Nature Club News For September 2022

by John Dickson

The Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) present the first featured speaker of their new season, Rosemary Martin, starting at 7pm this Thursday September 8. Sidelined by the still present Covid virus, her presentation will be offered only on Zoom. Entitled Winter Survival in the Insect World, it deals with these questions:  Have you ever wondered how dragonflies and other insects survive the winter? What impact will climate change have on these important ecological communities? Drill through the ice with Rosemary to discover the active ecosystem found below the ice.  She will highlight under-ice video footage captured in a beaver pond in Georgian Bluffs.

Rosemary “Rosie” Martin is a senior PhD Candidate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto, Mississauga. Her work focuses on how aquatic insects overwinter and how the under-ice physical conditions determine who survives, who stays active, who eats whom, and how that all plays into food web and community structure in subsequent seasons. In November of 2021, she led an exciting workshop for OSFN, in Harrison Park, to learn tips on how to identify aquatic insects like (larval) dragonflies, damselflies, mayflies, caddisflies; had tables set up with microscopes for those attending and explained some differences between organisms living in lentic and lotic habitats. It is now planned that Rosie will repeat this popular event on October 30. 

In years past she was a camper and then counsellor at the local YMCA/Rotary Camp Presqu’ile and attributes her love for the outdoors and interest in ecology to cross country skiing along the Bruce Trail, exploring the gardens at Keppel Croft, and summer days spent on the shores of Georgian Bay catching frogs and flipping rocks for crayfish. As mentioned above this presentation will only be available on Zoom. If interested, you may request a zoom link by emailing with “insects” in the subject line. It is also the best time to purchase and/or renew an OSFN membership. To learn about the upcoming speakers, the many guided field trips, the Young Naturalists,  support opportunities and more, please visit

Gorgeous Great Blue Heron and friends at Harrison Park August 19, by Fely Clarke

Two decades ago, I joined the fledgling Bruce Birding Club (BBC) which offered a birding tour on the first and third Wednesdays of the month from September to June, (and still does). I really enjoyed occasionally taking a Wednesday off work to carpool and convoy with these friendly folks to see the many warblers, shorebirds, songbirds, owls, hawks, eagles and more with endless opportunities to learn and even get some photos of them. I was also introduced to many interesting birding hot spots of which I had not been aware.  Congratulations to the BBC, for when I asked Coordinator Fred Jazvac, for some history of the club he confirmed that yes:

“The Bruce Birding Club started in the fall of 2002.  We have exactly 199 people on our mailing list, of which there are about 50 who take part in the hikes. The rest enjoy the photos and the information. With my teaching background I like to teach about how to ID birds. There are no fees to join the BBC and our hike leaders choose where we are going on their Wednesdays and whether we are going to brown bag it or eat in a restaurant. Someone asked Judy Wyatt what credentials you need to join the BBC and she said to join, the one thing you needed was you had to be nice. Most of our participants are retired. If one came out with us, came consistently, it would take about 2 years to be an above average birder. The birds are seasonal and with each season we get new birds, contrasting with birds leaving. We get the May season when the migration is concentrated, and on the way back the reverse migration will last about 5 months. Right now it is shorebird season as they have bred and are heading south. Some of these shorebirds started leaving for the south in June. The fall will bring in northern birds who will winter here, especially if seed crops fail in the north. In the winter we get arctic birds like the Rough-legged Hawk who hunt visually and you can’t do that in 24 hours of night. They have no problem with the cold of our winter. When the days get longer, they will head to the far north. We learn from each other. The hike leading is easy since we have so many knowledgeable birders amongst us and many eyes find many birds, which takes the onus right off the leader. We have developed many outstanding birders, including Kiah Jasper who joined us at about age 14. He now ranks with the top birders in the province.  He was homeschooled and could attend our hikes. He is currently on a path to set a new record for the most birds seen in a year in Ontario and has already surpassed the previous record holder’s totals for this time of year.” 

If this birding club is of interest to you, please contact Fred at 

September 1, Georgian Bluffs, American Goldfinch feeding young – photo by William Gray.

Congratulations also to the Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory, for its first 20 years of operation. I enjoy reading the weekly blogs of Station Scientist Stéphane Menu: “It is becoming more and more clear that we have a Red-breasted Nuthatch irruption in the making this fall. With already 74 birds banded (notably 10 birds on August 30), it is more Red-breasted Nuthatches banded than 14 of the past 20 fall seasons, and September has just begun.” I have been hearing Red-breasted Nuthatches quite often too. Also on their website, at I discovered a terrific little video (created by TVO) with Menu describing and demonstrating the monitoring and banding process. Check it out!

Also celebrating a milestone this year is the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy, (EBC) with a 25th Year Celebration Day planned for September 17th between 12 Noon and 3pm beginning at Bluewater Outdoor Education Centre, west of Wiarton, then over at the new Orlowski Nature Preserve for hiking, Nature ID, survival skills and more. To learn more or just to offer congratulations email Bob Barnett at

Monarch being released after tagging (Photo by Dan Ostler)

OSFN’s Dan Ostler kindly sent me this report, and photos too, of a recent event –  “The much anticipated Monarch Butterfly Tagging Workshop at Isaac Lake September 3, exceeded expectation in all respects and was a great success on a number of levels. The weather was perfect, neither too hot nor too cold, participants of both the human (34) and Monarch species (96 tagged) turned out in strong numbers, and, most importantly, the youngsters had a great experience, far better than some cold video game. I’m sure a number of future naturalists were created that very afternoon. Our thanks to Audrey Armstrong and Willy Waterton for hosting this perfect tagging event, and Brian Robin for helping along with the tagging (those are his hands in the picture).”

Monarch being tagged (Photo by Dan Ostler)

To close, I have a Nature quote that includes the Hart’s Tongue Fern, a species that is rare in North America, but very common in our region and featured in OSFN’s logo, created by esteemed local artist and naturalist, George McLean. From Mary Stewart’s The Crystal Cave, Merlin discovers it thus: “In the face of the rock was a cave…with oak and rowan, whose branches overhung the cave with shadow…and only a few feet from the archway was the spring….Through the clear water I could see every pebble, every grain of sand at the bottom of the basin. Hart’s-tongue fern grew above it and there was moss at the lip, and below it green, moist grass.”