Nature Club News March 2019

NATURE CLUB NEWS March 2019

by John Dickson

NATURE CLUB NEWS MARCH 2019

The Owen Sound Field Naturalists and Young Naturalists Club met on February 10, to learn about the Flesherton Hills and the rest of the property behind Grey Highlands Secondary School, all of which was, at one time, part of the Bentham Heritage Farm. In addition to learning about the diverse natural features and species of the property, it was explained that at one time there was oil exploration and drilling taking place there, along with such other locales as Hepworth. The quality of the oil, however was not high enough to justify continued pursuit of an oil industry here.

Springs and ponds in the Flesherton Hills are also the beginning of the Boyne River, which meanders to Hogg’s Falls and to the Beaver River. Nesting ducks, beavers, otters, and mink have been regular inhabitants of the wetland there for decades. Guidance for the day was provided by Richard Bentham, and John Burton.

This sign is a reminder of the good work and partnerships forged in the past to preserve this special habitat. (Photo by John Dickson)

This sign is a reminder of the good work and partnerships forged in the past to preserve this special habitat. (Photo by John Dickson)

This tree displays the many holes created by a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, in the forest of the Flesherton Hills (Photo by John Dickson)

This tree displays the many holes created by a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, in the forest of the Flesherton Hills (Photo by John Dickson)


On February 14th, Brian Robin brought his innovative and detailed nature photography to share with the audience at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Hall. There were ooh’s and ah’s galore, and a lot of laughs, while folks were still learning about the many “bug” species who were captured by Robin’s camera lens.

Brian Robin keeping his audience enrapt, with the shared learning experience of his observations and his presentation. (photo by John Dickson)

Brian Robin keeping his audience enrapt, with the shared learning experience of his observations and his presentation. (photo by John Dickson)


On February 28th, Leanne Robinson demonstrated how she and her husband and small children travel by canoe in the far north, surviving on what they are able to harvest along the way, supplemented by the little they bring with them. Their son Emile learned to walk on uneven ground and while he was in the canoe, soon was able to recognize rose hips along the shore, and demand that they stop so that he could enjoy this wild food he enjoyed so much.

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On March 2nd, there was a good turn out for Jeff Kinchen’s annual tracking outing, and even with the fresh new snow from that very morning, Kinchen was able to demonstrate how the evidence in the snow, on nibbled saplings and bushes, plus on the tree trunks, told the stories of who made those tracks, and why. Tracks observed included Jack Rabbit, Coyote, Fisher, Skunk, and White-tailed Deer.

This image shows where deer had rested for a while in the snow.

This image shows where deer had rested for a while in the snow.


Members of the Sydenham Sportsmen’s Association (SSA) have recently been inspecting, cleaning out and readying duck nesting boxes for this Spring’s arrival of Wood Ducks and Hooded Mergansers. They have also installed some newly constructed boxes which they have built in preparation for this upcoming season. Sites for this work include Hibou, Bognor Marsh, and the Sydenham River. Jim Hastie reported that all of the boxes at the Bognor Marsh had been occupied since the last inspection. While on site at the Bognor Marsh, we observed several chickadees feeding on the fronds of last year’s cattails there. Cheryl Jobbins also found a pussy willow there which had already opened.

Already opened Pussy Willow, found by Cheryl Jobbins on March 6th at Bognor Marsh (Photo by John Dickson)

Already opened Pussy Willow, found by Cheryl Jobbins on March 6th at Bognor Marsh (Photo by John Dickson)

Newly constructed and installed nesting box for waterfowl (Photo by John Dickson)

Newly constructed and installed nesting box for waterfowl (Photo by John Dickson)

SSA's Jim Hastie, Cheryl Jobbins and Wally Cunningham after having completed a work detail with nesting boxes, at Bognor Marsh (Photo by John Dickson)

SSA’s Jim Hastie, Cheryl Jobbins and Wally Cunningham after having completed a work detail with nesting boxes, at Bognor Marsh (Photo by John Dickson)

On Thursday March 7th, their monthly speaker was Stephanie Nickels of the Grey Bruce Health Unit, with her presentation on Lyme Disease, breaking it down into signs and symptoms, prevalence in our area. She then discussed the tick program at the health unit (personal protection, surveillance program, types of ticks in our area, submission process, etc.).

To learn more about the Sydenham Sportsmen’s Association please visit http://www.sydenhamsportsmen.com/


There have already been some reported sightings of Red-Winged Blackbirds, and of an Eastern Towhee, back to find and claim territories for sharing with mates when they arrive. The Bruce Birding Club is usually out for a day of birding, twice per month, to observe and document the birds that are in our area on those days. More information can be found at https://sites.google.com/site/brucebirdingclub/home

There have also been some owls observed in the area, including the Great Horned Owl, plus both grey and red morph Eastern Screech Owls.

This red morph Eastern Screech Owl was photographed by Cheryl Jobbins

This red morph Eastern Screech Owl was photographed by Cheryl Jobbins

I have been hearing more vocal Cardinals, with Spring on their minds, and many of the willow trees in the area definitely have that extra bright glow that tells me they are getting ready too.


On March 7th the Friends of Hibou invited Bruce Trail and OSFN members to join them in a snowshoe hike along the ice-bound shore and on the woodland trails at Hibou. Conditions were excellent and hike leader Marie Knapp shared some of the history of the property, now owned by Grey Sauble Conservation. We were able to hear several woodpeckers and there was also evidence of recent Beaver activity in the wetlands there.

Frozen shoreline at Hibou - photo by Carol Harris

Frozen shoreline at Hibou – photo by Carol Harris

John Dickson, Marie Knapp and Frank Bouma - photo by Carol Harris

John Dickson, Marie Knapp and Frank Bouma – photo by Carol Harris


Registration is now open for the Huron Fringe Birding Festival in late May and early June at MacGregor Point Provincial Park. This Festival continues to grow and to attract the best guides, on an even wider range of topics. To learn more visit
http://friendsofmacgregor.org/page/huron-fringe-birding-festival


This Thursday March 14, in the Library auditorium, Nikki May, former President of the Saugeen Field Naturalists, will discuss Prairie Ecosystems, speaking about the different kinds of prairie in North America and Ontario in particular, their extent, history and ecology. The talk will feature iconic fauna and flora and their role in the prairie ecology. Learn about species you can grow in your own back yard to attract butterflies and bees.

Butterfly Weed in Canatara Park (photo supplied by Nikki May)

Butterfly Weed in Canatara Park (photo supplied by Nikki May)

Grazing Bison. (photo by Rick May)

Grazing Bison. (photo by Rick May)

To close, a nature quote from Richard Outram, referring to the nature losses occurring around us, “Unless the prevailing misrule is corrected, a heritage loved and inhabited as such, will be gone.”

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