Nature Club News for November 2022
by John Dickson
The Owen Sound Field Naturalists club (OSFN) is pleased to present its November monthly meeting featuring Steve Ritchie, a popular local radio host on CFOS, and a well known musician, with Love At First Light:
Small-town radio, a telescope, and a mid-life discovery of backyard astronomy.
Ritchie will speak about his fascination with the night sky, which is not a new interest; when he was nine years old his Grade 4 teacher asked him to teach a series of astronomy lessons to the class. But Covid, lockdowns and being the host of a buy-and-sell radio show converged to drop a Meade Lightbridge 12 in his lap in the winter of 2021. You’ll hear about aperture, Deep Sky, the magnification myth, his zero interest in astrophotography, and how seeing with his own eyes is, for him, an experience that cements a
personal, physical connection to the cosmos.
And you will hear a 62-year-old man’s inner 9-year-old convey the sheer delight of discovery that happens every time he looks through his telescope. If weather permits, Steve will bring his Telescope outside and invite audience members to view the night sky which should include an almost full moon.
This event will take place in the Bay Room at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre starting at 7pm, Thursday November 10. Admission is free or by donation and everyone is welcome. OSFN memberships may be purchased or renewed in the lobby from 6:30 to 7pm.OSFN also plans to offer this event as a webinar via zoom. If you would like to participate virtually, you may request a zoom link by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with Steve in the subject line.
On November 2, Lynne Richardson and Shirley Harrison led a tour
in the Thornbury to Collingwood area for twenty members of the Bruce Birding Club, and were rewarded with terrific sightings, as Fred Jazvac reports here: “November is considered waterfowl season, and while large bird numbers failed to show, the number of individual species of waterfowl seen was quite impressive – 18 species in total. Also, considering that the fall southern migration is almost over, and wintering birds have only shown up in small numbers; we did see an impressive total number of bird species – 38. Not bad, eh! The highlight of the day was a distant Peregrine Falcon who sat out for us, then proceeded to capture a bird of disputed identity, and ate it in an empty Osprey stand. It was one of those moments when nature showed you how things work in the real world.”
Grey Roots Museum and Archives is once again presenting its Fall Lecture Series, at 1pm on Tuesdays, and the final two talks have themes that include Nature and Science. Lectures are included with admission. Members enjoy free admission. Complimentary refreshments following each talk. Visit www.greyroots.com to learn more.
November 15 – Join David Holah for “How Green is Green Energy? Our hopes of moving away from fossil fuels lies with the increased use of green energy (solar and wind) and the production of batteries for electric cars. Success will largely be dependent on a few metals of which most people have never heard and which come with a significant environmental cost.”
November 22 – Join David Holah for the final talk of the 2022 Fall Lecture Series, on Nuclear Waste, with a simple review of the science associated with nuclear reactors leading to an understanding of the nature of the byproducts and the options for their use/disposal.
The OSFN and its Young Naturalist Club had a great turnout on October 30, as Rosemary (Rosie) Martin led an Aquatic Invertebrate Identification (ID) workshop at Harrison Park beside, and in, the Sydenham river. Similar to the one she offered last November, it was a carefully crafted event complete with microscope, and charts of invertebrate ID field marks and specifics. After a careful teaching lesson on how to acquire samples from the water, the youngsters on hand enthusiastically followed Martin’s example, dipping and retrieving specimens for identification and comparison, before they were safely returned to their river habitat.
The Young Naturalists meet next on Sunday, November 27 for a Hidden Pond Nature Reserve hike, in the Woodford area. For more information about the Young Naturalists Club, and other activities of the Owen Sound Field Naturalists, please visit www.osfn.ca
I continue to see the occasional butterfly and a few bees on wildflower blooms, and like others, have discovered a few bird nests which had been hidden until the past week or two. I have also been hearing and seeong more woodpeckers than usual. Many backyard feeders have been visited recently by boisterous and colourful flocks of Evening Grosbeaks as they cruise throughout the region.
Bo Penny of the Beaver Valley had a marvellous treat – “What a surprise! Seven snapping turtles hatched today. I’ve never seen them hatch this late (November 4). We had a bunch that hatched in September from the same nest so I was very surprised to see little black heads poking out of the gravel.”
The Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory (BPBO) has wrapped up its banding and monitoring operations for 2022, and has set some records along the way, as shared by Stéphane Menu: “This more than remarkable season didn’t end in a whisper but with more remarkable sightings and banding. On October 27, while watching a distant bird on the bay through the scope, white ghosts appeared on the hazy horizon. Flapping strongly, the large pure white birds could only be swans, Tundra Swans – only the fourth observation of Tundra Swans at Cabot Head over 21 years:
There were more surprises: on October 28, we banded a beautiful adult male Northern Parula. Later the same day, on the very last net round, a flashy yellow big bird was waiting for us in a net: An adult male Evening Grosbeak! Its namesake bill was something to behold and… avoid, with not much success. This species had never been banded before at Cabot Head: it tends to fly high and stay high in the canopy. It was such a remarkable bird to band.
On the last day of monitoring, October 31, the banding total was a solid 17 birds, bringing the fall season total to a stratospheric 2925 birds banded, almost 450 birds more than the previous record of 2476 birds in fall. A small flock of 17 Evening Grosbeaks was flying around but no amount of incantations brought them down into our nets. An eerie whinnying was appropriate on that Halloween evening: there are no ghosts in my world and the call came from an aptly-named Eastern Screech Owl.”
To close, a Nature quote from a northern Africa setting in Flight of the Phoenix, by Elleston Trevor: “With the coming of the full moon they saw the mirage. Used to the desert, they knew that a mirage is never seen after sundown, but when the full moon rose the mirage was there. It was a sandstorm, yet there was no breath of wind.”