2022-06-24 Fort Nelson Once More

Hairy Woodpecker - Dryobates villosus
Hairy Woodpeckers shared this woodland with Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers. The best location in Fort Nelson to meet birds is Demonstration Forest at the northwest corner of town.

With every visit to Fort Nelson, including my time in 2005, I’ve explored the woods at the northeastern corner of town that the locals call the Demonstration Forest. I’ve never felt short-changed by the time I’ve spent there on its trails. This visit this past Friday, was perhaps the most rewarding of all.

My afternoon tour gave me, among others, the Canada and Magnolia Warblers. I was beginning to believe I might not get a picture of the Canada Warbler on its breeding grounds. It was a brief visit, but one where I was able to capture a few images. American Robins are the most common bird I saw in northern Canada. These trails were no exception. Though some older literature calls them Gray Jays, Canada Jays haunt these woods. Chipping Sparrows in northern Canada are not hard to find, and they are denizens of this woodland. Hairy Woodpeckers shared this forest with Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers. Magnolia Warblers, Tennessee Warblers, Ovenbirds, and Northern Waterthrushes were among the warbler species I met along the trails here. 

It was in 2005, that I met my first Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers here. It seemed fitting that these birds would show up for me on this visit.

After spending time at the Demonstration Forest, I found a quiet place in a vacant lot, near the town center to settle for my two-night stay. I had a ring-side seat to enjoy a parade in honor of the newest high school graduates. It was a joyful crew of kids riding on the semi-truck flatbed trailers that blasted their air-horns on their drive through town, while the kids hooted and hollered, and the proud families on the street hollered back. 

Banners lined the streets, emblazoned with pictures of some of their graduates. I loved the way the community embraced their newest citizens. While it’s a different world into which this generation embarks than the one I faced all those years ago, the exuberance and enthusiasm I saw in these young adults was something that my peers and I truly shared when it was time to face our own futures. For many of my generation, youthful optimism seems to have been left behind; a casualty of our march through life.

As much as I enjoyed Fort Nelson, it was time to continue my journey. Saturday morning I launched myself back on the road, and headed south to Fort Saint John, which is where I find myself as I finish spinning this yarn. I’ve had a couple of enjoyable days here, and I will tell you about it in the next edition of this chronicle. 

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