Category Archives: Nature Club News


Nature Club News for November 2022

by John Dickson

The Owen Sound Field Naturalists club (OSFN) is pleased to present its November monthly meeting featuring Steve Ritchie, a popular local radio host on CFOS, and a well known musician, with Love At First Light:  

Small-town radio, a telescope, and a mid-life discovery of backyard astronomy. 

Ritchie will speak about his fascination with the night sky, which is not a new interest; when he was nine years old his Grade 4 teacher asked him to teach a series of astronomy lessons to the class. But Covid, lockdowns and being the host of a buy-and-sell radio show converged to drop a Meade Lightbridge 12 in his lap in the winter of 2021. You’ll hear about aperture, Deep Sky, the magnification myth, his zero interest in astrophotography, and how seeing with his own eyes is, for him, an experience that cements a
personal, physical connection to the cosmos.

And you will hear a 62-year-old man’s inner 9-year-old convey the sheer delight of discovery that happens every time he looks through his telescope. If weather permits, Steve will bring his Telescope outside and invite audience members to view the night sky which should include an almost full moon.

This event will take place in the Bay Room at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre starting at 7pm, Thursday November 10. Admission is free or by donation and everyone is welcome. OSFN memberships may be purchased or renewed in the lobby from 6:30 to 7pm.OSFN also plans to offer this event as a webinar via zoom. If you would like to participate virtually, you may request a zoom link by emailing    with Steve in the subject line. 

On November 2, Lynne Richardson and Shirley Harrison led a tour 

in the Thornbury to Collingwood area for twenty members of the Bruce Birding Club, and were rewarded with terrific sightings, as Fred Jazvac reports here:  “November is considered waterfowl season, and while large bird numbers failed to show, the number of individual species of waterfowl seen was quite impressive – 18 species in total. Also, considering that the fall southern migration is almost over, and wintering birds have only shown up in small numbers; we did see an impressive total number of bird species – 38.  Not bad, eh! The highlight of the day was a distant Peregrine Falcon who  sat out for us, then proceeded to capture a bird of disputed identity, and ate it in an empty Osprey stand.  It was one of those moments when nature showed you how things work in the real world.”

Grey Roots Museum and Archives is once again presenting its Fall Lecture Series, at 1pm on Tuesdays, and the final two talks have themes that include Nature and Science.    Lectures are included with admission. Members enjoy free admission. Complimentary refreshments following each talk. Visit to learn more.

November 15 – Join David Holah for “How Green is Green Energy? Our hopes of moving away from fossil fuels lies with the increased use of green energy (solar and wind) and the production of batteries for electric cars. Success will largely be dependent on a few metals of which most people have never heard and which come with a significant environmental cost.”

November 22 – Join David Holah for the final talk of the 2022 Fall Lecture Series, on Nuclear Waste, with a simple review of the science associated with nuclear reactors leading to an understanding of the nature of the byproducts and the options for their use/disposal.

The OSFN and its Young Naturalist Club had a great turnout on October 30, as Rosemary (Rosie) Martin led an Aquatic Invertebrate Identification (ID) workshop at Harrison Park beside, and in, the Sydenham river. Similar to the one she offered last November, it was a carefully crafted event complete with microscope, and charts of invertebrate ID field marks and specifics. After a careful teaching lesson on how to acquire samples from the water, the youngsters on hand enthusiastically followed Martin’s example, dipping and retrieving specimens for identification and comparison, before they were safely returned to their river habitat.  

Young Naturalists with Rosie Martin – October 30 in Harrison Park (photo by Marsha Courtney)\

The Young Naturalists meet next on  Sunday, November 27 for a Hidden Pond Nature Reserve hike, in the Woodford area. For more information about the Young Naturalists Club, and other activities of the Owen Sound Field Naturalists, please visit 

I continue to see the occasional butterfly and a few bees on wildflower blooms, and like others,  have discovered a few bird nests which had been hidden until the past week or two. I have also been hearing and seeong more woodpeckers than usual. Many backyard feeders have been visited recently by boisterous and colourful flocks of Evening Grosbeaks as they cruise throughout the region. 

Evening Grosbeaks photo by Marilyn Ohler November 3, Southampton

Bo Penny of the Beaver Valley had a marvellous treat – “What a surprise! Seven snapping turtles hatched today. I’ve never seen them hatch this late (November 4). We had a bunch that hatched in September from the same nest so I was very surprised to see little black heads poking out of the gravel.”

(Photo by Bo Penny)

The Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory (BPBO) has wrapped up its banding and monitoring operations for 2022, and has set some records along the way, as shared by Stéphane Menu: “This more than remarkable season didn’t end in a whisper but with more remarkable sightings and banding. On October 27, while watching a distant bird on the bay through the scope,  white ghosts appeared on the hazy horizon. Flapping strongly, the large pure white birds could only be swans, Tundra Swans – only the fourth observation of Tundra Swans at Cabot Head over 21 years:

There were more surprises: on October 28, we banded a beautiful adult male Northern Parula. Later the same day, on the very last net round, a flashy yellow big bird was waiting for us in a net: An adult male Evening Grosbeak! Its namesake bill was something to behold and… avoid, with not much success. This species had never been banded before at Cabot Head: it tends to fly high and stay high in the canopy. It was such a remarkable bird to band.

On the last day of monitoring, October 31, the banding total was a solid 17 birds, bringing the fall season total to a stratospheric 2925 birds banded, almost 450 birds more than the previous record of 2476 birds in fall. A small flock of 17 Evening Grosbeaks was flying around but no amount of incantations brought them down into our nets. An eerie whinnying was appropriate on that Halloween evening: there are no ghosts in my world and the call came from an aptly-named Eastern Screech Owl.”

To close, a Nature quote from a northern Africa setting in Flight of the Phoenix, by Elleston Trevor: “With the coming of the full moon they saw the mirage. Used to the desert, they knew that a mirage is never seen after sundown, but when the full moon rose the mirage was there. It was a sandstorm, yet there was no breath of wind.”  


Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) present: A Scientist Visits the Holy Land

Dan Ostler, our intrepid cruise ship lecturer, ventures forth into the Holy Land and considers the stories we all know so well through the eyes of a scientist. Correlating known History with Earth Science, the Volcanic History of the Mediterranean, a little Cultural Anthropology, and the cultures of the Egyptians and Minoans and Romans (not to mention the Philistines) some rather surprising findings emerge. From the plagues of Moses to the parting of the Red Sea to the abrupt vanishing of the Minoan civilization to Joshua and the Walls of Jericho, the stories become even more fascinating when viewed from the perspective of a scientist.

Dan Ostler has also received recognition as a favourite lecturer on International Cruise Ships. OSFN is grateful to Dan for filling in once again on short notice for the scheduled speaker, who is unable to attend due to feeling under the weather.

Date: October 13, 2022
Time: 7 pm
Location: Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre, Owen Sound

Admission is free, or by donation.
For our club members, and the public, who are not comfortable in larger groups or have to travel great distances to join us, we are continuing to offer a ZOOM option.

If interested, you may request a zoom link by emailing with “med” in the subject line.

It is also the best time to purchase and/or renew an OSFN membership. To learn about the upcoming speakers, the many guided field trips, the Young Naturalists, support opportunities and more, please visit

Just in on Monday evening October 10:

Local birding phenom, and popular leader for OSFN and the Bruce Birding Club (BBC), Kiah Jasper has broken the previous record, with more than two months remaining in 2022. From Kiah’s Blog

“New Ontario Big Year record!!!!!??
After going hard for 283 days this year, this evening I broke the Ontario Big Year record with a Tropical Kingbird in Windsor!!! ??? This came hot on the heels after my last new addition, a Magnificent Frigatebird yesterday at Lighthouse Cove in Chatham-Kent.

I guessed that my record breaker would be a Purple Sandpiper, since there had been a few around recently and it’s the most common species I have left.
Needless to say I was surprised and very excited when my phone buzzed today with the news that a Tropical Kingbird was found by Eddy Beaubien in Windsor this morning. Oh the suspense!! Two hours later we squeezed up to the stakeout, where a crowd of birders were gathered looking up at a nearby treeline. Sure enough, a yellowish kingbird was sitting atop a tall, leafless tree. Success!!!! Our timing turned out to be great too, because just after we walked up the bird called after being silent for the whole day, confirming it was a Tropical Kingbird! (and not the very similar Couch’s Kingbird).
Now on to 350 and beyond!! ? Still over 2 months left and I have a few “easy birds” remaining… let’s see what happens

Tropical Kingbird, in Windsor October 10 – photo by Kiah Jasper – record breaking sighting.

NEW PROJECT: TRANSFORM THE LAWN Grey County with NeighbourWoods North is launching the first phase of naturalizing the property of the Administration building. The community is invited to join in a morning of tree planting, celebrating trees & local climate action, and learning about a right relationship with the land. The first year of the plan for the Administration property includes the planting of approximately 20 trees, two pollinator gardens, and exploring a future rain garden. Council approved the plan at a meeting earlier this year. The event will take place October 15th from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Grey County head office located at 595 9th Avenue East in Owen Sound. Volunteers are invited to come out and support the planting of approximately 20 young trees while learning about Grey County’s Climate Change Action Plan, Going Green in Grey, and ways to stay involved locally. The event will open with an Indigenous teaching on the importance of stewardship and connection with the land, our local environment, and each other. Master Gardeners, who assisted in the design, will be present along with NeighbourWoods North and Owen Sound Field Naturalists. Light refreshments will be available for all who attend. Pre-registration is encouraged but not required through (link is external). Parking is available behind the County building at the east end of 6th Street.

“Nature-based solutions are key to Grey County’s Climate Change Action Plan, Going Green in Grey,” said Grey County Warden Selwyn ‘Buck’ Hicks. “The re-naturalization of this property is a small but symbolic step forward in Grey County’s commitment to climate action and meeting our greenhouse gas net-zero community target by 2050. If you’re passionate about climate action, I encourage you and your family to join us on October 15.”

The Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory Station Scientist Stephane Menu, is continuing to document the birds at Cabot Head, as indicated in this excerpt from his blog: Busy, busy, busy!

After a seemingly long stretch of five days of overcast conditions, clear skies and bright sun returned on September 29 and have been with us ever since. The return of good weather brought a lot – and I mean, A LOT – of birds at Cabot Head and they were not shy about flying into our nets. The most abundant species captured was Golden-crowned Kinglets, notably with a cool 100 birds on October 4. A lot of Dark-eyed Juncos have been captured during the past few days as well, alongside a few White-throated and White-crowned Sparrows. Hermit Thrushes have started their migration in earnest, reflected in good captures since September 30, notably with 7 birds on October 4.

The first Fox Sparrow of the season was banded on October 1. On that day, we also captured a loud and sharp-billed young female Pileated Woodpecker! (see pics on Facebook and Instagram)

It was a busy and fun and exciting week!

Coming soon: The Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory cordially invites you to “Flock Together for their 20th Anniversary GALA Fundraising Celebration”, Oct. 29th,2022 Visit their website at (Doors open @ 5pm to music of Mad Robin) at

Best Western, Inn on the Bay, Owen Sound

Tickets Available here.

Miriam Oudejans shared this outline for us:

On September 25, the first OSFN Young Naturalist’s program of the year kicked off with an excursion at the Arboretum of the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority. On the agenda was registration and the cleaning out of nest boxes in the meadows by the GSCA administrative offices. The small group of kids proved to be enthusiastic sleuths and took the time to carefully examine each nest box and its contents. They found nesting evidence of several different birds including wrens and tree swallows, based on construction materials and techniques. They learned that wrens build big, messy nests of twigs while swallow nests are typically made with grasses, pine needles, moss and other organic material. Both these species of birds like to build nests in open woodland rarely more than 100 feet from woody vegetation and avoid heavily wooded nest sites where it’s hard to see predators coming.

The kids found a number of feathers in the nests including several Blue Jay feathers. The gold & black on one tail feather showed it was from a Baltimore Oriole. Other feathers were trickier to identify, and we could only guess which birds they were from; possibly warblers and a breast feather from a Ruffed Grouse.

As the nest boxes were emptied of their contents, other residents such as wasps and spiders were discovered too. A preying mantis cocoon was found in the long grasses. The Young Nats were also captivated with the beautiful symmetry found on the inside of milkweed pods and they marvelled at how neatly the seeds were stacked together.

The afternoon ended with a quick walk through the Arboretum woods over to the river to look for salmon moving upstream to spawn. Several salmon were spotted resting in the shallows waiting to jump further up the rapids while a few, very fast ones, raced by upstream. A few dead salmon were found by the bridge including a large one covered with hundreds of maggots doing a fine job at recycling the fish back into earth! All in all, it was a good afternoon.
For the keeners among us, here is a site that helps identify bird feathers.

The Young Naturalists (YN) meet next on Sunday October 30 from 2pm to 4pm in Harrison Park for a workshop on Aquatic Invertebrates, led by Rosie Martin. The YN Club is mainly for ages 7 to 12, although 5 and 6 year olds are welcome if accompanied by an adult to supervise them. To learn more and to pre-register please visit and click on the Young Naturalists heading on the left column for a sign up form and waiver, plus a year-at-a-glance poster of activities planned for the rest of the 2022-2023 season.

James White sent this information about the Bruce Grey Woodland Association which has monthly events for its members – this month includes a forest inventory marking workshop and a BBQ. The events are for BGWA members.

Here is the link to anyone interested in joining the BGWA and pre-registering for either or both events.

Join the Bruce Grey Woodlands Association – Bruce Grey Woodlands Association (

Oct 22 is the date for both events

I have noted that many in the area are getting outside and seeing snakes, turtles, forest fungi, and a variety of botanical specimens, some of which are also very colourful. I am still seeing butterflies – a Viceroy just last week, and once more we seem to have quite a few praying mantis in our yard.

Here is a red belly snake I found under a rock at Kemble Rock today. I seldom see them when I am out, so a good sighting for me.
It was actually between 2 flat rocks. (Photo by Bob Knapp)

To close, Nature quotes from In Spite of Myself, A Memoir, by Christopher Plummer who, as a young lad in Montreal visited an island where “there was a bridge where we could stare down at the giant lily pads that carpeted the black water…and inlets through which we would paddle our canoe and watch the bitterns stand on one leg or listen to the long sad chorale of the frogs…” and impressing his ornithologist family and friends, he discovered one day “on top of a spruce which was bent over from the weight of it, an enormous bird with strange claws the likes of which I’d never seen….the experts identified it as an Arctic Three-toed Woodpecker – probably the first ever to be seen in our part of the world. Thank God and Mister Audubon.”


Nature Club News For September 2022

by John Dickson

The Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) present the first featured speaker of their new season, Rosemary Martin, starting at 7pm this Thursday September 8. Sidelined by the still present Covid virus, her presentation will be offered only on Zoom. Entitled Winter Survival in the Insect World, it deals with these questions:  Have you ever wondered how dragonflies and other insects survive the winter? What impact will climate change have on these important ecological communities? Drill through the ice with Rosemary to discover the active ecosystem found below the ice.  She will highlight under-ice video footage captured in a beaver pond in Georgian Bluffs.

Rosemary “Rosie” Martin is a senior PhD Candidate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto, Mississauga. Her work focuses on how aquatic insects overwinter and how the under-ice physical conditions determine who survives, who stays active, who eats whom, and how that all plays into food web and community structure in subsequent seasons. In November of 2021, she led an exciting workshop for OSFN, in Harrison Park, to learn tips on how to identify aquatic insects like (larval) dragonflies, damselflies, mayflies, caddisflies; had tables set up with microscopes for those attending and explained some differences between organisms living in lentic and lotic habitats. It is now planned that Rosie will repeat this popular event on October 30. 

In years past she was a camper and then counsellor at the local YMCA/Rotary Camp Presqu’ile and attributes her love for the outdoors and interest in ecology to cross country skiing along the Bruce Trail, exploring the gardens at Keppel Croft, and summer days spent on the shores of Georgian Bay catching frogs and flipping rocks for crayfish. As mentioned above this presentation will only be available on Zoom. If interested, you may request a zoom link by emailing with “insects” in the subject line. It is also the best time to purchase and/or renew an OSFN membership. To learn about the upcoming speakers, the many guided field trips, the Young Naturalists,  support opportunities and more, please visit

Gorgeous Great Blue Heron and friends at Harrison Park August 19, by Fely Clarke

Two decades ago, I joined the fledgling Bruce Birding Club (BBC) which offered a birding tour on the first and third Wednesdays of the month from September to June, (and still does). I really enjoyed occasionally taking a Wednesday off work to carpool and convoy with these friendly folks to see the many warblers, shorebirds, songbirds, owls, hawks, eagles and more with endless opportunities to learn and even get some photos of them. I was also introduced to many interesting birding hot spots of which I had not been aware.  Congratulations to the BBC, for when I asked Coordinator Fred Jazvac, for some history of the club he confirmed that yes:

“The Bruce Birding Club started in the fall of 2002.  We have exactly 199 people on our mailing list, of which there are about 50 who take part in the hikes. The rest enjoy the photos and the information. With my teaching background I like to teach about how to ID birds. There are no fees to join the BBC and our hike leaders choose where we are going on their Wednesdays and whether we are going to brown bag it or eat in a restaurant. Someone asked Judy Wyatt what credentials you need to join the BBC and she said to join, the one thing you needed was you had to be nice. Most of our participants are retired. If one came out with us, came consistently, it would take about 2 years to be an above average birder. The birds are seasonal and with each season we get new birds, contrasting with birds leaving. We get the May season when the migration is concentrated, and on the way back the reverse migration will last about 5 months. Right now it is shorebird season as they have bred and are heading south. Some of these shorebirds started leaving for the south in June. The fall will bring in northern birds who will winter here, especially if seed crops fail in the north. In the winter we get arctic birds like the Rough-legged Hawk who hunt visually and you can’t do that in 24 hours of night. They have no problem with the cold of our winter. When the days get longer, they will head to the far north. We learn from each other. The hike leading is easy since we have so many knowledgeable birders amongst us and many eyes find many birds, which takes the onus right off the leader. We have developed many outstanding birders, including Kiah Jasper who joined us at about age 14. He now ranks with the top birders in the province.  He was homeschooled and could attend our hikes. He is currently on a path to set a new record for the most birds seen in a year in Ontario and has already surpassed the previous record holder’s totals for this time of year.” 

If this birding club is of interest to you, please contact Fred at 

September 1, Georgian Bluffs, American Goldfinch feeding young – photo by William Gray.

Congratulations also to the Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory, for its first 20 years of operation. I enjoy reading the weekly blogs of Station Scientist Stéphane Menu: “It is becoming more and more clear that we have a Red-breasted Nuthatch irruption in the making this fall. With already 74 birds banded (notably 10 birds on August 30), it is more Red-breasted Nuthatches banded than 14 of the past 20 fall seasons, and September has just begun.” I have been hearing Red-breasted Nuthatches quite often too. Also on their website, at I discovered a terrific little video (created by TVO) with Menu describing and demonstrating the monitoring and banding process. Check it out!

Also celebrating a milestone this year is the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy, (EBC) with a 25th Year Celebration Day planned for September 17th between 12 Noon and 3pm beginning at Bluewater Outdoor Education Centre, west of Wiarton, then over at the new Orlowski Nature Preserve for hiking, Nature ID, survival skills and more. To learn more or just to offer congratulations email Bob Barnett at

Monarch being released after tagging (Photo by Dan Ostler)

OSFN’s Dan Ostler kindly sent me this report, and photos too, of a recent event –  “The much anticipated Monarch Butterfly Tagging Workshop at Isaac Lake September 3, exceeded expectation in all respects and was a great success on a number of levels. The weather was perfect, neither too hot nor too cold, participants of both the human (34) and Monarch species (96 tagged) turned out in strong numbers, and, most importantly, the youngsters had a great experience, far better than some cold video game. I’m sure a number of future naturalists were created that very afternoon. Our thanks to Audrey Armstrong and Willy Waterton for hosting this perfect tagging event, and Brian Robin for helping along with the tagging (those are his hands in the picture).”

Monarch being tagged (Photo by Dan Ostler)

To close, I have a Nature quote that includes the Hart’s Tongue Fern, a species that is rare in North America, but very common in our region and featured in OSFN’s logo, created by esteemed local artist and naturalist, George McLean. From Mary Stewart’s The Crystal Cave, Merlin discovers it thus: “In the face of the rock was a cave…with oak and rowan, whose branches overhung the cave with shadow…and only a few feet from the archway was the spring….Through the clear water I could see every pebble, every grain of sand at the bottom of the basin. Hart’s-tongue fern grew above it and there was moss at the lip, and below it green, moist grass.”


Nature Club News For August 2022

by John Dickson

More than any other season, Summer is the time to see and enjoy Butterflies –  and Moths too. Starting with Butterflies, here is a comprehensive report from Park Interpreter Cate Crawford-Thompson -“On Saturday, July 16th, 2022, MacGregor Point Provincial Park held its annual North American Butterfly Association Count, bringing together community members to participate in the survey and raise awareness for butterfly conservation. The event occurred during the morning and afternoon of the 16th and covered a large section of Bruce Country, including MacGregor Point Provincial Park, Inverhuron Provincial Park, and the greater Saugeen Shores area. This year’s count saw a relatively average number of butterflies, with a total count of 1969 individuals observed and 37 species recorded. Some of the highlights of our 2022 count included Baltimore Checkerspots, a Red Spotted Purple, and a Milbert’s Tortoiseshell. In addition to these finds, we also observed close to 150 monarch butterflies–a significant increase from last year’s count. A huge thanks goes out to the many volunteers without whom this event would not be possible. Their continued interest and support in the butterfly count allow us to run this event year after year, helping us gain valuable insight into our local butterfly populations and raise awareness for the importance of butterfly conservation in Ontario.”

Now switching to Moths, the Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN), on July 19, and for the third consecutive summer, held a  Moth Night, led by Alan Macnaughton, a Vice-President of the Toronto Entomologists Association. Here is part of a message from him after the event, which was held, for the second year, at Grey Sauble Conservation’s (GSCA) Inglis Falls Arboretum area. Alan also conducted a second Moth Night on his own, on July 20.

Straight-lined Plagodis (Photo by Deane A

“The weather on the night of the main event (Tuesday, July 19) was just perfect for moths — hot, humid and cloudy. I think there were about 25 people there, and I was very pleased by the size of the turnout and the enthusiasm of the participants. On my 2-night visit to Owen Sound, I had 150 observations of 116 species of moths.  The number of observations is about the same as last year, with an especially large number, but the number of species was down, due at least partly to the weather. I posted all of the observations on the iNaturalist website for anyone to see. The 116 species are shown here:

One of the stands (Photo by Marsha Courtney)

The complete list of 150 observations is listed here:

It was like Christmas morning opening up gifts and there was excitement for sure. (Photo by Marsha Courtney)

Combining both years (2021 and 2022) of observations together, 206 species of moths were seen at the Conservation Area. This year we chose a time of year a few weeks earlier, so a lot of the moths were ones not seen last year. Here is the complete list of the 206 species:

There were no especially notable moth observations this year from the point of view of the community of people interested in moths (although that may change as experts look over my observations). However, there were several moth species which I personally had not seen in at least 15 years, and so it was particularly exciting for me. These were particularly large and showy moths that are of wide interest among naturalists: Elm Sphinx, Great Ash Sphinx and Laurel Sphinx. I enjoyed myself greatly and I hope it will be possible to do this event again next year.”

I can confirm that Alan has accepted OSFN’s invitation to give a Moth Talk, in June 2023, and to hopefully lead a Moth Night then too.

Small eyed Sphinx Moth (phot by Marsha Courtney)

Hibou Conservation Area was all abuzz as the Friends of Hibou and GSCA staff partnered to offer the very successful “Free Family Fun Day”, on August 7, allowing visitors to stop, look, listen and learn what Hibou has to offer. As Marie Knapp shared “The use of Explore Passports accounted for close to 250 participants, plus the many beach goers who were there. The snakes were a real hit, and every station provided very interesting learning for visitors of all ages. We were very grateful for the sponsors as well as the donors of draw prizes.”

Dr. Brendan Mulroy, President of OSFN and liaison with NeighbourWoods North recently shared this planning update on the Healing Path at the Owen Sound Hospital. The target for beginning the excavation for the first section of the Healing Path is the end of August or early September although weather will also be a factor. Phase 1 starts at the west entrance of 16th Avenue East and heads south to the intersection at 8th Street East, then east to the first entrance on 8th Street East. Some describe this as the helicopter pad portion. The Healing Path is a 3 season (spring, summer, fall) trail system that will cater to hospital employees, patients and visitors who would like a gentle walk in a park setting. The Owen Sound Hospital sees over 100,000 patient visits per year from across the Grey Bruce region, and employs approximately 1100 staff and physicians.

The goal is to create a path that can be accessible for all, including those with mobility challenges. So unlike the more informal mulch trails in the forest area, the Healing Path will have a firm and stable top layer of stone dust. The trail will be 1.7 metres (5’6″) wide. This section will have 4 resting areas which are called pods. Each pod has a theme. Two themes have been selected to date – a Native Plant pod, and one incorporating the Marine/Veteran Heritage of the hospital and area. 

Now, back to Butterflies: I always enjoy seeing them, and along with a few monarchs every week, this year the highlights so far have been a wonderful yellow and black Canadian Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio canadensis) flying alongside while I was cycling south of Chesley last month, and two Lifers – an exquisite  Zebra Swallowtail ( Protographium marcellus) at a flower garden, and a gorgeous Gray Comma (Polygonia progne) beside my vegetable garden.

 The Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy (EBC), 25 this year, will be hosting a  Monarch Butterfly tagging event on Friday, August 26th starting at 11am at Dorcas Bay on the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula. For further details and to get the exact location, please contact Liv Callo at if you would like to participate in this event.

With Monarch Butterflies still the focus, OSFN’s  Audrey Amstrong is leading a Monarch Tagging Workshop on Saturday September 3, (rain date September 4) from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm, and once again this family friendly event will take place at the Isaac Lake Boat Launch just north of Wiarton. “How is it that monarch butterflies migrate 4,000 km to a place they’ve never been before? Why do we still need Citizen Scientists to assist in a North American monarch tagging initiative? How can they fly with a tiny “license plate” stuck to one wing? And how can you help monarchs in our Grey/Bruce area? These questions and your questions will be addressed in the afternoon tagging workshop. We hope to net and tag monarchs to send off to Mexico, so wear your running shoes and bring your insect nets (some will be provided).”  To register and for further details, please email Audrey at: or visit

To close, Nature quotes from Summer World, a Season of Bounty, by Bernd Heinrich – “We humans cannot change into any radically different body colour, body shape or behaviour…However, the genes of a butterfly are the same as those in a caterpillar. The difference is which are turned on or off, and when… The possibility of individual caterpillars to generate amazingly different forms makes me appreciate what is possible in the debate over nature versus nurture.” and “Summer nights belong to the moths and fireflies.”


Nature Club News For July 2022

by John Dickson

In early June, several people asked me “What is going on with the Scotch Pines?” I started to look too, and found them very much bare of needles, and not very green looking either.  Victoria Fewster, a Forest Health Biologist, at the Great Lakes Forestry Centre, in Sault Ste. Marie, Natural Resources Canada, checked into it for me and reported: “I have heard back from the provincial forest health coordinator about this problem. It sounds like they have been hit quite hard this year with a disease called brown spot needle blight.” Some details about it are here:

 In summary, Scots (Pinus sylvestris) and Austrian pine (Pinus nigra) are most commonly affected, but all pine species are susceptible to the infection, which kills foliage and slows growth. It is most damaging on low branches and small trees.The disease seldom kills trees but can cause significant defoliation on 2- and 3-year-old needles with current year needles also being infected in severe disease years. In appearance, branches look bare from accelerated 2nd and 3rd year needle losses, with only tufts of current year needles remaining, and damage is first noticeable in the lower branches.

Victoria added “I also thought I’d let you know that we do a Forest Health Review One Day Conference in October, and a half day with Forests Ontario during their AGM  in February. Keep an eye out for those events as the province will do an overview of what they found in forest health surveys this year.”

On June 9, Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) held its AGM, preceded by a potluck dinner – a tradition renewed this year after two years of the pandemic. Club President Pam Kinchen presided over the meeting, with all reports being accepted and adopted into the minutes. After thanking the board of directors and supporting volunteers, the transition took place to the new OSFN President, Brendan Mulroy, who has also worked closely with the NeighbourWoods North component of the club. 

The club then presented its Community Conservation Award to Beth Anne Currie, citing her tremendous legacy as a presenter, field trip leader and Director for Owen Sound Field Naturalists; a Land Steward for Bruce Trail Conservancy; Rankin Resource Group Director; and her dedication to field work and documentation for the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas and Grassland Birds Studies, a Director for the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy; Past Chair, The Sustainability Project; and Chair, Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory – a true champion for Nature!

Beth Anne Currie with Andrea Gress. Beth Anne is also holding an award memento of the OSFN logo Hart’s Tongue Fern (made by potter/artist Kate McLaren)
Photo by Marsha Courtney

A second Community Conservation Award was then presented to Willy Waterton and Audrey Armstrong, in recognition of their numerous and significant contributions, including Willy’s career (and in retirement) in photojournalism with the aim to inspire commitment to protect our natural world, and Audrey’s work with the Monarch Tagging Network, connecting hundreds of children to the wonders of nature, as well as their current project to update the Orchids of Bruce and Grey with new photographs and documentation, providing a magnificent example of conservation and caring and the enjoyment of continuing to learn. 

President Pam Kinchen with Willy and Audrey
Photo by Marsha Courtney

Andrea Gress of Bird Studies Canada then rounded out the evening with a lively presentation entitled   “Our Piping Plovers: Where are they at, and how are they doing?” which included a comprehensive update on their status around the Great Lakes. 

The Osprey and one baby, but 2 were seen.
Photo by Marsha Courtney

In late June, the Young Naturalist Club wrapped up their season with “A fun day of adventure for the last hike of the year. It has been a great year organizing all of the hikes for the fantastic Young Nats families. See you in September!” and by Marsha Courtney “A big shout out to Jody Johnson Pettit for a fun packed Young Naturalist program. Today the group visited the Petrel Point Nature Reserve, the Grandy-Salter Tract trail, as well as the Oliphant Fen with a trek out to view the Osprey and her babies. Amanda Eriksen provided insight into Fens and bug eating plants and also showed us the Jewelweed amongst the Poison Ivy which, it turns out, is for relief from Poison Ivy. Thanks to both for a great hike and to Jody for the great season.”  

Scaly Ink Cap Coprinopsis variegata – Not to be eaten. Again our little eagle eyes found these in the bush.
Photo by Marsha Courtney

The Friends of Hibou have been busy trimming trails, and repairing boardwalks, in preparation for summertime visitors and for a Free Family Fun Day on August 7. In their Summer 2022 newsletter Krista McKee writes –  With summer here, we are searching for things to do, places to see and adventures to experience. Hibou Conservation Area is one of these interesting and fun filled areas to explore that is just a few minutes away from Owen Sound.

A  group of hardworking volunteers and two GSC staff met on June 28th to remove 80 old pieces of boardwalk and replace them with new, sturdy boards.
Photo by Don Sankey

Did you know that on Sunday August 7th the parking fee will be waived at Hibou for the “Free Family Fun Day”. This activity-filled day will allow us to stop, look, listen and learn what Hibou has to offer. Upon your arrival, you will be given an Explore Passport that you bring to each activity in the park. ? There are so many things to visit starting with trees, see the instruments they use to measure a tree’s width and height. ? How many marsh monsters live in our water – water spiders, mosquito larva, dragonflies and more – see how big they are under a microscope? These monsters are how we determine the health of our lakes, rivers and streams. ? Fossils that tell us what was here before us. See the interesting creatures that were caught in sand and slowly turned into rock,” and so much more. Be sure to put this on your calendar for August 7, and then visit  too.

Indigo Bunting July 8, by William Gray at Skinner’s Marsh

The U of Guelph Arboretum June newsletter outlines the many free and interesting nature learning workshops scheduled for July, that include animal rehabilitation of baby songbirds, opossums, squirrels and chipmunks, as well as tree identification and more. Some of these are offered Live, and also virtually on zoom and recorded for visiting later. A terrific opportunity to enlighten the nature enthusiasts you know! Visit

July 2 near Meaford
Red-headed Woodpecker 
Photo by Nigel Eves
July 9 near Meaford Ruby-throated Hummingbird 
Photo by Nigel Eves

To close,  Nature quotes from U of Guelph’s Portico Alumni magazine, by Dr. Roberta Bondar, astronaut, acclaimed nature photographer and environmental activist, whose view from orbit allowed her to get “a more holistic and compassionate view of Earth as a planet and what we need to maintain our existence as a life form.”  and ” I see the natural world in peril because of what we do….We need to take some responsibility in trying to lessen the impact that we have as a life form on these wonderful natural systems.”


Nature Club News For June 2022

by John Dickson

This Thursday, June 9, the Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) present their final speaker event for the 2021-22 Season,  “Our Piping Plovers: Where are they at, and how are they doing?” with Andrea Gress. This will be an in-person only event, at the Bayshore Community Centre. Starting at 5:30pm, on display will be more exceptional books from the estates of Lorraine Brown and Andrew Armitage, for sale by donation, with proceeds going to OSFN’s publications fund.Audrey Armstrong says “We still have a lot of great books to get into nature lovers’ hands.  Our first sale raised almost 1000 dollars for the club – people were thrilled with their finds – and generous too!”
OSFN also announces the return at 6pm, of its traditional pot luck dinner, (for those who are comfortable with that), followed at 7pm by a brief AGM and awards ceremony, plus the featured speaker for the evening. Andrea Gress first fell in love with White-fronted Plovers during an internship in South Africa, where she helped to study the birds’ behaviors in areas with human disturbance. Returning to Canada, she worked with Piping Plovers in her home province of Saskatchewan. This is now her 5th year coordinating the Ontario Piping Plover Program for Birds Canada.

As Andrea says “At my heart, I’m a plover myself, gravitating to beaches and sunshine even in my time off.”  You can also find Andrea as the host of The Warblers, a Birds Canada podcast that shares information on birds and bird conservation with a Canada specific focus.Everyone is welcome. To learn more about this, and OSFN’s many other programmes, please visit 

Piping Plover spotted and photographed by Kiah Jasper at Sauble Beach April 27, 2022

NeighbourWoods North is wrapping up a busy Spring of planting and nurturing established trees, plus some trail work at the hospital property, and will be holding its Annual Yard Sale Fundraiser, this Saturday June 11, from 7am to 1pm, at 1625 7th Avenue East. A terrific location with wonderful bargains for a worthwhile cause!

Jody Johnson Pettit tells us the MacGregor Point Provincial Park staff members, on May 28, led the Young Naturalists Club on a hike there, which included a game of bird bingo, critter dipping, a bird feeder making craft, and a little bit of litter clean-up. We got to see plenty of green frogs, several bird species and a painted turtle. 

Painted Turtle. (Photo by Jody Johnson Pettit) 

Even here in Owen Sound, Nature provides some pleasant surprise visitors. Recently, I have been hearing Kingfishers nearby and even saw one fly over the house. Early one morning, I witnessed two large Deer traversing our backyard, seeking a wildlife corridor to channel them safely to their preferred destination. Twice in recent days I have seen a Mallard family with many ducklings making their way to a new stormwater overflow pond in the neighbourhood. That pond, and another I learned of recently, have attracted sandpipers and other waterfowl, and are likely the reason I have heard today and yesterday the loud iconic calls of Loons right here in the City.  

At this time of year you may also be encountering turtles navigating roads in search of nesting sites. Good friend of Nature, Ingrid Remkins says “Come out of your shell!” and sent me news of a timely theatrical production at 2pm Saturday June 11 and Sunday June 12 at the Kimberley Hall.  Puppets by the River present “Caution: Turtle Crossing,” a tale about a Snapping Turtle, named Tutu, who is trying to cross the road in order to lay her eggs, and the creatures (both human and other) that she meets along the way.  Admission by Free Will Donation, with proceeds to the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre. Come out of your shell and come see the play!Featuring both children and adults, this fun matinee promises to entertain and stimulate too. As Ingrid says – “Will Tutu make it? It’s what we want to know. The only way to tell, is to come and see the show, To cheer Tutu on. Let her know that you care. Make it a date! It’s a family affair!”

Turtle on the move… June 6, Beaver Valley (photos by Ingrid Remkins)

It is impressive how the the Huron Fringe Birding Festival (HFBF) keeps improving each year. I especially enjoyed “Botany in the Park with Tyler Miller” last Thursday. This strong organization with dedicated volunteers, combined with superb Nature leaders, really offers a diverse and comprehensive learning experience. As Norah Toth shares – “After a hiatus of two years, the in person 2022 Huron Fringe Birding Festival, with its headquarters at MacGregor Point Provincial Park, was a success!  People congregated outside the Visitor Centre to join such well known hike leaders as Willy Waterton, Mark Wiercinski, John Reaume and Michael Runtz. Close to 400 registrants, some from as far away as Tobago and Indiana, USA, were in attendance.  But the highlights were the birds. The final tally isn’t confirmed, but around 184 species were sighted over the 8 days of the Festival, with the highlight being a Western Swainson’s Hawk. Other notable species were migrants – Whimbrel, Ruddy Turnstone, Olive-sided Flycatcher and Tennessee Warbler – and such residents as the Canada Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Bobolink plus the HFBF mascot, the American Redstart.”

Scarlet Tanager at Shallow Lake, June 1 (Photo by WIlliam Gray)

Here in Owen Sound, Peter Middleton took part in several country-wide scheduled Swiftwatch count dates for Chimney Swifts, Chaetura pelagica. He also added two evenings for OSFN members to observe and learn about this species, now identified as threatened under the Canadian Endangered Species at Risk Act. In Owen Sound, there are very few chimneys left that host Swifts. The most important of these is at the Old Courthouse building on 3rd Avenue East. In addition to the effects of lost habitat in recent decades, due to the reduced number of available roosting chimneys, climate change may also be influencing the migration schedule of these little known birds, to chimneys and hollow tree cavities in northern forests. Compared to documented migration schedules of the past, it appears that the Swifts had completed their journeys a week or two earlier than was expected. On May 31st, the final count night, the handful of observers witnessed only two Swifts arrive and descend into the Courthouse Chimney to roost for the night. To learn more about Swiftwatch, please visit

 Here is some exciting news from Mexico, with a local connection.  Over two sunny, warm August afternoons last summer at Isaac Lake, on the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula, 39 OSFN members gathered with Audrey Armstrong, Patti Byers and Brian Robin. Of the 75 monarchs that were netted and tagged as a Citizen Science project on Flight of the Monarch Day, two were later recovered in Mexico’s overwintering sanctuary, Cerro Pelon in Michoacan, Mexico.  Here, Monarchs overwinter by the millions in Oyamel firs on the Sierra Madre mountain range at altitudes of 3,650 metres. The two recovered male monarchs were netted by Evie Gray, and Maeve O’Meara. Both these butterflies flew 4,235.6 kilometres on their fall migration to a mountain sanctuary they’ve never been to before.

Evelyn Gray of Owen Sound shows off her monarch after tagging and before releasing it to migrate to Mexico. Proud grandfather Bob Gray documents the moment. (Photo by Willy Waterton)

Scientists who study monarchs use this Citizen Science tagging data, which associates the location of original capture with the point of recovery for each butterfly, to determine pathways taken by migrating monarchs, the influence of weather on the migration and the survival rate of the monarchs. This past winter there was a 35% increase in Eastern North America’s monarchs overwintering in Mexico, although overall numbers have seen an 80% decline in the last two decades.  Just a reminder to readers that the best way to help increase monarch populations is to create habitat and plant milkweed.  Indoor rearing of monarchs is no longer acceptable due to increased spread of parasites and pathogens. The two young Citizen Scientists will each receive a Certificate of Appreciation from Monarch Watch for their involvement in monarch butterfly research. This year’s Monarch tagging workshop is scheduled to take place September 3, again at Isaac Lake.

Two female hummingbirds in the garden today. The Blue Flag Iris was a favourite. This photo was my favourite of the day. (Photo by Carol Edwards)

Here is an excerpt from Station Scientist Stéphane Menu’s recent blog from the Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory (BPBO)

The characteristic song of an Olive-sided Flycatcher, a late migrant, was heard on June 1st and 4th. Two Green herons were seen flying across the basin, perching shortly in trees along the shore, and squawking loudly on June 5th. On June 3rd, a few flocks of Eastern Bluebirds were detected, thanks to their fluty flight call, with the largest one of 25 birds. There were also quite a few Eastern Bluebirds in the alvar where their dashing colours found an incredible background of Scarlet Paintbrush, Goldenrod, and Blue-eyed Grass. It was a feast of primary colours.

On June 5, we counted 112 Blue Jays in one single flock! Early June is also a time for a strong passage of this species at Cabot Head. We are seeing the migratory birds of this mostly sedentary species going back to the boreal forest at the northern fringe of their range. It is always quite a sight to see a large flock of Blue Jays taking flight and climbing up in the sky, flapping wings like giant butterflies. The best part though is when the Blue Jays all decide to dive down at once, making an incredible whooshing sound.                                              

To close, a Nature quote from (Rainer) Rilke’s Late Poetry, by Graham Good:  “and Summer, like a giant stretching, feels the vigour of its youth…”


Nature Club News For May 2022

by John Dickson

Everyone is welcome as the Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) present their May speaker, Dr. Gary Umphrey (U of Guelph) at the Bayshore Community Centre, starting at 7pm this Thursday, featuring:
Tales of Ants: Near and Far, Now and Then

This talk will take an ant-centric view of how the study of a taxon at a local level allows us to connect with and appreciate the greater diversity of the same taxon at larger geographic scales. Ever-emerging (and often spectacular) scientific discoveries and superior tools for aggregating and disseminating myrmecological information make this a golden age to be an ant enthusiast. Is it going too far to say that knowing more about ants will enrich your life?

Gary Umphrey is employed as a statistician in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Guelph, but he has long maintained twin passions for both ants and data. Myrmecology is the study of ants, so he has declared himself to be a myrmecostatistician. His interests in ants are wide-ranging, but started several decades ago with field work on Ontario ants. His statistical interests also go back in time, but were formulated well after the invention of numbers.

Gary Umphrey

Members of OSFN and Saugeen Nature have been invited to arrive between 6 and 7pm when the estate of Lorraine Brown and Andrew Armitage is offering their extensive library collection as an OSFN fundraiser to support future OSFN publications and the Lorraine Brown Conservation Fund. Come and browse hundreds of books: insects, moths, butterflies, birds, mushrooms, nature, gardening and much much more!

Available by donation to OSFN (cash or cheque only).

Many keen birders from near and far have been visiting Point Pelee again this year to see the migrants arriving to rest and refuel in the diverse habitat there before continuing northward. However, the local birding this Spring has been quite rewarding with a Lifer for me too, first hearing, then seeing a Sora in a nearby wetland area.

Each day I have seen reports of new arrivals, including many sparrows and warblers, hummingbirds, and even Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Eastern Kingbirds, Bobolinks, Indigo Buntings, even Scarlet Tanagers, along with the many Hawks and shore birds too. On Monday while I biked along a wooded path by the river through Harrison Park, the clear musical tones and phrasing of a bright orange and black male Baltimore Oriole reached me from overhead, and soon there was another one, quite nearby adding his own song in response to the other.

Baltimore Orioles descended upon this area yesterday with everyone reporting seeing them in their gardens. Here’s a front and back view of one of the male foraging in the crabapple tree. Photos by Carol Edwards May 10-11 Owen Sound

Although I have been seeing many Spring wildflowers – pink, blue, yellow and white here and there, including numerous Red Trilliums a few weeks ago, the hillside along the Mile Drive that was blanketed in White Trilliums yesterday was a pleasant and welcome surprise. On a ride this morning, I saw several wild fruit trees with pretty blossoms on display.

Many of us have observed bees, butterflies, and moths, as well as salamanders, snakes, turtles, frogs, and toads, either sunning themselves, or motoring along on their own personal adventures.

Starting this Saturday, volunteers are welcome to help with the important and rewarding projects of NeighbourWoods North. (NWN) “We probably don’t say it enough but we appreciate every single person who comes out to plant and care for the trees. This spring most of our work will be caring for the trees, mulching, trimming, weeding, etc. Wear weather appropriate clothing and gardening gloves. Bring rakes, buckets, wheelbarrows if you can but don’t let a lack of them stop you from coming.”

Saturday Group Volunteer Dates: We will be caring for the trees on the following Saturdays from 9 to 11 am – May 14, 21, 28, June 4

Meet in the Forest of Hope and Healing across from the Emergency area.

You can learn more about NeighbourWoods North through their Facebook page and their website –

NWN is thrilled to have the support from local doctors:

Dr. Mulroy commented that “he was profoundly moved by a patient who was admitted to the hospital.

She said: “my healing comes not from being in the hospital, but by being able to walk the hospital grounds.”

Dr. Edwards stated “The Healing Path at the hospital will be uplifting for our patients, their visitors, our staff, and any interested members of our Owen Sound community.”

NWN is paying for the path from donations, and their goal is to create a three-season accessible path in stages, as funds permit. NWN is a sub-committee of the Owen Sound Field Naturalists, a charitable organization.

Donations for the path can be made at: (Owen Sound Field Naturalists – select NeighbourWoods North in the drop down menu)

The group hopes that future sections of the trail, to be built closer to the hospital’s Rehabilitation Unit, may eventually be used by patients as part of their rehab therapy

The Grey Sauble Conservation Foundation’s exciting 5th annual Earth Film Festival fundraiser offers two events in one evening, Thursday May 19, at the Roxy Theatre. Don Sankey, Foundation Chair, tells us that a Social time and Silent Auction start at 6pm, until the beginning of Bruce Grey Monarchs with the renowned Audrey Armstrong and followed by the award winning film Fight of the Butterflies, narrated by Gordon Pinsent. Tickets are only $25. and are available at the Roxy box office. I can personally vouch for the excellence of both presentations, for their quality photography, research and up to date science.

Young Naturalists with Miriam Oudejans

On Sunday May 1st, the Owen Sound Young Naturalists met on a cold and cloudy afternoon at Isaac Lake for a first time bird outing there, climbed the marsh observation tower and walked down to the boat launch at the Lake to see what birds were migrating through from points South. Due to the weather, the birds were scarce but the highlight was seeing and hearing several Wilson’s Snipe circling around above the marsh, drawing attention to themselves with the distinctive whirring sound of their wings, also known as “winnowing.”

Common Loon.
Photo by Miriam Oudejans May 1, at Isaac Lake

Over a period of two hours, 24 different kinds of birds were seen including a Common Loon, six Great Egrets, an American Bittern, four migrating Sandhill Crane, a light morph Rough-legged hawk and several American Widgeon (ducks) in the marsh.

The group also learned about Merlin, an easy to use free phone App that gives users the ability to identify birds in the field by sight and sound. Created by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Merlin is a great tool for both new and experienced birders. Other resources for budding birders can be found online at the Birds Canada website, including family activities on the webpage The Roost. One link takes you to “Find The Birds,” a fun and new educational video game created by Canadian highschooler, Adam Dhalla.

The young naturalists and their parents found a new appreciation for birds and everyone agreed that Isaac Lake was a neat spot to visit and worth coming back to explore further, perhaps on a sunny summer morning!

Congratulations to the Bruce Peninsula BIrd Observatory, (BPBO) now celebrating 20 years, and holding their AGM via zoom, on Saturday.

Here is an excerpt from their weekly blog, posted at
“At Cabot Head, we often watch hungry birds literally in a feeding frenzy, indifferent to our presence, being so intent on getting fat again. Midges are a great source of food and their emergence in huge numbers in spring greatly helps birds. And with a little help from (unknowing) friends, birds enjoy an even easier meal: there are many, many inactive, old spider webs around, which act as a perfect trap for midges, uncollected by still dormant spiders. Warblers, nuthatches, sparrows, we have observed them all pecking and eating midges from these spiderwebs using a little caution and much bill cleaning (rubbing the bill on a small branch to get rid of the sticky threads). Spiderwebs may look messy but in an interesting twist they are providing much needed calories to hungry migrants. So, let’s keep spiderwebs in our gardens and parks!”

To close, a quote from Wanderings of an Artist by Paul Kane, who in late Spring of 1845 journeyed to this area, producing exquisite paintings of First Nations people at Saugeen (the mouth of that river) and here in Owen Sound, before departing once more via Georgian Bay and the Thirty Thousand Islands where “we continually lost ourselves in its picturesque mazes, enchanted with the beauty of the ever-changing scenery, as we glided along in our light canoe.”


Nature Club News For April 2022

by John Dickson

Lovers of beauty in Nature are in for a treat! In the words of the renowned former Sun Times Staff Photographer Willy Waterton –

“Last summer Audrey and I located and photographed 35 of the 48 wild orchids found in this area for an upcoming reprint of the 25 year old Canadian best seller Orchids of Bruce & Grey.This Thursday, April 14, 7pm at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre in Owen Sound, we’re excited to present this talk about our orchid quest for the Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN).

The talk will also be presented live on Zoom. Please join us either at the Bayshore in person (non members, entrance by donation) or email in advance to with Orchids as subject, to receive a Zoom link to watch. Either way, come with us on the quest and enjoy the vibrant colours of summer flowers during our cold spring! Regards, Willy”

Eastern Bluebird    April 10    Lindenwood Road Photo by William Gray

April can be a month of celebration and discovery as we frequently notice sounds and sights for the first time this year – the distinctive songs of Robins, Killdeer, Cardinals, Song Sparrows, the melodious Eastern Meadowlark, and for me just yesterday, my first of year Eastern Phoebe. Back to our area now, Phoebes can now be optimistic that they can find enough of the flying insects that I have been seeing, to survive the remaining uneven weather;  many local observers, me included, have reported seeing their first Mourning Cloak butterflies; there are still some Pussy Willows here and there, and leaf buds on trees are swelling with moisture and energy; trout can be seen upstream in many creeks, and muskrats are often visible along the banks. When I was cycling yesterday, I heard my first Spring Peeper Frogs, saw some bright yellow Coltsfoot, and although I haven’t yet seen Wild Leeks, or Trout Lilies, when I stepped into a hardwood bush area to see if any were evident, I was delighted to see a stunningly beautiful Scarlet Cup fungus. 

Scarlet Cup Fungus near Sideroad 15     – April 11, photo by John Dickson

More than half of the $5 tickets have been sold for Hap Wilson’s presentation at 2pm Sunday April 24 at the Bayshore Community Centre. Presented by OSFN and sponsored by Caframo, the prolific author, artist, and photographer Hap Wilson will deliver his 50 Years~100 Rivers: Guidebook Pathfinding keynote address to Celebrate Earth Week. Both Hap and his wife Andrea will also have his many books, including his new novel, Out of Abaddon, for sale by cash or credit card, and Hap will be glad to personalize any book purchases.However, there are still plenty of tickets at these outlets where you can obtain them in advance, before the event is sold out: Suntrail Source for Adventure in Hepworth, Meaford IDA Pharmacy, the Owen Sound Farmers’ Market, and the Owen Sound and North Grey Union Public Library. Tickets will also be available at the Orchid Quest talk on Thursday. For more details about both events and more, please visit

title page (4).jpg
intro 2 (2).jpg

Earth Day Grey Bruce 2022 is an exciting new, comprehensive and inclusive community event from 1:30 to 5pm Saturday April 23 at the Owen Sound Farmers’ Market. From their website: This is a new opportunity for people in Grey Bruce to come together to share, learn and celebrate everything we want to protect. We invite everyone in our diverse community to take part in a playful, child-friendly event, including a parade, live music, art, crafts, dance and poetry. There will be booths offering information and resources on greener living, gardening, regenerative farming, mental health, nature groups and initiatives for climate action. We invite people of all ages and identities, as well as organizations and community groups from across our region, to join us. Opening Water Ceremony 1:30pm, Booths open from 2pm to 5pm, Parade 3:00pm, Live Music and Dance 4pm. For more information and details, please visit

Congratulations have been pouring in for Owen Sound’s successful application to be designated a Tree City of the World, initiated by NeighbourWoods North. Kudos for all of the good work so far, and for the planning and implementation of this programme going forward.
Shawna Macivor and Lloyd Lewis of NeighbourWoods North stand in front of a backdrop of trees at the Centennial Tower in Owen Sound. The pair, along with fellow organization member Gord Edwards, asked the city to apply to become a Tree City of the World in 2021. 

Shawna Macivor and Lloyd Lewis of NeighbourWoods North stand in front of a backdrop of trees at the Centennial Tower in Owen Sound. The pair, along with fellow organization member Gord Edwards, asked the city to apply to become a Tree City of the World in 2021. 

The weather finally cooperated on March 27, for the Young Naturalists Club to do some animal tracking with Jeff Kinchen and, as Jody Johnson Pettit shared “We followed deer, grouse, red squirrel and owl tracks in the snow.”

Photo by Jody Johnson Pettit

Photo by Jody Johnson Pettit

In addition to the more commonly seen birds, many keen birders are always noting “rare bird sightings” of species that are only occasionally, or very rarely, if ever, seen locally. In recent months, these have included Hoary Redpoll, Least Grebe, Horned Grebe, Black Scoter, Pied-billed Grebe, Ross’s Goose, Cackling Geese, Greater White-fronted Geese, Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Red-shouldered Hawk, Short Eared Owl, to name just a few. 

It’s a beautiful day in the neighbourhood…
Sandhill Cranes: north of Kimberley April 12
Photo by Ingrid Remkins

Bruce Birding Club (BBC) members have been sharing both their group and individual sightings of Spring bird activity. On his property, Doug Pedwell noted “While waiting out the quarantine,  I have been paying attention to what is going on outside.  A lone Pine Siskin seems to be travelling with the Goldfinches.  Song Sparrows are already staking out nesting territories. The Starlings are already on the nest.  I have found the odd Robin’s egg in various places. Today I heard my first Spring Peeper and the Wood Frogs are heading to full Chorus.” BBC coordinator Fred Jazvac confirmed “One of the behavioural characteristics of Pine Siskins is, when they are in our area, they hang out with American Goldfinches.”

So pleased to see the Great Egret back in the Valley…
(North of Kimberley) April 11
Photo by Ingrid Remkins

To close, a quote from Grey Owl and Me, by Hap Wilson –  “It was always about ‘the trail,’ and the ability to disconnect yourself from the things that are destroying mankind by destroying Nature…every time I stepped into the canoe, searching for lost rivers, or straddled my motorcycle and headed for the backcountry.”


Nature Club News For March 2022

by John Dickson

Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) will offer five brief and diverse presentations for Members Night, as well as such popular audience features as “Sightings” – individuals reporting recent observations – plus community Nature news too, all starting at 7pm this Thursday at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre, and just a reminder: the wearing of masks for Covid-19 is currently required indoors at the Bayshore.

Everyone is welcome, admission is free or by donation for this event. OSFN is also planning to present the evening on zoom. OSFN club members receive the Zoom link by email. Non-members may request a Zoom link by emailing well in advance to with “Members” in the subject line.

Scheduled presenters from the club are: David Morris – In Our Own Backyard; Bill Moses – OSFN History; Marsha Courtney- Kayak Into Nature’s Beauty; Bob Knapp – A Trip to Ecuador; Peter Middleton – Wings over the Platte, Sandhill Crane Spectacular (from Nebraska).

In addition, I will have tickets available for sale, (just $5. each), for OSFN’s seventh annual Celebrate Earth Week Keynote Address, by Hap Wilson, entitled 50 YEARS ~ 100 RIVERS – Guidebook Pathfinding. It is scheduled for 2pm Sunday April 24, also at the Bayshore Community Centre. Hap Wilson is an award winning author, artist, wilderness guide and photographer, an International Fellow of the prestigious Explorer’s Club, a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, a recipient of the Bill Mason Award for lifetime achievement in river conservation, co-founder of the environmental group Earthroots, and much more. He and his wife Andrea will also have a selection of his books for sale at this event. I was not surprised to discover that many of our area’s fine paddlers have used Wilson’s guidebooks themselves. I have especially enjoyed the artwork that is sprinkled throughout books of his that I have encountered.

For more information about any of these events and other activities of the Owen Sound Field Naturalists, please visit

The Horned Larks are migrating now. (Photo by Bruce Edmunds)
Mar 4, 2022, Kincardine area

The Bruce Birding Club has resumed its twice per month outings, enjoying the bird sightings and the camaraderie of fellow birders. From the March 2nd birding tour Fred Jazvac reported:

We had a good number of species today, especially after the long cold winter we experienced with 40 species in total. Highlights of the day included seeing two Screech Owls in different locations. The second one cooperated the most by waking up at about 3:00 p.m. and being shocked at the strange creatures staring at him. His curiosity lingered on and on at the assembled crowd who stared right back at him. Tufted Titmouse, Cackling Goose, Pine Siskin were good finds as well.

Deane Atherton recently shared his observations and helpful tips about Pine Grosbeaks sightings in Owen Sound.

Photo by Deane Atherton  March 5 

“Flocks of pine grosbeaks have been foraging on the fruit trees in Brooke (west side of Owen Sound) for the past few weeks. Most of the birds are typical females (yellow plumage). If you look through the flocks you’ll find a few males and russet birds. My understanding is that the russet forms are either first year males or a russet morph of female. Take a walk around Brooke if you haven’t seen these birds this winter”

Photo by Deane Atherton  March 5 

The Friends of Hibou have posted their new Spring Newsletter on their website. It includes news from Krista McKee about a Family Fun Day scheduled for August 7, a new song entitled Hibou, by Brian Tannahill, plus an introduction to Spring Birds at Hibou, with descriptions and photos by Peter Middleton. It is definitely worth a visit to Hibou itself, as well as to

The Bruce Grey Woodlands Association is once again hosting the annual Grey Bruce Woodlot Conference that will take place virtually, via zoom, on Tuesday March 22nd and Thursday March 24th.
I certainly recommend checking this out, especially as I very much enjoyed catching one evening of last year’s conference.

This year the list of presentations is as follows:

March 22nd:

7pm – Wild Boars, presented by MNR-F;
8pm – Update on Forest Health, presented by MNR-F

March 24th:

7pm – Forestry Related Applications for Landowners,with Aaron Swayze, Forestry Technician, Saugeen Conservation;
8pm – Climate Change and Forestry, with Kevin Predon, Forester, Bruce County.

To learn more about the Bruce Grey Woodlands Association visit and to register for this conference and receive a zoom link, please email your name and address to:

The first Common Grackle of the year. Another sign of spring.
Photo by Nigel Eves, Meaford, March 7

Grey County Master Gardeners are offering their Eco-Responsible Gardener Series Seminar #3, entitled Rethinking Beauty: Inspiring Gardeners in a Changing World on March 26 at 11am, via Zoom. Join the inspiring and enthusiastic Paul Zammit as he challenges you to think about the meaning of beauty in a world of climate change and biodiversity. His hugely entertaining talks attract international audiences of all ages.

Paul is a Horticulturalist, lecturer and photographer and is currently Professor of the Horticultural Program at Niagara College, after serving as Director of Horticulture at the Toronto Botanical Garden for 10 years. In 2019 and 2021, Paul was awarded Landscape Ontario’s Garden Communicator of the Year Award.

To learn more and to register, please visit

Red-Winged Blackbirds are back and singing. Sure sign of spring
Photo by Angela Milan, March 5th, west of Markdale

The Huron Fringe Birding Festival looks to me to just keep getting better, and this 24th version is set for May 27-30 and June 2-5. I encourage you to visit where you will be able to see the impressive line-up of birding opportunities, and much more. If you just can’t wait, you can also sample the seven recorded presentations from the excellent 2021 Festival Lite. It is a good way to meet some of the personalities who will be back this year too.

Mink – photo by Ingrid Remkins March 6, north of Kimberley

I have been seeing Robins since Sunday, and also noting the buds and new growth on many saplings, and mature trees too. Wetlands are shifting from ice to open water, the planned destinations for many migrating waterfowl whose flight paths lead them here, either to rest and re-fuel for the next stage on their route, or to stay and raise their new families right here.

To close, a ‘Winter transition to Spring’ Nature quote from Morgan Llywelyn’s After Rome: “The winter dragged on… The sparse grass atop the cliffs was rimed with ice, it crunched when the horses tried to crop it…Then one morning there was a perceptible change in the angle of the light. A few days later the omnipresent wind swung around and began to blow out of the south. The horses stopped trying to tear nourishment out of the reluctant earth and lifted their heads, sniffing through distended nostrils… Spring was in the air.”

First one in the yard this year. Spring might well be on the way. Robin, Flesherton.
Photo By Dave Turner, March 2


Nature Club News For February 2022

by John Dickson

For anyone seeking a brief escape from Winter, Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) invite you to Zoom to Zanzibar: A World of Spices – A Dream Trip Realized, for a visit hosted by OSFN President Pam Kinchen, 7pm this Thursday, February 10. This is Pam’s “See it All – Before it’s Gone! Three weeks of – Pinch me – I’m really Here!” experience, Part Two. Learn about the culture, customs, wildlife, and the important role of spices in Zanzibar. 

Photo by Pam Kinchen

This free, virtual presentation is open to the general public, and is available only on Zoom. OSFN club members will be sent the “ZOOM LINK”. Non-Members and the General Public may request a “ZOOM LINK” in advance by emailing with “Zanzibar” in the subject line.

Many of these Zoom presentations have been recorded and posted on the OSFN Youtube channel, for viewing at your leisure. These include Pam Kinchen’s talk and photo tour of Tanzania (Part One) from last year, plus the Gitche-Name-Wikwedong Great Sturgeon Bay presentation from this past September, and many more. 

I am also announcing that environmentalist, author, artist and explorer Hap Wilson is the keynote speaker for the 7th Annual OSFN Celebrate Earth Day/Earth Week event which is scheduled to take place  at 2pm Sunday April 24, 2022 at the Bayshore Community Centre, and is, once again, sponsored by Caframo.  Entitled  50 YEARS  ~ 100 RIVERS: Guidebook Pathfinding, popular guide Hap Wilson’s talk will cover: Fifty years in conservation, mapping Canadian wilderness and covering almost half the land-mass in the country. The ups and downs of guidebook writing as an environmental tool. Working with and against a political mindset that affects the integrity and sanctity of our wild places. Working with First Nations in understanding the importance of traditional territories and respect for sacred places.  

Details about attending this event will be shared in this space when we have greater clarity on the public health guidelines in place in April. 

A mink seen recently on the Beaver River, north of Kimberley (Photo By Ingrid Remkins)

The Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy (EBC) continues to celebrate 25 years of conservation, and has also selected Robert Burcher as its Volunteer of the Month, in recognition of his position as a steward of EBC’s Trout Hollow Nature Reserve in Meaford. Robert has been visiting the area for the last 30 years and giving history tours on site for the last 20. Robert is also well known to OSFN as a leader for field trips, a lecturer and an author, specializing in the activities of naturalist John Muir in Ontario and in the Meaford area in the 1860s. Again, congratulations to Robert and to EBC!

EBC’s Volunteer of the Month: Robert Burcher giving a tour of Trout Hollow Nature Reserve.

Continuing their free virtual Seminar Series, Grey County Master Gardeners present Seminar 2: Gardening for Wildlife on Saturday February 26, at 11:00a.m. via Zoom, featuring Laura Thomas of Hidden Habitat, a nursery of Ontario native plants. Laura also provides ecological landscaping and design for the home gardener. She graduated from the University of Waterloo’s Environment and Resource Studies program, is a Certified Master Naturalist and will present on strategies to attract wildlife to the home garden, the importance of native plants, which ones are preferable and how to create beautiful and functional wildlife spaces. For more information and to register, please visit

Feeding Wild Turkeys…around Grey Road 3, Jan 29 (photo by Fely Clarke)

A joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Audubon Society, and Birds Canada, the Great Backyard Bird Count is back for its 25th year in 2022, beginning on Friday, February 18th and continuing until Monday, February 22nd (Family Day).

The Great Backyard Bird Count is 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: Kerrie Wilcox
Great Backyard Bird Count Coordinator

Cedar Waxwing – February 7, Owen Sound (photo by William Gray)

Snowy Owl photo by Catherine Tolton, Bruce County, January 24 

To close, two Nature quotes from Sherlock Holmes, as scripted for him by Arthur Conan Doyle – “One’s ideas must be as broad as Nature if they are to interpret Nature.” and “How sweet the morning air is! See how that one little cloud floats like a pink feather from some gigantic flamingo. Now the red rim of the sun pushes itself over the London cloud bank. … How small we feel … in the presence of the great elemental forces of Nature!”

Red-tailed Hawk February 7, Owen Sound area (photo by William Gray)