OFNC hosts Ontario birders’ convention in Ottawa

By Linda Burr

OFNC member, Mark Patry, and colleague, Manson Fleguel, led Friday's excursion to Westmeath Provincial Park and area. Photo by Mark Brenchley

OFNC member, Mark Patry, and colleague, Manson Fleguel, led Friday’s excursion to Westmeath Provincial Park and area. Photo by Mark Brenchley

Last weekend, a gathering of some rather exceptional “species” took place in Ottawa. I am referring, of course, to the annual convention of some of this province’s most enthusiastic birders. From September 26 to 28, the OFNC played host to some 230 members of the Ontario Field Ornithologists (OFO), who chose Ottawa for their annual convention this year. The three-day weekend included a full slate of field trips and evening programs designed to delight birders of all levels of interest and ability.

Local experts shared with OFO participants their intimate knowledge of the region’s best birding spots and their expertise in spotting and identifying birds. Twenty-eight field trips provided ample opportunity for participants to scour the region in search of new species, and the fine weather made for optimal viewing conditions.

Young birders from the Ontario Field Ornithologists convention chasing an Orange-crowned Warbler and a Blue-headed Vireo at Shirley's Bay. Photo by Gillian Shields

Young birders from the Ontario Field Ornithologists convention chasing an Orange-crowned Warbler and a Blue-headed Vireo at Shirley’s Bay. Photo by Gillian Shields

One of the traditions of the annual convention is a tally of all bird species found over the course of the three days. As of Saturday evening, at least 135 species had been tallied – an impressive number, especially considering that unusually high water levels on the Ottawa River had flooded out traditional shorebird haunts. Highlights included multiple sightings of a lone Ross’s Goose at Andrew Hayden Park, several White-fronted Geese at the Moodie quarry ponds, and migrating waterfowl and warblers. Be sure the check the OFNC bird sightings this week for a full report.

Another great feature of this year’s convention was a focus on young birders, with youth-oriented activities and outings. Many participants were impressed with the birding skills of these young people. It was wonderful to see the ways in which OFO is nurturing Ontario’s next generation of birding enthusiasts.

Evening programs on Friday and Saturday provided opportunities for OFO members to meet other birders from across Ontario and for old friends to get re-acquainted. Friday evening’s program of “Birds and Beers” included birding “Jeopardy” and a presentation by Bruce Di Labio on the birds of Ottawa Region.

OFNC members, Justin Peter and Carlos Barbery, led a walk at the Britannia Conservation Area. Photo by Gillian Shields

OFNC members, Justin Peter and Carlos Barbery, led a walk at the Britannia Conservation Area. Photo by Gillian Shields

At the Saturday evening banquet, OFNC President Fenja Brodo officially welcomed OFO members to Ottawa. The program featured Chris Earley, the University of Guelph Arboretum’s Interpretive Biologist, as he gave an inspiring presentation on the ways in which our love of birds can be used to help people connect with the natural world. Clive Goodwin was honoured as this year’s recipient of OFO’s Distinguished Ornithologist award.

All in all, the OFO convention was a great success, thanks to Bob Cermak and the many members of the OFNC who played a key role in organizing this year’s gathering.

Education and Publicity Committee members, Linda Burr (pictured) and Mark Brenchley (the photographer) staffed the OFNC display during Saturday evening's festivities.

Education and Publicity Committee members, Linda Burr (pictured) and Mark Brenchley (the photographer) staffed the OFNC display during Saturday evening’s festivities.

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