NATURE CLUB NEWS FOR NOVEMBER 2023

Nature Club News for November 2023

by John Dickson

Well-known local astronomer and former high school teacher John Hlyaniluk will present “Galapagos” at 7pm Thursday November 9, at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre. Galapagos is one of the most exceptional environments on the planet, with its ecology, geology and scientific value. The most important theory in science, expressed in Darwin’s Origin of Species, was supported by his observations there. Hlyaniluk’s talk will focus on several areas, including the discovery of the Galapagos Islands, their geology and how that has produced the distinctive species of organisms that exist there. Especially of interest are the current efforts to maintain this unique ecosystem, which is under threat from various sources. And much to their credit, the inhabitants have made the islands accessible to tourists in a wonderful harmony of nature and conservation.


Also of note, the Maher family will be on hand to make a special memorial donation to OSFN, as outlined here by Brian Maher:

“Nels and Jean Maher loved the outdoors, in particular the wilds of Grey and Bruce.

With a family of 6 children in tow we enjoyed camping, hiking, canoeing and cross country skiing together. There is a little family joke about children being conceived on camping trips.

Mom and Dad were first members of Saugeen Field Naturalists and attended meetings in Hanover, Durham and Dornoch, often with Joe Johnson carpooling with them. 

When Owen Sound started a Club they became Charter Members and later Honorary Members. They loved the club members and many activities and participated in building Boardwalks, Guiding and attending hikes, and running OSFN booths at community events. Often displaying Dad’s Fern Prints and Owl collection and selling Club books. The Publication Committee team was their favourite. The Club produced many world class nature books and as a career printer dad was deeply involved in publication of these at his business. His favourites were the Orchid and Fern Guides. 

In recent years Mom continued to get calls from folks looking to buy them. So she knew they were out of print. So when I sat down to discuss her estate planning as the Executor we agreed that a donation towards the reprint would be a nice Legacy to Nels’ memory. 

Jean attended her last meeting in March and Died just after her 89th Birthday in April ………..happy and active till the end. 

On behalf of the Maher Family I am so pleased to donate $10,000 from Mom’s Estate for the reprinting of The Ferns Of Grey and Bruce.

Thank You.”

Jean Maher (Supplied Photo)
Nels Maher (Supplied Photo)


Admission is free, with donations welcome. The evening presentation will also be available on Zoom and if interested, please request a zoom link by emailing, in advance  web@osfn.ca with Galapagos in the subject line or visit www.osfn.ca
During the months of November and December, the display inside the doors at the Artists Co-op at 942    2nd Avenue East (the McKay Building), will feature OSFN publications, NeighbourWoods North, promotional materials and more that director Marsha Courtney has installed there.


Congratulations once more to Bob Bowles, one of four to be inducted this past week into the Orillia Hall of Fame. 

Originally from the Markdale and “Bowles Hill” area, ( I first knew him in High School there) Bob will also be OSFN’s keynote speaker to celebrate Earth Day,  on the Chi Cheemaun in April 2024. 

Bowles is an award-winning writer, artist, nature photographer, educator, and naturalist best known for his lifetime commitment and dedication to preserving and conserving nature and as the founder and coordinator of the Lakehead University Ontario Master Naturalist Certificate Program.


Thank you to Marsha Courtney for this report: On October 29 the Young Naturalists had an Aquatic Invertebrate lesson in Harrison Park with John Bittorf from Grey Sauble Conservation (GSCA), during which we found side swimmers, aquatic worms, caddisflies of various stages, scuds, and many more, and examined them with microscopes. Bittorf engaged the youngsters in the process by showing them the scientific steps of the process, followed by questions that were sometimes simple, and sometimes more challenging, to which they responded well.

John Bittorf of GSCA had a great hands-on set up. The kids all got to play around and we had some adults join in as well. (Photo by Marsha Courtney)

The second half of their afternoon included a successful nature hike to search for Fungi, and we found lots. Trying to keep it simple can be difficult as each one can be named differently depending on which book or app that is used. The kids had keen eyes to find them. More spaces are available in the Young Naturalists club, and to learn more please email Coordinator Amanda Eriksen at   eriksen.amanda@gmail.com

We found lots of fungus. Trying to keep it simple can be difficult as each one can be named differently depending on which book or app that is used. The kids had keen eyes to find them. (Photo by Marsha Courtney)

BPBO fundraiser 

The Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory has announced a Fundraising on-line Auction, on November 21-27, and are saying “Get your Christmas list ready! There will be unusual treasures for all. We are also looking for items to auction, so if you have any treasures, please email us at  bpboinfo@gmail.com  Stay tuned for more details!”


I was able to sit and watch this handsome coyote forage the edge of a field for its midday meal yesterday.
It was very thorough and managed to catch what appeared to be several mice in the 20 minutes or so I observed it.
A privilege to see it go about its daily routine .
(photo by Les Anderson 10/13/23)

Each November, I watch for and enjoy  the many shades of gold displayed by Tamarack trees. Insects are still evident – we had a praying mantis here until just after the heavy snow arrived. I jogged over to check some attractive red apples just off trail recently, but when I inspected two of them I found each had a large cavity containing what looked like a house fly in one and two in the other. A wasp was foraging on the leaves of a bloomless rose bush here just a few days ago too. I also had the pleasure of seeing two Clouded Sulphurs, and a few Cabbage White Butterflies fluttering nearby on a recent bike ride in behind Hibou. 

Of course, the bird migration continues with many sightings of shorebirds especially Dunlins, foraging as they pass their way through here, with many keen birders on hand to document their passing, with their eyes and their cameras too. 

To close, a Nature quote from John Terpstra’s Daylighting Chedoke – Exploring Hamilton’s Hidden Creek – “We paddle to the mouth of the creek through patches of lily pads and past conclaves of cormorants perched on the dead arms of fallen trees that have washed into the marsh, then glide under a bridge for the Waterfront Trail. Almost immediately Daniel spots a black-crowned night heron, the first of several … The heron flies off upstream as we approach…. We feel bird-led, or lured. We note a beaver lodge to our right. Yes, a beaver lodge…. We keep our eyes peeled for discovery.”  


A Clouded Sulphur on the rail trail near Storybook Park road this morning. Nothing special about the butterfly nor the pic, but November? November 5 photo by Rob Wray

NATURE CLUB NEWS FOR OCTOBER 2023

Nature Club News for October 2023

by John Dickson

Owen Sound Field Naturalists’ (OSFN) featured guest on October 12 will be Dr. Thorsten Arnold, who worked as an academic advisor and researcher on an important new movie which Arnold will be presenting to the Owen Sound audience: the Canadian Premiere of award-winning filmmaker John Feldman’s Regenerating Life – How to cool the planet, feed the world, and live happily ever after


As Arnold explains: “In short, the film talks about climate landscapes from a water and ecosystem perspective, about how biology is actively modifying and self-regulating the physio-chemical aspects of climate – the difference between an urban heat dome and a cool living-landscape anti-dome, so to say, and the science is solid. ‘Regenerating Life’ takes an ecological look at the environmental crises and by challenging the prevailing climate change story, offers new, attainable solutions.

Overall, the film identifies new pathways for climate action that can be done at a community level –  how to stop killing the biosphere and changing our food system toward farming in partnership with nature.

 Regional greening leads to regional cooling and more water availability… even with increasing greenhouse gases.” 

This presentation will especially appeal to those actively working with gardening and farming. October 12 will feature parts 1 & 2, followed by a discussion facilitated by Dr. Arnold. This OSFN special event begins at 7pm Thursday October 12, at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre. However, OSFN President Brendan Mulroy, has announced that audience members are encouraged to arrive as early as 6:30pm in order to enjoy a social time, as there is little opportunity for that later in the evening.

Admission is free or by donation for the general public and there will also be an opportunity to donate to Regenerate Grey Bruce, which along with Eat Local Grey Bruce, the National Farmers’ Union Grey, the Greenbelt Foundation and the Sustainability Project, are sponsoring the work of Dr. Thorsten Arnold that he has been doing in the community recently.

For those unable or not wishing to travel, or if you’re experiencing flu-like symptoms, this event will also be webcast: this is the ZOOM link:    https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84314977160    Meeting ID: 843 1497 7160Please note that a bonus, extra OSFN event at 7pm, Thursday October 26, will focus on part 3 of the film Regenerating Life, with a discussion about its special focus on farming. 

For more information please visit www.osfn.ca  or https://www.thesustainabilityproject.ca/events 


Painted Turtle sunning on a log in the Sauble River October 6. Photo by Robert Knapp

In addition, OSFN’s Young Naturalists Club (YN) is up and running, with the next event at 2 to 4pm, Sunday October 29, planned as an engaging Aquatic Invertebrate ID Workshop in Harrison Park, under the direction of Rosie Martin. There is plenty of room for more participants in the YN club, with an exciting lineup of activities planned.

 The Young Naturalist Club Programme Coordinator is Amanda Eriksen who can be reached via email at   eriksen.amanda@gmail.com and those aged 7 to 12 can be registered with her for monthly activities, usually on the last Sunday afternoon of the month from September to June.

Off to look for the salmon swimming upstream  (photo by Marsha Courtney)

The Bruce Birding Club’s (BBC) Marilyn Ohler shared this report on their October 4 sightings:

Nineteen participants enjoyed summer-like weather for the trip led by Margaret, Carol and Norma. Highlights were many Sandhill Cranes gathering for migration, a busy flock of Bluebirds along Elsinore Road and singing Eastern Meadowlarks. We saw a Monarch butterfly still here and noted that many blackbirds are still migrating, including a group or two of Rusty Blackbirds. 

You can also see Marilyn’s report by following the link to ebird.

https://ebird.org/canada/tripreport/161767Anyone interested in learning more and/or joining the BBC is invited to contact James Turland  at  jaturland@gmail.com


Photo by William Gray

October 3  one of the Wood Ducks at Skinner’s Marsh
Bald Eagle – photo by Ingrid Remkins  October 2, north of Kimberley 


The NeighbourWoods North Team has been very busy, and t

hey have two more Autumn Tree Care  sessions planned from 10 to 11:30 on Saturdays October 14, and 21, at the Hospital site in Owen Sound. I have enjoyed many wildflowers and wild flyers in the meadows and pollinator gardens there when I jog along the Healing Path which now has more people using the trail system regularly too. New volunteers are welcome, but should have gloves to wear. Up to date info is available at their Facebook page under NWN.


Stephane Menu of the Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory (BPBO) included these details in his recent blog:  ‘As forecast, the weather this past week was unseasonably warm, very warm. Days alternated between being very quiet or relatively busy at the nets. Golden-crowned Kinglets have started to move in good numbers through Cabot Head and are now the most abundant bird being banded on any given day: 30 Golden-crowned Kinglets banded on September 30 and 48 on October 3, for example. On that last day, we banded a total of 78 birds of 17 species, which is the highest number of birds banded in a day for the season so far. The distant second and third species were Dark-eyed Junco (six birds banded) and Common Yellowthroat (five birds). We also captured the first Fox Sparrow of the season, as well as the first Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. The young male Pileated Woodpecker may claim the title of best bird captured for that day though, despite its ear-piercing calls.’ 

For more information on their work, please visit    www.bpbo.ca


A Boxelder beetle, taken in August while crawling around my front garden, much to the bemusement (or perhaps bewilderment) of my neighbours. Photo by Rob Wray

I believe that 2023 has become what I learned from botanist and author John Riley, is called a ‘mast year.’ Not only are the wild grapes and apple trees loaded with fruit, but I have seen and heard Beech nuts and Black Walnuts when they fell near me, either in the woods, or in a City Park, when a chattering squirrel dropped some walnuts with a loud crash quite near me as I was pedalling nearby. A good friend has reported a bumper crop of butternuts this year too. I am hopeful that the mountain ash tree next door will keep its fruit this winter for a change, for the Cedar and Bohemian Waxwings who may visit it this winter. 


To close, a Nature quote from A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende:  They rode through the magnificent scenery of cold forests, age-old trees, mountains and water: water everywhere, flowing down in hidden streams among ancient trunks…It  was all the dazzling and secretive work of nature…

NATURE CLUB NEWS FOR SEPTEMBER 2023

Nature Club News for September 2023

by John Dickson

The Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) welcome back popular speaker, hike leader and now an author Beth Gihespy, who will feature the Geology of the Niagara Escarpment in the Beaver Valley and Sydenham Club sections, as she explains both areas in connection to her Walking Through Time books. Her Beaver Valley book was published recently and will be available at the talk, entitled Building Sydenham: The Making of Walking Through Time. The Sydenham book is in the works and is expected to be published in a few months.

Gilhespy’s presentation is set to take place as part of the OSFN Indoor Meeting at 7pm Thursday September 14, at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre. Everyone is welcome and admission is free, or by donation. In addition, OSFN plans to offer the talk virtually via Zoom. Anyone interested in this version may request a zoom link in advance, by emailing web@osfn.ca with Rocks in the subject line.

Gilhespy will also be leading a hike for the club, on September 24 in the Kemble area. 


OSFN is pleased to announce that the club was able to sponsor two members of last season’s Young Naturalist Club to attend this summer’s Nature Camp featured by Camp Kawartha.  

The Young Naturalists are getting ready for another year! too. The Young Naturalist Club Programme Coordinator is Amanda Eriksen who can be reached via email  eriksen.amanda@gmail.com and  those aged 7 to 12 can be registered with her for monthly activities, usually on the last Sunday afternoon of the month from September to June.
In addition, OSFN will be sponsoring four local high school students to the Ontario Nature Youth Summit at Lake Couchiching September 22-24. OSFN has sponsored many students in the past decade, and has received excellent feedback from those who have attended the Youth Summits.To learn more about 

the Young Naturalist Club, about joining and/or supporting OSFN, with its many indoor and outdoor presentations, and its motto, Knowing Nature Better, please visit www.osfn.ca


I believe this is a Ruby meadowhawk but will defer to those more knowledgeable about dragonflies.
Taken on the badlands while birding. (Shallow Lake) (Photo by Rob Wray)

The Sustainability Project has announced that there is a Miyawaki “Tiny” Forest Media Unveiling at Peninsula Shores District School in Wiarton on Monday,  September 18, 9:30- 10:30am at

 115 George St, Wiarton, with light snacks available.

Beth Anne Currie shares the following information:

Hello hard-working friends and living-landscape supporters;  see the unveiling of a fast-growing Miyawaki (Tiny) Forest with a connected BIOSWALE which have been installed on Peninsula Shores District School grounds in Wiarton. a project that the Sustainability Project via Regenerate Grey Bruce, has been supporting over the past several months. These two inter-connected living systems will act as demonstration projects to showcase how living landscapes provide countless ecosystem services compared to treeless, lawn spaces. 

It’s time for the official ceremony, where funders, growers, planters, water-er’s, students, teachers, parents and countless volunteers can be recognized and celebrated….. We have made a short documentary about the project – where you can see and hear a bit more background on the project.

Mini-documentary

www.youtube.com/watch?v=YT-OOSbIg0A

Bring your friends, neighbours and families. Hope to see you there!

Beth Anne


Song Sparrow is a good provider for the then nesting chicks a month ago. The young ones have since fledged and I can hear them chirping to their parents from the cedar hedge. Sept. 11. (photo by Carol L. Edwards-Harrison)

The Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory (BPBO) will host a Fall Open House, with everyone invited Saturday, September 23, from 10:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Tobermory, at the Bruce Peninsula National Park Visitor Centre. 


Come and join us at the Bruce Peninsula National Park visitor center, in Tobermory. We will be there all day with all kinds of activities and information.  You can learn all about the BPBO, and there will be Fall bird walks, display and information, plus audio/visual presentations.

For more information please visit www.bpbo.ca where you can also get an update on the recent bird migration activity with Station Scientist  Stéphane Menu’s weekly blogs.  Here is an excerpt from his latest –

There’s a saying that ‘a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush’. a young Red-eyed Vireo was captured for the first time on August 31… Four days later, on September 4, the same bird was recaptured.  In this short span of time, it increased its weight by 23.5%, a remarkable physiological feast and a sure proof that this bird is getting ready for the long and sustained effort of migration. Fat is the preferred fuel for migrating birds, providing more energy per unit than proteins or carbohydrates. It’s energy they need in order to fly 10 or 12 hours non-stop at night, over a series of multiple flights to reach their final winter destination.

With its bountiful energy stores (and a good measure of luck!), our young Red-eyed Vireo will fly all the way to the Amazon in Brazil, with no assistance from its parents, guided by an internal compass and clock. Unfortunately, this bird – along with all long-distance migrants – will encounter many dangers on its way: bad weather, lack of food at stopover sites, predators like Sharp-shinned Hawks or feral/outdoor cats, collisions with windows, disorientation from artificial lights of ever-expanding cities, etc. It’s hard not to wish them luck as they embark on this, at times treacherous, journey.


Female Common Merganser, Lake Eugenia. Sept. 10. (Photo by David Turner)

In the past year I have been aware of the Centre for Bee Ecology, Evolution and Conservation at York University. (BEEC) and some of their many programme offerings. Here is a link to their website https://www.yorku.ca/bees/ and the opening of their most recent message to me, with a link to their very interesting newsletter and their upcoming conference with a keynote speaker, all of which you can register for. I am looking forward to looking in on more of their activities too.  Our September 2023 BEEc Newsletter – Global Edition.  A reminder that BeeCon registration is only open until Sept 29 so don’t delay in signing up to attend this hybrid event Oct 12-13 – it’s free! (click here for more information, including a schedule).

I have been pleased to finally see some Orange Jewelweed on Saturday’s OSFN hike throught the Amabel Tract with Kevin Predon, and just yesterday I noticed a patch of the yellow variety, while running nearby trails. Another favourite visual at this time of year is the Jerusalem Artichoke with it sunshiny flowers waving in the breezes. 


September 9, Amabel Tract, Sauble Beach –  Red-spotted newt in its eft form or stage (photo by photo by John Dickson)

To close, a Nature Quote from A Bend in the Road, by Nicholas Sparks: “The moon cast its glow over the slow-moving water like a walkway of reflected light. With low-slung oak trees and the whitewashed trunks of cypress trees lining the banks, the view was soothing, ageless in beauty. The draping veils of Spanish moss only added to the feeling that this part of the world hadn’t changed in the last thousand years.”


July, 7:00 am or so, southwest of Bognor, on the edge of a wetland area and out they popped. (PHOTO BY ROB WRAY) 

NATURE CLUB NEWS FOR AUGUST 2023

Nature Club News for August 2023

by John Dickson

The Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) are preparing for their 35th season with a diverse array of speaker presentations and many field trips throughout the area. Much of the new season, including events in September, will be posted at www.osfn.ca over the next week or so. To ensure you receive up to date information from the club, it is recommended that you purchase or renew your membership online. 

Of note, on September 9, Bruce County Forester Kevin Predon will be leading a Bruce County Hike at the Amabel Tract in Sauble Beach, on trails from Rankin Bridge Road through both County and Crown forests, adjacent to the “Hell Hole” Provincially Significant Wetland complex, the Sauble River, and into some spectacular hardwood and conifer forests. 

Then, at 7pm  September 14 at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre, popular speaker, hike leader and author Beth Gilhespy will present Building Sydenham: the Making of “Walking through Time.” Beth will discuss how she approached her Beaver Valley and Sydenham geology books. These sections of the Bruce Trail have lots of great geology to discuss. Her Beaver Valley book will be available for purchase and signing.

In addition, OSFN hopes to once again sponsor two local high school students to attend the Ontario Nature Youth Summit at Lake Couchiching September 22-24. OSFN has sponsored many students in recent years, and has received excellent feedback from those who have attended the Youth Summits.

The weekend is designed and situated to  provide learning opportunities in an exciting and motivational setting with 90 fellow high school students, all with an interest in Nature studies. Potential candidates should email John Dickson at  jwdickso@gmail.com no later than August 30, indicating their interest and availability to attend, as the registration deadline is September 5.  For more information  please visit   https://ontarionature.org/events/youth-summit/


One of a group of Cape May warblers that have been feeding in my birch trees for the last few days.
They are heading south from their northern Ontario breeding grounds.
Allenford 8/21/23, Photo by Les Anderson

The Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy (EBC) is hosting a  Monarch Butterfly Festival at Alvar Bay and at Bruce Peninsula National Park’s Visitors Centre on August 25th and 26th.

Experience two days filled with nature hikes, monarch tagging and release activities, captivating butterfly documentaries, and thrilling evening bat walks. Explore the beauty of Alvar Bay, learn about the vital work of EBC, and get your hands on free milkweed seeds to support Monarch conservation. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn about and celebrate the wonders of nature and the extraordinary journeys of Monarch butterflies!

Monarch tagging and release activities that play a crucial role in monitoring their population and understanding their migratory patterns. By participating in tagging and release, you contribute to important research efforts and help protect these magnificent butterflies for future generations to enjoy.

In addition to the Monarch festivities, EBC will  also be celebrating International Bat Day on the 26th with evening evening bat walks (Friday and Saturday at 8pm). Discover the fascinating world of bats and their vital role in maintaining our ecosystem’s balance.

 For more detailed information please visit https://escarpment.ca

All activities for this Monarch Butterfly Festival are free.


Steve Irvine  August 21
 
After the rain; a mushroom growing in a hollow maple trunk.

James Turland of the Bruce Birding Club (BBC) has much of its fall season lineup organized, with  several different leaders helping out. 

The BBC is a group of avid bird watchers based in Southampton, Bruce County, Ontario Canada. The club also includes many members from Grey County, and meets on the first and third Wednesdays of the month except during the summer. The outings are most often in Bruce County but several excursions each year take the group farther afield. 

If you would like more information or are interested in joining the club please visit the Bruce Birding Club Website at: https://sites.google.com/site/brucebirdingclub/home  and/or email James at   jaturland@gmail.com


Carol L. Edwards-Harrison
August 16 

Another native wildflower in my garden, the Cardinal Flower and another hummingbird using those tiny toes to hang on.

Still with ornithology, Stéphane Menu, Station Scientist at the Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory, along with his crew, have  now returned to Cabot Head for a new season of migration monitoring, from August 15 to October 31; 78 consecutive days. During this first week, most birds that were caught, banded and documented were Red-eyed vireos and 11 species of warblers. In addition, there were observations of a Bald Eagle pair with an eaglet on the nest, a young Peregrine Falcon, a young Cooper’s Hawk, a Great Horned Owl after a successful hunt and a Common Nighthawk.  For more information please visit www.bpbo.ca


Great Horned Owl, in Georgian Bluffs – Photo by Rob Wray ~ August 14
A Green Heron perching atop a snag near Woodford. Mid -August

Photo by Rob Wray


At this time of year I especially enjoy seeing the blooming Goldenrod and other wildflowers all aglow, waving in the summer breezes, and the Staghorn Sumac fronds, comprised of tiny individual flowers that glisten in the morning sunshine. 

Another late summer treat I discovered back in 1992, while I was cycling along a road allowance  in Sydenham Township, is to be accompanied by a flock of American Goldfinches, as they fly along with me, escorting me through their territory.  A year ago,  a dozen or more Monarch Butterflies performed a similar dance, fluttering along close by me in the morning sunshine, northeast of Kemble. 

Then, just this past week, I was delighted to be led by a family of Eastern Kingbirds, guiding me as they flew along from fence post to wire to roadside bushes, during a couple of  sunrise bike rides, while I was still cycling within the City of Owen Sound. 


Really enjoying the Baird’s Sandpipers this year. I think there was only one last year and it didn’t stay very long. Shallow Lake this morning.

by William Gray August 22
Red-headed Woodpecker, near Annan August 22 by William Gray

To close, a Nature quote from Verlyn Klinkenborg’s More Scenes from the Rural Life: “The grace of wildness changes somehow when it becomes familiar. When I say the grace of wildness, what I mean is its autonomy, its self-possession, the fact that it has nothing to do with us. The grace is in the separation, the distance, the sense of a self-sustaining way of life.” 

NATURE CLUB NEWS FOR JULY 2023

Nature Club News for July 2023

by John Dickson

At the Annual General Meeting of the Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) on June 8, President Brendan Mulroy presented the club’s Community Conservation Award (CCA) to Lynne Richardson in recognition of her 18 years as OSFN Secretary; her many birding field trips led for OSFN and the Bruce Birding Club; her volunteering as Compiler for the Meaford area Christmas Bird Counts; as Coordinator for the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas for Grey County and more.

Her passion and commitment to nature and to our club are being rewarded. (Photo by Marsha Courtney)

The club’s Honourary Life Membership Award was then presented to the husband and wife team of Willy Waterton and Audrey Armstrong, who have added to their CCA from a year ago with an outstanding contribution to the OSFN Publications Committee, especially for the Orchids Bruce & Grey 5th Edition.

In appreciation of their ongoing commitment to the club, the natural environment, the conservation and the work in our publications from the very beginnings and continuing to this day. (Photo by Marsha Courtney)


Guest presenter Alan Macnaughton then gave an illuminating talk and slideshow entitled the Moths All Around Us, and invited folks to join him for a Moth Night at the Grey Sauble Conservation Arboretum the next evening. He was particularly pleased to report that “one of the reasons for picking June was to see the giant silkmoths, and we were not disappointed. There were 2 cecropia silkmoths, the largest moth found in this area of Ontario. There were also 3 polyphemus moths, which are also large and crowd-pleasing. Combining all 3 years of observations together, I have recorded 274 species of moths at the arboretum. This was a notable increase in the 206 recorded in the first two years.”


Scott Parent is a Canadian Photographer and Filmmaker based on the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula. In July of 2019 Scott paddled from Drummond Island, MI, USA to Penetanguishene, ON CA with his 9-year-old daughter Acadia, tandem on a 14′ Expedition SUP to retrace their ancestral migration route of the Georgian Bay Metis Community of 1828. Together they collected water samples for microplastics research and trash they found along the route. Their journey covered over 480km across Lake Huron’s three bodies of water.


They share their incredible journey in their documentary film, Three Waters, on Wednesday July 26th at 7:00pm at the Parks Canada Visitor Centre (120 Chi sin tib dek Rd, Tobermory), presented, free of charge, by The Sources of Knowledge Board.To learn more about the film and the upcoming screening visit the Sources of Knowledge Facebook Page, or email Scott Parent directly at scott@mountainlifemedia.ca. Voluntary donations will go to the THREE WATERS FOUNDATION – a Lake Huron clean up initiative focused on caring for the remote islands of Lake Huron, and helping wildlife residing in those areas impacted by plastic pollution.


The OSFN Young Naturalists  club wrapped up its season with a birding hike at Isaac Lake. As Jody Johnson Pettit shared – “We spotted Great Egrets, a loon with 2 babies, a Black Crowned Night Heron, Sandhill Cranes in flight, and others.” Many thanks to Jody for coordinating the club’s activities in recent years – it has been much appreciated! The club will start up again in September under the direction of Amanda Eriksen.


 Speaking of birds, the Bruce Birding Club (BBC) capped off its 20th Season with a Berford Lake Bash that featured a day of birding in small groups, then gathering afterwards for dinner, and to both honour and roast the club’s founding coordinator, Fred Jazvac who later shared these sentiments with the club:


“I want to thank you for the astounding, and unexpected finish to my organizing of the Bruce Birding Club.  The gift of the large woodpecker carving, is now displayed in a prominent spot in our backyard garden where it can be seen …  and where the inscription on the back is visible.  This wooden bird will always be special to me, and a great reminder of one of the most memorable days of my life.  Like you, I came to the pot luck, expecting an enjoyable day of birding, socializing with the people who I like to be with, and left flabbergasted. Thank you for the wonderful times we had over the years, and thank you for the friendship we shared.”

James Turland will be leading the BBC as we begin the next twenty years of Birding.


Family Time – This Sandhill Crane family is enjoying a late breakfast.
July 5 –  photo by Pat Gillies in Bruce County

At the hospital area I have noticed equipment working on trail preparation to enhance the accessibility of the Healing Path, plus the blossoming of flowers in both the Welcoming Garden and the Pollinator Garden.

Snails large and small on a section of the Healing Path
Photo by John Dickson
Accessible Healing Path work is underway
Photo by John Dickson
A sample from the Pollinator Garden at the Hospital in Owen Sound
Photo by John Dickson


The area is also home to many Eastern Meadowlarks, American Goldfinches, Song Sparrows,  and Killdeer, as well as the various bees and butterflies buzzing and fluttering  among the blooming wildflowers that abound there. NeighbourWoods North volunteers have continued nurturing the trees planted there, with trimming and mulching activities in recent weeks.

Juvenile  Northern Flicker in Beaver Valley July 18 (photo by Ingrid Remkins)

Photo by Doug Martin

Thank you to Doug Martin for this report: The annual MacGregor Point Butterfly count was held July 8, 2023. Party groups were established
consisting of veteran butterfly counters, experienced amateurs, and Park Staff. We were also joined by several newcomers to butterfly identification who were interested in participating and learning more.
They soon found there were more butterflies than Monarchs and Cabbage Whites.


The general consensus was that overall butterfly numbers were down this year. This could have been count day weather related though. The count started about 10:00 AM with lots of activity for the first hour. Overcast skies took over about 11:00 and activity took a noticeable downturn. It seemed the butterflies sensed the approaching rain and took shelter. Monarchs are of special interest to many and this year’s numbers were down compared to past years. One party had six individuals, but most groups were lucky to have a single sighting during the day despite many patches of milkweed that were in healthy abundance.

Photo by Bob Taylor

Many naturalists in Grey-Bruce are observing young birds and other young animals in the company of their parents, from such larger birds as Sandhill Cranes, and Canada Geese, to Ospreys, Crows; smaller birds, including American Robins, Mourning Doves, juvenile Tree Swallows, Eastern Kingbirds, Northern Flickers, American Redstarts and Baltimore Orioles, plus fawns with the does, and even baby snails were all over the running path I was using the other day, requiring me to slow to a snail’s pace to watch more closely where my feet were going.


In addition, we are already seeing the early migration of Greater Yellowlegs and other shorebirds on their way back from the far north, who are already heading south for the winter.


I have also been noticing more butterfly species, as have many others. In particular I have been seeing Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, a Northern Crescent, and even a few Monarchs. Annual Butterfly counts often take place in July in Ontario, when they may be found visiting the vast array of various wildflowers that are blooming here in a sort of slow slideshow as the days and weeks go by.


To close, a Nature quote from Harry Belafonte’s memoir My Song, regarding an investment deal for the island paradise of Klein Bonaire that fell through: “in retrospect, it was all for the best. On the eve of the new Millennium, Klein Bonaire was established as a preserve in perpetuity. The flamingos will keep their home, and the local flora and fauna will stay as they are. So will the coral reefs whose fragile state we were naïve about when we drew up our plans.” 

NATURE CLUB NEWS FOR JUNE 2023

Nature Club News for June 2023

by John Dickson

Like a Moth drawn to a light at night-time, Alan Macnaughton is very attracted to this area and especially to “Mothing” here too. 

Alan’s first big experience with moths was seeing a Luna Moth at Big Bay when he was 14, and having built his first moth trap when he was 16, he has been interested in moths ever since. Until the last few years, after Alan retired from university work and had more time for moth activities, most of his moth work has been done at a cottage he rents just outside MacGregor Point Provincial Park. He’s been visiting there for 35 years now. So, he has had a lot of time to become acquainted with Grey-Bruce moths. Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) first invited him to offer an outdoor Moth Night in 2020 in that same Park, and then in 2021 and 2022 in Owen Sound. The response to Alan’s Moth nights and morning viewings grew each year, with even more interest, and appreciation for sharing his passion for Moths  with OSFN and guests from the Toronto Entomological Association (TEA), at Owen Sound in 2021, and 2022.  Alan Macnaughton also accepted OSFN’s invitation to give a season wrap up Moth Talk, “The Moths All Around Us”, which will take place at 7:30pm on Thursday, June 8, at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre. 

He says that Owen Sound, with its abundant natural and forested areas, is a great place to be an aspiring Moth’er or just a person who appreciates the amazing diversity of the insect world. Alan will explain why he finds moths so fascinating and why he especially likes the moths of Owen Sound and Grey-Bruce.

Everyone is welcome to attend this OSFN event, and admission is free or by donation, for non members. The Moth presentation will be preceded by a dinner event and the 2023 AGM. 

 OSFN also plans to offer this as a Zoom Webinar. If interested in receiving a zoom link, please email, in advance, to  web@osfn.ca     with Moths in the subject line.

For more information please visit www.osfn.ca


Now into their final week of monitoring until the fall, here is an excerpt from Stephane Menu’s most recent report on behalf of the Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory, where birds are banded, and documented along with many other avian observations:


Among the late-season migrants, it is always quite a surprise to have Blue Jays in this category! Most of the Blue Jays are sedentary except for the sliver of the population at the very north of their breeding range. A sliver maybe, but that is still a lot of birds: on June 4, there was a flock of about 400 Blue Jays rising up over the trees in the eastern horizon. As they rose and dipped, turned and mingled, it was extremely difficult to precisely count them: it was a 10-bird by 10-bird count done very quickly before they dove down into the woods again. If you ever happen to be in said wood as a large group of jays fall from the sky, the ‘whoosh’ sound they make would have you crouching in sudden fear! At least the first time you hear it. Quite remarkable!

We are now entering the final countdown of the Spring season, with the last day on June 10 fast approaching. Stay tuned for a quick summary next week! To learn more please visit  www.bpbo.ca   



May 29 at 10:10 AM
  · Lady oriole knows that everyday is celebrate female birds day! (photo by Carol Edwards-Harrison)

Jody Johnson Pettit  and Marsha Courtney were on hand for the Young Naturalists attending the 25th Anniversary Huron Fringe Birding Festival  at MacGregor Point Provincial Park. It was a beautiful afternoon for a nature hike, learning from Audrey Armstrong and Norah Toth about pollinator gardens, invasive plants and the various turtles, plants, trees, and frogs that live in the different ecosystems in the park. Always a special time to visit and see such natural diversity right in front of you.

First we ran into Audrey Armstrong who jumped in to teach us about the new pollinator garden by the visitor centre (photo by Marsha Courtney)
Secondly we had Norah Toth lead us on a hike on the Huron Fringe boardwalk through the wetland. (photo by Marsha Courtney)
and our highlight was this wonderful Grey Tree Frog (photo by Marsha Courtney)

Springtime is certainly very special here, with so many floral highlights on display. Just this past week, for the very first time I was shown the delicate blossoms on a Butternut Tree, and Horse Chestnut and Locust trees in the area are showing off their amazing blossom structures too. I arrived home one day last week, to be shown a great multitude of baby spiders on their delicate webbing draped over our peonies, with their blooming  still a few weeks away. And just this yesterday morning, while I gave a drink to the flowers out front, a gorgeous And just yesterday, a gorgeous Large Yellow Underwing moth, (a lifer for me – ID help from Alan) shifted somewhat, avoiding the gentle spray I was offering, and crawled out where it could be admired. Even on the edge of town here, I can hear Eastern Meadowlarks with their frequent and melodious warbling, and the other day I spotted a Brown Thrasher hopping through behind the houses here. So many Springtime highlights to appreciate and enjoy!


Green Heron at Hibou June 5 (Photo by William Gray)

NeighbourWoods North urban forest volunteers are wrapping up their busy Springtime campaign in the Forest of Health and Healing at the Hospital in Owen Sound this Saturday, June 10, from 9 to 11am. You are invited to see the work they have been doing and consider joining and/or supporting this important team. They will be doing some tree care, but also having some fun and celebrating with the dedication of their new shed with its own sign. Winners of the Annual Flowering Crabapple Blossoms Photo Contest will be announced. Coffee for adults, juice for youngsters, plus donuts and muffins will also be available, and perhaps even some music. See you there!


Photo by Rob Wray – taken locally during May
Indigo bunting first light

The Friends of Hibou are also celebrating 50 years since the establishment of Hibou Conservation Area. Here is the message you will find on their website:Saturday June 24th is getting closer. Do you have your ticket yet ($10 for adults, children free)? You won’t want to miss this exciting event, starting at 5pm with food and entertainment. Musicians will play from under the large picnic shelter at Hibou Conservation Area (GSCA). Imagine enjoying the music with the view of the water behind them. Bring your lawn chair and find a spot just right for you. The timing is perfect just following the Summer Solstice. Picture a beautiful evening as we celebrate fifty years of having this 2km of shoreline open to us to experience nature and take in all it has to offer us.Thank you to Wanda Westover (realtor) and Knapp Family Endowment Fund for sponsoring this event and making your ticket affordable.We encourage you to buy your tickets ahead of time. To purchase your ticket go to Runners’ Den across from city hall Owen Sound or contact Friends of Hibou to make a different arrangement: friendsofhibou@rogers.com


To close, a Nature quote from Sylvia Tyson’s Joyner’s Dream – “My grandfather …  introduced me to golden mornings fishing on Georgian Bay, the mist rising off the water, and only the songs of the birds, the lapping of the water against the hull and the breeze rustling in the reeds to break the silence.” 

NATURE CLUB NEWS FOR MAY 2023

Nature Club News for May 2023

by John Dickson

Wasps and Orchids will be featured at the May 11 Indoor Meeting of Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN), at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre, and on Zoom. 

The OSFN Publications Committee spokesperson, Audrey Armstrong, invites you to arrive early, from 6pm to 7pm, to see and purchase your copy of the 5th Edition of Orchids Bruce & Grey ($30. Retail), with all new images by award-winning photographer Willy Waterton. Special pricing at this time will be only $25. And just a little news flash: Willy and Audrey are giving an interview about Orchids Bruce & Grey, Sunday, at 8:30 am on Fresh Air, CBC radio.As part of the book launch, special presentations will be made following the meeting start at 7pm. This evening will be the culmination of a two year project to update the Orchids book, including a daunting quest to find and photograph the 49 known Orchid Species  recorded in Bruce and Grey. Congratulations to Willy Waterton and the OSFN Publications Committee on this magnificent achievement!


Following the book launch, the featured guest speakers for the evening are Dr. Bruce Broadbent, and Jay Cossey who will present The Wasps We Love, and the Wasps We Detest: Our Complex Relationship.

Dr. Bruce Broadbent (Entomologist) was a Research Scientist with the Federal Government/Agriculture Canada for 33 years in Ontario (Vineland and London) and his expertise is in the field of the Biological Control of Insect Pests – using tiny parasitic wasps to control pests in agriculture. His team’s greatest success stories were in the Ontario greenhouse industry.

Bruce was born in Montreal and grew up in Wellington, New Zealand. He received his MSc. from McGill University (1976) and his PhD from University of Guelph (1980). He retired in 2013 and he and his wife moved from London to Southern Georgian Bay. Bruce says his children and 6 grandchildren seem to visit more often now that he lives near the Bay!

Jay Cossey is a nature photojournalist who has contributed images to numerous field guides, textbooks, periodicals and calendars, including all 24 images for National Geographic’s first butterfly calendar.
Jay has been fascinated by bugs since he was a child. He is the author of two regional butterfly guides–one for the state of Indiana, and one entitled 

Southern Ontario Butterflies and their Natural History, which he will have with him for purchase

For more information please visit www.osfn.ca  and if you would like to join the evening on zoom you may request a link by sending an email, in advance, to    web@osfn.ca     with Wasps in the subject line.


NeighbourWoods North is gearing up to move forward with VOLUNTEER TREE DAYS – planting, mulching, etc., this Spring beginning on Saturday morning, 9 to 11am, May 6, 13, 20 & 27 and June 3 & 10. To Volunteer – You can pre register here or just come by.  For insurance reasons, please sign in upon arrival.  Wear clothing appropriate to the weather.  Gloves are a necessity.  Bring rakes, shovels, buckets, and wheelbarrows if you have them.  Meet at the fenced power station across from the Emergency Department at the Hospital in Owen Sound. Parking is free along the laneway only while volunteering.  Grass has been planted along the laneway so please do not park on the grounds.


On Thursday May 4, a crew of dedicated volunteers with Friends of Hibou along with GSCA staff were hard at work transporting and replacing over 100 boards along the Nature Trails Boardwalks there, at Hibou Conservation Area. A shoreline cleanup session was also held there on April 21.   This important maintenance work will also ensure good safe conditions as Bob Knapp declares that ” 

Friends of Hibou are appreciative of our volunteers and their great work. June 24, our Hibou Celebration 50 is getting closer.”

Friends of Hibou by Don Sankey

Young Naturalists on April 30 – by Jody Johnson Pettit
“It was a rainy day to plant red pine trees at the Owen Sound hospital.A small group from the Owen Sound Young Naturalists Club and NeighbourWoods North volunteers turned out to plant 30 trees on the hospital grounds.”Many thanks to all of you!

Young Naturalists and NeighbourWoods North April 30 Photos by Jody Johnson Pettit

On my own adventure bike rides and trail runs these past few weeks, I have observed newly returned Brown Thrashers with nesting materials, many Springtime wildflowers, Trilliums both red and white, Wild Leeks and many others, plus many fish well upstream in local creeks and rivers. However, I had not seen many backyard bunnies in our neighbourhood for quite a while and I was actually wondering if they were being quiet while starting families. Today I happened to see some happy evidence of that as a wee, baby bunny appeared in our back yard to nibble on the grass there, before exiting under our neighbour’s deck from whence it had arrived. Although the returning bird migration these days is well underway there is a reverse migration going on too – one that usually happens at this very same time each year. Many of our local birders will be flocking to Point Pelee and Pelee Island to welcome the amazing plethora of birds arriving, some to stay there and nest, others to simply forage and rest, before continuing northwards to their preferred destination for raising families this year. For the humans it is like a homecoming tradition, seeing other birders at Pelee they only see at that location, before returning to their own homelands to witness and enjoy the diversity of birdlife arriving and/or passing through in Springtime in order to arrive at their preferred habitat when their food sources and territories are ready for them too.


Festival Chair Norah Toth has shared this report on the Huron Fringe Birding Festival (HFBF), celebrating its 25th season this year:

We are very pleased with Festival registration. After 6 weeks of registration, 52 of the 90 Festival events are full. Most of our availability is on the second weekend of the Festival. But, there remain some great opportunities to join us.

For our 25th year, we are pleased to announce that the recipients of the Norah Toth Award for 2023 are Martin and Kathy Parker, in recognition of their many important contributions to the first HFBF, to the Breeding Bird Atlas, the Saugeen Field Naturalists, and the Federation of Ontario Naturalists (now Ontario Nature). 

We have also added a Nature Showcase. This will be held at the Visitor Centre on 5 days and will feature a variety of local organizations. New this year is a Community painting which will be guided by local artist, Sue Allison, from May 26 to May 28. Sue was a leader during the first Festival 25 years ago! We always welcome Vortex who bring scopes and binoculars for purchase on Saturday, May 27 only.  This will be the 16th year that Vortex have returned to support the Festival. We are also hosting the Owen Sound Field Naturalists who have recently released two books: Vascular Plants Bruce & Grey and Orchids Bruce & Grey. These, along with several other OSFN publications, will be available for purchase each day of the Nature Showcase.

To recognize the 25th year of the Festival, local chainsaw carver Gerald Gunkel was commissioned to carve a special commemorative carving for the Festival and MacGregor Point Provincial Park. In addition, “So you want to be a Birder?” will introduce techniques and tips to novice birders on Saturday, May 27; Steve Burrows author of the Birder Murder Mystery series will be the keynote speaker on Saturday, May 28 and the Southampton Rotary are sponsoring Wild Ontario who will be at Inverhuron Provincial Park on Saturday, June 3 starting at 1:30pm in the picnic area. Park entry fees apply unless you are a registered participant in the Festival.

The Festival attracts top leaders from across the province and from our own backyard. Their credentials range from career ornithologists, professional tour leaders, academics, educators, Big Year birders, world birders, and those who have had a lifelong hobby and citizen scientist interest in birds.  You’ll be dazzled by their rich backgrounds and vast expertise. 

For details about the Festival and event Registration – huronfringebirdingfestival.ca

Norah Toth


American Woodcock at MacGregor Point Provincial Park. Photo by Judith Pelley

To close, a delightfully apropos Nature Haiku by award-winning local writer, performer and arts advocate, Elizabeth Warren, from mix well –  a poetry anthology. 

on the patio
a wasp and i negotiate
over dinner

and from Will James’ Smoky the Cowhorse

Four long winter months went by. Then one day … the meadowlarks was a tuning up on the high corral posts, and along with the bare patches of ground that could be seen, no better signs was needed that spring had come…Fine warm spring days came, the kind of days when folks and animals alike hunt for a place where the sun shines the best.

Notice of Bylaw Review & Revision at AGM

Government legislation is requiring changes to the Bylaws for not-for-profit groups and charities. 
The Annual General Meeting will be held on June 8, 2023 at 7 pm at the Bayshore Community Centre, Owen Sound. In order to be prepared for the Update to the Bylaws and the institution of new Club policies, please read the message below from Club President, Brendan Mulroy and review the Bylaws in advance of the meeting.  The policies that have been adopted by the Board are listed below. The Agenda and Club reports for the AGM will be sent out closer to June 8th.

Dear Members:

In order to comply with government legislation, your OSFN Board has undertaken a review of the club bylaws.

Download the PDF of Proposed changes.

I ask that you review this document in advance of the June 8th meeting.  If you have any questions, suggestions or revisions with regard to the document, please send them to me prior to the meeting at: president@owensoundfieldnaturalists.ca

The document will be presented at the June 8th AGM, whereupon membership will vote whether to accept the revised Bylaws of the Owen Sound Field Naturalists.

Thank you,

Brendan Mulroy, President

On behalf or the members of the Owen Sound Field Naturalists, The Board of Directors has adopted the two policies listed below.

OSFN Code of Conduct:
All members of OSFN have the right to feel safe, and be safe, when participating in OSFN events.  With this right comes the responsibility for everyone to be accountable for their actions.

All members have a responsibility to promote a safe environment.

No member shall engage in activity that endangers the safety of other club members.

All members are to be treated with respect and dignity.

All members have a responsibility to resolve conflicts in a way that is civil and respectful.

Any member who does not adhere to this member Code of Conduct will be asked to leave the event, at the time of the infraction.  Repeat violations of the Code of Conduct may result in revocation of the individual’s membership with OSFN.

OSFN Screening Policy
The obligation to Duty of Care can be accomplished by adopting a screening process that identifies individuals who may be considered a risk to certain segments of society.  In particular, these individuals may pose a risk to the Vulnerable Sector Person group.

OSFN members who are in regular contact with youth under the age of 18 or with other vulnerable sector participants, and/or act in positions of authority and trust in club activities, will be required to undergo a Vulnerable Sector check with their local police group.

In particular, the leader and assistant leader of the OSFN Young Naturalists group must undergo this screening.  In addition, the President and Treasurer of the club will be subjected to a police check.

The results of the Vulnerable Sector Screen or the Police Check will be shown to the President by the applicant.  The President will confirm there are no issues of concern.  The President will advise the Secretary that the volunteer has been screened for documentation in subsequent minutes.  The original form is returned and retained by the applicant until such time that they cease to be involved with OSFN as a volunteer/board member.  They will immediately report to the President if there are any offences that have occurred after the initial screening.  They will also sign a Criminal Background Declaration on a yearly basis. This will be submitted to the President.  Information gathered from the screening process will remain private and confidential.

NATURE CLUB NEWS FOR APRIL 2023

Nature Club News for April 2023

by John Dickson

Naturalists throughout Bruce and Grey counties will be saddened to learn of the recent passing of Jean Maher, in her 90th year. She and her late husband Nels Maher were very active participants and award winners in the Saugeen Field Naturalists (now Saugeen Nature), the Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) and on its Plant Committee which produced several highly acclaimed Nature Books.  Only a month ago Jean joined the other remaining Plant Committee members for recognition and photos, at the launch of the Vascular Plant List Bruce & Grey 5th Edition.

It has been such a rewarding experience for me to have known Jean Maher even a little, through our mutual involvement in the Owen Sound Field Naturalists. I will certainly miss her fun and engaging questions and stories at OSFN club meetings, and her enthusiasm for Nature too.


Jean was such a friendly and generous lady, often inviting the club members for field trips at her Family Farm/Nature Reserve, where the enjoyment of Nature, plus her hospitality and good food, always went hand in hand. My sincere condolences to all her family and friends.


Others have shared their memories of Jean Maher too:

Nels Maher may have been the more recognized local nature expert but Jean was just as knowledgeable as indicated by their business card that they handed out.  “Outdoor Nature Guides – “Individual or group Adventures in Grey & BruceNels and Jean Maher.” After Nels’ death in 2005, Jean hand wrote on the business card above her name “Consultant” and “I can still tell people where to go ” typical Jean – tongue in cheek.  

Jean and Nels were arguably the most knowledgeable outdoor guides in Bruce and Grey, both having grown up in the area, and shared their combined love and knowledge of Bruce and Grey’s special nature spots. Jean was especially proud of her family’s farm on the Saugeen River near Durham. The whole family worked together to foster this as a nature reserve. They loved to share it with OSFN members and the public. 

Other than the huge respect for their knowledge of nature in Bruce & Grey, which the couple so willingly shared with us, we will always fondly remember their offerings of homemade elderberry wine.  After any outing you were offered a sample from the trunk of their car or after a tour of the Maher’s lush and shady Owen Sound backyard fern garden you were handed a glass of rich and robust elderberry wine. We’re happy to think that Jean and Nels are  now reunited, the two are out exploring a favorite haunt in Bruce and Grey.  

 Audrey Armstrong & Willy Waterton

Please visit https://www.tannahill.com/  for obituary, visitation and funeral details for Jean Maher.


The Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) are offering two speaker events this month. First, a regular Indoor Meeting with guest Don Scallen about one of his favourite topics – Salamanders. For decades, Don Scallen has visited springtime ponds to witness the wondrous spectacle of Spotted Salamander and Jefferson Salamander breeding. He will share pictures and videos of this special time of year. Also a prolific writer of Nature articles for In the Hills, and other publications, he will have with him, for sale, copies of his popular book Nature Where We Live. 

This presentation will begin at 7pm (open by 6:20pm) Thursday April 13, at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre, and will also be available on Zoom. The event is open to the public and everyone is welcome. Admission is free or by donation, and if you wish to receive a zoom link, please email in advance to  web@osfn.ca with Don in the subject line.

Don Scallen (supplied photo)
Spotted Salamander (Photo by Don Scallen)

Secondly, a special 8th Annual Celebrate Earth Day event with keynote speaker Lenore Keeshig, will be held, once again aboard the Chi Cheemaun at its berth in the Owen Sound harbour, at 2pm Sunday April 23. 

 An award winning storyteller, poet, author, and naturalist, Lenore Keeshig will present “Good of the Earth.” and shared this description – “In celebration of Earth Day, I want to share through stories, my understanding of Anishinaabe relationship to the land beginning with the name we call ourselves and where we come from. These stories will highlight various facets of Anishinaabe connection to the land and water, from a barren landscape to the food we eat and where we stand today in this era of Truth and Reconciliation.”  

Due to limited seating aboard the Chi Cheemaun (an Ojibway name meaning Big Canoe, and suggested by Donald Keeshig, Lenore’s father), advance purchase of tickets, only $5. each, are recommended from the Owen Sound and North Grey Union Public Library, Suntrail Source for Adventure in Hepworth, and at the Owen Sound Farmers’ Market from Sheila Gunby, as well as at the OSFN’s Salamander talk, April 13.  Thank you to event sponsor Caframo, and host Owen Sound Transportation Company. Please visit    www.osfn.ca    for more details and information. 


The Bruce Birding Club had a special adventure in the Algonquin Park area this past week, led by Kiah Jasper and Alessandra Kite. After the warming temperatures melted the ice build-up, a successful owl outing that evening garnered quick responses from a Northern Saw-whet Owl, and two separate  Barred Owls. Other highlights the next day were Boreal Chickadees, (a Lifer for some) one Canada Jay and three Pine Martens, followed by some successful birding along the way back home again.


Thank you to Jody Johnson Pettit for this outline: 

The Young Naturalists Club got creative and hands-on at The Georgian Bay School of the Arts for their March meeting. Under the guide of Beth and Alan, the kids created trash owls and weaved scenes of water and wheat fields. The two nature-inspired projects were crafted using yarn, recycled materials, fabric and wood. The children enjoyed the experience, and learning how to weave yarn, and safely use hammers and screwdrivers.


April 4 – Den Mother
Yesterday, while on a trip out of town, I spotted this fox resting on a mound of what looks like fresh dug soil. I’m sure it is a den, and hopefully there will be babies. (Photo by Pat Gillies)

The second annual Earth Day Grey Bruce has an exciting afternoon lined up:  Bring your Kids out to the Earth Day Celebration on April 22 from 2 to 5pm at the Owen Sound Farmers’ Market. There will be live music and theatre, face painting, henna, and sidewalk chalk. And don’t forget the parade at 4pm! Feel free to dress up as your favourite animal or Earth loving character.

The event itinerary includes activities at both the Owen Sound and North Grey Union Public Library, and the Tom Thomson Art Gallery from 11:00am to 2:00pm. Outdoors at 12:45 to 1:30pm will feature a Water Ceremony in Queen’s Park, 1st Ave. W (across the river from the Farmers’ Market) with Shirley John, Strong White Buffalo Woman from Saugeen First Nation and the M’Wikwedong Hand Drumming Group.

2:00-5:00 – Climate Fair and Children’s Area opens at the Owen Sound Farmers’ Market, 88 8th Street East.
and featuring: Music with Saugeen Sound Conspiracy, then Poet Laureate Richard-Yves Sitoski, followed by Wildflower Dance Arts, O’Sing, G.R.I.N.D., Sheatre ‘Act for Climate’ group and Durham Sauntering Band, all leading to a 4:00 ‘Procession of the Species’ Parade that everyone can join, featuring puppets, masks, and costumes reflecting the theme of endangered wildlife and a Sheatre Act for Climate theatrical  performance on the parade route. 


April 5 Waxwing (Photo by Pat Gillies)

To close, nature quotes from two well-known and popular entertainment personalities, who both were talented and skilled as musicians, painters, and writers, and both were raised on large islands – Newfoundland and Vancouver Island.

From Gordon Pinsent’s Next, high in the volcanic mountains of the Sierra Madre Occidental range, while portraying Ontario’s Fred Urquhart in Flight of the Butterflies: “As we approached I could see a group of tall trees, whose trunks and branches were dripping with …big yellow cascades … and as we got closer we could suddenly hear the strange, unique sound of millions of fluttering wings and could see thousands of monarch butterflies…We came back down, returning to reality. Looking up at the Sierra Madre made us wonder if we had really been up there, or if we’d dreamed the whole thing. I had had the strange sense, while being with the monarchs, that we were only as much a part of their world as they had allowed us to be; the monarchs had been given to Mexico as a gift, and now, would be seen by the world.”

From Ian Tyson’s The Long Trail – My Life in the West: “The ravens have returned..[for]..their sixth or seventh spring here at the ranch, and the male, jet black, is almost the size of an eagle. When I went to move bales in the hayshed yesterday, I heard the faint mutterings of their babies in the nest, high in the rafters… I like having ’em around, even though they can be noisy as hell.” and “The Rockies … are so aesthetically over the top – changing every morning, orchestrated by the light – I never get tired of ’em.” and finally “Only the wind is forever.”


March 31 – Although this is not the first time I have seen one here this year, (first sighting: March 25), the Grackles are definitely back! And when the light hits them just so, they are a striking bird..(North of Kimberley, Photo by Ingrid Remkins)

NATURE CLUB NEWS FOR MARCH 2023

Nature Club News for March 2023

by John Dickson

The Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) present Members’ Night,  6:30 to 9pm, Thursday, March 9, at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre. This popular annual event features several speakers with a variety of Nature topics to share.

Audrey Armstrong of the OSFN Publications Committee is  delighted to announce that “You are invited to arrive early and join us for the Book Launch and Sale of Vascular Plant List  Bruce & Grey,  5th Edition, from 6:30 to 7pm. During this time you will have the opportunity to purchase (cash or cheque) copies of the book at the early bird price of $20.00.
When the OSFN club meeting starts at 7pm we will have a brief presentation by the compiler, Tyler Miller, who will talk about the process of revising the Vascular Plant List Bruce & Grey, including his detailed dataset for the Vascular Plant List Bruce & Grey: Compendium version.”

The 5th edition of the Vascular Plant List Bruce & Grey is a keystone publication of the Owen Sound Field Naturalists. If you want to sustain wildlife with native plants, this book will give you all the native plants, shrubs and trees for Bruce & Grey.  It is an essential reference for naturalists, botanists, life science inventory specialists, land use planners, resource management agencies, and consultants who are working within Bruce and Grey Counties.

Popular hike leader and presenter, David Morris calls his remarks “What’s Up, Buttercup”.  It will be a quick look at the diversity of buttercup species that can be found in this area, and some tips as to how to tell them apart.  Meg Dean will present a display of Nature mementos from around North America, and Rob Wray will offer “A multi-genre photographic tour of Grey/Bruce’s natural environment, by a beginner photographer.”

The evening will also feature a second launch – of ticket sales for OSFN’s 8th annual Celebrate Earth Day Keynote Speaker event featuring Lenore Keeshig, aboard the Chi Cheemaun at 2pm Sunday April 23, and sponsored by Caframo.

Renowned storyteller, poet, author and naturalist Lenore Keeshig’s presentation is entitled “Good of the Earth” and in Lenore’s words: “In celebration of Earth Day, I want to share through stories, my understanding of Anishinaabe relationship to the land beginning with the name we call ourselves and where we come from. These stories will highlight various facets of Anishinaabe connection to the land and water, from a barren landscape to the food we eat and where we stand today in this era of Truth and Reconciliation.”

 John Dickson will have the first available tickets (limited seating, still only $5. each, cash please) for this special event, for sale to those in attendance.  

In addition to being LIVE at the Bayshore, OSFN also plans to offer this March 9th event as a zoom webinar. To request a ZOOM LINK please send an email, in advance, to web@osfn.ca with Members in the subject line

To learn more about OSFN, Young Naturalists, upcoming Speakers and Field Trips, etc., please visit  www.osfn.ca


Wild Turkeys on a prowl under the glorious sunshine…Grey Road 25. (Photo by Fely Clarke February 21)

Congratulations to the Huron Fringe Birding Festival, on their 25th anniversary season, May 26 – 29 and June 1 – 4, 2023.  celebrating birds, birding and nature! The Festival is based out of beautiful MacGregor Point Provincial Park, where events explore the rich niches of the Park, and also venture throughout the ‘Huron Fringe’ of land along Lake Huron’s shore, up the bountiful Bruce Peninsula, and to many significant natural areas of Bruce and Grey Counties.


The Festival offers an incredible 90+ events over two 4-day weekends in late May and early June! This time of year captures both the end of migration and the beginning of the nesting season, ensuring an abundance of birds. Morning, afternoon, all-day and evening events are offered daily. You can choose to attend one, some, or pick a full-Festival package!  All events are led by top local, provincial and global tour leaders.

Whether your interest is strictly ‘for the birds’, or if you wish to delve into botany, photography, geology, cultural history and more, you will be sure to find interesting, informative and fun events.   But sign up early as many events fill within the first few days of registration.  This is one popular Festival!

I recommend you visit the website at https://huronfringebirdingfestival.ca and check out this year’s lineup so that you can select your preferred items when the HFBF registration opens March 17 at 6am.


Photo of  Pine Grosbeak by William Gray – March 1, near Ben Allen

On March 4, at 11am, Grey County Master Gardeners are offering Seminar 2 of their free 2023 Eco-Responsible Gardener Seminar Series, via zoom. Entitled “The Best Plants for Ontario Food Forests”, it will feature Ben Caesar, owner of Fiddlehead Nursery in Kimberley, Ontario, as he identifies some of the easy to care for trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials that provide sustainable crop harvesting. “We will go on a virtual tour with Ben as he shows us his ever-expanding demonstration garden of the best plants for edible and beautiful landscapes. Learn how to grow a sustainable food source while helping the environment!” To learn more and to register please visit www.greycountymastergardeners.com


OSFN’s Young Naturalists (YN) Coordinator, Jody Johnson Pettit, compiled this report on their recent activities: Seven children and their caregivers attended the Owen Sound Young Naturalists hike from the Pottawatomi Memorial Forest to Jones Falls and back on Sunday, February 26.   We played several rounds of owl and mouse – a predator/prey game, looked in crevices, examined tracks in the snow, ferns, moss, fungi, marveled at the escarpment and the power of the waterfall. The next meeting of the YN is scheduled for Sunday, March 26 at the Georgian Bay School for the Arts. We will be creating several nature inspired arts and crafts.

Photo by Jody Johnson Pettit
Photo by Jody Johnson Pettit

Quite a few people in this area have been rewarded for their nocturnal efforts and adventures in recent weeks witnessing, first hand, many fabulous Natural (some might say Supernatural) sightings of Northern Lights/Aurora Borealis as well as unusual juxtapositions of celestial bodies in our night skies.  And, in the Mediterranean, the  powerful forces of Nature have recently contributed to rough seas, resulting in the destruction and sinking of sea-going vessels along with passengers and crew members, in the area of Calabria, Italy. 


Lord and Lady of the Valley…(North of Kimberley, February 18 Photo by Ingrid Remkins)

To close, I have apropos Nature phenomena quotes from two sources – first from Peter Nichols’ Ruffo of Calabria, which I just happened to be reading when I heard Calabria mentioned in the news. “Often I dream that I am out riding in the mountains…It is beautiful country… The air is a soft champagne from which the cork has just that moment flown away; the breeze light, the chestnut forests a rich green marked with the cream of the blossoms.”  and later “In my dreams it is all one, the prelude and the catastrophe; the relentless hot wind…followed by torrential rain and the subterranean roaring. Then the great rents in the surface of the earth…the earthquake had split the Ancient city apart…”

Secondly, from OSFN’s Earth Day Keynote Speaker of 2022, Hap Wilson, in his Dance of the Deadmen – As Jack Hornby in his nightmare dreams of the Great War was  seeing “men falling, flailing, getting up again in a strange macabre dance … the dance of the deadmen” and Edgar wakes him with “Come down to the river! …The northern lights, remember, the dance of the dead Jack, they’re incredible. You can get a dandy look at them from the river” …”they walked to the centre of the frozen Thelon River…looking up into the heavens to watch the spirits dance.”