Nature Club News, August, 2017

Monday, September 4th, 2017


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

Early Monarch Tagging Event

Monday, August 28th, 2017
Photo © Kerry Jarvis

Photo © Kerry Jarvis

Early Monarch Tagging Event
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
10:00am - noon - All Ages
Big Flag (map)
Foot of High Street
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


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.)

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

Ontario Nature’s Conservation Awards

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

Click to go to ON web page

Attention teen birders!

Monday, January 18th, 2016

The Doug Tarry Young Ornithologists’ Workshop

Young Ornithologist Workshop Announcement

The Doug Tarry Bird Study Awards foster the development of ornithological interests in Canadian teenagers. Recipients of the awards attend a week-long workshop/natural history camp or a month-long student internship at Long Point Bird Observatory (LPBO).

The Doug Tarry Young Ornithologists’ Workshop is a major component of the Observatory’s educational program. Since its inception in the mid 1970s, the Workshop has been the jumping-off point for many of today’s most talented field biologists. Thanks to the keen foresight and generosity of humanitarian and naturalist Doug Tarry, the Workshop is offered free to selected applicants. It focuses on “hands-on” learning and training in field ornithology, providing a unique opportunity for like-minded teenagers to enhance their knowledge and skills in the scientific study and aesthetic enjoyment of birds. Participants learn how to identify, age and sex birds, and to study their populations and behaviour. Careful and skilled instructors teach the secrets of bird handling and banding techniques, how to prepare specimens for scientific study, and an array of bird censusing techniques. Regular afternoon field trips are taken to places of biological interest within the internationally designated Long Point Biosphere Reserve. Evenings too are busy with slide presentations and nocturnal field work.

This year, the Workshop is being held from Saturday, August 6 to Sunday, August 14, 2016. Space is limited to 6 participants, ranging in age from 13-17 years old. The Award covers all direct costs of the workshop (accommodation, meals, travel while at Long Point, and professional instruction), but recipients are responsible for their transportation to Long Point.

What is a Student Internship?

The student internship is a month-long position awarded to mature teenagers with clearly demonstrated interests in field ornithology (often graduates of the Young Ornithologists’ Workshop). Each year, one or more interns spend three to four weeks in August and September and become involved in all aspects of LPBO’s Migration Monitoring Program to further develop skills gained from the YOW program. In addition, with help of Bird Studies Canada staff, interns design and conduct an independent field research project. Funding for these positions is provided by The Doug Tarry Internship Award. This year, internships will be held throughout August.


Prospective participants of the workshop or the student internship are invited to download the application form (Adobe Acrobat Reader required) or request an application form:

Long Point Bird Observatory
Box 160, Port Rowan, Ontario N0E 1M0

ax: (519) 586-3532
E-mail: lpbo@birdscanada.org

Applications are due by April 30.

The Young Ornithologist Workshop and Internship is supported by BSC’s Doug Tarry Natural History Fund. Additional support has been provided through a special grant from Canada’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s (NSERC) “PromoScience” program for young scientists.

The Doug Tarry Bird Study Awards are an excellent opportunity for like-minded teens from across Canada to meet and learn field ornithological skills and increase their aesthetic appreciation of birds. But don’t just take our word for it!

“It was one of the most enjoyable weeks I’ve ever spent anywhere, and that’s the truth.”
Chris Greenwood – age 15

“I have now met young people who have similar interests, who are great people, who are now my friends, and we will keep in touch.”
Sarah Trefry – age 14

“That evening we went to Backus Woods to listen for owls, and we actually got to communicate with them . . . they were the most beautiful sounds I have ever heard.”
Lea Ann Doan – age 17

“This has been an awesome week. We did a lot of banding each morning, and got to handle at least 16 species of birds including the Northern Waterthrush, Tennessee Warbler, Warbling Vireo and Cardinal. We learned about the whole process, from setting up nets to aging by skull ossification.”
Philina English – age 14