Opinion Column

BIRDWATCH: Dobson to talk Shaw Woods Outdoor Education Centre atfield naturalists' AGM

Ken Hooles

By Ken Hooles, Daily Observer




The next Pembroke Area Field Naturalists' event is the club's annual general meeting to be held on Wednesday, April 6, at 6:30 p.m. in Room 430 at Algonquin College, Pembroke Campus.

This year's guest speaker is Grant Dobson who will make a presentation on the Shaw Woods and the Shaw Woods Outdoor Education Centre. Grant and his wife Dorothy operate Connaught Nurseries specializing in vegetables for market and some novelty items such as Valley grown peaches. Grant is a naturalist and photographer interested in native plants and ecological planting, especially in regard to the Shaw Woods. He is currently the chairman of the Shaw Woods Outdoor Education Centre and has been instrumental in the development of the trail system in the woods, including the botany trail. You will find him very knowledgeable about the Shaw Woods and its environment.

There will be a small business portion of the meeting starting around 6:30 p.m. and refreshments will be available. The meeting is open to club members and to the public. Come and enjoy this fun and entertaining evening. For more information, please feel free to contact Rob Cunningham at 613-732-8402.

On the local scene, the spring migration has definitely begun, despite any glitches we may experience in the weather. As predicted, the Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles, and Robins are arriving en masse. In addition, flocks of Canada Geese are landing in our fields and on any open water they can find. Other birds that have now arrived include American Kestrel, Red-tailed Hawk, Northern Harrier, Ring-billed Gulls, Mallards, Hooded Mergansers, Black Duck and Sandhill Cranes.

We are also experiencing several large flocks of Bohemian Waxwings passing through in our area on their way back to the northwest. More of these flocks should pass through, as well as flocks of Dark-eyed Juncos coming from the northern states.

Over the next few days, expect to observe and hear more spring birds such as Turkey Vultures, Song Sparrow, Great Blue Heron, Killdeer, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Common Snipe, and Eastern Bluebirds. Spring has indeed arrived!

On March 9, Berndt Kruger of Golden Lake observed two Tundra Swans and four Canada Geese at the Golden Lake bridge. The Tundra Swans were passing through to their breeding sites in the north.

On March 12, Terry McLeish of Westmeath informed me that he had Red-winged Blackbirds, Canada Geese, and Common Grackles in his area. Similarly, around this same time, Myron Loback of Sandy Beach Road area also reported Common Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds , several Common Redpoll, and an American Tree Sparrow.

Around this same period, Vern Koss of Petawawa was surprised to find a fairly tame Chukar in his yard. These game birds are normally found in southwest United States and do not migrate. For decades, these birds have been bred by game farms, and sometimes they escape or are released illegally into the wild. The problem is that these birds experience a difficult time with our winter climate, and because they are raised by people, the birds tend to be very tame and seek out human support. In their natural habitat, Chukars tend to be very skittish. Interesting sighting, Vern!

On March 14, Ivy Stewart of B-Line Road spotted an American Robin chirping in a tree top beside her home. Similarly, Robins were reported by Dornetta Mau of Roy Street and Cathy Grahl of Green Lake Road.

On March 15, Terry Demers of Riverside Drive spotted a Pileated Woodpecker in his yard and Andreas Laupacis observed a Bald Eagle feeding on a Wild Turkey carcass off Faught Road. Nice sightings!

On this same date, Fred Haines of Petawawa updated me with his bird feeder activity. This included American Tree Sparrows, Hairy Woodpecker, Purple Finch, Pine Siskin, Dark-eyed Juncos, Pileated Woodpecker, White-breasted Nuthatch, and Red - winged Blackbirds. Nice variety of birds, Fred!

Finally, on Sunday, March 18, Norm Jones of Pembroke spotted the area's first Sandhill Cranes during an early morning drive on the Snake River Line.

Please call me with your spring 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, just Google the Pembroke Area Field Naturalist website.

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