Opinion Column

BIRDWATCH: Hitting the road for the annual 'Owl Prowl'

Ken Hooles

By Ken Hooles, Daily Observer

A Barred Owl perched on a tree root in the wild.

A Barred Owl perched on a tree root in the wild.

This year’s Pembroke Area Field Naturalists’ Owl Prowl was held on Saturday, March 24. Despite somewhat cool temperatures, more than 50 people attended the event, forming a car convoy of 11 vehicles.
As in previous years, the event was broken up into two segments. The first part consisted of a visit to the Eganville area to observe a resident Great Horned Owl. After a brief wait, the owl, named Hootie, made an appearance where he was observed by the participants. This owl is wild and is in the midst of its breeding season.
The second part of the excursion consisted of a convoy ride on some of the back roads near Lake Dore. Though not quite conducive conditions for Barred Owl sightings, one was found, to the delight of those who were able to view it. This year, no Saw-whet Owls were heard or spotted on the excursion.
In all it was a good event in terms of the number of participants and the few owls that could be found. The Pembroke Area Field Naturalists extend thanks to Ted Hiscock and Rob Cunningham for organizing and leading this event. Special thanks to Ray Remis for his presentation on the Shaw Woods at the beginning of the field outing.
The next excursion of the Field Naturalists is the Bellows Bay Walk to be held on Saturday, April 28, at 8:30 a.m. This event concentrates on spring waterfowl as well as on other spring birds. In the past, this trip has had some interesting sightings including Gadwall Ducks, Redheads, Canvasback Ducks and Snow Geese. Other notable sightings have included the first Eastern Ontario Garganey Duck, a rare Eurasian Widgeon, Bald Eagles, Fox Sparrows, Sandhill Cranes and Rusty Blackbirds.
If you are interested in attending this event, please meet trip organizer, Christian Renault, at the Pembroke Marina at the mouth of the Muskrat River. Participants will be encouraged to car pool before heading off to various stops in the trip. It is recommended that you bring rubber or waterproof boots as there are spots where you may encounter mud or cow pies. Spotting scopes are useful and binoculars are essential. For more information, please feel free to contact Rob Cunningham at 613-732-8402.
Elsewhere on the local scene, the spring migration is beginning to rev up with the arrival of many more Canada Geese, Hooded Mergansers, Mallards, Red-winged Blackbirds and American Robins. New arrivals include Merlin, Red-tailed Hawks, Black Ducks, Common Grackles, Turkey Vultures and Sandhill Cranes.
Barring any major snow storm, the spring migration will continue to progress with the arrival of Killdeer, Great Blue Herons, Song Sparrows, American Woodcock, more Waterfowl, Brown-headed Cowbirds, and many other bird species. For the birds, spring has arrived!
On March 28, Martha Heideman of Witt Road was pleased to spot a couple of American Robins in her yard. On this same date, Ina Bromley of Cobden reported the area’s first spring sighting of Turkey Vultures in her area.
Two days later on March 30, Janice Yaraskovitch was fortunate to spot and photograph a Merlin sitting in a tree near her home.
On April 2, John Meadows of Westmeath area photographed a Turkey Vulture in his area, confirming their spring return to our area. As well on this date, Rob Cunningham and I located a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Westmeath area.
Please call me with your bird sightings at 613-735-4430 or email me at hooles@bell.net .For more information on upcoming nature events or links to other nature sites, just Google the Pembroke Area Field Naturalists or like us on Facebook.

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