2015 - A natural reflection and year list
Blogging for me has always been as much about sharing nature with others as it has been about personal reflection. I have never written a year-end post before, however after learning about the Nature Conservancy of Canada's (NCC's) Creative Conservation Challenge, I was intrigued and motivated to write one.
For me, 2015 was an amazing year for birds. I explored so many new wildlife spots around the Peterborough, Ontario area, was out every single day in the summer doing field work for my master’s degree and even squeezed in a little bit of bird banding. It was a year full of hard work, very tiring days and great opportunities.
Looking back, I was able to explore so many new regions in the Peterborough area. I was out every single day in the summer doing field work and was able to still do a little bit of banding. It was full of hard work, tiring days, but full of great opportunities as well.
I saw a total of 190 different species of birds in 2015 (list at the bottom of this page). My first species of the year was a black vulture on the drive back to Ontario from Nashville on New Year’s Day, and my last species of the year was a vermilion flycatcher in Wallaceburg, Ontario.
A highlight of the year was adding nine species of birds I had never seen before to my “lifer” list: glaucous gull, iceland gull, thayer's gull, lesser black-backed gull, vermilion flycatcher, white-faced ibis, whimbrel, red-throated loon and purple sandpiper. A final lifer was a least bittern, but it was found as roadkill. In this instance, I consider it an "on the fence" lifer.
While I am a bird nerd, I also love herpetology. I was ecstatic to also add yellow- and blue-spotted salamanders, as well as my very first red-bellied snake, to my “lifer” list.
What natural areas were you able to explore for the first time?
For the first time, I was able to explore Presqu'ile Provincial Park, Warsaw Caves and Darlington Provincial Park — three places in Ontario that had been so close and yet I hadn't put the time into exploring. I would suggest to anyone interested in cool landscapes to explore Warsaw Caves and anyone wishing to see some awesome birds (especially waterfowl and shorebirds) to look into Presqu'ile.
What three things did I do this year that helped the natural world?
While I try to help the natural world through fieldwork volunteering, much of what I do comes down fostering a love of the outdoors and natural world in other people. Here are some highlights from 2015:
1. Teaching a local Peterborough Grade 3/4 class about birding.
Through updates from the teacher, Twitter and going to see the students' final projects, I was able to watch this interest grow among these young kids and the natural world around them. Their "Big Month" challenge was met with eagerness, and even their parents got in on the excitement.
2. TAing for an ornithology class.
This year I had the pleasure of being a teaching assistant for Trent University's Introduction to Ornithology class. This had me out with students every Thursday morning, teaching them to ID birds by sight and sound and trying to get them interested through fun and weird facts, tricks to remembering bird songs and names and so on. It has been very satisfying to look back on positive student course evaluations, especially when students say that the course encouraged them to pursue birding and wildlife conservation as a hobby or a career (or both!)
3. Master's field work.
I really hope that the work I have done through two field seasons working with bank swallows will be beneficial from a conservation standpoint. During this work, I met and spoke with several gravel operators, landowners and locals about the bank swallows that live and feed on their properties. Everyone responded with enthusiasm, asked plenty of questions and often shared their own personal nature stories with me.
Since we visited our sites so frequently, I ran into these people multiple times, and sure enough they would remember “the bird girl.” They enjoyed telling me new stories about bank swallows and other birds they saw, often showing me photos so I could help them ID birds (especially within a retirement community near one of my field sites). One of the things I love most about this line of work is that it’s not just a job or a hobby; it’s an entire community that often includes people who don’t even realize they are part of it.
Now for the fun part! I’ve put together my total bird list for the year, with some of my favourite species photos from 2015! They are listed in the order that I saw each species throughout the year. I can’t wait to see what my 2016 list will look like!
Cheers to an amazing and birdy 2016!
Click to enlarge the photos in the slideshow below.
Magnolia warbler (Photo by Tianna Burke)
Ovenbird banded at Long Point, Old Cut Station (Photo by Tianna Burke)
Is that a screech owl, or the latest Muppet? (Photo by Tianna Burke)
Snowy owl at Presqu'ile Provincial Park (Photo by Tianna Burke)
Barred owl near Lindsay, ON (Photo by Tianna Burke)
Ruffed grouse crossing the road (Photo by Tianna Burke)
Killdeer in gravel pit defending its nest (Photo by Tianna Burke)
Long-tailed duck coming in for a landing (Photo by Tianna Burke)
This blog is reposted from Ramblings of a Wildflower, Tianna Burke's blog.