Nature Club News for July 2023

by John Dickson

At the Annual General Meeting of the Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) on June 8, President Brendan Mulroy presented the club’s Community Conservation Award (CCA) to Lynne Richardson in recognition of her 18 years as OSFN Secretary; her many birding field trips led for OSFN and the Bruce Birding Club; her volunteering as Compiler for the Meaford area Christmas Bird Counts; as Coordinator for the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas for Grey County and more.

Her passion and commitment to nature and to our club are being rewarded. (Photo by Marsha Courtney)

The club’s Honourary Life Membership Award was then presented to the husband and wife team of Willy Waterton and Audrey Armstrong, who have added to their CCA from a year ago with an outstanding contribution to the OSFN Publications Committee, especially for the Orchids Bruce & Grey 5th Edition.

In appreciation of their ongoing commitment to the club, the natural environment, the conservation and the work in our publications from the very beginnings and continuing to this day. (Photo by Marsha Courtney)

Guest presenter Alan Macnaughton then gave an illuminating talk and slideshow entitled the Moths All Around Us, and invited folks to join him for a Moth Night at the Grey Sauble Conservation Arboretum the next evening. He was particularly pleased to report that “one of the reasons for picking June was to see the giant silkmoths, and we were not disappointed. There were 2 cecropia silkmoths, the largest moth found in this area of Ontario. There were also 3 polyphemus moths, which are also large and crowd-pleasing. Combining all 3 years of observations together, I have recorded 274 species of moths at the arboretum. This was a notable increase in the 206 recorded in the first two years.”

Scott Parent is a Canadian Photographer and Filmmaker based on the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula. In July of 2019 Scott paddled from Drummond Island, MI, USA to Penetanguishene, ON CA with his 9-year-old daughter Acadia, tandem on a 14′ Expedition SUP to retrace their ancestral migration route of the Georgian Bay Metis Community of 1828. Together they collected water samples for microplastics research and trash they found along the route. Their journey covered over 480km across Lake Huron’s three bodies of water.

They share their incredible journey in their documentary film, Three Waters, on Wednesday July 26th at 7:00pm at the Parks Canada Visitor Centre (120 Chi sin tib dek Rd, Tobermory), presented, free of charge, by The Sources of Knowledge Board.To learn more about the film and the upcoming screening visit the Sources of Knowledge Facebook Page, or email Scott Parent directly at Voluntary donations will go to the THREE WATERS FOUNDATION – a Lake Huron clean up initiative focused on caring for the remote islands of Lake Huron, and helping wildlife residing in those areas impacted by plastic pollution.

The OSFN Young Naturalists  club wrapped up its season with a birding hike at Isaac Lake. As Jody Johnson Pettit shared – “We spotted Great Egrets, a loon with 2 babies, a Black Crowned Night Heron, Sandhill Cranes in flight, and others.” Many thanks to Jody for coordinating the club’s activities in recent years – it has been much appreciated! The club will start up again in September under the direction of Amanda Eriksen.

 Speaking of birds, the Bruce Birding Club (BBC) capped off its 20th Season with a Berford Lake Bash that featured a day of birding in small groups, then gathering afterwards for dinner, and to both honour and roast the club’s founding coordinator, Fred Jazvac who later shared these sentiments with the club:

“I want to thank you for the astounding, and unexpected finish to my organizing of the Bruce Birding Club.  The gift of the large woodpecker carving, is now displayed in a prominent spot in our backyard garden where it can be seen …  and where the inscription on the back is visible.  This wooden bird will always be special to me, and a great reminder of one of the most memorable days of my life.  Like you, I came to the pot luck, expecting an enjoyable day of birding, socializing with the people who I like to be with, and left flabbergasted. Thank you for the wonderful times we had over the years, and thank you for the friendship we shared.”

James Turland will be leading the BBC as we begin the next twenty years of Birding.

Family Time – This Sandhill Crane family is enjoying a late breakfast.
July 5 –  photo by Pat Gillies in Bruce County

At the hospital area I have noticed equipment working on trail preparation to enhance the accessibility of the Healing Path, plus the blossoming of flowers in both the Welcoming Garden and the Pollinator Garden.

Snails large and small on a section of the Healing Path
Photo by John Dickson
Accessible Healing Path work is underway
Photo by John Dickson
A sample from the Pollinator Garden at the Hospital in Owen Sound
Photo by John Dickson

The area is also home to many Eastern Meadowlarks, American Goldfinches, Song Sparrows,  and Killdeer, as well as the various bees and butterflies buzzing and fluttering  among the blooming wildflowers that abound there. NeighbourWoods North volunteers have continued nurturing the trees planted there, with trimming and mulching activities in recent weeks.

Juvenile  Northern Flicker in Beaver Valley July 18 (photo by Ingrid Remkins)

Photo by Doug Martin

Thank you to Doug Martin for this report: The annual MacGregor Point Butterfly count was held July 8, 2023. Party groups were established
consisting of veteran butterfly counters, experienced amateurs, and Park Staff. We were also joined by several newcomers to butterfly identification who were interested in participating and learning more.
They soon found there were more butterflies than Monarchs and Cabbage Whites.

The general consensus was that overall butterfly numbers were down this year. This could have been count day weather related though. The count started about 10:00 AM with lots of activity for the first hour. Overcast skies took over about 11:00 and activity took a noticeable downturn. It seemed the butterflies sensed the approaching rain and took shelter. Monarchs are of special interest to many and this year’s numbers were down compared to past years. One party had six individuals, but most groups were lucky to have a single sighting during the day despite many patches of milkweed that were in healthy abundance.

Photo by Bob Taylor

Many naturalists in Grey-Bruce are observing young birds and other young animals in the company of their parents, from such larger birds as Sandhill Cranes, and Canada Geese, to Ospreys, Crows; smaller birds, including American Robins, Mourning Doves, juvenile Tree Swallows, Eastern Kingbirds, Northern Flickers, American Redstarts and Baltimore Orioles, plus fawns with the does, and even baby snails were all over the running path I was using the other day, requiring me to slow to a snail’s pace to watch more closely where my feet were going.

In addition, we are already seeing the early migration of Greater Yellowlegs and other shorebirds on their way back from the far north, who are already heading south for the winter.

I have also been noticing more butterfly species, as have many others. In particular I have been seeing Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, a Northern Crescent, and even a few Monarchs. Annual Butterfly counts often take place in July in Ontario, when they may be found visiting the vast array of various wildflowers that are blooming here in a sort of slow slideshow as the days and weeks go by.

To close, a Nature quote from Harry Belafonte’s memoir My Song, regarding an investment deal for the island paradise of Klein Bonaire that fell through: “in retrospect, it was all for the best. On the eve of the new Millennium, Klein Bonaire was established as a preserve in perpetuity. The flamingos will keep their home, and the local flora and fauna will stay as they are. So will the coral reefs whose fragile state we were naïve about when we drew up our plans.”