NATURE CLUB NEWS APRIL 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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org by April 30, 2018.
For more details please visit https://owensoundfieldnaturalists.ca/announcements/2018-youth-summit-sponsorship/
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.”