The Rainy River Valley Field Naturalists (RRVFN) met on Nov. 20 to prepare for the Christmas bird count and to discuss the future of the club.
This marks the 120th Christmas bird count and the 25th for Fort Frances.
Each year, bird watching and field naturalist groups organize counts in their communities across the Americas.
Birders of all skill levels are welcome to take part.
The count brings us together to count as many difference species, and individuals of those species, as possible over the course of a single day.
The data collected helps researchers study the long-term abundance and rangers across North America.
Armed with information, groups like Bird Studies Canada can effectively monitor long-term population trends.
There are two ways to participate: either by counting at home, or at your own feeder, or by joining a field team.
Because of the large area to be covered, we need more volunteers.
With that in mind, a decision was made by the club to host a bird identification workshop, not just for volunteers of the count, but also for anyone who wants to be able to identify winter birds.
The workshop will be held from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 11 at the Fort Frances Public Library.
Saturday, Dec. 14 is the day of the count.
Discussions about invasive species in the district elicited some interesting information.
Purple loosestrife in La Vallee Township has quickly spread from a lowland by Hughes Road to ditches along some of the roads to the north of Highway 11/71—roads such as Hastie, Cross, Cemetery, Pyne, Lavallee North and Highway 613.
Once these plants with the beautiful purple flowers move to a swamp or pond, they choke out the indigenous plants and destroy the natural habitat of frogs, salamanders and other wildlife.
Phragmites (giant reed grass) causes even more damage to habitats.
You have probably noticed these tall plants with feathery, mauve flowers in the ditches along Highway 11/71 just west of Fort Frances.
Can you recall those tall weeds with yellow (sometimes greenish) flowers that you used for sword fighting (okay, so you didn't sword fight, or you can't remember).
Those who engaged in this activity endured itchy arms which had turned red.
Those plants are wild parnsips whose sap contains a strong chemical which is activated by sunlight, causing sores or rashes on the skin. These weeds populate most open spaces such as roadsides and meadows.
Now back to birds. A usually large number of snow buntings has been observed this fall. Bird feeders have attracted the usual winter birds, but their numbers are low.
Many feeders have no seeds because deer and bears are a problem.
The Cranberry Peatmoss Interpretive Trail now extends about half a mile into the bog and attracts visitors from all over the globe.
One of our members reported that the visitors book contains complimentary remarks made by people from places such as Sydney, N.S., Calgary, Thunder Bay, New Zealand, Australia, and many U.S. states.
There are numerous other tales to relate, but for now we've mentioned a few of the conservation issues to be tackled.
So I'll leave you with a problem to solve: A gallon of gasoline weighs six pounds. When burned in a vehicle, that gallon sends 19 pounds of carbon dioxide into the air.
How is that possible?
Hope to see you at the library on Dec. 11.