Opinion Column

BIRDWATCH: Columnist Ken Hooles is setting some lofty goals for 2016

Ken Hooles

By Ken Hooles, Daily Observer

Fotolia photo 
The Snow Bunting was among the birds spotted during the local Christmas bird counts.

Fotolia photo The Snow Bunting was among the birds spotted during the local Christmas bird counts.

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Happy New Year! I hope that you all had a wonderful holiday. Now that the holidays are over, it is time to get back to work.

For many of us, this is a time for reflection on events of the past year, and a time for setting resolutions, goals, and objectives. These resolutions usually revolve around health issues, financial strategies, or just self improvement. Like most people, I usually set lofty goals in January, and by mid-February, most of these resolutions have been broken. Besides personal goals, I usually set a few bird-watching goals.

For example, in 2015, I decided to do a big Ontario Year. That is, I would try to count as many Ontario bird species that I could find in one year. I had hoped to reach at least 280 bird species. Unfortunately, due to a variety of reasons, I ended up with only 227 bird species despite trips to Presqu’ile, Point Pelee, Ottawa and throughout the Renfrew County.In 2016, I have set some personal goals as well as some bird watching goals. Personally, I will strive to be healthy by eating better and exercising, and even more importantly, to be more in touch with family and friends.In terms of birdwatching, I hope to get in some travel this year, after having had to cancel two trips in 2015. I would also like to continue to expand on my quest for new birds by setting specific objectives.

First, I want to expand my World List of birds by at least 40 new bird species. This will be feasible if I get to travel out of the country.

Second, I want to add at least 10 new bird species to my North American list. This is somewhat hard as I already have 559 bird species on this list and there are only about 630 bird species in North America.

Finally, I would like add five new bird species to my Ontario list. This too will be difficult as I presently have 314 bird species and it is estimated that there are approximately 350 bird species in Ontario.

Perhaps more of a wish than a goal, I would like to find several birds that have eluded me in past travels, like the Crissal Thrasher, Williamson’s Sapsucker and Townsend’s Warbler. Of course, this will depend on whether I get to travel where these birds are located.

The good thing about these objectives is that they are measureable, and in December 2016, I can tell you how I made out. Personally, between you and me, I think keeping to the diet and exercise program is going to be the toughest!

Locally, during the Christmas Bird Counts in Pembroke and Eganville in late December, several of the Northern winter migrants finally arrived. These included more Snow Buntings, Pine Siskin, Purple Finch, and Evening Grosbeaks. Unfortunately, we still await the arrival of Redpolls, Pine Grosbeaks, and perhaps Crossbills. On the counts, some of these birds were spotted but not in significant numbers. I can also say that the fall migration has finally ended. It certainly ran late with that warm weather in December.

With the recent arrival of heavy snow, we may now get some of the Northern Owls and Northern Shrikes. Keep an eye out for Snowy and Great Gray Owls.

Finally, a specific date has been set for the 2016 Midwinter Waterfowl Survey. It is Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016. If you are interested in participating in this survey, please contact Rob Cunningham at 613-732-8402 or email him at rcunning@bell.net.

Back on Dec. 17, Lee Torvi of Meath Hill spotted a Rough-legged Hawk sitting on a pole on old Highway 17. Several of these magnificent hawks were reported on both the Pembroke and Eganville counts.

On this same date, Laurie Wagner and Tony Cowan of Killaloe spotted a Brown Creeper in their yard. This bird is often mistaken for a small woodpecker. Good for you guys to recognize that it was a Creeper!

They also updated me with their bird sightings at their feeder. These included Black-capped Chickadees, American Goldfinch, Blue Jays, Evening Grosbeaks, Dark-eyed Juncos, both nuthatches, a Cardinal and Mourning Doves. This is a nice variety of birds!

Finally, on Dec. 27, James Martin of Lapasse informed me that he has a Carolina Wren coming to his feeder. It often arrives with a flock of American Goldfinch. We believe it is presently residing on the bank of the river near James’s place. Nice sighting!

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