Nature Club News May 2021

by John Dickson

Early in the last week of April, Kiah Jasper of the Bruce Birding Club looked at the weather projections and made his own bird migration forecast – Here is an excerpt –

26 Apr 2021 -Tomorrow looks like it will be awesome for migration in Bruce (and most of Ontario).  There are some very strong southwest winds coming all the way from the gulf coast and Texas. The wind will start to pick up later today and will continue until Tuesday night, when it starts dying down and shifting west. 

As far as rain goes, it’s looking pretty good! Looking at it now I see a massive, rain-free channel for birds all the way from the Texas coast. This means a huge number of migrating songbirds will take advantage of these tailwinds to move north. 

I feel like the Tobermory area could be good…”
Photo by Les Anderson – May 9 Rose-breasted Grosbeak – South Bruce Peninsula

Late April, Greater Yellowlegs, Photo by Peter Middleton at Isaac Lake

Sure enough, as Stephane Menu of the Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory, (BPBO) near Tobermory, titled his second  report of the season – “Riding the tailwinds in droves!  On April 27, we focused our eyes and binoculars on the immense stream of birds flowing through Cabot Head like a feathered river in spring flood. A total of 53 species, the highest of the season so far, were detected including five species of warblers (the forest gems), with many species in incredible numbers. American Robins for example, were seen milling in flocks of up to 150 birds, with a morning estimate of over 700 birds. The most abundant bird though was the Yellow-rumped Warbler: we estimated over 900 birds moved through Cabot Head. Purple Finches put on a show too, adorning the bare branches of trees with their rich red, singing as if spring was here, and all in all being in record high numbers! Just like Pine Warblers, they broke the previous one-day record of 83 birds on April 24, 2016: 91 Purple Finches were counted on April 27 this spring, a remarkable number.Even after 16 seasons at Cabot Head, I am still in awe and delighted by these mornings of intense migration, when the Earth herself seems to pulse with birds.”

Menu’s third report of the season featured even more superlatives, with the setting of a new record for the most species of warblers (8) on one April day.

“What took us by surprise though, were the waves upon waves of Ruby-crowned Kinglets, which were everywhere in the cedars and the birches, chittering away and hungrily devouring midges. They also hit our nets like a gentle green tsunami of little fluffballs. Between April 29 and May 5, we banded an amazing total of 419 Ruby-crowned Kinglets! (With a season total, so far, of a cool round 500 birds).”

Closer to Owen Sound and area, by May 3rd both Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, plus Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were arriving, as well as Pine Siskins and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. Some nesting Bald Eagles now have eaglets in their nests, Ospreys are active and in one case a Great Horned Owl pair took over a platform nest that is usually occupied by Ospreys. Shorebirds being observed include Greater Yellowlegs, American Bitterns and Spotted Sandpipers. In addition, more wildflowers are blooming and being noticed too, along with sightings of Turtles, snakes, frogs, toads, not to mention butterflies and bees, and just this morning – morels.

Baltimore Oriole photo by Renee Anderson May 4, Owen Sound

Bob Gray of the Georgian Bluffs Climate Action Team (GBCAT) shared this with me: “On May 17 we are sponsoring a Zoom presentation on Lyme disease.  I have seen this doctor speak on this topic and she is excellent.  Anyone who enjoys the out of doors in the local area should be encouraged to attend. Come and learn about ticks: the different species, how to identify them, their life history and ways to prevent bites. Inform yourself about the contraction, symptoms, treatment etc. of this disease. Discover the impact of climate change on these disease carrying ticks which has increased their population density and broadened their habitat. Dr. Anne Uings is scheduled to give this presentation from 7 to 8:30pm, Monday May 17. Please register here:      For more information, contact:

Morel by Bill Elder May 4

Nature news from the newsletter of the Owen Sound and North Grey Union Public Library – Order Seeds from the Seed Lending Library! There is still a good selection of seeds, all donated by our generous community. This year the Seed Lending Library is not available for browsing. Please contact Carolin at or 519-376-6623 ext. 214 for a current inventory. *Please include your name and library card number with your request. Consider saving and donating seeds this fall to keep the Seed Lending Library going next year. Information will be included with your seeds. 

More and more Nature talks are being produced and premiered locally, and are available for viewing on an ongoing basis on various YouTube channels. Recommended examples include Spring Wildflowers of the Beaver Valley Area, by Stew Hilts, who I still remember leading a couple of Wildflower Walks on Old Baldy for OSFN a few years ago. Hilts produced his first Nature video earlier this year featuring Waterfalls of the Beaver Valley Area, and it has been very popular, with close to one thousand viewings already. Searching either of those titles will bear fruit too. 

Still in the Beaver Valley, Rogers TV has produced and released a Wandering Grey Bruce video interview of Birding with David Turner by another Naturalist, Krista McKee. Searching online for those key words and names works very well too. The Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) also have a growing catalogue of recorded Webinars, on such various themes as Geology, Botany, Being a Bird in North America, etc., and they can be found at

David Turner Palm Warbler at Collingwood Harbour trails, May 3

Although group field trips are currently suspended, the Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) continues to provide monthly presentations online using the ZOOM platform. On May 13,  at 7pm Marg Gaviller shares her photos and research about The Horses of Sable Island, and the journey from there back to Newfoundland.

Photo by Marg Gaviller

The Sable Island horses, originally domestic animals, are now the main occupants of the island. They roam freely in the natural environment, comfortably in the temperate summers, but battered by high winds and ferocious storms in the winter, and without human interference. These feral horses are, indeed, a joy to behold.

This is a ZOOM webinar, and is presented free to the public. If you are interested and would like to participate, please contact with “Sable Island Webinar” as the subject title to receive a link to the webinar which will be open at 6:45pm. To learn more please visit 

To close, a May Nature quote from Winston Groom’s A Storm in Flanders  – “On May 2nd, [1915] at the height of the Second Battle of Ypres, a friend of Major John McRae’s, Lieutenant Alex Helmer, was killed…and after conducting the burial service himself, McRae went to sit on the step of a field ambulance, …took out a pad and pencil and within twenty minutes had penned one of the immortal poems of the war, In Flanders Fields. Those who were present recorded that the sky was full of larks: that the poppies for which Flanders is renowned were beginning to bloom in the fields and sprout between the crosses in the growing military cemeteries.”