right – a child prodigy bird hike leader! Ha! Okay so I wasn’t eleven. And I wasn’t even a hike leader…I was a mist net demonstrator. I am not sure I even caught a bird that year. Oh well look at me now!

So 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. Come on a hike and I will explain, 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.”

Mark Wiercinski

Biologist – LFCA TC Meaford | CISC FT Meaford

National Defence

139152 Grey Road 112, Meaford, Ontario, N4L 0A1

Mark.Wiercinski@forces.gc.ca


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

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ON THE EVENT OF YOUR CHOICE

Some events are already full

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plus a number of other locations

HURON FRINGE BIRDING FESTIVAL

MAY 24 – MAY 27

MAY 30 – JUNE 2