Holiday Beach Conservation Area

Hawks soar over Holiday Beach during annual ERCA festival

 

By Adam D’Andrea

 

Birders from all across Essex County made their way to the Holiday Beach Conservation Area last weekend, even as the threat of rain and gloomy weather lingered in the forecast.

The Essex Region Conservation Authority held the first weekend of their annual Festival of Hawks Sept. 10-11. The event coincides with the yearly mass migration of hawks and raptors throughout Ontario.

A pair of owls entertains crowds during the Festival of Hawks at Holiday Beach Conservation Area on Sept. 10. Photo by: Adam D’Andrea

A pair of owls entertains crowds during the Festival of Hawks at Holiday Beach Conservation Area on Sept. 10. Photo by Adam D’Andrea

“Naturally we have raptors and hawks that are coming from the north and going to their winter homes in the south,” said ERCA events planner Alex Denonville. “So they’re coming through Southwestern Ontario and geographically this is the perfect place for them to go before they cross over the lakes.”

The weekend featured a display of live owls and raptors courtesy of Kingsport Environmental, free workshops hosted by local bird experts, local artist Robert Bishop whose work focuses on birds and natural landscapes and bird banding and adoptions by the Holiday Beach Migration Observatory.

“They’re kind of the scientific side of the event. They’re banding birds,” said Denonville. “So they capture them, measure them, weigh them and then put a band on them. If they’re caught somewhere else they can basically say ‘this bird has travelled this far in this much time.’”

A raptor strikes a pose during the Festival of Hawks at Holiday Beach Conservation Area on Sept. 10. Photo by: Adam D’Andrea

A raptor strikes a pose during the Festival of Hawks at Holiday Beach Conservation Area on Sept. 10. Photo by: Adam D’Andrea

Jody Allair of Bird Studies Canada was also on hand during the weekend to teach an “Intro to Birding” class. This workshop was a new feature for this year’s Festival of Hawks.

According to Denonville, there are a number of things ERCA want attendees to get out of the festival.

“First of all, enjoying Holiday Beach. I believe it’s one of the region’s hidden gems. It’s a great place to enjoy nature, so just getting people out there to realize the trails and everything that’s going on here,” he said. “We also want to encourage people to learn, so we’re engaging them in educational programs.”

The Festival of Hawks will continue Sept. 17-18 with a fee of $15 per vehicle to enter Holiday Beach. For a full schedule of events and workshops visit www.erca.org/birding.

ERCA to offer Canoe Instructor Course

 

Special to the RTT 

The Essex Region Conservation Authority is pleased to this year offer Ontario Recreational Canoeing and Kayaking Association’s (ORCKA) Basic Canoeing Instructor Course.

“The purpose of the ORCKA Basic Canoeing Instructor Course is to provide a provincial certification of competence in the instruction and administration of ORCKA Basic Canoeing Level Courses,” explains Phil Robson, Environmental Educator and course instructor. “The Basic Canoeing Instructor certification is the foundation for all other instructor levels, and those who achieve it will be able to instruct and certify other candidates for basic canoe safety.”

The course will include content on safety, theory, skills assessment and evaluation, and practice teaching.  Participants must be 16 years of age to take the course. Made possible through the support of the Government of Ontario, the course will be held over two weekends: Saturday, June 25 to Sunday, June 26 and Friday, July 1 to Sunday, July 3, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.  Participants must complete the full 48 hours of training in order to achieve their certification.  “This training will be particularly beneficial to those who are pursuing careers in nature interpretation, outdoor adventure, camp counselling and a variety of other career paths,” Robson says.

Holiday Beach sign

The cost for this course is $320 per person, and is limited to a maximum of 12 participants.

The course will take place at Holiday Beach Conservation Area and Cedar Creek Conservation Area. ERCA will also offer three bursary spaces to applicants who speak at least one of the following languages:  Arabic, Mandarin, Somali, Karen or Spanish.

“Because one of the overall goals of this project will focus on connecting new Canadians with nature, we want to ensure that we can provide training to those who speak the languages most spoken by newcomers to Canada,” Robson adds.  Those selected for the bursary will be charged only the $110 ORCKA fee, but must commit to a minimum of six hours of volunteer service following the completion of their training.

To apply for the bursary, or to register for the course online, visit: ercacanoecourse.eventbrite.ca.

“Winter Owl Prowl” coming to Holiday Beach next month

The Essex Region Conservation Authority is holding two "Winter Owl Prowls" next month, one of which is scheduled for Holiday Beach Feb. 11. (Photo supplied by ERCA)

The Essex Region Conservation Authority is holding two “Winter Owl Prowls” next month, one of which is scheduled for Holiday Beach Feb. 11. (Photo supplied by ERCA)

Special to the RTT

It’s that time of year again – time to listen for owls at a woodlot near you!

The Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) is holding a pair of “Winter Owl Prowls” next month, with one of them being in Amherstburg.

Shake off that cabin fever and enjoy an evening learning about the owls of Ontario, their adaptations, calls, and behaviour, presented by Caroline Biribauer, outreach coordinator with the Essex Region Conservation Authority.

Weather permitting, participants will take a guided walk through the woods, looking and listening for owls.

“Walking outdoors on a winter evening is a special experience on its own,” says Biribauer. “However, when Mother Nature cooperates and we’re able to call in an owl, it’s really quite extraordinary.”

The public can choose between two “Winter Owl Prowls,” with the two being held in consecutive Thursday nights. The first will be at Camp Cedarwin Scout Camp Feb. 4 with the second one being planned for Holiday Beach Conservation Area Feb. 11.

Both are scheduled to run from 7-9 p.m.

The cost for each event is $5 per person, or $15 per family. Space is limited and pre-registration is required. For tickets, go to www.erca.org/birding. For more information, please contact Caroline at cbiribauer@erca.org or 519-776-5209, ext. 245.

Since 1973, the Essex Region Conservation Authority has been dedicated to protecting, restoring and managing the natural resources of the Essex Region.