May 10th – Two Exemplary People

Elaine Serena: doctor, baker, founder of the Larks. Releasing our first Indigo Bunting of the year. -DOL

Visionary…and founder of Fern Hill Schools. -RG-O

I cringe every time I hear of a culture that enacts laws to severely curtail the human rights of its women. (And sadly, it’s always men that are driving it.) How can a culture grow and thrive when it negates half of its brain power!? I just don’t get it. I consider myself very fortunate to have grown up in a country where equality between the sexes has become the norm. I realize it’s been a long uphill struggle but we’re nearly there. And it’s been my great pleasure to have met and benefited from the wisdom of so many fine women. But…at the moment, two stand out:
I first met Elaine Serena over 25 years ago when she came out to my banding program. We hit if off right away – she appreciated my humour and I her orange muffins…and witty repartee….and her positive supportive way she dealt with people. She had been a long-practicing doctor in Burlington and, when retirement loomed, she formed a group of university-educated women, the Larks, to further their interest in the natural world. They would regularly come out to the banding station and it was great fun. But it was very clear that it was Elaine that made it happen…in her very quiet and positive way. [And I am proud to say that, when I pointed out to the group that its membership criteria was blatantly sexist, they voted me IN to become the only male Lark…and thus stave off the nagging criticism that I would have continued to level at them. Very prudent.]

Orange muffins…part of the allure. -DOL

Wendy was an educator and through her years of study and first-hand experience worked out the magic formula of what children’s education should consist of. I have spent many days at both the Burlington and Oakville campuses and have always come away with the thought: this is the way children should be taught. Innovative programs, highly trained teachers in their areas of expertise, a positive attitude toward and engagement of students and parents – and each other. When Joanne Fleet approached Wendy with her ideas about outdoor education, she recognized right away the merit of it….and “field studies”, which involve the hands-on study of birds as well, was born.

Although time and the vicissitudes of age are now taking their toll, the contributions of these two women have been enormous. They have touched thousands of lives and made the world a better place to be. Think of how many other women there are in this world that could do likewise if given support and encouragement…and education and opportunity.

Anyway….I spent yesterday banding at the Oakville campus of Fern Hill and got to help Wendy release a Blue Jay. And I spent today at the Farm where I got to eat orange muffins and help Elaine release the first Indigo Bunting of the year – a striking ASY male.

Both Fern Hill campuses consist of small slivers of good habitat sandwiched between quickly-growing patches of urban sprawl. They provide food and shelter for year-round residential birds and migrants that breed locally. As well, long-distance migrants on their way further north can find sustenance and safety to aid their journey. In sampling these birds we’ve come to recognize just how important these little protected areas are for them (as well as plants and pollinators). Interestingly, we observed a large diurnal (daytime) migration of over 250 Blue Jays. They were headed ENE – right toward the skyline of Mississauga!?
May 9th; Fern Hill Oakville; Banded 38:
1 Mourning Dove
8 Blue Jays
2 Red-breasted Nuthatches
1 American Goldfinch
2 Chipping Sparrows
1 White-throated Sparrow
9 Eastern White-crowned Sparrows
1 Savannah Sparrow
5 Red-winged Blackbirds
2 Brown-headed Cowbirds
3 Common Grackles
1 Western Palm Warbler
2 Northern Cardinals
Species Encountered: 27 spp.

May 10th; Hurkmans Farm; Banded 16:
2 Tree Swallows
1 Eastern Bluebird
2 Eastern White-crowned Sparrows
1 Song Sparrow
1 Lincoln’s Sparrow
1 Swamp Sparrow
1 Baltimore Oriole
1 Brown-headed Cowbird

Northern Waterthrush. -DOL

1 Northern Waterthrush
2 Common Yellowthroats
1 Yellow Warbler

Stunning ASY male Indigo Bunting. -DOL

1 Indigo Bunting

Species Encountered: 45 spp.

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