Thu. Dec 7th, 2023
Photographing the birds of the boreal

Nagagamisis Provincial Park is a very special place for birds; ask camper Edith St. Martin.

During her stay this summer, Edith combined her deep love of learning and teaching with rowing and photography. Her captivating bird photographs in the park and her willingness to share them show us how diverse and beautiful the birdlife is here in Nagagamisis.

A large deciduous tree leaning against the shore over a clear water lake on a sunny day.A view of the 15 km long Lake Nagagamisis looking east. Its waters, coasts and forests are a refuge for nesting birds, and an oasis for migratory birds that nest further north.

Known as the bird nursery of North America, the boreal forest is an ideal nesting site for approximately 1 billion to 3 billion migratory birds that travel north each spring to breed.

A seagull with a white body and black head standing on a rock in front of the waterWith its striking black head, Bonaparte’s gull makes a bold fashion statement. This gull is a true resident of the boreal forest and nests in coniferous trees high in the canopy near the water’s edge.

Edith’s photographs literally provide a snapshot not only of the busy breeding season in the boreal forest, but also of the importance of places like Nagagamisis as critical habitat for migratory birds that need a special place to stop, rest and feed in their long trips back south. in late summer and fall.

A bird with a black and white body and a yellow head that sings while perched on a mossy branch.A male Black-throated Green Warbler sings to defend his nesting territory from other males. Warblers migrate long distances from the Caribbean, Central and South America to nest in the boreal forest. They face many dangers along the way because there is plenty of food in the northern forests to help raise their young.

“I have always been curious about everything related to nature,” says Edith. Growing up in a family that traveled a lot, Edith was given a Polaroid camera at a young age and invited to create her own scrapbook of her travels from her perspective.

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A white and brown spotted bird perched on a mossy branchThe Northern Water Thrush, actually a species of warbler, spends almost all of its time foraging at the water’s edge: lakes, swamps and peat bogs are its favorite places. It hunts caterpillars and other insects on the leaves, but even looks for invertebrates and small fish in the shallow waters!

Now, he uses an 800mm camera lens with F11 setting for most of his shots, achieving incredible detail in his subjects. “This year with my cameras, it was just amazing! The details are phenomenal in birds. Each of the pens has a function. “It’s just great.”

A white bird with brown wings and a pointed black beak floating on the water.A young red-necked phalarope wades through the shallow waters in search of small invertebrates. This bird was likely bred along the shores of Hudson Bay this summer and will stop for a snack before continuing to winter in the oceans of the southern hemisphere.

During her stay at Nagagamisis, Edith often spoke enthusiastically with the park staff about her discoveries that day. Her deep love for the park and its natural inhabitants is contagious.

Side-by-side images of two birds in flight, an osprey and a bald eagle.Ospreys are fishing falcons, known for their spectacular dives into lakes to capture fish with their sharp talons. Bald eagles also like fish and sometimes steal fish caught by the osprey. They both love Nagagamisis for its excellent fishing!

Looking back at each photo (she took about 32,000 during her stay in Nagagamisis this summer!), Edith says, “It gives me a thrill and I know where I’ve been and what happened during that day.”

An adult loon and a baby loon in the water.  The baby holds food in its beak.A common loon feeds its chicks freshly caught fish.

With the volume of photographs Edith has accumulated, a budding birder might wonder how she finds all these birds. Like many campers, she is happiest spending her time in nature, exploring, and that helped her in her search. “Over time, you know where to look,” explains Edith. “There are certain birds that feed on the ground, while others are found high in the trees.”

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A white and brown bird with red eyes perched on an evergreen tree.A red-eyed vireo gives Edith’s camera a glimpse of her unusual eye color. This common Ontario songbird is known for its singing ability – thousands of songs a day! Most songbirds sing in the morning, but this one sings all day long.

Edith is careful to respect the space of the birds she photographs and travels mainly by kayak. “I have a lot of energy and kayaking is my meditation.”

A white and brown bird with orange legs on a pebble beachJust passing through! This semipalmated plover is a shorebird that nests in the tundra and along the coast of Hudson Bay, and may have been nesting in Polar Bear Provincial Park this summer!

Edith spent so much time observing the birds she photographed that she began to notice not only their beauty, but also their behaviors, personalities, and interactions. As a retired teacher, she Edith reflected “[among] With some of my favorite students, there are always one or two who stand out, who aren’t like the others, they just don’t fit in. And I also noticed that in the ducks.”

“It really is a beautiful park. “There is a lot for everyone.” We couldn’t agree more, Edith. Like the birds that inhabit it, Nagagamisis is unique and worth the trip to see.

Nagagamisis Provincial Park opens for the 2023 season on May 19, when we welcome our migratory birds and campers alike.