Nature Club News August 2021

by John Dickson

On the morning of July 19, many hands made light work when the Friends of Hibou met to do trail clipping and cleaning litter along the length of shoreline. Marie Knapp shared this – report. It has been a challenge to find a time when pandemic restrictions allowed it.  This event was a little different from usual. We contacted our current list of volunteers and found the number we needed. Three pairs of volunteers worked on three different sections along the rough shore. Because the water level has dropped more litter was found. Several bags of garbage were left for staff to dispose of. Great work. No problem with distancing when working this way.

Meanwhile two groups of two and three worked on clipping the Interpretive Trail. Some areas were quite overgrown. Flooding in a few spots was unusual but understandable given the downpours we have had. The clipping went well and we gave the mosquito population an opportunity to feast.

It was great to see new volunteers join us. Everyone deserves an applause for the hard work and volunteering to enhance what we have at Hibou. We may have another event in the fall.  We welcome new volunteers. If interested, please contact

American Bitterns all over the place!! Right out in the open!! July 26, Wiarton by William Gray

On August 3, Andrea Gress, the Ontario Piping Plover Program Coordinator, on behalf of Birds Canada/Oiseaux Canada hosted a season wrap up event online, for the known nesting sites around Ontario. Most of the event was recorded, and can be viewed at the link below.  It includes the presentations of updates by:

Marina Opitz of Wasaga Beach Provincial Park, where they had 5 chicks successfully fledged and able to fly away south by mid summer;

Caleb Johnstone, on behalf of Plover Lovers of Sauble Beach, reported that they had just one late nest with only three eggs. Although all three did hatch, by that time there were even more juvenile gulls on the beach and they are one of the major threats for predation. Within a day or two of hatching the first two chicks were predated, and when the third egg hatched, the chick was predated soon afterwards by a Merlin. The local team continued to develop strategies to make the enclosure area less accessible to the gulls with closely spaced bamboo poles, as an example that may be promising for future campaigns. In addition, several visitors became quite interested and supportive of the efforts to provide support to Piping Plovers at Sauble Beach, as they face significant challenges to even maintaining their populations;

Monica Fromberger- Darlington Provincial Park reported two nests of four eggs each, of which only one nest was successful, with those four chicks hatching, eating and growing, fledging, and eventually leaving to head south.  

Because of the pandemic, no teams of volunteers were working with the Piping Plover campaigns on the Ontario beaches this year. 

To view the presentation please visit this link

Praying Mantis, Owen Sound August 16, photo by John Dickson

NeighbourWoods North held their Fourth Annual Yard Sale Fundraiser on Saturday, July 17 and reported “Thanks to all our supporters we made over $2300 at the Annual Yard Sale. That’s a lot of trees! Thank you to both supporters and workers for making this event a success.”In addition, the Tuesday evening sessions of tree care will now be discontinued as they have been so successful, that the goals for the summer have already been reached. “Thanks to so many volunteers, new and old, we were able to complete a 

path through the Forest of Hope and Healing this summer while still mulching trees, cutting overgrowth around young trees, and watering when it wasn’t raining.  To be clear, this is not the larger Healing Path that will eventually circumnavigate the Owen Sound Hospital but rather a smaller path to encourage people to come see the young trees up close.”

I can say from personal experience that this section of the path is a delight, as I have been running sections of it since last year, and have often observed the changes in the trees’ growth and colours, as well as Monarch Butterflies, and the many bird species the path has brought me to, including Eastern Meadowlarks, American Goldfinches, Killdeer, and even a Wilson’s Snipe that startled me when it flew up beside me there last fall. 

The most recent announcement is that NeighbourWoods North and the GBHS Hospital in Owen Sound held an official opening earlier this week for the amazing and beautiful Welcoming Garden (which was begun in 2020), and a reception to thank those who have been instrumental and supportive of this special venture. 

I was delighted to see this visitor this morning:
the Black-billed Cuckoo…
(North of Kimberley) August 8, Ingrid Remkins

Bob Knapp of the Sydenham Bruce Trail club sent me this report: “On Friday August 13th a bioblitz was organized by the Bruce Trail Conservancy to look at flora and fauna.   The event was held at the recently purchased 75 acre Bruce Trail property called Colpoy’s Cavern close to Bruce’s Caves.The group was led by Mara McHaffie, an Ecologist with the Bruce Trail.    Taking part were five Trail Ambassadors, students hired for the summer.  Seven Land Stewards from the Sydenham Bruce Trail Club also participated.   We hiked all through the property, recording anything of interest.We found lots of wild ginger and many types of ferns along with a few salamanders.   The large ash trees still appeared healthy, but it is likely they will be affected by the ash borer.  What was notable was, there were no invasive species recorded.   This area has had very little human presence, except where the Bruce Trail is located, along with the caves.It was good to meet the young ambassadors who were very knowledgeable and environmentally conscious.   The Land Stewards each have another property they are responsible for.   They enjoyed looking at this unique property with knowledgeable young people.The data recorded will be used in making a plan for this property.We are indeed fortunate to have so many Bruce Trail volunteers in the area who are interested in the preservation of large natural areas.”

It is now mid August and the wildflowers are putting on a fabulous display all around Grey and Bruce, as I have observed while running, and biking here and there – blues, yellows, purples, pinks, whites, and various shades of these draw the eye to the roadsides and across the meadows.  Many young birds with their parents are more noticeable lately – I have been seeing and hearing young Chipping Sparrows, Baltimore Orioles, Northern Cardinals, American Redstarts, and this morning a young Gray Catbird.  Two weeks ago I noticed a flock of about one hundred Red-winged Blackbirds swirling around from the gravelly edge of a road to the nearby wetland just at the edge of the City. On Tuesday of this week I asked David Turner of Flesherton if the Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs have been migrating through here yet, and if so, where they might be found  – his reply: “Yes, both are starting to come south now, mostly females and juveniles. Along the lakeshore and some inland, and there will be more arriving over the next few weeks. Warblers are on the move south now too. I ran across a large mixed flock in Stayner today.”

Cedar Waxwings at Clendenan Dam, August 11, by Nigel Eves

Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN)  held a Moth Night on Wednesday, August 4 with guest facilitator Alan Macnaughton. The event was held at the Arboretum area of Grey Sauble Conservation, with about ten human participants that evening and many dozens of moth species, due in great part to the variety of habitats on hand there. Several lamp devices were placed and later visited to observe which moths were attracted, and how many. The weather also cooperated, and even the mosquitos were not a problem. People maintained their distance, while still having a close look at some of the more striking specimens, including Tiger Moths, Little Lined Underwing, and many more.

Many thanks to Rebecca Ferguson of Grey Sauble Conservation for her help in making some of the arrangements to use the site, which proved to be most suitable for hosting the event.In addition to Wednesday evening’s activities, Macnaughton was able to set up several lamp devices overnight Wednesday and Thursday, and then examine the results in the mornings of August 5 and 6. I was able to visit with him briefly on the morning of August 6, and I too was amazed at the colours, shapes, and sizes that I witnessed. 

Macnaughton’s report went on to say – “On my 2-night visit to Owen Sound, I had 151 observations of 124 species of moths. I tried to take pictures of every moth I observed because I knew that there weren’t many records of moths in Grey County.

The most attractive species was the Great Tiger Moth, or Garden Tiger Moth (scientific name Arctia caja). I found this in the traps on August 6th. There were 3 specimens of this species. The wingspan is about 3 inches, so it is a big moth.  The link below is actually to 4 pictures — one is shown by default, and then you click on the thumbnails below the image to show each of the 3 others: It is not found in the Waterloo Region area, and this was the first time I had encountered the species. Wonderful. The most surprising observations were two underwing moths (genus Catocala) that were some distance from previous observations: The Judith Underwing is rare (36 observations in Ontario) and has been found previously near the north shores of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, so Owen Sound was not expected.”  

OSFN President Pam Kinchen was also on hand and related: “It was a good night for moths and the OSFN members!”

Alan, left, uploading a moth image to iNaturalist (Photo by Pam Kinchen)
An underwing attracted to one of the lights (Photo by Pam Kinchen)

Alan‘s enthusiasm was catching as he showed all the various ways to attract the moths, show them off and take pictures. He has a vast knowledge that was well evident. The event was so successful, and Macnaughton was so pleased,  that similar events will likely be held again. Macnaughton said afterwards:  The moths one will see vary quite a bit over the season. Probably about every 3 weeks in the season a mostly different set of moths will be seen. 

Great Egret on a prowl….Harrison Park, August 13, by
Fely Clarke

More outdoor programmes are planned by OSFN including a Flora Field Trip with David Morris, and a Monarch tagging workshop with Audrey Armstrong. For details on these and other activities please visit

To close, a Nature quote from The Healer by former Owen Sound Sun Times reporter and columnist John Wright: “Only now, it was the coolness under the trees, scented air upon their faces, upon their interests, upon their curiosity of the flora and fauna so rich that they still amazed themselves that this was their home…Occasionally, a stream tickled rocks in the woods beside them. As desert dry men, they felt refreshed just by so delicious a sound.” To learn more about this book and the rest of the series, please visit