Nature Club News For July 2021

Nature Club News July 2021

by John Dickson

The Owen Sound Young Naturalists were treated to some diverse programming by OEC Director Deb Diebel for their final outdoor event of the season. Here is her outline:  On June 27th the Young Naturalists visited the Bluewater Outdoor Education Centre for a visit to Boat Lake and some critter dipping! The magical forces of youthful enthusiasm and mud puddles kept the youngsters cool on this hot day, and kept the showers at bay! 

Pond Dipping
Photo by Jody Johnson Pettit

The young naturalists were equipped with dip nets and buckets, small bottles, and rubber boots, and were able to get their feet wet while exploring the lake shore for invertebrates, fish, turtles, and snakes!  One minnow was captured and released, along with Whirligig Beetles, Dragonfly Nymphs (both the shed exoskeletons and living nymphs!), one Mayfly Nymph, and some Leopard Frogs!  Potions were mixed, buckets were refreshed, and the time flew by too quickly!

Monarch caterpillar.
Photo by Jody Johnson Pettit

The walk to and from the lake also afforded us an opportunity to see Sandhill Cranes, learn to identify poison ivy, and to see many butterflies, caterpillars, and moths in the field! The Young Naturalists monthly programmes start up again in September, with details available near then at

Matthew Cunliffe, Chief Park Naturalist of MacGregor Point Provincial Park,  shared this report with me: 

The butterfly count at MacGregor Point Provincial Park, held on July 3rd,  was a great success this year despite the challenges of COVID-19. We designed the count for family groups to remain together in designated areas and all data was submitted electronically. We had eight volunteers and six staff participate this year. The weather was cooler and cloudy in the morning but warmed up for the afternoon and brought out some great species.

We had a great mix of butterfly species including red and white admirals, monarchs, viceroys, checkerspots, crescents, fritillaries and a multitude of skippers. Members of the Brushfoot family were well represented!

Eastern Tailed Blue butterfly. Photo by Bruce Edmunds

In terms of trends, we had fewer butterfly counters in the field this year, so it’s difficult to compare this year’s data with past years. However, we did notice a major increase in Northern Checkerspot, with over 300 individuals counted in MacGregor Point alone.

Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly. Photo by Bruce Edmunds

On July 4th, OSFN member David Turner led a group of keen birders to various habitats in the southern Beaver Valley. Club Vice-president Brendan Mulroy shared this report: ” As David predicted, we did find the Grasshopper sparrow, as well as numerous Savannah and Song sparrows.  A White-Throated sparrow serenaded us from a wooded area and finally came into view.  We saw several bobolinks.  There was a lovely view across a field of a Redtailed hawk sitting on a “hale of bay” as one excited member of the group put it.  We heard, but never saw, a Warbling vireo, and then all went quiet as we climbed out of the valley just north of Talisman.  There was a Merlin perched high on a dead tree, conducting the whole orchestra into silence.”

Another birder was impressed with the leadership of David Turner. “I enjoy how David knows his audience. He can speak to someone at any level of interest and make them feel comfortable and enthusiastic about birding. It’s a very casual informal atmosphere and a great place to connect with like-minded people. I really enjoy learning about how much more there really is to see in our immediate environment. Often times you glaze over the things that are right in front of you. So many birds in this beautiful area we live in that if we didn’t take the time to look we might never see.”

Eastern Meadowlark. July 4, Beaver Valley. Photo by David Turner

In most years the Bruce Peninsula Orchid Festival would take place in early June at Tobermory. 

This year, however, in collaboration with Bruce Peninsula National Park, The Friends of Bruce District Parks Association will bring you Wild Discoveries: Orchids and Pollinators. The event will feature a wide range of topics, presented virtually, to unlimited numbers of participants, over Zoom, and, the real bonus, it will be FREE! The talks will start on July 15th and will continue over the following evenings. Many knowledgeable and interesting speakers are booked for this virtual festival. There will be two presentations each evening at 7 and 8 PM. I caught one evening’s presentations last year, and was very impressed with both the speakers and the material. 

July 15th: Brian Popelier (Orchids) Tyler Miller (Alvars)

July 16th: Audrey Armstrong (Creating Habitat for Birds, Bees and Butterflies); Megan Bonenfant (NCC- Vidal Bay) 

July 17th: Peter Raspberry (Orchids/Photography)   Parks Canada (Virtual Hike/iNaturalist)

To learn more about the presenters and their topics, and to find the zoom links for each evening’s offerings please visit

NeighbourWoods North 

Tree Helpers Wanted
 Here is a message from Lloyd Lewis of NeighbourWoods North: We are seeking volunteers who want to assist us in maintaining the 3000+ trees we have planted at the Owen Sound Hospital. 

Every Tuesday evening, continuing again on July 13,  we will be meeting at the Hospital Forest, opposite the emergency entrance, at 7pm and working till 8:30. Throughout the summer we will be mulching, cutting the encroaching grass and watering the plants in order to maintain the thriving health of the trees and shrubs.

 Any assistance is more than welcome. Just show up with gloves and gardening tools if you have them or for more information, call Lloyd at 226 256 8804.  Appropriate Covid precautions will be taken. 

They also have plans for their Fourth Annual Yard Sale Fundraiser from 7:30 to Noon 

on Saturday, July 17, taking place at 1625 7th Avenue East, Owen Sound

All covid protocols will be followed at the Yard Sale.

With so many contributors, the annual yard sale always has some great finds whether you’re into sports, music, household decor, or more.   If you would like to contribute an item or two to the sale, please contact us to make arrangements.  Remember every single dime of the proceeds goes to planting more trees at the hospital!  

To learn more about  NeighbourWoods North please visit

Plover Lovers at Sauble Beach have recently announced some hatching of the three eggs which had been incubated for the past four weeks. 

It would appear that only one Piping Plover chick had survived these early days, and both parents were doing their best to keep it safe, while it ran around looking for food — and adventure. Innovative techniques, including closely spaced bamboo poles, were introduced in an attempt to lessen the risk of predation by gulls. However, I received a sad update Wednesday afternoon from Caleb Johnstone of Plover Lovers, of Sauble Beach. Here is an excerpt – 

“Unfortunately we have lost all three of our chicks this year. From the very beginning Nancy and Bo (the two parent birds) had quite the task ahead of them; late nests usually fledge fewer chicks given the larger number of people and predators, such as gulls, on the beach. The first two chicks hatched on Saturday, and were pretty quickly predated by juvenile gulls. The third egg hatched a couple days later and we were lucky to be able to see the little guy or girl running around and taking its first steps outside the exclosure. Unfortunately, at around 11:00am today a Merlin predated this remaining chick. Bo and Nancy are both still around and searching for their chick, it really is all quite sad.

We want to thank everyone for helping us this year!  Whether we talked to you on the beach or if you read and responded to our emails, your support is crucial to everything we do here. There were so many different people working hard this summer to help Nancy and Bo fledge these chicks and we are all sad to see it end this way.”

Juvenile Green Herons, July 13th.
Photo by Mike Schwan.

On June 10, the Owen Sound Field Naturalists Club (OSFN) hosted, on Zoom, its Annual General Meeting along with its final monthly get together of the 2020-21 season. One highlight of the evening was President Pamela Kinchen’s presentation of the club’s Community Conservation Award to Robert and Marie Knapp, and this citation: In recognition of their many important and diverse contributions to  community and to conservation in Grey and Bruce Counties over the past five decades, including: the successful campaign to save,  for public use, what became Hibou Park, telling that story in a book and initiating the Friends of Hibou; their long-time active support of the Owen Sound Field Naturalists, offering talks, field trips, hospitality, and their support of such organizations as Ontario Nature, the Bruce Trail Conservancy and the Nature Conservancy Canada; their socially conscious activities on behalf of the Family Y, MS Society, Mental Health initiatives, and their writing; building trails for hiking and skiing, teaching kayaking to future explorers, and building bridges – literally and figuratively. They both offer a magnificent example of conservation, sharing, and caring, while always continuing to learn. 

Congratulations and thank you to the Knapps!

The club has several field trips this summer involving botany, butterflies, moths, and more. To learn more please visit

Bob and Marie Knapp at Hibou.

To close, a Nature quote from Rachel Carson published at least 60 years ago in The Sea Around Us – “Now, in our own lifetime we are witnessing a startling alteration of climate… It is now established beyond question that a definite change in the arctic climate set in about 1900, that it became astonishingly marked about 1930, and that it is now spreading into sub-arctic and temperate regions. The frigid top of the world is very clearly warming up.”

The Ospreys: There were actually two young ones, but the other was hiding.
(Lake Eugenia).
Photo by Ingrid Remkins.