Nature Club News August 2019


by John Dickson

For those who have always wondered about the Owls Around Us, Peter Thoem of the Owl Foundation can help with answers. Thoem is the final speaker this summer in the partnering of Grey Roots and Owen Sound Field Naturalists. His presentation, geared to the general public and the entire family, will take place this Sunday August 25th, at 2PM in the Grey Roots theatre.  

 “It is said that if you’ve got squirrels in your neighbourhood, then you also have owls! Really? How come I never see them?” Naturalist Peter Thoem’s presentation, on behalf of the Owl Foundation, includes dozens of spectacular shots of owls taken here in Ontario. It shows you how owls are everywhere in our culture; they have even made it into our government. The show also deals with the mishaps (mostly man-made) that befall owls. And how the Vineland-based Owl Foundation is dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating injured and orphaned owls. After the presentation, stay and meet Rucker, the resident barn owl from Under the Canopy: Animals of the Rainforest!

  Peter Thoem of the Owl Foundation
 Barred Owl

Regular admission rates apply. FREE for Grey Roots Members and for Owen Sound Field Naturalist Members. Visit

Following up on a very successful Spring yard sale in support of NeighbourWoods North, a sold out fund-raising dinner entitled Feast in the Field, was “a financial and enjoyable success.” Hosted by Gleason Brook Winery, catered by Zack Keeshig with Jonathan Brew, along with a silent auction of donated items, and entertainment by Al Crawford, NeighbourWoods North raised raised $8000 and will be able to start “The Healing Path” (an integral component of the tree planting program at the hospital in Owen Sound) much earlier than anticipated.

To see more about this please visit

Those trees at the hospital have been receiving extra attention from NeighbourWoods volunteers with watering, trimming and mulching for the past several weeks too.

This summer many people have been remarking on the bountiful sightings of Monarch Butterflies. The Butterfly Gardens of Saugeen Shores hosted a very successful Community Tagging Day a week ago on August 16, successfully tagging 31 Monarch butterflies and documenting the procedure. If you were unable to attend, it has been announced that a similar event will be held on Friday morning August 30, from 10AM to noon, at Perkins Park in Southampton. It is a wonderful activity for the entire family, to learn and participate in some citizen science. For more details please visit

Tagged Monarch Butterfly  Photo by Brian Robin

At the  Piping Plover wrap-up event held August 21, Coordinator Kirsten Snoek reported on the year’s activities with its successes and its failures, and pointed out that only two piping plover chicks from the Sauble Beach nesting sites fledged and were able to fly well enough to leave with the father bird a few weeks ago, starting their long migration south. Andrea Gress also reported on the success, and otherwise, at other sites in Ontario.

The Great Lakes had 71 pairs, up from 67 pairs last year- which is great to see. Ontario had 7 fledglings from 8 pairs. Though the numbers are low this year, we did not have any adult predations which is a very big win.

The Wasaga Beach location had five chicks fledge (develop enough feathers to be able to fly).  High water levels in the Great Lakes also had an impact on some of the birds’ nesting efforts, since there was a narrower beach, which, in some cases, still was being shared with human activity. There is also access now to  incubation locations in Ontario and a captive rearing centre in Michigan where viable but abandoned eggs, and young hatchlings can be given some extra support in order to contribute to at least some increase in the  hoped-for eventual return to a stable breeding population of Piping Plovers, in the Great Lakes basin.

Continuing efforts to inhibit the spread of Dog-Strangling Vine at a site in Owen Sound, are getting increased awareness and volunteers to learn about and help to eradicate this invasive species, where it is found. This campaign, led by Bill Moses and Nancy Brown, recently staged an education opportunity, where identification   and techniques being used were highlighted.

Dog Strangling Vine with seed pods. Photo by Bill Moses. Follow his efforts against DSV on Facebook

Stephane Menu of the Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory reports that banding operations have resumed, with most observations being of local birds and their young – especially American Redstarts, Brown Thrashers, Cedar Waxwings, plus two young Eaglets from the Bald Eagles nesting nearby. However migration has already begun for some species as Menu reports:

But, already, there is a pull, there is an urge, there is the inevitable tilt of the Earth’s axis: fall is on its way and migration is starting. The Greater Yellowleg, like so many other shorebirds, has already been answering the call, already have started the long journey South from its boreal and subarctic wetlands all the way to South America. Two Greater Yellowlegs were at Cabot Head on August 16, easily detected at first by their loud calls, then seen gracefully flying over Wingfield Basin.”

Visit to learn more.

Finally, Chronicles of a Bruce County Birder is a wonderful nature blog by Kiah Jasper, that I highly recommend. Introduced to me as a wildlife photographer several years ago when he was fourteen years of age, Kiah has blossomed into one of the best known young birders in the province. His enthusiasm, writing  and photography are all exceptional, and on display at

Western Kingbird, in northern Bruce County, Photo by Kiah Jasper
Cattle Egret, near Kincardine  Photo by Kiah Jasper