By Thomas Dennis
This week’s nature series takes a break from the normal single species focus to whet your appetite for the upcoming Winter Bird Blast that is jointly sponsored by Friends of the St. Clair River and Blue Water Audubon. Winter Bird Blast is the Blue Water area’s premier birding event and it combines a fun educational lecture, field trip, and optional painting party; all in a one-day event. This is a family-oriented opportunity that is open to novice through expert “birders” as well as anyone that is interested in experiencing the natural features of our area that draw birding enthusiasts to St. Clair County, Michigan, especially in the dead of winter. The weather is really shaping up nicely for this event with lots of ice pushing large quantities of waterfowl into the St. Clair River and it looks like we’ll have a relatively mild day. So, if you can’t be in a warmer climate, come tough it out, you’ll be glad you did.
We start the day with an indoor educational lecture led by my wife Laurie and me. Many people keep coming back year-after-year to participate in this fun lecture that is loaded with local information and beautiful bird photographs. I have promised Laurie that I won’t get too scientific, as is my tendency, however, everyone learns, novice and expert alike. There will be plenty of opportunity for questions and answers so get scientific on me and I’ll do my best to respond without getting into domestic difficulties! I’ll also have some of my unique, hand-made, bird feeders for sale with profits going to benefit local nature organizations.
Following the lecture, Blue Water Audubon members lead a shoreline field trip. Binoculars and spotting scopes, as well as warm dress, are recommended but if you don’t have optics the Audubon folks are prepared to share (and help with your optics on request). The birds vary from year-to-year but we always count on some regular, special species, and a few surprises. We have had many recent sightings of relatively rare species including Red-throated Loon, Iceland Gulls, Greater White-fronted Geese, and Barrow’s Goldeneye. There are no guarantees on specific sightings but we’ve never been disappointed.
Advertisements - Click the Speaker Icon for Audio
The morning activities wrap up at noon when many people gather for lunch at their favorite watering holes and feeding troughs and then the painting party begins at 1:00 PM at Studio 1219 in Port Huron.
So, gather your flock and get a good night’s rest next Friday because… the fifth annual Winter Bird Blast will be held on Saturday, February 23, 2019, and all ages are welcome to come to learn and view many of our local winter birds. The indoor lesson starts at 9:00 AM at the Donald Dodge Auditorium in the St. Clair County Building in Port Huron and an outdoor field trip follows immediately thereafter with carpooling suggested. There is a suggested donation of $5.00 for the lecture and field trip but if you can pay more or less no worries, you just need to attend! The fundraiser painting event is held from 1:00 – 3:00 PM at Studio 1219 where expert artists will help you create your very own masterpiece of the Common Goldeneye shown in the photo (advance registration and payment required).
Tom Dennis is a free-lance writer, passionate birder, zoologist, and naturalist and is a member of Blue Water Audubon, Friends of the St. Clair River, and is a Michigan Conservation Steward.