Nature Club News For January 2022

by John Dickson

Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) offer a special and free presentation entitled Regeneration through Fire: The role of burns in alvar habitat, only on ZOOM, starting at 7PM Thursday January 13.

Emma Horrigan, Conservation Projects and Education Manager at Ontario Nature, will guide you through the prescribed burn process recently undertaken at Stone Road Alvar Nature Reserve, on Pelee Island, including the rationales, the risks, and the rewards along the way. Of note, Ontario Nature originally acquired the Stone Road Alvar property through a campaign spearheaded by Dr. Stewart Hilts (a resident of Meaford) and Donald Kirk.                                                                                                       
 When I was birding there in Spring a few years ago I could see the exposed limestone bedrock, thin soil, and flooded sections that are all home to species adapted to this environment, but also under threat, from time to time, from encroaching forests and invasive species. 

Discover too, another important local contribution to these activities with Jason Sickel, the Prescribed Burn Consultant and Burn Boss for Lands & Forests Consulting, who coordinated this last burn on Pelee Island.  

OSFN club members will be sent the “ZOOM LINK” – Non Members and the General Public may request a “ZOOM LINK” in advance by emailing with “fire” in the subject line.

Ontario Nature (ON) is also offering a webinar about the Youth Circle for Mother Earth project featuring ON staff and young environmental leaders, along with Plenty Canada, the Indigenous Environmental Institute at Trent University, and Walpole Island Land Trust. This project supports a cross-cultural network of young Indigenous and non-Indigenous environmental leaders to become lifelong ambassadors for nature.

Each of the project partners will share information about their organizations and conservation projects. These presentations will be followed by a short panel discussion with Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth. Hear from some of Ontario’s youngest environmentalists and learn how they are working with conservation organizations across the province to protect the environment. The webinar is on January 18 and will run from 6– 7:30pm Register today and/or email

The approaching bad weather brought this colourful guy back to the feeders after a bit of an absence.
Nice to see him again
by Les Anderson Male Northern Cardinal Allenford January 9
Once again the infamous Allenford “flying” squirrel was storming my feeder.
The lust for sunflower seeds knows no bounds..
(and he stuck the landing)
Les Anderson also January 9

Grey County Master Gardeners will continue their free virtual Seminar Series for 2022 with “Drip-Dry – Water-Friendly Plants and Gardens” on January 29 at 11am via Zoom.This seminar will be presented by Sean James, who was named Landscape Ontario’s Garden Communicator of the Year in 2020-2021.  Sean will talk about Fusion Gardening for the home gardener, which blends rainwater management and horticulture, using native Ontario plants.  Fusion Gardens are beautiful but water efficient landscapes that optimize storm water management and enhance the environment.  
To register , please visit –

In 2016 I had the great fortune to meet Daphne Solecki, and share with her about the OSFN Young Naturalists Club activities, and our new Celebrate Earth Day event. I also learned about her –  “I ‘discovered’ nature only in my 50’s. I have been running full tilt ever since to catch up on what I have missed and to help others to discover their passion for loving, understanding, and conserving nature.” – and her work with Nature and Youth in British Columbia.  Her deep sense of connection to the natural world provided her with some of the most magical experiences of her life.   Through her involvement with Nature Vancouver, and the Federation of BC Naturalists, she worked on many projects, including the creation of the Nature House at Stanley Park and, most dear to her heart, NatureKids BC, an organization that she founded and nurtured for decades. Through their motto, “To know nature and keep it worth knowing” NatureKids has supported thousands of children and their families in BC to learn about and protect nature. 

She was also the recipient of the Government of BC Arbor Vitae Environmental Award, the BC Achievement Award, and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal.  From my email to her shortly after our visit – “Your shining example, and your enthusiasm are my inspiration, and I thank you for showing what can be done.” Daphne Solecki passed away in August of 2021.

Daphne Solecki (Supplied Photo)

Many thanks to the compilers and teams of the recent Christmas Bird Counts. Here are excerpts from some of their reports:

 The annual Christmas Bird Count in Bruce Peninsula National Park took place on December 15, 2021, and recorded an above average number of species. A total of 1400 individual birds from 42 different species were spotted. Some of the highlights included sightings of: 

·       Birds of prey, including one (1) Red-tailed Hawk and two (2) Rough-legged Hawk;

·       Four different species of woodpeckers, including five (5) Downy Woodpeckers, five (5) Red-bellied Woodpeckers, three (3) Hairy Woodpeckers, and three (3) Pileated Woodpeckers;

·       Many regular bird inhabitants, including 467 Black-capped Chickadees, 221 American Goldfinches, 75 Rock Pigeons, 69 Common Goldeneyes, 49 Red-breasted Nuthatches, 47 Wild Turkeys, 36 Blue Jays, 33 Snow Buntings, 32 Ruffed Grouse, and 28 American Crows. 

Bruce Peninsula National Park Christmas Bird Count volunteers spotted a couple of uncommon winter species for this area, including a Winter Wren and a Lapland Longspur. Neither of these species had been recorded on this count in the past decade. A Townsend Solitaire, a rare visitor from the west, was seen in Tobermory two days before the count and again after the count, but unfortunately was not spotted on the actual count day. 

Thirteen (13) Bald Eagles were a record high number for this Christmas Bird Count. This reflects the slow but continuing recovery that this species has been making in North America over the last 50 years.

 Compilers – Tanya Markvart,  Tyler Miller 

Kincardine’s 41st CBC was held on Thursday Dec.16, 2021. Unfortunately a one day wind event hampered searchers’ efforts. Luckily, mild temperatures and lack of snow made all secondary roads passable and still water was not frozen. The 56 species found is average but the total number of birds counted was way low. Our group didn’t even see a woodpecker all day. The high winds kept birds out of sight. The count day’s weather gets recorded and tabulated into graphs of birds per man hour. This helps researchers understand why the low number of birds was found. Highlights include two new species to the Kincardine count, Turkey Vulture(TVs) and Indigo Bunting.  Two other rare birds seen on the count were Tufted Titmouse and Red-headed Woodpecker.

Canada Goose1861Merlin1
Tundra Swan17Northern Shrike2
Northern Shoveler1Blue Jay8
Gadwall1American Crow686
Mallard41Common Raven6
Northern Pintail26Black-capped Chickadee178
Greater Scaup1Tufted Titmouse1
Lesser Scaup9Golden-crowned Kinglet2
Long-tailed Duck23Red-breasted Nuthatch2
Bufflehead38White-breasted Nuthatch5
Common Goldeneye162European Starling1071
Common Merganser7American Robin3
Red-breasted Merganser61Cedar Waxwing78
Wild Turkey16House Sparrow32
Rock Pigeon115House Finch1
Mourning Dove26Common Redpoll6
Ring-billed Gull1343American Goldfinch142
Herring Gull729Lapland Longspur2
Glaucous Gull1Snow Bunting197
Great Black-backed Gull4American Tree Sparrow11
Turkey Vulture1Dark-eyed Junco144
Northern Harrier3White-crowned Sparrow4
Sharp-shinned Hawk2White-throated Sparrow3
Bald Eagle8Common Grackle1
Red-tailed Hawk4Northern Cardinal21
Rough-legged Hawk2Indigo Bunting1
Red-bellied Woodpecker2
Downy Woodpecker3
Hairy Woodpecker2

The following birds were seen during count week but not on count day: Cackling Goose, Sandhill Crane, Cooper’s Hawk, Red-headed Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Brown-headed Cowbird, Purple Finch.

Compiler – James Turland

First ever Turkey Vulture on a Kincardine Christmas Bird Count. This immature bird has a black featherless head, when adult the head will be red. Photo J Turland

Vagrant Indigo Bunting found at feeder on KCBC. Note blue tail. Photo J Turland

Enhanced photo of the same Indigo Bunting shows hidden blue. Photo J Turland

Tufted Titmouse is a regular visitor to the feeder. Photo O Visser

The eleventh annual Neyaashiinigmiing (Cape Croker) Christmas Bird Count was held Saturday, December 18, along the spectacular southeastern coast of the Saugeen (Bruce) Peninsula. 

Sixteen participants tallied a total of 39 species, very close to the average of 39.7. The 1,034 individual birds counted was very close to the average of 1,027. There were no big surprises, but a Northern Saw- whet Owl (only the second-ever count) and nine Pine Grosbeaks were nice finds.

High counts were tallied for five species: Ring-billed Gull (30 reported at the Nawash dump, previous high 9), Red-tailed Hawk (4, previous high 1), Rough-legged Hawk (4, ties previous high), Great Horned Owl (4, previous high 3) and Common Redpoll (87, previous high 68).

Low counts were recorded for Long-tailed Duck (1, average 12), Herring Gull (46, average 139) and Golden-crowned Kinglet (3, average 9, or is this a measure of ageing ears?). Notable misses were Horned Grebe, Pileated Woodpecker and Brown Creeper (each missed on only one previous count). Winter finches were limited to the Common Redpolls and Pine Grosbeaks, although a flyover flock of 45 “finch sp.” imparted a boreal vibe.

Count week birds included a Snowy Owl and Ring-necked Pheasant. Chi Miigwetch to Neyaashiinigmiing First Nation community for hosting this always special birding event.

Compilers – Jarmo Jalava and Miptoon (Anthony Chegahno)

Another winter first at the feeders today, Common Redpoll, Flesherton. January 9 (Photo by David Turner)
Punk rock bird. Flesherton. January 9 – Female Northern Cardinal (Photo by David Turner)

Hanover -Walkerton Christmas Bird Count  Saturday Dec. 18/21.  

Several groups did find some excellent birds during their travels, including a new record high count for Common Raven with 15 birds, and one new species was added to the growing count day total when a Hermit Thrush was observed outside of Walkerton by a party of birders who also located 3 Eastern Bluebirds. Other highlights included 1 Short- Eared Owl, last seen in 1999, and 1 Winter Wren, last seen in 1988.  A total of 48 species were recorded on count day with 3 additional species being observed during count week – Snowy Owl, Belted Kingfisher, and a Ring-Necked Pheasant. A total of 6050 individuals were tallied during the count day. A special thanks to the counters in the field who made the day as successful as it was.             

Compiler – Gerard McNaughton

The 2021-2022 Christmas Bird Count marked the 51st year of the Owen Sound count. On December 18th, 38 participants tallied 10,236 individuals of 61 species. The total number of individuals was up this year compared to last year, however the species count was lower. 

Some highlights from this year’s count include a Green-winged Teal, Red-throated Loon, over 700 Sandhill Cranes, 6 Eastern Bluebirds and a White-winged Crossbill. This count also marks the first ever in which Sandhill Cranes were found! Once again, the now familiar Barrow’s Goldeneye of Owen Sound Harbour made an appearance, this being the fifth count in a row it’s been seen. Apart from the cranes, two other species were also counted in higher numbers than ever before: Canada Goose ( 2533) and Mallard (1560). This was likely due to the lack of snow-covered fields in the area during the count. The only notable low count for a species this year was that of the Bufflehead, with only nine individuals being found. 

An additional 4 species were seen during the count week but not on count day: Northern Pintail, Short-eared Owl, White-throated Sparrow and Pine Grosbeak.           

Compiler – Erik Van Den Kieboom

The 47th Wiarton Christmas Bird Count was held on Sunday, December 19, 2021 (the 50th anniversary of the count, but the count was not run on three years). 

Eighteen participants and three feeder watchers tallied 60 species, well above the long-term and 10 year averages of 50 and 53 species, respectively, but just shy of the record of 62 set in 2018. The total of 4,858 individual birds was also much higher than the overall (3,431) and 10-year (4,185) averages. One new species, Yellow-rumped Warbler, was recorded (although this species has been reported once before during count week). This raises the overall count day total to 130 species (plus 6 additional count week species). Other good finds this year included Merlin (2nd ever count), two Golden Eagles (5th count, high total), Northern Goshawk (15th count) and Red-winged Blackbird (5 th count).

Record high numbers were recorded for: Canada Goose (1,329, previous high 1,157 — a species that was absent most years prior to 1997!); Mute Swan (23, previous high 16, another recent exploder); Black Scoter (3, ties previous high); Eastern Screech-Owl (7, ties previous, but more owling effort would undoubtedly yield much higher numbers); Pileated Woodpecker (13, previous high 12); and Dark-eyed Junco (102, crushing the previous high of 70).

Winter finches were limited to just five Pine Grosbeaks, one Pine Siskin, one Purple Finch and 58 Common Redpolls, but American Goldfinches were at feeders in reasonable numbers. Thanks to all the volunteers for their efforts!    

Compiler – Jarmo Jalava

Meaford CBC, Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Well congratulations everyone!  This year you broke the record for the total number of species ever recorded on a Meaford CBC over its 51 years!.  Collectively, you tallied 61 species, 1 more than the record set back in 1975, when 60 species were found.  

New record highs were set as well, with Bald Eagle being perhaps the most notable. A total of 11 were sighted, topping the previous high by 6 birds. The Eastern Bluebird 8-bird total was 6 more than the previous high. 

One new species was added to the all-time list – a major find – Pacific Loon. This brings the cumulative total for the Count to 124 species. Somewhat notable finds included Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Belted Kingfisher, Northern Flicker, Field Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Pine Grosbeak and Red Crossbill.

Winter gulls were scarce. Only 1 Glaucous was found, and for the one of the few times over the past 30 years, no Great Black-backed Gull was counted. Also missing were Pileated Woodpecker and American Kestrel – birds that are usually recorded each count. Thanks again everyone for your record-breaking work, and a Happy, Birdy New Year to all.   

Compiler –  Lynne Richardson

Northern Shrike January 6, by William Gray in Georgian Bluffs

Pike Bay CBC – December 29th, 2021 (now in its 8th year)

– weather: around freezing, mostly open water, short periods of light snow and rain, cloudy, a few centimeters of snow on ground (overall good conditions, with a few short periods of difficult observation)
– 19 participants
– 57 species (previous high of 55 set in 2015; well above 7 year average of 42)
– 4 additional count week species; Glaucous Gull, Purple Finch, Hoary Redpoll, Common Grackle
– 5212 individuals (well above previous high of 3290 in 2014; 7 year average is 2297)
– New to count: Common Loon, Eastern Screech-Owls, Great Horned Owl, Peregrine Falcon
– other notables: Cooper’s Hawk, Ring-necked Ducks, Snowy Owls, 1261 Canada Geese (prev.
high of 319)   Compiler – Andrew Keaveney

Cape Chin CBC – December 30th, 2021 (now in its 6th year)

– weather: few degrees below zero, very light winds, mix of sun and clouds with some clearer periods, no precipitation (overall excellent conditions to be out and recording wildlife)
– 21 participants
– 41 species (previous record of 37 from 2016, 2020; average of 35)
– 3 additional count week species; Golden Eagle, Cooper’s Hawk, Bohemian Waxwing
– 2465 individuals (previous high of 1559 in 2016; 5 year average is 1388)
– New to count: Northern Flicker, Northern Mockingbird, Sharp-shinned Hawk
– other notables: Snowy Owl, double-digit Red-necked and Horned Grebe numbers

The elusive Barred Owl has still never been recorded on either count despite residing in the
areas mature deciduous forests. This year however, the night conditions were excellent for
listening for owls on the Pike Bay CBC and this resulted in both Eastern Screech-Owls and Great
Horned Owl being recorded for the first time.

The two counts collectively totaled 67 species over the 1 week period, which gives wildlife
enthusiasts an excellent idea of what species are present on the central Bruce Peninsula this
time of year. 

Compiler – Andrew Keaveney

Common Redpoll – January 14 (Photo by John Dickson)