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May is for the birds in Prince Edward County

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Colourful warblers in their spring breeding plumage continue to arrive at Prince Edward Point and migration monitoring at the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory is in full swing.

The Spring Birding Festival continues this week to May 24 celebrating the return of the birds with hikes, workshops and banding demonstrations.

This year, Mayor Robert Quaiff was a PEPtBO’s celebrity guest birder in the Spring Bird Count.

Cheryl Anderson, of PEPtBO, reports:

Mayor Robert Quaiff practices birding in Picton before his guest birder day at PEPtBO.

Mayor Robert Quaiff was PEPtBO’s celebrity guest birder this year.

“It was a great day,” he said. “I spent half a day with Cheryl Anderson and my eight-old grandson Ross. We recorded 36 different species and one was a rare Black Tern.”

Anderson notes their day started with the exciting sighting of Chimney Swifts flying over downtown Picton.

“Prince Edward County Field Naturalists have been surveying these little insectivores in Picton and throughout the County for three seasons.  It appears that several chimneys in the downtown area of Picton and Wellington are host to the Swifts every year.  They nest inside the chimneys and raise their young there before leaving for warmer weather in the fall.

“At Picton harbour we watched a family of Canada Geese and the Mayor spotted an Osprey flying over Chimney Point.  We proceeded over Macaulay Mountain to Airport Rd. and Mowbray Rd.  We were forced to a stop along Mowbray by the sighting of a female Baltimore Oriole.  We watched as she delicately spliced a portion of dried grass and flew away with the small piece to weave into her nest.

“The whistles of a Great Created Flycatcher attracted us and we were able to get a clear view through the leaves as he plucked midges from the branches.  Driving down Eames Rd we spotted a family of Common Ravens and their nest on the side of a silo.

Our next stop was Beaver Meadow.  Bird song was everywhere as we made our way through the forest to the viewing platform. We were delighted by the antics of the Black Terns, swooping over the water.  This species is on the Species at Risk list and so it is particularly satisfying to see that they return every year to the Beaver Meadow wet land.  There were several families of Canada Geese and a Mute Swan on the nest.  A Belted Kingfisher squawked at us and a Common Gallinule swam silently by.

“At Lakeshore lodge we spotted a White Crowned Sparrow when it flew into Ross’s head!  Fortunately, both Ross and the Sparrow survived.  On the lake there was a small group of Common Mergansers and swinging overhead there were Northern Rough-winged Swallows.

“Finally on our way back into Picton we spotted Pigeons and Turkey Vultures – two species that were on our “must get” list.

“While we had a short day of birding due to the youth of our chief list checker, we saw some very interesting birds and explored some interesting parts of the County.  Altogether we spotted 36 species in 3.5 hours – 10 an hour – not bad!”

* * *
Celebrating 20 years of operation this year, the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory is self-funded and volunteer run.  It is one of the Canadian Migration Monitoring Network’s member stations and is the Caretaker of the PEC South Shore Important Bird Area. As a research organization, the Bird Observatory also has a mandate to educate and inform people, and welcome the public. Specially designed programs are also available for school classes.

Bird Observatory members and friends are also seeking sponsors for their fund-raising Spring Bird Count.  Birders count as many species as possible in a 24-hour period in May and are sponsored either by species or with a flat rate donation.

Harlequins photographed by Helene-Tremblay

Harlequins photographed by Helene-Tremblay

May 23
8 a.m. Traverse Woods – Meet at the portable toilet
10 a.m. Bird Observatory to the Lighthouse – Meet at the Bird Observatory
4 p.m. Bird Observatory to the Lighthouse – Meet at the Bird Observatory

May 24
8 a.m. Traverse Woods – Meet at the portable toilet
10 a.m. Bird Observatory to the Lighthouse – Meet at the Bird Observatory
(Guided hikes are $5 per person)

Workshop at Jackson’s Falls Country Inn
Register at www.peptbo.ca
Saturday, May 23, 10 a.m. Shore Birds with Walter Wehtje
$25 per person

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