Disposal Of Jack-o’-Lanterns

Jack-o’-Lantern, Guelph Radial Trail, 2016

Article and Photos by W.D. McIlveen

Each year sees the production of millions of Pumpkins on extensive areas of agricultural land. Some of those Pumpkins are used to make pies, various baked goods and other sorts of edibles including Pumpkin seeds. The vast majority of the large orange fruit are either destined for Jack-o’-Lanterns at Halloween or are not even harvested. A cynic may suggest that the entire cultivation of Pumpkins involves rather frivolous use of agricultural land. Those people that do grow the crop in a conscientious manner can realize a good profit for their efforts.

Pumpkin crop, Huttonville, 2003

Pumpkin harvest, Scotch Block, 2016

Of the pumpkins that are acquired by members of the general public, the majority become Jack-o’-Lanterns but some are kept intact as ornaments. The latter obviously remain in an intact form. When Jack-o’-Lanterns are produced, two basic products will result. One of these is the outer shell that is further carved into the standard Halloween face. But in order to get that stage, the innards and seeds become a material that needs to be managed. Sometimes, the seeds are saved as a snack food. The inner part is something that has no real value to humans and the shells of the seeds fall into the same category. After a short life as a Jack-o’-Lantern, Pumpkins become a bit of a problem on November 1st each year. They soon start to show signs of deterioration (loss of water due to the cut surfaces) and people start to look for ways to dispose of them. This issue regarding what to do with them is at the core of this article.

Pumpkins dumped at Nassagaweya Line, 2021

In recent years, it has become increasingly apparent that people are not following good practices regarding their used Jack-o’-Lanterns. A fair number appear to be smashed in place by vandals while others have ended up being thrown out along roadsides, in parks, and in various woodlots. There may be some value of the Pumpkins as food for wildlife but disposal could lead to attraction of the wrong kinds of wildlife or possibly even releasing Pumpkins as a wild plant if seeds are left within the Jack-o’-Lantern. Disposal of Pumpkins in natural areas may be contrary to local by-laws. Most municipalities have had to develop rules or guidelines for their own local area because of the scale of the Pumpkin waste. There may be some slight variations from place to place regarding the disposal of the unwanted Pumpkin waste so people are advised to check the rules that are relevant to their own particular location. Generally, in our area, people are asked to place their unwanted Pumpkins in with their yard waste or to include them in their own backyard compost pile. They are preferably not to be included within green bins and are definitely not wanted in general garbage where they take up landfill space. They should not be thrown out along roadsides or in natural areas.

Pumpkins at Nassagaweya Line, 2021

Spring Birding Challenge 2022

The Spring Birding Challenge is complete for 2022

Did you get your name on our list for spotting birds?
The FINAL RESULTS for our Spring Birding Challenge are in.
2020 we recorded 179 species
2021 we beat that with a total 219 species.
This year, 202 different species were reported.
We didn’t quite reach 230 but we can think about that target for next year?
When you’re outside enjoying the better weather, take a moment to appreciate the sight and sounds of all the birds we are blessed with.
2022 Spring Birding Challenge list PDF file for download

Results from previous years.
2020 Spring Birding List
2021 Spring Birding List

HNPNC Winter 2021 – 22 Birding Challenge


The Winter Challenge results are now final.

After 13 weeks, our number of species sighted is 124.
We find ourselves 1 species short of our 125 target.
You can download the PDF list here Winter Challenge Final Total
or view the spreadsheet here.

For the previous year’s Winter Birding Challenge we set a target of 100 species, and thanks to Club members, we managed to beat that with an amazing total of 125 species.
So this year’s challenge was to see if we could beat 125 species!
The challenge ran from 21 December, 2021 until 21 March of this year.

Spring Birding Challenge 2021

2021 Spring Birding Challenge FINAL TALLY

For our members who didn’t manage to get out there during the winter and get your name on our list for spotting birds, we have now started the second annual Spring Birding Challenge.
Last Spring, the Club membership  spotted 179 species, so we are being even more ambitious this year and we have set a target of 200 species between now and the end of Spring, 21 June. Think we can do it? Let’s get out there in this beautiful Spring weather and try!
Here is last year’s list for reference.
As before, email your sightings to Ian Jarvie at
and in addition to species, please include location within Southern Ontario and the date of your sightings.
Week 13 list PDF file for download

HNPNC Winter 20-21 Birding Challenge


Winter officially arrived at 5:02 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on Dec 21, and that’s when you can start recording and reporting your sightings. NO, NOT at 5:00 a.m. You must wait until 5:02.
Our challenge runs until 21 March next year, so let’s get out and see if we can tally 100 species.
Spring has arrived officially, and our Winter Challenge is now over.
After 89 days final count, 125 species. Now for the spring challenge.

Download the PDF version here.

President’s Message

Greetings! I hope you are all keeping well in spite of the challenges this year has presented.

Most of you know me a little, but perhaps I should introduce myself. As the son of a dyed-in-the-wool naturalist, I took to studying nature at an early age. I recall with fondness my father teaching me how to key out a plant with a field guide, how to collect insects, observe birds or even locate a secretive mole in the back woods. In my personal life, I try to pay this forward, sharing my experiences with family and friends at every opportunity. In my academic and professional life, I have been most privileged to be able to pursue this passion as an ecologist, working for the University of Toronto, various consulting firms and, for the last several years, Conservation Halton. I am grateful for the opportunities I have enjoyed, to broaden my understanding of nature and to continue learning more all the time!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Don heartily for the wonderful work he has done. I don’t mind admitting it will be a serious challenge trying to follow in such footsteps as he and our other past-Presidents have left. My thanks, Don, for the amazing example and inspiration you have given me!

Your executive continue to do a phenomenal job of organizing the club and all its activities. I have rapidly come to appreciate how well each of them tends to the many tasks that keep everything moving forward smoothly. I shall be relying on them, as well as past-executive members, for their support and wisdom in conducting the club’s affairs. My thanks and appreciation goes out to each of you in advance!

The club’s modus operandi has been highly successful, so even as we are faced with the challenge of working out new ways to conduct our activities in the age of Covid, we are striving to maintain the tried-and-true model. Nature talks and meetings can still be held, even though we must explore new ways to hold them. Outdoor walks and other activities are, of course, one of our favorite things. We are continuing to explore how we can offer these in a safe and careful manner. So, with a few tweaks, you may look forward to this continuing to be an active and vibrant club for anyone who loves to appreciate the wonders of the natural world.

Watch your email and check out the newsletter!

Thank you all again, and I look forward to an exciting time with this amazing group!

Yves Scholten
President, Halton/North Peel Naturalist Club

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.

Nicole Watt and Participants
Participants arrived with numerous questions, and left better informed and ready to take the Zero Waste challenge.
« of 19 »

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

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