Turtle Tally

We’re now in prime time for snapping turtle nesting. Over the next three weeks or so female snapping turtles will be seeking nest sites. This activity will be especially pronounced when it is raining at night and in the morning after that rain. Regrettably, as we all know, many turtles are killed as they seek nesting sites along roads. Moreover, many of these nest sites are raided by racoons and other mammals that have learned to search the shoulders of roads for buried eggs.

A trial club project: HNPNC members, and other interested people, are invited to send your observations of roadside turtles (snapping and others) to a project I’ve set up on iNaturalist called “Nesting Turtles of Peel and Halton Regions Ontario”. Here is the link: https://inaturalist.ca/projects/nesting-turtles-of-peel-and-halton-regions-ontario

To log an observation you’ll need an iNaturalist password. This is easy to set up. Photographs are also required.

You can also choose to send reports of roadside turtles directly to me at dscallen@cogeco.ca . If I’m to log the sightings on iNaturalist I’ll need a photo. However, if you don’t have a photo, please send me the information regardless.

The project will run June through July.

Here is the information required for each sighting:

Turtle species (most will be snapping turtles)

Date (in June or July)


Location (15th sideroad just west of Townline Rd. for example)

Observation Level: Confirmed” (turtle observed laying eggs on shoulder of road) “Probable” (turtle digging a nest site on shoulder of road) “Possible” (adult turtle on shoulder of road but no nesting evidence)

Why do this? With this information we can begin to build a database of nesting snapping turtles in our area (Peel/Halton). This information could help towards understanding snapping turtle abundance and distribution in our area. Knowing where the turtles are and when and where they nest could help us protect nest sites in future years.

As indicated above, this is a trial project. Let’s give it a go. It can be refined moving forward.

Related: If interested on learning how to build a simple turtle nest protector see “Help Turtles” on this Canadian Wildlife Federation website:


Don Scallen

Boreal to Barrenlands – Crossing Labrador by Canoe

Four hardy men set out on a 35 day canoe trip

On July 15, 2019, a team of four set out in canoes to cross Labrador, one of Canada’s last remaining wilderness frontiers.
Their adventure is documented in Paddling Magazine:
Boreal to Barrenlands – Crossing Labrador

and in Canadian Geographic:
How a four-man crew traversed one of Canada’s last wilderness frontiers by canoe

The multi – part documentary (12 released so far with more to come) is now on YouTube:
Crossing Labrador

HNPNC Spring Birding Challenge 2020


Dear members,

Bird sightings from currently restricted areas will not be posted. This includes all conservation areas and any properties associated with the Bruce Trail.
We will adjust the Spring Birding Challenge as required in this rapidly changing crisis. For now, sightings from your own properties are most welcome.

Don Scallen
Acting President
Halton/North Peel Naturalist Club

Spring is almost sprung, and even in the midst of a global pandemic, overwintering birds are still around, some spring migrants are already here, with many more to come on their northerly migration.
So, whether you are self-isolating, or being good citizens and practicing social distancing, the birds are still out there, and there’s no need to distance yourself from them – they will almost always be the ones to decide when you come too close!
And since we are now not getting together in social groups as we have in the past, here’s an opportunity to still be involved with the Club, and hopefully have fun at the same time.
We are proposing to set a goal of collectively identifying 200 species of birds in the Halton and Peel Regions between now and Saturday 21 June, the end of Spring.
It’s easy to do, and there are 2 ways to do it. First, just create a checklist of what species you can identify, including the numbers of each species, along with your location and any pertinent comments like nest building, courtship, feeding young, etc and simply email that to me.
Secondly, and even better, is using eBird, which is a wonderful tool I have talked about before. I know some of you are already eBird users, but if you are not, it’s easy (and free) to create and set up an account at ebird.org. Once you’ve done that, you can enter your sightings on their website. Or better still, download the mobile app to your phone from either Google Play or the App Store. With the mobile app, you can enter your sightings on the fly, and you can even choose to track the location where you are birding. I have been using the website for a few years now, but recently I have been using the
mobile app, and if I can use it, anybody can!
In addition, eBird keeps a log of all your checklists, species seen, locations and much more. You can also search for sightings in any region you choose, you can search for a particular species of interest, the list goes on…..
And, very importantly, all the data entered contributes to science and conservation – and what naturalist club member doesn’t want to do that? Then, just share your checklist with me!
A total list of species seen will be posted on the Club website every few days, and the idea is to accumulate as many species as possible.
So, let’s look out there and see if we can get 200 species. Good luck and happy birding! For the time being, we will stay in and around our homes. As the conditions improve and we are able to venture farther away from our residence, our hot birding spots will become our objective.
TARGET: 200 species by the end of spring. If you have a photograph of a bird you can’t identify, send it along.
E-Mail your list and any questions to Ian Jarvie (auldscot1@cogeco.ca)


Strategies on Recycling & Waste Reduction in Halton Hills

Opening the event addressing global waste problems, Dr. William McIlveen gave an interesting look into how humans and their environmental impacts evolved over time. Loss of habitat and species extinction relayed a sense of urgency to take collective action regarding waste reduction.
Although a pretty grim picture was painted, he ended on a positive note. There is something you can do about it.
A more detailed account of the event can be found in this month’s newsletter. Esquesing Volume 54 Number 2
Listed below the photo gallery are the resources and links to the presentations and Display Board posters from our event.

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Bill McIlveen’s Opening Act: Perspectives on Human Impacts
Fiona’s Presentation: Talking of Trash
David Suzuki Foundation: Five Ways to Recycle Less
Ecobricks: Building with Waste
The EIGHT R’s of waste: Rethink Refuse Reduce . . .
Local Businesses & Farms Helping the Environment!
Staples Recycling Program: Accepted Waste
Staples Recycling Program: More Accepted Waste
Queen of Green: Green Cleaning Recipes

Pollinator Workshop



Pollinator Workshop

We are proud to be organizing a special workshop on pollinators and insect biodiversity. If you would like to learn more about these important animals and what we can do right here in Halton Hills to protect them, please join us! This event is free and open to one and all.

Club President Don Scallen has spent all his life studying our natural world, focusing on frogs, reptiles, butterflies and flora of Halton and the surrounding region. Past President Fiona Reid is a mammalogist with a keen interest in moths. Both Fiona and Don have spent many years studying and growing plants that are native to Halton Hills.

Don will talk about the importance of insect biodiversity and how we need to look not only at pollinators, but at all insects. Fiona will focus on pollinators and caterpillars and their intricate relationships with plants. She will also detail how to plant and grow the native flowering plants that we will be handing out to participants. These plants will also be free of charge!

Please join us and learn how best to help the small creatures upon which all life depends.
Saturday, May 25, 2019 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Halton Hills Cultural Centre, Studio Space
9 Church St, Georgetown
ADMISSION IS FREE – space is limited
RSVP: beesandbeyond2019@gmail.com
Hosted by the Halton/North Peel Naturalist Club info@hnpnc.com with the support of the
Town of Halton Hills Community Sustainability Investment Fund

Norval BioBlitz

It is hard to believe it has already been almost three months since the rare-Norval BioBlitz. Before we slip into winter hibernation I want to bring you back to the warmth and exciting discovery that day.

As a recap, a BioBlitz is an event that attempts to count as many species as possible in a given area and timeframe. Scientists, naturalists, and community members work together for a day to inventory a property and contribute to biodiversity knowledge. On October 1st, Upper Canada College Norval Outdoor School and rare Charitable Research Reserve held a BioBlitz event with the goal of engaging community members and finding as many species as possible on the beautiful Norval property.

Osprey- Photo by Leslie Abram

Now back to the event! The event kicked off at 6:00 am, and early bird participants arrived bundled-up after the first frost of the year. Some of our early participants were lucky enough to hear a great horned owl and an eastern screech-owl. Other early morning sightings include deer, osprey and a coyote! As the day warmed up, so did our sightings! More and more people arrived to contribute their eyes, ears, expertise and enthusiasm.

Searching for Benthic Invertebrates- Photo by Jenna Quinn

The event brought over 185 people together, including over 30 species experts with participants travelling from all over Ontario to help us search the property. Together we were able to identify 526 species, with over 33 observers using the iNaturalist app that we used to track observations. We found mainly plants, insects, and fungi, including a deadly mushroom species!

The data collected at this event will contribute to the knowledge of species diversity at the Norval property as well as the nature selfie that was taken of Canada this year.

As a nature lover, one of the best parts of the day was hearing what participants said as they came back from Guided Sessions. I love hearing people exclaim their interest in nature, biology, and conservation. An important part of conservation is education, which I believe is one of the greatest outcomes of Community BioBlitz events. I watched people of all ages come back with smiles from ear to ear and I felt a lot of hope that these people would carry this enthusiasm for nature into their daily lives. One student form UCC was especially engaged at the event:

“What a great way to spend a Sunday – discovering all sorts of flora and fauna at Norval! Thank you to the experts for teaching me to identify and document many species of plants and animals that I saw on the land, in the sky and in the water. The Bioblitz was a fabulous experience. It was a great to be outside with friends and family learning about what makes this land so unique!” Stephen Stack – Year 8 – Upper Canada College

This testimonial among many others is like music to my ears. Let’s hope that the many BioBlitz events that occurred across the country during this milestone year and in previous years have inspired the next generation to be environmental stewards and help protect biodiversity locally, nationally and internationally.

Insect identification- Photo by Norval Staff Member

Next year, rare will be participating in City Nature Challenge, where multiple urban areas will attempt to observe the most species over multiple days. If you are interested in participating in this event, keep an eye on the rare website in the New Year or subscribe to our mailing list here if you haven’t already.

If you would like more information about the BioBlitz Canada 150 events that happened this year, please visit: http://bioblitzcanada.ca/

Web Site

Snowy Owls and Bad Fortune

“They’re not used to looking for a car or a truck coming”, says terrestrial ecologist.
“If you happen to see a snowy owl, that’s just good fortune”, says Bruce Mackenzie of the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club.

What appears to be an earlier than usual arrival from their Arctic breeding ground, is not good fortune for the owl.
CBCNews.ca reports
“Snowy owls arrive in Hamilton area, but bad fortune is waiting”

The National Audubon Society wonders if this winter will bring an irruption of the Arctic raptors to the continental U.S.
“Hold Onto Your Bins: Another Blizzard of Snowy Owls Could Be Coming”

CTVnews.ca reports via Lesley McDonell, a terrestrial ecologist at the Hamilton Conservation Authority in Hamilton, Ont.,
“Vehicles hit three snowy owls in southern Ontario in past week”

If your aim is to try and understand the behaviour of this species, you have something in common with many scientists.
This document from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology might help.
“Snowy Owl Distribution, Migration and Habitat”
or follow the citizen scientist on E-Bird to track the owl.
“Snowy Owl Tracking and Checklists”

snowy owl l01 (1)
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Irene McIlveen – A Memoir

When I attended my first meeting at our club in November 1991, I would never have guessed that I would be so involved in such a short time. By the end of December I had gone with Bill McIlveen on a day trip to the Niagara River and been involved with the club’s first Christmas Bird Count which Bill had organized.

It was probably years before I had as many interactions with Irene McIlveen as I had had with Bill in the first two months. The two of them were involved in almost everything that was happening with the club. Of course Irene was a very friendly and approachable person as well as being an amazing naturalist. On the club nature walks I often ended up with Irene’s group of followers, proceeding at a more leisurely pace than Bill’s; Irene often searching for, capturing or photographing the small, hidden treasures of nature.

As the years went by Irene and I got to know each other much better. I always thought of her as a lovely person and admired the way that she dealt with the world. It was probably in the late 90’s that Irene and I were carpooling for a club day trip. It was a great opportunity for conversation on many topics and the experience strengthened our friendship.

In the past few years I got a ride several times with the McIlveens to the southern week-night walks. On occasions, when the mood was right, Irene and I would try to have some fun at Bill’s expense. If an opportunity arose one of us would suggest how Bill might improve himself and the other would agree and maybe add their two cents worth too. Fortunately, Bill always escaped unscathed and we all had a good chuckle.

Irene was a pretty serene person but she was not free of frustration. While I was visiting once, Bill was showing me some watercolour landscapes that he had done. Irene was there and she was telling me how Bill, in a matter of minutes, would produce these lovely paintings and how is that fair, etc. I sympathized with Irene and she and I agreed that it would be more considerate if Bill took more time to finish each painting.
Irene was a beautiful person. I will remember her often and with great affection.

Ray Blower

HNPNC outing to Laurie Reed’s Heronry, May 28, 2017

We had a wonderful outing to the heronry between Speyside and Campbellville. On the way, I saw a Black-billed Cuckoo flying across the road. Sadly, we could not stop quickly enough for everyone to get a good look at this bird.
We went on to Laurie and Judith Reed’s property and made ourselves at home on their barn balcony, overlooking the hundred-acre swamp. There were 17 active Great Blue Heron nests, most with fuzzy young and one adult tending the 2-4 babies. We saw a swan on an old beaver nest. Closer views with a scope revealed a pair of Trumpeter Swans on this nest, one with number J57 on its yellow wing band. A Common Gallinule was seen preening, and a second bird seen soon after. Later, another pair of these quite rare “common” birds was seen. We also saw two Pied-billed Grebes and heard their strange call. Tanya was excited to see a Black-billed Cuckoo, but only momentarily before it hid in a shrubby tree. It called on and off the whole time we were there. Several Eastern Phoebes were flying about and collecting insects, and must have had a nest nearby. Cedar Waxwings, Baltimore Oriole, and a lone Willow Flycatcher, singing its “fitz-bew” call were also observed, along with Yellow Warblers and Gray Catbirds. I spotted a Snapping Turtle having a face-off with a much smaller Painted Turtle. A count of all the turtles revealed 29 painted and two snappers sunning on logs. Turkey Vultures soared over, an Eastern Kingbird posed on a stick and Red-winged Blackbirds feuded for prime territories. A few Tree Swallows seemed to be nesting in the swamp with the herons. Although only five club members came out of this event, it was a great way to spend a nice sunny afternoon. Many thanks to Laurie and Judith for their hospitality, and for maintaining this great habitat.

Author: JOHN BEAUDETTEAperture: 11Camera: PENTAX K-5Iso: 200Copyright: BEARMUGS WEB DESIGNOrientation: 1
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Algonquin Park

Covering 772,300 hectares, and established in 1893, Algonquin Park is perhaps Ontario’s most stunning wildlife refuge.
So awe inspiring and so amazing is the atmosphere that this treasure can leave you speechless. In fact, this place is even capable of silencing our own Vice-President Ian Jarvie.
Upon his return from a recent trip, virtually speechless, our Vice-President simply said “Here, pictures”. Therefore, here are a few of his photographs to speak for themselves.

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serving Brampton, Georgetown, Milton, Acton & surrounding areas

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