June 25th – Another Walk In the Woods

For over 25 years I have been contributing to the Forest Bird Monitoring Program (FBMP). Each year, in your chosen forest, you walk to a variety of pre-set points (usually 3 – 5), each placed 200-250 m apart. At each point you keep tally of all the birds you see or (more likely) hear for 10 minutes before moving on to the next one. You make one count in early June and another toward the end of June. The totals are tabulated and sent to the organizers for statistical scrutiny (and so they can assess whether particular forest species are declining or doing OK).

I conduct my counts in the Haldimand Slough Forest, the large forest tract that runs from the outskirts of York all the way to Town Line broken only by Indiana Road.

If you’re a member of Ruthven/Lower Grand River Land Trust (and I would highly recommend that you join if you’re not – see www.ruthvenpark.ca for details) then you will shortly see my write-up about the June 7th outing in The Riversong, the newletter. This Pulitzer prize-winning prose described an idyllic dawdle in the slough forest surrounded by 23 species of birds and the enjoyment of a complete absence of mosquitoes due to the cold snap the night before.

Today’s jaunt wasn’t quite so idyllic but wonderful all the same. Mosquitoes on these counts will be the difference between a heavenly and a hellacious experience. There have been years when all I could do was revel in the fact that I was inside the bug jacket and the voracious swarms were out there. But this year has been great. There were a few around today but not enough to make a difference and I was able to take my time and saunter along the trail, counting and taking it all in. I encountered a total of 85 birds of 22 species (an average of 17 per point).

Species encountered:
Downy Woodpecker
Eastern Wood Pewee
Great Crested Flycatcher
Blue Jay
Black-capped Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatch
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing
Red-eyed Vireo
Yellow Warbler
Northern Waterthrush
Common Yellowthroat
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Scarlet Tanager
Song Sparrow
Common Grackle


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