Forest Health with Susan McGowan (MNRF)

Sunday, August 26th, 2018
Susan and Ariel, BBD Plots (supplied photo)

Susan and Ariel, BBD Plots (supplied photo)

Forest Health with Susan McGowan (MNRF)
Thursday, November 8, 2018
7:00pm - All Ages
Owen Sound & North Grey Union Public Library (map)
824 First Avenue West
Owen Sound, ON N4K 4K4
Other Info
This presentation will include the latest information on forest health conditions in Ontario attained through the 2018 forest health field program delivered by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Hear first hand from our area forest health technician about the pests and diseases affecting Ontario Forests in 2018.

Susan McGowan (supplied photo)

Susan McGowan (supplied photo)

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Looking toward a growing forest at the Owen Sound Hospital

Thursday, July 19th, 2018

A message from NieghbourWoods North:

Hello Tree Friends,
We recently noticed that the death rate of the newly planted hospital seedlings is at about 30%, despite your heroic efforts. Consequently, we are going to step up our collective efforts to save these trees, by scheduling a weekly watering every Thursday at 7pm, until the end of August.

1. Please, do not feel you have to commit to any of this. We all have our own interests and personal schedules. But, the consistency of a weekly watering will help those who are interested to plan ahead.
2. If in a given week, we only get a minimum number of helpers, then that is OK. We will only do what we can and we will always finish by 8:30pm
3. If we get a wet week and we don’t need to water the trees, we can mulch and use whipper snippers ( weed whackers ) to cut back the encroaching long grass. If you have such a device, then please consider bringing it this week.
4. For those interested, we will always meet in the Mudtown Station for a refreshments by 8:45pm. Let’s try and also turn this into a bit of a social event.

We know, that in years to come, we will all look back at this growing forest with a great deal of pride. But, in the meantime………….phew…..’s a lot of work. ????

Lloyd and Gord
NeighbourWoods North

PS……Check out our new website

Plover Lovers – Beach Talk – Sauble Beach Speaker Series 2018

Wednesday, June 27th, 2018

The Plover Lovers Beach Talks are underway for 2018. Happening every Wednesday, you can find more information at the Plover Lovers website. The remaining scheduled speakers are:

June 27, A Natural History of Bruce County Shorelines: Ancient to Present, Peter Middleton.

July 4, Phragmites australis, Janice M. Gilbert, Ph.D.

July 11, Plovers in South Africa, Andrea Gress.

July 18, “Who’s calling in my yard?” A short guide to identifying the frogs in your backyard, Hayley Roberts, M.Sc.

July 25, Lyme disease: what is happening in Ontario?, Andrew S. Peregrine, BVMS, PhD, DVM, DipEVPC, DipACVM.

Be sure to visit the Plover Lovers for more information, directions, and any changes.

Nature Club News, May, 2018

Sunday, May 6th, 2018


by John Dickson

A version of this column appeared in the OS Sun Times on Thursday April 5, 2018.

Dan Ostler’s April 12th presentation about climate change 1500 years ago was comprehensive and illuminating, linking volcanic eruptions to changes in temperatures and growing conditions, and the plague.

Dan Ostler

Dan Ostler

The results of these natural phenomena included blocked sunlight radiation and cooler temperatures, which affected the growth of grain and other food crops, leading to starvation, and to disease from spoiled food sources. Human population growth was then stalled, (and in some cases devastated) and so was the advance of civilization in the population centres of Europe and even Central America. It took a while for the climate to get back closer to the previous normal for plant growth and animal sustenance. Comments from audience members included this one from long time OSFN member, Jim Coles – “I thought the lecture Thursday evening was one of the best I’d heard anywhere – very informative and very professionally presented. A great mix of history and current facts.”

On April 19, Bob Knapp led a tour of the trails at Hibou, shared with OSFN, and the Friends of Hibou. Highlights included seeing the huge poplar trees that are still there, on the inland trails, and the high water levels along the shore.

The next day he also led a tour of the Kemble Rock property with OSFN and Sydenham Bruce Trail Club members. Highlights on this hike included two separate sightings of an American Woodcock.

Of note too, is that in the first two to three weeks of April there seemed to have been more snowfall, locally, than we had received here in the entire month of January 2018. Snowshoes were needed for both of these outings, which had not been expected when these hikes were initially planned. Nature certainly keeps us guessing!

On Sunday April 22, OSFN presented its third Annual Earth Day Keynote Address, this year featuring Canada’s “Indiana Jones” – Adam Shoalts. This popular speaker is also an author, an archaeologist, a naturalist, and an explorer. On this, his third talk in Owen Sound, he shared many images and stories of his 4000 kilometre solo journey by canoe and portage, from the Alaska Yukon border east all the way to Baker Lake, near Hudson Bay, as his personal way of celebrating Canada 150 last summer. He also adroitly modified his talk to celebrate Earth Day with this audience of naturalists. The capacity crowd had plenty of questions and many of them chatted with Shoalts as they purchased his books afterward. The event was held on board the Chi Cheemaun and was sponsored by Caframo. Proceeds from this event are being directed to fund OSFN’s youth projects.

Owen Sound Field Naturalists is also continuing to support the Bluewater Science Fair, with awards going to presenters with nature and environment themes.

We have received a detailed ‘Thank you’ for the Owen Sound Field Naturalists award from Bluewater Science Fair participant, Alex Burling, outlining the silver medal winning project that involved the digestion of plastic by meal worms. Congratulations Alex!

Mealworms, Tenebrio molitor, capable of digesting plastics and kale. (Photo By Brian Robin)

Mealworms, Tenebrio molitor, also capable of eating plastics. (Photo By Brian Robin)

On April 28 – NeighbourWoods North began its tree planting programme at the hospital. Committee Chair Lloyd Lewis reports –

On a cold and windy grey morning, about 40 community tree planters descended to the hospital grounds at 8:30am in order to plant and eventually create a living wind break of 60 white spruce. After a demonstration of the correct planting and mulching techniques, our eager volunteers got to work, partially in order just to stay warm. The wet soil made for easy digging and by 10:30am most of the work was done. The hospital had warm drinks at hand along with a variety of food choices. Home Depot provided much of the hardware, and the conservation authority delivered the trees, paid for by an anonymous donation to NeighbourWoods North. In 10 short years, the trees will look even more beautiful and they will provide significant protection for the entrance to the hospital emergency entrance from the snow and wind. Hooray!

As for future plantings, on Saturday May 5th and 12th, we are ambitiously attempting to plant a 5 acre forest in the NW corner of the hospital grounds. Thousands of trees will be going in the ground and many helpers are required. Finally, on May 19th the hospital staff will be planting 40 crabapple trees along the west entrance to the emergency area.

White Spruce planted at Hospital grounds (Photo by John Dickson)

White Spruce planted at Hospital grounds (Photo by John Dickson)

Lloyd adds this message –

Let’s Build a Forest!

Do you have a tree/shrub sapling or seedling you are willing to dig up and donate? You can add to the tree biodiversity of our hospital forest, by making a donation on Saturday May 5th or 12th, between 9am to noon at the NW corner of our hospital grounds. For more information contact Lloyd Lewis at 226 256 8804 or

Young Naturalists Club coordinator Elaine Van Den Kieboom reports –

Our latest meeting on April 29, 2018 had the Young Nat’s being led by Naturalist Bill Moses through the Arboretum at the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority’s administration property. During this hike Bill educated the kids about trees and shrubs and various other aspects of the natural world. It was a sunny day and even though there was a cold wind, the kids didn’t seem to mind and were eager to learn about the trees. Bill’s knowledge of trees and shrubs and his enthusiasm for sharing his knowledge with children, made for a great hike. The kids were also very pleased to be able to take home a young tree from the arboretum as a gift from Bill. On behalf of the group I would like to extend my Thanks to Bill for making it a great day for the kids.

Bill Moses with Young Naturalists. (Photo By John Dickson)

Bill Moses with Young Naturalists. (Photo By John Dickson)

Coming up at the Owen Sound and North Grey Union Public Library at 7PM on Thursday May 10th the club hosts its members’ night when several presenters give short presentations on diverse topics. Expected at this time are a short film, a follow up to Dan Ostler’s reference to spoiled crops contributing to disease, a slide show from a lifetime of nature activities, and a taste of local natural highlights. For more information please visit the Members’ Night event.

For some recommended reading with a nature theme, I refer you to a couple of Pierre Berton’s many books. My Times – Living with History 1947 -1995 and The Great Lakes. Through these you may learn as I did a while ago, that Berton, known to many as a journalist and broadcaster, gradually became a naturalist. He soon became an avid birder with an annual May trip to Point Pelee for over 40 years, and a planter of many species on his property near Kleinburg, who also noted the creep of development nearby that eliminated wetlands and wetland species. In these books you will learn of the famous Indiana Dunes, much of which was lost to Bethlehem Steel and others before the people mounted a vigorous campaign to save these unique landforms, with some of the greatest diversity of life anywhere in North America.

To close, a quote from Glenn Gould – “I gather my inner resources from the outdoors.”

Neighbourwoods North Looking for Treeplanting Volunteers

Sunday, April 8th, 2018

*** Please note the new dates! ***

Neighbourwoods North is a new Owen Sound organization that initiates and maintains important tree planting projects in our City. This Spring, they are involved in a very large planting of trees at our hospital and we are seeking the assistance of many volunteers on Saturday, April 28, May 5th, 12th, and 19th. Can you help?

Building a Hospital Forest

Location: Northwest corner of the Owen Sound Hospital

Time:Saturdays, 9:00am- noon


  • April 28- Hand planting a line of 80 white spruce to protect from wind
  • May 5- Hand planting 2000 seedlings
  • May 12- Hand planting 2000 seedlings……..continued
  • May 19- Machine dug planting of 40 crabapple trees

Email Lloyd, or 226 256 8804, and state which day or days you will be able to assist.

  • Dress for the weather
  • If possible, bring a shovel, rake and even a wheel barrow.
  • Refreshments provided by the hospital
  • A parking pass will be provided
  • Pass this message onto your friends……we need many volunteers!

World Earth Day – April 22
Together, we can make a big impact to our community

PS ………We need a lot of trees to create a forest……..might you have a seedling, a bush, or a tree sapling you can donate?


Map of planned plantings (click for a larger version).

Nature Club News, April, 2018

Saturday, April 7th, 2018


by John Dickson

A version of this column appeared in the OS Sun Times on Thursday April 5, 2018.

March Tracking Outing

The Owen Sound Field Naturalists club offered an Interpretive Late Winter Tracking Hike with Jeff Kinchen, on Saturday March 3rd. Even though the snowcover in the open areas had diminished somewhat by then, there was plenty of snow in the woods and lots of evidence of wildlife activity, if you just knew what to look for, as did hike leader Jeff Kinchen. In addition to the partially covered skunk carcass seen the previous week by our Young Naturalists club, there were plenty of tracks from deer, and red squirrels, as well as scat from Ruffed Grouse, and raccoon.

Although some like to think of the porcupine as a pest, destroying economically valuable trees, after successfully locating a porcupine high above us, Kinchen reminded everyone that the porcupine helps to feed the other forest creatures, by nibbling a few tasty bits near the top of a tree, and then dropping the rest below, providing an otherwise inaccessible smorgasbord of nutritious, tender branches, needles, and shavings for the rabbits, deer and others to browse when there is little else for them to find to eat in winter. In addition, some animal species prefer, or even require, dead trees for their nesting habitat and food sources.

March Indoor Meeting

On Thursday March 8, Dr. Sonja Ostertag presented an engaging talk and slideshow about the migration of the Beluga whales in the North West of Canada, including aspects of the research she and her colleagues have been doing, on the health of the whales, and the impacts of pollution and climate change. The audience appreciated learning about how she was able to combine the responsibilities and opportunities of a young family, with her work, and the chance to form meaningful relationships with the Inuit who live there and rely on the beluga whales as an important food source.

Dr. Sonja Ostertag

Dr. Sonja Ostertag,

At that same club meeting, those present endorsed OSFN President Kate McLaren’s continued efforts to find a balanced, long term solution for ensuring the health and viability of habitat for the Piping Plovers, plus the Dune ecosystem of Sauble Beach. McLaren actively pursued a cooperative solution, consulting with other groups and experts, and advocating a negotiated settlement and a long term programme of habitat and dune protection, compatible with all of the beach users.

March Young Field Naturalists’ Outing

On Sunday March 28, the Young Naturalists Club met at Harrison Park. Director Brian Robin reported that “Professional Potter (and OSFN President too) Kate McLaren led the youngsters and some adults, through a Toad Abode workshop, and helped them make shelters for their toady pals. Kate will be firing and returning their creations at the next Young Nats meeting. It was pretty astonishing watching Kate work and shape the clay so effortlessly, you’d almost think she’d done it once or twice before.”

Afterwards, the Young Naturalists went outside on a guided hike in the park with OSFN director Brian Robin, exploring the Weaver Creek trail.

NeighbourWoods North Update

NeighbourWoods North is continuing its preparations for Spring Tree Planting programmes at the site of the Grey Bruce Regional Health Centre in Owen Sound. It is expected that most of the work will take place on three consecutive Saturdays starting with April 21. When the planting proposals and the availability of the selected tree species, are confirmed, public announcements will be made to recruit volunteers to assist with the project.

April Indoor Meeting

On Thursday April 12, in the auditorium of the Owen Sound and North Grey Union Public Library, Dan Ostler will explain about “The Day Your Life Changed – Climate Change circa 535 AD” and how a natural phenomenon happening then, provided an excellent opportunity to observe the effects of climate change. In this presentation, he will follow the ripples of this event across the face of our earth.

Dan Ostler graduated in Biophysics from the University of Waterloo and pursued a career in medical radiation physics. Working in the areas of forefront research and product design, Dan traveled internationally, staging leading-edge seminars focusing on the implications of the latest medical imaging advances.
In retirement, he has pursued his interest in the science behind the phenomena of nature and the cascading effect of these interactions on the course of history.

Dan Ostler

Dan Ostler

Earth Day Presentation SOLD OUT!

On April 22, the OSFN presents its third annual Earth Day Keynote address. This year we are featuring Canada’s Adam Shoalts aboard the MS Chi-Cheemaun, speaking about his 4000km solo journey across northern Canada last summer, and of his love for Nature. Ticket sales for this event were very strong, and on March 29, it was announced that the event had been sold out to capacity. Thanks to everyone who purchased tickets and we’ll see you on Earth Day! This Celebration of Earth Day, is once again sponsored by Caframo.

Ontario Nature Youth Summit

OSFN plans to sponsor two high school students to attend the Ontario Nature Youth Summit, scheduled this year for September 21 – 23 at Geneva Park near Orillia. Invitations have been sent to many high schools in our area, urging keen students of environmental science programmes or with an interest in learning about Nature, who would still be in high school in the fall of 2018, to send us a letter of interest, addressed to by April 30, 2018.

For more details please visit

Nature Novels

In recent years there has been a plethora of mystery books with nature themes, and birds, in particular. The Birdwatcher, by William Shaw and published in 2017 by Mulholland Books, in addition to its story lines involving uprooting human families migrating like some of the birds, seeking new environs (read habitat) will introduce you to the south shore of England, and some of the waterfowl to be found there, plus a few inland birds nearby. Another of my favourite writers, Sam Llewellyn was introduced to me about three decades ago as the Dick Francis of Sailing. It was only in some of his later books that I started to notice his inclusion of nature and environment themes and species details, while spinning his elegant narratives. I heartily recommend Llewellyn’s writing and his most recent mystery book Black Fish, to introduce you to some of the environmental issues around sustainable fish quotas, and of course, the challenges and rewards of sailing. An earlier book of his, the Sea Garden, relates the personalities and stages of development around a grand Victorian style garden, whose owners were sometimes able to acquire some of the exotic plants that had been promised to Kew. I am sure many of our local gardeners will recognize many or all of the flowers and plants, along with the local sea creatures and birds, in south west England.

To close off – a quote from the late Freeman Boyd –

“Every time you learn more about nature, that just adds to your appreciation, and your concern.”

2018 Youth Summit Sponsorship

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018


We at the Owen Sound Field Naturalists once again this year, plan to sponsor two local high school students to attend the Ontario Nature Youth Summit (value $350. each) September 21-23, 2018 at the YMCA Geneva Park, Orillia.

Keen students of environmental science programmes or with an interest in learning about Nature, who would still be in high school in the fall of 2018, should send us a letter of interest, addressed to by April 30, 2018.

We will make a selection after that date, based on the writers’ expressed study/career plans and interests, and availability for this time period, etc.

We look forward to seeing two more local students, energized with learning and motivation, return from a Youth Summit weekend, as have local students in the past. For more info visit:


John Dickson and Kate McLaren on behalf of OSFN,
March 28, 2018

Highlights From Past Youth Summits, hosted by Ontario Nature’s Youth Council, bringing together close to 100 youth from 50 communities across Ontario.

  • Interactive workshops and activities on topics including medicinal plants, everyday sustainability, climate action and how to lead a nature hike
  • A regional networking forum for participants to connect and develop plans
  • A wonderful venue on Lake Couchiching, complete with hiking trails, canoeing, and campfires
  • A high-energy group activity with eco-inspired challenges
  • Meeting diverse young leaders with similar interests from across Ontario

A Notice From Saugeen Nature, Re:Sunday Hunting in West Grey

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

We are passing on a message from Nikki May, Saugeen Nature

A week ago Monday, West Grey Council approved Sunday hunting in the municipality with no public input, other than a deputation of hunters. A prepared motion was brought forward to council after hearing the hunting deputation, voted on and passed.

The Friends of Camp Oliver Forest, who are alert for issues that affect the public enjoyment of the forest, learned of this issue when the agenda was released the previous Friday. They attended the council meeting and saw this proceed, but were unable to make comments until the end of the meeting.

The concerns are two-fold – Sunday hunting now means that there are no days on weekends when forests are potentially free from the presence of hunters, so those who enjoy the forests for their natural features and tranquility have to be aware of the potential presence of hunters in public forests in all hunting seasons – there are many. This issue will soon be true in West Grey. It is already true in some other municipalitie in Grey. The second concern in West Grey is the surreptitious method by which council brought this forward, without allowing input from the public.

The broader issue in Grey County is that hunting is allowed in many County Forests. In municipaliites where Sunday hunting is allowed, this means that there are no days free from potential hunting activities in the County Forests. For those of you who use the County Forests, there is a new recreational trails plan being prepared by Grey County. Hunting has not been raised as an issue in the discussions of this plan, but it is not too late to express your concerns.

Write to Scott Taylor at to express your concerns about hunting in the Grey County Forests.

Next Steps:

  • To those who live in West Grey – email West Grey Council – make it unique and personal
  • Everyone – email Grey County Planning – Scott Taylor, Senior Planner, wants to hear any concerns about hunting – it’s not too late to influence the Recreational Trails Master Plan – you can choose to fwd your West Grey email to Scott or craft a new email
  • Everyone – spread the news to friends

Thank you

Nikki May
Saugeen Nature


Eyes at Sauble

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

A message from our president, Kate:

I’m hoping to enlist the help of citizens close to Sauble Beach!

The local MNRF supervisor has urged anyone to report raking, bulldozing, or heavy equipment operations on the beach. With the Phragmites issue it is imperative that the sand not be tilled as it will further propagate this most invasive species – you probably know this already!

Removing sand from around benches and playground equipment is allowed without applying for an MNRF permit but raking, tilling, etc. is definitely not.

If heavy equipment appears to be encroaching on the beach there are two numbers to call. One is the MNRF office in Owen Sound at 519-371-6751. The other is available 24/7. It’s the MNRF TIPS line, for reporting infractions at 1-877-847-7667.

Thank you,
Kate McLaren
Owen Sound Field Naturalists President

URGENT – Sauble Plovers

Saturday, March 10th, 2018

osfnlogoThursday night’s strong show of support for the OSFN to formally defend the habitat of piping plovers, along with conservation of dune ecology was very inspiring!

This is a Call to Action!

What if every one of us took a few minutes to send messages to all members of South Bruce Peninsula council?

Not just the mayor…. mayor Janice Jackson Matt Jackson Paul McKenzie Ana Vukovic

And deputy mayor Jay Kirkland who hasn’t email, has a cell phone. Text him! (edit- he has an email

Copy your letter to


If you have images of the habitat destruction, attach those too!

If this bulldozing isn’t stopped the plovers and the long term health of the beach are in peril.

Photo taken after the beach raking in August 2017.

Photo taken after the beach raking in August 2017.


More MNRF contacts


Hon. Nathalie Des Rosiers | Minister | 416-314-2301 |

Bill Thornton | Deputy Minister | 416-314-2150 |


Shawn Carey | District Manager | Southern District 704-725-7561 |

Owen Sound Field Office

Tracy Allison | Resources Management Supervisor | 519-371-6751 |

Kathy Dodge | Management Biologist | 519-371-8422 |

Jody Scheifley | Management Biologist | 519-371-8471 |

Craig Todd | Partnership Specialist | 519-371-8465 |

Karen Dykxhoorn | Resource Managment Technician | 519-371-8468 |