Nature Club News for May 2023

by John Dickson

Wasps and Orchids will be featured at the May 11 Indoor Meeting of Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN), at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre, and on Zoom. 

The OSFN Publications Committee spokesperson, Audrey Armstrong, invites you to arrive early, from 6pm to 7pm, to see and purchase your copy of the 5th Edition of Orchids Bruce & Grey ($30. Retail), with all new images by award-winning photographer Willy Waterton. Special pricing at this time will be only $25. And just a little news flash: Willy and Audrey are giving an interview about Orchids Bruce & Grey, Sunday, at 8:30 am on Fresh Air, CBC radio.As part of the book launch, special presentations will be made following the meeting start at 7pm. This evening will be the culmination of a two year project to update the Orchids book, including a daunting quest to find and photograph the 49 known Orchid Species  recorded in Bruce and Grey. Congratulations to Willy Waterton and the OSFN Publications Committee on this magnificent achievement!

Following the book launch, the featured guest speakers for the evening are Dr. Bruce Broadbent, and Jay Cossey who will present The Wasps We Love, and the Wasps We Detest: Our Complex Relationship.

Dr. Bruce Broadbent (Entomologist) was a Research Scientist with the Federal Government/Agriculture Canada for 33 years in Ontario (Vineland and London) and his expertise is in the field of the Biological Control of Insect Pests – using tiny parasitic wasps to control pests in agriculture. His team’s greatest success stories were in the Ontario greenhouse industry.

Bruce was born in Montreal and grew up in Wellington, New Zealand. He received his MSc. from McGill University (1976) and his PhD from University of Guelph (1980). He retired in 2013 and he and his wife moved from London to Southern Georgian Bay. Bruce says his children and 6 grandchildren seem to visit more often now that he lives near the Bay!

Jay Cossey is a nature photojournalist who has contributed images to numerous field guides, textbooks, periodicals and calendars, including all 24 images for National Geographic’s first butterfly calendar.
Jay has been fascinated by bugs since he was a child. He is the author of two regional butterfly guides–one for the state of Indiana, and one entitled 

Southern Ontario Butterflies and their Natural History, which he will have with him for purchase

For more information please visit  and if you would like to join the evening on zoom you may request a link by sending an email, in advance, to     with Wasps in the subject line.

NeighbourWoods North is gearing up to move forward with VOLUNTEER TREE DAYS – planting, mulching, etc., this Spring beginning on Saturday morning, 9 to 11am, May 6, 13, 20 & 27 and June 3 & 10. To Volunteer – You can pre register here or just come by.  For insurance reasons, please sign in upon arrival.  Wear clothing appropriate to the weather.  Gloves are a necessity.  Bring rakes, shovels, buckets, and wheelbarrows if you have them.  Meet at the fenced power station across from the Emergency Department at the Hospital in Owen Sound. Parking is free along the laneway only while volunteering.  Grass has been planted along the laneway so please do not park on the grounds.

On Thursday May 4, a crew of dedicated volunteers with Friends of Hibou along with GSCA staff were hard at work transporting and replacing over 100 boards along the Nature Trails Boardwalks there, at Hibou Conservation Area. A shoreline cleanup session was also held there on April 21.   This important maintenance work will also ensure good safe conditions as Bob Knapp declares that ” 

Friends of Hibou are appreciative of our volunteers and their great work. June 24, our Hibou Celebration 50 is getting closer.”

Friends of Hibou by Don Sankey

Young Naturalists on April 30 – by Jody Johnson Pettit
“It was a rainy day to plant red pine trees at the Owen Sound hospital.A small group from the Owen Sound Young Naturalists Club and NeighbourWoods North volunteers turned out to plant 30 trees on the hospital grounds.”Many thanks to all of you!

Young Naturalists and NeighbourWoods North April 30 Photos by Jody Johnson Pettit

On my own adventure bike rides and trail runs these past few weeks, I have observed newly returned Brown Thrashers with nesting materials, many Springtime wildflowers, Trilliums both red and white, Wild Leeks and many others, plus many fish well upstream in local creeks and rivers. However, I had not seen many backyard bunnies in our neighbourhood for quite a while and I was actually wondering if they were being quiet while starting families. Today I happened to see some happy evidence of that as a wee, baby bunny appeared in our back yard to nibble on the grass there, before exiting under our neighbour’s deck from whence it had arrived. Although the returning bird migration these days is well underway there is a reverse migration going on too – one that usually happens at this very same time each year. Many of our local birders will be flocking to Point Pelee and Pelee Island to welcome the amazing plethora of birds arriving, some to stay there and nest, others to simply forage and rest, before continuing northwards to their preferred destination for raising families this year. For the humans it is like a homecoming tradition, seeing other birders at Pelee they only see at that location, before returning to their own homelands to witness and enjoy the diversity of birdlife arriving and/or passing through in Springtime in order to arrive at their preferred habitat when their food sources and territories are ready for them too.

Festival Chair Norah Toth has shared this report on the Huron Fringe Birding Festival (HFBF), celebrating its 25th season this year:

We are very pleased with Festival registration. After 6 weeks of registration, 52 of the 90 Festival events are full. Most of our availability is on the second weekend of the Festival. But, there remain some great opportunities to join us.

For our 25th year, we are pleased to announce that the recipients of the Norah Toth Award for 2023 are Martin and Kathy Parker, in recognition of their many important contributions to the first HFBF, to the Breeding Bird Atlas, the Saugeen Field Naturalists, and the Federation of Ontario Naturalists (now Ontario Nature). 

We have also added a Nature Showcase. This will be held at the Visitor Centre on 5 days and will feature a variety of local organizations. New this year is a Community painting which will be guided by local artist, Sue Allison, from May 26 to May 28. Sue was a leader during the first Festival 25 years ago! We always welcome Vortex who bring scopes and binoculars for purchase on Saturday, May 27 only.  This will be the 16th year that Vortex have returned to support the Festival. We are also hosting the Owen Sound Field Naturalists who have recently released two books: Vascular Plants Bruce & Grey and Orchids Bruce & Grey. These, along with several other OSFN publications, will be available for purchase each day of the Nature Showcase.

To recognize the 25th year of the Festival, local chainsaw carver Gerald Gunkel was commissioned to carve a special commemorative carving for the Festival and MacGregor Point Provincial Park. In addition, “So you want to be a Birder?” will introduce techniques and tips to novice birders on Saturday, May 27; Steve Burrows author of the Birder Murder Mystery series will be the keynote speaker on Saturday, May 28 and the Southampton Rotary are sponsoring Wild Ontario who will be at Inverhuron Provincial Park on Saturday, June 3 starting at 1:30pm in the picnic area. Park entry fees apply unless you are a registered participant in the Festival.

The Festival attracts top leaders from across the province and from our own backyard. Their credentials range from career ornithologists, professional tour leaders, academics, educators, Big Year birders, world birders, and those who have had a lifelong hobby and citizen scientist interest in birds.  You’ll be dazzled by their rich backgrounds and vast expertise. 

For details about the Festival and event Registration –

Norah Toth

American Woodcock at MacGregor Point Provincial Park. Photo by Judith Pelley

To close, a delightfully apropos Nature Haiku by award-winning local writer, performer and arts advocate, Elizabeth Warren, from mix well –  a poetry anthology. 

on the patio
a wasp and i negotiate
over dinner

and from Will James’ Smoky the Cowhorse

Four long winter months went by. Then one day … the meadowlarks was a tuning up on the high corral posts, and along with the bare patches of ground that could be seen, no better signs was needed that spring had come…Fine warm spring days came, the kind of days when folks and animals alike hunt for a place where the sun shines the best.