September 9th, 2021

Nature Club NewsSeptember 2021

by John Dickson

The Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) kick off their new season with a special presentation, inspired by the naming, last year, of the new Tenth Street Bridge. It will take place via Zoom, at 7pm on Thursday, September 9, and is entitled  Gitche-Name-wikwedong – Great Sturgeon Bay, with speakers Sidney Nadjiwon, Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation Elder; Ryan Lauzon, Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation Fisheries Assessment Biologist; and Alexander Duncan, Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia.

Learn about the history of the Sturgeon in the Saugeen Ojibway Nation Territory, including their biology, their historic importance to the Saugeen Ojibway Nation and current status in Lake Huron/Georgian Bay. We will also learn about the Saugeen Ojibway Nation fisheries assessment program, and related fisheries research projects.  The meeting will be held virtually, in the form of a webinar on ZOOM, and is open to the public – If you would like to attend but have not received the link sent to OSFN Members, please contact with Gitche or Sturgeon in the subject, preferably prior to the event which starts at 7PM.

The club also has field trips lined up throughout September, November and October, with such diverse themes as botany, geology, ornithology, old growth forests, and even history. These and membership information are all listed at plus a special mention for the Grand Opening of the Trout Hollow Nature Reserve, from 10am to 4pm, on Saturday September 18 near the Riverside Centre, just outside Meaford. This is a truly unique property of 160 acres along the Bighead River watershed, with historical, industrial and natural significance in the Meaford area.  Generously donated by the Knight family to the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy (EBC) earlier this year, it will be stewarded by OSFN. 

This Grand Opening will feature opportunities for you to discover and learn, as several themed (birding with Beth Anne Currie, botany with Barbara Palmer and history with Robert Burcher) hiking tours are planned. Registration is required, mainly so that the organizers will have an idea of how many to expect. Please visit this link: 

and this one to register, primarily so EBC knows how many people to expect. 


Together with Grey Sauble Conservation, Friends of Hibou are again offering guided hikes/walks this fall. More may be offered later in the season depending on weather and Covid so watch their website  and Face Book page.

 All hikes will begin at the parking lot by the Pump House at the Southern entrance to the trails. Covid Restrictions will be followed. Please have a mask handy and keep a safe distance from others. These are the hikes being offered: 

Sept 20  Monday 10:00am till 12:00   Adapted Forest bathing walk with Marie Knapp;

Sept 30  Thursday 9:30 till 12:00  A guided hike on the Interpretive Trail with Bob Knapp;

Oct 7 Thursday 9:30 till 12:00  A guided hike on the Interpretive trail with Barry Lewin. 

Barbara Palmer led a botany hike for OSFN recently and shared this report:

On a sunny September morning, a group of plant enthusiasts met at Black Creek Provincial Park for a stroll to observe flowers and plants.

Goldenrods and asters were abundant and colourful. Hairy goldenrod lined the trail in a couple of spots. Asters included calico, smooth, panicled and purple-stemmed. The purple-stemmed asters were particularly showy, with tall, fuzzy stems and lots of purple flowers. Despite its name, this species doesn’t always have purple stems! 

Other flowering plants included turtlehead, cardinal flower, small flowered agalinus, and  boneset. Many other plants were observed that had previously bloomed, leaving us with seeds or just leaves to notice. Poison ivy kept us on the trail as it was everywhere!

A Massasauga rattlesnake found lounging beside the trail was a highlight. All in all, a good morning of botanizing.

Lots of colours at the Welcoming Garden in front of the Hospital in Owen Sound by John Dickson

I have been enjoying the wide spectrum of colours in the blooming flowers of the Welcoming Garden in front of the Hospital building, as well as the trees, bees, birds, butterflies and mushrooms as I jog along a stretch of the Healing Path that meanders through the meadow there. 

Speaking of spectrums, bright  sunlight and a couple of brief showers on the morning of Labour Day produced some lovely rainbows – even double ones.

Double Rainbow on Labour Day, in Owen SOund  by John Dickson

NeighbourWoods North is now planning the various steps and schedules for the fall. Lloyd Lewis sent me this update: “It will be a busy Fall with the start of the Meadow Garden and moving about 25 trees to accommodate an expanded visitor parking lot.”

To learn more about the good work of this group, please visit

With the fall migration of birds now underway it is hard to ignore the changes in the weather as flocks of Monarch butterflies are also getting ready to fly to Mexico. While I was cycling with friends on a road north east of Kemble almost two weeks ago, I was surprised, and delighted, to see about 10 Monarchs fluttering right in front of me, and even more of them along the edge of the adjacent field.

Photo from Cycling with Friends and Monarchs too – north east of Kemble,  August 27, by John Dickson

 Coincidentally, earlier that morning, on this same stretch of road, also cycling we had met Willy Waterton and Audrey Armstrong, who had held a very successful…

“…Monarch Tagging Workshop August 21 at Isaac Lake. We had 43 participants over two time slots and two days.  With assistance from Brian Robin and Patti Byers, we tagged 69 super generation monarchs as Citizen Scientists for Monarch Watch.  There were 9 family members who came out for a preview day on August 20 when we were astonished at the numbers of nectaring monarchs in the meadow overlooking Isaac Lake. Estimated over 100 monarchs nectaring along with clouded sulphurs and cabbage whites on clover. We hosted members from OSFN, Saugeen Nature and a few out of town guests. Everyone who participated successfully netted at least one or more monarch. Even the youngest member, aged 4, netted one with a child’s net.

The morning of August 21 started early with a radio interview on CBC with Jason de Souza on Fresh Air.  There were lots of big smiles as members said “Adios mariposa” releasing their “tagged” monarchs for the 4,000 km flight to Michoachan, Mexico. Commenters included: 

Kate McLaren who wrote:  “Thank you Audrey and your team for the great workshop yesterday! When we stopped by the viewing platform on the way out from Isaac lake I found a beautiful chrysalis! Watched 10 Sandhills cruising the sky, a pair of swans, saw a fisher run across the road… ”  

…and Patricia Heath who wrote: “Thank you Audrey for a wonderful lesson and experience.  It was awesome indeed”

Photo of Monarch Butterfly Chrysalis – this summer, by Robert Taylor, Tiverton

Stephane Menu, from the bird observatory ( at Cabot Head entitled his most recent weekly blog “Walking through a Cloud of Monarchs!” Here is an excerpt – 

“… afterwards, an intense thunderstorm moved through Cabot Head. The sky cleared later in the morning but the wind stayed too strong to open mist nets again. We spent the rest of the day watching mixed flocks of migrants moving through, as well as numerous Monarch butterflies arriving from Georgian Bay in seemingly endless streams. Bay-breasted Warbler was the most abundant species, with an estimated total of 50 birds, an unheard of number for Cabot Head in any given day in fall (or spring, for that matter). Ten other species of warblers were also detected that morning, albeit in much smaller numbers, with boreal forest specialists like Tennessee, Cape May and Blackburnian Warblers.. On August 29, another storm rolled in during the evening: please check the pictures on Instagram and Facebook.

During these stormy days, dozens and dozens of Monarchs roosted and stayed at Cabot Head in numbers I have rarely seen before. They favoured branches of trees lining the road to the station at the end of our regular net checks. We were walking through clouds of Monarchs, an orange fluttering of wings, seemingly fragile and insignificant, but actually ready for their incredible migration to the high forests of Oyamel firs in the central highlands of Mexico. When the contrary winds stopped, when the unsettled air blew away, when dawn came clear on a North wind, they left us, resuming their journey on a wing and a butterfly prayer. very different from the full view of resplendent plumages in the bare branches of spring.”

Misty morning hummingbird and native jewelweed. August 30, Owen Sound, by Carol Edwards
American Redstart – by Carol Edwards  – August 31, Owen Sound

Female Common Merganser…Baie Du Dore. Photo by Fely Clarke, Aug. 30th

The Bruce Birding Club started up its new schedule on the first day of September, with a tour led by Kiah Jasper, visiting birding hotspots southwards from the mouth of the Saugeen River. As Fred Jazvac shared,

“It was a nice summer day, one of the nicest in the last three weeks. The wind only felt brisk at Baie Du D’Or. It’s funny about life. On one hand we have expectations that don’t workout, but on the other hand we are offered a substitute that is very successful.  That is how it happened today.  The last little while the migrating warblers were coming through in large numbers.  Our expectation was to see them in all of their confusing, fall colours. They laughed. They took a day off and decided to thumb their noses at us… So we moped about that loss for a while, but ignoring their rejection of us, we had a rewarding day in a couple of ways. We ended up seeing 61 species of birds, not bad for a fall outing, with one of the birds being a species I have been looking for the last few years.  There it was, at the entrance of MacGregor at the tower trail, sitting on a dead limb in plain view – an Olive-sided Flycatcher. 

It didn’t end there. We had 9 species of shorebirds at Chalmer’s Pond. We have driven for hours to Mitchell’s West Perth Wetlands to get fewer shorebirds than that. It was a great birding day and great to see many of you again.

Thank you, Kiah for leading us today on a very successful outing to start the resurrection of the Bruce Birding Club.  Your leadership was exceptional!”

Northern Flicker at Independent Pond, Photo by Marilyn Ohler
Fringed Gentian at MacGregor Provincial Park near the beach. Photo by Marilyn Ohler
Grass of Parnassus at MacGregor Provincial Park near the beach. Photo by Marilyn Ohler

To close, a human nature migration quote from Basil Johnston’s iconic book Crazy Dave : “In mid-summer the little band … resumed their trek northward … to the mouth of the Saugeen River. From there they struck inland to Owen Sound, then known as Great Sturgeon Bay, the principal town of the Saugeen-Nawaush Chippewas.”


August 20th, 2021

Nature Club News August 2021

by John Dickson

On the morning of July 19, many hands made light work when the Friends of Hibou met to do trail clipping and cleaning litter along the length of shoreline. Marie Knapp shared this – report. It has been a challenge to find a time when pandemic restrictions allowed it.  This event was a little different from usual. We contacted our current list of volunteers and found the number we needed. Three pairs of volunteers worked on three different sections along the rough shore. Because the water level has dropped more litter was found. Several bags of garbage were left for staff to dispose of. Great work. No problem with distancing when working this way.

Meanwhile two groups of two and three worked on clipping the Interpretive Trail. Some areas were quite overgrown. Flooding in a few spots was unusual but understandable given the downpours we have had. The clipping went well and we gave the mosquito population an opportunity to feast.

It was great to see new volunteers join us. Everyone deserves an applause for the hard work and volunteering to enhance what we have at Hibou. We may have another event in the fall.  We welcome new volunteers. If interested, please contact

American Bitterns all over the place!! Right out in the open!! July 26, Wiarton by William Gray

On August 3, Andrea Gress, the Ontario Piping Plover Program Coordinator, on behalf of Birds Canada/Oiseaux Canada hosted a season wrap up event online, for the known nesting sites around Ontario. Most of the event was recorded, and can be viewed at the link below.  It includes the presentations of updates by:

Marina Opitz of Wasaga Beach Provincial Park, where they had 5 chicks successfully fledged and able to fly away south by mid summer;

Caleb Johnstone, on behalf of Plover Lovers of Sauble Beach, reported that they had just one late nest with only three eggs. Although all three did hatch, by that time there were even more juvenile gulls on the beach and they are one of the major threats for predation. Within a day or two of hatching the first two chicks were predated, and when the third egg hatched, the chick was predated soon afterwards by a Merlin. The local team continued to develop strategies to make the enclosure area less accessible to the gulls with closely spaced bamboo poles, as an example that may be promising for future campaigns. In addition, several visitors became quite interested and supportive of the efforts to provide support to Piping Plovers at Sauble Beach, as they face significant challenges to even maintaining their populations;

Monica Fromberger- Darlington Provincial Park reported two nests of four eggs each, of which only one nest was successful, with those four chicks hatching, eating and growing, fledging, and eventually leaving to head south.  

Because of the pandemic, no teams of volunteers were working with the Piping Plover campaigns on the Ontario beaches this year. 

To view the presentation please visit this link

Praying Mantis, Owen Sound August 16, photo by John Dickson

NeighbourWoods North held their Fourth Annual Yard Sale Fundraiser on Saturday, July 17 and reported “Thanks to all our supporters we made over $2300 at the Annual Yard Sale. That’s a lot of trees! Thank you to both supporters and workers for making this event a success.”In addition, the Tuesday evening sessions of tree care will now be discontinued as they have been so successful, that the goals for the summer have already been reached. “Thanks to so many volunteers, new and old, we were able to complete a 

path through the Forest of Hope and Healing this summer while still mulching trees, cutting overgrowth around young trees, and watering when it wasn’t raining.  To be clear, this is not the larger Healing Path that will eventually circumnavigate the Owen Sound Hospital but rather a smaller path to encourage people to come see the young trees up close.”

I can say from personal experience that this section of the path is a delight, as I have been running sections of it since last year, and have often observed the changes in the trees’ growth and colours, as well as Monarch Butterflies, and the many bird species the path has brought me to, including Eastern Meadowlarks, American Goldfinches, Killdeer, and even a Wilson’s Snipe that startled me when it flew up beside me there last fall. 

The most recent announcement is that NeighbourWoods North and the GBHS Hospital in Owen Sound held an official opening earlier this week for the amazing and beautiful Welcoming Garden (which was begun in 2020), and a reception to thank those who have been instrumental and supportive of this special venture. 

I was delighted to see this visitor this morning:
the Black-billed Cuckoo…
(North of Kimberley) August 8, Ingrid Remkins

Bob Knapp of the Sydenham Bruce Trail club sent me this report: “On Friday August 13th a bioblitz was organized by the Bruce Trail Conservancy to look at flora and fauna.   The event was held at the recently purchased 75 acre Bruce Trail property called Colpoy’s Cavern close to Bruce’s Caves.The group was led by Mara McHaffie, an Ecologist with the Bruce Trail.    Taking part were five Trail Ambassadors, students hired for the summer.  Seven Land Stewards from the Sydenham Bruce Trail Club also participated.   We hiked all through the property, recording anything of interest.We found lots of wild ginger and many types of ferns along with a few salamanders.   The large ash trees still appeared healthy, but it is likely they will be affected by the ash borer.  What was notable was, there were no invasive species recorded.   This area has had very little human presence, except where the Bruce Trail is located, along with the caves.It was good to meet the young ambassadors who were very knowledgeable and environmentally conscious.   The Land Stewards each have another property they are responsible for.   They enjoyed looking at this unique property with knowledgeable young people.The data recorded will be used in making a plan for this property.We are indeed fortunate to have so many Bruce Trail volunteers in the area who are interested in the preservation of large natural areas.”

It is now mid August and the wildflowers are putting on a fabulous display all around Grey and Bruce, as I have observed while running, and biking here and there – blues, yellows, purples, pinks, whites, and various shades of these draw the eye to the roadsides and across the meadows.  Many young birds with their parents are more noticeable lately – I have been seeing and hearing young Chipping Sparrows, Baltimore Orioles, Northern Cardinals, American Redstarts, and this morning a young Gray Catbird.  Two weeks ago I noticed a flock of about one hundred Red-winged Blackbirds swirling around from the gravelly edge of a road to the nearby wetland just at the edge of the City. On Tuesday of this week I asked David Turner of Flesherton if the Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs have been migrating through here yet, and if so, where they might be found  – his reply: “Yes, both are starting to come south now, mostly females and juveniles. Along the lakeshore and some inland, and there will be more arriving over the next few weeks. Warblers are on the move south now too. I ran across a large mixed flock in Stayner today.”

Cedar Waxwings at Clendenan Dam, August 11, by Nigel Eves

Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN)  held a Moth Night on Wednesday, August 4 with guest facilitator Alan Macnaughton. The event was held at the Arboretum area of Grey Sauble Conservation, with about ten human participants that evening and many dozens of moth species, due in great part to the variety of habitats on hand there. Several lamp devices were placed and later visited to observe which moths were attracted, and how many. The weather also cooperated, and even the mosquitos were not a problem. People maintained their distance, while still having a close look at some of the more striking specimens, including Tiger Moths, Little Lined Underwing, and many more.

Many thanks to Rebecca Ferguson of Grey Sauble Conservation for her help in making some of the arrangements to use the site, which proved to be most suitable for hosting the event.In addition to Wednesday evening’s activities, Macnaughton was able to set up several lamp devices overnight Wednesday and Thursday, and then examine the results in the mornings of August 5 and 6. I was able to visit with him briefly on the morning of August 6, and I too was amazed at the colours, shapes, and sizes that I witnessed. 

Macnaughton’s report went on to say – “On my 2-night visit to Owen Sound, I had 151 observations of 124 species of moths. I tried to take pictures of every moth I observed because I knew that there weren’t many records of moths in Grey County.

The most attractive species was the Great Tiger Moth, or Garden Tiger Moth (scientific name Arctia caja). I found this in the traps on August 6th. There were 3 specimens of this species. The wingspan is about 3 inches, so it is a big moth.  The link below is actually to 4 pictures — one is shown by default, and then you click on the thumbnails below the image to show each of the 3 others: It is not found in the Waterloo Region area, and this was the first time I had encountered the species. Wonderful. The most surprising observations were two underwing moths (genus Catocala) that were some distance from previous observations: The Judith Underwing is rare (36 observations in Ontario) and has been found previously near the north shores of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, so Owen Sound was not expected.”  

OSFN President Pam Kinchen was also on hand and related: “It was a good night for moths and the OSFN members!”

Alan, left, uploading a moth image to iNaturalist (Photo by Pam Kinchen)
An underwing attracted to one of the lights (Photo by Pam Kinchen)

Alan‘s enthusiasm was catching as he showed all the various ways to attract the moths, show them off and take pictures. He has a vast knowledge that was well evident. The event was so successful, and Macnaughton was so pleased,  that similar events will likely be held again. Macnaughton said afterwards:  The moths one will see vary quite a bit over the season. Probably about every 3 weeks in the season a mostly different set of moths will be seen. 

Great Egret on a prowl….Harrison Park, August 13, by
Fely Clarke

More outdoor programmes are planned by OSFN including a Flora Field Trip with David Morris, and a Monarch tagging workshop with Audrey Armstrong. For details on these and other activities please visit

To close, a Nature quote from The Healer by former Owen Sound Sun Times reporter and columnist John Wright: “Only now, it was the coolness under the trees, scented air upon their faces, upon their interests, upon their curiosity of the flora and fauna so rich that they still amazed themselves that this was their home…Occasionally, a stream tickled rocks in the woods beside them. As desert dry men, they felt refreshed just by so delicious a sound.” To learn more about this book and the rest of the series, please visit

Nature Club News For July 2021

July 16th, 2021

Nature Club News July 2021

by John Dickson

The Owen Sound Young Naturalists were treated to some diverse programming by OEC Director Deb Diebel for their final outdoor event of the season. Here is her outline:  On June 27th the Young Naturalists visited the Bluewater Outdoor Education Centre for a visit to Boat Lake and some critter dipping! The magical forces of youthful enthusiasm and mud puddles kept the youngsters cool on this hot day, and kept the showers at bay! 

Pond Dipping
Photo by Jody Johnson Pettit

The young naturalists were equipped with dip nets and buckets, small bottles, and rubber boots, and were able to get their feet wet while exploring the lake shore for invertebrates, fish, turtles, and snakes!  One minnow was captured and released, along with Whirligig Beetles, Dragonfly Nymphs (both the shed exoskeletons and living nymphs!), one Mayfly Nymph, and some Leopard Frogs!  Potions were mixed, buckets were refreshed, and the time flew by too quickly!

Monarch caterpillar.
Photo by Jody Johnson Pettit

The walk to and from the lake also afforded us an opportunity to see Sandhill Cranes, learn to identify poison ivy, and to see many butterflies, caterpillars, and moths in the field! The Young Naturalists monthly programmes start up again in September, with details available near then at

Matthew Cunliffe, Chief Park Naturalist of MacGregor Point Provincial Park,  shared this report with me: 

The butterfly count at MacGregor Point Provincial Park, held on July 3rd,  was a great success this year despite the challenges of COVID-19. We designed the count for family groups to remain together in designated areas and all data was submitted electronically. We had eight volunteers and six staff participate this year. The weather was cooler and cloudy in the morning but warmed up for the afternoon and brought out some great species.

We had a great mix of butterfly species including red and white admirals, monarchs, viceroys, checkerspots, crescents, fritillaries and a multitude of skippers. Members of the Brushfoot family were well represented!

Eastern Tailed Blue butterfly. Photo by Bruce Edmunds

In terms of trends, we had fewer butterfly counters in the field this year, so it’s difficult to compare this year’s data with past years. However, we did notice a major increase in Northern Checkerspot, with over 300 individuals counted in MacGregor Point alone.

Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly. Photo by Bruce Edmunds

On July 4th, OSFN member David Turner led a group of keen birders to various habitats in the southern Beaver Valley. Club Vice-president Brendan Mulroy shared this report: ” As David predicted, we did find the Grasshopper sparrow, as well as numerous Savannah and Song sparrows.  A White-Throated sparrow serenaded us from a wooded area and finally came into view.  We saw several bobolinks.  There was a lovely view across a field of a Redtailed hawk sitting on a “hale of bay” as one excited member of the group put it.  We heard, but never saw, a Warbling vireo, and then all went quiet as we climbed out of the valley just north of Talisman.  There was a Merlin perched high on a dead tree, conducting the whole orchestra into silence.”

Another birder was impressed with the leadership of David Turner. “I enjoy how David knows his audience. He can speak to someone at any level of interest and make them feel comfortable and enthusiastic about birding. It’s a very casual informal atmosphere and a great place to connect with like-minded people. I really enjoy learning about how much more there really is to see in our immediate environment. Often times you glaze over the things that are right in front of you. So many birds in this beautiful area we live in that if we didn’t take the time to look we might never see.”

Eastern Meadowlark. July 4, Beaver Valley. Photo by David Turner

In most years the Bruce Peninsula Orchid Festival would take place in early June at Tobermory. 

This year, however, in collaboration with Bruce Peninsula National Park, The Friends of Bruce District Parks Association will bring you Wild Discoveries: Orchids and Pollinators. The event will feature a wide range of topics, presented virtually, to unlimited numbers of participants, over Zoom, and, the real bonus, it will be FREE! The talks will start on July 15th and will continue over the following evenings. Many knowledgeable and interesting speakers are booked for this virtual festival. There will be two presentations each evening at 7 and 8 PM. I caught one evening’s presentations last year, and was very impressed with both the speakers and the material. 

July 15th: Brian Popelier (Orchids) Tyler Miller (Alvars)

July 16th: Audrey Armstrong (Creating Habitat for Birds, Bees and Butterflies); Megan Bonenfant (NCC- Vidal Bay) 

July 17th: Peter Raspberry (Orchids/Photography)   Parks Canada (Virtual Hike/iNaturalist)

To learn more about the presenters and their topics, and to find the zoom links for each evening’s offerings please visit

NeighbourWoods North 

Tree Helpers Wanted
 Here is a message from Lloyd Lewis of NeighbourWoods North: We are seeking volunteers who want to assist us in maintaining the 3000+ trees we have planted at the Owen Sound Hospital. 

Every Tuesday evening, continuing again on July 13,  we will be meeting at the Hospital Forest, opposite the emergency entrance, at 7pm and working till 8:30. Throughout the summer we will be mulching, cutting the encroaching grass and watering the plants in order to maintain the thriving health of the trees and shrubs.

 Any assistance is more than welcome. Just show up with gloves and gardening tools if you have them or for more information, call Lloyd at 226 256 8804.  Appropriate Covid precautions will be taken. 

They also have plans for their Fourth Annual Yard Sale Fundraiser from 7:30 to Noon 

on Saturday, July 17, taking place at 1625 7th Avenue East, Owen Sound

All covid protocols will be followed at the Yard Sale.

With so many contributors, the annual yard sale always has some great finds whether you’re into sports, music, household decor, or more.   If you would like to contribute an item or two to the sale, please contact us to make arrangements.  Remember every single dime of the proceeds goes to planting more trees at the hospital!  

To learn more about  NeighbourWoods North please visit

Plover Lovers at Sauble Beach have recently announced some hatching of the three eggs which had been incubated for the past four weeks. 

It would appear that only one Piping Plover chick had survived these early days, and both parents were doing their best to keep it safe, while it ran around looking for food — and adventure. Innovative techniques, including closely spaced bamboo poles, were introduced in an attempt to lessen the risk of predation by gulls. However, I received a sad update Wednesday afternoon from Caleb Johnstone of Plover Lovers, of Sauble Beach. Here is an excerpt – 

“Unfortunately we have lost all three of our chicks this year. From the very beginning Nancy and Bo (the two parent birds) had quite the task ahead of them; late nests usually fledge fewer chicks given the larger number of people and predators, such as gulls, on the beach. The first two chicks hatched on Saturday, and were pretty quickly predated by juvenile gulls. The third egg hatched a couple days later and we were lucky to be able to see the little guy or girl running around and taking its first steps outside the exclosure. Unfortunately, at around 11:00am today a Merlin predated this remaining chick. Bo and Nancy are both still around and searching for their chick, it really is all quite sad.

We want to thank everyone for helping us this year!  Whether we talked to you on the beach or if you read and responded to our emails, your support is crucial to everything we do here. There were so many different people working hard this summer to help Nancy and Bo fledge these chicks and we are all sad to see it end this way.”

Juvenile Green Herons, July 13th.
Photo by Mike Schwan.

On June 10, the Owen Sound Field Naturalists Club (OSFN) hosted, on Zoom, its Annual General Meeting along with its final monthly get together of the 2020-21 season. One highlight of the evening was President Pamela Kinchen’s presentation of the club’s Community Conservation Award to Robert and Marie Knapp, and this citation: In recognition of their many important and diverse contributions to  community and to conservation in Grey and Bruce Counties over the past five decades, including: the successful campaign to save,  for public use, what became Hibou Park, telling that story in a book and initiating the Friends of Hibou; their long-time active support of the Owen Sound Field Naturalists, offering talks, field trips, hospitality, and their support of such organizations as Ontario Nature, the Bruce Trail Conservancy and the Nature Conservancy Canada; their socially conscious activities on behalf of the Family Y, MS Society, Mental Health initiatives, and their writing; building trails for hiking and skiing, teaching kayaking to future explorers, and building bridges – literally and figuratively. They both offer a magnificent example of conservation, sharing, and caring, while always continuing to learn. 

Congratulations and thank you to the Knapps!

The club has several field trips this summer involving botany, butterflies, moths, and more. To learn more please visit

Bob and Marie Knapp at Hibou.

To close, a Nature quote from Rachel Carson published at least 60 years ago in The Sea Around Us – “Now, in our own lifetime we are witnessing a startling alteration of climate… It is now established beyond question that a definite change in the arctic climate set in about 1900, that it became astonishingly marked about 1930, and that it is now spreading into sub-arctic and temperate regions. The frigid top of the world is very clearly warming up.”

The Ospreys: There were actually two young ones, but the other was hiding.
(Lake Eugenia).
Photo by Ingrid Remkins.


June 9th, 2021

Nature Club News June 2021

by John Dickson

Kudos to the organizing committee of the 2021 Huron Fringe Birding “Festival Lite” Webinars, featuring these seven terrific presentations, and reaching good audiences each evening: Birding in Algonquin Park with Michael Runtz; Black Bears of the Bruce Peninsula with Dr. Martyn Obbard;  Fifteen Years of Ontario Piping Plovers with Andrea Gress; A Holistic Approach to Learning Bird Songs and Calls with Ian Shanahan; Birders Gone Wild: 24 hour Bruce Peninsula Birdathon with Ethan Meleg; Bird Banding at the Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory with Stéphane Menu; The Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas: Focus on the Females, with Mark Peck. 

If you missed any or all of these, I highly  recommend visiting their website at for links to each webinar, all of which were recorded for later viewing.

Great Egret near Isaac Lake May 31, by Les Anderson

A new birding club, with a familiar name, is being hatched by the Blue Mountains Public Library   (BMPL) via Zoom on-line. Here is an excerpt from their recent announcement:

 The Dorothy Crysler Bird Club begins Saturday June 19, 2021

 9:30am – 10:30am.  Join Curator Andrea Wilson as each month we learn about our wild avian friends, their habits and habitats. This will not only help you identify birds, but you will learn about migration, nesting, environmental needs, species at risk and more. This is a collaborative study group, where participants will share as we grow knowledge together.  

The club is named for Dorothy Crysler, a remarkable local artist, journalist, author and birder! This club takes her cue, as she was “the messenger not the expert”. This group is for anyone, new or established as a birder. Once you have registered a zoom invitation will be sent.  To learn more contact Andrea at  5195993681 or by Email: Website:

Upland Sandpiper June 5, by Bill Hatten

The Plover Lovers of Sauble Beach have announced that there is now, finally, a nesting pair of Piping Plovers on the beach, with one egg in the nest as of June 7.  An exclosure was installed to keep out larger predators, plus a wider area perimeter fence around that.  Careful monitoring is being provided by volunteers and staff, in order to enhance the likelihood of success, as these Piping Plovers face many challenges in sustaining their population.

Ospreys on nest in Georgian Bluffs June 6 – Photo by Mike Tettenborn

Tree Helpers Wanted Here is a message from Lloyd Lewis of NeighbourWoods North: We are seeking volunteers who want to assist us in maintaining the 3000+ trees we have planted at the Owen Sound Hospital. 

Every Tuesday evening, starting June 15 th , we will be meeting at the Hospital Forest, opposite the emergency entrance, at 7pm and working till 8:30. Throughout the summer we will be mulching, cutting the encroaching grass and watering the plants in order to maintain the thriving health of the trees and shrubs.

 Any assistance is more than welcome. Just show up with gloves and gardening tools if you have them or for more information, call Lloyd at 226 256 8804.  Appropriate Covid precautions will be taken. 

Blue-winged Warbler June 6, South-East of Owen Sound  by William Gray

Although the birding activities are getting lots of attention, other aspects of Nature are just as eye-catching these days. Butterflies, dragonflies, damselflies, moths and bees are everywhere and new Spring wildflowers are emerging almost every week. 

Yellow Lady’s Slipper Orchid  June 7 by David Turner

Lately the orchids, and paintbrushes have been really putting on a show throughout the region.  Additionally, on recent outings I have been encountering lovely pink and scented wild roses along roadsides and pathways. 

In most years the Bruce Peninsula Orchid Festival would take place in early June at Tobermory. 

This year, however, in collaboration with Bruce Peninsula National Park, The Friends of Bruce District Parks Association will bring you Wild Discoveries: Orchids and Pollinators. The event will feature a wide range of topics, presented virtually, to unlimited numbers of participants, over Zoom, and, the real bonus, it will be FREE! The talks will start on July 15th and will continue over the following evenings. Many knowledgeable and interesting speakers are booked for this virtual festival. There will be two presentations each evening at 7 and 8 PM. 

July 15th: Brian Popelier (Orchids) Tyler Miller (Alvars)

July 16th: Audrey Armstrong (Creating Habitat for Birds, Bees and Butterflies)  Megan Bonenfant (NCC- Vidal Bay)

July 17th: Peter Raspberry (Orchids/Photography)   Parks Canada (Virtual Hike/iNaturalist)

Monarch egg on a common milkweed leaf, Grey County, June 9, 2021 (Photo by Brian Robin)

There have been many recent sightings of turtles, locally, as many are seeking suitable locations for laying their eggs. It has been encouraging to hear stories, and see for myself, motorists stopping carefully on secondary roads to wait or assist with their road crossings. In addition lots of snakes, frogs and toads have  been observed in recent weeks.

Snapping Turtle hoping to cross a Grey County Road (she made it), June 2017, Photo by Brian Robin

The Owen Sound Field Naturalists monthly meeting will take place at 7PM this Thursday, June 10, online, via Zoom. It will include the Annual General Meeting  followed by featured guest speaker David Turner and “Birding different habitats in the Beaver Valley.”  Explore and discover where in the Valley, and why, so many birds call it home, or at least a nice place to visit. Enjoy David’s exquisite photographic images, and his contagious passion for Nature. 

David Turner (Supplied photo)

If you do not receive a link to this event but would like to attend please contact with “Beaver Valley” in the subject line.

On a sadder note OSFN extends condolences to the Willmott family on the recent passing of 96 year old Don Willmott. He was a beloved long-time naturalist and former club President (2003-4) who, along with his wife Elizabeth, had been an OSFN club member since 1992.

Don Willmott (supplied photo)

To close, a June Nature quote from Archibald Lampman (1861-1899), considered to have been Canada’s best writer of Nature verse- 

All day in garden alleys moist and dim,
The humid air is burdened with the rose;
In moss-deep woods the creamy orchid blows;
And now the vesper-sparrow’s pealing hymn
From every orchard close
At eve comes flooding rich and silvery;
The daisies in great meadows swing and shine;
And with the wind a sound as of the sea
Roars in the maples and the topmost pine.


June 9th, 2021

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, [2015] 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.” 


June 3rd, 2021

By John Dickson

Twenty years ago this Spring, I registered for my first Huron Fringe Birding Festival (HFBF). Having just turned 50, I had decided to take up birding as an active pastime, and this wonderful festival helped me to rediscover the learning and pleasure I had somehow left behind at the age of ten.

Spring is truly here now, Osprey on nest on the Lake Eugenia causeway. Please don’t get too close if you go out to see it.
Photo by David Turner, April 8

This year, due to COVID-19, and generous sponsorship, the 23rd HFBF has announced these seven exciting and free webinars scheduled for 7:00 pm on each evening of the Festival Virtual-Lite, which will run during their normal Festival dates of May 28 – 31 and June 3 – 6, 2021.  

They are: May 28 – Birding in Algonquin Park with Michael Runtz

May 29 – Black Bears of the Bruce Peninsula with Dr. Martyn Obbard 

May 30 – Fifteen Years of Ontario Piping Plovers with Andrea Gress 

May 31 – A Holistic Approach to Learning Bird Songs and Calls with Ian Shanahan

June 4 – Birders Gone Wild: 24 hour Bruce Peninsula Birdathon with Ethan Meleg 

June 5 – Bird Banding at the Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory with Stephane Menu 

June 6 – The Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas -3: Focus on the Females with Mark Peck 

To learn more and to register, please visit –

With the arrival of Spring there has been a flurry of shared observations: trees beginning to leaf out; Scarlet Cup and other colourful fungi popping up, sometimes overnight; wildflowers already blooming; choruses of toads, frogs, and insects; migrating birds stopping here for a brief visit, or perhaps like many of us, they consider this area an ideal one in which to stay and raise their families.

Scarlet Cup (Sarcoscypha austriaca)
Photo by Peter Harris

Sightings of note here include Eastern Meadowlarks, American Kestrels, Sandhill Cranes, a few Trumpeter Swans and several hundred Tundra Swans that staged this year at Lake Eugenia, plus Eastern Bluebirds. I had my first sighting this year of an Eastern Phoebe, just this week, as well as the newly brightening yellow feathers of a male American Goldfinch.

Trumpeters Swans: a rare but welcome visit. April 8
(North of Kimberley)
Photo by Ingrid Remkins

Congratulations to Bob Bowles, formerly of the Markdale area, on the recent naming of the Robert L. Bowles Nature Centre near Orillia. Bowles has created a wonderful legacy of nature learning through Naturalist Clubs, his Ontario Master Naturalist Certificate Programme through Lakehead University of Thunder Bay and its satellite campus at Orillia, plus his popular television shows. Here is an excerpt from their recent announcement “at the new Robert L. Bowles Nature Centre (formerly Green Events and Programs) on Saturday, March 20, 2021, the first day of Spring for our ‘Signs of Spring’ workshop. Spring arrives in the northern hemisphere this year at 5:37 A.M. EDT, marked by the vernal equinox. Award-winning writer, artist, photographer and naturalist Bob Bowles will lead us in our discovery of spring signs.”

 Female Red-winged Blackbird: They are back! 
April 8, north of Kimberley
Photo by Ingrid Remkins

Barbara Palmer shared this report about OSFN’s March 21 Birding the Waters of the Beaver Valley, during Spring Migration.

“On a lovely, early spring Sunday, David Turner led an outing to some of the Beaver Valley’s birding hotspots.

First, we checked out the birds on Lake Eugenia from the Causeway. We were not disappointed, as there were good numbers of tundra swans swimming and vocalizing. These beautiful white swans with black beaks and straight necks are always a welcome sight as they stop to fuel-up for their high Arctic destination. Several species of ducks were identified, including the ubiquitous mallard, black, common goldeneyes, pintails,redhead, and ring-necked ducks. We were thrilled to see a couple of sandhill cranes flying in the distance and a couple of bald eagles were spotted. There were lots of Canada geese too. Cackling geese were spotted earlier in the week, but weren’t seen on this trip.

Our next stop was the Kimberley Sewage Lagoons, where a pair of trumpeter swans greeted us as we parked. They were exhibiting courting behaviour, bobbing their heads in a graceful dip. The lagoon had a number of Canada Geese which took off as we approached. All was not lost though, as a northern shrike was spotted on a wire. It appeared to be hunting. Various other birds were noticed, including robins, red-winged blackbirds, crows, a raven and a turkey vulture.

All in all, a wonderful morning of birding.”

The Owen Sound Field Naturalists, (OSFN) have three presentations lined up for this month, all offered free to the public via a ZOOM link sent to members or available on request at

Foraging for Edible and Medicinal Plants, with Alexis Burnett at 7PM Thursday April 8, via ZOOM. This focus of this presentation is on learning how to ethically harvest plants for food and medicine from the wild. Burnett will talk about both native and non-native plants and explore what it means to work with these groups of plants in a way that helps to sustain and regenerate local populations.

2PM Saturday April 17, via ZOOM: OSFN’s 6th Annual Celebrate EARTH WEEK event – An Afternoon with Beth Gilhespy: Reflections on Wildlife and Wild Space Conservation Keynote Speaker Beth Gilhespyshares her experiences and insights.

 Gilhespy is a former CEO at Bruce Trail Conservancy, who, in 2019 gave a Geology presentation to a full house OSFN audience and led a complementary field trip. She also shared this comment about her new work: “There is so much excellent work being done at the Toronto Zoo to increase the numbers of endangered Canadian species in wild – Blandings turtles, wood turtles, loggerhead shrikes, and many others.  Plus the many other programs that are helping improve the lives of endangered animals worldwide through education and conservation research. Lots to tell people about!” Our sincere gratitude to the ongoing generous sponsorship of this event by Caframo.

This is a ZOOM webinar. Details of how to join will be sent out in an eHerald closer to the event. The webinar will be open at 6:45pm to sort any technical difficulties.

Didn’t receive an e-herald but would still like to participate? Please contact

7PM Thursday April 29, via ZOOM as a special bonus presentation: Peter Middleton with: Peacocks, Tigers and Temples – Birds in the Heart of India.

This is a ZOOM webinar. Details of how to join will be sent out in an eHerald closer to the event. The webinar will be open at 6:45pm to sort any technical difficulties.

Didn’t receive an e-herald but would still like to participate? Please contact 

Thanks for your patience as we change with the times! 

   Red-winged Blackbird  
Photo by Mike Tettenborn, April 8

To close, Nature quotes from Sailing Alone Around the World, by Captain Joshua Slocum, who sailed from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia on July 2, 1895 aboard the sloop Spray. On July 5, having cautiously skirted the deadly shifting sands of Sable Island, Slocum “ …was in a world of fog, shut off from the universe.” and later that day Spray “dropped into a smooth lane, heading southeast, and making about eight knots, her very best work…

“The fog lifting before night, I was afforded a look at the sun just as it was touching the sea. I watched it go down and out of sight. Then I turned my face eastward, and there, apparently at the very end of the bowsprit, was the smiling full moon rising out of the sea.”

In the first week of April 1896 “With the vessel in good trim, though deeply laden, I was well prepared for another bout with the Southern, misnamed Pacific Ocean…

“On April 14, the Spray making good headway on a northwest course, Hurrah for the Spray! I shouted to seals, sea-gulls, and penguins; for there were no other living creatures about, and she had weathered all the dangers of Cape Horn.”

Ontario Nature Update

March 18th, 2021

OSFN wants to keep you informed.  Ontario Nature has asked its member organizations to advocate for nature.  Become aware of the issue below: 

While Ontarians grapple with the social and economic impacts of a global pandemic, the Government of Ontario is quietly setting the stage for development projects to proceed without public consultation or the right to appeal. Without alerting the public through notices on the Environmental Registry of Ontario (ERO), the government has been issuing and revoking Minister’s Zoning Orders – effectively eliminating public participation in each planning decision.

A Minister’s Zoning Order allows the Minister to directly zone land for particular purposes. The Minister does not have to give notice or consult with the public prior to issuing or revoking a zoning order.

Please join Ontario Nature in urging the Government of Ontario to curtail its use of Minister’s Zoning Orders for land-use planning. As Ontario deals with COVID-19 and prepares for our recovery, the focus should be on enhancing community resilience to climate change and potential future pandemics. Enabling and supporting public participation in determining the future of our farmlands, forests, wetlands and other natural areas will be vital to advancing this outcome. Expediting development while keeping Ontarians in the dark does not serve the public interest. 

Ontario Nature has created an opportunity for you to become better informed and to sign a letter to voice your concerns related to curtailing  the misuse of Minister’s Zoning Orders. 

Check it out at:

Invitation to OSFN Members and Any Nature Enthusiasts from Don Rawls of Anglesea, Forest and Trails

March 18th, 2021

Don will not be personally organizing hikes through his Managed Forest at Anglesea this spring. However, OSFN members, and indeed any nature enthusiasts, are welcome to stroll his trails, either self-guided or with a pre-arranged accompaniment by Don. 

The property at Anglesea in Springtime is rich in ferns and flowers, trees and fungi, birdlife, geology and history. As it is located in the Klondike Hills, southwest of Chatsworth, the marked trails do include some slopes, both up and down.

Small pre-arranged walks at Anglesea are more than welcome and folks merely have to check with Don a couple of days prior to the proposed walkabout. 

Please contact Don Rawls at  Anglesea, located in the Klondike Hills southwest of Chatsworth, 782358 Sideroad 3, West of Highway 6, Chatsworth, Ontario

To reach the Rawls family: phone: 519-794-0561 or email Don at


March 11th, 2021

Nature Club News March 2021

by John Dickson

In recent days I have been able to fit in a little more skiing, through beautiful open forests, and alongside a fast flowing stream, to an idyllic waterfall. Conversely, I have also been out for a run in shorts and T-shirt, hearing and then seeing my first Red-winged Blackbird of 2021. I hope you too are enjoying the sunlight, warmer winds, and even the rain as the transition to Springtime is well underway.

The Friends of Hibou have now resumed offering guided hikes and there are still two available in March.  For their hikes, you must register in advance. Register at These two hikes will start from the Parking Lot by the Pump house at the most southerly entrance to the trails. Time: 1pm to 3pm. Reminder – social distancing will be in place, and masks should be quickly available in the case of closer contact than planned. They will keep numbers manageable at about ten in total per hike leader.  Tuesday March 16th. Bob Knapp will lead a snowshoe/hike on the Interpretive Trail. Depending on the group and the weather, he may offer an extension to another section. Tuesday March 30th Don Sankey will share photography skills on parts of the shoreline and the Interpretive Trail. You may bring your camera. Learn more about winter light, snow and more.  I had a lovely ski there just this past week, and I highly recommend their Spring Newsletter at

Tufted Titmouse, March 9, at Pinery Provincial Park (photo by Nancy White)
On March 6, in Georgian Bluffs, by Mike Tettenborn
Female Snowy Owl 

The Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association has launched its Red-headed Woodpecker funding drive for a habitat enhancement stewardship program to help protect this endangered species on the Bruce Peninsula. Their Silent Auction is now open, with many attractive and valuable items to bid on, including a two hour star gazing session, 2 nights stay in Lion’s Head, a parks merchandise package, a Red-headed woodpecker painting, an EcoAdventures Forest Escape and EcoAdventures gift cards plus much more. The auction is open until March 15th. The highest bid receives the item. This organization does some amazing work for Nature and this is a chance to “Win something cool and help protect the Red-headed Woodpecker!” Visit their Facebook page at Red Headed Woodpecker Silent Auction to see all of the items, and to bid on your own favourites, for yourself, or perhaps as a gift for someone else.

The Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) at 7PM Thursday March 11, on ZOOM host Members Night – a potpourri of several brief presentations by club members, with a variety of nature themes. These include OSFN’s popular publications, a Piping Plover video, a Name that Bloom quiz, plus one on local trails, with lots of Nature photos too. This is open to the public and you are welcome to attend. If you would like to attend this event, but did not receive the zoom link via email, please contact with Members’ Night as the subject title, or visit

OSFN’s Jody Johnson Pettit shared this update on the Young Naturalists who were once again able to get together last month:”On Sunday, February 28th, the Young Naturalists club had the opportunity to snowshoe through the forest at the Outdoor Education Centre with Deb Diebel. The group followed porcupine tracks and found evidence of the porcupine at the bottom of several trees and broken limbs off of Hemlock trees. We discovered what could possibly be a porcupine den, and wild turkey tracks in the snow. The children and adults played an owl and mouse camouflage game and were able to walk along the frozen lake shoreline. The snow was wet and heavy, making for tough snowshoeing conditions.

Snowshowing (photo by Jody Johnson Pettit)
Porcupine Quills (photo by Jody Johnson Pettit)

“The first YouTube presentation by Stew Hilts is a winner! As David Morris points out, it is “An excellent presentation by Stew Hilts courtesy of the Blue Mountain Public Library, Arts and Culture Committee. Good discussion of the geology of the falls, some history and lots of pictures of many waterfalls, big and small”

The Blue Mountains Public Library invites you to: “Join Stew Hilts, who presented three Lifelong Learning courses at the library, to hear about one of his favourite topics. Learn how the geology of the valley and adjacent areas influence the waterfalls. Open your eyes to a greater appreciation of our amazing group of waterfalls here in the Grey/Bruce area… and learn about three secret waterfalls to boot!”  Visit them at and you will find this excellent video and their YouTube Channel under Books & More, then Virtual Branch. I am sure you will enjoy learning from Stew, just as I did.

Skunk – Flesherton March 10  photo by David Turner
Eastern Bluebird in Beaver Valley March 10, photo by David Turner

The Bruce Birding Club has now resumed its twice monthly club get togethers, but via zoom. Fred Jazvac explained that “The purpose is to chat, answer questions, report sightings, show your photos and have people speaking on various topics.” On March 3rd Kiah Jasper spoke about the Breeding Bird Atlas, particularly in Bruce County, and Fred explained about the difference in feet between a Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle. On March 17, among other items, Lynne Richardson will give details on the latest, new bird list for Grey and Bruce County of which she, James Turland and Dave Fidler were the people who worked on this task.   Lynne is also in charge of the Breeding Bird Atlas for Grey County.” To learn more about this club and its activities, please contact Fred at

The team of Bob and Mary Beth Gray shared with me this wee taste of Maple Syrup producers’ activities, observations, concerns and motivations: “Hi John: You seem to have a pretty good sense of all things natural.  Am just in now from the sugar shack.  It was our first boil today and it was used to “set up” the sugar content in the evaporator.  We didn’t get any syrup off today, but we will on our next boil, likely tomorrow. We have had two sap runs here so far this season.  The first was on Sunday, Feb. 28, and second was today – Monday, Mar. 8.  We used the first run to flush our sap lines out, so did not collect any sap that day at all.  And now our evaporator has been set up with the second run.  With the next run, we should be pulling off syrup.The sugar content here in the sap today was 2.8 Brix (which means 2.8% sugar content).  We like to make our syrup at 67 Brix which is a little
on the thick side.  If you take the number 88 and divide it by the sap sugar content (2.8 today), that gives you 31.4 which is the exact ratio of sap to syrup at 67 Brix.  In other words, with this high sugar content in the sap (which we find is typical for the beginning of the season), it takes 31.4 parts of sap to make 1 part of syrup.  That is important to know, because it means that you can make a lighter grade syrup (less time on the fire to get to syrup, so it does not have a chance to darken as much.  The flavour of this “first run” syrup is quite delicate. The grade is Golden. Because you are evaporating less water vapour off to make syrup, you are making syrup faster and with less fuel wood.  These are all good things if you are a sugar maker.

Sap flow is all about the weather.  One needs a good hard frost at night
(at least minus 3 C in the woods) and plus temperatures (not greater
than plus 10 C).  And it does not like to run in an east wind (too
cold).  There also needs to be adequate moisture in the ground such as
from a melting snow pack or rain to feed the tree roots with water.  So
with all these factors required for sap to flow, there often are not all
that many sap runs in a season when one can make maple syrup.
During syrup season, every morning is like Christmas morning.  I get a
kick out of heading out to the bush first thing in the morning to see
how much sap has collected during the night, or to see when sap has
started to run again for the day.  And it is a great opportunity to see
and hear spring migrants as they arrive daily.  This morning we had our
first red-winged blackbird, and our first gulls flying by this afternoon.  WHAT A GREAT TIME OF THE YEAR! Bob.” 

Then this message Tuesday – “Hi John,Bob has just returned from our bush where he says the sap run for today has already started ( 9:47 am).Enjoy the sunshine,Mary Beth” Definitely a cause for celebration!

Mink at the Bruce National Park, photo by Maureen Elliott

To close, two Nature quotes, both apropos to these final weeks of Wintertime – From Pierre Berton’s The Arctic Grail – After the death of Charles Hall, the remnants of his expedition, on March 30, 1873 were on “a flat frozen slab drifting alone among hundreds of icebergs – slow-moving mountains of crystal ploughing through the glassy sea.” From Steve Podborski’s Skier’s Source Book: “The aesthetic experience of skiing, of absorbing the splendors of the great outdoors and communing with Mother Nature in her winter wonderland, makes the spirit soar. When you take advantage of winter and turn the snow into a source of pleasure, it makes you think that the migrating birds and hibernating groundhogs have it all wrong.”


February 19th, 2021

Nature Club News February 2021

by John Dickson

In recent years this upcoming weekend has become an opportunity for celebrating many things – Family, Heritage, and Nature too.  The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is scheduled for February 12-15, inviting people to report their observations of bird sightings, as well as share their photos, and watch on a map of the world as count data are applied to a visual representation of a world wide activity.

My own best memory of this event was from a few years ago, on the coldest morning of the winter, when I counted 29 Cedar Waxwings and one fluffed-up Robin, enjoying the remaining fruit on a Mountain Ash tree visible from our window. Alas, most winters since then, that tree has been fruitless, as has been my checking for the return of the waxwings! To learn how you can participate please visit

February 9, Owen Sound, Male Cardinal, by Renee Anderson
February 9, Owen Sound, Male Cardinal, by Renee Anderson

The Grey County Master Gardeners are offering the second of three zoom seminars on Saturday February 27 at 1PM  to help you create and maintain an environmentally sustainable and beautiful garden. Entitled Gardening with Nature – Building Gardens from the Ground Up it will feature Julie Anne Lamberts, local gardener and operator of By the Bluffs Nursery near Wiarton. 

By the Bluffs Nursery is an ecological plant nursery and permaculture orchard, and Julie is a nature lover and conservationist. Her nursery, orchard and gardens are grown in harmony with the environment using techniques that restore the health of land, water and air. To register for this event please visit

The hikes planned for February by the Friends of Hibou, (FoH) were suspended during the current COVID-19 lockdown. In the meantime FoH reminds you that the trails are still open for your use.  To check and to verify whether any guided hikes have been rescheduled after the planned easing of some restrictions February 16, please visit

 Beaver Valley February 2, by Ingrid Remkins
January 24 Brown Creeper, by Ingrid Remkins

The Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) are offering their monthly presentation entitled Tanzania: Cultures of Maasai and Lions; and Zanzibar: A World of Spices, at 7PM Thursday February 11 online, via Zoom. The guest speaker is OSFN President Pamela Kinchen, who documented her journey to Africa with photographs, research and special memories. Kinchen describes it as A Dream Trip realized to see it All – Before it’s Gone! Three weeks of “Pinch me – I’m really Here!” These events are open to the public as well as OSFN members.

If you would like to attend this event, but did not receive the zoom link via email, please contact with “Tanzania Webinar” as the subject title, or visit

Female Snowy Owl in Georgian Bluffs February 2 by Mike Tettenborn
Rough-legged Hawk February 4, in Georgian Bluffs by Mike Tettenborn

Another local organization I can recommend is the Bruce Grey Woodlands Association, which has recently posted several learning opportunities related to trees, tree pests, invasive species, new initiatives for wood products, etc. To check them out please visit

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is now offering online learning opportunities too. For example, Mark Peck shared his article Animal Crossing describing and explaining about how the nomadic winter finches are irruptive migrants who plan their travels based on food supply. Other offerings can be found at “ROM at Home”, or under “collections and research” at Mark Peck is Manager of the Schad Gallery of Biodiversity at the ROM, and has given presentations to OSFN with his father, the late George Peck.

Evening Grosbeak, Flesherton. January 29 David Turner

Almost a year ago, Beaver Valley Birding was launched on a  Facebook platform, by David Turner of Flesherton. Observing that the club has been very active with its sightings and photographs, I asked David about what he had in mind when he created the group, to which he replied

“So I started the Beaver Valley Birding page on March 29th, 2020, as a way to connect local birders together for the purpose of sharing information and their love of local birds. I thought it would be a great way to share locations of interesting birds to some folks who don’t know where to look for birds and to meet other birders from the area. Birding is a great way to share outdoors activities and two sets of eyes are always better than one. One of my main hopes was to have people meet and go birding in groups. This still happens now with small numbers, but I’d hoped to be able to have people meet me, then I could show them some of the best spots to go. The site has become more popular than I ever thought it would, with 285 members. Hopefully we can all have a big birding event when the Covid crisis is over. Seeing the amount of seasoned birders willing to help new birders out with ID’s and other information is the best bonus so far with the page. Also the quality of photography is impressive. Lot’s of help for beginners there too.”

I have certainly found the site to be fascinating, due to the terrific postings of excellent photos, and helpful advice and tips for identification. Kudos to David Turner for this very successful initiative.If you are interested in seeing for yourself, visit Beaver Valley Birding on Facebook.

Bald eagle, close to the Valley’s centre – February 8 Beaver Valley by David Turner
Northern Shrike, FEB 1, by David Turner

In response to my tribute last month to Gus Yaki, I have learned from an acquaintance of mine, here in Owen Sound, that she and her future husband met on their first field trip led by Yaki, and went on several more of his well organized trips. His leadership skills, his understanding of the group dynamic, and sharing his nature knowledge made for very educational and memorable experiences.

To close, a Nature quote from Farley Mowat’s Grey Seas Under, set in Canada’s Atlantic provinces “…February of 1938 was more violent than any of its predecessors for thirty years. It began with a full-blown hurricane and went on from there to try to make its opening days seem like an idyllic June.”

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