Nature Club News July 2020

by John Dickson

The Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) held its Annual General Meeting online, June 11. The Board of Directors underwent some changes of personnel, led by incoming President Pam Kinchen, as Gord Toth moved to Past President. Outgoing Past President Kate McLaren was especially thanked for her important contributions to the club. For the complete slate of directors and more, please visit

The Sources of Knowledge Forum for 2020, based in Tobermory, is currently on hold until the end of July, when a decision is expected to either try for later this year, or shift to 2021 with the topic – Plastics in the Great Lakes: Finding Solutions Together.  For more details please visit

Many naturalists in the Grey Bruce area will remember George Peck, who passed away, in Toronto June 20, at the age of 94.  After retiring from his veterinary career in the Oakville area, George lived for over thirty years in Thornbury, while continuing to be a prolific wildlife photographer and nature writer, with images and writings published in over 90 books, magazines and journals.  George was passionate about the Bruce Peninsula and its surrounding area and loved the people he met through their mutual interest – birds. An Honourary Life Member of OSFN, many will also remember George Peck’s acclaimed exhibition of bird photographs gracing the walls of a very new Leonard E. Shore Memorial Library in Thornbury. I know that I do.George was a distinguished ornithologist in Ontario for over 50 years. He was appointed a Research Associate at the Royal Ontario Museum in 1976, was the Coordinator of the Ontario Nest Records Scheme for 48 years, and co-authored Breeding Birds of Ontario Nidiology and Distribution.

Due to current circumstances, a Celebration of George’s life will be held at a later date when restrictions have been lifted. In the meantime, think of him often and remember him well. Donations in George’s memory may be made to the Royal Ontario Museum, Department of Natural History.  


The North American Butterfly Association Count administered by MacGregor Point Provincial Park was held on July 4th, from 10AM to 4PM.  Due to Covid restrictions, results were tabulated remotely, rather than with a gathering at the Provincial Park. Audrey Armstrong conducted this annual butterfly count along with her daughter Bella Waterton, and Barbara at the property of Pat and Barbara Martin along the Saugeen River near Port Elgin.  Armstrong reported that “we recorded fewer than usual monarchs. The World Wildlife Fund data from the Mexican overwintering sites showed a drop by about half the monarch population compared to last year.  However, the second generation is increasing in numbers now, with all the excellent milkweed habitat in Grey Bruce. Canadian Tiger Swallowtail numbers were up, this year as were Great Spangled Fritillary.  Perhaps all the invasive wild parsnip is contributing to the Swallowtail abundance?”

In addition to extra watering and mulching sessions, by volunteers of NeighbourWoods North in the Forest of Hope and Healing, during the hot dry stretch of weather recently, a new venture got underway at the Hospital grounds in Owen Sound. On July 6th, Krista McKee of NeighbourWoods North shared this report:”The Welcoming Garden Committee is overwhelmed with the local support for our project! Funding from the TD Friends of the Environment has been the backbone of the project along with a generous donation from the Grey County Master Gardeners. The Committee shopped locally in sourcing the plants, mulch and the excavation of the island at the front of the Owen Sound hospital. A special thank you to Adam MacDonnell and the wonderful staff at Grey Bruce Health Services Owen Sound Hospital has been much appreciated. Our project is not completed – shrubs and bulbs will be planted in the fall and the final touch to the garden will be an art piece. So stay tuned as the garden will continue to take shape. “Since then, frequent watering ensured that the new plants had a good start, followed up by the generous rainfall received this past week. I have visited there several times and have observed that the planting layout, colours and plant varieties are exceptionally pleasing. I encourage visitors to take time to enjoy this valuable addition to the hospital site.

The Welcoming Garden at the Owen Sound Hospital (photo by John Dickson)
The Welcoming Garden at the Owen Sound Hospital (photo by John Dickson)

From Fred Jazvac of the Bruce Birding Club: “Just in case you didn’t know, the fall migration is now on, and first on deck it is shorebird time – for some of them, they start heading south in July. In the West Perth Wetlands reported yesterday (July 11) were Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Short-billed Dowitcher, Spotted Sandpiper and Least Sandpiper.” 

Dickcissel near Kincardine (Photo by David Turner)
Lesser Yellowlegs Kincardine area (Photo by David Turner)

From Birding the Beaver Valley 
Eastern Meadowlark by David Turner,  June 27 near Duncan, Beaver Valley
Bayview Forest with Mark Wiercinski (on right). Photo by John Dickson
Bayview Forest Ovenbird (Photo by Bill Hatten)

Working within the safety guidelines of COVID-19, OSFN   held several field trips:  two more in the Bayview Forest with Mark Wiercinski, on June 21; Birding the Beaver Valley with David Turner on June 27; a Railtrail Ramble led by David Morris on July 7. Of the latter, Nancy Brown shared these comments: The wildflower hike led by David was well prepared, expertly narrated and filled with ‘wow’ factor, along with butterflies, a family of kingbirds and turtles, for the assembled group of nature enthusiasts. David even prepared an Excel spreadsheet of the 30 species identified (download the sheet). Just a fine outing. Dusty, hot, sweaty and happy!

Spreading Dogbane (Photo by David Morris)
Marsh Vetchling, one of our few native legume family species.
(Photo by Nancy Brown)
Hike Leader David Morris (Photo by Nancy Brown)

On Monday July 13, eight Friends of Hibou got together, while keeping their distance, loading, wheeling and spreading a load of gravel onto a last stretch of a sometimes wet section of the popular Hibou Interpretive Trails.

Birds Canada has added its voice to the call for the U.S. government not to strip away critical protections in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The proposed “deregulation” will affect migratory birds in Canada and many other nations, not only the U.S. It will make permanent a 2017 Solicitor’s Opinion to end the prohibition on “incidental take”. This is the killing or “taking” of migratory birds by industrial activities; for example, birds flying into uncovered oil pits and other predictable, avoidable mortality.  To learn more about this campaign visit

The Bruce Grey Woodlands Association has an upcoming outdoor activity for its members.From their website at  Great news, BGWA member events are re-starting! Keep Saturday, July 18 open for an interesting tour of a member property near Markdale. The event will be structured to incorporate safe distancing and conform to group size limits, with 3 separate walk-thrus available at 10AM, 1PM and 4PM. 

Environmental Heroes Recognized for Their Outstanding Role in Conservation.   Ontario Nature’s 2019-2020 Conservation Award Recipients Announced

Ontario Nature, a leading environmental organization, has recognized the exceptional contributions to nature conservation made by organizations, individuals and companies whose dedication inspires us all to continue to fight to protect nature in Ontario.This year, the awards celebrated 10 inspirational winners who are building a natural legacy for future generations, and are owed a debt of gratitude for their tireless work.On July 16, Ontario Nature (ON) announced the winners of its  2019-2020 Conservation Awards, with two local winners included:

The Huron Fringe Birding Festival Organizing Committee was the recipient of the W.E. Saunders Natural History Award for its successful program that raises awareness of nature among people of all ages.

Photo is of the committee as of April 12, 2019 (supplied photo)

Back: Marilyn Ohler, Bette Jean (BJ) Martin, Norah Toth, Doug Pedwell, Arlene Richards, Judy Duncan, Becky Grieveson, Jim Duncan, Fred Jazvac

Front: Kathleen Chayer, Margaret Anderton, Bruce Edmunds, Liz Addison, Norma Nanni, Nancy White, Carole Lupton, Anne Cathrae, Lynne Richardson

Missing: Bob Taylor and Doug Martin.

Stewart Hilts, a resident of Meaford, received the Ontario Nature Achievement Award for his lifelong commitment to conservation and his dedication to helping Ontario Nature to achieve its goals.

Stew Hilts, Ontario Nature Achievement Award recipient

Congratulations to these most deserving members from our community, many of whom are OSFN members, and to the rest of the Ontario Nature Award winners, of which you can learn more here –

 To close, and apropos to the current COVID-19 pandemic, a Nature quote from Jennifer Lee Carrell’s The Speckled Monster, (smallpox) about the precursor to vaccine – inoculation – that was being introduced in Britain, and in Boston, after learning of its effectiveness and success in Constantinople and in Africa, in limiting the epidemic/pandemic spread of smallpox almost three hundred years ago. “On July 26, 1723 Dr. Zabdiel Boylston, (seeking personal time with Nature, while finally winning his battles against naysayers with positive results for his patients) rode south across the Boston Neck to race through wheeling clouds of birds far out into the salt marshes at low tide. It was a form of worship, he thought, … this exhilaration in the glories of wind, wings, and horses…”

Cardinal family (Photo by Nigel Eves)
When you get out of the shower and discover there are no towels.

American Robin 7-12-20
©Carol L. Edwards