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Nature Club News for May 2024

by John Dickson

I asked the internet – “Is there a Turtle Month?” and learned that ‘Certainly! Turtle Month from Earth Day April 22 to World Turtle Day on May 23 is dedicated to raising awareness about the world’s turtles and tortoises.’

Well, it just so happens that Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) is presenting a Turtle Talk entitled The Beautiful World of Turtles, with Jenna McGuire beginning at 7pm Thursday May 16, at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre. Doors open by 6:30pm 

An Ecologist, a Scientific Illustrator and a favourite OSFN presenter and hike leader, Jenna McGuire invites us all to explore the life histories of our local turtles in-depth. We will travel through turtle evolution, biology and ecology through photos, illustrations, models and more. Most importantly we will review the many ways we can help support these incredible, ancient beings! 

Everyone is welcome and Admission is free or by donation. 

OSFN also plans to offer this as an online webinar, via Zoom. To request a Zoom Link, please send an email, in advance, to  with Turtles in the subject line.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak  May 11, in West Grey. Photo by Angie Milan

NeighbourWoods North (NWN) has some ongoing tree care work scheduled at the Hospital grounds in Owen Sound on the remaining two Saturday mornings in May, (the 18th and 25th) from 9:30 to 11am.  Plan to meet by the NWN shed past the emergency entrance and be sure to wear gloves and bring rakes, shovels, buckets, etc.

They also recently assisted the City in planting new trees at the Owen Sound Kiwanis Soccer Complex. 

I recall skiing the perimeter there on the skimpy snow this past winter, and noticing a crew near the central buildings, cutting and chipping the many White Ash trees that had been killed through the infestation of Emerald Ash Borers there.

Over the next few months I often encountered the same crew around the City, clearing other sites of the dead trees, especially where safety would be a concern if the trees were left standing much longer. Many thanks to those crews for doing this important work, and for the NWN volunteers for planting new trees there at the Soccer Complex! 

I have also been seeing quite a few Ash trees that have lost upper limbs, or completely fallen over along fence lines, etc.  You may visit NWN here  or on facebook.

new leaves back-lit by setting sunbeams May 5, Owen Sound  Photo by John Dickson

For me, along with enjoying migrating birds and butterflies, pretty tree blossoms, wildflowers and the scent of lilacs, one of the loveliest sights of Springtime is of new, still translucent tree leaves of green (or red) illuminated by the bright, low-angled beams of sunrise or sunset. 

A bonus this year has been the amazing Northern Lights seen here on May 10. It reminded me that John Hlynialuk’s Aurora Alert presentation back in March suggested that we just might be in for quite a few special sightings.  

John says” The recent event is due to a massive sunspot complex on the Sun … Our atmosphere is still taking “hits” from solar flares which keep erupting and we have another CME impact due May 13 or so…

We are at the peak of the current 11-yr sunspot cycle and expect the activity to continue for many months yet, perhaps even a year or more.”

Palm Warbler at Hibou, May 11. photo by Rob Wray

The Grey Sauble Conservation Foundation has an important fundraising campaign currently underway, with a silent auction until May 23, and an Earth Film Festival at the Roxy on May 16, featuring two special films: “The Water Walker”, which will captivate audiences with the inspiring journey of Autumn Peltier, International Indigenous Rights & Water Activist; “Becoming Tom Thomson” will transport viewers back in time, exploring the life and legacy of Canadian wilderness painter Tom Thomson, presented by Canadian Actor, Director, and Producer, Steve Belford.

Films start at 7:00 pm. The lobby will be open at 6:00 pm for a social time, displays, and exciting door prizes.

Before the evening film presentations there will be a Dinner Fundraiser hosted by chef Zach Keeshig, at the Owen Sound Farmers’ Market, from 5pm – 6:30pm. Indulge in a creatively cultivated 3-course menu featuring progressive Indigenous Cuisine with local, fresh, and seasonal ingredients. This culinary journey will be held at the Owen Sound Farmers’ Market 

Tickets for the film presentations are $30 each, or you can enjoy both the dinner and film presentations for $150.

Please note that tickets for the Dinner + Films package are only available at the box office. To get yours, please call 519-371-2833 or visit

Baltimore Oriole liking the orange and bird jelly (only a little at a time!) feeder.
May 7 photo by Carol Edwards-Harrison

I would like to draw your attention to the Guest Gallery at the Owen Sound Artists’ Co-op, and one of the three featured artists during this month of May, Frank deMatteis.

Several of his evocative works are on the west wall of the Guest Gallery,  just a few steps from the main entranceway. I first met Frank back in the 90s when he joined our noon running group one day, and we chatted as we headed out towards Harrison Park from the Y. 

I quickly discovered that he was an artist, and that bird paintings were an important component of his work. So, I said to him that I had always been a fan of J. Fenwick Lansdowne, and Frank immediately replied “Oh, he was  my idol!” 

Fast forward t to 2017,  when Frank accepted my invitation to lead a Nature sketching  and learning segment for the Young Naturalists Club (YNs), sharing his intimate knowledge. For instance, the students learned from Frank about the funneling effect of a Nightingales’ stiff bristles (not feathers) helping to guide flying insects to its open mouth, while this aerial insectivore wings its way around in the dark of night. 

About a year ago I was in the lobby at the Hospital in Owen Sound and an amazing piece of art caught my eye. Sure enough, it was by Frank de Matteis, and featured an  exquiste underwater view of a Common Loon. So, I encourage you to make your way to the Artists Co-op soon, before the  end of May, allowing time for return visits too, while these and many other works are on display there.

You can also learn more about Frank deMatteis from his website  at, as well as his profile there and his well-deserved accolades here:    In addition you can find references to his painting at the Hospital and his workshop with the Young Naturalists at this link there –

One of several paintings by Frank deMatteis at the Owen Sound Artists’ Co-op until the end of May


Nature Club News for March 2024

by John Dickson

It’s a March Nature Bonanza! Each year, the Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) set aside one meeting to invite club members to offer their own ten minute presentations, and this usually results in 5 or 6 of these, with a variety of topics – birds, plants, geology, insects, etc. This year, however, the response has been so outstanding that Members’ Night at 7pm Thursday March 14 at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre,  will feature 8 presenters, all with different topics to showcase!

These are: Audrey Armstrong with an update on the Monarch Butterflies population status; Robert Burcher with the ‘Royal Oaks’ of Meaford; Marsha Courtney offers ‘Shooting the Beautiful Shrooms’; Climate Change at Kemble Mountain with Bob Gray; Aurora Alert with John  Hlynialuk; David Morris presents ‘Roses by Many Other Names: A Look at Diversity within the Rose Family’; Barbara Palmer will introduce ‘Rock Stars’; and Willy Waterton will report from the Public Advisory Committee on both the Bruce and the Fathom Five National Parks. 

These monthly meetings are also great opportunities to check the OSFN Publications available about Orchids, other wildflowers and plants, Geology, etc. You can even share or learn about special Nature sightings observed recently in the area. The doors are open by 6:30pm, Everyone is Welcome and  Admission is free or by donation. The event is also expected to be shared virtually through zoom, so if you are interested in receiving a zoom link, please send an email, in advance, to  with ‘members’ on the subject line.For more information on the many activities and history of the club, as well as membership benefits, and support options, please visit

Bright and early the next morning, at 6am March 15, registration opens for the 26th Huron Fringe Birding Festival, (HFBF) to be held May 24 to 30 and May 30 – June 2, 2024. Here is the main link to access everything about the festival.  The HFBF offers an astounding array of topics from birds and botany to geology, plus photography and wildlife art, with superb presenters and hike leaders from near and far. You will find the timing and descriptions of their events at this helpful link: 

Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Side rd 21 Beaver Valley. March 3 photos by David Turner

On Saturday I visited briefly with  Wildlife Artist and Master Marine Biologist Sarah McComb Turbitt along with her special exhibition, hosted until March 30 by Grey Gallery at 883 2nd Avenue East, Owen Sound. Envisioned to bring awareness to Canada’s species at risk by painting Canadian endangered species, she committed to a 31 day challenge in January to paint as many of these species as possible. This show includes all fifteen of the paintings she completed during the challenge and they will be exhibited throughout March at Grey Gallery, with 15% of sales to  be donated to Wildlife Preservation Canada (WPC).  You may also get to meet her as one of several amazing artists featured this year at the  Huron Fringe Birding Festival.  

A reminder too, that tickets ($10. each) are still available for Robert Bowles’ Keynote Address for OSFN’s Celebrate Earth Day event aboard the Chi Cheemaun, 2pm Sunday April 21, including refreshments – seating is limited. Tickets can be purchased at Thursday evening’s OSFN meeting at the Bayshore Community Centre, plus from Sheila Gunby’s Paper Cut Designs at the Owen Sound Farmers’ Market, the Owen Sound and North Grey Union Public Library and at Suntrail Source for Adventure in Hepworth.

Northern Shrike: I typically see this one throughout the winter, but today was the first day I have seen since last year sometime….and it was clearly having turf wars with a Red-winged Blackbird.

Photos by Ingrid Remkins March 11, north of Kimberley

From Young Naturalist Coordinator Amanda Eriksen: 
On February 25th the Owen Sound Young Naturalists   met at the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority building where Krista McKee brought a wonderful bounty of pine cones, acorns, wood disks and all the other necessary supplies to get crafty. Krista had some sample ideas made up for us, but the kids let their imaginations and creativity shine. There was some great art created. The adults had just as much fun. Our March meeting is to be held a bit earlier so that we can check on the maple syrup production at Robert Gray’s property. 

Photo by Amanda Eriksen

We may be joined by members of the Kemble Maple Tour Committee. This could be a good opportunity to introduce the young nats and welcome a few more members. Bob mentioned that he is trying to perfect his maple taffy, I don’t think the kids will mind sampling that! To learn about joining the Young Naturalists please visit

The transition towards Springtime has been highlighted with recent sightings and sounds of the returning Robins, Red-winged Blackbirds,  Common Grackles, Killdeer, and even Eastern Meadowlarks. A few Sandhill Cranes are already back, and Tundra Swans have been seen in good numbers at Lake Eugenia too.

A bike ride on one of the milder days recently brought me to a nearby creek where the Rainbow Trout were really making a  splash with their spawning activities. When I walked along a woodland trail last week,  I checked for signs of emerging plants on the forest floor, but the only ones I saw were many green shoots of the pervasive invasive Wild Chervil. 

 A fox in the forest behind our home. March 3 (photo by Steve Irvine)

To close, Nature quotes from Ancient Mariner – The Amazing Adventures of Samuel Hearne, the Sailor Who Walked to the Arctic Ocean, by Ken McGoogan, who writes:  Hearne was not infallible. But he did determine that the pouch of the pelican’s beak could hold three quarts of liquid, and that Canada geese would often nest in abandoned muskrat houses. He provided one of the earliest accounts of the passenger pigeon, and was the first to recognize that there are two different species of curlew, the Hudonian and the Eskimo.

Also he understood bird migration at a time when leading English scientists were wondering whether swallows spent the winter underwater; And, from our late friend Victor Searles,  another esteemed Ancient Mariner, who two centuries after Samuel Hearne authored a ‘Cruising Manual’ for the Ontario Sailing Association, this excerpt: …as you graduate from day sailing,…the elements are disturbingly unsympathetic towards the condition of your craft or the duration of your voyage. Whoever is responsible for controlling the weather has a nasty habit of pouncing on the skipper who is only prepared for a short, tranquil trip and giving him a long, vigorous voyage.


Nature Club News for December 2023

by John Dickson

Where the Falcon Flies: Renowned professional explorer, adventurer and best-selling author Adam Shoalts returns to Owen Sound as the featured guest speaker of the Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) at 7pm Thursday December 14. This event includes a book launch and will be held “In Person Only”, (i.e. no zoom, and no recording) at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre. A popular and entertaining speaker, Shoalts will tell us about his latest adventure and his new book Where the Falcon Flies, based on a 3,400 km solo canoe journey from Lake Erie to the Arctic. The expedition took over three months and saw Shoalts depart from Long Point and travel all the way to the Torngat Mountains and Ungava Bay. As a naturalist and historian, Adam will share the story and photos of his remarkable journey. Where the Falcon Flies, and many of Shoalts’ earlier bookwill be available too.

Held in the Bay Room of the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre, and starting at 7pm, you are also encouraged to arrive as early as 6:30pm and perhaps browse the latest offerings (Orchids, Vascular Plant Checklist, etc.) of the OSFN Publications Committee for gifts and stocking stuffers.    Everyone is welcome, and admission is free, or by donation.  For more information please visit

So you like birds? Consider joining a Christmas Bird Count and participate in Citizen Science.

Once again ’tis the season for 

Christmas Bird Counts (CBC), from Dec 14, 2023 to Jan 5, 2024. 

Thank you to Norah Toth for sharing this local outline of CBC dates and the compilers to contact, to learn more and perhaps take part in this annual inventory.  The CBCs across Grey-Bruce are listed below.
Thursday, December 14, 2023 – Kincardine – James Turland –
Thursday, December 14, 2023 – Tobermory CBC – Tyler Miller –
Saturday, December 16, 2023 – Owen Sound CBC – Erik Van Den Kieboom –
Saturday, December 16, 2022 – Hanover/Walkerton CBC – Gerard McNaughton –
Sunday, December 17, 2023 – Wiarton CBC – Jarmo Jalava  –
Thursday, December 28, 2023 – Meaford CBC – Lynne Richardson –
Friday, December 29, 2023 – Pike Bay CBC – Andrew Keaveney –
Saturday, December 30, 2023 – Cape Chin CBC – Andrew Keaveney –
Wednesday, January 3, 2024 – Saugeen Shores CBC – Kiah Jasper –
Or visit this link to find a CBC near you.

On November 26, the Young Naturalists visited the Kinghurst Nature Reserve, where Amanda Eriksen “led a ‘Winter is Coming’ scavenger hunt where we looked for signs of animals getting ready for winter, some of the things the creatures may be gathering to prepare, as well as places creatures may be living. The kids were terrific searchers and had great ideas about how creatures survive winter. We were lucky enough to be able to go to the old cottage which is full of information about the property and the plants and animals you can see. The kids all signed the logbook. The highlight was pumping the old well and actually getting water! We had 8 kids out with one new family joining the club. For the month of December, there is no ‘in person’ meeting, but I am working on a backyard birding challenge.”   The Young Naturalists, mainly aged 7 to 12, usually meet one Sunday afternoon each month with a variety of Nature learning activities and hopefully January’s outing will include snowshoeing with snowshoes available if needed. There are currently more spaces available, and to find out more, please email Coordinator Amanda Eriksen at

Photo by Marsha Courtney

Continuing with the Nature gift theme, popular local birder and photographer David Turner, is once again offering calendars of exquisite bird photography for 2024. They can be purchased at Local Colour in Flesherton, and he can be contacted at or phone 519 924 3560.  

Photo by David Turner  Rough-Legged Hawk, Beaver Valley December 10

I have continued to enjoy nature by getting outside most days, either for a walk, a run, or a bike ride and now I have added skiing on four occasions so far this season. A highlight has certainly been a bike ride in the woods just the other day when I heard the soft whistling of about 60 Bohemian Waxwings as I watched them foraging on berries in a wooded wetland. When I eventually continued my ride, I soon heard that soft whistling again, and discovered a large flock of them in tall trees beside the Rankin River. I guess I will never know if they were, in fact, a different flock or the same one who were just ‘going my way’, but two encounters with them was certainly an amazing treat to enjoy along with a December bike ride in a sunny and mild 15 degrees Celsius!   The next morning I found a colourful apple adorning a small White Ash tree, placed there by a squirrel for a future snack, while Crows, Canada Geese and a male Cardinal were all foraging nearby too, coping with the challenges and rewards of the season.

Photo by John Dickson

To close, a Nature quote from Rick Mercer’s Final Report -“I’m one of those Canadians who like winter…  So when we had the first snowfall here in Toronto, I went for a walk.  And with the snowflakes gently falling against the streetlights I wandered around the city for about half an hour and enjoyed the sights and sounds of thirteen fender-benders in nine languages.  Yes, it was a winter wonderland…”   


Nature Club News for August 2023

by John Dickson

The Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) are preparing for their 35th season with a diverse array of speaker presentations and many field trips throughout the area. Much of the new season, including events in September, will be posted at over the next week or so. To ensure you receive up to date information from the club, it is recommended that you purchase or renew your membership online. 

Of note, on September 9, Bruce County Forester Kevin Predon will be leading a Bruce County Hike at the Amabel Tract in Sauble Beach, on trails from Rankin Bridge Road through both County and Crown forests, adjacent to the “Hell Hole” Provincially Significant Wetland complex, the Sauble River, and into some spectacular hardwood and conifer forests. 

Then, at 7pm  September 14 at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre, popular speaker, hike leader and author Beth Gilhespy will present Building Sydenham: the Making of “Walking through Time.” Beth will discuss how she approached her Beaver Valley and Sydenham geology books. These sections of the Bruce Trail have lots of great geology to discuss. Her Beaver Valley book will be available for purchase and signing.

In addition, OSFN hopes to once again sponsor two local high school students to attend the Ontario Nature Youth Summit at Lake Couchiching September 22-24. OSFN has sponsored many students in recent years, and has received excellent feedback from those who have attended the Youth Summits.

The weekend is designed and situated to  provide learning opportunities in an exciting and motivational setting with 90 fellow high school students, all with an interest in Nature studies. Potential candidates should email John Dickson at no later than August 30, indicating their interest and availability to attend, as the registration deadline is September 5.  For more information  please visit

One of a group of Cape May warblers that have been feeding in my birch trees for the last few days.
They are heading south from their northern Ontario breeding grounds.
Allenford 8/21/23, Photo by Les Anderson

The Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy (EBC) is hosting a  Monarch Butterfly Festival at Alvar Bay and at Bruce Peninsula National Park’s Visitors Centre on August 25th and 26th.

Experience two days filled with nature hikes, monarch tagging and release activities, captivating butterfly documentaries, and thrilling evening bat walks. Explore the beauty of Alvar Bay, learn about the vital work of EBC, and get your hands on free milkweed seeds to support Monarch conservation. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn about and celebrate the wonders of nature and the extraordinary journeys of Monarch butterflies!

Monarch tagging and release activities that play a crucial role in monitoring their population and understanding their migratory patterns. By participating in tagging and release, you contribute to important research efforts and help protect these magnificent butterflies for future generations to enjoy.

In addition to the Monarch festivities, EBC will  also be celebrating International Bat Day on the 26th with evening evening bat walks (Friday and Saturday at 8pm). Discover the fascinating world of bats and their vital role in maintaining our ecosystem’s balance.

 For more detailed information please visit

All activities for this Monarch Butterfly Festival are free.

Steve Irvine  August 21
After the rain; a mushroom growing in a hollow maple trunk.

James Turland of the Bruce Birding Club (BBC) has much of its fall season lineup organized, with  several different leaders helping out. 

The BBC is a group of avid bird watchers based in Southampton, Bruce County, Ontario Canada. The club also includes many members from Grey County, and meets on the first and third Wednesdays of the month except during the summer. The outings are most often in Bruce County but several excursions each year take the group farther afield. 

If you would like more information or are interested in joining the club please visit the Bruce Birding Club Website at:  and/or email James at

Carol L. Edwards-Harrison
August 16 

Another native wildflower in my garden, the Cardinal Flower and another hummingbird using those tiny toes to hang on.

Still with ornithology, Stéphane Menu, Station Scientist at the Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory, along with his crew, have  now returned to Cabot Head for a new season of migration monitoring, from August 15 to October 31; 78 consecutive days. During this first week, most birds that were caught, banded and documented were Red-eyed vireos and 11 species of warblers. In addition, there were observations of a Bald Eagle pair with an eaglet on the nest, a young Peregrine Falcon, a young Cooper’s Hawk, a Great Horned Owl after a successful hunt and a Common Nighthawk.  For more information please visit

Great Horned Owl, in Georgian Bluffs – Photo by Rob Wray ~ August 14
A Green Heron perching atop a snag near Woodford. Mid -August

Photo by Rob Wray

At this time of year I especially enjoy seeing the blooming Goldenrod and other wildflowers all aglow, waving in the summer breezes, and the Staghorn Sumac fronds, comprised of tiny individual flowers that glisten in the morning sunshine. 

Another late summer treat I discovered back in 1992, while I was cycling along a road allowance  in Sydenham Township, is to be accompanied by a flock of American Goldfinches, as they fly along with me, escorting me through their territory.  A year ago,  a dozen or more Monarch Butterflies performed a similar dance, fluttering along close by me in the morning sunshine, northeast of Kemble. 

Then, just this past week, I was delighted to be led by a family of Eastern Kingbirds, guiding me as they flew along from fence post to wire to roadside bushes, during a couple of  sunrise bike rides, while I was still cycling within the City of Owen Sound. 

Really enjoying the Baird’s Sandpipers this year. I think there was only one last year and it didn’t stay very long. Shallow Lake this morning.

by William Gray August 22
Red-headed Woodpecker, near Annan August 22 by William Gray

To close, a Nature quote from Verlyn Klinkenborg’s More Scenes from the Rural Life: “The grace of wildness changes somehow when it becomes familiar. When I say the grace of wildness, what I mean is its autonomy, its self-possession, the fact that it has nothing to do with us. The grace is in the separation, the distance, the sense of a self-sustaining way of life.” 

Nature Club News October 2019


by John Dickson

The Owen Sound Field Naturalists’ (OSFN) next featured speaker is Stéphane Menu, Station Scientist of the Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory (BPBO). He will be giving an overview of Birds on the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula: Changes across the years since 2002, as seen at Cabot Head, where the BPBO is situated. The observatory also serves as a training ground for interns working there under Menu’s supervision, monitoring and documenting the bird species migrations each Spring and Autumn. Menu is scheduled to speak shortly after 7PM, Thursday October 10, in the auditorium of the Owen Sound and North Grey Union Public Library. Another popular aspect of these monthly Indoor Meetings, as they are called, is “Sightings”, an opportunity for audience members to share recent interesting nature observations they have noted. Admission is free, although donations are welcome.

Stéphane Menu, Station Scientist of the Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory, transferring a banded, Yellow-rumped warbler to the hands of Ashten Sherman for release – You may note that the bird is upside down. The bird will stay that way until Ashten slowly turns his hand over, and the bird will automatically spread its wings and take to the air, bringing a smile to all who are there to see. This was one of the popular activities at the Open House at BPBO on September 28. Photo is by Tammy Sherman

The BPBO also held an open house on September 28, showing visitors the operational steps involved in documenting the migratory bird observations, including the mist nets where birds are gently and briefly captured, and carefully removed for detailed identification of species, sex, age, and condition, before banding, all of which are noted, prior to release again to re-join their flocks. Often, those in attendance, especially children, are given the opportunity to hold a bird in their hands for that release, a memorable experience, for sure.

The Bruce Birding Club, (BBC), led by Judy Duncan on September 18, travelled to Tiny Marsh, near Elmvale, to check out the birdlife present in the diverse habitat there. An immediate observation by Kiah Jasper’s keen eyes and ears was of more than 30 American Pipits in the field across from the parking lot there. That they were nestled into the ridges in the field made them extra challenging to see, as their grey coloring blended into the earthy tones of the ground, until they would suddenly rise and swirl in the air before settling once more into the stubble to forage for insects in the low vegetation, and fuel up, for the next stage of their journey from the Arctic to the southern USA. The 54 other species seen at Tiny Marsh also included Marsh Wren, Palm Warbler, Northern Harrier, and Greater Yellowlegs.

Virginia Creeper at the Tiny Marsh (Photo by John Dickson)

The BBC’s October 2 tour of the areas from Southampton to Kincardine, led by Bob and Anne Marie Taylor, resulted in 70 species being observed, including 8 species of warblers, and 15 of waterfowl. The BBC outings are usually held on the first and third Wednesdays of the month, from September to June, with some extra special tours added throughout the year.

Also flocking to this area were the Field Botanists of Ontario (FBO). According to local FBO member Barbara Palmer, they “held their AGM at Grey Roots Museum and Archives on September 21. A light supper was followed by Jennifer Doubt’s presentation on the inner workings of the herbarium at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa.”
Doubt said of the weekend “It was all fantastic, and a real highlight for me – besides spending time among people with a shared passionate about plants and nature! – was exploring some of the sites that botanists have documented in the past. Owen Sound has a rich history of botanical exploration and some of those past findings are outlined in publications and vouchered in the herbarium where I work. After a while working with those accounts and specimens, you can get to feel a kinship with some of the botanists who’s specimens assist you in your current projects, even if they died long before you were born. It was fun and thought-provoking to be in the places they were, to see some of the same botanical and other features they saw, and to reflect on the changes (in landscape, society, plant communities) that have taken place between their visits and ours.” Palmer continues – “Jennifer’s specialty is bryophytes and her outing found her and fellow moss enthusiasts at the  Inglis Falls Conservation Area examining the many mosses and liverworts.”

Other outings offered on the weekend included trips  to Neyaashiinigmiing with Jarmo Jalava and Miptoon(Anthony Chegahno), Isaac Lake Macrophytes (an Aquatic Plant study) with Tyler Miller, and a Fish Hatchery Forest tour was led by Will Van Hemessen. This forest has been suggested as the site of a future OSFN botany hike, perhaps in Spring of 2020.

 Finally, in 2007 FBO initiated an award that recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of field botany in Ontario. That award is named the John Goldie Award for Field Botany. The award recognizes Goldie’s pioneering efforts in conducting surveys of vegetation in Ontario and New York State in the early 1800’s. The Goldie Award is presented each year at FBO’s AGM. The winner of the Goldie award this year at Grey Roots for 2019, was Paul Catling, recently-retired curator of Agriculture and Agri-food Canada’s National Collection of Vascular Plants, and prolific ongoing botany researcher.

Owen Sound’s Joan Crowe was presented with the Goldie Award by the FBO in 2015

David Morris led an OSFN field trip on September 5th, entitled Sarawak Saunter, near Indian Falls, where we were welcomed to the childhood homestead of Val Radbourne. The focus was on invasive botanical species that are found quite commonly now in our locale. In addition to the often negative effects of the invasive species, including – Japanese knotweed; goutweed; multiflora rose; knapweeds; Lamium; cleavers bedstraw; white bedstraw, English ivy; colt’s foot; and periwinkle –  the colours on display that day were positively magnificent. Especially beautiful were Goldenrod meadows, (some loaded with honey bees), against a backdrop of green trees, in yellow sunshine, under a blue sky. All around were blossoms of red, blue, purple, pink, orange, and white – and soon the footpath brought us to the multi-coloured walls of the Gorge at Indian Falls, with red clay below a green clay, beneath grey rocks, splashed by a clear waterfall.

In the remains of the old homestead (Photo by Brian Robin)
Invasive Japanese Knotweed (Photo by Brian Robin)
David Morris explaining the knapweed nuances (Photo by Brian Robin)
Milkweed Tussock Moth on an alternate hostplant – Spreading Dogbane (Photo by Brian Robin)

On September 19, OSFN members and guests – as Eileen O’Connor shared -” had a lovely afternoon walk on “Anglesea”, the property of Don Rawls  located at the north end of an area known as the Klondike Hills, south-west of Chatsworth. Don and his dog led us on trails that he has made over the years up and down drumlins, through forested areas, past ponds and erratics, all of which provided a great variety of trees and shrubs, ferns and mushrooms as well as a few remaining wildflowers and birds.  Also on the property are the remains of a lime kiln which would have been constructed most likely by the first settlers around 1870. Afterwards, Don displayed his albums of the many photos of the flora and fauna he has noted over the years and we all came away with a very comprehensive  list of species and a guide to this beautiful terrain.Visitors are welcome by donation and pre-arranged guided tours are available.  Don said that May is an excellent time to visit but you are welcome to contact him or his son Mike any time.” 519-794-0561 or email

Hart’s Tongue Ferns at Anglesea (Photo by John Dickson)
Butternut Tree at Anglesea (Photo by John Dickson)
Wild coffee or orange-fruited horse gentian at Anglesea (Photo by Glen Durst)

As a speaker I found that Beth Gilhespy had an excellent way of making Geology easier to understand clearly, returning often to the “sandwich of layers”, as she had pointed out at the beginning of her presentation on the Geology of the Niagara Escarpment. She also explained that she was enthusiastic about fossils, primarily for the stories they told about what the climate, habitats and water levels were like when those creatures were alive and dwelling here.

As Eileen O’Connor, once more, relates – “As a follow-up to her very informative indoor meeting talk of September 12, Beth Gilhespy led an outdoor geology hike on September 28, an overcast day but mercifully rain-free.  We met at the western end of East Linton SR, where Beth, with all her years of experience with hikes, distributed excellent hand-outs about what we would be seeing and organized us into carpools to get to the entrance to the GSCA Glen Management Area on county road 17.  Any geological information here is shamelessly lifted  from Beth’s hand-out.  We soon descended to the floor of the Glen, which is an example of a ’re-entrant valley’ created by scouring from retreating glaciers 12-14,000 years ago.  We learned that lichens are more often found on erratics which are more acidic and of which there were quite a few than on dolostone where moss is more likely.  Incidentally, this area would be fantastic for a mushroom hike as there was an astonishing variety and abundance of species all along the trail, especially after mild, damp weather. But caution was needed as the rocks were slippery and the paths muddy.

A very special feature of the Glen floor are the water-filled sinkholes created by meltwater dissolving the Manitoulin Dolostone layer and then, it is surmised, draining at contact with the Queenston Shale below, the lowest geological layer in our area.   These sinkholes were discovered by Ron Savage, for whom this section of the trail is named, as he hikes here often. One sinkhole is at least 15 feet deep! During the hike Ron was particularly good at spotting fossils in a higher  geological layer known as Fossil Hill Dolostone, some of which he had earlier marked with tape for our benefit.
Towards the end we climbed uphill to the Amabel Formation, the  dolostone layer which we see so visibly  on the top of the escarpment. But then we climbed down into and walked along the base of narrow crevices  where the blocky dolostone chunks were very evident but where we were also treated to the sight of plentiful Hart’s Tongue fern and some Walking Fern although we had already seen many other ferns during the outing.
Unfortunately we ran out of time to cover the Frank Holley side trail located near our start point that day but also worth a visit if you don’t know it.  And, if you ever get the opportunity to go on a Beth Gilhespy hike, don’t hesitate!”

Beth Gilhespy prepares to dip a 13 foot pole into a water filled pothole (Photo by Glen Durst)

On Friday September 20, Grey Sauble Conservation hosted a celebration at Hibou, recognizing contributions of the many volunteers associated with the organization and the Foundation, including the Friends of Hibou. Bob and Marie Knapp also led tours of the Hibou Interpretive trails.

The Young Naturalists Club kicked off their 2019-20 season, September 29, meeting at Grey Sauble Conservation Headquaters, where they registered with new co-ordinator Jody Johnson Pettit. Then Krista McKee led the youngsters through some exciting games of predator and prey, where hiding and camouflage were emphasized as important survival skills. This was followed by a visit to watch the salmon who have come back to where they were hatched in the area several years ago. The afternoon wrapped up with a hike around the Arboretum, and the cleaning out of bluebird nesting boxes to prepare them for next spring’s returning residents. Next month, an afternoon nature hike is planned in the Pottawatomi area, led by Judy Robinson.

For more information about the Young Naturalists Club, NeighbourWoods North, and OSFN, visit

Praying mantis at the Young Naturalist outing (Photo by Jody Johnson Pettit)
Salmon in fish spawning beds of Sydenham river. at the Young Naturalist outing (Photo by Jody Johnson Pettit)

The Tom Thomson Art Gallery is also featuring Nature in a new exhibition – Footprints in Time: Painting Around Georgian Bay. Following in the footsteps of artists featured from the Gallery’s Collection, including Norval Morrisseau, Tom Thomson, Fred Varley, A.Y. Jackson, Daphne Odjig and John Hartman, you are invited on a tour around Georgian Bay. Beginning on Manitoulin Island, you will travel down the Bruce Peninsula to Owen Sound, head east toward Honey Harbour then north to Killarney. See the many ways in which this distinctive landscape has inspired successive generations of artists producing a rich cultural mosaic. 

And, speaking of Art, many people I know, (even my daughter is there canoeing and camping with friends) are spending a little time in the area of Algonquin Park these days, and until October 20, I would encourage you to take in a visit to the Algonquin Art Centre there, for  “A Tribute to Robert Bateman”, a special exhibit that looks at his deep connections to Algonquin and its role in his development as an artist and environmentalist.

On Saturday, September 14, renowned Canadian wildlife artist and naturalist Robert Bateman received The Algonquin Park Legacy Award at a special event at the Algonquin Art Centre in Algonquin Park. Bateman was presented the award by his long-time friend, the acclaimed wildlife artist and naturalist Michael Dumas — who was the recipient of the inaugural award last year. Established by the Algonquin Art Centre, the Algonquin Park Legacy Award recognizes artistic excellence, outstanding contributions to art in Algonquin Park, and life-long dedication to nature and wildlife. Bateman, who is now 89, also started out as a Junior Naturalist, through a programme at the Royal Ontario Museum, where he got an early start, learning about the many species around us. He was also sketching, as he says, like most youngsters, but he “just didn’t stop.”
The Algonquin Art Centre, located on the shores of Found Lake in Algonquin Park, is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is voluntary, but a valid Ontario Parks permit is required to visit the centre.

And to close, a Nature quote from Bobby Bateman, as OSFN Life Member George Peck once knew him – “In 1947 at the age of 17, I landed a dream job at the Wildlife Research Camp, north of Lake of Two Rivers. I was a student ‘chore boy’ but I observed nature and drew and painted my surroundings for four glorious summers. The land is in my blood.”

As of June 22nd 2024

Current Board of Directors

President: Brendan Mulroy

Past-President: Pam Kinchen

Co-Vice President: Paul Scriver

Co-Vice President: Bella Waterton

Secretary: Susan Pouget

Treasurer: Warren Steckle

Director: Diane Lawler

Director: Michael Rankin

Director: Kathleen Pierce

Director: Marsha Courtney

Director: Jeannine Kralt / Stewardship Coordinator

Director: Lloyd Lewis / NWN Coordinator

Supporting the Board

Hospitality: Gord and Norah Toth, Audrey Armstrong,

Newsletter & e-Herald: Norah Toth,

Membership: Gord Toth,

Website: Brian Robin,

Programme Committee: John Dickson

Young Naturalists

Amanda Eriksen

Board Liaison

Bruce Peninsula National Park Advisory Committee (PAC): Jan Pugsley & Willy Waterton

Piping Plover Committee: Lynne Richardson

Rankin Resources Group: Beth Anne Currie

Stewardship Grey Bruce: Norah Toth

Ontario Nature Liaison: Audrey Armstrong

Inglis Falls Arboretum Alliance: Lynne Marie Sullivan

Previous Members

List of all Presidents

Our Achievements

We are proud of our achievements.  Here are but a few:

  • A group of OSFN members have drawn on their expertise and authored eight high quality nature/field guides on such topics as the unique Ferns, Orchids, Geology, Vascular Plants, Wildflowers, found in Grey and Bruce Counties. Thousands of copies have been sold, enabling local people and naturalists from far afield to learn more about the rich natural heritage of this unique area. (See Publications)
  • Produced an updated Checklist of the Birds of Grey-Bruce which lists 340 documented species and provides seasonal, occurrence and breeding status information.
  • Constructed a boardwalk through the woods at Hibou Conservation Area, in collaboration with the Rotary Club of Owen Sound.
  • Built an extensive boardwalk with interpretive panels through the Oliphant Fen on the Huron shore of the Bruce Peninsula in collaboration with the Saugeen Field Naturalists. Recently we produced and erected a new interpretive panel sign for the Oliphant Fen.  It presents 24 unusual wildflowers that grow in the fen, along with their blooming dates.
  • Constructed an avian viewing tower at Baie du Dor on Lake Huron, where numerous Bald Eagles gather each winter at the warm water outflow at the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station.
  • Produced a tourism brochure for the City of Owen Sound. Called “Natural Owen Sound”, this brochure directs visitors to four walks where visitors can enjoy birds, plants, geology and other aspects of nature in and around Owen Sound.
  • In collaboration with the Canadian Friends of John Muir, we organized a day-long event celebrating the time John Muir spent in our area.
  • Established Butterfly Counts in Owen Sound, at MacGregor Provincial Park and the Bruce Peninsula National Park in association with the North America Butterfly Association.
  • Conducted Chimney Swift surveys in collaboration with Bird Studies Canada SwiftWatch monitoring program for several years.
  • Established the OSFN Young Naturalists Club  and provide it with ongoing support, in collaboration with the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority. Each year we send one or two young naturalists to Ontario Nature’s summer camp.
  • We sponsor an area high school student to Ontario Nature’s Ontario Youth Summit.
  • In addition we support, sponsor and maintain a miscellany of various ongoing projects such as highway cleanup under the Adopt a Hwy program, provide judging and awards in the annual Bluewater Science Fairs,  established Purple Martin nesting apartment houses at the Bayshore property in Owen Sound, erected Osprey nesting platforms at McNab and Isaac lakes, etc.

We have also provided funding towards important nature reserve land acquisitions and projects over the years:

  • to the Bruce Trail Association toward the purchase of lands at Skinner’s Bluff.
  • to the Institute for Outdoor Education and Environmental Studies near Wiarton.
  • to the Peregrine Falcon Release Project in Owen Sound.
  • to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) towards the purchase of 200 acres in the Malcolm Kirk Nature Reserve.
  • to the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy towards the purchase of lands in Long Swamp.
  • to the NCC the purchase of land near Gillies Lake/Cabot Head.
  • to the NCC towards the purchase of lands in the Northern Bruce Peninsula

We have entered into Stewardship agreements with the NCC to provide ongoing support , monitoring and caretaking of some of the above, and other properties.

And we have established the Lorraine Brown Conservation Trust Fund with the objective of supporting ongoing conservation activities and acquisitions, and new conservation initiatives of the Owen Sound Field Naturalists in Grey and Bruce Counties.

Grey-Bruce Bird Checklist

Grey-Bruce Bird Records Committee Report

Have you ever wondered just how many species of birds have been recorded in Grey & Bruce Counties? Or how many species breed here? How many species are found here only in the winter? Or only during spring or fall migration? Of the 36 species of warblers that have been found in the two Counties, how many stay to nest here? Well, you don’t have to search the ‘net or refer to numerous field guides for the answers to these questions. This information can all be found in the newly updated 2020 Checklist of the Birds of Grey & Bruce.

In 2012, the Owen Sound Field Naturalists Board appointed Dave Fidler to the task of updating the old 1998 Checklist. He revived the Grey-Bruce Bird Records Committee with reps from the OSFN (Peter Middleton, Lynne Richardson), the Huron Fringe Field Naturalists (James Turland) and the Saugeen Field Naturalists (Jerry Asling). This group produced a new Checklist updated to 2013, adding 21 new species to the total species found in the two counties.

Dave Fidler resigned from the Committee in 2016, and Peter Middleton stepped in as Chair. Michael Butler, representing the bird-rich Bruce Peninsula, and Gerrard McNaughton representing the southerly area of the counties, were welcome additions to the Committee.

The last few years have seen the Committee review numerous records of birds rarely found in Grey-Bruce, add 10 new species, revise the taxonomic order of the list to match the current eBird/AOU order, change the status of various species (e.g, from single sightings to more frequent sightings, non-breeding to breeding, etc), and added new status categories including ‘Species at Risk’ and Extirpated/Extinct. A note regarding the Birding Code of Ethics has been added given the ever-increasing popularity of birding and bird photography and the sensitivity of our feathered friends to disturbance. The Committee also decided to revise the Checklist from the previous 8-page cardstock format to a single (2-sided) page that can be posted on the Club’s website and easily downloaded.

One species was removed from the Checklist – Thayer’s Gull, which was considered a separate species until 2017. It is now considered a subspecies of Iceland Gull. And there is one less warbler than there was in the 2013 Checklist – Yellow-breasted Chat is now considered a separate species. These ‘splits’ and ‘lumps’ happen from time to time as our knowledge of the genetic makeup of bird species grows.

There is a lot of information packed into this little one-page checklist!

Ten species have been newly recorded in the two counties since 2013, bringing the total list of birds recorded in Grey-Bruce to 349 species:

  1. Common Eider
  2. Eurasian Dotterel (a Canadian first!)
  3. Reddish Egret (an Ontario first!)
  4. Mississippi Kite
  5. Lewis’s Woodpecker
  6. Cave Swallow
  7. Rock Wren
  8. Golden-crowned Sparrow
  9. Nelson’s Sparrow
  10. Spotted Towhee

The Committee will continue to meet annually to review new records and keep the checklist up to date. Reporting forms can be downloaded from and submitted to the OSFN website ( or any member of the Checklist Committee. The Committee is particularly interested in reports on birds not found on the new checklist, or any species noted as C or A (Casual, ie: vagrant/rare, or Accidental). Already, three more species new to Grey-Bruce are currently pending review, including the amazing Canada-second Scott’s Oriole, and these will soon be added to the Checklist.

The Checklist has been posted on the OSFN website. Check it out! Download a copy for your next excursion. Go birding! Enjoy!

Lynne Richardson
on behalf of the Grey-Bruce Bird Records Committee