White-Faced Ibis In Flight

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Winter News

We haven’t done a post in quite some time.  But today we gathered several random but newsworthy or at least interesting items from the last month.

Lots of Birds Around

Experienced birders Mike and Ken Burrell turned up 64 species of birds on a visit to the area this past Sunday (January 15th.)  This is a pretty impressive total in the often dreary month.

At Old Cut they saw a Tufted Titmouse among others, the Turkey Point Marina offered a rare “female-type” Surf Scoter and Port Rowan Inner Bay Overlook featured a Greater White Fronted Goose.  You can find the Port Rowan results at e-bird

Smith’s Longspur Lingers Near Port Rowan

The December 17th Christmas count for the area included a Smith’s Longspur, an Arctic breeding ground bird that has strayed far north and east of its usual Great Plains winter habitat.  The bird continued in the area at least until January 8th usually visible feeding at the side of a Concession Road.
Smith's Longspur- Near Port Rowan December 17, 2016

Short on TVO

Amateur birders are going to be the first to see the impacts of climate change.  That is the perspective of a five minute video being shown on TVO along with other Climate Watch shorts.
This particular video caused some amusement at our house.  We first saw it accidentally after watching a PVR of a British murder mystery we had taped.  Reaching for the remote we were about to erase the recording but the short looked interesting and to our amusement was showing the interior of a house that had articles a lot like ours.

A Lloyd’s alarm clock with a small decorative loon beside it, an outside thermometer with a bird motif, backyard bird feeders…. – hey hold on aren’t those our backyard birdfeeders?

We scratch our heads and then a bookshelf with the same bird and nature books as ours appears on screen.

Now we are catching on.  A Bed and Breakfast guest from this past year had been involved with Bird Studies Canada’s (BSC) Jody Allair at putting together this video.  You can watch it here.

Stories in Norfolk News

There have been some birding stories in the local media of late.  Here is one from the Norfolk News which talks about the Motus Tracking system that will be revolutionizing bordering and is already providing incredible new information on bird migration.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Saw Whet Weekends at Wood B & B

Not a week goes by without some interesting bird activity in the Long Point/Port Rowan area.

The period from mid-October until early November is notable as Northern Saw Whet Owls are moving from boreal forests into and through our area.

This small nocturnal owl with a catlike face, oversized head, and bright yellow eyes, while common, is not often seen.  However, on some evenings, staff at the nearby Long Point Bird Observatory’s (LPBO) Old Cut banding station capture and band dozens of these owls.
Old Cut Banding Station

This year we have decided to offer a special package at Wood B & B so visitors can have a chance to see these owls up close.

Our package at $300 (CDN) per room for two includes:

  • Two nights stay
  • Check in Friday (October 21 or October 28) from 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
  • Breakfast Saturday and Sunday
  • Lunch Saturday and a bagged lunch to go on Sunday
  • Dinner Saturday
  • Check out Sunday at 11:00 a.m.
  • Throughout the weekend you can birdwatch or enjoy the rural charm, diverse landscapes and small town atmosphere of Norfolk County.

*Give us a call about family and single rates.

Contact Us

Call us at 519-586-9700 for information or to make a reservation.  Find out more about Wood B & B at

Northern Saw-Whet Owl at Old Cut October 2015

More Info

Here is an interesting story from the Tillsonburg News that tells a bit about the 2011 season.

And check out a youtube video documenting Rick Mercer’s visit to Old Cut from last season at

PS: While there is a good chance you’ll see owls there are no guarantees.  Their movement is impacted by winds and temperature.  

Monday, March 28, 2016

What the Huffington Post Left Out (about Port Rowan)

A recent piece in Huffington Post listed six top coastal towns in Canada.  The list was comprised of Tofino B.C., Lunenburg and Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia, Twillingate Newfoundland, Cavendish in P.E.I and our town Port Rowan.  See

The story was actually entitled 6 Coastal Canadian Towns That Will Blow You Away.  And, yes, it is nice that a “hamlet” like ours gets this kind of recognition for its great vacation opportunities.  It seems stroppy to quibble but……….

What about the birds?

Among the many attributes (camping, beachcombing, swimming, hiking and shipwreck diving to name a few) that the Huffington Post listed for Port Rowan there was not one mention of birds.
So just to help out Huffington Post readers I figured some further information was in order.

Six Things you need to Know about Birds in the Port Rowan Long Point Area

1. Port Rowan is situated within a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.  Reserves are internationally designated protected areas intended to show a balanced relationship between people and nature.  There are 16 in Canada.

2. Because of its geographic location, sticking out 32 km into Lake Erie, Long Point attracts large numbers of birds during migration. Many birds, tiring as they fly over Lake Erie in the spring, head to Long Point as the nearest landing point.  Here they can rest and feed before continuing on their journey.

3. According to E-bird Canada, four hundred species of birds have been observed in Norfolk County – most in Port Rowan/Long Point. That is more than 81% of the species that have been recorded in Ontario.

4. So it makes sense that Port Rowan is home to the national office of Bird Studies Canada (BSC), Canada’s leading national charitable organization dedicated to bird science and conservation.
Old Cut Field Station

5. Affiliated with BSC is the Long Point Bird Observatory (LPBO). Founded in 1960, LPBO was the first organization of its type in North America.  Three research and banding stations are operated by LPBO where they have banded an amazing total of 972,216 birds since 1960.  The Old Cut field station, a ten minute drive from Port Rowan, is open to the public beginning this weekend (April 1).

Black Tern at the Wetlands last Spring
6. On Hunter Drive in Port Rowan there is a unique feature – wetlands recently converted from sewage lagoons.  The sewage lagoons have been decommissioned and the site has been transformed into an engineered wetland. This change will also restore the balance of the property with prairie grasses and other native shrubs and trees.  Threatened birds like bobolinks and meadowlarks may be attracted to the enhanced habitat and begin to nest here. In the last decade, nearly 30 per cent of all the bird species that have been seen in Canada have been observed at this spot.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Port Rowan Wetlands Opens

(This story originally appeared in the Norfolk News on September 30th.  Since then birders have observed a  Hudsonian Godwit, the first recorded at the Wetlands. Below is a shot of the Hudsonian Godwit taken Sunday evening.   

Wetlands Opening

It was fitting, perhaps, that a shorebird joined the crowd that had gathered on Hunter Drive North for the official opening of the Port Rowan Wetlands Sept. 24.

A pectoral sandpiper came in low and glided through the assembled group of dignitaries and interested observers. The bird landed on the newly constructed concrete walkway just metres from the viewing platform.

It was easy to imagine that the sandpiper was paying tribute to the newly restored area.

Birds have been coming to the former Port Rowan Sewage lagoons for years, of course.

Steven Price, president of Bird Studies Canada, whose national headquarters is just to the southwest of the site, recalls driving here from Toronto about 40 years ago.

“We’d tell people to go to the cannery road and turn north,” he said, recalling that the lagoons provided easy access to see swallows, waterfowl and a few shorebirds.

In the last decade, nearly 30 per cent of all the bird species that have been seen in Canada have been observed at this spot. That works out to 190 different species according to E-Bird, an online database of bird observations.

Although the pectoral sandpiper is a species that is doing well, fourteen species at risk have also been observed here, said Price, whose organization was one of the partners involved in establishing the wetlands.

With the completion of the adjacent wastewater treatment plant in 2012, the sewage lagoons were decommissioned.

Funds were then obtained to transform the site into an engineered wetland and restore the balance of the property with prairie grasses and other native shrubs and trees.

Water that once went directly into Dedrick Creek now moves through the wetlands and is naturally filtrated. This natural cleansing works to keep pollution, toxins and nutrients out of the water system.

Mayor Charlie Luke referenced the construction of the new wastewater facility and pointed over his shoulder to the wetlands.

“This is the icing on the cake, here for generations to come,” said the mayor.  

Steering committee members like Peter Bryan-Pulham, senior drainage superintendent for Norfolk County, spoke of how the Drainage Act, often a piece of legislation that is a challenge to navigate, actually worked in favour of getting the project done as the various partners worked together.

“It is a good example of groups who can sometimes be at each other’s throats agreeing on a common objective to restore sewage lagoons that aren’t much use to people when they are closed,” Price declared.

He expects that threatened birds like bobolinks and meadowlarks may be attracted to the enhanced habitat and begin to nest here. Nighthawks and chimney swifts could be drawn to the wetlands area too.

The county hopes that people from around the province and from across Canada will come as well.

They’ll be interested in how they may be able to replicate this unique Norfolk venture that benefits the natural world but will also be of economic value to Norfolk and Port Rowan.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Mushroom Hike

The Norfolk Field Naturalists have a hike this weekend.

They are calling it the:
Lots of mushrooms from a previous NFN Hike

Fascinating Fungi:  Mushroom Identification Hike

It is on Saturday, October 3rd from  1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Join NFN on a fall hike in Backus Woods to look for and identify mushrooms and other fungi of all shapes and sizes. 

Bring a camera as you can't harvest mushrooms in this NCC property.

Meet at the 3rd Concession entrance to Backus Woods (by the Turkey Cairn).  Dress appropriately for the weather. 

For more information contact Inga at 519-875-5601.

More information on the Norfolk field Naturalists can be found at

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Goings on in Port Rowan/Long Point This Week.

It has taken a long time but it appears that the grand opening of the Port Rowan Wetlands will take place this Thursday.

Some of you will remember the sewage lagoons on Hunter Drive North.  They were decommissioned three years ago and since then they have been in the process of being converted into a functional table wetland.

We’ve been observing the complex process of the transformation over these past three years.

The most obvious changes occurred this spring.

That was when the berm that separated the two ponds was removed.

Now there is a long point that looks like an island.

According to by Shirley Rothery, Chair of the Long Point Biosphere, 

at the north east where the municipal drain enters the wetland
the bottom will be contoured so that it rises gradually to the height of the island. This will help to keep water circulating in the wetland from the north east where it enters to the north west where it will exit. The variation in the water depths will encourage the growth of different types of vegetation and attract different birds and animals.”

You can read a summary of the project at is on page 7.of this informative newsletter from the Long Point Biosphere.

Tall prairie grass has been planted on both sides of Hunter Drive.  This will eventually transform thearea into an ecosystem once common in the area.  It will benefit wildlife and help protect the cold water creek from erosion.
Snowy Owl at the Port Rowan Wetlands December 2014

E-Bird records 190 species seen at this site . Last Saturday one of our B & B guests observed 35 species on a quick trip to the wetlands.  They are located just 600 metres north of our house.  The ongoing transformation will certainly promise that even more species will be seen in future years.

Barn Swallow / Forest Birds Workshop - September 24, 2015

Also this week, there will be a couple of presentations at Bird Studies Canada (BSC) headquarters on Thursday evening.  BSC’s Kristyn Richardson will talk about stewardship programs for swallows.  She will be followed by wildlife biologist Gregor Beck and BSC’s Jody Allair.  They’ll talk about forest birds that are at risk.  The workshop runs from 7:00 to 9:00 PM at BSC headquarters,115 Front Road in Port Rowan on Thursday, September 24th.

Sunday, June 28, 2015


It has been  a while since we posted.

In fact, it was May 23rd when we noted the presence of a pair of White Faced Ibis which, according to Long Point Bird Observatory (LPBO), was the last day they were seen.

Barn Swallows

Our family has been volunteering for the nonprofit group Bird Ecology and Conservation Ontario. Zoe Lebrun-Southcott and Andy Campomizzi are running a Barn Swallow and social cues program.  Read more about it at 

Unfortunately the structures we are monitoring haven't been productive. We see lots of other birds though during our twice weekly monitoring sessions including the Green Heron (pictured above) which seems to be present fairly regularly.

Long Point Bird Observatory  (LPBO

Speaking of LPBO, their 56th spring season ended at the Tip on June 10th. The day before they had observed a Cassin's Kingbird. This was the first ever at Long Point and the first live one in Ontario since 1970.  According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, this bird should be in Mexico or the south west United States. (

Birds are moving around the Long Point/Port Rowan area all year.  And consider this: It is only 48 days until the Fall Monitoring season opens on August 15th.  Here is a summary of the spring season from LPBO.

Counting Butterflies

An interesting event is coming up this Saturday July 4th. Adam Timpf is coordinating a Butterfly Count.

He tells us that the the butterfly count runs like a Christmas bird count. 

"Groups of people cover different areas counting and identifying every butterfly they find. People spend the entire day in the field and then get together around 5:00 for dinner and to compile the results," says Adam. 

If you are interested in participating contact Adam at


Some of you will remember the old Port Rowan sewage lagoons.  They are being transformed into wetlands as this story from the Port Rowan Good News does a good job at describing.

We've been watching a family (maybe two families) of Common Gallinule at the wetlands recently.  Hopefully, we'll have some pictures soon.  

Meanwhile, here is a Black Tern from that location from earlier this year.