WRN Kids – The Night Sky

WRN Kids was a bit different this month; they met in the evening to learn about the night sky! Sadly, the sky was overcast so the program was all indoors. The Kids were still excited to learn about astronomy and had really great questions.

Ian, a GRCA naturalist, used a software program to show constellations and planets, and travel through space and time.

Afterwards, several volunteers from the KW branch of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada showed off their toys! The Kids got to touch the telescopes and learn a bit about how they work. After chatting with the amateur astronomers, the Kids took home sky charts to try out on a clearer night.

WRN Teens – November 2018

WRN Teens November 2018
WRN Teens have been busy during November. For our first bonus outing, we had a fun hike at FWR Dickson Wilderness Area. This was a new place for everybody and it was great to explore all the different habitats. Highlights of our afternoon were having packing snow (therefore snowballs!), figuring out that Wild Turkeys had been active by one of the lesser-used trails, and having a chance to wear our WRN tuques again!


The snow was not so helpful for the invasive plant removal we had planned to do in a Kitchener natural area for our monthly project on the last Saturday afternoon of the month. Josh Shea turned that project into another -- we learned about bird identification basics from Josh and Teen-ornithologist Linden and had a short hike at Huron Natural Area. Although the birds weren't plentiful, it was good practice for us as we've been invited to help at the Christmas Bird Count for Kids at 'rare' on January 12.

The beaver dam
The beaver dam
And some recent activity
And some recent activity
A new-found friend.
A new-found friend.

Thanks to the enthusiastic Teens for coming out, to their parents for getting them there, and to Josh and Linden for sharing their know-how. We're not meeting in December but are looking forward to more volunteer work and learning in the new year.

Montgomery Fall Work Day 2018

Montgomery Fall Workday Report 2018

Friday, October 19, 2018

Present: Wayne & Lynda Buck, Fraser Gibson, Jim Cappleman, Chris Wright, Sandy Ponic, Wendy Shaw, Pat & Paul Bigelow, Donna & Marco Debruin, Anita Smith, Marg & Graham Macdonald,       Regrets: Genie Berger

A beautiful morning around 8-10 degrees and sunny!

We worked in 3 groups. Jim, Paul & Wayne cleared trail and there were some problem areas one (downed tree) completely blocked the trail just past Post 5. Also more trail blazes are needed from Post 4 to Post 6. At Post 6 renewed blazing is needed to indicate the turn! Blazing not done as temperature too low for paint to adhere.

A second group (Lynda, Donna, Pat) inspected the trail for features, hazards, debris and signs of undesired invasion.

All property signs were in place and in good condition. The natural features at each trail post were present. There was no evidence of intrusion nor any safety hazards observed.. Several safety hazards were corrected in the spring work day eg. post in animal hole at top of the incline from the lower section of the property to the upper level. West of Post 1 fungi covered the trunk of a dead beech! Between Post 2 &3 a large area of debris from spring flooding was observed along with a small wooden chair.

Working through the inspection list.
Working through the inspection list.
Fungus on dead beech tree.
Fungus on dead beech tree.

The third group (Fraser, Chris, Wendy, Sandy, Marco, Anita , Graham) examined the property overall and checked the wood duck boxes. Chris Brought green garbage bags and focused on garbage collection! Not too much as usual and no large debris. Two boundary markers #6 and #8 which have been missing for several years were replaced - thank you Fraser. Some wildlife of note observed giant ragweed, a pileated woodpecker, the scrape of a deer, a red backed salamander (under a log turned over by Fraser) and a woolly bear caterpillar.

There was no contact with hikers or neighbours although adjacent to our property after post 8 a neighbour had cleared a path to the Nith , had a mowed area and set up with a rustic bench (2 split logs) set up to view the Nith. They also had a bird nest box on a close by maple. It was decided this area was not our property.

Deer scrape.
Deer scrape.
Checking a Wood Duck box.
Checking a Wood Duck box.

Giant Hogweed: There was no sign of Giant Hogweed flowers , no plants seen but vegetation is still quite high so small plants could be present.

Wood Duck Boxes: The West Box (Nith) was severely leaning. That was corrected as much as possible but next spring will need to be redug and straightened. In that box we found evidence of wood duck hatching - broken eggshells and no whole eggs as we have found in the past. The West box (inland) showed signs of owl nesting with owl pellets and a rodent foot inside it. The debris found in the shavings was removed and the old shavings returned to the boxes.

Owl Pellets.
Owl Pellets.

Reported by Marg Macdonald (chair)

October 21st, 2018

WRN Teens – Non-Native and Invasive Plant Removal at rare

Waterloo Region Nature Teens — Project 2 — October 27 2018
Non-Native and Invasive Plant Removal at ‘rare’ Charitable Research Reserve

WRN Teens have been at it again!  Our second project happened on October 27 when we showed up at “rare” Charitable Research Reserve in Cambridge — along with cold, wet, windy weather!

To help us brave the elements, we put on our new and very cool WRN tuques!  We met Alissa Fraser, a conservation technician at ‘rare.’  She explained what this huge nature reserve is all about and how staff, volunteers and community groups are helping ‘rare’ become more and more natural.


Our project was to continue an on-going job that Alissa oversees, removing some non-native and invasive plant species from the forest behind the ‘rare’ offices in the old Lamb’s Inn. We had a crash course in identifying Day Lilies, Lily of the Valley and Periwinkle in their late fall condition.

Day Lillies
Day Lillies
Lily of the Valley (berries), Periwinkle (leaves)
Lily of the Valley (berries), Periwinkle (leaves)

Then, we started in digging, trying not to leave a trace of these intruders. The space we covered was a tiny drop in the bucket of the large area ‘rare’ hopes to free of invasives and replant with native plants. It was slow, muddy work and the highlight of the afternoon may have been the cookie break we took!


While munching cookies, we took advantage of having expert Alissa with us to hear about her other work, retrieving threatened turtle eggs, incubating them, and re-introducing the baby turtles to the wild. A nice follow-up to our September project!


Many thanks to Alissa for hosting and teaching us, to volunteers Linda, Zack and Josh for coming out, to the Teens parents for driving and picking up — and of course, to the awesome team of WRN Teens for their hard work and stick-to-it-iveness! I hope you managed to get the mud off everything you wore — including your new tuque!

Our November project will involve habitat restoration in a Kitchener natural area. If you’ve just heard about us, there’s still room for more interested Teens! Check us out at waterlooregionnature.ca/teens or get in touch at teens@waterlooregionnature.ca

Marg Paré
WRN Teens coordinator


WRN Kids – Water

On Saturday October 27, 2018 the WRN Kids met the turtles who live inside at the nature centre and learned about turtle shells, how turtles survive, and why they are endangered.


It was cold, windy and a bit rainy but they got their rubber boots on, brought the nets and buckets, and got right into the creek to see who lives there — and could still be found this late in the fall.


They were excited to catch fish, some very cool bugs, some strange creatures in early stages of development, tiny red Blood Worms — and a Northern Leopard Frog!


For more photos visit the WRN Kids blog at October 27, 2018 – Water at Laurel Creek Nature Centre.

Viceroy Butterfly
Viceroy Butterfly

WRN Teens – Turtle Nesting Area

WRN Teens is up and running! We have ten nature-loving Teens signed up for 2018-19. We'll be doing monthly work projects and learning projects and, at the same time, earning volunteer hours. Our first ever project was helping the turtles at Laurel Creek Nature Centre.

Chris, an LCNC naturalist, gave us a close-up introduction to a Painted Turtle and a Red-eared Slider that live in the centre. We learned that outdoor turtles at LCNC have made some unfortunate choices of nesting areas. They like the area by the storage shed and parking lot but it's very exposed and most of the eggs were eaten by predators. As well, turtle eggs were discovered in the nearby mulch pile where they had rotted.


Before our project, a sandbox was installed to encourage nesting there and a turtle nest protection cover had been put over the very few remaining (weighed down with pallettes). Our jobs were to plant native grass and wildflower species around the sandbox for protection and to move the mulch pile away from the area the turtles like, 20 or so metres away to the chickadee-feeding area.


Our team of awesome Teens got right to work and got all the planting done and moved a lot of mulch!


A highlight was when we disturbed an enormous colony of ants that quickly spread everywhere, including on us!


Thanks to Chris and to volunteers Josh and Linda for making our first project a great success -- even with the ants!

We're looking forward to our October project, dealing with some invasive species at "rare" Charitable Research Reserve in Cambridge. There's still space for more Teens to join us. Sign up at waterlooregionnature.ca/teens or contact us at teens@waterlooregionnature.ca

WRN Kids – Monarch Migration and Bug Hunt

Viceroy Butterfly

On Saturday September 29, 2018 the WRN Kids learned about the Monarch butterfly life cycle and migration from Jeff Grant, a grade 10 student who is a butterfly and moth expert.

Jeff Grant
Jeff Grant
Monarch Migration Game

GRCA naturalist Chris sent the families out on a hike/game that emulated what food and hazards Monarchs would find during their migration.

Next, they went hunting live bugs with nets in the meadow.

Bug Hunt
Examining captured bug
Bug Hunt
Butterfly in cage

For more photos visit the WRN Kids blog at September 29, 2018 – Monarch Migration and Bug Hunt.

Viceroy Butterfly
Viceroy Butterfly

WRN Kids – SpruceHaven Outing


On Saturday June 9, 2018 WRN Kids went on a bonus outing to SpruceHaven Farm in St. Agatha led by David Gascoigne. They viewed the mud nests in the barn and learned how the nests are monitored by volunteers during the breeding season.


They got to see a one day old Barn Swallow up close.


Out in the fields they saw Eastern Bluebirds and Tree Swallows, and got to hold a Tree Swallow nestling.


For more on this outing and some more photos visit the WRN Kids blog at: June 9, 2018 — SpruceHaven.

WRN Board 2018-2019

At the WRN Annual General Meeting on Monday May 28, the new board for 2018-2019 was presented:




Membership Director - Anne Godlewski

Outings Director - Graham Macdonald

Program Director - Rachael Edwards

Anne Godlewski, Graham Macdonald, Rachael Edwards
Anne Godlewski, Graham Macdonald, Rachael Edwards
Jon Walgate, Paul Bigelow
Jon Walgate, Paul Bigelow




Past-President - Jon Walgate

Treasurer - Paul Bigelow



President - Josh Shea

Secretary - Erin Bannon

Director at Large - Jason Earle

Josh Shea, Erin Bannon, Jason Earle
Josh Shea, Erin Bannon, Jason Earle

Not Present -

Conservation Director - Anita Smith

Conservation Award 2018

Conservation Award Plaque
Conservation Award Presentation
nominator Stephanie Sobek-Swant, recipient David Gascoigne, nominators Graham Macdonald and Marg Lewis-Macdonald, President Jon Walgate

David Gascoigne was presented with a Conservation Award at the WRN meeting on Monday, April 23, 2018.


Introductory remarks by Conservation Director Anita Smith:

The Award Criteria for Waterloo Region Nature’s Conservation Award reads as follows: The nominee shall have participated in or instigated or increased public awareness of endeavours that have contributed to the conservation and/or preservation of the natural environment of the Region of Waterloo.

This year’s recipient of the Conservation Award meets those criteria hands down. Not only has he initiated programs that increase public awareness and conservation efforts locally, his work is recognized well beyond Canada’s borders. His efforts have been broadcast on the front page of The Record, as well as CTV news and the CBC.

Our award winner has served as president of Waterloo Region Nature. He is a volunteer at RARE, gives talks, leads walks and is an avid birder. He has initiated a barn swallow monitoring program that compares colonies in two local barns, carefully recording every detail; eggs are counted, birds are banded and some even have trackers so their migration to the south can be monitored. Bird Studies Canada was asked to rate this barn swallow monitoring program and on a scale from 1 to 10 they gave him a 12! Our winner has engaged a community of volunteers and students to join him in the work and now salamanders and butterflies are being monitored in the area as well.

As an avid birder he is known around the world. Recently the world’s gull expert, Klaus Malling Olsen, contacted our award winner asking for photos to include in his latest book; A book which, by the way, Princeton University Press has asked our winner to review!

This year’s Conservation Award recipient is genuine, engaging and inspiring. Graduate students request to work with him over the paid TAs assigned to courses. Even the youngest children he works with, such as in a class in St. Jacobs, find his enthusiasm contagious. A six-year-old girl in that classroom recently asked for his phone number, so she could give him a call the next time she spotted an interesting bird.

Please join me in congratulating this year’s Conservation Award recipient, David Gascoigne.


David Gascoigne with Award
David Gascoigne and nominator Graham Macdonald

WRN Kids – Tree Planting

Tree Planting

New trees are needed in a few spots at Laurel Creek Nature Centre because of some invasive species being removed and to replace ash trees that had to be cut down.

On Saturday April28, 2018 - WRN Kids and their adults put in a morning of carrying trees, shovels and buckets, finding the perfect planting spot not too close to other trees, digging a hole, digging the hole bigger, getting the young tree comfortable, filling in and packing down the soil, filling buckets with mulch, carrying buckets, spreading mulch… and starting over!

For more photos, see the blog posting at their website: April 28, 2018 – Tree Planting.

Tree Planting