NATURE CLUB NEWS December 2018
by John Dickson
On Sunday November 4th, on a cool but mostly sunny day, and Fred Jazvac felt that it was perhaps the largest turnout (almost 40 birders, including some from the Bruce Birding Club) in his more than ten years of leading Around the Bay with Fred – Waterfowl ID: Tips and Techniques. And, coincidentally, almost 40 different species were observed and noted during the four to five hours of this annual outing of the Owen sound Field Naturalists. Highlights included 48 Greater White-Fronted Geese, at Leith, and a rare sighting of a Red Phalarope at the East Side Boat Launch plus about 20 various species that are found near water, along with a Bald Eagle and a few songbirds. Having announced that this would be the final time he would lead this event, Fred was given a rousing cheer, and a round of applause, in appreciation.
On November 8th, in the auditorium of the Public Library, Susan McGowan, Forest Health Technical Specialist for the Midhurst – Aurora Districts, enlightened the audience on her role, in monitoring forests, and reporting her findings on the relative health of trees, including ones threatened by disease, or insect infestations. She shared details of wooded areas right here in Grey Bruce, and farther afield, with details about Beech, Elm, Ash, Spruce, Oak, as well as the cyclical activities of the Forest Tent Caterpillars. There were many questions afterwards, and McGowan invited folks to report cases where healthy specimens are thriving, and could have greater disease resistance, possibly through genetics, and potentially providing a good source of future seedlings. Visit the OSFN website for her contact information as well as a list of online resources related to her talk.
On November 25, Brian Robin led the Young Naturalists Club on a field trip at Kinghurst Nature Reserve. His main focus was to show and share information about winter survival for many of the local fauna. Bird nests, Beaver lodges, cavities in trees – all of these were there to be discovered. Robin also brought with him and showed samples of butterfly cocoons, and even a wintering home of a Praying Mantis. Later he pointed out a vernal pool in the middle of forest, where amphibians may be able to find some mud, and where many critters even have a type of anti-freeze component in their bodies. The members of the Young Naturalists Club had many engaging questions questions answered and as one parent, Yulia Belov, reported –
“Thank you so much for the great hike today at Kinghurst! My family and I really enjoyed it! We found it very informative and interesting.”
In the month ahead many members of the OSFN, will be engaged in the annual Christmas Bird Counts. Held every year between December 14th and January 5th, the Christmas Bird Count is one of the the largest citizen science projects.
If you would like to join one of the counts in Grey or Bruce counties, the contact information and dates of the 2018 counts are listed on the OSFN website. If you are outside the area, or would like more general information about the project, head to the Bird Studies Canada Website.
On Thursday December 13, John Reaume, an accomplished wildlife photographer, naturalist, and physician, will present Spiders of Eastern North America. A popular speaker, Reaume states -“Spiders have a bad reputation but in reality these fascinating creatures are very valuable to us and have an amazing life history. Understanding more about spiders will make you appreciate them more – its true!”
The meeting begins at 7PM, in the auditorium of the Owen Sound and North Grey Union Public Library. Admission is free, although donations are welcome.
To close, a couple of nature quotes from our good friend Jake Doherty, recently deceased -“Was it a quick flurry of blowing snow, like a looming northern mirage, or was it perhaps something more primordial, left behind from an earlier time in the ancient forests?” ; “The wind picked up, and a single yellowed, withered leaf twisted, then tumbled to the ground … in the fading autumn -“