Birders Flock to Flushing Township Nature Park
Bird watchers join for the Great Backyard Bird Count at the Flushing Township Nature Park.
February 18, 2017
Filed under Features
Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.
Email This Story
“It’s so good to be alive on a day like today,” says Jack Rogers, paired with a notebook and binoculars. “Well, any day is a good day to be alive,” continued Dennis McNeill.
The sun is up, the air is warm, and the Flushing Township Nature Park Birders (FTNP) are out and about. Today is one of the Great Backyard Bird Count days, done all around world. Bird watchers, or birders, like Jack and Dennis count and log the birds they see into a database, Ebirds, to track sightings. Events like this may be new to the park, but birding is not.
Meet Gary O’Boyle, a new member of the Flushing Township Nature Park Board and avid birder. Along with handing out papers with names of birds seen in the park, he’s also running the show. “We’re trying to encourage people to start birding out here. I love this park, I’ve been coming down here since before the board walk and the tower were put in. I’ve gotten into nature and wildlife photography after I retired about four years ago. I was the main window clerk at the Clio Post Office for 18 years. But I love this place.”
The park is still changing too, “I talked with the boy scouts who put up a lot of our feeders out here, and we’re talking about making a chimney tower,” a vertical structure for them to roost. The Park Board is starting a new memory tree project, where people can plant trees in the park in honor of loved ones, and working to add ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) approved facilities, like a kayak launch and benches.
“For a while, the park was moving in the wrong direction, they let it die down. We used to have some beautiful gardens with natural flowers which are all gone. But for now, we’re trying to generate interest again in the Nature Park.”
Around ten older men and women cycle through the small cabin hugging the parking lot of the park. Inside, avian posters and certificates hang on the walls right next to dead beehives, sticks, and nests. The counter holds around twenty or more wildlife books on information and identification. Outside, Kay Williamson, who owns a bird feeder in the park with her husband, was stopped mid sentence to point out a passing bald eagle overhead.
At noon, a small group heads out for a tour around the park, led by Gary, who was pointing out different animals and insects along the way, “There are around 102 dragonflies and 46 damselflies.” The difference being their wing positioning. We walked for a little under two hours, Gary pointing out that park maintenance is using Roundup, a toxic plant killer, on the river banks, and Dennis adds in how, without roots on the banks, soil erosion can be detrimental to the ecosystem.
O’Boyle continued to lead the pack through the trails, and told us how this all started, watching birds from his childhood home, but others started differently. Some mentioned “shooting” animals went from with a gun, to a camera. And that’s really how a lot of birders and conservationists start, spending time in the hunting blind, watching birds for hours on end.
Days like today are a great way for residents in the community to get outside and learn about nature. O’Boyle hopes that with time, the park will be great for people of all ages around Flushing Township to come together. Plans are already in motion to hold a warbler walk, and a wildflower walk in the spring, only bettering our community’s interest, and knowledge of our own backyard.
Meet the FTNP Birders