Nature Club News February 2020

Nature Club News February 2020

by John Dickson

Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) will feature Peter Middleton’s  “A Break From Winter” at 7PM this Thursday February 13, at the Lumley Bayshore Community Centre. This is expected to be Middleton’s final lecture, after decades of stimulating talks with wonderful photographs, commentary, and often a touch of poetry. Middleton brings to his talks a deep knowledge of the natural sciences, including botany, zoology, ornithology, geomorphology, and many more.

Peter Middleton

Clarke Birchard has shared this description about Middleton:

“Peter Middleton spent most of his professional career sharing his extensive knowledge and passion for nature with others. He was a teacher at the Toronto Island Natural Science School, a teacher and later the Director of the Outdoor Education Centre for the Bruce County Board of Education and the Bluewater District School Board. During those years he inspired thousands of students, colleagues as well as teachers and parents that accompanied the classes.

He led nature tours for adult groups on weekends and during summers. Following retirement, nature tours grew into almost a second career for Quest Nature Tours and other agencies. These tours took him to the Arctic, the Antarctic, India, South Africa, his birthplace of Scotland and numerous other locales. He played a major leadership role in the early years of the Saugeen Field Naturalists and later became active in the Owen Sound Field Naturalists, and was President 2010-12. 

He has had numerous speaking engagements and led nature walks in Owen Sound, Grey, Bruce and beyond. He has also been a director of Ontario Nature and chair of the nature reserves committee.”

This “A Break from Winter” presentation replaces the originally scheduled “Horses of Sable Island, etc.”, with Marg Gaviller,  post-poned due to family commitments, and to be held at a later date. Reminder – OSFN monthly meetings are now being held at the Lumley Bayshore, and are no longer at the Library.

Everyone is welcome, and encouraged to arrive before 7PM for a social time with coffee and refreshments. Admission is free, though donations are welcome.

As we head towards Spring, several local organizations are offering their annual programmes and festivals.

Grey Roots is including this nature-themed talk in its Spring Lecture Series with Dr. David Holah – How Green is Green Energy?

“Our hopes of moving away from fossil fuels lies with the increased use of green energy (solar and wind) and the production of batteries for electric cars. Success will largely be dependent on a few metals of which most people have never heard and which come with a significant environmental cost.”

Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Chemistry at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Dr. Holah held numerous teaching and research positions at research facilities, governmental agencies and universities in the US, UK and Canada. Dr. Holah’s presentations can be enjoyed by science and non-science attendees alike.

This presentation is part of the Spring Lecture Series taking place on Tuesday afternoons following March Break, March 24 through April 14, in the Grey Roots Theatre. Talks take place at 1:00 p.m. and are repeated at 2:30 p.m. Complimentary refreshments following each talk. Free with admission. Members free as always. To learn more please visit

The 23rd annual Huron Fringe Birding Festival will be held May 22 – 25 & May 28 – 31, 2020 celebrating birds, birding and nature. The Festival is based out of beautiful MacGregor Point Provincial Park, where events explore the rich niches of the Park, and also venture throughout the ‘Huron Fringe’ of land along Lake Huron’s shore, up the bountiful Bruce Peninsula, and to many significant natural areas of Bruce and Grey Counties.
The Festival offers an incredible 95 events over two 4-day weekends in late May! This time of year captures both the end of migration and the beginning of the nesting season, ensuring an abundance of birds. Morning, afternoon, all-day and evening events are offered daily. You can choose to attend one, some, or pick a full-Festival package! All events are led by top local, provincial and global tour leaders.

ONLINE REGISTRATION is active March 1 (6am) to May 21 (6pm) & May 26 to May 27. To learn more please visit

Upcoming 2020 forum “The Climate Is Changing – Will We?”

The annual Sources of Knowledge Forum, April 24th – 26th, 2020 at Tobermory, is intended to demonstrate how research in Bruce Peninsula National Park, Fathom Five National Marine Park, and the surrounding community contributes to knowledge of the Bruce Peninsula’s natural and human history. This event has been held in Tobermory since 2009, and is a regular means of presenting research activities, their results and their implications for decision-making. It provides students, educators, researchers, citizens, business operators and policy-makers with access to networks, information and ideas through which local knowledge can be integrated into their respective interests 2020 Forum registration has opened as of Feb 1st. The early bird price is $80 if you register before April 1st. After April 1st it rises to $90. To learn more please visit –

Kate McLaren shares this report of the the OSFN Young Naturalists Club activities Sunday February 9:”While Elaine van den Kieboom and Jody Johnson prepared the bonfire to heat hot chocolate and apple cider, Doug van den Kieboom led a long string of 12 children and just as many adults on winding trails through the forest in Sydenham township.

Their property is a haven for birds including Chickadees, Ruffed Grouse plus Hairy, Downy and Pileated Woodpeckers. Within the mixed forest are some butternut trees, although most showed evidence of the fungus that is killing them throughout their range. Doug pointed out the stripped tree bark on cedars that was evidence of the resident porcupines. Coyote tracks criss-crossed with deer and skunks, although we didn’t spot them. We were a talkative group! Some followed Doug on a second loop while others chose to remove their snowshoes and cozy up beside the fire.

Elaine had previously prepared snow benches for everyone to sit on as they toasted bannock and marshmallows over the fire and talked about what they’d seen and heard.”  

To close, a Nature quote from The Magnetic North, by Sara Wheeler – “The extent to which man, for the first time in history has become the central force in shaping both climate and ecosystems is reflected in the term anthropocene, coined in 2000 by the Dutch chemist and Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen.  His suggestions that the influence of human behaviour on the earth constitutes a new geological epoch is gaining ground.”

River Otters, Saturday February 8, at Southampton Harbour. Photo by Pam Binnendyk