Nature Club News for December 2023

by John Dickson

Where the Falcon Flies: Renowned professional explorer, adventurer and best-selling author Adam Shoalts returns to Owen Sound as the featured guest speaker of the Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) at 7pm Thursday December 14. This event includes a book launch and will be held “In Person Only”, (i.e. no zoom, and no recording) at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre. A popular and entertaining speaker, Shoalts will tell us about his latest adventure and his new book Where the Falcon Flies, based on a 3,400 km solo canoe journey from Lake Erie to the Arctic. The expedition took over three months and saw Shoalts depart from Long Point and travel all the way to the Torngat Mountains and Ungava Bay. As a naturalist and historian, Adam will share the story and photos of his remarkable journey. Where the Falcon Flies, and many of Shoalts’ earlier bookwill be available too.

Held in the Bay Room of the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre, and starting at 7pm, you are also encouraged to arrive as early as 6:30pm and perhaps browse the latest offerings (Orchids, Vascular Plant Checklist, etc.) of the OSFN Publications Committee for gifts and stocking stuffers.    Everyone is welcome, and admission is free, or by donation.  For more information please visit

So you like birds? Consider joining a Christmas Bird Count and participate in Citizen Science.

Once again ’tis the season for 

Christmas Bird Counts (CBC), from Dec 14, 2023 to Jan 5, 2024. 

Thank you to Norah Toth for sharing this local outline of CBC dates and the compilers to contact, to learn more and perhaps take part in this annual inventory.  The CBCs across Grey-Bruce are listed below.
Thursday, December 14, 2023 – Kincardine – James Turland –
Thursday, December 14, 2023 – Tobermory CBC – Tyler Miller –
Saturday, December 16, 2023 – Owen Sound CBC – Erik Van Den Kieboom –
Saturday, December 16, 2022 – Hanover/Walkerton CBC – Gerard McNaughton –
Sunday, December 17, 2023 – Wiarton CBC – Jarmo Jalava  –
Thursday, December 28, 2023 – Meaford CBC – Lynne Richardson –
Friday, December 29, 2023 – Pike Bay CBC – Andrew Keaveney –
Saturday, December 30, 2023 – Cape Chin CBC – Andrew Keaveney –
Wednesday, January 3, 2024 – Saugeen Shores CBC – Kiah Jasper –
Or visit this link to find a CBC near you.

On November 26, the Young Naturalists visited the Kinghurst Nature Reserve, where Amanda Eriksen “led a ‘Winter is Coming’ scavenger hunt where we looked for signs of animals getting ready for winter, some of the things the creatures may be gathering to prepare, as well as places creatures may be living. The kids were terrific searchers and had great ideas about how creatures survive winter. We were lucky enough to be able to go to the old cottage which is full of information about the property and the plants and animals you can see. The kids all signed the logbook. The highlight was pumping the old well and actually getting water! We had 8 kids out with one new family joining the club. For the month of December, there is no ‘in person’ meeting, but I am working on a backyard birding challenge.”   The Young Naturalists, mainly aged 7 to 12, usually meet one Sunday afternoon each month with a variety of Nature learning activities and hopefully January’s outing will include snowshoeing with snowshoes available if needed. There are currently more spaces available, and to find out more, please email Coordinator Amanda Eriksen at

Photo by Marsha Courtney

Continuing with the Nature gift theme, popular local birder and photographer David Turner, is once again offering calendars of exquisite bird photography for 2024. They can be purchased at Local Colour in Flesherton, and he can be contacted at or phone 519 924 3560.  

Photo by David Turner  Rough-Legged Hawk, Beaver Valley December 10

I have continued to enjoy nature by getting outside most days, either for a walk, a run, or a bike ride and now I have added skiing on four occasions so far this season. A highlight has certainly been a bike ride in the woods just the other day when I heard the soft whistling of about 60 Bohemian Waxwings as I watched them foraging on berries in a wooded wetland. When I eventually continued my ride, I soon heard that soft whistling again, and discovered a large flock of them in tall trees beside the Rankin River. I guess I will never know if they were, in fact, a different flock or the same one who were just ‘going my way’, but two encounters with them was certainly an amazing treat to enjoy along with a December bike ride in a sunny and mild 15 degrees Celsius!   The next morning I found a colourful apple adorning a small White Ash tree, placed there by a squirrel for a future snack, while Crows, Canada Geese and a male Cardinal were all foraging nearby too, coping with the challenges and rewards of the season.

Photo by John Dickson

To close, a Nature quote from Rick Mercer’s Final Report -“I’m one of those Canadians who like winter…  So when we had the first snowfall here in Toronto, I went for a walk.  And with the snowflakes gently falling against the streetlights I wandered around the city for about half an hour and enjoyed the sights and sounds of thirteen fender-benders in nine languages.  Yes, it was a winter wonderland…”