My faithful friends and followers will recall, annually, I torture myself by going out for 24 consecutive hours to search for birds. This is not so much to see them, although I do love watching them, but more to help them! I have written many times about the perils wild things, across the planet, face: fire, flood, hunting, pesticides, unfriendly agricultural and development policies, hunting, cats, and of course, the challenges of climate change. I won't go into this more right now because I'd like to think we can still individually make a difference.
New policies on plastics reduction, green energy development and a growing conscience by developers and politicians can make a difference. But it takes a long time from the inkling of an idea to move the concept to the implementation stage. Do we have time to wait? For many animals, it is already too late. We lament the passing of the Dodo and the Passenger Pigeon, but they pale in comparison to the tens of thousands of animals and plants which may very well go extinct in our lifetime.
And so I torture myself because my small effort can help make a difference. The monies raised are, funnelled through Birds Canada and North Durham Nature, to help our birds directly and indirectly help other animals.
We are all aware of the plight of Endangered Species, such as the Piping Plover, but it is one species which has found a champion in the public eye. Multiple projects aim to help it, but what of the other less "flashy" species? Well, Birds Canada assesses every proposal, for any species which comes to them, and determines the benefit and feasibility of the project's success. If deemed to have merit, it may be partially funded by the birdathon monies.
Oh yeah, are you wondering how I did? Short answer; I saw 167 species this year, one of my highest totals ever. The conditions were excellent to help in my success. Fine weather, involving a receding warm spell followed by a cold front. Migrants love these conditions. While many of the migrants had passed, hundreds of shorebirds showed up right on time and treated those out and about near Lake Ontario to a spectacular event. Few lingering ducks along the lakeshore and at Nonquon sewage lagoons thwarted some of our efforts, but these were offset by some nice birds, such as Cerulean and Connecticut Warblers.
Carden Alvar, near Kirkfield, failed to provide the reliable (endangered) Loggerhead Shrike and Sedge Wren but gave up most of its other specialties. At one point, while looking for the shrike, three Black Bears appeared across a field from us and foraged for over 20 minutes, to our delight.
The night birds were also disappointing, as some "guaranteed" species did not show. So even though we did well this year, I think I could have broken my all-time high record of 180 species, if we had seen all the things we knew were here or had literally showed up the day after we did our birdathon – sigh!
Across Canada, hundreds of birders like me, find sponsors who are willing to share a few dollars to help our wild birds. In my case, some of you are first-time donors to my campaign, while others have been sponsoring me for years. Each year, I have been volunteering to raise funds for bird research and education through Birds Canada, for over three decades, with part of the proceeds going to North Durham Nature. Last year, I raised almost $3400 – my most ever – you guys rock! This year, I'm already over $3100 in donations; so thank you, to all of you who have given already.
It's not too late. If you think you'd like to donate to my bird-a-thon but are not sure, please email me, at Geoff.firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will help you decide. If you're ready to donate now, here's the direct link to my fundraiser,
https://www.canadahelps.org/me/6MuMgK7. Thank you, to all of you who care for our avian friends.
Geoff Carpentier is a published author, expedition guide and environmental consultant. Visit Geoff online, on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.