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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com 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 www.osfn.ca
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!
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 www.bpbo.ca 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.
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 https://www.yorku.ca/bees/ 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.
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.”
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 www.osfn.ca 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 firstname.lastname@example.org no later than August 30, indicating their interest and availability to attend, as the registration deadline is September 5. For more information please visit https://ontarionature.org/events/youth-summit/
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.
All activities for this Monarch Butterfly Festival are free.
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.
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 www.bpbo.ca
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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 email@example.com. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with Moths in the subject line.
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 www.bpbo.ca
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.
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!
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!
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: email@example.com
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.”
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 www.osfn.ca and if you would like to join the evening on zoom you may request a link by sending an email, in advance, to firstname.lastname@example.org 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.”
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!
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.
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.
Naturalists throughout Bruce and Grey counties will be saddened to learn of the recent passing of Jean Maher, in her 90th year. She and her late husband Nels Maher were very active participants and award winners in the Saugeen Field Naturalists (now Saugeen Nature), the Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) and on its Plant Committee which produced several highly acclaimed Nature Books. Only a month ago Jean joined the other remaining Plant Committee members for recognition and photos, at the launch of the Vascular Plant List Bruce & Grey 5th Edition.
It has been such a rewarding experience for me to have known Jean Maher even a little, through our mutual involvement in the Owen Sound Field Naturalists. I will certainly miss her fun and engaging questions and stories at OSFN club meetings, and her enthusiasm for Nature too.
Jean was such a friendly and generous lady, often inviting the club members for field trips at her Family Farm/Nature Reserve, where the enjoyment of Nature, plus her hospitality and good food, always went hand in hand. My sincere condolences to all her family and friends.
Others have shared their memories of Jean Maher too:
Nels Maher may have been the more recognized local nature expert but Jean was just as knowledgeable as indicated by their business card that they handed out. “Outdoor Nature Guides – “Individual or group Adventures in Grey & Bruce. Nels and Jean Maher.” After Nels’ death in 2005, Jean hand wrote on the business card above her name “Consultant” and “I can still tell people where to go ” typical Jean – tongue in cheek.
Jean and Nels were arguably the most knowledgeable outdoor guides in Bruce and Grey, both having grown up in the area, and shared their combined love and knowledge of Bruce and Grey’s special nature spots. Jean was especially proud of her family’s farm on the Saugeen River near Durham. The whole family worked together to foster this as a nature reserve. They loved to share it with OSFN members and the public.
Other than the huge respect for their knowledge of nature in Bruce & Grey, which the couple so willingly shared with us, we will always fondly remember their offerings of homemade elderberry wine. After any outing you were offered a sample from the trunk of their car or after a tour of the Maher’s lush and shady Owen Sound backyard fern garden you were handed a glass of rich and robust elderberry wine. We’re happy to think that Jean and Nels are now reunited, the two are out exploring a favorite haunt in Bruce and Grey.
The Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) are offering two speaker events this month. First, a regular Indoor Meeting with guest Don Scallen about one of his favourite topics – Salamanders. For decades, Don Scallen has visited springtime ponds to witness the wondrous spectacle of Spotted Salamander and Jefferson Salamander breeding. He will share pictures and videos of this special time of year. Also a prolific writer of Nature articles for In the Hills, and other publications, he will have with him, for sale, copies of his popular book Nature Where We Live.
This presentation will begin at 7pm (open by 6:20pm) Thursday April 13, at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre, and will also be available on Zoom. The event is open to the public and everyone is welcome. Admission is free or by donation, and if you wish to receive a zoom link, please email in advance to email@example.com with Don in the subject line.
Secondly, a special 8th Annual Celebrate Earth Day event with keynote speaker Lenore Keeshig, will be held, once again aboard the Chi Cheemaun at its berth in the Owen Sound harbour, at 2pm Sunday April 23.
An award winning storyteller, poet, author, and naturalist, Lenore Keeshig will present “Good of the Earth.” and shared this description – “In celebration of Earth Day, I want to share through stories, my understanding of Anishinaabe relationship to the land beginning with the name we call ourselves and where we come from. These stories will highlight various facets of Anishinaabe connection to the land and water, from a barren landscape to the food we eat and where we stand today in this era of Truth and Reconciliation.”
Due to limited seating aboard the Chi Cheemaun (an Ojibway name meaning Big Canoe, and suggested by Donald Keeshig, Lenore’s father), advance purchase of tickets, only $5. each, are recommended from the Owen Sound and North Grey Union Public Library, Suntrail Source for Adventure in Hepworth, and at the Owen Sound Farmers’ Market from Sheila Gunby, as well as at the OSFN’s Salamander talk, April 13. Thank you to event sponsor Caframo, and host Owen Sound Transportation Company. Please visit www.osfn.ca for more details and information.
The Bruce Birding Club had a special adventure in the Algonquin Park area this past week, led by Kiah Jasper and Alessandra Kite. After the warming temperatures melted the ice build-up, a successful owl outing that evening garnered quick responses from a Northern Saw-whet Owl, and two separate Barred Owls. Other highlights the next day were Boreal Chickadees, (a Lifer for some) one Canada Jay and three Pine Martens, followed by some successful birding along the way back home again.
Thank you to Jody Johnson Pettit for this outline:
The Young Naturalists Club got creative and hands-on at The Georgian Bay School of the Arts for their March meeting. Under the guide of Beth and Alan, the kids created trash owls and weaved scenes of water and wheat fields. The two nature-inspired projects were crafted using yarn, recycled materials, fabric and wood. The children enjoyed the experience, and learning how to weave yarn, and safely use hammers and screwdrivers.
The second annual Earth Day Grey Bruce has an exciting afternoon lined up: Bring your Kids out to the Earth Day Celebration on April 22 from 2 to 5pm at the Owen Sound Farmers’ Market. There will be live music and theatre, face painting, henna, and sidewalk chalk. And don’t forget the parade at 4pm! Feel free to dress up as your favourite animal or Earth loving character.
The event itinerary includes activities at both the Owen Sound and North Grey Union Public Library, and the Tom Thomson Art Gallery from 11:00am to 2:00pm. Outdoors at 12:45 to 1:30pm will feature a Water Ceremony in Queen’s Park, 1st Ave. W (across the river from the Farmers’ Market) with Shirley John, Strong White Buffalo Woman from Saugeen First Nation and the M’Wikwedong Hand Drumming Group.
2:00-5:00 – Climate Fair and Children’s Area opens at the Owen Sound Farmers’ Market, 88 8th Street East. and featuring: Music with Saugeen Sound Conspiracy, then Poet Laureate Richard-Yves Sitoski, followed by Wildflower Dance Arts, O’Sing, G.R.I.N.D., Sheatre ‘Act for Climate’ group and Durham Sauntering Band, all leading to a 4:00 ‘Procession of the Species’ Parade that everyone can join, featuring puppets, masks, and costumes reflecting the theme of endangered wildlife and a Sheatre Act for Climate theatrical performance on the parade route.
To close, nature quotes from two well-known and popular entertainment personalities, who both were talented and skilled as musicians, painters, and writers, and both were raised on large islands – Newfoundland and Vancouver Island.
From Gordon Pinsent’s Next, high in the volcanic mountains of the Sierra Madre Occidental range, while portraying Ontario’s Fred Urquhart in Flight of the Butterflies: “As we approached I could see a group of tall trees, whose trunks and branches were dripping with …big yellow cascades … and as we got closer we could suddenly hear the strange, unique sound of millions of fluttering wings and could see thousands of monarch butterflies…We came back down, returning to reality. Looking up at the Sierra Madre made us wonder if we had really been up there, or if we’d dreamed the whole thing. I had had the strange sense, while being with the monarchs, that we were only as much a part of their world as they had allowed us to be; the monarchs had been given to Mexico as a gift, and now, would be seen by the world.”
From Ian Tyson’s The Long Trail – My Life in the West: “The ravens have returned..[for]..their sixth or seventh spring here at the ranch, and the male, jet black, is almost the size of an eagle. When I went to move bales in the hayshed yesterday, I heard the faint mutterings of their babies in the nest, high in the rafters… I like having ’em around, even though they can be noisy as hell.” and “The Rockies … are so aesthetically over the top – changing every morning, orchestrated by the light – I never get tired of ’em.” and finally “Only the wind is forever.”
The Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) present Members’ Night, 6:30 to 9pm, Thursday, March 9, at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre. This popular annual event features several speakers with a variety of Nature topics to share.
Audrey Armstrong of the OSFN Publications Committee is delighted to announce that “You are invited to arrive early and join us for the Book Launch and Sale of Vascular Plant List Bruce & Grey, 5th Edition, from 6:30 to 7pm. During this time you will have the opportunity to purchase (cash or cheque) copies of the book at the early bird price of $20.00. When the OSFN club meeting starts at 7pm we will have a brief presentation by the compiler, Tyler Miller, who will talk about the process of revising the Vascular Plant List Bruce & Grey, including his detailed dataset for the Vascular Plant List Bruce & Grey: Compendium version.”
The 5th edition of the Vascular Plant List Bruce & Grey is a keystone publication of the Owen Sound Field Naturalists. If you want to sustain wildlife with native plants, this book will give you all the native plants, shrubs and trees for Bruce & Grey. It is an essential reference for naturalists, botanists, life science inventory specialists, land use planners, resource management agencies, and consultants who are working within Bruce and Grey Counties.
Popular hike leader and presenter, David Morris calls his remarks “What’s Up, Buttercup”. It will be a quick look at the diversity of buttercup species that can be found in this area, and some tips as to how to tell them apart. Meg Dean will present a display of Nature mementos from around North America, and Rob Wray will offer “A multi-genre photographic tour of Grey/Bruce’s natural environment, by a beginner photographer.”
The evening will also feature a second launch – of ticket sales for OSFN’s 8th annual Celebrate Earth Day Keynote Speaker event featuring Lenore Keeshig, aboard the Chi Cheemaun at 2pm Sunday April 23, and sponsored by Caframo.
Renowned storyteller, poet, author and naturalist Lenore Keeshig’s presentation is entitled “Good of the Earth” and in Lenore’s words: “In celebration of Earth Day, I want to share through stories, my understanding of Anishinaabe relationship to the land beginning with the name we call ourselves and where we come from. These stories will highlight various facets of Anishinaabe connection to the land and water, from a barren landscape to the food we eat and where we stand today in this era of Truth and Reconciliation.”
John Dickson will have the first available tickets (limited seating, still only $5. each, cash please) for this special event, for sale to those in attendance.
In addition to being LIVE at the Bayshore, OSFN also plans to offer this March 9th event as a zoom webinar. To request a ZOOM LINK please send an email, in advance, to firstname.lastname@example.org with Members in the subject line
To learn more about OSFN, Young Naturalists, upcoming Speakers and Field Trips, etc., please visit www.osfn.ca
Congratulations to the Huron Fringe Birding Festival, on their 25th anniversary season, May 26 – 29 and June 1 – 4, 2023. celebrating birds, birding and nature! The Festival is based out of beautiful MacGregor Point Provincial Park, where events explore the rich niches of the Park, and also venture throughout the ‘Huron Fringe’ of land along Lake Huron’s shore, up the bountiful Bruce Peninsula, and to many significant natural areas of Bruce and Grey Counties.
The Festival offers an incredible 90+ events over two 4-day weekends in late May and early June! This time of year captures both the end of migration and the beginning of the nesting season, ensuring an abundance of birds. Morning, afternoon, all-day and evening events are offered daily. You can choose to attend one, some, or pick a full-Festival package! All events are led by top local, provincial and global tour leaders.
Whether your interest is strictly ‘for the birds’, or if you wish to delve into botany, photography, geology, cultural history and more, you will be sure to find interesting, informative and fun events. But sign up early as many events fill within the first few days of registration. This is one popular Festival!
I recommend you visit the website at https://huronfringebirdingfestival.ca and check out this year’s lineup so that you can select your preferred items when the HFBF registration opens March 17 at 6am.
On March 4, at 11am, Grey County Master Gardeners are offering Seminar 2 of their free 2023 Eco-Responsible Gardener Seminar Series, via zoom. Entitled “The Best Plants for Ontario Food Forests”, it will feature Ben Caesar, owner of Fiddlehead Nursery in Kimberley, Ontario, as he identifies some of the easy to care for trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials that provide sustainable crop harvesting. “We will go on a virtual tour with Ben as he shows us his ever-expanding demonstration garden of the best plants for edible and beautiful landscapes. Learn how to grow a sustainable food source while helping the environment!” To learn more and to register please visit www.greycountymastergardeners.com
OSFN’s Young Naturalists (YN) Coordinator, Jody Johnson Pettit, compiled this report on their recent activities: Seven children and their caregivers attended the Owen Sound Young Naturalists hike from the Pottawatomi Memorial Forest to Jones Falls and back on Sunday, February 26. We played several rounds of owl and mouse – a predator/prey game, looked in crevices, examined tracks in the snow, ferns, moss, fungi, marveled at the escarpment and the power of the waterfall. The next meeting of the YN is scheduled for Sunday, March 26 at the Georgian Bay School for the Arts. We will be creating several nature inspired arts and crafts.
Quite a few people in this area have been rewarded for their nocturnal efforts and adventures in recent weeks witnessing, first hand, many fabulous Natural (some might say Supernatural) sightings of Northern Lights/Aurora Borealis as well as unusual juxtapositions of celestial bodies in our night skies. And, in the Mediterranean, the powerful forces of Nature have recently contributed to rough seas, resulting in the destruction and sinking of sea-going vessels along with passengers and crew members, in the area of Calabria, Italy.
To close, I have apropos Nature phenomena quotes from two sources – first from Peter Nichols’ Ruffo of Calabria, which I just happened to be reading when I heard Calabria mentioned in the news. “Often I dream that I am out riding in the mountains…It is beautiful country… The air is a soft champagne from which the cork has just that moment flown away; the breeze light, the chestnut forests a rich green marked with the cream of the blossoms.” and later “In my dreams it is all one, the prelude and the catastrophe; the relentless hot wind…followed by torrential rain and the subterranean roaring. Then the great rents in the surface of the earth…the earthquake had split the Ancient city apart…”
Secondly, from OSFN’s Earth Day Keynote Speaker of 2022, Hap Wilson, in his Dance of the Deadmen – As Jack Hornby in his nightmare dreams of the Great War was seeing “men falling, flailing, getting up again in a strange macabre dance … the dance of the deadmen” and Edgar wakes him with “Come down to the river! …The northern lights, remember, the dance of the dead Jack, they’re incredible. You can get a dandy look at them from the river” …”they walked to the centre of the frozen Thelon River…looking up into the heavens to watch the spirits dance.”
Kiah Jasper, Ontario’s new Champion Birder, will be the featured guest speaker at the Owen Sound Field Naturalists’ (OSFN) monthly Indoor Meeting, for his “2022 Big Year”. This popular gathering is also an opportunity to share your recent wildlife and Nature “Sightings”.
OSFN and I first became aware of Kiah, when he introduced himself in an email I received in January 2017, as “a 14 year old Wildlife Photographer from the Bruce”. He indicated that he had “enjoyed birding since he was young.”
Since that time Kiah has been connected to a community of helpful experts, and has become one himself, leading outings for the Bruce Birding Club, as the Compiler for the Saugeen Shores Christmas Bird Count (CBC), and he recently joined the board of the Ontario Field Ornithologists (OFO) sharing his research and suggestions on tricky ID challenges in essays and articles.
In January of 2022 he set out to challenge the Ontario Birding “Big Year” record. Using such apps as eBird and his well-developed communication skills, he has documented this journey with updates along the way, complemented by his superb photography, as he chased a new record, with several other competitors never far behind.
Here is your chance to see and hear Kiah Jasper’s story of this monumental accomplishment, first hand, at the Bayshore Community Centre, 7pm February 9.
Everyone is welcome to attend in person, and admission is free or by donation.
However, OSFN also plans to offer the presentation as a hybrid, via Zoom as well. A zoom link is emailed to OSFN club members. Others who are interested may request a zoom link, in advance, by emailing email@example.com with Kiah in the subject line.
For more details about OSFN (a registered charity) on this event, the Young Naturalists Club, Nature publications, field trips and more, please visit www.osfn.ca
This just in from the Publications Committee of the OSFN:
The 5th edition of the Vascular Plant List Bruce & Grey is a keystone publication of the Owen Sound Field Naturalists. If you want to sustain wildlife with native plants, this book will give you all the native plants, shrubs and trees for Bruce & Grey. It is an essential reference for naturalists, botanists, life science inventory specialists, land use planners, resource management agencies, and consultants who are working within Bruce and Grey Counties. The OSFN approached and contracted Tyler Miller, Field Ecologist to digitize and revise the list; over the past two years he has totally updated our 5th Edition. It includes 1611 taxa (species, subspecies and hybrids) for 131 families, which are listed including all locally and provincially rare plants found in the counties. If you have an old copy of the Vascular Plant List, you will definitely want to order this new release; available in spiral bound print format, PDF and for the serious botanist, the Vascular Plant List Bruce & Grey: Compendium – a fully annotated digital version with dataset. All three versions will be available this spring through owensoundfieldnaturalists.ca
We, the Publications Committee of the OSFN, will have a table and sign up sheet for advance orders at this February 9th meeting.
The Bluewater Association for Lifelong Learning (BALL) still has two more lectures, (only on Zoom), in its “acclaimed” current series – Climate Crisis: Perspectives, Insights, and Solutions. 10am February 9, A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency with Seth Klein, a columnist Canada’s National Observer and adjunct professor with Simon Fraser University. 10am February16, So Global Warming is Real, Now What Are We Going To Do About It? with Timothy Dixon, a professor at the University of South Florida (USF), who studies earthquakes, subsidence, flooding and the Greenland Ice Sheet; and Jaqueline Dixon also of SFU, who studies Earth’s deep CO2 and water cycles that provide CO2 to the atmosphere.
When the snow began to return in later January, I was able to find enough to ski some wilderness areas where I observed beaver, lots of crows, a few ravens, hawks, and woodpeckers, including one Pileated. Now that we are into February, I am confident that we will see plenty of sunshine, with clear skies, higher than usual barometric pressure, and temperatures often cooler than last month. This is the February weather pattern I began to notice here about four decades ago.
Jody Johnson Pettit, coordinator of OSFN’s Young Naturalists Club shared this report –
The snow was deep, and the wind was cold, but 15 members of the Owen Sound Young Naturalists Club, along with their parents, were troopers to search for fossils on Sunday, January 29th at the Fossil Glen Nature Reserve. Several in the group wore snowshoes to help blaze the trail. It was also an opportunity for a few of the children to try out snowshoes for the first time. The group spotted red squirrel tracks in the snow, rock formations, and halysite fossils.
A message from Jim Penner of the Bruce Grey Woodland Association suggests that you – Mark Your Calendars: The 2023 Woodlot Conference will return to an in-person format. The date is Saturday March 25th at the Elmwood Community Centre. The following is the tentative Agenda:
9:00 – 9:30 Registration 9:30 – 9:40 Opening remarks and administration 9:40 – 10:25 Willet’s Woods Rehabilitation – John Willet – LindsayTownship. 10:25 – 11:10 Moths – Brian Robin – OS Field Naturalist. 11:10 – 11:55 Forest Health – MNRF specialist or CFIA specialist 11:55 – 12:05 Draws 12:05 – 1:15 Lunch and view exhibits 1:15 – 1:20 Award of Merit Presentation – Bruce Grey Woodlands Association 1:20 – 1:30 Draws 1:30 – 2:15 Grading Standing Timber – Joe Allen. 2:15 – 3:00 Why Your Neighbour Gets More for Their Harvested Woodlot – Terry Schwann. 3:00 – 3:10 Evaluation and details of Sunday tour.
Registration fees are $30 if you pre-register and $40 at the door. To pre-register please email your name and email address to: Info@gbwc.blog If you are registering other attendees please provide their info as well.
Congratulations are in order for another young Bruce County Birder! Over the past couple of years I occasionally heard the name Zane Shantz, in local birding circumstances, and one day recently I met him, with his binoculars and camera, on the trail near Ben Allen. When I opened up my Birds Canada 2023 Calendar, seeing in each month specially selected photos sent by their supporters, it was a pleasant surprise indeed to see Zane Shantz, 16, listed with the April photo with his comments that “Black-billed Cuckoos are very secretive birds, and are quite challenging to photograph. Over the years I have failed to get the perfect shot of one, but at last during spring migration of 2022, I succeeded! The bird was hardly aware of my presence, and just sat comfortably on this branch in my backyard for a few seconds, allowing me to capture this photo!”
To close, a Nature quote from Robert Graves, a prolific poet and author, from his early memoir Goodbye to All That, writing in 1929 about the hills above Harlech, in north Wales – “This country (and I know no country like it) seemed to be independent of formal nature. One hardly noticed the passage of the seasons there; the wind always blew across the stunted grass, the black streams ran cold and clear, over black stones. The mountain sheep were wild and free…and, when in repose easily mistaken for the lichen-covered granite boulders strewn everywhere… We saw hardly any birds, bar an occasional buzzard, and curlews wheeling in the distance.”
The Owen Sound Field Naturalists Club (OSFN) is kicking off its series of Winter 2023 Talks with Springtime Wildflowers of the Great Smoky Mountains, and guest speaker Walter Muma. While early Spring still has Ontario in its grip, the Great Smoky Mountains put on a spectacular display of wildflowers during the latter part of April. Many species found there are familiar to us while others will be new to Ontario naturalists. Join Walter Muma as he shows us the many varieties of wildflowers of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This event is scheduled for 7pm Thursday January 12, at the Bayshore Community Centre. Everyone is welcome, and admission is free or by donation. OSFN also plans to offer this as a hybrid event sent via zoom to a virtual audience too. Typically the zoom link is emailed to OSFN members, and is available upon request to interested members of the community, upon receipt of an email, in advance, to firstname.lastname@example.org with Walter in the subject line. For more information about this event and OSFN, please visit www.osfn.ca
Walter is an avid, experienced field botanist who focusses much of his botany explorations on Grey and Bruce counties, and from Newfoundland to Lake Superior and down into the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. His outdoor interests, which he has pursued since his teenage years, include tracking and wilderness survival, hiking, backpacking, canoeing, and just generally “wandering the wild areas”.
He is the curator of the Ontario Wildflowers website, as well as the Ontario Trees, Ontario Ferns, and Ontario Grasses websites, which are “go to” sites for parks staff, environmental consultants and others who are in the business of identifying wildflowers and other plants in the field. In addition to these sites, he has created many other websites relating to survival, tracking, and the outdoors.
In his work life he is a busy self-employed accounting software consultant, custom software developer, and accountant.
Walter and his wife Julie reside in Grey County on their 100 acre natural and farmland property.
The local annual Christmas Bird Counts (CBC) have all been held, and here is a sampling from the count results:
Tobermory – December 14 – Tyler Miller, Compiler
From sunrise to sunset on December 14, 2022, 33 volunteers searched over 300km of the Northern Bruce Peninsula, including throughout Bruce Peninsula National Park, trying to spot as many birds as possible. This was the 50 th time that local birding enthusiasts have taken to the landscape for the Tobermory Christmas Bird Count. The Christmas Bird Count is the longest running, most widespread bird census in the Western Hemisphere. The first count took place at 25 locations in 1900, and today, there are more than 50,000 citizens participating at over 2,000 count areas. The data collected helps scientists describe multi-continent patterns in bird ecology and has been used in hundreds of conservation and climate-based scientific papers. The benefits of participating in the bird count are social, too! The annual count builds comradery, community and inspires seasoned and novice birders alike to cultivate a love for birds and birding!
This year’s participants in Tobermory’s Christmas Bird Count saw a total of 1187 individual birds representing 47 different species. On average, 40 species of birds have been spotted over the past 50 years, but the total number of birds seen was down this year. On average, over 1600 individual birds are usually spotted in the area’s Christmas Bird Count. Some of the notable statistics from the 2022 count include:
a new high record of 41 Canada Geese and 6 American Black Ducks were counted;
the lowest number of Black-capped Chickadees since 1978 were counted; and
Trumpeter or Tundra Swan, Green-wing Teal, and Merlin were all spotted, each for only the second time in Tobermory’s Christmas Bird Count history.
Parks Canada is pleased to participate in the annual Christmas Bird Count as the results gathered from this year’s survey will be used to help ensure the protection of this region’s natural heritage. The count was also an opportunity to celebrate the diversity and beauty of the region’s natural protected spaces with fellow birders, and to invite new birders into Bruce Peninsula National Park.
Kincardine – December 15 – James Turland, Compiler
Hi all; Because of bad weather on Kincardine’s count day only a few participants were out. They did manage to find 50 species. Along with the species found during count week that’s an impressive 64 species. Thanks so much to all who helped out and hoping for a better weather day next year. Cheers James.
Neyaashiinigmiing – December 17
The twelfth annual Neyaashiinigmiing (Cape Croker) Christmas Bird Count was held on Saturday, December 17, 2022. The day began with snow flurries and mainly cloudy skies, with sunny breaks later in the morning and through the afternoon. Winds were southwesterly, ranging from 13 to 25 kph. Temperatures hovered around -1.0°C all day. The waters of Georgian Bay and streams were open, but non-flowing inland waters were ice-covered. There was at least 10-15 cm of snow on the ground, with some of it having freshly fallen the previous night.
Fourteen participants tallied a total of 37 species, below the average of 39.7. The 769 individual birds counted was well below the average of 1,027. Ruby-crowned Kinglet was a new species for count day. Otherwise there were no big surprises, but 69 Bohemian Waxwings, 3 Evening Grosbeaks and a Pine Grosbeak were nice finds.
There were no high counts, but low counts were recorded for Long-tailed Duck (2, average 12), Ruffed Grouse (1, average 8), Blue Jay 2 (average 49), Golden-crowned Kinglet 2 (average 9). Notable misses were Red-bellied Woodpecker and Pileated Woodpecker (each missed on only one previous count). Winter finches were limited to the Evening and Pine Grosbeaks.
Chi Miigwetch to Neyaashiinigmiing First Nation community for hosting this always special birding event. Compilers – Jarmo Jalava and Miptoon (Anthony Chegahno)
Owen Sound December 17 Erik van Den Kieboom, Compiler:
The 2022-2023 Christmas Bird Count marked the 52nd year of the Owen Sound count. On December 17th, 45 participants tallied 10165 individuals of 69 species. The total number of individuals was down slightly compared to last year; however, the species count was higher. The weather proved to be admirable throughout the day, with no precipitation of any kind and temperatures hovering between -2 and 0 degrees Celsius.
Some highlights from this year’s count included the first Blue-winged Teal and Brown Thrasher for the count, as well as Rusty Blackbird, Pied-billed grebe, American Coot, and Common Grackle to name a few. Additionally, several rare species were recorded during the week of the count but not on count day, including Harlequin Duck, Grey Catbird, and Mountain Bluebird. The large Sandhill Crane flock found last year returned this year, totaling 652 individuals. For the sixth count in a row, a male Barrow’s Goldeneye was spotted in Owen Sound harbour. This rare duck has become quite the regular visitor!
This year, six species were counted in higher numbers than ever before: Canada Goose (2,608), Redhead (20), American Coot (5), Rock Pigeon (946), Common Raven (58), and Bohemian Waxwing (695). This has been an excellent winter for Bohemian Waxwings, with the previous high being 185! A few species were seen in lower numbers than is typically expected, including Bufflehead (9), Ruffed Grouse (3), and Snow Bunting (47). Oddly enough, no owls were found this year.
Wiarton – December 18 – Jarmo Jalava, Compiler
The 48th Wiarton Christmas Bird Count was held on Sunday, December 18, 2022 (it was actually the 51th anniversary of the count, but three years were missed).
Temperatures ranged from between -1°C at 7:00 a.m. to 1°C at 5:00 p.m. under overcast to mainly cloudy skies. Light to moderate (9-15 kph) westerly breezes made inland birding pleasant, but winds were stronger at exposed areas along the Lake Huron shore. The waters of Georgian Bay and Lake Huron were open, as were faster-flowing creeks and rivers, but most interior waterbodies were ice-covered, as were some near-shore areas of sheltered bays of Lake Huron. Up to 15 cm of snow covered the ground in most areas.
Twenty-five participants and three feeder watchers tallied 62 (+1 count week) species, well above the long-term and 10-year averages of 50 and 53 species, respectively, but just shy of the record of 63 set in 1997.
The total of 6,090 individual birds was also much higher than the previous overall (3,431) and 10-year (4,185) averages and the third highest total overall (the all-time high was 6,283 in 1997).
One new species, Eastern Bluebird, was recorded. This raises the overall count day total to 131 species (plus 6 additional count week species). Other good finds this year included Merlin (3rd count), Green-winged Teal (2nd count), Ring-necked Duck (9th on count day and the first since 2001), and a count-week Red-winged Blackbird (5th count).
Record high numbers were recorded for:
Canada Goose (1,556, previous high 1,329 in 2021; for the first 18 years of this CBC, the high count was 33 birds, and pre-1995 this species was not recorded annually);
Mute Swan (62, previous high 23 in 2021);
Green-winged Teal (3, previously just 1);
Bald Eagle (25, previous 21);
American Crow (407, previous 257);
Bohemian Waxwing (347, previous 326).
Other relatively high counts included Trumpeter Swan 16 (record 17), Ring-necked Duck 4 (record 5), Great Black-backed Gull 12 (first double-digit total since 1994, when 22 were observed), Pine Grosbeak 44 (first double-digit total since 2007) and Evening Grosbeak 99 (highest count since 1995 for this far-from-annual species).
Aside from no Common Redpolls, there were no particularly notable low counts.
Winter finches were limited to Pine Siskin (16), Pine Grosbeak (42), Evening Grosbeak (99) and Purple Finch (2), and American Goldfinches were at feeders in moderate numbers.
Thanks to all the volunteers for your efforts! Jarmo Jalava
Meaford – December 28 – Lynne Richardson, Compiler
Hello Meaford CBCer’s, Here is a quick draft summary of our Meaford Christmas Bird Count:
The 52nd annual Meaford Count was held on Wednesday December 28th under somewhat favourable conditions! After a rather intense winter storm over three days a few days prior to the Count the weather cleared, temperatures warmed up and snow melted down somewhat for Count Day.
The combined efforts of our 28 field observers resulted in the third highest total – 55 species – in the 52 years of the Count! This total continues the trend of the past 10 years of finding over 50 species in the Meaford circle. Prior to that, the long-term average was 46 species. The top three totals have been in 2021 (61), 2020 (59), and 2012 (58).
Total individuals at 4724 birds were slightly over the past-count average.
Two new species were added to the 52-year cumulative total for this count – Ruddy Duck (yay Team 5) and Winter Wren (yay Team2)! This addition brings the all-time cumulative total to 126 species. A total of seven new Highs were recorded this year. which is higher than usual for new high counts. You’ll see on the attached tally sheet the new highs and the previous highs for these six species: Hooded Merganser, Horned Grebe, Red-bellied Woodpecker, American Robin, Bohemian Waxwing, Purple Finch and White-throated Sparrow.
Eastern Bluebirds made an appearance again this year, continuing their trend of the last few years of overwintering in this area (5 of the past six years). These results, along with time & travel data will be posted on the Birds Canada Christmas Bird Count website. It was a good count. Hope you enjoyed it! Thanks again, and happy, birdy, New Year to all! Lynne Richardson, Compiler
Pike Bay December 29, and Cape Chin December 30 – Andrew Keaveney
Good evening friends, I have for you the final results for both of the 2022 season central Bruce Peninsula CBCs.This completes the 9th Pike Bay CBC and the 7th Cape Chin CBC. This season we had a combined 62 species including count week species which is wonderful when you consider it is winter! The combined count day and count week Pike Bay CBC total of 61 species ties last year’s record, though the count day tally of 55 species is a bit shy of last year’s record of 57. A few more observers would surely have increased our count day totals for both counts. This and other peninsula CBCs provide a wealth of valuable bird presence and abundance data for a time of year when few observations are being recorded and fewer visitors are making the trip up.
I’ll try to touch upon the count results here. Two large concentrations of Bald Eagles (9 and ~14) were a delight for 2 groups and resulted in a huge number of records this year, almost tripling our previous high. Both groups were on the Huron islands. Brown Creepers continue to be a difficult species to detect on these counts, with none this season. To be clear… they are here… they are just quiet and stealthy. Both Snowy Owl and Snow Bunting numbers seem to be depressed this season. Raptors in general were mostly absent with no Rough-legged Hawks recorded.
Five new species were recorded on the Pike Bay CBC which is rather astounding given we added several last season too. This year we had a Great Horned Owl during count week and we FINALLY added Barred Owl to the overall count total thanks to the keen eyes of Area 2 participant Miptoon who recorded it in Area 4… hmmm. Haha. Our excellent Area 2 observers (Miptoon and Jarmo) also got eyes on a Hermit Thrush, perhaps overdue as it is a scarce winter straggler in southern Ontario.
I think the greatest story of the day comes from the By The Bay store in Pike Bay when owner Sarah Carson got her camera to ask me about some birds she’d been seeing at the feeders that they tried to identify themselves. The first was a Red-bellied Woodpecker and well done on the identification. The second was more of a mystery and they were assuming it was another plumage of the Red-bellied Woodpecker. It was in fact a handsome juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker. The photos were taken in November so I didn’t get too excited, but she then let it slip that both birds were still coming to the feeders regularly. As if! Well we watched for a while with no results. We then went off to scan Lake Huron and I decided to coming back through for a second shot early afternoon. Jackpot! The bird spent the whole time in a large tree across from the back picnic table feeder. Lots of photos were taken and 5 of us eventually got on it.
Two Northern Shrikes recorded on the Cape Chin CBC was the only species that was absent on the Pike Bay CBC. The Snowy Owl present the day before across from the Tru Food Cafe was playing hide-and-seek on count day and nowhere to be found! Several participants frequented the By The Bay store and Tru Food Cafe and nothing but good things could be said about the food and service.
It is a pleasure putting together these counts each season. It is a surprising amount of work though so I appreciate your patience. Best to all in 2023 and I hope to see you out for next season’s CBCs.
On January 4th, 31 field observers and 4 feeder watchers went out around the Southampton area to participate in the annual Saugeen Shores Christmas Bird Count. It was a dreary sort of day, rainy and foggy throughout with temperatures ranging from 1C to 5C. Some inland water was frozen, however the majority of Lake Huron remained open for count day.
Despite this, birders still managed to see 53 species. This is exactly average compared to the historical average of 53, but considerably below the all time high of 66.
An ALL TIME HIGH was recorded for total individual birds, with a whopping 18,427. This is over 6,000 higher than the previous high count.
The highlight species of the 2022 count were Tufted Titmouse (2nd count record), Cackling Goose (3rd count record), Northern Flicker (4th count record) White-throated Sparrow (3rd count record)
All time high counts were recorded for the following species:
Cackling Goose (5, previous 2)
Greater Scaup (51, previous 40)
Snow Bunting (10,152!!, previous 4,090)
Bohemian Waxwing (237, previous 154)
Low counts were noted for numerous waterfowl and Ruffed Grouse (1), also raptor numbers in general were quite low this season. This trend has been seen all across Bruce County, and is likely due to a crash in rodent populations.
The poor weather conditions on count day can likely be blamed for making us miss Golden-crowned Kinglet and Brown Creeper completely, something that hasn’t happened in a number of years. It was also a very poor day for finches, Pine Grosbeak and Evening Grosbeak were missed completely, and only 1 Purple Finch and 1 Common Redpoll were recorded.
3 Count week birds were recorded, Common Grackle, Belted Kingfisher and Red-headed Woodpecker.
Thanks to all the participants!
Kiah Jasper, Compiler
While we wait and wonder what weather is in store for us, some of our neighbours have wildflowers showing new growth.
I have been seeing flying insects outside near Woodland areas and some summer birds appear to be staying with us for the winter.
So the question David Turner, of Beaver Valley Birding, says he is being asked all the time is: “Where are the Snowy Owls this year?”. His answer: “Well, there was a collapse in the Lemming population last year, so the Snowy Owls population didn’t do too well. That means that there aren’t many down this way for this winter.”
To close, a Nature quote about Claude Monet, from Mad Enchantment – Claude Monet and the Painting of The Water Lilies, by Ross King: Monet loved birds and animals, even leaving the windows of his dining room open so the sparrows could help themselves to bread crumbs from the table. Japanese chickens, a gift from Clemenceau, ranged freely through the gardens and even in the studio, where the master fed them from his own hand.
Sarah McComb-Turbitt, was born in Chatsworth and her love for Nature, the ocean, and painting began at a young age.
Now an accomplished scientist and visual artist, she will be the Owen Sound Field Naturalists’ ( OSFN) featured presenter of “Catching Penguins and Diving into the Icy Cold, plus Wildlife Art for Conservation”, at 7pm Thursday December 8, at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre.
She will share her research into individual variations in the winter foraging behaviours of Gentoo Penguins, while she camped beside the penguin colony in the Falkland Islands.
Having developed her skills as a wildlife photographer out on the ocean, earned a degree in marine biology, and a certificate in animal behaviour she combines her Science and Artistry to share the stories of the species she has studied so closely.
Now an accomplished scientist and a busy visual artist too, Sarah McComb-Turbitt received her initial training at OSCVI here in Owen Sound. She excelled as an art student with her teacher Jim Sebesta in high school, and at University she majored in the natural sciences to work in the Nature field.
Having recently returned to Owen Sound, she has been concentrating more on her Art career. This has included the installation of an amazing and beautiful mural in downtown Wiarton, and this past summer she was also on the conference committee for the Society for Marine Mammalogy https://www.smmconference.org where she coordinated the art exhibit, the online auction and also presented research on pilot whales.
Sarah is also a Signature Member of Artists for Conservation, based in Vancouver where her painting was selected for the front cover of their 2023 Environmental Calendar, which is still available – for more info please visit https://www.artistsforconservation.org/
This is a family and children friendly event and everyone is welcome to attend, at the Bayshore, 7pm Thursday December 8, and admission is free or by donation. OSFN also plans to offer the presentation on zoom, and a zoom link can be requested by emailing email@example.com with Penguin in the subject line.
Annual Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs)
This year, Christmas Bird Counts are scheduled between December 14, 2022 and January 5, 2023. The CBC is North America’s longest running Citizen Science project. Volunteers record and submit sightings which contribute to an understanding of population trends and bird distribution. Become a Citizen Scientist by getting involved! Here are many of the local CBC’s with the dates, and contact details for the Compilers for you to consider: Wednesday, December 14, 2022 – Tobermory – Tyler Miller – Tyler.firstname.lastname@example.org Thursday, December 15, 2022 – Kincardine – James Turland – email@example.com Saturday, December 17, 2022- Owen Sound – Erik Van Den Kieboom – firstname.lastname@example.org Saturday, December 17, 2022 – Hanover/Walkerton – Gerard McNaughton – email@example.com Sunday, December 18, 2022 – Wiarton – Jarmo Jalava – firstname.lastname@example.org Wednesday, December 28, 2022 – Meaford – Lynne Richardson – email@example.com Thursday, December 29, 2022 – Pike Bay – Andrew Keaveney – firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, December 30, 2022 – Cape Chin – Andrew Keaveney – email@example.com Wednesday, January 4, 2023 – Saugeen Shores – Kiah Jasper – firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you to Norah Toth for compiling and sharing this information.
Each year at this time, I usually purchase a few “extra nice” Calendars, with local connections, for myself and for gifting. This year there are at least three of these I will be considering, that especially feature Nature and Art too. 2023 Calendars. They are:
The Tom Thomson Art Gallery’s fundraising calendar this year features much loved works sponsored and selected from the Collection. Always a winner! Visit them at Tom Thomson Art Gallery 840 1st Avenue West, Owen Sound or Phone: 519-376-1932
As mentioned above Sarah McComb-Turbitt is also a Signature Member of Artists for Conservation, based in Vancouver where her painting was selected for the front cover of their 2023 Environmental Calendar, which is still available – for more info please visit https://www.artistsforconservation.org/
The exquisite bird photography by David Turner of Local Colour/Flesherton Art Gallery and Beaver Valley Birding – Calendars are available for pick-up (or can be shipped) at Flesherton Art Gallery 20 Collingwood Street Flesherton, Ontario N0C1E0 Tel. 519-924-3560
To close, a Nature quote from Welcome to Owen Sound, Fern Capital of Ontario, by Nelson Maher (1933-2005). Green and graceful, ferns embody a charm that is also universal. The lush symmetry of their arching fronds draws many a weary city-dweller back to woodlands, escarpments and streams, even if the tired traveller is unable totell one fern from another. And ferns are somehow the emblem of a shady forest, a symbol of its cool solitude and repose, inspiring a poetical turn of mind in even the most prosaic of us.