By Nikki May
On Sunday, May 18, a group of seven keen birders from the Saugeen Field Naturalists club met at 7:00 a.m. at the Kinghurst parking lot. They were there to look for birds, and boy, were they successful! A total of 55 species of birds were seen and/or heard over the course of the morning. They came in many colours; red, scarlet, rust, orange, yellow, olive green, black, white, and of course, brown. Luckily for the observers, the trees had not yet leafed out, and so spotting the birds was easier than usual. It is hard to describe the feelings of excitement when a flash of red or yellow is seen through the branches of a tree or shrub; or the sense of accomplishment when the haunting sound of a snipe leads to a sight of the bird circling high overhead.
Kinghurst Forest Nature Reserve is one of 24 natural areas that are owned by Ontario Nature and managed by local volunteer groups. The 281 hectare Kinghurst Reserve is managed by the Saugeen Field Naturalists. This tract of old – growth forest was donated to Ontario Nature by Howard Krug in 1998 and is open to the public for nature appreciation. There are a number of walking trails that wend their way through the reserve, making it easy to see and appreciate a wide variety of natural habitats. There are open pastures with old-field flowers and grassland birds like Bluebirds and Grasshopper Sparrows, a pond and wetlands where Yellow Warblers and Red-winged Blackbirds share a home with Spring Peepers and Pickerel Frogs, and the old-growth forest with it’s spectacular showing of spring flowers – some still in bloom. On Sunday morning, the birding group spotted treasures like the Redstart, the Blackburnian Warbler, the Black-throated Blue Warbler and the Red-eyed Vireo in the forest.
Kinghurst Forest has two entrances. The easterly one can be reached by taking Highway 6 to Dornoch, then driving five kilometres west of Highway 6 along County Road 25. Turn north on Concession 4, drive past several pasture fields until the trees close in and the road starts to curve. Watch on your left until you see a small sign marking the parking lot of the reserve. Harrison’s Lake is to your right at this point. To enter at the west end, proceed north on Concession 6 (2 kilometres west of Concession 4). Just past a side road on your left is a driveway leading to a white house and an old wooden barn. There is an Ontario Nature sign marking the entrance to the main trail. You may park just off the road. Do not block or drive up the driveway. You may walk along the drive that runs past the white house to reach the nature reserve. The white house is occupied. Please respect their privacy.
For those who love nature, Kinghurst Forest Nature Reserve is a rewarding place to visit. The forest is beautiful and the reserve is filled with a rich variety of wildlife to observe and appreciate. But it is only one of hundreds of areas brimful of natural wonders in Grey and Bruce Counties. The Saugeen Field Naturalists offer a wide variety of outings and indoor events to enrich your understanding of nature in your backyard and beyond. Visit www.saugeenfieldnaturalists.com