Nature Club News September 2021

by John Dickson

The Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) kick off their new season with a special presentation, inspired by the naming, last year, of the new Tenth Street Bridge. It will take place via Zoom, at 7pm on Thursday, September 9, and is entitled  Gitche-Name-wikwedong – Great Sturgeon Bay, with speakers Sidney Nadjiwon, Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation Elder; Ryan Lauzon, Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation Fisheries Assessment Biologist; and Alexander Duncan, Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia.

Learn about the history of the Sturgeon in the Saugeen Ojibway Nation Territory, including their biology, their historic importance to the Saugeen Ojibway Nation and current status in Lake Huron/Georgian Bay. We will also learn about the Saugeen Ojibway Nation fisheries assessment program, and related fisheries research projects.  The meeting will be held virtually, in the form of a webinar on ZOOM, and is open to the public – If you would like to attend but have not received the link sent to OSFN Members, please contact with Gitche or Sturgeon in the subject, preferably prior to the event which starts at 7PM.

The club also has field trips lined up throughout September, November and October, with such diverse themes as botany, geology, ornithology, old growth forests, and even history. These and membership information are all listed at plus a special mention for the Grand Opening of the Trout Hollow Nature Reserve, from 10am to 4pm, on Saturday September 18 near the Riverside Centre, just outside Meaford. This is a truly unique property of 160 acres along the Bighead River watershed, with historical, industrial and natural significance in the Meaford area.  Generously donated by the Knight family to the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy (EBC) earlier this year, it will be stewarded by OSFN. 

This Grand Opening will feature opportunities for you to discover and learn, as several themed (birding with Beth Anne Currie, botany with Barbara Palmer and history with Robert Burcher) hiking tours are planned. Registration is required, mainly so that the organizers will have an idea of how many to expect. Please visit this link: 

and this one to register, primarily so EBC knows how many people to expect. 


Together with Grey Sauble Conservation, Friends of Hibou are again offering guided hikes/walks this fall. More may be offered later in the season depending on weather and Covid so watch their website  and Face Book page.

 All hikes will begin at the parking lot by the Pump House at the Southern entrance to the trails. Covid Restrictions will be followed. Please have a mask handy and keep a safe distance from others. These are the hikes being offered: 

Sept 20  Monday 10:00am till 12:00   Adapted Forest bathing walk with Marie Knapp;

Sept 30  Thursday 9:30 till 12:00  A guided hike on the Interpretive Trail with Bob Knapp;

Oct 7 Thursday 9:30 till 12:00  A guided hike on the Interpretive trail with Barry Lewin. 

Barbara Palmer led a botany hike for OSFN recently and shared this report:

On a sunny September morning, a group of plant enthusiasts met at Black Creek Provincial Park for a stroll to observe flowers and plants.

Goldenrods and asters were abundant and colourful. Hairy goldenrod lined the trail in a couple of spots. Asters included calico, smooth, panicled and purple-stemmed. The purple-stemmed asters were particularly showy, with tall, fuzzy stems and lots of purple flowers. Despite its name, this species doesn’t always have purple stems! 

Other flowering plants included turtlehead, cardinal flower, small flowered agalinus, and  boneset. Many other plants were observed that had previously bloomed, leaving us with seeds or just leaves to notice. Poison ivy kept us on the trail as it was everywhere!

A Massasauga rattlesnake found lounging beside the trail was a highlight. All in all, a good morning of botanizing.

Lots of colours at the Welcoming Garden in front of the Hospital in Owen Sound by John Dickson

I have been enjoying the wide spectrum of colours in the blooming flowers of the Welcoming Garden in front of the Hospital building, as well as the trees, bees, birds, butterflies and mushrooms as I jog along a stretch of the Healing Path that meanders through the meadow there. 

Speaking of spectrums, bright  sunlight and a couple of brief showers on the morning of Labour Day produced some lovely rainbows – even double ones.

Double Rainbow on Labour Day, in Owen SOund  by John Dickson

NeighbourWoods North is now planning the various steps and schedules for the fall. Lloyd Lewis sent me this update: “It will be a busy Fall with the start of the Meadow Garden and moving about 25 trees to accommodate an expanded visitor parking lot.”

To learn more about the good work of this group, please visit

With the fall migration of birds now underway it is hard to ignore the changes in the weather as flocks of Monarch butterflies are also getting ready to fly to Mexico. While I was cycling with friends on a road north east of Kemble almost two weeks ago, I was surprised, and delighted, to see about 10 Monarchs fluttering right in front of me, and even more of them along the edge of the adjacent field.

Photo from Cycling with Friends and Monarchs too – north east of Kemble,  August 27, by John Dickson

 Coincidentally, earlier that morning, on this same stretch of road, also cycling we had met Willy Waterton and Audrey Armstrong, who had held a very successful…

“…Monarch Tagging Workshop August 21 at Isaac Lake. We had 43 participants over two time slots and two days.  With assistance from Brian Robin and Patti Byers, we tagged 69 super generation monarchs as Citizen Scientists for Monarch Watch.  There were 9 family members who came out for a preview day on August 20 when we were astonished at the numbers of nectaring monarchs in the meadow overlooking Isaac Lake. Estimated over 100 monarchs nectaring along with clouded sulphurs and cabbage whites on clover. We hosted members from OSFN, Saugeen Nature and a few out of town guests. Everyone who participated successfully netted at least one or more monarch. Even the youngest member, aged 4, netted one with a child’s net.

The morning of August 21 started early with a radio interview on CBC with Jason de Souza on Fresh Air.  There were lots of big smiles as members said “Adios mariposa” releasing their “tagged” monarchs for the 4,000 km flight to Michoachan, Mexico. Commenters included: 

Kate McLaren who wrote:  “Thank you Audrey and your team for the great workshop yesterday! When we stopped by the viewing platform on the way out from Isaac lake I found a beautiful chrysalis! Watched 10 Sandhills cruising the sky, a pair of swans, saw a fisher run across the road… ”  

…and Patricia Heath who wrote: “Thank you Audrey for a wonderful lesson and experience.  It was awesome indeed”

Photo of Monarch Butterfly Chrysalis – this summer, by Robert Taylor, Tiverton

Stephane Menu, from the bird observatory ( at Cabot Head entitled his most recent weekly blog “Walking through a Cloud of Monarchs!” Here is an excerpt – 

“… afterwards, an intense thunderstorm moved through Cabot Head. The sky cleared later in the morning but the wind stayed too strong to open mist nets again. We spent the rest of the day watching mixed flocks of migrants moving through, as well as numerous Monarch butterflies arriving from Georgian Bay in seemingly endless streams. Bay-breasted Warbler was the most abundant species, with an estimated total of 50 birds, an unheard of number for Cabot Head in any given day in fall (or spring, for that matter). Ten other species of warblers were also detected that morning, albeit in much smaller numbers, with boreal forest specialists like Tennessee, Cape May and Blackburnian Warblers.. On August 29, another storm rolled in during the evening: please check the pictures on Instagram and Facebook.

During these stormy days, dozens and dozens of Monarchs roosted and stayed at Cabot Head in numbers I have rarely seen before. They favoured branches of trees lining the road to the station at the end of our regular net checks. We were walking through clouds of Monarchs, an orange fluttering of wings, seemingly fragile and insignificant, but actually ready for their incredible migration to the high forests of Oyamel firs in the central highlands of Mexico. When the contrary winds stopped, when the unsettled air blew away, when dawn came clear on a North wind, they left us, resuming their journey on a wing and a butterfly prayer. very different from the full view of resplendent plumages in the bare branches of spring.”

Misty morning hummingbird and native jewelweed. August 30, Owen Sound, by Carol Edwards
American Redstart – by Carol Edwards  – August 31, Owen Sound

Female Common Merganser…Baie Du Dore. Photo by Fely Clarke, Aug. 30th

The Bruce Birding Club started up its new schedule on the first day of September, with a tour led by Kiah Jasper, visiting birding hotspots southwards from the mouth of the Saugeen River. As Fred Jazvac shared,

“It was a nice summer day, one of the nicest in the last three weeks. The wind only felt brisk at Baie Du D’Or. It’s funny about life. On one hand we have expectations that don’t workout, but on the other hand we are offered a substitute that is very successful.  That is how it happened today.  The last little while the migrating warblers were coming through in large numbers.  Our expectation was to see them in all of their confusing, fall colours. They laughed. They took a day off and decided to thumb their noses at us… So we moped about that loss for a while, but ignoring their rejection of us, we had a rewarding day in a couple of ways. We ended up seeing 61 species of birds, not bad for a fall outing, with one of the birds being a species I have been looking for the last few years.  There it was, at the entrance of MacGregor at the tower trail, sitting on a dead limb in plain view – an Olive-sided Flycatcher. 

It didn’t end there. We had 9 species of shorebirds at Chalmer’s Pond. We have driven for hours to Mitchell’s West Perth Wetlands to get fewer shorebirds than that. It was a great birding day and great to see many of you again.

Thank you, Kiah for leading us today on a very successful outing to start the resurrection of the Bruce Birding Club.  Your leadership was exceptional!”

Northern Flicker at Independent Pond, Photo by Marilyn Ohler
Fringed Gentian at MacGregor Provincial Park near the beach. Photo by Marilyn Ohler
Grass of Parnassus at MacGregor Provincial Park near the beach. Photo by Marilyn Ohler

To close, a human nature migration quote from Basil Johnston’s iconic book Crazy Dave : “In mid-summer the little band … resumed their trek northward … to the mouth of the Saugeen River. From there they struck inland to Owen Sound, then known as Great Sturgeon Bay, the principal town of the Saugeen-Nawaush Chippewas.”