All posts by Brian Robin


Nature Club News for April 2024

by John Dickson

This Thursday, the Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) present ‘Meet the American Kestrel Family, with John Reaume, a Renowned Naturalist and Wildlife Photographer with an Eye for Detail’. We welcome the return of one of our favourite speakers, John Reaume, at 7pm Thursday, April 11 (doors open by 6:30pm) at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre. 

John Reaume says: “’For the past 4 years we have had the pleasure of watching a pair of American Kestrels nest and raise their young in a Kestrel/Screech Owl box mounted on our workshop and visible from our back porch. Learn about the life history of the Kestrel with intimate views of their nesting behaviour, thanks to an “in-the-box” camera as well as images captured from photo blinds. We will see the differing behaviours of the male and female parents as well as what the avian neighbours think of having a pair of nesting kestrels in their territories!”

John Reaume has an eye for detail and has used it in his hobby of wildlife photography these past 35 years. He started off specializing in bird photography but his interests have broadened and now include the wonders from the world of macrophotography (dragonflies and spiders) to astrophotography (sun and moon to far off nebulas). His photos have graced the covers of a number of magazines and books including Ontario’s second Breeding Bird Atlas. John lives in Grey County, is an active member of Saugeen Nature, and is a practicing rural physician in the town of Mount Forest.

Everyone is welcome – admission is free, or by donation. John Reaume’s presentation will also be shared via Zoom. To request a Zoom link, please email in advance to with Kestrels in the subject line.

OSFN is also presenting its 9th annual Celebrate Earth Day Keynote Speaker event with award-winning Naturalist, Artist and Writer Robert Bowles. Entitled ‘A Lifetime of Nature Drawing and Nature Journalling for Learning and Teaching about the World Around Us,’ it will take place at 2pm Sunday April 21, aboard the Chi-Cheemaun. Bowles will also have a selection of his nature artwork on display.

There will be delicious complimentary refreshments, but seating is limited, so it is recommended to purchase your tickets, $10. each, in advance, at the OSNGU Public Library, Sheila Gunby’s Paper Cut Designs at the Owen Sound Farmers’ Market, Suntrail Source for Adventure, or at the April 11th OSFN event detailed above.

Originally from the Markdale area (Bowles Hill is named for Bob Bowles’ family property nearby), his curiosity and drive to learn contributed to his own personal growth and knowledge, which he has shared through hikes, workshops, TV shows, and his Ontario Master Naturalist Certificate Programme through Lakehead University, both in Thunder Bay and in Orillia, his home for more than three decades. He was recently inductred into the Orillia Hall of Fame and the Robert L Bowles Nature Centre was named after Bob as a way to honour his lifetime commitment and dedication to preserving and conserving nature.

In 2014 Bob founded the Ontario Master Naturalist Certificate Program at Lakehead University in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. He continues to coordinate this first of its kind program, educating citizen scientists about ‘all things nature’, encouraging all to protect and respect their environment. Bob continues to be the lead teacher at the Nature Centre offering educational programs and facilitating a deeper connection with nature.

Don’t miss this annual event – get your ticket(s) soon.

The Friends of the South Grey Museum is offering a presentation by David Turner about Birding in the Beaver Valley, at 7pm April 18, in the Annesley United Church in Markdale. Admission is by donation and streaming is also available.     David Turner’s knowledge and joy of birding, exquisite photography plus his engaging personality promise an entertaining and informative experience. For more details please visit  Beaver Valley Birding Facebook page. 

Bald Eagle in Thornbury – Photo by David Turner April 6

From Amanda Eriksen, Coordinator for the Owen Sound: The Young Naturalists met in March at Bob and Mary Beth Gray’s maple syrup farm. Bob was a wealth of knowledge. We learned how to tell trees apart when there are no leaves, and about the invasive species affecting butternut, beech and ash trees. Bob explained how the changing weather patterns are altering the species composition in his forest, through the differing moisture levels there. We got to see his very impressive maple syrup production – and sample fresh syrup, along with some very fun and yummy maple taffy. 

The plan for April is for a visit to the Chatsworth Fish Hatchery.    To learn about joining the Young Naturalists please visit  or email Amanda at

Sandhill Cranes checking out their new digs… April 7
(North of Kimberley)
photo by Ingrid Remkins 

In my local own rambles this month, I have been rewarded with a view of an American Goldfinch in its bright yellow plumage, a Northern Shrike, and just today I saw my first of year beautiful and elegant Mourning Cloak Butterfly while I was cycling on the rail line on Owen Sound’s east side, where just last week I watched a solitary Sandhill Crane wading slowly as it hunted in a wetland there which was resounding with a chorus of wood frogs.

Snow Geese on the move.. April 7. photos by Pat Gillies in Southampton

Paul Aird (1930 – 2024) 

I recently learned of the passing of renowned naturalist Paul Leet Aird in February of this year at the age of 94. 

Paul Aird was an Emeritus Professor of Forestry Conservation Policy at the University of Toronto.  I first met Paul Aird, and his wife Linda Pim, at the Tom Thomson Art Gallery in 2008, at the opening of an exhibition featuring the exquisite pen and ink drawings of Thoreau MacDonald, many of which adorn the pages of my copy of Aird’s first book  – Loon Laughter, Ecological Fables and Nature Tales. I met him again in 2017 when I invited him to present many of those stories himself to an OSFN audience in the auditorium of the Public Library here. In  2021 at the age of 91, he published his book of poetry and more entitled Butterfly Beautifly Beautiful: Nature Poems. Paul loved to walk, hike, skate, ski, snowshoe, paddle a canoe and camp in Canada’s wild places, in particular on the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula.

Esteemed local wildlife artist Frank de Matteis  remembers Paul Aird as a devout naturalist who appreciated Frank’s quality workmanship and supported his  efforts to do fine research for his paintings through the facilities of the ROM.

Meanwhile, OSFN’s Lynne Richardson shared these notes:”I remember Paul Aird as a strong, yet gentle presence on the Niagara Escarpment Commission, dedicated to the proper preservation of the Escarpment landscapes.
I also remember Paul for his putting his forestry training together with his research on the highly endangered Kirtland’s Warbler – identifying stands of Jack Pine in Ontario and surveying them based on his hypothesis that the species would seek suitable habitat outside its known breeding grounds – and proving it true with the discovery of nesting birds near Ottawa.  Years ago, I was delighted one early summer day to be wandering a remote Jack Pine alvar on the Bruce Peninsula and seeing Paul appear out of the trees – secretly searching for Kirtland’s!”

Paul Aird also played  a leading role in competing the book  “Growing Trees From Seed” for its health-challenged originator Henry Kock, of the University of Guelph and the Arboretum there.   

To close, a quote from Paul Aird’s Loon Laughter: Two forces shape the world –  nature and human nature.


Nature Club News for February 2024

by John Dickson

 The topic of the February presentation of the Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) is: 

Changing Dynamics of the Fish Community in Lake Huron, with Arunas Liskauskas, of the Ontario 

Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.  The Lake Huron aquatic ecosystem has experienced profound changes over the last few decades, primarily driven by the effects of invasive species. Fish communities have been altered and food webs have been disrupted and changed. Predicting the future state of fish communities has become much more difficult as a result. 

Management biologist, Arunas Liskauskas, will provide an overview of management and research efforts aimed at trying to understand these changes.

Arunas Liskauskas has been working as a management biologist with the Upper Great Lakes Management Unit of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry since 1992. He received his Hon. BSc and MSc from the University of Guelph in Fisheries Science and Fish Genetics. After working in Algonquin Park and eastern Ontario he has been involved with monitoring and assessing nearshore fish community health in Lake Huron, liaising with the public on fisheries management issues and was the lead author of the Lake Huron Environmental Objectives.
 This event is scheduled for 7pm this Thursday, February 8, (doors open by 6:30pm) at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre and on Zoom – with a ZOOM LINK available upon request, by emailing, in advance, to with Fish in the subject line.   

 Everyone is welcome, with admission Free or by Donation. For more information please visit and on Facebook.

Congratulations to Beth Gilhespy, popular OSFN speaker, hike leader and author, on her recent appointment as CEO of the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy (EBC), who announced ‘We are so excited to announce the hiring of our new CEO – the incomparable Beth Gilhespy! Beth is a proven conservation leader, with a record that demonstrates not only her passion for the escarpment and protecting species at risk – but also the broad range of skills needed to get the job done!’ Beth Gilhespy replied ‘Soon I’ll be saying goodbye to my dear animal friends and colleagues at Toronto Zoo Wildlife Conservancy. It’s been an amazing time of learning and growing. Now back to the land, always in my heart. My last day with my amazing Zoo colleagues is March 1 (lots to do between now and then!) and I start at the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy (EBC) March 4, 2024.Gilhespy was also on hand nearby for EBC’s afternoon of snowshoeing and hot chocolate at Mooi Nature Preserve, by the Spey River on February 3rd.

Coming soon to a backyard near you is the  Great Backyard Bird Count, February 16–19, an annual four-day event that engages bird enthusiasts of all ages around the world in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are. Anyone can participate, from beginners to experts. You can count for as little as 15 minutes on a single day, or for as long as you like each day of the event. It’s free, fun, and easy – and it helps the birds! The Great Backyard Bird Count is a joint program of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon with Canadian partner Birds Canada. Visit  Great Backyard Bird Count to learn more and get started! For more information contact: Coordinator Kerrie Wilcox here:  kwilcox AT

January 31 – Cedar Waxwing  Photos by Ingrid Remkins, north of Kimberley

During this past month I have enjoyed several memorable encounters with wildlife, including about 80 Cedar Waxwings observed by me on two separate occasions, when I was out for a run near Timber McArthur Park. Then when I went skiing yesterday on the Owen Sound Cross Country Ski Club’s trails at Massie Hills I heard a Pileated Woodpecker calling loudly from the parallel trail – that I didn’t take this time (!), and a little farther along I spotted a healthy porcupine nibbling on Hemlock boughs and dropping lots of ‘niblets’ to the forest floor for the others who live there too. 

With all the talk of an early Spring going around, today I was noticing  that the willow trees are really starting to glow in the February sunshine we are enjoying now. 

Bald Eagle Feb 4 by Kiah Jasper north of Wiarton

Although the Owen Sound Young Naturalists’ did not meet in December, coordinator Amanda Eriksen offered them a birding challenge of their own and found that “they reported finding 24 species of birds in their backyards. It was really great to see those who were not all that interested in birds notice and even get a little excited about a rare sighting! I hope that this exercise has helped the kids to notice the world and the creatures around them.”   

They did meet as a group again “on January 29, at the property of OSFN members Elaine and Doug Van Den Kieboom, who were wonderful hosts. Due to some perfectly timed snow, the Young Nats were able to get out snowshoeing through their forest, which starts out as hardwood then becomes cedar woods as it connects with the Bognor Marsh complex.  We learned a bit about the decline of the butternut tree (of which they have only one still producing nuts and a few in different stages of illness), how the resident porcupines help keep the maples out of the cedar forest (by eating them), and how different animals like to take different trails.  We also saw some tracks in the snow that we decided as a group were coyote, porcupine, and red squirrel.  

Bannock! Photo by Amanda Eriksen

After our hike we came back to the house where we had a campfire with hot chocolate and cider.  Elaine showed us how to cook Bannock by wrapping a piece around the end of a stick and cooking
it in the coals. We now have 19 children registered and more are welcome. Our February meeting will be Crafting with Nature led by Krista McKee.” If you would like to learn more about the club and how to register someone, please email

Fox, Feb 4th near Wiarton. Photo by Tom Ashman at RuralRootz.

And to close, here is a cute Nature quote featuring extra young naturalists, from Leon Rooke’s Swinging Through Dixie, as teacher Miss Izzard ‘the wizard, this aging mentor’ explains that her plan for the parade of pre-schoolers will include  “a nature prowl, if you please, though I am aware little is to be seen save nettles, briars, animal droppings, long-leaf pine – a tickle of honeysuckle mayhaps. I shall compel them to sit on their heels, boys and girls alike, in a study of bug life. They will execute artistic creations in these drawing pads… They have given me, in the past, excellent bug renderings.”


Nature Club News for January 2024

by John Dickson

The Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) will kick off their  35th year of operation with two January speaker events, beginning with a TREE TALK by Susan McGowan, presenting  “An update on the use of parasitic wasps in control of Emerald Ash Borer in Ontario.”

The Emerald Ash Borer, which was discovered in Canada in 2002, is a devastating invasive beetle which has killed tens of millions of ash trees across Canada and the United States. Susan McGowan will give an overview of the introduced biological control programme carried out in an effort to control Emerald Ash Borer in Ontario, including our own local site at the West Rocks Management Area, in Owen Sound on Grey Sauble Conservation Authority property. She will also describe the challenge of handling fragile live insects in the summer season as a field technician.  

Susan McGowan has worked in forestry and forest health since 2000, and retired in 2020 from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry as a Provincial Forest Health Specialist. She volunteered to continue with the release programme in 2021 in Owen Sound.

Susan McGowan –  Provincial Forest Health Specialist (Retired)

 This presentation will take place at OSFN’s Indoor Meeting, 7pm Thursday January 11, at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre. Attendees are encouraged to arrive closer to 6:30pm for a relaxed social time with fellow naturalists, and an opportunity to peruse the OSFN publications on hand.

Everyone is welcome and admission is free or by donation.
It is planned to also offer the event on Zoom, so anyone interested in receiving a Zoom link is asked to email, in advance, to   with  Ash Trees in the subject line.

Pileated Woodpecker foraging for Emerald Ash Borer at Hibou January 5
Photo by Rob Wray

The second OSFN speaker event will be a TICK TALK, Lyme Disease 101, presented on Zoom only,  at 7pm January 25, by Dr. Anne Uings. 
This important topic will address these statements: 1) Absolute numbers of ticks are increasing, 2) The percentage of ticks carrying Lyme is increasing.3) Ticks are being dispersed to new areas by mammals and migratory birds. 4) The percentage of ticks carrying serious Co-infections is increasing.  

Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted by ticks.  If it is not detected and treated early, Lyme Disease can cause long term illness and profound debilitation. 

Anne Uings is a retired medical doctor who has been living with Lyme Disease and other tick-borne infections for 30 years. She has spent the last 20 years learning about Lyme, was a volunteer with the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation for several years, is one of the founders of the Bay of Quinte Lyme Disease Support Group, and is  a member of ILADS, which is an organization for Medical professionals involved in researching, treating and teaching about Lyme and related diseases. This presentation will be available only via Zoom, for which a link will be emailed to OSFN members, and to anyone else interested in receiving a Zoom link, who emails, in advance, to with Ticks in the subject line.

 Here are selected excerpts and results from recent local Christmas Bird Counts (CBC) with notable highlights for me being the Lapland Longspurs at Pike Bay, plus Winter Wrens in that area, both of which I was lucky to spot on my own at Hibou back in November.

Tobermory CBC December 14, Compiler Tyler Miller:
Total number of birds 1777, including  41 species with highest counts of Black-capped Chickadees 360,  Snow Buntings 292, American Goldfinches 264, and of note, one Peregrine Falcon which is a first for the counts here.

  Bruce Peninsula National Park Christmas Bird Count volunteers spotted a couple of uncommon winter species for this area, including: one Black Scoter, one Peregrine Falcon (North American), and one American Robin.

Low counts of some species were also observed for Bufflehead (2) and Mourning Dove (0). Although Mourning Doves were spotted during the week of the Christmas Bird Count, none were spotted on the actual day of the count which is an indication that numbers in the count area is low. 

Tracking trends and outliers is one of the primary goals of Christmas Bird Counts.

 The highest number of Bufflehead ever counted was 121 in 2003, and it has been observed in 40 counts. This year was the 4th time a Black Scoter has been seen in this count, with the highest count of 24 also being in 2003.

Thirty-seven people participated in the count this year. It was an unusually warm day and it was very nice to be out in the park. While the north and east side of the park was sheltered and calm, it was windy on the west. 

Kincardine CBC – James Turland, Compiler: 

This year Kincardine conducted its 39th count on December 14.  Twenty some participants equipped with binoculars and smiles scoured the count circle for our feathered kin. 

A highlight for me were the many Red-throated Loons seen in feeding frenzies mixed with several other diving species such as mergansers. Red-throated Loons are smaller than the Common Loon and hold their beaks on a slight upward angle. They nest in the high Arctic and migrate through the Great Lakes on their way to and from the eastern seaboard. We seldom get to see them in their namesake breeding plumage, most birds are in a drabber winter plumage.

Five species of gulls were seen count day including the Bonaparte’s. This small gull is unique in that it nests in trees on the taiga; most gulls nest on the ground. It has a buoyant and graceful flight and eats smaller organisms than its bigger cousins. It has a black head in breeding plumage but seen here in December it only has a dark dot behind the eye. One red morph Eastern Screech Owl was found. 

The 62 species found on this year’s count is the second highest ever. The 22 Cackling Geese reported was a new high. Cackling Goose is identical to the Canada Goose in plumage but is only about half the size. Also new to the count this year was a duck called the American Wigeon. 

The American Wigeon is also called “baldpate” because the white stripe on its head resembles a bald man. Wigeons are common here in season but have almost all left the county by December. I am always amazed at what birds the participants can find even in December. Congratulations and thanks to all who helped out with this year’s count.  If you are interested in seeing any of these birds or joining the Bruce Birding Club, contact James Turland.

Lone Female Red Breasted Merganser at the Bayshore. Fely Clarke, Jan. 5th.

The thirteenth annual Neyaashiinigmiing (Cape Croker) Christmas Bird Count was held on Saturday, December 16, 2023. Fourteen participants tallied a total of 39 species (average 39.5).

The 1,245 individual birds counted was slightly above the overall average of 1,027.

One of very few Snowy Owls reported in southern Ontario so far this fall was a new species for count day (there have been a few count-week records), raising the overall count total to 81 species.

Otherwise there were no big surprises, but a Common Grackle (4 rd count) was a nice find. High counts were recorded for Long-tailed Duck (54, previously 42), Red-breasted Merganser (7, previously 5), Rock Pigeon (18, previously 4), Barred Owl (4, tied previous), and Red-bellied Woodpecker (4, previously 3). Aside from a near absence of winter finches (just 2 Pine Siskins and average numbers of American Goldfinches), no expected species were missed, and there were no particularly low counts. Chi Miigwetch to Neyaashiinigmiing (Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation) community, including the many folks who welcomed birders to watch their feeders, for hosting this always special birding event. And big thanks to the 14 enthusiastic volunteers!
Jarmo and Miptoon, Compilers

Who doesn’t love an Owl, Barred Owl. (Remember not to post locations for owls.)
David Turner· December 27, 2023 ·

The 50 th Wiarton Christmas Bird Count was held on Sunday, December 17, 2023 (it was actually the 53 th anniversary of the count, but three years were missed).

Temperatures hovered between -5.7°C and 7.7°C under overcast skies all day, with light rain and drizzle in the morning and steadier light rain in the afternoon, and with moderate (20-35 kph) southerly to southeasterly winds, which were most noticeable along Lake Huron. Waters of Georgian Bay and Lake Huron were open, as were inland water bodies and watercourses.

There was no snow on the ground.

Despite the near absence of birds – and feed – at many traditionally productive feeders, twenty-five participants and one feeder watcher tallied 63 (+ 2 count week) species, tying the all-time record set in 1997. The species total was also well above the long-term and 10-year averages of 49.4 and 54.1 species, respectively.

One new species, Greater White-fronted Goose (7 individuals) was added, raising the overall species count for the Wiarton CBC to 132 (plus 6 count-week species).

The total of 8,572 individual birds smashed the previous high of 6,283, also set in 1997. This year’s total more than doubled long-term (3,431) and 10-year (4,185) averages.

Leading the pack to set this new record were record high counts of everyone’s favourites:

Canada Goose (1,988), European Starling (1,061) and American Crow (561). Tundra Swan (25), Snow Goose (3rd -ever count, 6 individuals), Mallard (365), White-winged Scoter (27), Wild Turkey (327), Northern Harrier (2), Cedar Waxwing (67) and Snow Bunting (1,343) also set new highs.

Other good finds included Green-winged Teal (3nd count, 3 individuals), a Great Blue Heron (5th count), a Cooper’s Hawk (15th count), an American Goshawk (15th count), a Belted Kingfisher (15th count), a Northern Flicker (2nd count), a Merlin (4th count), Lapland Longspur (3 rd count, 2 individuals) and a count-week Red-winged Blackbird (6th count).

No particularly low counts were noted aside from Mourning Dove (30, the lowest total since 1976).

Winter finches were limited to Pine Siskin (135, second highest total), American Goldfinch (565), and a single count week Common Redpoll.

What a wonderful, wet, dreary day of birding. Thanks to all the volunteers for your efforts!

Jarmo Jalava, Compiler

Meaford CBC December 28th: 

The 53rd annual Meaford Count on Thursday December 28th with the 5th highest total – 57 species – 

Three new species were added to the 53-year cumulative total for this count – Snow Goose, Trumpeter Swan and Gray Catbird.   These additions bring the all-time cumulative total to 129 species.

Three new Highs were recorded – 4 Cackling Goose, an amazing 57 Horned Grebe out from Meaford, and 389 American Crows. 

Eastern Bluebirds made an appearance again this year, continuing their trend of the last few years of overwintering in this area (6 of the past 7 years).

Total individuals at 6455 birds breaks the 1975 record of 6347 birds. Over 1000 each of Canda Geese and Snow Buntings contributed to this high.

It was a good count.  Thanks again to everyone, and happy, birdy, New Year to all!

Lynne Richardson,


Welcome to 2024.

The New Year at least brought a bit of colder weather to the Bruce after quite an interesting couple days of CBC weather. The two central Bruce Peninsula CBCs were enjoyed by all who attended and have once again provided a valuable snapshot of birdlife on the peninsula at a time of year when the Bruce received little coverage. I had a lot of great feedback and I trust you enjoyed your time outdoors as much as I did. I hope to see you out birding in 2024.

Given the mild December we’ve had, it probably didn’t come as a shock to many participants that waterbirds were around in both greater diversity and numbers. Grebes continued to show well and while Georgian Bay was mostly absent of diving ducks, on the Huron side the largest number were recorded on the Pike Bay count to date. Raptors were clearly scarce, and the Snowy Owls we’ve come to expect were absent for the second CBC in a row. Finches were likewise notably absent in diversity, with only American Goldfinches and Pine Siskins showing some numbers.

The Pike Bay count was held on Friday, December 29th. 

New species: Cackling Goose (cw), Tundra Swan (21), Redhead (1), Lesser Scaup (1), Merlin (1)

Unusual species: Great Horned Owl, Barred Owl, Belted Kingfisher

High counts: Mute Swan (5), Greater Scaup (27), Bufflehead (37), Common Goldeneye (228), Hooded Merganser (53), Common Merganser (68), Red-breasted Merganser (31), Wild Turkey (249), Red-necked Grebe (11, Red-bellied Woodpecker (4), Black-capped Chickadee (547), Bohemian Waxwing (310), Dark-eyed Junco (12), Northern Cardinal (30), Pine Siskin (113)

Low counts: Nothing notable

Notable misses: Lapland Longspur, House Finch, Purple Finch, Snowy Owl, Red-tailed Hawk, accipiters, Common Loon

Count Week species: Cackling Goose, Gadwall, Northern Pintail, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Purple Finch, Lapland Longspur… adult Golden Eagle missed by 1 day!

The Cape Chin count was held on Saturday, December 30th. Conditions were similar to the Pike Bay CBC but with no rain and some brief periods of extremely light snow fall. The sun even showed itself a few times. Barred Owl has still never been recorded on this count, which is rather astounding because it is certainly resident, as owl surveys during the current Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas have shown. 

New species: Canada Goose (2), Mallard (2)

Unusual species: Cooper’s Hawk and Winter Wren (both removed from ‘cw’ only), Great Horned Owl (3rd time), White-winged Scoter (1), Hooded Merganser (9), Common Merganser (8)

High counts: Horned Grebe (35), Bald Eagle (14), Eastern Screech-Owl (4), Hairy Woodpecker (31), Snow Bunting (376), American Tree Sparrow (2), Pine Siskin (18)

Low counts: Ruffed Grouse (3), Herring Gull (7)

Notable misses: Brown Creeper, Bohemian Waxwing, Purple Finch and Evening Grosbeak—the last two species scarce to absent on the peninsula this winter

Thank you again for your continued participation in this very worthy endeavour. The counts could not be possible without your individual efforts on count day and every last one of you contribute more than you know.

Happy New Year,

Andrew Keaveney

Pike Bay and Cape Chin CBC Compiler

American Robin, Owen Sound
 photo by William Gray January 4

The 20th Saugeen Shores CBC was held on Wednesday, January 3rd, 2024. The  ~24-kilometre count circle is centered several kilometres southeast of Port Elgin and includes Southampton, Port Elgin and Pasiley townsites, as well as adjacent waterfront and MacGregor Point Provincial Park. 34 participants split up into 6 sections surveyed the count circle, which is higher than the last several years. Several feeder watchers also contributed, adding a few species missed by the rest of the count. 

Overall we observed a total of 13,377 individuals of 66 species. This is the 2nd highest count of individual birds in the counts history (highest was 18,313 in 2021) and the highest ever species tally with 66 species observed (previous high was 64 in 2016). This is considerably higher than the long term average of 7,750 individuals and 53 species.  

Highlights included 3 new species for the all time CBC list; Greater White-fronted Goose (2 birds), Red-throated Loon (5 birds) and Winter Wren (1 bird). Several other notable species and high counts were recorded, including; Tundra Swan (2nd count record), White-winged Scoter (3rd count record), Peregrine Falcon (2nd count record), Canada Goose (new highvount of 6,298, previous 5,058), Cackling Goose (new highcount of 7, previous 4), Long-tailed Duck (new highcount of 32, previous 11), Northern Harrier (Tied the past highcount of 2), Bald Eagle (new highcount of 57, previous 36), Iceland Gull (Tied the past highcount of 2), Golden-crowned Kinglet (new highcount of 29, previous 26), American Tree Sparrow (new highcount of 84, previous 76).  

This years count was an interesting one … waterfowl and gull numbers were both very high, with several species setting record high counts. Overall numbers of raptors and passerines were average to low though, and Birdfeeders in every section were very quiet, resulting in low numbers of woodpeckers, chickadees and nuthatches. This has also been a poor winter for several northern birds like Snowy Owl and winter finches, which was reflected in our totals (missed all winter finches besides Common Redpoll and Pine Grosbeak, and missed Snowy Owl for only the 6th time in the counts history). Another interesting trend to note is the decline of the European Starling and House Sparrow, both of which seem to be showing a steady downward trend over the last 15 years. 

 We tried to fully eBird this Christmas Bird Count, with trip reports made for every section as well as the overall count. While this was new to many participants, it went over quiet well and should make things run smoother in subsequent years. This is a great way to view and share data and compare years, and I encourage other CBCs to follow suit (also more data for eBird!). To view the trip report, see the link below.  

eBird trip report for 2024 Saugeen Shores CBC –  

A big thanks to everyone who participated! 

Good birding,  

Kiah Jasper, Compiler

To close, an apropos Nature quote from my own copy of Where the Falcon Flies, by Adam Shoalts, OSFN’s speaker to a full house audience just last month. While camping along the shore of the St. Lawrence River – “I was heartened to see that the woods had many ash trees that were still healthy. The invasive beetles…have so devastated the ash forests elsewhere. In the woods where I grew up had been many fine ash trees and I had mourned their loss to the beetles ever since. Seeing them again put me in a cheerful mood  – it was like meeting old friends you haven’t seen in years.”

Earth Day Tickets Now Available

Are You Looking for a Last Minute Gift?

Give the Gift of Knowing Nature Better

Tickets $10. each, are now available at:

Owen Sound & North Grey Union Public Library, Sheila Gunby’s Paper Cut Designs at Owen Sound Farmers’ Market, & Suntrail Source for Adventure in Hepworth or at OSFN Indoor Meetings.


Nature Club News for November 2023

by John Dickson

Well-known local astronomer and former high school teacher John Hlyaniluk will present “Galapagos” at 7pm Thursday November 9, at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre. Galapagos is one of the most exceptional environments on the planet, with its ecology, geology and scientific value. The most important theory in science, expressed in Darwin’s Origin of Species, was supported by his observations there. Hlyaniluk’s talk will focus on several areas, including the discovery of the Galapagos Islands, their geology and how that has produced the distinctive species of organisms that exist there. Especially of interest are the current efforts to maintain this unique ecosystem, which is under threat from various sources. And much to their credit, the inhabitants have made the islands accessible to tourists in a wonderful harmony of nature and conservation.

Also of note, the Maher family will be on hand to make a special memorial donation to OSFN, as outlined here by Brian Maher:

“Nels and Jean Maher loved the outdoors, in particular the wilds of Grey and Bruce.

With a family of 6 children in tow we enjoyed camping, hiking, canoeing and cross country skiing together. There is a little family joke about children being conceived on camping trips.

Mom and Dad were first members of Saugeen Field Naturalists and attended meetings in Hanover, Durham and Dornoch, often with Joe Johnson carpooling with them. 

When Owen Sound started a Club they became Charter Members and later Honorary Members. They loved the club members and many activities and participated in building Boardwalks, Guiding and attending hikes, and running OSFN booths at community events. Often displaying Dad’s Fern Prints and Owl collection and selling Club books. The Publication Committee team was their favourite. The Club produced many world class nature books and as a career printer dad was deeply involved in publication of these at his business. His favourites were the Orchid and Fern Guides. 

In recent years Mom continued to get calls from folks looking to buy them. So she knew they were out of print. So when I sat down to discuss her estate planning as the Executor we agreed that a donation towards the reprint would be a nice Legacy to Nels’ memory. 

Jean attended her last meeting in March and Died just after her 89th Birthday in April ………..happy and active till the end. 

On behalf of the Maher Family I am so pleased to donate $10,000 from Mom’s Estate for the reprinting of The Ferns Of Grey and Bruce.

Thank You.”

Jean Maher (Supplied Photo)
Nels Maher (Supplied Photo)

Admission is free, with donations welcome. The evening presentation will also be available on Zoom and if interested, please request a zoom link by emailing, in advance with Galapagos in the subject line or visit
During the months of November and December, the display inside the doors at the Artists Co-op at 942    2nd Avenue East (the McKay Building), will feature OSFN publications, NeighbourWoods North, promotional materials and more that director Marsha Courtney has installed there.

Congratulations once more to Bob Bowles, one of four to be inducted this past week into the Orillia Hall of Fame. 

Originally from the Markdale and “Bowles Hill” area, ( I first knew him in High School there) Bob will also be OSFN’s keynote speaker to celebrate Earth Day,  on the Chi Cheemaun in April 2024. 

Bowles is an award-winning writer, artist, nature photographer, educator, and naturalist best known for his lifetime commitment and dedication to preserving and conserving nature and as the founder and coordinator of the Lakehead University Ontario Master Naturalist Certificate Program.

Thank you to Marsha Courtney for this report: On October 29 the Young Naturalists had an Aquatic Invertebrate lesson in Harrison Park with John Bittorf from Grey Sauble Conservation (GSCA), during which we found side swimmers, aquatic worms, caddisflies of various stages, scuds, and many more, and examined them with microscopes. Bittorf engaged the youngsters in the process by showing them the scientific steps of the process, followed by questions that were sometimes simple, and sometimes more challenging, to which they responded well.

John Bittorf of GSCA had a great hands-on set up. The kids all got to play around and we had some adults join in as well. (Photo by Marsha Courtney)

The second half of their afternoon included a successful nature hike to search for Fungi, and we found lots. Trying to keep it simple can be difficult as each one can be named differently depending on which book or app that is used. The kids had keen eyes to find them. More spaces are available in the Young Naturalists club, and to learn more please email Coordinator Amanda Eriksen at

We found lots of fungus. Trying to keep it simple can be difficult as each one can be named differently depending on which book or app that is used. The kids had keen eyes to find them. (Photo by Marsha Courtney)

BPBO fundraiser 

The Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory has announced a Fundraising on-line Auction, on November 21-27, and are saying “Get your Christmas list ready! There will be unusual treasures for all. We are also looking for items to auction, so if you have any treasures, please email us at  Stay tuned for more details!”

I was able to sit and watch this handsome coyote forage the edge of a field for its midday meal yesterday.
It was very thorough and managed to catch what appeared to be several mice in the 20 minutes or so I observed it.
A privilege to see it go about its daily routine .
(photo by Les Anderson 10/13/23)

Each November, I watch for and enjoy  the many shades of gold displayed by Tamarack trees. Insects are still evident – we had a praying mantis here until just after the heavy snow arrived. I jogged over to check some attractive red apples just off trail recently, but when I inspected two of them I found each had a large cavity containing what looked like a house fly in one and two in the other. A wasp was foraging on the leaves of a bloomless rose bush here just a few days ago too. I also had the pleasure of seeing two Clouded Sulphurs, and a few Cabbage White Butterflies fluttering nearby on a recent bike ride in behind Hibou. 

Of course, the bird migration continues with many sightings of shorebirds especially Dunlins, foraging as they pass their way through here, with many keen birders on hand to document their passing, with their eyes and their cameras too. 

To close, a Nature quote from John Terpstra’s Daylighting Chedoke – Exploring Hamilton’s Hidden Creek – “We paddle to the mouth of the creek through patches of lily pads and past conclaves of cormorants perched on the dead arms of fallen trees that have washed into the marsh, then glide under a bridge for the Waterfront Trail. Almost immediately Daniel spots a black-crowned night heron, the first of several … The heron flies off upstream as we approach…. We feel bird-led, or lured. We note a beaver lodge to our right. Yes, a beaver lodge…. We keep our eyes peeled for discovery.”  

A Clouded Sulphur on the rail trail near Storybook Park road this morning. Nothing special about the butterfly nor the pic, but November? November 5 photo by Rob Wray


Nature Club News for October 2023

by John Dickson

Owen Sound Field Naturalists’ (OSFN) featured guest on October 12 will be Dr. Thorsten Arnold, who worked as an academic advisor and researcher on an important new movie which Arnold will be presenting to the Owen Sound audience: the Canadian Premiere of award-winning filmmaker John Feldman’s Regenerating Life – How to cool the planet, feed the world, and live happily ever after

As Arnold explains: “In short, the film talks about climate landscapes from a water and ecosystem perspective, about how biology is actively modifying and self-regulating the physio-chemical aspects of climate – the difference between an urban heat dome and a cool living-landscape anti-dome, so to say, and the science is solid. ‘Regenerating Life’ takes an ecological look at the environmental crises and by challenging the prevailing climate change story, offers new, attainable solutions.

Overall, the film identifies new pathways for climate action that can be done at a community level –  how to stop killing the biosphere and changing our food system toward farming in partnership with nature.

 Regional greening leads to regional cooling and more water availability… even with increasing greenhouse gases.” 

This presentation will especially appeal to those actively working with gardening and farming. October 12 will feature parts 1 & 2, followed by a discussion facilitated by Dr. Arnold. This OSFN special event begins at 7pm Thursday October 12, at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre. However, OSFN President Brendan Mulroy, has announced that audience members are encouraged to arrive as early as 6:30pm in order to enjoy a social time, as there is little opportunity for that later in the evening.

Admission is free or by donation for the general public and there will also be an opportunity to donate to Regenerate Grey Bruce, which along with Eat Local Grey Bruce, the National Farmers’ Union Grey, the Greenbelt Foundation and the Sustainability Project, are sponsoring the work of Dr. Thorsten Arnold that he has been doing in the community recently.

For those unable or not wishing to travel, or if you’re experiencing flu-like symptoms, this event will also be webcast: this is the ZOOM link:    Meeting ID: 843 1497 7160Please note that a bonus, extra OSFN event at 7pm, Thursday October 26, will focus on part 3 of the film Regenerating Life, with a discussion about its special focus on farming. 

For more information please visit  or 

Painted Turtle sunning on a log in the Sauble River October 6. Photo by Robert Knapp

In addition, OSFN’s Young Naturalists Club (YN) is up and running, with the next event at 2 to 4pm, Sunday October 29, planned as an engaging Aquatic Invertebrate ID Workshop in Harrison Park, under the direction of Rosie Martin. There is plenty of room for more participants in the YN club, with an exciting lineup of activities planned.

 The Young Naturalist Club Programme Coordinator is Amanda Eriksen who can be reached via email at and those aged 7 to 12 can be registered with her for monthly activities, usually on the last Sunday afternoon of the month from September to June.

Off to look for the salmon swimming upstream  (photo by Marsha Courtney)

The Bruce Birding Club’s (BBC) Marilyn Ohler shared this report on their October 4 sightings:

Nineteen participants enjoyed summer-like weather for the trip led by Margaret, Carol and Norma. Highlights were many Sandhill Cranes gathering for migration, a busy flock of Bluebirds along Elsinore Road and singing Eastern Meadowlarks. We saw a Monarch butterfly still here and noted that many blackbirds are still migrating, including a group or two of Rusty Blackbirds. 

You can also see Marilyn’s report by following the link to ebird. interested in learning more and/or joining the BBC is invited to contact James Turland  at

Photo by William Gray

October 3  one of the Wood Ducks at Skinner’s Marsh
Bald Eagle – photo by Ingrid Remkins  October 2, north of Kimberley 

The NeighbourWoods North Team has been very busy, and t

hey have two more Autumn Tree Care  sessions planned from 10 to 11:30 on Saturdays October 14, and 21, at the Hospital site in Owen Sound. I have enjoyed many wildflowers and wild flyers in the meadows and pollinator gardens there when I jog along the Healing Path which now has more people using the trail system regularly too. New volunteers are welcome, but should have gloves to wear. Up to date info is available at their Facebook page under NWN.

Stephane Menu of the Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory (BPBO) included these details in his recent blog:  ‘As forecast, the weather this past week was unseasonably warm, very warm. Days alternated between being very quiet or relatively busy at the nets. Golden-crowned Kinglets have started to move in good numbers through Cabot Head and are now the most abundant bird being banded on any given day: 30 Golden-crowned Kinglets banded on September 30 and 48 on October 3, for example. On that last day, we banded a total of 78 birds of 17 species, which is the highest number of birds banded in a day for the season so far. The distant second and third species were Dark-eyed Junco (six birds banded) and Common Yellowthroat (five birds). We also captured the first Fox Sparrow of the season, as well as the first Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. The young male Pileated Woodpecker may claim the title of best bird captured for that day though, despite its ear-piercing calls.’ 

For more information on their work, please visit

A Boxelder beetle, taken in August while crawling around my front garden, much to the bemusement (or perhaps bewilderment) of my neighbours. Photo by Rob Wray

I believe that 2023 has become what I learned from botanist and author John Riley, is called a ‘mast year.’ Not only are the wild grapes and apple trees loaded with fruit, but I have seen and heard Beech nuts and Black Walnuts when they fell near me, either in the woods, or in a City Park, when a chattering squirrel dropped some walnuts with a loud crash quite near me as I was pedalling nearby. A good friend has reported a bumper crop of butternuts this year too. I am hopeful that the mountain ash tree next door will keep its fruit this winter for a change, for the Cedar and Bohemian Waxwings who may visit it this winter. 

To close, a Nature quote from A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende:  They rode through the magnificent scenery of cold forests, age-old trees, mountains and water: water everywhere, flowing down in hidden streams among ancient trunks…It  was all the dazzling and secretive work of nature…


Nature Club News for September 2023

by John Dickson

The Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) welcome back popular speaker, hike leader and now an author Beth Gihespy, who will feature the Geology of the Niagara Escarpment in the Beaver Valley and Sydenham Club sections, as she explains both areas in connection to her Walking Through Time books. Her Beaver Valley book was published recently and will be available at the talk, entitled Building Sydenham: The Making of Walking Through Time. The Sydenham book is in the works and is expected to be published in a few months.

Gilhespy’s presentation is set to take place as part of the OSFN Indoor Meeting at 7pm Thursday September 14, at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre. Everyone is welcome and admission is free, or by donation. In addition, OSFN plans to offer the talk virtually via Zoom. Anyone interested in this version may request a zoom link in advance, by emailing with Rocks in the subject line.

Gilhespy will also be leading a hike for the club, on September 24 in the Kemble area. 

OSFN is pleased to announce that the club was able to sponsor two members of last season’s Young Naturalist Club to attend this summer’s Nature Camp featured by Camp Kawartha.  

The Young Naturalists are getting ready for another year! too. The Young Naturalist Club Programme Coordinator is Amanda Eriksen who can be reached via email and  those aged 7 to 12 can be registered with her for monthly activities, usually on the last Sunday afternoon of the month from September to June.
In addition, OSFN will be sponsoring four local high school students to the Ontario Nature Youth Summit at Lake Couchiching September 22-24. OSFN has sponsored many students in the past decade, and has received excellent feedback from those who have attended the Youth Summits.To learn more about 

the Young Naturalist Club, about joining and/or supporting OSFN, with its many indoor and outdoor presentations, and its motto, Knowing Nature Better, please visit

I believe this is a Ruby meadowhawk but will defer to those more knowledgeable about dragonflies.
Taken on the badlands while birding. (Shallow Lake) (Photo by Rob Wray)

The Sustainability Project has announced that there is a Miyawaki “Tiny” Forest Media Unveiling at Peninsula Shores District School in Wiarton on Monday,  September 18, 9:30- 10:30am at

 115 George St, Wiarton, with light snacks available.

Beth Anne Currie shares the following information:

Hello hard-working friends and living-landscape supporters;  see the unveiling of a fast-growing Miyawaki (Tiny) Forest with a connected BIOSWALE which have been installed on Peninsula Shores District School grounds in Wiarton. a project that the Sustainability Project via Regenerate Grey Bruce, has been supporting over the past several months. These two inter-connected living systems will act as demonstration projects to showcase how living landscapes provide countless ecosystem services compared to treeless, lawn spaces. 

It’s time for the official ceremony, where funders, growers, planters, water-er’s, students, teachers, parents and countless volunteers can be recognized and celebrated….. We have made a short documentary about the project – where you can see and hear a bit more background on the project.


Bring your friends, neighbours and families. Hope to see you there!

Beth Anne

Song Sparrow is a good provider for the then nesting chicks a month ago. The young ones have since fledged and I can hear them chirping to their parents from the cedar hedge. Sept. 11. (photo by Carol L. Edwards-Harrison)

The Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory (BPBO) will host a Fall Open House, with everyone invited Saturday, September 23, from 10:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Tobermory, at the Bruce Peninsula National Park Visitor Centre. 

Come and join us at the Bruce Peninsula National Park visitor center, in Tobermory. We will be there all day with all kinds of activities and information.  You can learn all about the BPBO, and there will be Fall bird walks, display and information, plus audio/visual presentations.

For more information please visit where you can also get an update on the recent bird migration activity with Station Scientist  Stéphane Menu’s weekly blogs.  Here is an excerpt from his latest –

There’s a saying that ‘a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush’. a young Red-eyed Vireo was captured for the first time on August 31… Four days later, on September 4, the same bird was recaptured.  In this short span of time, it increased its weight by 23.5%, a remarkable physiological feast and a sure proof that this bird is getting ready for the long and sustained effort of migration. Fat is the preferred fuel for migrating birds, providing more energy per unit than proteins or carbohydrates. It’s energy they need in order to fly 10 or 12 hours non-stop at night, over a series of multiple flights to reach their final winter destination.

With its bountiful energy stores (and a good measure of luck!), our young Red-eyed Vireo will fly all the way to the Amazon in Brazil, with no assistance from its parents, guided by an internal compass and clock. Unfortunately, this bird – along with all long-distance migrants – will encounter many dangers on its way: bad weather, lack of food at stopover sites, predators like Sharp-shinned Hawks or feral/outdoor cats, collisions with windows, disorientation from artificial lights of ever-expanding cities, etc. It’s hard not to wish them luck as they embark on this, at times treacherous, journey.

Female Common Merganser, Lake Eugenia. Sept. 10. (Photo by David Turner)

In the past year I have been aware of the Centre for Bee Ecology, Evolution and Conservation at York University. (BEEC) and some of their many programme offerings. Here is a link to their website and the opening of their most recent message to me, with a link to their very interesting newsletter and their upcoming conference with a keynote speaker, all of which you can register for. I am looking forward to looking in on more of their activities too.  Our September 2023 BEEc Newsletter – Global Edition.  A reminder that BeeCon registration is only open until Sept 29 so don’t delay in signing up to attend this hybrid event Oct 12-13 – it’s free! (click here for more information, including a schedule).

I have been pleased to finally see some Orange Jewelweed on Saturday’s OSFN hike throught the Amabel Tract with Kevin Predon, and just yesterday I noticed a patch of the yellow variety, while running nearby trails. Another favourite visual at this time of year is the Jerusalem Artichoke with it sunshiny flowers waving in the breezes. 

September 9, Amabel Tract, Sauble Beach –  Red-spotted newt in its eft form or stage (photo by photo by John Dickson)

To close, a Nature Quote from A Bend in the Road, by Nicholas Sparks: “The moon cast its glow over the slow-moving water like a walkway of reflected light. With low-slung oak trees and the whitewashed trunks of cypress trees lining the banks, the view was soothing, ageless in beauty. The draping veils of Spanish moss only added to the feeling that this part of the world hadn’t changed in the last thousand years.”

July, 7:00 am or so, southwest of Bognor, on the edge of a wetland area and out they popped. (PHOTO BY ROB WRAY) 


Nature Club News for July 2023

by John Dickson

At the Annual General Meeting of the Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) on June 8, President Brendan Mulroy presented the club’s Community Conservation Award (CCA) to Lynne Richardson in recognition of her 18 years as OSFN Secretary; her many birding field trips led for OSFN and the Bruce Birding Club; her volunteering as Compiler for the Meaford area Christmas Bird Counts; as Coordinator for the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas for Grey County and more.

Her passion and commitment to nature and to our club are being rewarded. (Photo by Marsha Courtney)

The club’s Honourary Life Membership Award was then presented to the husband and wife team of Willy Waterton and Audrey Armstrong, who have added to their CCA from a year ago with an outstanding contribution to the OSFN Publications Committee, especially for the Orchids Bruce & Grey 5th Edition.

In appreciation of their ongoing commitment to the club, the natural environment, the conservation and the work in our publications from the very beginnings and continuing to this day. (Photo by Marsha Courtney)

Guest presenter Alan Macnaughton then gave an illuminating talk and slideshow entitled the Moths All Around Us, and invited folks to join him for a Moth Night at the Grey Sauble Conservation Arboretum the next evening. He was particularly pleased to report that “one of the reasons for picking June was to see the giant silkmoths, and we were not disappointed. There were 2 cecropia silkmoths, the largest moth found in this area of Ontario. There were also 3 polyphemus moths, which are also large and crowd-pleasing. Combining all 3 years of observations together, I have recorded 274 species of moths at the arboretum. This was a notable increase in the 206 recorded in the first two years.”

Scott Parent is a Canadian Photographer and Filmmaker based on the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula. In July of 2019 Scott paddled from Drummond Island, MI, USA to Penetanguishene, ON CA with his 9-year-old daughter Acadia, tandem on a 14′ Expedition SUP to retrace their ancestral migration route of the Georgian Bay Metis Community of 1828. Together they collected water samples for microplastics research and trash they found along the route. Their journey covered over 480km across Lake Huron’s three bodies of water.

They share their incredible journey in their documentary film, Three Waters, on Wednesday July 26th at 7:00pm at the Parks Canada Visitor Centre (120 Chi sin tib dek Rd, Tobermory), presented, free of charge, by The Sources of Knowledge Board.To learn more about the film and the upcoming screening visit the Sources of Knowledge Facebook Page, or email Scott Parent directly at Voluntary donations will go to the THREE WATERS FOUNDATION – a Lake Huron clean up initiative focused on caring for the remote islands of Lake Huron, and helping wildlife residing in those areas impacted by plastic pollution.

The OSFN Young Naturalists  club wrapped up its season with a birding hike at Isaac Lake. As Jody Johnson Pettit shared – “We spotted Great Egrets, a loon with 2 babies, a Black Crowned Night Heron, Sandhill Cranes in flight, and others.” Many thanks to Jody for coordinating the club’s activities in recent years – it has been much appreciated! The club will start up again in September under the direction of Amanda Eriksen.

 Speaking of birds, the Bruce Birding Club (BBC) capped off its 20th Season with a Berford Lake Bash that featured a day of birding in small groups, then gathering afterwards for dinner, and to both honour and roast the club’s founding coordinator, Fred Jazvac who later shared these sentiments with the club:

“I want to thank you for the astounding, and unexpected finish to my organizing of the Bruce Birding Club.  The gift of the large woodpecker carving, is now displayed in a prominent spot in our backyard garden where it can be seen …  and where the inscription on the back is visible.  This wooden bird will always be special to me, and a great reminder of one of the most memorable days of my life.  Like you, I came to the pot luck, expecting an enjoyable day of birding, socializing with the people who I like to be with, and left flabbergasted. Thank you for the wonderful times we had over the years, and thank you for the friendship we shared.”

James Turland will be leading the BBC as we begin the next twenty years of Birding.

Family Time – This Sandhill Crane family is enjoying a late breakfast.
July 5 –  photo by Pat Gillies in Bruce County

At the hospital area I have noticed equipment working on trail preparation to enhance the accessibility of the Healing Path, plus the blossoming of flowers in both the Welcoming Garden and the Pollinator Garden.

Snails large and small on a section of the Healing Path
Photo by John Dickson
Accessible Healing Path work is underway
Photo by John Dickson
A sample from the Pollinator Garden at the Hospital in Owen Sound
Photo by John Dickson

The area is also home to many Eastern Meadowlarks, American Goldfinches, Song Sparrows,  and Killdeer, as well as the various bees and butterflies buzzing and fluttering  among the blooming wildflowers that abound there. NeighbourWoods North volunteers have continued nurturing the trees planted there, with trimming and mulching activities in recent weeks.

Juvenile  Northern Flicker in Beaver Valley July 18 (photo by Ingrid Remkins)

Photo by Doug Martin

Thank you to Doug Martin for this report: The annual MacGregor Point Butterfly count was held July 8, 2023. Party groups were established
consisting of veteran butterfly counters, experienced amateurs, and Park Staff. We were also joined by several newcomers to butterfly identification who were interested in participating and learning more.
They soon found there were more butterflies than Monarchs and Cabbage Whites.

The general consensus was that overall butterfly numbers were down this year. This could have been count day weather related though. The count started about 10:00 AM with lots of activity for the first hour. Overcast skies took over about 11:00 and activity took a noticeable downturn. It seemed the butterflies sensed the approaching rain and took shelter. Monarchs are of special interest to many and this year’s numbers were down compared to past years. One party had six individuals, but most groups were lucky to have a single sighting during the day despite many patches of milkweed that were in healthy abundance.

Photo by Bob Taylor

Many naturalists in Grey-Bruce are observing young birds and other young animals in the company of their parents, from such larger birds as Sandhill Cranes, and Canada Geese, to Ospreys, Crows; smaller birds, including American Robins, Mourning Doves, juvenile Tree Swallows, Eastern Kingbirds, Northern Flickers, American Redstarts and Baltimore Orioles, plus fawns with the does, and even baby snails were all over the running path I was using the other day, requiring me to slow to a snail’s pace to watch more closely where my feet were going.

In addition, we are already seeing the early migration of Greater Yellowlegs and other shorebirds on their way back from the far north, who are already heading south for the winter.

I have also been noticing more butterfly species, as have many others. In particular I have been seeing Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, a Northern Crescent, and even a few Monarchs. Annual Butterfly counts often take place in July in Ontario, when they may be found visiting the vast array of various wildflowers that are blooming here in a sort of slow slideshow as the days and weeks go by.

To close, a Nature quote from Harry Belafonte’s memoir My Song, regarding an investment deal for the island paradise of Klein Bonaire that fell through: “in retrospect, it was all for the best. On the eve of the new Millennium, Klein Bonaire was established as a preserve in perpetuity. The flamingos will keep their home, and the local flora and fauna will stay as they are. So will the coral reefs whose fragile state we were naïve about when we drew up our plans.” 


Nature Club News for June 2023

by John Dickson

Like a Moth drawn to a light at night-time, Alan Macnaughton is very attracted to this area and especially to “Mothing” here too. 

Alan’s first big experience with moths was seeing a Luna Moth at Big Bay when he was 14, and having built his first moth trap when he was 16, he has been interested in moths ever since. Until the last few years, after Alan retired from university work and had more time for moth activities, most of his moth work has been done at a cottage he rents just outside MacGregor Point Provincial Park. He’s been visiting there for 35 years now. So, he has had a lot of time to become acquainted with Grey-Bruce moths. Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) first invited him to offer an outdoor Moth Night in 2020 in that same Park, and then in 2021 and 2022 in Owen Sound. The response to Alan’s Moth nights and morning viewings grew each year, with even more interest, and appreciation for sharing his passion for Moths  with OSFN and guests from the Toronto Entomological Association (TEA), at Owen Sound in 2021, and 2022.  Alan Macnaughton also accepted OSFN’s invitation to give a season wrap up Moth Talk, “The Moths All Around Us”, which will take place at 7:30pm on Thursday, June 8, at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre. 

He says that Owen Sound, with its abundant natural and forested areas, is a great place to be an aspiring Moth’er or just a person who appreciates the amazing diversity of the insect world. Alan will explain why he finds moths so fascinating and why he especially likes the moths of Owen Sound and Grey-Bruce.

Everyone is welcome to attend this OSFN event, and admission is free or by donation, for non members. The Moth presentation will be preceded by a dinner event and the 2023 AGM. 

 OSFN also plans to offer this as a Zoom Webinar. If interested in receiving a zoom link, please email, in advance, to     with Moths in the subject line.

For more information please visit

Now into their final week of monitoring until the fall, here is an excerpt from Stephane Menu’s most recent report on behalf of the Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory, where birds are banded, and documented along with many other avian observations:

Among the late-season migrants, it is always quite a surprise to have Blue Jays in this category! Most of the Blue Jays are sedentary except for the sliver of the population at the very north of their breeding range. A sliver maybe, but that is still a lot of birds: on June 4, there was a flock of about 400 Blue Jays rising up over the trees in the eastern horizon. As they rose and dipped, turned and mingled, it was extremely difficult to precisely count them: it was a 10-bird by 10-bird count done very quickly before they dove down into the woods again. If you ever happen to be in said wood as a large group of jays fall from the sky, the ‘whoosh’ sound they make would have you crouching in sudden fear! At least the first time you hear it. Quite remarkable!

We are now entering the final countdown of the Spring season, with the last day on June 10 fast approaching. Stay tuned for a quick summary next week! To learn more please visit   

May 29 at 10:10 AM
  · Lady oriole knows that everyday is celebrate female birds day! (photo by Carol Edwards-Harrison)

Jody Johnson Pettit  and Marsha Courtney were on hand for the Young Naturalists attending the 25th Anniversary Huron Fringe Birding Festival  at MacGregor Point Provincial Park. It was a beautiful afternoon for a nature hike, learning from Audrey Armstrong and Norah Toth about pollinator gardens, invasive plants and the various turtles, plants, trees, and frogs that live in the different ecosystems in the park. Always a special time to visit and see such natural diversity right in front of you.

First we ran into Audrey Armstrong who jumped in to teach us about the new pollinator garden by the visitor centre (photo by Marsha Courtney)
Secondly we had Norah Toth lead us on a hike on the Huron Fringe boardwalk through the wetland. (photo by Marsha Courtney)
and our highlight was this wonderful Grey Tree Frog (photo by Marsha Courtney)

Springtime is certainly very special here, with so many floral highlights on display. Just this past week, for the very first time I was shown the delicate blossoms on a Butternut Tree, and Horse Chestnut and Locust trees in the area are showing off their amazing blossom structures too. I arrived home one day last week, to be shown a great multitude of baby spiders on their delicate webbing draped over our peonies, with their blooming  still a few weeks away. And just this yesterday morning, while I gave a drink to the flowers out front, a gorgeous And just yesterday, a gorgeous Large Yellow Underwing moth, (a lifer for me – ID help from Alan) shifted somewhat, avoiding the gentle spray I was offering, and crawled out where it could be admired. Even on the edge of town here, I can hear Eastern Meadowlarks with their frequent and melodious warbling, and the other day I spotted a Brown Thrasher hopping through behind the houses here. So many Springtime highlights to appreciate and enjoy!

Green Heron at Hibou June 5 (Photo by William Gray)

NeighbourWoods North urban forest volunteers are wrapping up their busy Springtime campaign in the Forest of Health and Healing at the Hospital in Owen Sound this Saturday, June 10, from 9 to 11am. You are invited to see the work they have been doing and consider joining and/or supporting this important team. They will be doing some tree care, but also having some fun and celebrating with the dedication of their new shed with its own sign. Winners of the Annual Flowering Crabapple Blossoms Photo Contest will be announced. Coffee for adults, juice for youngsters, plus donuts and muffins will also be available, and perhaps even some music. See you there!

Photo by Rob Wray – taken locally during May
Indigo bunting first light

The Friends of Hibou are also celebrating 50 years since the establishment of Hibou Conservation Area. Here is the message you will find on their website:Saturday June 24th is getting closer. Do you have your ticket yet ($10 for adults, children free)? You won’t want to miss this exciting event, starting at 5pm with food and entertainment. Musicians will play from under the large picnic shelter at Hibou Conservation Area (GSCA). Imagine enjoying the music with the view of the water behind them. Bring your lawn chair and find a spot just right for you. The timing is perfect just following the Summer Solstice. Picture a beautiful evening as we celebrate fifty years of having this 2km of shoreline open to us to experience nature and take in all it has to offer us.Thank you to Wanda Westover (realtor) and Knapp Family Endowment Fund for sponsoring this event and making your ticket affordable.We encourage you to buy your tickets ahead of time. To purchase your ticket go to Runners’ Den across from city hall Owen Sound or contact Friends of Hibou to make a different arrangement:

To close, a Nature quote from Sylvia Tyson’s Joyner’s Dream – “My grandfather …  introduced me to golden mornings fishing on Georgian Bay, the mist rising off the water, and only the songs of the birds, the lapping of the water against the hull and the breeze rustling in the reeds to break the silence.” 


Nature Club News for May 2023

by John Dickson

Wasps and Orchids will be featured at the May 11 Indoor Meeting of Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN), at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre, and on Zoom. 

The OSFN Publications Committee spokesperson, Audrey Armstrong, invites you to arrive early, from 6pm to 7pm, to see and purchase your copy of the 5th Edition of Orchids Bruce & Grey ($30. Retail), with all new images by award-winning photographer Willy Waterton. Special pricing at this time will be only $25. And just a little news flash: Willy and Audrey are giving an interview about Orchids Bruce & Grey, Sunday, at 8:30 am on Fresh Air, CBC radio.As part of the book launch, special presentations will be made following the meeting start at 7pm. This evening will be the culmination of a two year project to update the Orchids book, including a daunting quest to find and photograph the 49 known Orchid Species  recorded in Bruce and Grey. Congratulations to Willy Waterton and the OSFN Publications Committee on this magnificent achievement!

Following the book launch, the featured guest speakers for the evening are Dr. Bruce Broadbent, and Jay Cossey who will present The Wasps We Love, and the Wasps We Detest: Our Complex Relationship.

Dr. Bruce Broadbent (Entomologist) was a Research Scientist with the Federal Government/Agriculture Canada for 33 years in Ontario (Vineland and London) and his expertise is in the field of the Biological Control of Insect Pests – using tiny parasitic wasps to control pests in agriculture. His team’s greatest success stories were in the Ontario greenhouse industry.

Bruce was born in Montreal and grew up in Wellington, New Zealand. He received his MSc. from McGill University (1976) and his PhD from University of Guelph (1980). He retired in 2013 and he and his wife moved from London to Southern Georgian Bay. Bruce says his children and 6 grandchildren seem to visit more often now that he lives near the Bay!

Jay Cossey is a nature photojournalist who has contributed images to numerous field guides, textbooks, periodicals and calendars, including all 24 images for National Geographic’s first butterfly calendar.
Jay has been fascinated by bugs since he was a child. He is the author of two regional butterfly guides–one for the state of Indiana, and one entitled 

Southern Ontario Butterflies and their Natural History, which he will have with him for purchase

For more information please visit  and if you would like to join the evening on zoom you may request a link by sending an email, in advance, to     with Wasps in the subject line.

NeighbourWoods North is gearing up to move forward with VOLUNTEER TREE DAYS – planting, mulching, etc., this Spring beginning on Saturday morning, 9 to 11am, May 6, 13, 20 & 27 and June 3 & 10. To Volunteer – You can pre register here or just come by.  For insurance reasons, please sign in upon arrival.  Wear clothing appropriate to the weather.  Gloves are a necessity.  Bring rakes, shovels, buckets, and wheelbarrows if you have them.  Meet at the fenced power station across from the Emergency Department at the Hospital in Owen Sound. Parking is free along the laneway only while volunteering.  Grass has been planted along the laneway so please do not park on the grounds.

On Thursday May 4, a crew of dedicated volunteers with Friends of Hibou along with GSCA staff were hard at work transporting and replacing over 100 boards along the Nature Trails Boardwalks there, at Hibou Conservation Area. A shoreline cleanup session was also held there on April 21.   This important maintenance work will also ensure good safe conditions as Bob Knapp declares that ” 

Friends of Hibou are appreciative of our volunteers and their great work. June 24, our Hibou Celebration 50 is getting closer.”

Friends of Hibou by Don Sankey

Young Naturalists on April 30 – by Jody Johnson Pettit
“It was a rainy day to plant red pine trees at the Owen Sound hospital.A small group from the Owen Sound Young Naturalists Club and NeighbourWoods North volunteers turned out to plant 30 trees on the hospital grounds.”Many thanks to all of you!

Young Naturalists and NeighbourWoods North April 30 Photos by Jody Johnson Pettit

On my own adventure bike rides and trail runs these past few weeks, I have observed newly returned Brown Thrashers with nesting materials, many Springtime wildflowers, Trilliums both red and white, Wild Leeks and many others, plus many fish well upstream in local creeks and rivers. However, I had not seen many backyard bunnies in our neighbourhood for quite a while and I was actually wondering if they were being quiet while starting families. Today I happened to see some happy evidence of that as a wee, baby bunny appeared in our back yard to nibble on the grass there, before exiting under our neighbour’s deck from whence it had arrived. Although the returning bird migration these days is well underway there is a reverse migration going on too – one that usually happens at this very same time each year. Many of our local birders will be flocking to Point Pelee and Pelee Island to welcome the amazing plethora of birds arriving, some to stay there and nest, others to simply forage and rest, before continuing northwards to their preferred destination for raising families this year. For the humans it is like a homecoming tradition, seeing other birders at Pelee they only see at that location, before returning to their own homelands to witness and enjoy the diversity of birdlife arriving and/or passing through in Springtime in order to arrive at their preferred habitat when their food sources and territories are ready for them too.

Festival Chair Norah Toth has shared this report on the Huron Fringe Birding Festival (HFBF), celebrating its 25th season this year:

We are very pleased with Festival registration. After 6 weeks of registration, 52 of the 90 Festival events are full. Most of our availability is on the second weekend of the Festival. But, there remain some great opportunities to join us.

For our 25th year, we are pleased to announce that the recipients of the Norah Toth Award for 2023 are Martin and Kathy Parker, in recognition of their many important contributions to the first HFBF, to the Breeding Bird Atlas, the Saugeen Field Naturalists, and the Federation of Ontario Naturalists (now Ontario Nature). 

We have also added a Nature Showcase. This will be held at the Visitor Centre on 5 days and will feature a variety of local organizations. New this year is a Community painting which will be guided by local artist, Sue Allison, from May 26 to May 28. Sue was a leader during the first Festival 25 years ago! We always welcome Vortex who bring scopes and binoculars for purchase on Saturday, May 27 only.  This will be the 16th year that Vortex have returned to support the Festival. We are also hosting the Owen Sound Field Naturalists who have recently released two books: Vascular Plants Bruce & Grey and Orchids Bruce & Grey. These, along with several other OSFN publications, will be available for purchase each day of the Nature Showcase.

To recognize the 25th year of the Festival, local chainsaw carver Gerald Gunkel was commissioned to carve a special commemorative carving for the Festival and MacGregor Point Provincial Park. In addition, “So you want to be a Birder?” will introduce techniques and tips to novice birders on Saturday, May 27; Steve Burrows author of the Birder Murder Mystery series will be the keynote speaker on Saturday, May 28 and the Southampton Rotary are sponsoring Wild Ontario who will be at Inverhuron Provincial Park on Saturday, June 3 starting at 1:30pm in the picnic area. Park entry fees apply unless you are a registered participant in the Festival.

The Festival attracts top leaders from across the province and from our own backyard. Their credentials range from career ornithologists, professional tour leaders, academics, educators, Big Year birders, world birders, and those who have had a lifelong hobby and citizen scientist interest in birds.  You’ll be dazzled by their rich backgrounds and vast expertise. 

For details about the Festival and event Registration –

Norah Toth

American Woodcock at MacGregor Point Provincial Park. Photo by Judith Pelley

To close, a delightfully apropos Nature Haiku by award-winning local writer, performer and arts advocate, Elizabeth Warren, from mix well –  a poetry anthology. 

on the patio
a wasp and i negotiate
over dinner

and from Will James’ Smoky the Cowhorse

Four long winter months went by. Then one day … the meadowlarks was a tuning up on the high corral posts, and along with the bare patches of ground that could be seen, no better signs was needed that spring had come…Fine warm spring days came, the kind of days when folks and animals alike hunt for a place where the sun shines the best.