Opinion Column

BIRDWATCH: Great excursion at Petawawa Terrace Provincial Park

Ken Hooles

By Ken Hooles, Daily Observer

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The weather forecast was calling for periodic rain showers; however, these never materialized and it turned out to be a beautiful morning for the Pembroke Area Field Naturalists' excursion at the Petawawa Terrace. The only negative factor that the group had to deal with was the occasional pocket of mosquitoes on the woodland trail.

This year, nine persons participated in the walk on Saturday, May 30. For their efforts, the participants were able to record a respectable 43 bird species. This was slightly down from last year's excursion.

Similar to other years, the waterfowl species were almost non-existent. The group was only able to find three waterfowl species: Canada Goose, Double-crested Cormorant, and Common Mergansers. The absence of waterfowl and shorebird species was due to the fact that most of the waterfowl species were busy nesting. As well, the waterfowl migration north had been over for at least three to four weeks.

Unlike previous years when low numbers of warbler species were located on the walk, this year the warblers were abundant. The group was able to identify 12 warbler species. They consisted of Ovenbird, Yellow, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Chestnut-sided, Black-throated Green, Nashville, Black-throated Blue, Pine, Black and White Warbler, Yellow-rumped, and a magnificent view of a Blackburian Warbler. This last warbler posed for everyone and several excellent photos were taken of this bird.

In addition to the above bird species, other highlights included Red-eyed Vireo, Black-billed Cuckoo, Alder Flycatcher, Pileated Woodpecker, Warbling Vireo, Veery, Belted Kingfisher, and Eastern Pewee and a lone Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

Five members of the Sparrow family were spotted including Swamp, Song, White-throated, Chipping and a White-crowned Sparrow.

Surprisingly, only one swamp bird was sighted this year, a Virginia Rail. Several persons were able to see this elusive bird when it responded to a recording. Noticeably absent this year were Great Blue Herons, Sora, and American Bittern. All three birds are generally found on this excursion.

Other interesting bird species seen on the walk included Great-crested Flycatcher, Turkey Vultures, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Northern Flicker, and Cedar Waxwings. There were also several common birds such as Blue Jays, White-breasted Nuthatch, Hairy Woodpecker, Red-winged Blackbirds, American Goldfinch, and Tree Swallows.

This year's excursion was quite enjoyable in terms of the birds seen and the beautiful morning weather. The Pembroke Area Field Naturalists would like to thank Rob Cunningham and Ken Hooles for leading this year's event.

The spring migration is now over with the exception of the odd late bird. The three main waves of bird are now in the area or have passed on north. Some new arrivals include Eastern Pewee, Alder and Great-crested Flycatchers, Bank Swallows, Common Nighthawks, Vesper Sparrows, Cedar Waxwings, and the Black-billed Cuckoos. The final push north of the shorebirds is occurring, but unfortunately, they seem to be passing through our area during the night. Hopefully, some of these shorebirds will appear on our beaches and mud areas. The Whimbrel and Brant Geese have passed through our area as well. It is, indeed, a great time to be bird watching!

Back on May 25, John Meadows of Westmeath sent me a photo of an Eagle and a great shot of a Great-crested Flycatcher in his area.

Around this same period, Rob Cunningham spotted a Vesper Sparrow near the Pembroke Area.

Finally, on May 30, Willem and Rowan Nadon observed their first wild Mute Swans and Caspian Terns on a recent excursion to Presqui'ile Park near Brighton, Ontario.

Please call me at 613-735-4430 or e-mail me at hooles@bell.net. For more information on nature events and other links to nature, I refer you to the Pembroke Area Field Naturalists' website at www.pafn.on.ca.