Nature Club News, July, 2018


by John Dickson

On June 13, Barbara Palmer led “Botany on the lower Bruce Peninsula”, with OSFN members, visiting Petrel Point, where many more plants were evident since the new accessible boardwalk had been opened officially two weeks earlier. Pitcher plants, cotton grass and sensitive fern were especially abundant and displaying. A brief visit to the Oliphant Fen concluded the day, shortened somewhat by some heavy, but much needed rain during the mid day and early afternoon.

Sensitive Fern at Petrel Point. (Photo by John Dickson)
Sensitive Fern at Petrel Point. (Photo by John Dickson)

On June 14, the Owen Sound Field Naturalists held its final Indoor Meeting of the 2016-17 season. This included a pot luck supper, followed by a brief Annual General Meeting, at which Gord Toth was confirmed as the next President of the club.

The club’s Community Conservation Award was presented to Caframo, in recognition of its generous sponsorship and support of nature events and organizations, including Earth Day, and youth projects. This is the first time the award has been given to a business.

Community Conservation Award presented by John Dickson to Kathleen Pierce, accepting on behalf of Caframo.
Community Conservation Award presented by John Dickson to Kathleen Pierce, accepting on behalf of Caframo. (Photo by Kate McLaren)

An Honourable Life Membership, awarded posthumously to Freeman Boyd, for his inspired and numerous contributions to the club since its inception almost thirty years ago, was accepted by Marion Boyd.

The evening’s speaker Ted Armstrong, originally from the Markdale area, spoke about the Woodland Caribou, its history even in our area, and the hopes and challenges for its future in areas farther north in Ontario. One of the main threats to its success is the fragmentation of its habitat with roads and infrastructure. Armstrong was pleasantly surprised by the number of OSFN club members who were familiar with Lake Superior, as he spent much of his career as a wildlife biologist in Thunder Bay, and is also active with the Thunder Bay Field Naturalists. His display of various antlers also complemented his presentation.

Ted Armstrong with moose antler.
Ted Armstrong with moose antler. (Photo by Kate McLaren)

On June 16, OSFN and Young Naturalist Club members met with Chris Rickard at the Bognor Marsh Conservation Area, to discover what butterflies were on hand. The species in the greatest numbers was the common ringlet, as well as the Tiger Swallowtail.

Chris Rickard with Butterfly Net. (Photo by John Dickson)
Chris Rickard with Butterfly Net. (Photo by John Dickson)

On June 28, many were on hand for the grand opening of the newly refurbished Hibou Wetlands Interpretive Trail. This has been a project of the Friends of Hibou, spearheaded by Bob and Marie Knapp, in conjunction with Grey Sauble Conservation, and with input and/or support from the Community Foundation Grey Bruce, the Kiwanis club, and the Owen Sound Field Naturalists. Following some speeches and a ribbon cutting, Bob Knapp led a group of those attending on an interpretive hike, complete with the accompanying pamphlet, produced for the purpose of explanations at various signposts along the trails, and returning it to a pocket on the new larger signs that have been installed.

 Bob and Marie Knapp at Hibou.
Bob and Marie Knapp at Hibou. (Photo by John Dickson)

NeighbourWoods North has now initiated a regular weekly watering schedule for the trees planted this spring at the hospital grounds in Owen Sound. The dry summer has made the survival of these trees more challenging, even with a few watering sessions that have taken place. Thursdays from 7PM to 8:30PM will be the regular watering session. A strong team was on hand July 19th, improving the visibility of some of the smaller seedlings, and watering as many as possible. Bringing buckets and watering pails is appreciated. More details are posted on the OSFN website, at

Owen Sound Field Naturalists has also partnered with Grey Roots to bring two summer lectures with Nature themes to complement the Ice Age Mammals exhibit currently at the museum until September 16.

On July 14, Peter Russell’s lively and engaging address included historical tracking of the discoveries of both mastodon and mammoth evidence in Southern Ontario.. In particular, he related his connections with a Woolly Mammoth rib discovered in a hut in Shelburne, and the mastodon skeletal samples found near London, Ontario. After answering several questions from the audience, he then led a brief tour of of the exhibit, where he was able to explain in more detail, aspects of the original fossils and replicas on hand. Russell is an author, geologist, teacher and the retired curator of the Earth Sciences Museum at the University of Waterloo.

On Saturday July 21, from 2PM to 3:30PM, Stu Collier will present Treasures from the Bruce: Fossil Collecting for the Enthusiast.
Collier, will be sharing tales of his fossil hunting and adventures. He will also showcase some of the extraordinary finds made on the Bruce Peninsula over the past ten years while working on Royal Ontario Museum digs. Grey Roots and OSFN members have free admission, while for others regular admission fees apply.

Recently I have enjoyed reading, for the first time, The Sweetwater Explorer, Paddling in Grey and Bruce Counties, written by Andrew Armitage, with photography by Willy Waterton. Published in 1995 by the Ginger Press, this book not only gives the reader important information about the waters of this area, and paddling suggestions suitable for each season, but one can also learn about the diversity of wildlife – birds, flowers, trees, etc., and the geomorphology of the area, including the Gaelic source for drumlin. Armitage also sprinkles in a generous amount of interesting history about the various lighthouses along the shores, as well as memorable characters from the past, whose names are still with us – MacGregor Point Provincial Park – for Captain Alexander Murray MacGregor is one example. A reference to the Saugeen Peninsula, as the Bruce Peninsula was once known, also reinforces the current notion that that name should be restored, sooner than later.

Waterton’s photos enhance the narrative of the book, helping to document the research undertaken by the authors, and their paddling companions.
To close then, a Nature quote from the Summer Paddling chapter “Summer’s long evenings are perfect for an after work paddle. …. There is no better way to shed the concerns of the day.”