Huron Fringe Birding Festival
After having such a great experience doing a single weekend of the Huron Fringe Birding Festival in 2013 and 2014, we decided to participate in the whole festival. That would mean spending 11 wonderful days in the amazing MacGregor Point Provincial Park.
If you read any of our previous reports in regards to MacGregor Point, then you are well aware of how fond we are of this magnificent place. The park is a natural oasis, a little protected wilderness among the towns, farmlands, cottages and public beaches that fill up the Grey Bruce landscape. The Park’s seven kilometre shoreline is rugged and relatively untouched. Because of the location and its natural attraction, many birds pass through the park during spring migration. Wildflowers grow in the forest and along the shores including some beautiful and rare species.
We enjoyed a variety of weather on the Huron shores where we had to scrap the frost from our car windows (with a credit card) one morning to a balmy 30C degrees a few days later. On one night, the winds were so ferocious, that we hardly got a wink of sleep. The joys of tent camping.
It was our third time participating Huron Fringe Birding Festival (HFBF). This year the festival ran from May 22 to 31, with a huge selection of day and evening events with a wide variety of nature and art subjects. Picking events was difficult as there were so many that we wanted to take part in.
Our events included two birding excursions: one with Mike Burrell and the other with Justin Peters. These guys know their birds and guided us on fantastic walks pointing out a variety of birds by sight and sound. On the walks we sighted a Canada Warbler, Black Throated Green Warblers, Golden-winged Warblers, Black & White Warblers, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Northern Parula, Indigo Buntings and more.
We enjoyed an event on Botany of the Fringe and identified a nice selection of wildflowers and ferns. The Yellow Lady's Slippers were in full bloom as well was the cute little Dwarf Lake Iris.
Since we were camping in the park, we took advantage of the evening programs and learned about tricks for identifying waterfowl, amazing facts about bird migration and a great show on birds and other flora and fauna of the Hudson Bay Lowlands.
Trees have never been one of our strong subject, so we actually entered two events about trees and shrubs. One event was Tree identification using leaves and needles and the second was Beyond ID of Trees and Scrubs. We found these events so interesting that we immediately ordered the highly recommended book: Trees in Canada by John Laird Farrar. Our event leaders were very knowledgeable and passionate about trees and they really sparked our interest making us hungry for more.
We also went on a Dragonfly & Damselfly hunt as this is one of our favourite insect groups. We had a great time netting and identifying a wide range of species.
There were two days open during the week without festival events. It was a great opportunity to explore the surrounding area as well as doing some biking on the trails within the park. We spent one day doing a self-guided tour of the waterfalls near Owen Sound and another day going up to Tobermory and the Bruce Peninsula National Park.
As in other visits to MacGregor Point, we heard the Coyotes and a Whip-Poor-Will on many evenings. But our favourite evening visitor was the American Woodcock who entertained us each evening with his loud beeps, fluttering flights and crazy courtship displays. Each morning the forest around our campsite was alive with a chorus of birds singing their favourite songs.
All in all, it was a great time. We got to see old friends from the prior years, made some new friends and met lots of great people. The birding was outstanding. Last year we sighted 56 species of birds. This year we smashed that record by seeing and identifying 80 different bird species in and around the park and identified a few more of them by sound only.