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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

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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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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     Leonard Sielecki of the University of Victoria is conducting a web-based survey on the opinions of drivers on a wildlife hazard warning system that was developed at the university.
The system was developed to give drivers more information about wildlife hazards on roads and highways. The system is designed to let drivers know how wildlife hazards change from place to place, during different times of the year on roads and highways.
The survey is an anonymous survey so no personal information, like your name, your address, or any other identifying information is requested or will be recorded. The survey takes about 5 to 7 minutes to complete. All participants will need to read an online consent form before they start the survey.
The survey is completely voluntary so please do not feel any obligation to do the survey. If during the survey you don’t want to complete the survey, you are under no obligation to do so. If you don’t want to complete the survey, just close your browser window.
If you have a driver’s licence and are 19 years of age or older, and are interested in participating in the survey, the link for the survey is below:


Your participation in this survey is greatly appreciated. If you think your friends, colleagues and acquaintances might be interested in participating in this survey, please feel free to forward this information to them. The more participants that I have in this survey, the more valid the results of the survey will be.
I would like to get as many participants for my survey as possible.

Thank you.

Leonard Sielecki
Department of Geography
University of Victoria

Submission to the Co-ordinated Land Use Planning Review

Submission to the Co-ordinated Land Use Planning Review
Environmental Registry #012-3256
May 2015

 The Halton/North Peel Naturalist Club is a local membership group of Ontario Nature. Our membership consists of residents from Halton Hills, Brampton and other communities in Halton and Peel Regions.
We are strongly in favour of maintaining the current legislation protecting the Oak Ridges Moraine, the Niagara Escarpment and the Greenbelt. An initiative to expand the Greenbelt would also be supported by our group.
The Halton/North Peel Naturalist Club is favourably located in a region that includes the Niagara Escarpment, the Oak Ridges Moraine and the Greenbelt. Our membership has benefited greatly from government policy protecting these land uses. The Niagara Escarpment and the Oak Ridges Moraine enrich our lives. We hike in these areas frequently, engaging in nature study, photography and environmental activities.
It is crucial, in a region that continues to grow rapidly in population, that strong measures are in place to manage that growth. The Niagara Escarpment and the Oak Ridges Moraine offer priceless assets to the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Water filtration and groundwater storage is one such extremely important asset. Other assets include the recreational opportunities that the Niagara Escarpment and the Oak Ridges Moraine offer – opportunities that will become even more important as our population grows.
Maintaining and expanding the current boundaries of the Greenbelt ensures that farms will continue to be able to operate close to our urban centres. This has manifest benefits, including the production of local food, the maintenance of family farms and the avoidance of the greenhouse gases and carbon emissions associated with the long-distance transport of food.
As a naturalist club we also advocate for the wildlife that lives on these landscapes. In this era of extinction, and relentless diminishment of wildlife habitat, we have a responsibility to ensure that we protect what remains. The Niagara Escarpment and the Oak Ridges Moraine provide important habitat for species at risk such as Jefferson Salamanders, Bobolinks, Meadowlarks and Monarch Butterflies.
The Halton/North Peel Naturalist Club strongly endorses the protection of these species and the enhancement of their habitats. We also support efforts to build and strengthen linkages between existing natural lands, allowing the natural movement of animals and plants. Adding protected land to the Niagara Escarpment and Oak Ridges Moraine would help accomplish this.
Please add the voice of our club to the chorus of voices speaking out in support of the Oak Ridges Moraine, the Niagara Escarpment and the Greenbelt. These land use plans protect a precious natural and cultural heritage that is crucially important to the future of Ontarians.

Don Scallen
Vice President Halton/North Peel Naturalist Club


Notes from the Vice-President

At Tuesday’s meeting I forgot two important items:

a) a formal thank you to John Beaudette for taking over the club website. This important feature of our club remains in good hands after being turned over to John by Sandy Gillians. Another emphatic thank you to Sandy and John.

b) We are, however, still in need of someone to take on the newsletter. Fiona will pull it together for March if necessary, but I really hope someone will step forward before then. Fiona has done and continues to do a lot for the club. If you think you may like to do this please contact me  at

Support turtle research in Ontario

Did you know that snapping turles can live 100 years? Researchers with the Algonquin Turtle Project recently tracked Cujo, who was tagged in 1976 and has grown only 1cm in the intervening 38 years.

The Algonquin Wildlife Research Station has posted this and other interesting updates on their work at Algonquin Park. And while you’re there, please consider supporting their fundraising effort to keep the research station open.

Bookmark the links in this video:

  • Toronto Zoo Turtle Tally: Submit sightings
  • Report Suspicious Activity to MNR: 1-877-847-7667