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.

Aperture: 11
Camera: PENTAX K-5
Iso: 200
Orientation: 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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Swift Watch

Bird Studies Canada is conducting SwiftWatch, a long-term monitoring program, with the goal of raising awareness about chimney swifts, a species that has declined by 95% since 1968. You can help by volunteering with the Halton SwiftWatch Program, where you will be assigned to a known roost site, and will spend one to four evenings (about 8 to 9pm) in the spring monitoring it for bird activity; May 24, May 29, June 1, June 5.
If you are interested in volunteering or learning more, please contact Emily at emilyerincassidy@gmail.com
More information about the SwiftWatch Program is also available here. Ontario_Swiftwatch_Protocol.pdf

Winter Birding Report

January 26, 2017
Sedgewick Park, Oakville
Suncor Woods, Oakville
Woodlawn Cemetery, Burlington
LaSalle Marina, Burlington

Don Scallen, Archie Tannock, Fiona Reid, Tanya Pico, Yves Scholten, Alexis Buset, Gary Hall and Ian Jarvie

The weather for this year’s outing, while it was not cold for this time of year, was drizzly and damp, with mist and fog, quite thick in places. Despite that, we had a very productive day, with some particularly notable sightings.

The first stop was at Sedgwick Park where we saw the resident Yellow-rumped Warblers and Golden Crowned Kinglets. The Orange-crowned Warbler failed to make an appearance, although we did see a Tufted Titmouse, which was an unexpected find, and some members saw a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. In addition, we heard a Carolina Wren calling its usual “peter-peter-peter”, and a number of other species were also seen. The table below lists all the species seen throughout the day.

We then proceeded to an area where owls had been previously reported and were not disappointed. At Suncor Woods, we had spectacular views of a pair of Great Horned Owls, which obligingly posed for a photo op for several minutes before flying off. One was noticeably smaller than the other, and we assumed that they were the male and female of a mated pair.
As if one owl species was not enough for one day’s outing, two Long-eared Owls were spotted nearby, tracked down by finding the regurgitated pellets at the bottom of the trees they were roosting in. They were well camouflaged, high in two pine trees, but not well enough to escape our eagle-eyed (or should I say owl-eyed) Naturalist Club spotters!
Other notable species were a Red-tailed Hawk and Red-bellied Woodpeckers. Several Robins were also seen, and the trend in recent years seems to be that more and more of these birds are staying around our area, rather than migrating south.

After a quick lunch stop at the ubiquitous Tim Horton’s, we headed off to Woodlawn Cemetery where a Tufted Titmouse and a Screech Owl had been reported some days earlier. Unfortunately they kept themselves well hidden, and Juncos and Chickadees there were the only birds to be seen.

As we drove to our next stop, LaSalle Marina, the fog thickened and by the time we reached the lake, the visibility was extremely poor. The waterbirds close to the shore were easily visible, with the usual contingent of Trumpeter Swans living up to their name, and hundreds of Mallards and several Black Ducks along the water’s edge. A Pied-billed Grebe was seen among many Scaups, and a Snow Goose was only just visible through the fog further out, swimming with a group of Canada Geese. Scoters, Buffleheads, Goldeneye and two Coots were also spotted. There were many more unidentifiable waterfowl barely visible through the fog, and likely even more beyond that. A bold beaver also swam past us, hugging the shoreline, and later we noted quite extensive damage to several trees, with at least one having been brought down and used as the beaver equivalent of Tim Horton’s. Along the boardwalk trail many woodland songbirds were to be seen, including a Carolina Wren, but the highlight was an Orange-crowned Warbler, pointed out to us by another birder present.

From there, we had intended to go to the Burlington Lift Bridge to view the waterfowl and the resident Peregrine Falcons, but the poor visibility, the lateness of the day and the cold damp weather persuaded us that it was time to call it a day.

A total of 39 species were seen in all, so, despite the cold and damp weather, I think everybody would agree that we had a great day of winter birding!
Note: Here are some images of the owls and other wildlife.

IAN 7477
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Toronto and Region Conservation Winter Events

1. Winter Bird Count
Date: Saturday, January 14
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Location: Claireville Conservation Area – 8180 Hwy 50, Brampton, ON L6T 0A7, Canada
Description: The Christmas Bird Count is a fun, family-friendly bird watching event that promotes nature appreciation and environmental stewardship. Build bird identification skills and contribute to important Citizen Science work for bird conservation! All ages are welcome. This event is in partnership with Bird Studies Canada. The event will be hosted outside so please dress warmly.
This is a FREE event. Please register online to secure your spot: https://trca.ca/event/winter-bird-count/?instance_id=1408

2.Snowshoes and Snow-clues at Newhouse Park
Date: Saturday, February 11        
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Location: Newhouse Park – 16 Cliffview Court, Caledon Ontario        
Description: Discover the wonders of winter wildlife while identifying tracks and signs of local animals. Try out snowshoeing. In the event of a snow-free day, join us for a winter walk through the woods. This is a FREE event. Please register to secure your spot: https://trca.ca/event/snowshoes-snow-clues-newhouse-park/?instance_id=1413

3. Hoot and Howl at Albion Hills
Date: Saturday, February 25        
Time: 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Location: Albion Hills Conservation Area Field Centre
16500 Peel Regional Rd 50 Caledon,
Description: Join Toronto and Region Conservation for a night of fun and adventure! Enjoy a short presentation on owls and coyotes followed by a trip into the woods. Together we will call out to these wild creatures in hopes they will hoot or howl back! This is a FREE event. Please register to secure your spot: https://trca.ca/event/hoot-howl-albion-hills/?instance_id=1415

Birding in the 21st Century – EBird

ebird_logoA year or so ago I moved into the modern age and started to use an online resource called eBird to log my bird sightings. eBird is managed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and is essentially a database where individuals worldwide record their sightings of birds. To date, thousands of birders worldwide have logged millions of sightings since its inception in 2002.
Individually, it provides an easy way to record your sightings, manage your checklists, and investigate what birds are being seen in any geographical area of interest. Cumulatively, this provides an invaluable resource for scientific study and conservation efforts.
To use eBird, simply create an account with a username and password, and off you go. And it’s free!BEA11046
Submitting your observations is easy, just go to Submit Observations (not surprisingly!) and follow the prompts, starting with location, followed by date, start time, outing duration, and then, on the next page, list the species you have seen. The birds are listed in taxonomic order, and there is a search function which makes finding your bird easy. Enter the number of that particular species you have seen, and you can even drag and drop your photographs too.
Since the information you submit is entered into a scientific database, data quality is extremely important, and the people at eBird are nothing if not rigorous. For example, eBird detects when you record a “rare bird”. It automatically flags the species as being rare based on location, time of year, or numbers seen. It then asks for further substantiation – photographs are great for this. The photograph doesn’t have to be Nat Geo front page quality either, even poor ones showing details of the bird are enough. The rare bird submission is then vetted by local expert birder volunteers, and if considered valid, it is then entered into the main database. But even if the reviewer does not consider it substantiated, it still shows on your personal checklists.
After you have entered your sightings, you can go to the My eBird tab and view your life list and manage your checklists, which are sortable by species, date seen, location and a number of other parameters. You can even download your checklists or share them with others via email.BEA11945
Because lots of other birders are doing the same as you, there is a huge database of information which is extremely useful to us birders. To investigate what has been seen and where, navigate to the Explore Data tab and click on one of several links and explore sightings by region, hotspots, species or bar charts. There are even interactive maps!
An additional feature is the ability to sign up for rare bird alerts, and you will receive emails telling you where and when rare species have been seen in the particular region you are interested in.
If you want an easy way to log and manage your sightings, and a great way to investigate what birds are around you, eBird is a wonderful tool. But perhaps more importantly, by contributing your birding efforts you can individually play a small but important role in “citizen science”. Collectively, birders worldwide are building a hugely important scientific database being used by, for example, educators, biologists, and conservationists.
So, next time you grab your binoculars and bird book and head out, why not think about using eBird when you get home?

ebirdlogo-en-canadaIan Jarvie
Halton North Peel
Naturalist Club

serving Brampton, Georgetown, Milton, Acton & surrounding areas

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