Huron Fringe Birding Festival
The Huron Fringe Birding Festival is hosted by the Friends of MacGregor Point Park and is held each year on the first two weekends after the long weekend in May. We arrived on the Thursday before the festival to get settled in as we were camping in the park until Monday. It was a full five days of photography, hiking and pure nature appreciation in a wonderful setting.
Travelling to the Huron shores, we watched the temperatures drop from 18C at 8am in the morning to a cool 7C by the time we reached McGregor Point. Fortunately, the weather turned warm and sunny the next day and stayed that way for the rest of our visit.
MacGregor Point Provincial Park is one of our favourite parks for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, it is a wildly natural park with little human interference. Because of all the shoreline development, farming and residential land covering most of the area, this natural forest and shoreline seems to attract a vast variety of wildlife and is home to some unique and rare flora.
It was our second time participating in the Huron Fringe Birding Festival (HFBF). It’s a fantastic experience for birders and all types of nature lovers. They have a vast range of events with passionate and knowledgeable leaders. It was a great learning experience, plus a chance to meet other people who share the passion for nature appreciation, protection and enjoyment.
Our package from the HFBF included a checklist of birds and wildflowers in the park. We counted 56 different bird sightings during the weekend, including a few “lifers”. On one of our guided walks, we found 4 different snake species: Common Garters, Ribbon Snakes, Northern Watersnakes and a Smooth Green Snake. The Smooth Green Snake was very exciting for us as it was our first time seeing one and I have been searching for them for many decades. On another guided event, we were treated with another great find, an adult Eastern Newt. Although I have seen a few Newts in their terrestrial eft form, this was the first time for the aquatic adult.
Each morning we were greeted with an ensemble of singing birds all competing for the leading role. We could hear them from our tent starting before the sunrise. In the evening, many birds continued singing, and at night we enjoyed the antics of a pair of American Woodcocks as they were very active and vocal, calling and occasionally circling above our campsite. They looked so amazing with their silhouettes against the indigo blue evening sky. It was an unforgettable experience.
Another memorable moment occurred while photographing the sunset on Sunday evening. Every night at 9:10pm, the coyotes would start to howl. On this evening we were on the shoreline when they started and it sounded like it came from directly behind us, just past the treeline. We really felt honoured to experience such a close encounter as that pack went crazy with the adults howling and the pups all yelping.
The park is a Mecca for birders. Our campground had Nashville, Chestnut-sided and Yellow warblers, Ovenbirds, Veery’s, Red-eyed Vireos, Redstarts, Great Crested Flycatchers, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Grey-blue Gnatcatcher, a variety of woodpeckers and many other of our more common yet much appreciated birds. On our hikes, outings and guided events we seen many other species such as the Blackburnian and Black & White Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, Sora, Green Heron, American Bittern, Great Egret, Pied-billed Grebe, Turkey Vultures, Hummingbirds, just to name a few. The park has a good population of White-tailed Deer and we also sighted Porcupines, Beaver and Snowshoe Hares.
The festival and weekend was such an amazing time. We highly recommend the Huron Fringe Birding Festival as an enjoyable and affordable event of educational and social adventure. We will, without a doubt, be going back again and again.
The 2015 festival promises to be another great 10 days of festival fun and Activities. In fact, many of the events appear to be filling up fast.
Click this link to visit their page HFBF