As I’m sitting here writing this, I’m listening to peals thunder overhead and the smack of large rain drops as they pelt the roof. I like thunderstorms generally but this one is bringing a big smile. Yesterday the 6-acre field adjacent to the banding area at the Hurkmans’ Farm was planted with native prairie grasses as part of an effort to rehabilitate both the field and the area around it. When we made the move to the Farm we talked about this possibility with owners Bill and Elaine Hurkmans and…they jumped on it! Elaine made a great move by inviting Cathy Blott, who is with the Haldimand Stewardship Council, to join in. Cathy, right from the start, looked into how we could make this happen…and it is happening. This rain couldn’t have come at a better time.
But this is just part of the project. The areas bordering the field had been taken over by Black Walnuts and, insidiously, buckthorn. Between their “poisoning” the soil around them, making it difficult for other trees and shrubs to grow and an excessive deer population that has further wiped out any understory, the habitat was a poor one for birds and other wildlife. Hopefully this is about to change!
During the Winter we worked fairly hard cutting down buckthorn. We made good inroads but still have a long way to go – but this rehabilitation will be a long-term project. As we continue to eradicate buckthorn we need to be planting the edges with a variety of native trees and shrubs. This got started in the Spring. But again….it’s a long-term project. If you want to help, you’re more than welcome to pitch in. Cathy has plans to obtain some trees and shrubs for the edges and I am on the lookout as well – along the sides of some old dirt roads in the area I’ve found a variety of young oaks and maples that I have started to replant. You could do the same. Cathy is also hoping to get funding to buy native perennial flower plugs to diversify the plants in the meadow: bergamot, coneflowers, etc. I’m looking forward to seeing this field and its surroundings in a couple of years’ time.
It will be interesting to see and document the impact of these measures on the birdlife associated with it. We’re in a great position to do so, banding right on the edge of the field. Improving the edge habitat will pay great dividends, especially if we can increase the amount of dogwood on the site. Our most productive net sits next to a dogwood thicket. I can see where that thicket had been much more extensive but has been greatly restricted by buckthorn.
We now have 2 Spring and 1 Fall Season’s worth of data to use as a baseline. Let’s see what happens.