Nature Club News May 2020
by John Dickson
Although many Nature groups and their individual members in our area have curtailed their usual get-togethers, and group activities due to COVID-19, some of these have found ways to pursue their interests in a limited capacity, whether it be in their own backyards, or immediate neighbourhoods. Some, while practically shut-ins, do get out while doing their bi-weekly shopping excursion, take their vehicle for a short drive, and observe the many changes of the season, usually within a five mile radius, or so from their own locale.
Reports are shared about the parades of backyard birds “just passing through” or of their nesting preparations, perhaps results – eggs, or fledgling Robins who have escaped their own version of isolation, and found themselves on the ground, and even more isolated, but are finding their own singing voices – “Help!”, while a parent stands guard nearby, to keep their offspring safe from predators.
Many urban residents in Grey and Bruce Counties are reporting greater numbers this year of squirrels with mostly black fur, but with reddish (Irish?) tails, always on a mission through their territories, or stopping to dig up spruce and pine cones for a snack, and then burying them again for a future nourishment interval. Several times now, I have seen a Chipmunk nibbling on the seed safely packaged within the swollen section of a Maple key.
Thorsten Arnold presented an engaging and informative four part Webinar Series: How Can Food Systems Regenerate Our Earth? that was originally to be held at the Harmony Centre. Although the webinar attracted only a small audience, it was an eloquent presentation, supplemented with effective and inspirational support materials. I am looking forward to learning more from Thorsten’s endeavours.
The Celebrate Earth Week event featuring Jarmo and Noah Jalava also worked very well, and was actually viewed by a larger audience than would have been on hand if the event had been held on the Chi Cheemaun. If you missed it, this informative and entertaining presentation can still shared and viewed at this link. https://youtu.be/q67x2NCEDTE
The Bruce Birding Club (BBC) has held two online sessions where members can join in to share bird sightings and even have a brief workshop on warbler identification, to help novice ornithologists familiarize themselves with the various field marks to look for, and for veteran birders refresh their skill set. These “zoom” meetings also provide social interactions, to offset the feelings of isolation, and a reminder that they are all valued members “of the flock.”
However, such traditional large group gatherings as the Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) monthly Indoor Meetings, are a victim to the new reality. Bob Bowles, who was to present a Turtle Talk on May 14, sent me this new version of his itinerary: “Yes, I assumed that it (Turtle Talk) would be cancelled given how COVID-19 has changed the whole world. I have cancelled all my speaking engagements for the rest of the year. I don’t think we will be back to normal (or the new normal) until 2021.Therefore, I have cancelled my Ontario Master Naturalist Certificate Program which was full this spring and not planning any fall workshops on mushrooms and other subjects. With the aid of Lakehead University I am setting up the whole program on-line with virtual field trips which should work very well. With the new set up, I will have an expert technical computer facilitator and an professional videographer to work with me. I hope to have an introductory test program by May and then the full course by late May. COVID-19 has changed the whole world and we will never do some things the same again”
With the recently revised guidelines some naturalists are going out in small groups, (up to five), while maintaining some personal space at the same time. A long-time hike leader at Point Pelee, shared that he went, the other day, to a local Provincial Park, early in the morning, “but still with a ten foot pole” – his tripod with spotting scope, and legs extended – but met no other humans on the trails there.
There is a newly formed Georgian Bluffs Climate Action Team who are offering a special event – for which participants are invited to view the locally produced, and globally relevant Resilience – A Climate Change Film of Action and Hope, within about 24 hours prior to a zoom discussion meeting at 7PM May 27. Visit this link to watch the film and register for the zoom discussiona fterwards.
The NeighbourWoods North team has just announced that although it is a late Spring, the good news is that the Hospital Naturalization Project is on! The team has been very busy developing a comprehensive programme for the Spring and will hit the ground – digging – this Friday, May 15 at 1 pm, when they will be planting about a dozen 8 to 12 foot bare-root trees – maples, hackberry, and locusts. Because they’re bare-root trees they need to get them in the ground quickly. You’re welcome to join them while practicing social distancing and planting. Complementary projects include a Welcoming Garden, Forest of Hope & Healing and a Healing Path. Each of these can benefit from volunteer participation. To learn more, and perhaps offer your help, please visit https://www.neighbourwoodsnorth.com/
To close, a Nature quote from Markdale’s most famous Naturalist, Gardener, Writer, and reluctant Lawyer, I.B. (Dick) Lucas from The Footloose Gardener, published about sixty years ago: “There are few spots lovelier than Southern Ontario, and it is in one of its most seductive moods in the first week of May. The wild plums, and they are thick on the roadside and in the fence corners, are a mass of snowy blooms. There is a faint fresh perfume of them in the air…There is a soft undulating rhythm in the contours of the hills and valleys… and little wooden bridges that span the flooded streams.”