I did a very bad thing. I started this blog about 8 weeks ago and then never finished it.
Here we are in December now. I didn't think I would still be doing nest blogs but here I am.
Today, it's about the Forgotten Land. A lot has happened recently. It's been back and forth with some people now over this spot, and things are a little jumbled in my head at the moment. But I will do my best to relay all that has transpired.
I received an email a few weeks back from the individual. I had lost faith with time passed and lack of replies to my emails. But one finally came. They said this had been passed on to another person, who would be contacting me in a week or so about meeting in the area. There was a bit on the budget being spent for the year and they would re-visit this in 2018. I felt like it was more of a brush off, but that was me with my current mood, and exhausted of how things had been going for quite some time now. Plus I was already going to different places in my head on how to take care of things myself, and maybe just a little bit of help from some of you out there.
I went out to Rona and Home Depot on Monday. I was pricing out new t-bars since I wasn't having much luck ripping out the old ones. $15 each was going to add up very quick even if I only wanted to put in 4 or 5 as new boxes would need to be put in as well. I did not buy any. I ended up going back to the site with a little more fuel to my fire, and I managed to pull out 5 t-bars with my bare hands. A lot of cursing and sweating, but I was successful. I hid them deep in the growth and planned to return soon to set them up.
Thursday I ended up getting a phone call from this new person. They were on site at 10:45 am and asked if I would like to meet them. As much as I would have, I don't do last minute very well and was busy elsewhere. What was I busy doing? Well for one, borrowing a post driver tool from my friends in Area One to do some work in the Forgotten Land. Go figure! So I declined and made the promise to meet them the next day if they were coming back. Today, they were going to assess the area.
Friday comes, they call me again, and give me their report. Basically in their eyes, the whole area was deemed not suitable for nest boxes and everything must come down. It seemed they were not given any of the nesting info I had been sharing from the Summer. I can't blame them for this observation. When I first explored the area, I too thought was a terrible place for nest boxes.
Of course I was quick to relay my results from the area. Now that changed everything! I did agree that just about everything currently set up should come down, that the initial 80 boxes was overkill, and that 10 to 15 would be plenty.
I had been taking more boxes down. I left little piles scattered here and there. I had taken a few home to try and salvage. Some I disposed of myself.
I met them about an hour later. They had printed off a map of the area and I marked off where the Swallows and Bluebirds had nested with egg and fledged counts, plus noted a couple older Wren nests I had found. They were working in the far east section, taking out the last of the boxes and trying to pull t-bars out with some kind of tool. I offered to help go at the remaining boxes with some time I had to spare. I estimate by the end of this morning, in total I had removed over 50 since I started removing them some time ago.
I discussed with them about not removing everything because some boxes were in good condition. They donated 2 new boxes early in June and I salvaged a few. I brought up about driving t-bars into some new spots and being prepared for next Spring when the birds would hopefully return. New boxes could be set-up late in the Winter and I had a plan on how to get new boxes. I was going to purchase new boxes from The Ontario Eastern Bluebird Society. I was going to seek out people who would be willing to "sponsor a box" for the project. I would keep them in the loop on what was happening through the season at their box. Funny thing is conversation with some over the last few months, people were already inquiring about how they could help, where they could get a box to give to me, etc. Great minds think alike!
The girls working on site couldn't say much because they were not in charge.
I then passed this on to the individual via email and another who I learned was leading this team through a phone call. I told them what I had planned since I had the driver tool with me. It only made sense to get the t-bars into the ground now, before things freeze up. Installing new boxes can be done anytime in the coming months before the birds start coming back.
This is where things got difficult.
I was asked to not do this. They wanted to survey the area, draw up plans for a new set up for the next year. The thing is they could not say 100% that they would get the funding. That small bit of uncertainty I did not like. It strengthened my point on what I wanted to do.
They also said if the winter was harsh, and the ground stayed frozen longer, that would delay things. Another reason to go at things like I had in mind. Why take these chances? The Bluebirds were here in March of 2017.
I didn't have 15 boxes set up in my head. I had 5. I had 5 t-bars sitting there waiting to be put to good use. I knew getting 5 new boxes for Spring was going to be an easy task. I even suggested that perhaps they could step back for one more season, take the data from 2018 and then figure out a better plan for 2019. Having 2 seasons of data to work with.
I brought up the zero dollars needed to fund my idea. There was dozens of good wood screws to be removed from the old boxes, that could be used. There was more than enough sturdy and straight t-bars on site. Between the few decent boxes already there and my idea on the sponsors, and if not, I would cover the cost myself for the 5 new boxes. So what expense would this organization have to absorb? Zero! Maybe an hourly wage if they gave me some help but I was all set to go at this alone.
It was difficult going through this with more than one person and not at the same time, especially one through email and the other through a phone call.
Thankfully the man in charge now was via the phone and he verbally agreed to leave the current good boxes there. Verbal agreements mean shit in court but to me it's all about word. I hold people to their word and if one doesn't keep it, that tells me a lot I need to know about a person. He did have a catch to this leaving the current good boxes though... he wanted to move them.
I argued this, not to be difficult, but because I did not see the point in moving boxes where birds nested successfully. That still makes no sense to me. I said I may not have some sort of educational degree about these things but I've got hands on experience, with a lot of care and concern for the birds. That should account for something.
He was still quite persistent about moving them. Funny thing is he had not been to the site himself. He was planning to do so soon. Fine. But why make such decisions prior?
At the end of our conversation he promised to leave the one box where it was, and that would be the Bluebird box where I had success.
I recently removed the old box and set up a new one. I can't say I like the color but the box is near new, very sturdy and the proper style for a Bluebird to use. It also has grooves on the inside wall to help young birds climb out which I did not see in any of the boxes that were initially installed.
I'd like to add that new box is currently a winter retreat to this Wooly Bear. I found him in another box my previous visit. A few years back I found one in a box I had at home. I will check on him in the early Spring and perhaps open the side wall so he can have an easier time freeing himself.
I know the spot does not seem ideal for Bluebirds but it worked (sort of). Something brought them here at least 2 years ago. They had a hard go this time around as you may recall but two pairs nested. The downfalls faced in 2017 really had nothing to do with the area, the things I had witnessed happens all over with nesting Bluebirds. The Spring of 2017 was also very unkind.
We cannot forget I had 3 successful Tree Swallow nests in 2017.
I guess what I did with the Bluebird box is sentimental. Young birds miraculously fledged from this spot. I will never forget that. Something should remain to mark this miracle, even if only for me. I've thought about further ways to help them if they came back, like invest in added predator protection such as a metal umbrella on the post below the box.
I drove my opinion on keeping the Bluebird thing quiet, sharing awful details of what happens at popular Bluebird nest sites. The individual has agreed with me from day one. I'm still unsure what this man thinks.
I brought up to him about me continuing to monitor the site in the years to come. His reply was they have people to do this. I'm unsure what he meant but of course I took it to heart. If there's funding concerns, why not have someone willing to do this for free? Someone who has proven they are dedicated and won't quit. After the fact I think he meant people will check the boxes at the end of season, clean them out and inspect them. I'm up for doing that since I see it is part of the task with nest monitoring. As I clean boxes late in the Summer, it gives me closure. I re-visit them in early Spring as I prepare myself for the new season. The individual is all for me helping any way I can. It is less burden for them. I believe there is a difference between a person wanting to be here of their own free will and free time compared to someone coming here because this is their job. I live 3 minutes drive from here whereas whoever might come to check may be coming from Scarborough or ??? Fuel is costly these days. This would help them save on such expenses. I've always promised to keep them informed on what is happening in the boxes.
I also concern over others coming in and finding things in the boxes, and not relaying important information back to me.
So I hung up the phone from the man. I continued to help the two girls on site taking down more boxes.
When I was ready to leave, they asked me if I wanted to take any decent boxes home because everything was going to be destroyed. At first I said "no" but after some thinking, thought "why not?" and do some work on them over the winter because who knows what will happen in 2018.
Both this man I spoke with over the phone, and the individual, have agreed to keep in contact with me about the area, their plans.
I will admit I was a little bothered about how things were playing out. I tried not to get my back up and I did my best to push my side of the overall debate. Stepping away from this for a number of weeks has helped me clear my mind, let go of things that I did not like, cannot control, and install some new faith in everything. After all, the individual did come through with the things she had said to me. I just didn't like how long it took but I do realize this area was a big surprise to the current staff, and not in their already busy schedule for 2017.
I know I don't own the area. But neither do they. I don't own those boxes. But in a sense they don't either because prior to me contacting them, this place did not exist.
I'm not seeking a pat on the back, or any sort of praise... but because of me, things are happening down here once again. Hopefully all for the benefit of the birds.
I feel a chapter closed and it's a new beginning.
How many of you are as curious about the next season as I am; and what these people plan to do at the site? What part will I play in all this? How many of you are still with me at the end of this blog?
So, ya, I should have published this weeks ago. I already have an update to share and will get working on it ASAP. Stay tuned.