Nature Club News, August, 2018


by John Dickson

On Saturday July 21, the second joint presentation of Owen Sound Field Naturalists and Grey Roots, featured Stu Collier’s lecture entitled “Treasures from the Bruce: Fossil Collecting for the Enthusiast.” Collier, educated in geology and paleontology, reported to the many audience members on hand, about his two decades of on-site research among the exposed rocks of quarries in the Wiarton area, on behalf of the Royal Ontario Museum. Fossil evidence of soft bodied sea animals have been preserved among these rocky layers for 400 million years, filling in gaps in scientific knowledge about their existence in various time periods.

The late Harold Stobbe, of Owen Sound Ledgerock, to his credit, took the care, time and effort to save and send fossil samples to the ROM to be analyzed. This resulted in most productive digs unearthing exceptionally well preserved samples of sea creatures including a priapulid worm, the scientific name for which will include Harold’s last name, Stobbe, from the Silurian period. Another marine animal, about 5 centimetres in length not previously found anywhere in the world, will include Collier in its identification terminology. For a more detailed summary of this lecture please read Scott Dunn’s comprehensive article published in The Sun Times, published July 22.

White Spruce planted at Hospital grounds (Photo by John Dickson)
The beginnings of an urban forest at the hospital in Owen Sound (Photo by John Dickson)

Since the seemingly extra dry months of June and July, the NeighbourWoods North team has continued to be on site most Thursdays, watering, as well as trimming and mulching, to enhance the success of its major project of growing a forest at the Owen Sound hospital. A hearty congratulations and thank you to all who have been able to assist in any way with this important work! To learn more, visit their new website

OSFN members are often engaged in several areas of nature appreciation. Popular naturalist and astronomer Donna Giesler recently included “HAPPY PERSEID VIEWING!” in a message to me. Finally, this morning, unable to return to sleep, I arose around 4AM to begin writing this column and, as usual, I glanced outside my window. A fleeting glimpse of a bright shooting star caught my eye, as it sped along a downward curving path, ending in oblivion, or at least, darkness. For me it was a delightful affirmation of the rewards that may come to one, just for being observant and aware of our surroundings and those with whom we share this planet, and indeed this universe.

"Just one of three fantastic cedar trees growing on Lyall Island. Only a small part of this old tree is still alive." (Photo by intrepid explorer Robert Knapp)
“Just one of three fantastic cedar trees growing on Lyall Island.
Only a small part of this old tree is still alive.” (Photo by intrepid explorer Robert Knapp)

Other recent observations include several sightings of a cluster of two or three families of Wild Turkeys, when I was cycling, shortly after sunrise. While I was watering some flowers last week, a startled Praying Mantis emerged from its resting place and seemed to be giving me “that look”.

Mantis stare down in a soy field (Photo by Brian Robin)
Mantis stare down in a soy field (Photo by Brian Robin)

On August 22, an especially observant pair of birders, Alfred Raab, and Kiah Jasper, witnessed, near Oliphant, what has been verified as the first ever, in Ontario, documented sighting of a Reddish Egret, a threatened bird, normally found in Central America, and as far north as Texas. Congratulations to both for this exceptional observation, also as members of the Bruce Birding Club.

Later that same day the Plover Lovers of Sauble Beach held their wrap up event, featuring reports by Coordinator Hayley Roberts, Bird Studies of Canada’s Andrea Gress, and Alicia Fortin, who had a new role this summer after being last year’s coordinator. In addition we had an early peek at a possible science fair project by Islay Graham, who studied the behaviour of the plovers on the beach this summer and after documenting her findings, incorporated them into an analysis of the birds activities to see if conclusions could be drawn about their preferences, and dislikes. Special thanks from Stewardship Grey Bruce were also given to Huron Feathers for their hospitality and to sponsors who helped offset costs for the programme which also included a series of “Beach Talks”.

Piping Plover from 2017 (Photo by Brian Robin).
Plover from 2017 (Photo by Brian Robin).

Tagged Monarch (Photo by Kerry Jarvis)
Tagged Monarch (Photo by Kerry Jarvis)

As the Owen Sound Field Naturalists approaches the beginning of its 2018-2019 season, many club members and others have been reporting what may be a bumper crop of Monarch Butterflies throughout our area. Indeed, the first outing or field trip will be on Friday August 31st as OSFN members are invited to join in the Community Tagging Day of the Butterfly Gardens of Saugeen Shores.

During the following week three more outings: with Barbara Palmer at Singing Sands; with Marg Gaviller near Irish Lake; and with Jenna Maguire at the Lindsay Tract will give plenty of opportunities for OSFN to celebrate thirty years of “Knowing Nature Better”. For more details on any of these activities, and to enroll or renew as a member please visit

To close, a nature quote from John L.Riley “If we do not help nature restore itself – and get creative in doing so – species will decline one by one, and be gone.”