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Nature Club News, September, 2017

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

NATURE CLUB NEWS

by John Dickson

A version of this column appeared in the OS Sun Times on Wednesday September 13, 2017

Since last month, there have been many Nature Club activities happening in Grey and Bruce Counties.

The Sauble Beach contingent of Piping Plovers had departed by early August, after the most successful year since their return. The Plover Lovers committee and team of monitors had a very successful season, of monitoring and outreach education, including their stimulating Beach Talk speaker series.

On August 19, the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy featured a “Species at Risk Walkabout” with Naturalists Miptoon and Jarmo Jalava.

For several weeks in August the Bruce Birding Club made forays to the Mitchell area to see and study the diverse bird populations in the wetland areas of West Perth.

The Owen Sound Field Naturalists held its first field trips for this new season of 2017-18, by joining in with two of the Monarch tagging days hosted by Butterfly Gardens of Saugeen Shores, an organization dedicated to enhancing the habitat for Monarch and other butterfly species. Formed in the fall of 2014, this organization has engaged in developing habitat sites called pods, along the shores of Lake Huron with an enthusiastic team of volunteers to look after them and many individual butterfly gardens in the residential areas of Southampton and environs. As James Kamstra told us at Kinghurst Butterfly ID event back in July, even then, it was looking like the best year for Monarchs in the last five. In the Southampton area, some properties have been very successful as “roosts”, where butterflies gather to feed and rest while on their journey south. There have been reports of up to five hundred Monarchs in one location there. I too have been noticing many Monarch butterflies working their way south, throughout the area, whether while I was swimming at Sauble Beach with grandchildren, cycling in the Arran Lake area, or running on trails near Tobermory and Dorcas Bay.

At the Monarch tagging event we attended on August 29, Kerry Jarvis and Melitta Smole explained identifying features of Monarchs, male and female, and demonstrated the tagging process, whereby a numbered and recorded lightweight sticker, (an initiative first developed by Canadian Dr. Fred Urquhart in an effort to learn more about the destinations of this iconic species), is carefully attached to a wing. Thereafter, anywhere that butterfly is discovered the origin of its tagging and its eventual final destination can be tabulated, to build on the collected data, from which patterns of travel and interruption can emerge.

Sticky Tofieldia at Petrel point. (Photo by Carol Harris)

Sticky Tofieldia at Petrel point. (Photo by Carol Harris)

OSFN members were also invited to join Botanist Barbara Palmer and members of the Sydenham Bruce Trail Club on Thursday morning, September 7, for a leisurely walk at Petrel Point Nature Reserve to enjoy wildflowers, including lots of asters and goldenrods!

The Owen Sound Field Naturalist Club has already launched its 2017-18 season, sending its Hart’s Tongue Herald newsletter to its membership, and getting started with a flurry of activities in September.

Two separate and complementary September Fern Hikes entitled “Rock Stars of the West Rocks: Ferns in abundance” were filled to capacity with waiting lists, so quickly, that it suggests that OSFN’s popular hike leader and speaker Peter Middleton, is not unlike a Rock Star himself. These opportunities to learn in an outdoor classroom are a special component of OSFN’s programming.

The Owen Sound Field Naturalists Club is getting ready to present its 2017-18 season of speakers and field trips.

Kerry Tagging Monarchs, Sept. 2015 (Photo submitted by Kerry Jarvis)

Kerry Tagging Monarchs, Sept. 2015 (Photo by Melitta Smole)

The OSFN Speaker Series begins this Thursday September 14, with Kerry Jarvis of the “Butterfly Gardens of Saugeen Shores”, and his presentation “Fantastic Pollinators & Where to Find Them”. You are invited to see and hear Kerry Jarvis as he shares the plight of the Monarchs and what one community is doing to attract them, and other pollinators. Discover how you too can lead the way to finding fantastic pollinators! This will take place in the auditorium of the Public Library in Owen Sound. The evening begins at 7PM, and it is recommended to arrive early, if possible. OSFN personnel will be on hand to process membership purchases and renewals as early as 6:30PM. Admission for the evening is free, although donations are welcome.

Peter Middleton leading an earlier fern hike.  (Photo by Carol Harris)

Peter Middleton leading an earlier fern hike. (Photo by Carol Harris)

The club’s Field Trips or “Outings”, will fill up the rest of September with Peter Middleton’s second Fern Hike, and Bob Gray’s field trip to trace a unique watercourse in the area of Colpoy’s Bay, (September 17) and rounding out the month on September 30, is a Trout Hollow Saunter – with Robert Burcher, “Following the Footsteps of John Muir”, near Meaford. The OSFN field trips are splendid opportunities to learn, at first hand, from knowledgeable hike leaders, and are primarily for members, with pre-registration required.

Membership information for mail-in, and/or online membership registration is available at http://owensoundfieldnaturalists.ca/category/membership/

In addition, OSFN is involved as a partner in a supportive role for two special events – a special tree planting programme being planned by the City of Owen Sound to plant 150 trees, in Celebration of Canada’s sesquicentennial. Here is the information about that for you to get involved in a volunteer capacity for a community event.

The Big Canadian Tree Plant
Planting of 150 trees at Kelso Beach Park, Owen Sound
September 23rd, 10am to 12:30pm

This event will require the help of many volunteers, who can register on the TD website

The second partnering OSFN is doing is in support of the newly created bursary fund for the Outdoor Education Centre’s association to fund bursaries for attending Outdoor Wilderness Leadership Symposiums (OWLS), diversity initiatives and more.

Last year’s October speaker for OSFN, Adam Shoalts, also well known as Canada’s Indiana Jones, in tribute to his northern explorations, mapping, anthropolgy, writing and academics, is returning to Owen Sound. Just last week he completed his mammoth solo summer voyage, crossing norhern Canada by canoe, and portage from the Yukon-Alaska Border, to the mighty Mackenzie River. and all the way east to Baker Lake, a voyage of discovery, research and celebration of Canada’s sesquicentennial.

6:30PM Saturday November 4th is the date and time for his new presentation in the Community Hall in Harrison Park. This special fundraising evening will include special hors d’oeuvres, a trading blanket feature and more.

Tickets are $60. each and can be reserved for you by contacting Deb Diebel at the Outdoor Education Centre, by email at Deborah_Diebel@bwdsb.on.ca or by telephone at 519-534-2767 or 519-379-0864 (cell) Only 70 tickets will be sold, on a first come first serve basis.

Again, this fundraising event is an initiative of the Outdoor Education Centre and its association of Outdoor Educators, with the supporting partnership of Owen Sound Field Naturalists, and Adam Shoalts’ appearance is generously sponsored by Caframo.

The rest of this season’s Speaker Series provides an eclectic array of topics and themes, ranging from the witty and wise ecological fables of Paul Aird, complemented by the exquisite line drawings of Thoreau MacDonald, to local and national representatives of the Nature Conservancy of Canada. Then in December a fascinating look at Tom Thomson the Naturalist (and Artist). In January Peter Middleton returns with a talk to follow up on his fern hikes. Always popular Willy Waterton and Audrey Armstrong will share with us their voyage to the North West passage. Dr. Sonja Ostertag will share her research findings related to the Beluga whale. Popular columnist and bird artist Barry Kent McKay joins us in April. Members night in May features a variety of presenters from the club, and the season finale features a friendly social occasion and potluck dinner followed by Markdale native Ted Armstrong’s up to date presentation on the iconic Woodland Caribou.

In addition there is a plethora of outdoor activities, providing opportunities for learning, and for Knowing Nature Better, our club’s motto.

Petrel Point walk with Sydenham Bruce Trail Club, Sept 7.

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

Join Barbara Palmer and members of the Sydenham Bruce Trail Club on Thursday morning, September 7, for a leisurely walk at Petrel Point Nature Reserve to enjoy wildflowers, including lots of asters and goldenrods! We plan to check out some other nature spots close-by. Bring lunch, rain gear, and insect repellent, just in case.

Contact Barbara at 519-372-0355 or barbara_p@rogers.com for meeting place and time.

Nature Club News, August, 2017

Monday, September 4th, 2017

NATURE CLUB NEWS

by John Dickson

A version of this column appeared in the OS Sun Times on Wednesday August 23, 2017

Although the Owen Sound Field Naturalists had only two scheduled events in July, these two were especially educational. The first was Ontario Nature’s butterfly ID event at Kinghurst Forest Nature Reserve, July 16, under the guidance of James Kamstra.

James Kamstra, netting a butterfly for closer inspection.

James Kamstra, netting a butterfly for closer inspection. (Photo by Brian Robin)

At first the weather was threatening, but soon it improved as about thirty attendees were exploring the diverse habitat to see and identify what species were evident. Folks had come from far and wide, to share their love of Nature, and interest in learning more about the species around us.


In addition to butterflies, other species observed included moths, dragonflies, birds, spiders, grasshoppers, as well as the plants on which they were found.
When asked how to determine butterfly versus moth, Kamstra explained that when you watch them flying, moths drop right down quickly, while butterflies “alight'”. Eventually the sun appeared and even more butterflies emerged to be carefully netted and observed at close range for detailed identification features.

For a more comprehensive, and entertaining documentation of this workshop, with superb commentary and photos, please visit OSFN director Brian Robin’s website at http://brianrobin.ca/ontario-nature-butterfly-id-workshop/.

To quote Brian ” All in all a great way to spend a morning – a knowledgeable guide, a flourishing meadow – it was the first time several of the attendees had visited Kinghurst – and a big thanks to James Kamstra and Ontario Nature for putting on this event”


Just a few days later, on July 20, one of our favourite speakers from last season returned to host a workshop on Freshwater Mussels. Dr.Todd Morris’s presentation last September resulted in a curiosity to know more about these fascinating creatures in our local waters. As a research scientist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada he conducts surveys to monitor the species at risk in the waters of much of Ontario.

A preliminary introduction to mussels by Dr. Morris as his staff and summer students look on. (Photo by Brian Robin)

A preliminary introduction to mussels by Dr. Morris as his staff and summer students look on. (Photo by Brian Robin)

This hands-on workshop was held at a site in the Saugeen River watershed, where a previous survey had been done in 2006. Optical devices made to observe the stream bed enabled the participants to see quite clearly the outlines of various mussel species in the substrate below the water. Then these were gathered and kept in mesh bags attached to the technicians, so the mussels would stay safely in the water until they were removed briefly for examination, identification, and documentation, before being returned to the safety of their underwater habitat.

Here is an excerpt from the stated results from the survey done this year, submitted to us by Dr. Morris,
” in 2006 we found 6 live species at the site. During our visit this summer we found live animals from 8 species – all of the species known from the watershed.

Species found in 2017

Elktoe Alasmidonta marginata
Slippershell Alasmidonta viridis
Spike Elliptio dilatata
Plain Pocketbook Lampsilis cardium
Fatmucket Lampsilis siliquoidea
Flutedshell Lasmigona costata
Creeper Strophitus undulatus
Rainbow Villosa iris (Special Concern)

The site was still dominated by Elliptio dilatata as it was in 2006 but despite the high waters it appears that the mussel community is still doing quite well at the site.”

Part of the day's Spike collection. All living specimens were carefully kept underwater before being returned to the river. (Photo by Brian Robin)

Part of the day’s Spike collection. All living specimens were carefully kept underwater before being returned to the river.
(Photo by Brian Robin)

Participating in this illuminating workshop were several employees, and summer students, under Dr. Morris’ supervision. Attending local naturalists were from the Owen Sound Field Naturalists with guests from Saugeen Nature, Bruce National Park, and Waterloo Region Nature.

If you’re interested in learning more about freshwater mussels, head to http://www.musselguide.ca/ or look for the free “Clam Counter” app, available for Android and iOS, which lets you report your own sightings.


The Owen Sound Field Naturalists Club is getting ready to present its 2017-18 season of speakers and field trips.

The OSFN speaker series begins on Thursday September 14, with Kerry Jarvis of the “Butterfly Gardens of Saugeen Shores”, and his presentation “Fantastic Pollinators & Where to Find Them”. You are invited to see and hear Kerry Jarvis as he shares the plight of the Monarchs and what one community is doing to attract them, and other pollinators. Discover how you too can lead the way to finding fantastic pollinators! This will take place in the auditorium of the Public Library in Owen Sound. The evening begins at 7PM, and it is recommended to arrive early, if possible. OSFN personnel will be on hand to process membership purchases and renewals as early as 6:30PM. Admission for the evening is free, although donations are welcome.

The club’s Field Trips or “Outings”, will fill up the rest of September with a Monarch tagging event, Sept.2, two complementary Fern Hikes (Septmeber 13, 20), led by Peter Middleton, a field trip to trace a unique watercourse in the area of Colpoy’s Bay, (September 17) led by Bob Gray, and rounding out the month on September 30, is a Trout Hollow Saunter – with Robert Burcher, “Following the Footsteps of John Muir”, near Meaford. The OSFN field trips are splendid opportunities to learn, at first hand, from knowledgeable hike leaders, and are primarily for members, with pre-registration required.

Membership information for mail-in, and/or online membership registration is available at http://owensoundfieldnaturalists.ca/category/membership/

For more information please visit www.osfn.ca

In addition, OSFN is also involved in a supportive role with a special tree planting programme being planned by the City of Owen Sound to plant 150 trees, in Celebration of Canada’s sesquicentennial. Here is the information about that for you to get involved in a volunteer capacity for a community event.

The Big Canadian Tree Plant
Planting of 150 trees at Kelso Beach Park, Owen Sound
September 23rd, 10am to 12:30pm

This event will require the help of many volunteers who can register here –
Please register on the TD website below
https://www.tdtreedays.com/en-ca/events/862-kelso-beach-park

Early Monarch Tagging Event

Monday, August 28th, 2017
Photo © Kerry Jarvis

Photo © Kerry Jarvis

Event
Early Monarch Tagging Event
When
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
10:00am - noon - All Ages
Where
Big Flag (map)
Foot of High Street
Southampton
Other Info
Monarchs are on the move early! In addition to the originally scheduled Sept. 2 outing, OSFN members are invited to the Butterfly Gardens of Saugeen Shores Community Tagging Day, Tuesday August 29 - 10AM to 12 Noon.

Join Kerry and Melitta near the big flag at the foot of High Street, Southampton.

Sturdy footwear urged. Butterfly nets welcome, some available for use.

Register: butterflygardensofss@gmail.com

For more info about the Butterfly Gardens at the BGOSS Website, including a monarch tagging video.

« Back to the calendar

Nature Club News, July, 2017

Monday, July 24th, 2017

NATURE CLUB NEWS

by John Dickson

A version of this column appeared in the OS Sun Times on Friday July 14, 2017

The month of June had the Owen Sound Field Naturalists on field trips all over Grey and Bruce Counties. Many OSFN members were taking part in and/or volunteering to help stage the 2017 Huron Fringe Birding Festival. Some were also helping to monitor the Piping Plovers that had returned to spend their summer here, to raise their families.

On Thursday June 8, President Kate McLaren welcomed everyone to the Club’s annual potluck supper at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. Even the guest speaker Dr. Larry Peterson, of the University of Guelph, brought a favourite dish to share. President Kate McLaren, then chaired the AGM, which concluded with the presentation of the OSFN Community Conservation Award. The President called on Krista McKee to present this award to Bill Moses in recognition of: “. . . your ongoing support of the Owen Sound Field Naturalists, the Bruce Trail Club, the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority Inglis Falls Arboretum and the Nature Conservancy of Canada, through your long-time volunteering, stewarding and writing; your related promotion of the planting and preservation of native plants, and your dedication to guiding the completion and publication of The Vascular Plants of the Bruce Peninsula.”

Dr. Peterson’s talk about ” The fascinating Biology of Orchids”, really did bring a new awareness for the audience of the diversity of not only the floral forms of the orchids themselves, but also pollination mechanisms, associations with beneficial fungi, and some of the successful adaptations to a wide range of terrestrial habitats. Several club members have followed up with Dr. Peterson with further questions since his presentation.

Sunday June 11, Lynne Richardson led a troupe of birders through the Loree trails to discover Field & Forest Birds of the Blue Mountains. Lynne explained how the area is changing, and the field area at the trail entrance is filling in with trees, and fewer grassland birds are to be found there, than in the past. In the woods though many typical forest birds were evident, including the ubiquitous red-eyed vireo. Close observation revealed one of their distinctive nests, woven and hanging along a branch, only about 15 feet off the ground. Soon after, a woodpecker was seen flying past, with its unique flying style. Once it landed it was identified as a yellow bellied sapsucker. The surprise though, was that a ruby throated hummingbird was following everywhere the sapsucker went, as if it was taking advantage of fresh holes in tree trunks left by the larger bird, to check for some nutritious sap for itself. Other highlights included a fleeting glimpse of a red headed woodpecker, and and indigo bunting which posed in the sun for leisurely viewing and for photos.

Chris Rickard and a Canadian Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly (photo by John Dickson)

Chris Rickard and a Canadian Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly (photo by John Dickson)

Wednesday June 14, Chris Rickard led a hike entitled Butterflies of Bognor Marsh. At first few species were evident, but soon afterwards, more and more species were observed and carefully netted for closer observation. Of special note was a small tree stalk, leaking sap, to which several varieties of butterflies were attracted. These included the Mourning Cloak, and the Red Admiral. Other butterflies observed included the Summer Azure, Hobomok Skipper, the Silvery Blue, plus both the Canadian and the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies.

On Friday June 23rd, the OSFN members were invited to Saugeen Valley Lookout – A Tour of Nels Maher and John Weir’s Fern Garden and 40 Acre Naturalized Property, also the home farm property of Jean Maher (Weir) northeast of Durham. However, the day commenced with a moment of silence and contemplation, to honour the memory of esteemed and popular OSFN director and former President, Freeman Boyd had passed away suddenly, early the day before.

This diverse habitat of woodlands, fields and wetlands, is a showcase for naturalists, and a welcome home for many species of flora and fauna. Of special note were the fern garden with its screen canopy, to offer enhanced lighting conditions. The Maher family, with much appreciated help from the wider community, were able to salvage and clean up many areas of the farm, which were severely damaged by the deadly tornado that swept through the Durham area. Those in attendance were led on two separate educational tours of the property by Brian and Clare Maher, both sons of Jean and the late Nels Maher. The weather cooperated for a sunny picnic, which was enhanced by the special luncheon treats of fiddleheads, prepared and served, to perfection. The hospitality of the hosts was very much appreciated.

Showy lady slipper orchids (photo by Brian Maher)

Showy lady slipper orchids (photo by Brian Maher)

Upcoming activities include Ontario Nature’s butterfly ID workshop on Sunday July 16, at Kinghurst Forest Nature Reserve. Then on Thursday July 20, OSFN members can get some hands on experience with last September’s popular speaker Todd Morris, who is returning to our area for a Freshwater Mussel Field Trip.

Even though the Owen Sound Field Naturalists have fewer formal activities and events in the summer months, many members are busy exploring and observing the various changes in nature that take place in the wetlands, trees, grasses and in the skies. It is also a good time to sign up or renew memberships, and to consider youngsters who may be able to join up with our Young Naturalist programme, which starts up again in September. There is also a good opportunity to learn from the Club’s many superb publications available at the Ginger Press.

Freshwater Mussel Followup

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

We had a great turnout to our first indoor meeting of the season – over 50 members saw a very enlightening presentation by Dr. Todd Morris about freshwater mussels. An organism that I (and many others!) had almost completely overlooked and ignored, I know many of us are now eager to learn more about our native mussels. Some of us may even have gone looking for mussels at the local swimming hole the day after the meeting.

Here are a few links to articles and other resources about these fascinating little treasures:

Canadian Freshwater Mussel Guide – an online key to identifying mussels.

Norfolk Field Naturalists – an article summarizing Dr. Morris’ presentation to this group on November 12, 2013.

Freshwater Mussels of the SOSMART Area – slides prepared by Todd Morris and Scott Reid.

Ontario Nature, “The Mussel Crisis” – an article on freshwater mussels from Winter 2008/09.

Recovery Strategy for Five Ontario Freshwater Mussels – part of the Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series and dated December 2006.

Have any links to add? Email web@owensoundfieldnaturalists.ca!

A Spike, Elliptio dilatata (I think!).

A Spike, Elliptio dilatata (I think!).

Earth Film Festival

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

This spring, the  Grey Sauble Conservation Foundation is hosting  a  Earth Film Festival at the Roxy  Theatre on Thursday April 28.

We have chosen  some excellent films. Check out the poster that I have attached.

My committee is approaching local business and selected individuals to help sponsor this event. Sponsorship  , you will receive free tickets, acknowledgements on the film screen, program  and on posters.We will have a number of door prizes.

Give some thought as well,  think about attending. Tickets are now available at the Roxy Theatre.

Proceeds from this event will go towards school programs(wild water, trees  for schools), the Pottawatomi Memorial Forest  trails and signage.

 

So take time, mark it on your calendars. Hope to see out there,

New Sign. Sauble Dunes Nature Reserve

Thursday, February 11th, 2016
OSFN Club Members – this is an image of the sign to be installed, with an official ceremony,  tentatively planned for Sunday afternoon May 22, 2016.  Once we have this date confirmed we will share that with you, so you can plan to attend for this very special occasion.
The Lewington family was presented with the OSFN Community Conservation Award in the recent past.
(Click on sign to get an enhanced image.)
sauble

2016 Contract Employment Opportunity: Piping Plovers at Sauble Beach

Monday, February 8th, 2016

Species at Risk – Piping Plovers at Sauble Beach
2016 Contract Employment Opportunity:
Coordinator of Volunteer Monitors
Last year marked the ninth year that the endangered shorebird, the Piping Plover,
successfully nested on Ontario’s side of Lake Huron after a 30-year absence.
Volunteer Monitors play an important role in the species recovery program through
public education and contributing valuable monitoring data on a daily basis.
Starting in mid-April 2016, a contract position will be available for a “can-do”
individual with an interest in species-at-risk, birding, and the coordination of
volunteer monitors. This is a 20-week position, lasting through to late August. It
requires a seven-day-a-week commitment between phone/internet volunteer
coordination and an “on-the-beach” presence in all types of weather.
Key requirements include an ability to schedule/manage volunteers, work in
harmony with the Stewardship Grey-Bruce Plover Lovers Committee, Ministry of
Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) field staff, liaise with community members,
maintain and regularly update the website and social media, complete an “end-ofproject”
report, and be an effective communicator in-person, over-the-phone, via
social media and in stand-up presentations. The successful candidate will have
reliable mobility to work with volunteers at Sauble Beach. Internet access and
mobile phone are required. A more detailed description of the requirements is
posted at ploverlovers.com/coordinator.
The position will be reimbursed to a maximum of $15,000.
Prospective candidates should convey their interest and resume via email to:
info@ploverlovers.com with the subject line: 2016 Volunteer Coordinator Position
Resumes received by March 4, 2016 will be considered for interviews to be
conducted on March 11, 2016.

Volunteer to monitor the Piping Plovers.

Monday, February 8th, 2016
Those interested in volunteering as monitors for the Piping Plovers this year can sign up, at our OSFN meeting Feb. 11, or email Aubrey – aubferg@gmail.com
or Norah  ntoth@rogers.com