Hawk Festival

“Festival of Hawks” returns to Holiday Beach this weekend

 

 

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 2017 Festival of Hawks. The festival, which runs the second and third weekends of September, 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.

Free educational programs will compliment 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.

A staff member and Titan the Harris Hawk from Kingsport Environmental engage with festival-goers in 2016. The 2017 edition of the Festival of Hawks runs at Holiday Beach Conservation Area Sept. 9-10 and Sept. 16-17.

These programs include:

  • HBMO’s Bob Pettit will share his years of experience on identifying hawks in flights.
  • 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.
  • Bird Studies Canada’s own Amanda Bichel will be on-site to discuss the significance of Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas across Ontario
  • HBMO’s Jeremy Hatt will share his tips and tricks on using mobile applications like iNaturalist

“There’s something for everyone at the Festival of Hawks. The programs are designed to be accessible to everyone, from amateur to expert naturalists,” explained ERCA’s Director of Community Outreach Services, Danielle Stuebing. “It’s also a great event for families, as we also host an educational Hawk Fest Scavenger Hunt and offer free face painting for kids.”

The Festival of Hawks runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 9-10 and 16-17. 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 www.erca.org/birding

The best raptor viewing time is from 9 a.m. until noon when the hawks fly low. The Holiday Beach Conservation Area is located on County Road 50, on Lake Erie near Malden Centre approximately 15 km 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.

Hawk Festival coming to Holiday Beach the next two weekends

Participants can adopt banded hawks and release them back into the wild at Hawk Fest 2015.

Participants can adopt banded hawks and release them back into the wild at Hawk Fest 2015.

Special to the RTT

 

It’s not every day you get to experience one of nature’s great migrations, let alone one that happens in your own backyard.

Ranking in the top three hawk watching spots in North America, the Holiday Beach Conservation Area’s unique geography and location makes for a grand spectacle every year as tens of thousands of birds of prey make their annual journey to nesting grounds in the south.

In recognition of their arduous journey, the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA), in partnership with the Holiday Beach Migration Observatory (HBMO), will celebrate with Hawk Festival 2015. The festival, which runs over the second and third weekends of September, brings together bird and other wildlife experts to share their expertise with budding naturalists, seasoned pros, and members of the general public.

“The Hawk Festival really has something for everybody, as we strive to make it appealing to everyone from experienced birders to people who just want to get outside and learn something new,” explained ERCA’s director of community outreach services Danielle Stuebing. “Regardless of your level of knowledge, the migration of thousands of raptors is a spectacle not to be missed.”

One of the most unique elements of the Hawk Fest is the ongoing banding and research conducted by the HBMO, which allowed Holiday Beach to become designated as an Important Bird Area of global significance.  Whether you are an expert or novice birder, the opportunity to see these magnificent raptors weighed, measured, and banded, and then released back into the wild, is a spectacular moment that visitors will remember for years to come.

“We also look forward to welcoming our neighbours from across the border, who can enjoy the favourable exchange rate while taking in the fantastic migration,” Stuebing said, adding many Americans already cross the border to enjoy the festival.

The Hawk Festival, which runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 12-13 and 19-20, offers ongoing programming and a number of educational “walks & talks”.  Full day offerings include: HBMO experts identifying hawks from the Hawk Tower, bird banding and adoptions, live hawk displays care of Kingsport Environmental and Wild Ontario, and a bird-centred smart phone scavenger hunt.

The educational programs are wide ranging. HBMO President Bob Pettit will give an introduction to identifying hawk species, a must for new birders. Jerry Jourdan, of the Erie Shores Birding Association, will demonstrate “digiscoping,” a low-cost solution to photographing distant species. Kory Renaud, of HBMO, will demonstrate the “next generation” of birding with an introduction to new technology and the e-Bird system. Those with an eye for photography can take in talks from professional photographers Glenn Gervais, of Southshore Outdoor Photography, and Ted Kloske, of Henry’s Canada.

All programs are free with the festival admission fee of $15 per vehicle. For a full list of programs and walks & talks, visit www.erca.org/birding.

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

Since 1973, the Essex Region Conservation Authority has served as a community-based organization dedicated to protecting, restoring and managing the natural resources of the Essex Region.