ERCA

Bird watchers, curious nature lovers converge at Festival of Hawks

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The first weekend of the 2018 Festival of Hawks is in the books and it brought bird watchers and nature lovers from around the area and some from the United States.

Presented last Saturday and Sunday at Holiday Beach Conservation Area, the hawk tower and the area that surrounds it was busy with bird watchers looking out for the various hawks and other birds that flew overhead with hummingbird banding, owl holding, photography lessons, seminars and other nature-themed activities keeping people busy also.

The Festival of Hawks is a co-production of the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) and the Holiday Beach Migration Observatory (HBMO).

Rachel D’Eon and Melissa
Debevc came in from Chatham do do some bird watching at last weekend’s Festival of Hawks. The event continues this weekend.

Nate Soucie with Kingsport Environmental Falconry said response was “fantastic.” He noted Saturday morning was a bit slower due to fog that was in the area but things picked up once that cleared.

“It’s been a good turnout,” said Soucie last Saturday afternoon. “Now that the sun’s out, more and more people are coming out.”

Ericka Greenham brought her young son Grady on the hawk tower with Ericka noting the event was recommended to the family by her husband’s former grad student that now works for ERCA.

“This is our first time,” she said. “It’s great. We are really enjoying it.”

Rachel D’Eon and Melissa Debevc from Chatham came down to the event, noting they don’t come to the Festival of Hawks every year. They noted they often bird watch at the Pinery or Rondeau Provincial Park but enjoy the Festival of Hawks when they do come.

Bob Hall-Brooks shows a magnolia warbler during one of his talks last Saturday at the Festival of Hawks.

“It’s the only place where you can see a lot of raptors congregate at the same time,” said Debevc. “The bonus about here is not just the hawks but everything else too.”

D’Eon added that Holiday Beach is “a well-rounded place to bird.”

Bob Hall-Brooks, a hummingbird bander with HBMO, also said early Saturday fog impacted the event but that things got better when the sun came out. He indicated a number of hawks went over, adding that when he was at Holiday Beach Friday there were monarch butterflies and broad winged hawks that joined the sharp shinned and red-tailed hawks.

Hall-Brooks said the Festival of Hawks is a great opportunity to share their passion with other birders and the general public and show people birds they would normally not get to see.

“People seem to be interested. That’s always exciting,” said Hall-Brooks. “It’s so nice to place a bird in a kid’s hand. It’s nice to show them birds they wouldn’t otherwise see.”

Ericka Greenham and her son Grady take a look off of the hawk tower at Holiday Beach Conservation Area during the Festival of Hawks Sept. 15.

The Festival of Hawks continues this Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visitors can also enjoy lunch provided by the Essex County Field Naturalists’ Blue Kestrel Café or HBMO’s BBQ Booth.

All programs are free with the festival admission fee of $15 per vehicle. The final list of programs is available at https://essexregionconservation.ca/education-and-events/festival-of-hawks/.

The best raptor viewing time is from 9 a.m. until 12 noon when the hawks fly low. The Holiday Beach Conservation Area is located on County Road 50, on Lake Erie near Malden Centre.

 

 

Festival of Hawks returns to Holiday Beach Conservation Area

 

 

Special to the RTT

 

All eyes will be on the skies this September as local birders and nature lovers take in one of North America’s greatest migrations.

These watchers will call the Holiday Beach Conservation Area home as they take in a grand spectacle: tens of thousands of hawks and raptors flying overhead on their annual journey to nesting grounds in the south.

In recognition of the amazing sight, Essex Region Conservation, in partnership with the Holiday Beach Migration Observatory (HBMO), will host the 2018 Festival of Hawks. The festival, which takes place over the weekends of September 15-16 and 22-23, features a range of free educational activities and nature-themed programming.

HBMO experts will be on-site conducting hawk banding and adoptions. Event goers will get up close and personal to a variety of raptors as experts measure, tag, and then release these birds back into the wild. Visitors will also be in awe at the live raptor display of Kingsport Environmental, a local organization that rescues and rehabilitates raptors and promotes falconry through education programs.

The Festival of Hawks returns to Holiday Beach Conservation Area Sept. 15-16 and 22-23.

Free educational programs will complement the ongoing banding and live hawk display throughout both weekends. Local experts will be on-site to teach on a wide range of birding and nature-related topics. These programs include:

  • HBMO’s Bob Pettit will be on hand to provide expertise on identifying hawks in flight.
  • Ted Kloske, of Henry’s Windsor and Maple Grove Studios, and Glenn Gervais, of Southshore Outdoor Photography, will help budding photographers get their best nature shot.
  • Jeremy Bensette will share stories of his travels across Ontario in 2017 while breaking the current ‘Ontario Big Year’ record, locating and documenting 346 bird species.
  • HBMO’s Jeremy Hatt will share his tips and tricks on using mobile applications like iNaturalist
  • ERCA’s Gina Pannunzio will host an interactive workshop focusing on the mystery of one of our local iconic species, the Monarch Butterfly.

“Holiday Beach Conservation Area has been identified as one of the 10 best sites in all of North America to experience the raptor migration,” notes Danielle Breault Stuebing, ERCA’s director of communications and outreach.  “Whether an expert birder or nature-loving family, there’s something for everyone at the annual Festival of Hawks.”

The Festival runs from 9am to 3pm on September 15-16 and 22-23. Visitors can also enjoy lunch provided by the Essex County Field Naturalists’ Blue Kestrel Café or HBMO’s BBQ Booth.

All programs are free with the festival admission fee of $15 per vehicle. The final list of programs is available at https://essexregionconservation.ca/education-and-events/festival-of-hawks/.

The best raptor viewing time is from 9 a.m. until 12 noon when the hawks fly low. The Holiday Beach Conservation Area is located on County Road 50, on Lake Erie near Malden Centre approximately 15km southeast of historic Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada, a half hour drive from Highway 401 and only 40 minutes from the Ambassador Bridge for those coming from Detroit.

ERCA seeking feedback on horseback riding on local trails

 

 

Special to the RTT

 

The Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) is hoping to hear from a variety of greenway user groups on the matter of expanding horseback riding on the greenway trail system.

“Some equestrians have approached ERCA about expanding the sections of trail upon which horses are permitted,” explains Kevin Money, ERCA’s Director of Conservation Services. “We want to hear from all user groups in order to ensure we are making a balanced decision.”

Presently, horses are permitted on rural sections of the Chrysler Canada Greenway. The rules for horseback use are that riders of horses must use the grassed area to the side of the trail and clean up their horse droppings.

ERCA is seeking input on whether users of local trails would like to see them available for horseback riding. The entrance to the Cypher Systems Greenway, looking east from Thomas Road, is photographed.

The new Cypher Systems Group Greenway, which stretches 26 kilometres from Essex to Amherstburg, does not currently permit horse use.

“The Cypher Systems Group Greenway was just opened last year, and the trail needed an opportunity to settle prior to considering horse use. Currently, we are researching rules, design and maintenance standards of other trail owners such as municipalities and Conservation Authorities to help with the decision making process,” said Money.

The survey is available online at www.essexregionconservation.ca.

For more than four decades, Essex Region Conservation has been sustaining and enriching the environment of the Windsor-Essex-Pelee Island region to ensure it is the Place for Life.

 

 

Essex Region Conservation Authority confirms 2018 priorities

 

 

The Essex Region Conservation Authority confirmed its priority projects and programs to create a healthier and more sustainable environment for 2018 as it unanimously passed its annual budget Feb. 15.

Initiating a regional Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, improving floodline mapping in response to a changing climate, creating over 100 acres of new habitat including an innovative wetland project and continuing to tackle phosphorus loadings in Lake Erie are just a few of the projects it has planned for the coming year.

“A robust suite of high priority projects and programs to protect and restore the natural environment of the region will be undertaken,” said Richard Wyma, ERCA’s general manager. “These include programs to increase habitat and forest cover, maintain and expand conservation areas and trails, aid our member municipalities in protecting people and infrastructure from the dangers of flooding and erosion particularly in the era of a changing climate, and to provide meaningful education and engagement opportunities for our residents.”

The 2018 budget totals $9,271,600, which includes a proposed levy contribution of $3,148,752. This represents an increase of $101,019, or $0.09 per household.

Of that, $51,000 is allocated for operations, and $50,000 for future asset replacement. ERCA states that this levy funds less than 30 per cent of its operations, placing ERCA in the bottom five of all conservation authorities, and well below the provincial average of approximately 45 per cent.

“ERCA is unlike any other agency, board or commission in that it generates tremendous revenue for the region,” Wyma adds. “Between 2007 and 2017, ERCA received $26.5 million in total levy contributions, and generated $35 million in new outside funding to the region in support of regional environmental programs and projects. This is in addition to the significant value of ERCA’s programs and services it provides to municipalities.”

“The knowledge and skills that ERCA provides is a cost effective way to manage regional environmental priorities,” added ERCA board chair and Amherstburg Councillor Rick Fryer. “Without the technical expertise that ERCA is able to offer from a regional perspective, each municipality would have to fund this expertise on its own. This relatively small contribution is an excellent investment in ensuring that our region is the Place for Life.”

ERCA holds AGM, honors Conservation Award winners

 

 

The Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) held its annual general meeting (AGM) last Thursday night with a number of people from the region honoured during the evening as well.

Eight organizations and individuals were honoured with Essex Region Conservation Awards for their efforts in making the Windsor/Essex/Pelee Island region the “Place for Life.”

The Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) honoured its Conservation Award winners Jan. 18 in Essex. (Special to the RTT)

“It’s always inspiring to learn more about those who have made tangible contributions to our regional environment,” said ERCA chair Rick Fryer, who is also an Amherstburg town councillor.  “There are so many actions being taken to sustain our region as the Place for Life, and it is a privilege to celebrate them.”

Among the winners were Jerome Deslippe, who posthumously received the Conservation Farm Award for the use of conservation farming practices and a lifetime of dedication to agriculture in the community.

“He was very passionate about being a steward of the land,” said daughter Rochelle, who accepted the award on her father’s behalf.

Rochelle said her father was “very, very active in the community” with his biography indicating that he was past president of the Essex Soil & Crop Improvement Association and was also a director with that organization for over 30 years. He was described as “a proud supporter of his community” through many agricultural projects such as the Essex County Plowing Match, the Essex County Steam and Gas Engine Museum and the Ontario Plowman’s Association.

Jerome was also described as being “instrumental” in the establishment of the Essex County Demonstration Farm at Holiday Beach in 1996 and was an early adopter of conservation tillage practices on his own farm and member of the Essex Conservation Club.

Jerome Deslippe was inducted into the Essex County Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1997.

Rochelle Deslippe (centre) accepts the Conservation Farm Award on behalf of her late father Jerome. Making the presentation were ERCA chair Rick Fryer (left) and vice chair Irek Kusmierczyk. (Special to the RTT)

Other winners included:

  • the Iler Family – John R. Park Homestead Award for her preservation of local agricultural history in our community.
  • Peter Berry – Education Award for educating and engaging the community to improve the health of the Detroit River and the lands that surround it.
  • Darlene Burgess – Volunteer Award for protecting, raising and releasing Monarch butterflies.  As a volunteer citizen scientist, she tracks and reports on the monarch migration.
  • Dr. Doug Haffner – Environmental Achievement Award for decades of mentoring students, teaching the next generation of scientists, and conducting significant research which continues to support the management of Canada’s Great Lakes.
  • Rotary Club of Windsor (1918) – Volunteer Organization Award to celebrate a century of service, including tree plantings, stream cleanups, global sanitation and water initiatives, support of ERCA’s outreach program and creating the Rotary (1918) Centennial Hub.
  • Town of Tecumseh – Robert Pulleyblank Award for Municipal Environmental Achievement recognizes the Town’s leadership in protecting Fairplay Woods, tree planting efforts, creating Lakewood Park, innovative solar use and leadership in trail development.
  • Vivian Kennedy – Dennis Chase Staff Award for two decades of dedication, conscientiousness, kindness and compassion to colleagues, customers and partners.

ERCA also reviewed the accomplishments of the past year, including the creation of the Place for Life policies, opening the Cypher Systems Group Greenway and the Rotary (1918) Centennial Hub, restoring over 92 acres of habitat and engaging over 12,000 students in outdoor education, and strengthening organizational resilience.

Fryer also highlighted the planting of “many trees” this year, with the annual report showing that number to be 92,500 trees.

“I continue to say that this is the ‘Place for Life’,” Fryer stated.

Among the other 2017 accomplishments that ERCA touted were aiding municipalities in responding to the significant rainfall event that occurred in late August, initiating steps to develop a regional climate change strategy, the opening of the new cottage at Holiday Beach, initiating a feasibility study with Ducks Unlimited to design and operate a new 70-acre controlled wetland adjacent to the Canard River and assisting five member municipalities with their Official Plan updates.