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HNPNC Winter 2021 – 22 Birding Challenge


The Winter Challenge is back for 2021-22

Week 4 tally on observations, we have 102 species sighted.
You can download the PDF list here Winter Challenge Week 4
or view the spreadsheet here.

For last 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 is to see if we can beat 125 species!
It’s easy to participate, members just create a checklist of the species seen during each outing, along with the location anywhere in Southern Ontario. Then simply email your list to me, Ian Jarvie, at
If you use eBird, it’s even easier, just email me the eBird checklist link.
Unfortunately, since we are still in the grip of the pandemic, it is crucial that Club Members take extra precautions and follow all Federal, Provincial and Municipal public health directives and regulations.
And please remember that Club Member safety is our primary concern.
As in the past, the total list of species will be posted on the Club website every week or so, and please note that only the first sighting of any particular species will be listed, along with its location, the name of the birder and the date.
The challenge starts on 21 December, and runs until 21 March next year, so let’s get out and see if HNPN Club members can beat the previous number of species.
Good luck and safe birding, both for yourself and the birds!
Watch here for the progress list.

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:

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 . 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 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 (


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
Hosted by the Halton/North Peel Naturalist Club 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:

Web Site