by John Dickson
In spite of the pandemic, or perhaps because of it, many people are paying closer attention to Nature activities as they try to cope with the restrictions and safety guidelines. In addition, with few or no in-person indoor or outdoor group events, some are creating artwork with nature themes, or sharing photos of birds and animals, or their tracks, plus winter forests and fungi. There are also many online programmes for viewing from home, with some question and answer exchanges possible in many of them.
Locally, the Grey County Master Gardeners present “The Eco-Responsible Gardener”, a series of three Zoom seminars, to help you create and maintain an environmentally sustainable and beautiful garden. The first seminar on Native Plants for Grey and Bruce Counties is Saturday, January 30 at 1pm. Well known author, Lorraine Johnson, shares her extensive knowledge of native plants, and how to incorporate them into the home garden.
Lorraine Johnson is the author of numerous books on environmental issues and gardening. Former president of the North American Native Plant Society, her areas of expertise include gardening with native plants, urban agriculture and biodiversity conservation.
Her most recent book, co-authored with Sheila Colla, “A Flower Patch for the Rusty Patched Bumblebee: Creating Habitat for Native Pollinators”, is available as a free download at foecanada.org/bee-garden-guide.
Registration is required by January 23. Please email email@example.com with “GCMG Zoom Seminar 1” in the subject line. A registration email for this seminar will be emailed to you, with further instructions.
The Friends of Hibou launched their winter hike series in December.
With the Point Trail as her focus, Annette Patrick led a group around the loop, pointing out different features referencing the ancient history of the landscape. It was a cold sunny day and the hike was enjoyed by the group.
Friends of Hibou are limiting their numbers to nine plus the leader and follow Covid19 restrictions and guidelines. They suggest participants bring a mask in case distancing is difficult in some areas. On New Year’s Eve Day a small group of adults enjoyed a hike around the Interpretive Trail with features identified by both Krista McKee and Bob Knapp. Krista’s granddaughter was a pleasant addition to the hike group.
Bob Knapp’s hike on January 12th attracted a small group, which is in keeping with the Covid restrictions. He led the group around the Interpretive Trail, making their way around some of the flooding. His hike included a walk along the link trial to the Tom Thomson Trial. Bob is always a wealth of information related to how Hibou became part of Grey Sauble Conservation land.
On Monday February 1st, Barry Lewin plans to lead a hike around the Interpretive Trail. Barry walks that trail more frequently than most. He will point out birds, the beaver lodge, trees and other interpretive features. He will review some of the history of Hibou and point out some of the information from the book written by Bob Knapp.
If you are interested in these hikes, register early as the numbers may be further restricted from the nine people limits so far.
To register, go to https://friendsofhibou.com You must register for these scheduled hikes in advance. Let Friends of Hibou know if you would like to see more scheduled hikes later in February and in March email firstname.lastname@example.org
Congratulations to Artist and Naturalist George McLean, recently announced to receive the Order of Ontario Award. McLean also received an Owen Sound Cultural Award for Lifetime Achievement a number of years ago and designed the logo of the Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) depicting a Hart’s Tongue Fern, a species that is rare in North America, but very common in our region. I recommend reading Rob Gowan’s interview with George McLean in the Sun Times January 11.
This Thursday, January 14, at 7PM, OSFN presents Exploring the Polar Regions: A Guide’s Perspective with Bella Waterton and Paul Scriver. They have been working in the polar regions for the last decade, most recently along the Hudson Bay coastline guiding at, and managing a National Geographic Polar Bear Lodge. They will speak about their experiences, the wildlife of that area, plus tourism there and in the broader polar regions.
This ZOOM webinar is open to the public and will be active from 6:45pm. If you are not on the OSFN mailing list, but would still like to access it, please contact email@example.com
A bonus online presentation – Being a Bird in North America – is being offered at 7PM Thursday, January 28, with Robert Alvo, a conservation biologist, bird expert with special emphasis on loons, and the author of Being a Bird in North America. For more details on any of these, please visit www.osfn.ca _____________________________________
Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs) were held recently throughout the area, with Public Health guidelines being observed. Here are results selected from some of those CBCs.
photos by Bruce Edmunds – for larger views, Click on Images
Owen Sound: Following the 50th annual Owen Sound CBC, compiler Erik Van Den Kieboom reported that some species observed were lower in number than usual with only one Brown Creeper and no Golden-crowned Kinglets. However, some of this year’s highlights included the count’s first Winter Wren, the return of the Barrow’s Goldeneye for the fourth year in a row, and several out of season birds, including Tundra Swan, Peregrine Falcon, Black Scoter, Brown-headed Cowbird, and Common Grackle. ________________
Tobermory: Michael Butler, compiler for the 48th annual Tobermory CBC, December 16th, reported a lower than average total birds counted, but two more species than average. A highlight was a count-first Golden Eagle seen flying near Driftwood Cove. Also notable was a new record high of 56 Common Mergansers (average is 9). Wild Turkeys have been observed every year since first detected in 2008. This year’s count of 49 nearly doubled the previous high. Two each of Great Blue Heron and White-crowned Sparrow tied the highs for these species logged in 1997 and 1977, respectively.
Southern Ontario, including our area, experienced an unprecedented flight of the much-loved Evening Grosbeak this fall but none remained to be seen on the count. Other so-called “winter finches” were noted, among them 12 Pine Grosbeaks and 50 Common Redpolls.
Our 24 participants found 59 species, continuing the trend of the past 10 years of totalling over 50 species in the Meaford circle and total individuals at 4,324 birds were slightly over the past count average. One new species was added to the 50-year cumulative total for this count – Hoary Redpoll – 2 of them. This addition brings the all-time cumulative total to 123 species.