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PEC poets and photographers celebrate County’s winter birds

Black Capped Chickadee. – Hélène-Tremblay-photo

The Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory (PEPtBO) will publish a 46-page, full colour poetry with photos ‘For the Birds’ book celebrating those who winter in the County.

The celebration of birdlife in the County contains winning entries from PEPtBO’s first poetry contest, complemented by images taken by local photographers Ian Dickinson and Hélène Tremblay. Poems by Brian L. Flack and Walter H. Watt placed first in the contest.

“I congratulate and thank the 17 poets from the County and from away and the photographers whose work graces the pages of For the Birds,” PEPtBO President Peter Fuller said. “We held this contest and are publishing this beautiful collection online to keep a focus through the winter on the importance of bird migration and habitat to Prince Edward County.”

Interest in the online publication designed by Borys Holowacz has sparked requests for a hard copy to be released in the next month or two.

Local poet JC Sulzenko judged the contest and edited the entries.

“The poems and photos in ‘For the Birds’ feature songbirds and raptors, waterfowl and scavengers and honour the wonders of nature in the County in a unique way. I feel privileged to have played a part in this project,” she said.

Sulzenko noted she looked for rich or unusual images and language and welcomed a variety of poetic forms – from haiku to sonnets, free verse, and rhymes.

“I selected poetry that struck me as memorable in some way or that intrigued me. It’s a subjective process,” she added.

PEPtBO intends to hold an award ceremony and public reading from ‘For the Birds’ in conjunction with programming around the Spring migration season.

View the book at

Ruffled Grouse Ian Dickinson photo

First Place (shared) poems:
Roughed Up: Bonasa umbellus
I’ve seen you lead your chicks through shrubbery,
All bobbing jerkily as you sashay.
I’ve watched you flutter, feigning injury,
Distracting predators with your display.
I’ve seen you mount a log to strut your stuff
And flap wingtips to beat a different drum.
I’ve watched you fan your tail and puff your ruff
For any hen mature enough to come.
Yet, when I – unaware – above you loom
And flush you from the thickest underbrush,
Your sudden, flight-occasioned sonic booms
Induce in me an epinephrine rush!
Vibrations in the air as you depart
Are echoed in my fibrillating heart.
– Walter H. Watt

Turkey Vulture Ian-Dickinson photo

shadows startle …
bands of darkness
splash the pavement
moving patchworks of light
& ghostly murk that loosen me
from some soft reverie
I cannot now recall
wondering what the source,
but seeing nothing …
behind before
to the left the right
I raise my eyes to the burning light
& there they be, a hundred
more … circling, dipping, rising
soaring gods upon the winds
among wispy ships of cloud
they are a patient, silent horde
massing for the battle of their lives …
to flee the coming cold, the winter
the forbidding ice-floe water
forty miles of lake
they’ll be taken soon
by up-draft gusts
no solid ground to land upon
no carrion to feed upon
no eyes to marvel
at majestic outspread wings
– Brian L. Flack

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  1. Suzanne Pierson says:

    Congratulations PEPTBO and participants. Great initiative well executed.

  2. Phil Norton says:

    Excellent initiative by the naturalists at PEPtBO. Everyone buy the book and support the important scientific and conservation work they do; and get out there this winter to see those beautiful “snow birds” that stick around with us through the freezing season. I especially love to see the long-tailed ducks, snow buntings and of course the snowy owls along our shores. For them, Prince Edward County is “the south” and we are blessed with their presence until they head back to the Arctic. You wouldn’t believe all the activity going on in Nature this time of year. Sightings of bald eagles, pileated woodpeckers and hand-fed chickadees in The County too.

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