March 22nd – Ramping Up

I saw the first Tree Swallows of the year today as they sallied after (likely) midges. -RC

All in all it’s been kind of a miserable Winter: not much snow and no prolonged cold spells – the kind of conditions that sort of define us as Canadians. And, of course, with those conditions there wasn’t much opportunity to ski and there were very few Snow Buntings to band – the two things that make Winter fun…right?

But it’s Spring now! And every day brings signs that warm weather and migrating birds are on the way, to say nothing of the early migrants that are already here and passing through. While working at the Hurkmans Farm today a flock of Tundra Swans flew over; there’s been lots of these but they never fail to amaze as they power themselves through the Great Lakes on to the Northwest Territories. But I had a couple of “new” birds today: a couple of Tree Swallows, probably chasing midges that the 10-degree temperatures were bringing out, and a solitary Eastern Meadowlark that called a couple of times and then flew right overhead. These sort of things get the blood flowing.

Elizabeth and Bill Hurkmans were hard at work piling slash into piles for later chipping. -DOL

But there’s a lot of work to do at the Farm as our long term project is to enhance the spot as a good place for migrants to be. We’ve been working hard at clearing out the buckthorn that has greatly diminished the plant mix along the edges. Once this is done, we’ll plant a mix of native trees and shrubs – especially dogwoods which we’ve found to be the favourite of migrants: a source of insects and shelter from avian predators in the Spring and a source of lipid-rich fruit in the Fall, so necessary for long-distance flights.

Cathy Blott is a lumberjack…and she’s ok! -DOL

I’m not expecting that this project will be done quickly; it’s a “work in progress”. But we’re making headway and in a couple of years….

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