Nature Club News for February 2023

by John Dickson

Kiah Jasper, Ontario’s new Champion Birder, will be the featured guest speaker at the Owen Sound Field Naturalists’ (OSFN) monthly Indoor Meeting, for his “2022 Big Year”. This popular gathering is also an opportunity to share your recent wildlife and Nature “Sightings”.

OSFN and I first became aware of Kiah, when he introduced himself in an email I received in January 2017, as “a 14 year old Wildlife Photographer from the Bruce”. He indicated that he had “enjoyed birding since he was young.”

Since that time Kiah has been connected to a community of helpful experts, and has become one himself, leading outings for the Bruce Birding Club, as the Compiler for the Saugeen Shores Christmas Bird Count (CBC), and he recently joined the board of the Ontario Field Ornithologists (OFO) sharing his research and suggestions on tricky ID challenges in essays and articles.

In January of 2022 he set out to challenge the Ontario Birding “Big Year” record. Using such apps as eBird and his well-developed communication skills, he has documented this journey with updates along the way, complemented by his superb photography, as he chased a new record, with several other competitors never far behind.

Here is your chance to see and hear Kiah Jasper’s story of this monumental accomplishment, first hand, at the Bayshore Community Centre, 7pm February 9.

Everyone is welcome to attend in person, and admission is free or by donation.

However, OSFN also plans to offer the presentation as a hybrid, via Zoom as well. A zoom link is emailed to OSFN club members. Others who are interested may request a zoom link, in advance, by emailing with Kiah in the subject line.

For more details about OSFN (a registered charity) on this event, the Young Naturalists Club, Nature publications, field trips and more, please visit

This just in from the Publications Committee of the OSFN:

The 5th edition of the Vascular Plant List Bruce & Grey is a keystone publication of the Owen Sound Field Naturalists. If you want to sustain wildlife with native plants, this book will give you all the native plants, shrubs and trees for Bruce & Grey. It is an essential reference for naturalists, botanists, life science inventory specialists, land use planners, resource management agencies, and consultants who are working within Bruce and Grey Counties. The OSFN approached and contracted Tyler Miller, Field Ecologist to digitize and revise the list; over the past two years he has totally updated our 5th Edition. It includes 1611 taxa (species, subspecies and hybrids) for 131 families, which are listed including all locally and provincially rare plants found in the counties. If you have an old copy of the Vascular Plant List, you will definitely want to order this new release; available in spiral bound print format, PDF and for the serious botanist, the Vascular Plant List Bruce & Grey: Compendium – a fully annotated digital version with dataset. All three versions will be available this spring through

We, the Publications Committee of the OSFN, will have a table and sign up sheet for advance orders at this February 9th meeting.

The Bluewater Association for Lifelong Learning (BALL) still has two more lectures, (only on Zoom), in its “acclaimed” current series – Climate Crisis: Perspectives, Insights, and Solutions.
10am February 9, A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency with Seth Klein, a columnist Canada’s National Observer and adjunct professor with Simon Fraser University.
10am February16, So Global Warming is Real, Now What Are We Going To Do About It? with Timothy Dixon, a professor at the University of South Florida (USF), who studies earthquakes, subsidence, flooding and the Greenland Ice Sheet; and Jaqueline Dixon also of SFU, who studies Earth’s deep CO2 and water cycles that provide CO2 to the atmosphere.

For full details on these engaging presentations visit

When the snow began to return in later January, I was able to find enough to ski some wilderness areas where I observed beaver, lots of crows, a few ravens, hawks, and woodpeckers, including one Pileated. Now that we are into February, I am confident that we will see plenty of sunshine, with clear skies, higher than usual barometric pressure, and temperatures often cooler than last month. This is the February weather pattern I began to notice here about four decades ago.

One of our favourite birds to catch a glimpse of this time of year is a Golden eagle and we’ve had a couple of good opportunities so far this year. This one was the most accommodating but I was still having a tough time getting a good focus as it cruised overhead. This photo is cropped as it was farther up than it appears.

(Photos taken this year in Bruce County and submitted by Bob Taylor and Anne-Marie Benedict)

Photo by Jody Johnson Pettit  January 29 

Jody Johnson Pettit, coordinator of OSFN’s Young Naturalists Club shared this report –

The snow was deep, and the wind was cold, but 15 members of the Owen Sound Young Naturalists Club, along with their parents, were troopers to search for fossils on Sunday, January 29th at the Fossil Glen Nature Reserve. Several in the group wore snowshoes to help blaze the trail. It was also an opportunity for a few of the children to try out snowshoes for the first time. The group spotted red squirrel tracks in the snow, rock formations, and halysite fossils.

(Halysites fossil in central image) Photo by Jody Johnson Pettit  January 29 

Classic cardinal pose in the snowy cedar on an overcast morning.

January 26 by Carol L. Edwards-Harrison

A message from Jim Penner of the Bruce Grey Woodland Association suggests that you –
Mark Your Calendars: The 2023 Woodlot Conference will return to an in-person format.
The date is Saturday March 25th at the Elmwood Community Centre.
The following is the tentative Agenda:

9:00 – 9:30 Registration
9:30 – 9:40 Opening remarks and administration
9:40 – 10:25 Willet’s Woods Rehabilitation – John Willet – LindsayTownship.
10:25 – 11:10 Moths – Brian Robin – OS Field Naturalist.
11:10 – 11:55 Forest Health – MNRF specialist or CFIA specialist
11:55 – 12:05 Draws
12:05 – 1:15 Lunch and view exhibits
1:15 – 1:20 Award of Merit Presentation – Bruce Grey Woodlands Association
1:20 – 1:30 Draws
1:30 – 2:15 Grading Standing Timber – Joe Allen.
2:15 – 3:00 Why Your Neighbour Gets More for Their Harvested Woodlot – Terry Schwann.
3:00 – 3:10 Evaluation and details of Sunday tour.

Registration fees are $30 if you pre-register and $40 at the door.
To pre-register please email your name and email address to: If you are registering other attendees please provide their info as well.

And the resident Bald Eagle was back on its perch today hoping for a fish.
The open water in the river is keeping it around.
This one appears to be a female, from the structure of the skull and beak.
Allenford January 29 Text and Photo by Les Anderson

Congratulations are in order for another young Bruce County Birder! Over the past couple of years I occasionally heard the name Zane Shantz, in local birding circumstances, and one day recently I met him, with his binoculars and camera, on the trail near Ben Allen. When I opened up my Birds Canada 2023 Calendar, seeing in each month specially selected photos sent by their supporters, it was a pleasant surprise indeed to see Zane Shantz, 16, listed with the April photo with his comments that “Black-billed Cuckoos are very secretive birds, and are quite challenging to photograph. Over the years I have failed to get the perfect shot of one, but at last during spring migration of 2022, I succeeded! The bird was hardly aware of my presence, and just sat comfortably on this branch in my backyard for a few seconds, allowing me to capture this photo!”

To close, a Nature quote from Robert Graves, a prolific poet and author, from his early memoir Goodbye to All That, writing in 1929 about the hills above Harlech, in north Wales – “This country (and I know no country like it) seemed to be independent of formal nature. One hardly noticed the passage of the seasons there; the wind always blew across the stunted grass, the black streams ran cold and clear, over black stones. The mountain sheep were wild and free…and, when in repose easily mistaken for the lichen-covered granite boulders strewn everywhere… We saw hardly any birds, bar an occasional buzzard, and curlews wheeling in the distance.”

Eastern Bluebirds at Ben  Allen February 1.  Photos by William Gray