Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) present: A Scientist Visits the Holy Land

Dan Ostler, our intrepid cruise ship lecturer, ventures forth into the Holy Land and considers the stories we all know so well through the eyes of a scientist. Correlating known History with Earth Science, the Volcanic History of the Mediterranean, a little Cultural Anthropology, and the cultures of the Egyptians and Minoans and Romans (not to mention the Philistines) some rather surprising findings emerge. From the plagues of Moses to the parting of the Red Sea to the abrupt vanishing of the Minoan civilization to Joshua and the Walls of Jericho, the stories become even more fascinating when viewed from the perspective of a scientist.

Dan Ostler has also received recognition as a favourite lecturer on International Cruise Ships. OSFN is grateful to Dan for filling in once again on short notice for the scheduled speaker, who is unable to attend due to feeling under the weather.

Date: October 13, 2022
Time: 7 pm
Location: Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre, Owen Sound

Admission is free, or by donation.
For our club members, and the public, who are not comfortable in larger groups or have to travel great distances to join us, we are continuing to offer a ZOOM option.

If interested, you may request a zoom link by emailing with “med” 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

Just in on Monday evening October 10:

Local birding phenom, and popular leader for OSFN and the Bruce Birding Club (BBC), Kiah Jasper has broken the previous record, with more than two months remaining in 2022. From Kiah’s Blog

“New Ontario Big Year record!!!!!??
After going hard for 283 days this year, this evening I broke the Ontario Big Year record with a Tropical Kingbird in Windsor!!! ??? This came hot on the heels after my last new addition, a Magnificent Frigatebird yesterday at Lighthouse Cove in Chatham-Kent.

I guessed that my record breaker would be a Purple Sandpiper, since there had been a few around recently and it’s the most common species I have left.
Needless to say I was surprised and very excited when my phone buzzed today with the news that a Tropical Kingbird was found by Eddy Beaubien in Windsor this morning. Oh the suspense!! Two hours later we squeezed up to the stakeout, where a crowd of birders were gathered looking up at a nearby treeline. Sure enough, a yellowish kingbird was sitting atop a tall, leafless tree. Success!!!! Our timing turned out to be great too, because just after we walked up the bird called after being silent for the whole day, confirming it was a Tropical Kingbird! (and not the very similar Couch’s Kingbird).
Now on to 350 and beyond!! ? Still over 2 months left and I have a few “easy birds” remaining… let’s see what happens

Tropical Kingbird, in Windsor October 10 – photo by Kiah Jasper – record breaking sighting.

NEW PROJECT: TRANSFORM THE LAWN Grey County with NeighbourWoods North is launching the first phase of naturalizing the property of the Administration building. The community is invited to join in a morning of tree planting, celebrating trees & local climate action, and learning about a right relationship with the land. The first year of the plan for the Administration property includes the planting of approximately 20 trees, two pollinator gardens, and exploring a future rain garden. Council approved the plan at a meeting earlier this year. The event will take place October 15th from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Grey County head office located at 595 9th Avenue East in Owen Sound. Volunteers are invited to come out and support the planting of approximately 20 young trees while learning about Grey County’s Climate Change Action Plan, Going Green in Grey, and ways to stay involved locally. The event will open with an Indigenous teaching on the importance of stewardship and connection with the land, our local environment, and each other. Master Gardeners, who assisted in the design, will be present along with NeighbourWoods North and Owen Sound Field Naturalists. Light refreshments will be available for all who attend. Pre-registration is encouraged but not required through (link is external). Parking is available behind the County building at the east end of 6th Street.

“Nature-based solutions are key to Grey County’s Climate Change Action Plan, Going Green in Grey,” said Grey County Warden Selwyn ‘Buck’ Hicks. “The re-naturalization of this property is a small but symbolic step forward in Grey County’s commitment to climate action and meeting our greenhouse gas net-zero community target by 2050. If you’re passionate about climate action, I encourage you and your family to join us on October 15.”

The Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory Station Scientist Stephane Menu, is continuing to document the birds at Cabot Head, as indicated in this excerpt from his blog: Busy, busy, busy!

After a seemingly long stretch of five days of overcast conditions, clear skies and bright sun returned on September 29 and have been with us ever since. The return of good weather brought a lot – and I mean, A LOT – of birds at Cabot Head and they were not shy about flying into our nets. The most abundant species captured was Golden-crowned Kinglets, notably with a cool 100 birds on October 4. A lot of Dark-eyed Juncos have been captured during the past few days as well, alongside a few White-throated and White-crowned Sparrows. Hermit Thrushes have started their migration in earnest, reflected in good captures since September 30, notably with 7 birds on October 4.

The first Fox Sparrow of the season was banded on October 1. On that day, we also captured a loud and sharp-billed young female Pileated Woodpecker! (see pics on Facebook and Instagram)

It was a busy and fun and exciting week!

Coming soon: The Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory cordially invites you to “Flock Together for their 20th Anniversary GALA Fundraising Celebration”, Oct. 29th,2022 Visit their website at (Doors open @ 5pm to music of Mad Robin) at

Best Western, Inn on the Bay, Owen Sound

Tickets Available here.

Miriam Oudejans shared this outline for us:

On September 25, the first OSFN Young Naturalist’s program of the year kicked off with an excursion at the Arboretum of the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority. On the agenda was registration and the cleaning out of nest boxes in the meadows by the GSCA administrative offices. The small group of kids proved to be enthusiastic sleuths and took the time to carefully examine each nest box and its contents. They found nesting evidence of several different birds including wrens and tree swallows, based on construction materials and techniques. They learned that wrens build big, messy nests of twigs while swallow nests are typically made with grasses, pine needles, moss and other organic material. Both these species of birds like to build nests in open woodland rarely more than 100 feet from woody vegetation and avoid heavily wooded nest sites where it’s hard to see predators coming.

The kids found a number of feathers in the nests including several Blue Jay feathers. The gold & black on one tail feather showed it was from a Baltimore Oriole. Other feathers were trickier to identify, and we could only guess which birds they were from; possibly warblers and a breast feather from a Ruffed Grouse.

As the nest boxes were emptied of their contents, other residents such as wasps and spiders were discovered too. A preying mantis cocoon was found in the long grasses. The Young Nats were also captivated with the beautiful symmetry found on the inside of milkweed pods and they marvelled at how neatly the seeds were stacked together.

The afternoon ended with a quick walk through the Arboretum woods over to the river to look for salmon moving upstream to spawn. Several salmon were spotted resting in the shallows waiting to jump further up the rapids while a few, very fast ones, raced by upstream. A few dead salmon were found by the bridge including a large one covered with hundreds of maggots doing a fine job at recycling the fish back into earth! All in all, it was a good afternoon.
For the keeners among us, here is a site that helps identify bird feathers.

The Young Naturalists (YN) meet next on Sunday October 30 from 2pm to 4pm in Harrison Park for a workshop on Aquatic Invertebrates, led by Rosie Martin. The YN Club is mainly for ages 7 to 12, although 5 and 6 year olds are welcome if accompanied by an adult to supervise them. To learn more and to pre-register please visit and click on the Young Naturalists heading on the left column for a sign up form and waiver, plus a year-at-a-glance poster of activities planned for the rest of the 2022-2023 season.

James White sent this information about the Bruce Grey Woodland Association which has monthly events for its members – this month includes a forest inventory marking workshop and a BBQ. The events are for BGWA members.

Here is the link to anyone interested in joining the BGWA and pre-registering for either or both events.

Join the Bruce Grey Woodlands Association – Bruce Grey Woodlands Association (

Oct 22 is the date for both events

I have noted that many in the area are getting outside and seeing snakes, turtles, forest fungi, and a variety of botanical specimens, some of which are also very colourful. I am still seeing butterflies – a Viceroy just last week, and once more we seem to have quite a few praying mantis in our yard.

Here is a red belly snake I found under a rock at Kemble Rock today. I seldom see them when I am out, so a good sighting for me.
It was actually between 2 flat rocks. (Photo by Bob Knapp)

To close, Nature quotes from In Spite of Myself, A Memoir, by Christopher Plummer who, as a young lad in Montreal visited an island where “there was a bridge where we could stare down at the giant lily pads that carpeted the black water…and inlets through which we would paddle our canoe and watch the bitterns stand on one leg or listen to the long sad chorale of the frogs…” and impressing his ornithologist family and friends, he discovered one day “on top of a spruce which was bent over from the weight of it, an enormous bird with strange claws the likes of which I’d never seen….the experts identified it as an Arctic Three-toed Woodpecker – probably the first ever to be seen in our part of the world. Thank God and Mister Audubon.”