Category Archives: author

Beech trees

By Don Scallen - The smooth gray bark of beech trees evokes elephant skin, making beech strikingly unique among the large trees of the forest. This smooth bark sometimes offers signs of mammals that have passed by: claw marks left by climbing bears, or declarations of love etched by romantic humans. beechbarkBeechnuts nourish wildlife. This bounty, properly referred to as “mast,” once fed legions of passenger pigeons. Where beech trees and black bears … Continue Reading ››

New Year’s Resolutions for Naturalists

By Fiona Reid and Don Scallen -

January Food for Feathered Friends!

  • Consider adding peanuts or suet for extra fat at this time of year
  • A heated bird bath can be very important in midwinter

February Turn down the Heat! Prowl for an Owl!

  • Save money and reduce consumption of non-renewable energy supplies by turning down heat at night or when out
  • Owls nest really early so now is a good time to go out at dusk and listen for them, or imitate them and see if you … Continue Reading ››

(PAST) PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE

Dear Members new and old (or not so old!), I’m not sure I am still qualified to write this letter as I am now officially Past President. We are very happy to welcome newly elected secretary Emily Dobson to our board and thrilled to have had interest from new members in joining our executive (see below)! Many thanks to Anne Fraser for her work as past Secretary, and to Jeff Normandeau for his past work on the newsletter. Executive 2014/15 President: Vacant Past President: … Continue Reading ››

Going Viral – The Real Way

by W.D. McIlveen - All readers must surely have heard of the ongoing outbreak of the Ebola hemorrhagic fever that is occurring in several countries in West Africa. The disease is indeed a nasty one that starts with a fever, muscle pain, and headache followed by vomiting, diarrhea, and impaired kidney and liver function. Internal and external bleeding may also occur. The mortality rate of the current outbreak stands at about 70%. As of 14 October 2014, 9,216 suspected cases and … Continue Reading ››

Of Birds, Cats and the Urban Landscape

by Don Scallen - There are ten species of birds that commonly nest in suburban Georgetown: Mourning Dove, Black-capped Chickadee, House Wren, American Robin, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, House Finch, Chipping Sparrow, Common Grackle and Brown-headed Cowbird - a nest parasite. One other, less common nesting species is the Chimney Swift, relying on the specialized nesting habitat of uncapped chimneys. I have observed another three species nesting one time in suburban Georgetown: American Crow, Tree Swallow and Baltimore Oriole. Blue Jays and … Continue Reading ››

Salamanders under threat

By guest author Matt Ellerbeck
Yellow-Spotted Salamander. Photo by Matt Ellerbeck.
Yellow-Spotted Salamander. Photo by Matt Ellerbeck.
Although they are rarely given much thought, and often overlooked when they are, salamanders are in a terrible crisis. Around half of all the world's salamander species are listed as threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). These species are all facing a high risk of extinction. A further 62 species … Continue Reading ››

President’s Message

Greetings to all, Goodbye summer, hello fall. Come to think of it, where was summer this year? Summer was not a wow for those of us who like it hot (tomato crops were poor, moth numbers down), but we are seeing some very pleasant weather now that September has arrived. The trees have at least been able to take up sufficient moisture to encourage new growth after the ravages of winter, and I expect the fall colours will be especially good this … Continue Reading ››

The Significance of the Transit of Venus

By W.D. McIlveen About two years ago, there was an event that made a notable item in the news. This was the phenomenon where the planet Venus traces a course across the face of the sun. This happened on June 5, 2012. A similar transit took place on June 8, 2004. Transits of Venus are rare events, occurring in pairs about eight years apart but separated by periods of over a century. As notable as this recent event might have been, … Continue Reading ››

Great Egrets

By Don Scallen Great egrets evoke notions of southern swamps - of alligators, bald cypress trees and Spanish moss. And yet, they are now common inhabitants of Ontario wetlands. At this time of year, post- nesting egrets are assembling at foraging sites, prior to their southward migration. Sandy Gillians and I counted about 50 egrets along the Beaver River near Kimberly recently. Other late summer roosts include Luther Marsh and Cootes Paradise. Great egrets are a balm to disillusioned naturalists all too … Continue Reading ››

Report on Evening Walks for 2014 – South Peel Naturalists And Halton North Peel Naturalists

By W. D. McIlveeen During the summer of 2014 (May 26 to August 25), a total of 14 evening walks were organized for various areas of Halton and Peel Regions. The site locations are listed in the following table along with the names of the leaders and the numbers of participants on each walk. An attempt was made to alternate sites in the south and the north part of the area. Overall, there were five different leaders (Ray Blower, Kirsten Burling, … Continue Reading ››