Saturday January 5th was in the planning for almost a year. last year the temperature was a frosty minus 32 so we cancelled the event because the birdhouse just does not provide enough room to band and accommodate 30 plus kids. It is not a question of hardiness, Northern kids are renowned for their toughness when it comes to cold. After cancelling our frustration turned to possibility as we contemplated alternatives to our limited resources. Then it dawned on us that we could use the Hilliard township community hall and a new era for the Christmas bird count for kids at the marsh was born.
The community hall is only about 3 km from the birdhouse which would mean shuttling kids and families from the hall to the marsh but considering every challenge is an opportunity we came up with the idea of asking a local farmer Dennis Peddie about giving the kids a horse and wagon ride. The other big positive of using the hall is now that we are not bound by limited space we were able to include families. in the past parents dropped their kids off and came back a couple of hours later, now we are able to enjoy the day as a family event.
Everything worked like a charm the horse drawn wagon ride was amazing and the kids that had been back at the community hall making suet and suet feeders as well as playing some bird games and learning about the history of the Christmas bird count for kids switched with the other group that had been doing a bird count walk and bird banding.
The birding group was taken back by the team of horses and wagon and continued the count as they trundled along the road back to the community hall.
The highlight of the day for me was keeping families together and seeing the excitement of kids and families enjoying the beauty and marvel of birds. The day also crystallized for me the need we have at the marsh to have a building that can accommodate the growing need we have to accommodate families right on site. As the interest in the marsh grows so does the need for us to take care of all of our visitors.
The day was just so exciting to see and hear the excitement of everyone and the wagon ride was the cherry on top making the Christmas bird count for kids the best we have ever had. I want to take a moment to thanks first all of the families that brought their young birders out. It is great to see so many parents wanting their kids to come to the marsh and seeing the value in connecting their kids to nature .
As well I would like to thanks all of the volunteers and directors that helped out at the community hall and the marsh making everything run smoothly. It was also great to have had a bunch of parents help out with the drilling of the suet logs.
A big thank you also goes out to the Hilliardton Township recreation committee who made the community hall available.I cannot say enough about how much fun I personally had seeing all the smiles and hearing so much laughter. Another aspect that I find really gratifying is that a lot of the kids have been coming with their parents either to the bird count or other marsh events and it has been really gratifying seeing these kids reach the age that they are starting to help out or have reached the age that they can now hold birds to safely release them.
The marsh family is growing up together. Needless to say I am already looking forward to the next Christmas bird count for kids but not too fast we want to savour the age of the kids and lets face it we aren't getting any younger ourselves! Hope to see everyone next year.