For me, the 2012 field season has kicked off to a promising start: I saw a shrike on my first day of solo surveys! This was followed by a report of a shrike sighting from a local birder, several days of sunny weather, and great interactions with a number of local landowners and interested members of the public.
As a relative foreigner to this area, I have been consistently wowed by the beautiful geography and diverse wildlife. The big sky and lakes hidden around every corner have made a strong impression on me – this foggy morning at Crane Lake is just one of many gorgeous landscapes I’ve seen.
In the course of my early-morning quests for shrikes, I’ve also gotten my first look at several species of birds – Sandhill cranes and Eastern meadowlarks are the most visible (and audible). And the birds seem to be everywhere – golf courses, roadsides, even the airport!
Above: Sandhill cranes in a field near Tara, ON
Below: Killdeer at the Manitoulin Airport
Another thing that’s been great has been the unfailingly helpful people I’ve encountered on my rounds. As I remarked to a local, you can’t leave your car on the road for longer than 45 minutes without someone stopping by to ask if everything’s ok. You don’t see that kind of chronic helpfulness very often.
Since my car has BC license plates, it seems like a lot of conversations start out with a question about why I’m here, and end up with me handing over fact sheets, newsletters, and business cards – at the oil change place, the Owen Sound Y, and the parking lot at the Gore Bay Marina, to name but a few. Everyone I meet has a friend or family member who’s a birder or who owns land here – and I think getting the word out about eastern loggerhead shrike on the Bruce Peninsula and Manitoulin will be key to success this season. Even if it means I’m handing out shrike information in every parking lot from Chatsworth to Little Current. Keep your eyes peeled!