Opinion Column

BIRDWATCH: Westmeath Provincial Park Beach Walk

Ken Hooles

By Ken Hooles, Daily Observer

Birdwatch

Birdwatch

The next Pembroke Area Field Naturalists' event is the Westmeath Provincial Park Beach Walk to be held on Saturday, Oct. 3, at 9 a.m. If you are interested in attending this walk, please meet trip leaders, Christian Renault and Robin Cunningham, at the municipal boat launch in the town of Westmeath. When coming from the west on County Road 12 into Westmeath, turn left on Synton Street and continue down to the water. From the boat launch, the group will drive west to Sand Point Road then park and walk along the beach. Tall rubber boots are recommended on this excursion.

This is an excellent outing to see shorebirds, waterfowl, raptors and sparrows. If you are really lucky, you also might find Nelson's Sparrow and Leconte's Sparrows. The Westmeath Provincial Park walk is always planned in the hope of catching the two-week window that the Nelson's Sparrows travel through our area, and the Westmeath Beach is our best place to observe them as they pass through. In fact, every year, members of the Ottawa Field Naturalists and the Ontario Federation of Nature are often seen in the area during the walk.

For more information about this walk, please feel free to contact Christian at 613-735-8395.

In addition to this event, Ontario Nature is hosting a family fun day at the Reilly Nature Reserve on Saturday, Oct. 3. This new nature reserve is located off Meilleurs Road in Deep River. There will be a guided hike to find fabulous fungi under the fall canopy followed by a free barbeque from noon to 1 p.m. In the early afternoon, the public is invited to participate in the Salamander Monitoring Board Project by laying down cover boards to monitor these secretive species.

Elsewhere on the local scene, you should now be seeing a slight increase in the number of song birds in our area as the fall migration continues. There still should be large numbers of staging blackbirds, especially Starlings and Red-wings as these birds travel through. The shorebirds should be reaching their height just in time for the Westmeath Provincial Park walk and the number of Canada Geese should also be on the rise.

Unfortunately, for those who have been enjoying the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds this past summer at their feeders, you may have noticed that your numbers have declined over the past two weeks. In fact, some of the birds you are feeding now are not the ones you have been feeding all summer. These are birds travelling from the North just feeding on their way south. I encourage you to continue to feed the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, at least until the end of the first week of October. These birds will need to stock up before they travel South. Also, watch the Hummingbirds that are appearing at your feeders around this time. A couple of years ago, a rare immature Rufous Hummingbird from out West appeared at a feeder in the Eganville area.

On Sept. 1, Manson Fleguel observed Eight Common Nighthawks and a scarce Palm Warbler near his cottage in the Palmer Rapids area. These were probably some of the last Nighthawks to leave the area.

On Sept. 9, Jeff Brunette photographed a magnificent Great Egret near the junction of the Petawawa River and Barron River. This is the first report of Great Egret that we have had this year. Nice sighting!

Finally, the next day, my wife and I were very fortunate to locate a Little Gull as well as an immature Lesser Black-backed Gull on Lake Dore, along with several Common Loons. In addition, we were fortunate to find one of those fall pockets of migrating songbirds along the edge of Lake Dore. In the pocket we observed Yellow-rumped, Canada, Bay-breasted, Common Yellowthroat Warblers and both Red-eyed and Philadelphia Vireos.

Please contact me with your bird sightings at 613-735-4430 or email me at hooles@bell.net. For more information on upcoming nature events and other links to nature, I refer you to the Pembroke Area Field Naturalists' website at www.pafn.on.ca.