Carden Nature Festival 2014: “Plain” and simply inspiring

Male Eastern Bluebird ready to enter a near by nesting box to feed its chicks (Photo by 2014 MudInspired.com)

Male Eastern Bluebird ready to enter a near by nesting box to feed its chicks (Photo by 2014 MudInspired.com)

August 15, 2014 | by Cameron Curran | 0 Comments

I had the opportunity to attend the 2014 Carden Nature Festival, which fell on the weekend of June 7 and 8, 2014 at the Carden Community Centre on the shores of Lake Dalrymple. Touching a special place in my heart due to its location, this event proved to be a success with respect to spreading conservation awareness and coming together as a community in an effort to sustain the natural lands of the township of Carden and the Carden Plain.

The event was an opportunity for a wide range of environmental professionals, knowledgeable locals and passionate nature enthusiasts to gather and simply appreciate nature at a local level. Through educational seminars, participants like myself got to visit select properties owned and managed by the Couchiching Conservancy.

Cameron Curran (left) and Herb Furniss (right) displaying an Eastern Bluebird chick and the interior of a nesting box (Photo by 2014 MudInspired.com)

Cameron Curran (left) and Herb Furniss (right) displaying an Eastern Bluebird chick and the interior of a nesting box (Photo by 2014 MudInspired.com)

During the festival I got to explore North Bear Alvar, Little Bluestem Alvar and Prairie Smoke Alvar. All of the sites showed many signs of wildlife, including bear, moose, fox, coyote, rabbits, amphibians, insects and birds!

Click here to view my entire album of photos from the weekend.

One of the highlights of my experience at the Carden Nature Festival was the opportunity to travel a segment of Wylie Road and help monitor eastern bluebird boxes. Herb Furniss, leader of the Carden Bluebirds Program, took me and three other festival attendees (including our marshall) to roadside locations near and along the road in search of eastern bluebird chicks. Herb tracks and documents nesting activity in over 75 nesting boxes in the area. Based on previously recorded data he knew where the best opportunities for observing active boxes would be. In total, we got to see three active bluebird boxes and one active tree swallow box, all containing newly hatched and/or fledging young.

Alvar wildflowers from foreground to background: Balsam ragwort (yellow), Indian paintbrush (orange), Prairie smoke (red/pink) at the Prairie Smoke Alvar property (Photo by 2014 MudInspired.com)

Alvar wildflowers from foreground to background: Balsam ragwort (yellow), Indian paintbrush (orange), Prairie smoke (red/pink) at the Prairie Smoke Alvar property (Photo by 2014 MudInspired.com)

Practical, hands-on work with wildlife such as with the Carden eastern bluebirds project can help community members and beyond to appreciate the value of nature. Being able to hold the fledglings in the palm of your hand allows for a more intimate understanding of what is at risk. To put it simply, real-life experiences of getting your hands dirty have great potential of making a difference in ecosystems that may be potentially threatened by human activity. Thanks, Herb, for this fantastic experience.

If you’re located in the Greater Toronto Area, Carden is a short 90-minute trek by car. Take the time to understand why the Carden Plain is so significant and worth protecting! Learn more at CouchichingConserv.ca.

About the Author

Cameron Curran is an active volunteer at the Couchiching Conservancy in Orillia, Ontario. He is an avid outdoor photographer and enjoys exploring the "Land Between" ecotone in Sebright, Ontario.

Read more about Cameron Curran.

More by this author »