Perhaps I cannot give you 100,000 reasons I love the marsh but it has been a glorious adventure for the past 23 years. The other night while we were owl banding we took out a couple of photo albums from the first few years at the marsh and there were three people in the owl banding group that were there who had been out helping out while we were in our first two years of banding. It would be to great a test of my memory to make a list of all the people that have helped out over the years but we certainly appreciated all of the help. As cliche as it is, we never would have been able to do it without everyone's help. Perhaps this winter when we are not as busy we can occasionally throw some photo's of volunteers from the past. I know Joanne has pictures on our Facebook site, she labelled the album "blast from the past" it would be worth a look.
We started banding in the spring of 1996 and we reached this milestone 23 years later. Now that we are banding in the fall and winter I suspect it will only take 9 more years to add another 100,000 to our numbers. The other big change in the past 23 years is that we have come to depend on our long term volunteers and the addition of our trailer means that we can attract highly qualified and highly motivated banders to our station which brings us even more consistency as we continue to work on our protocol banding approach. The other big change was the creation of HMREC and the dedication of all of the directors who make the marsh possible and who .dedicate hours of work behind the scenes to allow us to carry out all of our research One of the things that i really enjoy about banding is that every season is unique and there is always a species or two that surprise us each year and there is always an ebb and flow to the number of species as well as the number of individuals banded of a certain species. Nick did a great job discussing the record number of siskins we banded this year as an example of how after 23 years of banding we are always getting blown away by the birds.
This year we new we were going to make it to our 100,000 bird but as the countdown got closer and closer the drama grew. We all had our favourite birds that we thought would have been a good candidate for the record bird. We have also had a lot of conversations about why this milestone was so significant. I do not think any of us would have picked the the western palm warbler, but when it popped out of the bag I could not have been happier. Inside I was kind of hoping it would be a siskin as I have a soft spot for the siskin, and yet having a neotropical migrant and a bird that is symbolic of the interconnectedness of the boreal forest to the neotropics made it all the better. Our first year of banding we banded 427 birds our second we jumped to 555 birds contemplating 100,000 was not remotely something we even thought of . This year we may band 555 siskins!! I have a lot of fond memories of our humble beginnings but I am also very excited to celebrate this milestone with all the folks the know the marsh is a very special place.
The last thank you goes out to all of our visitors, members and supporters who appreciate the work we are doing and who take the time to care by encouraging us or who bring their kids and grand kids out and support the important research we are doing. I also celebrate the foks who also come out on their own to soak in all in. We appreciate all of you and are always trying to make your visits to the marsh as memorable as we can. Just so you know we have heard your concerns about the lack of washrooms at the marsh and we are working on it! Please keep coming to the marsh over and over again and if you would like to learn more about how you can help out please let us know we are always looking for volunteers to help out in fund raising making bird bags learning how to extract birds safely help out in the garden building boardwalks i think you get the picture. it is all of you that have helped out and those who we have not even met yet that make all the good thing happen at the marsh. So to all those past present and future I celebrate you all 100,000 ways !!!!.........and more to come!!!