For the past two weekends the Hilliarton Marsh has hosted two events, the first to commemorate World Wetland Day, and the second to celebrate Family outdoor fun at our Family Day weekend event.
On WORLD WETLAND DAY, February 7th, a small group of volunteers met at the marsh to participate in our annual Duck Box Clean out day. Via snow machine and snow shoes, individuals travelled on and around the marsh ponds to remove old nesting materials from duck boxes to replace it with fresh shavings in preparation for the spring breeding season. At the same time, a census of successful and unsuccessful nests were recorded. Some boxes still contained unhatched eggs, the colour of which allowed census takers to record the species that are using the marsh as a breeding spot. The most popular species this year were Hooded Mergansers, Common Goldeneye, and Wood duck. Those who preferred not to venture into the deep snow of the marsh, stayed behind to band the bountiful redpolls and Pine Grosbeaks hanging around the birdhouse. The day was topped off with a bowl of chili and hot chocolate as we warmed our fingers and toes around the birdhouse woodstove.
The following weekend, approximately 80 guests bundled up to celebrate FAMILY DAY weekend and VALENTINE’S DAY at the marsh.
The cold -20 temperatures didn’t stop the winter-hardy from taking a snow shoe or ski around the marsh. Others preferred to hang out by the fire pit where Kim Adair cooked bannock and shared stories. Those milling about in or around the bird house were treated to banding demonstrations by Guest Bander Chris Sukha, as Kerns’ School of Flock grade 8 students showed redpolls up close on our outdoor deck area otherwise known as “the launching pad.” Valentine cookies and hot refreshments were served by volunteers Joyce and Gailand McQueen and for those who worked up a bigger appetite, complementary hotdogs were served by Gee and Nic on an outdoor barbeque!
Special thanks goes out to the day’s organizers Kelly Marshal, Gee Bradley, and Mark Milton, and to numerous volunteers that made the day run so smoothly.