Holiday Outing

On Monday evening, December 5, 2022, twenty WRN members met to walk through the light display at Waterloo Park. This was definitely a little different than our usual December social event.

WRN Teens – Summer/Fall 2022 Report

(This article appeared in the Winter 2022 Heron newsletter)

 This summer and fall, members of the WRN Teens continued to meet every Saturday morning at SpruceHaven Farm in St. Agatha. The land is made up of many different native environments including woodland, bog, pond, and grassland. It is exciting to observe all the changes in the environment from week to week, month to month, and season to season.

WRN Teens at SpruceHaven after monitoring salamanders and tree frogs

WRN Teens adult volunteers (Linda Dutka, Michelle MacMillan, Graeme Smith, Thelma Beaubien, and Marg Paré) accompanied us on these activities at SpruceHaven. We checked on salamander boards and frog tubes and in the spring and summer we monitored nest boxes. This year we found Red-backed Salamanders (Plethodon cinereus) under the salamander boards and Grey Treefrogs (Dryophytes versicolor) in the frog tubes. (Thanks to Levi Moore for setting up frog monitoring for us and being our consultant.) Nest box residents included Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) and Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor). At the end of the summer when things quietened down a bit we helped by doing some maintenance on both the nest boxes and salamander boards. 

River study at rare Charitable Research Reserve

During the summer, Graeme, Michelle, and Thelma helped out by leading some additional Saturday morning activities at SpruceHaven. In July, Graeme led a tree measurement activity and Michelle led a benthic pond study. Thelma introduced us to some of the many butterflies that call Ontario home.

 On some Saturday afternoons we also had work projects and learning projects led by community partners and nature experts. In the summer, these activities included a Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) removal at White Cedar Forest in Waterloo led by Linda Sloka, a former Teens parent, and an Ecology Hike led by Dr. Cory Wallace at Huron Natural Area in Kitchener.
Gardening at Forest Heights Pollinator Patch
Mushroom Hike at Homer Watson Park
 So far this fall, we attended a birding hike with David Gascoigne at Riverside Park in Cambridge, worked at a pollinator garden with Giselle Carter at Forest Heights in Kitchener, participated in a Mushroom Hike with Janet Ozaruk at Homer Watson Park in Kitchener, and did a Benthic Invertebrates Study in the Grand River at “rare” Charitable Research Reserve with Michelle MacMillan. We’re also happy to welcome a new adult volunteer, Philip Pyatt.
We’ve got a bunch more activities coming up in the fall, which I’m sure everyone is excited about!
By Brynn Roderick
Photos: Marg Paré

WRN Kids – Birding Hike

Birding Hike

On Saturday, October 29, 2022, WRN Kids went on a birding hike along the Mill Race Trail.

Where was the outing today?
Three Bridges Road, Woolwich.

How was the weather?
Sunny and cool.

Simulated worms in mud
Mill Race Trail

What did we do?
We used different tools as beaks to see which work better with different types of pretend food. My favourite pretend food was the nectar that was made out of water.

Pick a bird beak utensil
Simulated water plants

What did you learn?
I learnt that chickadees are friendly because they eat seeds from your hands.


Reported by Jack

Waiting for Chickadees

What was your favourite part?
My favourite part was feeding the ducks.

Beaver Dam, Mill Race Trail

Outing to Toronto, Mississauga, Oakville

On Saturday October 8, 2022, David Gascoigne and Miriam Bauman led a group on an all day outing along the shore of Lake Ontario looking for birds. Here are a few photos from that day.

For the full report on the day, with many more photos, see David’s blog at WRN Outing to Toronto, Mississauga, Oakville.

WRN Kids – Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger Hunt

On Saturday, September 24, 2022, WRN Kids met at Huron Natural Area.

1.What was the topic today?

We went on a nature scavenger hunt.

2. What activities did we do?

We played some games about nature like Would You Rather be this or that animal. Then we went on a scavenger hunt as a group. Then we did a craft by coloring leaves that we found on our walk.


3. Why is this important to learn about?

We learned how to use all of our senses to experience nature. This is important because it teaches us more about nature than just looking at it would.

4. What was the weather like?

It started cold but then it got warm. It was sunny the whole time.

5. How did you feel when you did the activities?

My sister and I felt happy.

6. What did you like best about today?

I liked using a magnifying glass to look at ants eating a dead dragonfly.

Reported by Leia

This other dragonfly was alive.

WRN Kids – Butterfly Hike

Butterfly Hike

On Saturday, September 17, 2022, WRN Kids went on a hike with Thelma Beaubien to look for butterflies.

Today we went on a walk to look for butterflies. It was bright and sunny day and Thelma and Ron took us around private property and we saw at least 9 monarch butterflies, viceroy butterflies and netted a variegated fritillary.

We learned that monarch butterflies fly south-west for the winter to Mexico. When butterflies sleep it is called roosting and they also only “eat” liquid like water, nectar and sweat.

There were also lots of grasshoppers and we heard lots of crickets. We also saw a cool rare plant. Butterflies have really neat looking eyes.

It was very nice of Thelma to give us a copy of her book that she wrote and an informational handout.

Written by Blake and Liam

Tour of SpruceHaven

On Saturday September 10, 2022, David Gascoigne and Miriam Bauman led a group on a tour of the SpuceHaven property. They visited the Barn Swallow nests, the grassland, the woods and the bluebird/swallow nest boxes. Here are a few photos from that day.

For the full report on the day, with many more photos, see David’s blog at WRN Outing to SpruceHaven, 10 September, 2022.

North Shore of Lake Ontario – June 25, 2022

On Saturday June 25, 2022, David Gascoigne and Miriam Bauman led a group on an all day outing along the shore of Lake Ontario looking for whatever showed up. Here are a few photos from that day.

For the full report on the day, with many more photos, see David’s blog at Waterloo Region Nature Outing to the North Shore of Lake Ontario.

WRN Kids – Pollinators and Kites

kite flying

Pollinators and Kites

On Saturday, June 4, 2022, WRN Kids visited the Forest Heights Pollinator Patch to learn about bees, plant seeds, and fly kites.

This week at Nature Kids the topic was Pollinators and Kites. Dana Church, a local scientist who studies bees, came and spoke about her book The Beekeepers, and told us interesting facts about bees. It is important to learn about bees because many are endangered, and we need them to pollinate fruits and vegetables.

Flowers in bloom
Dana Church
Dana Church
group listening to speaker
planting seeds

We planted seeds and small plants in the Forest Heights Pollinator Patch, which is a volunteer managed garden in Meadowlane Park.

planting seeds

Then we went to fly kites in the field. The weather was warm with a slight wind which made it very good for flying kites.

Canada Anemone

Because it was the last meeting of the year we had cookies as a treat and received a book about birds. It was a fun morning outdoors.

Reported by Caroline

kite flying
kite flying
kite flying

Tree Planting in Memory of Betty Cooper

tree plaque

On Friday, May 6, 2022, a group of friends and WRN board members gathered at rare to plant a White Oak tree in memory of Betty Cooper.

For a full report on the event with many more photos, and transcripts of the memories shared by Elaine LaRonde and Mary Ann Vanden Elzen, see David Gascoigne’s blog at A Tree for Betty Cooper.

planting the tree
tree plaque

WRN Kids – Nature Photography

Nature Photography

On Saturday, April 30, 2022, WRN Kids visited Breithaupt Park for a photography outing led by Focus On Nature.

Today, we learned about nature photography. First there was a small presentation where we learned about the elements of photography which are: Line, Shape, Form, Space, Texture, Tone, Rule of thirds, SCUFI-Shoot Close Up For Impact, and Colour which has three properties: Hue, Saturation, and Brightness.

This is important to learn about because of a couple of reasons. Here are three: To have fun, to remember interesting things, and to show people things that you like after you see them.

by Calum
people taking photos
by Jackson

If you did not bring a camera they would loan you one. Then we went outside and split into two groups. The two groups then split up and went on a walk. During the walk you could take pictures of interesting things. The weather was a bit cloudy but with some sunny spots.

by Hunter

During the activities I felt very happy. I liked taking pictures of cool things that I saw. Some examples of what I saw: Trout Lily, Bloodroot, A squirrel tail, and a deep hole. To me it was very fun. My favourite part was the walk and taking pictures.

Reported by Calum

WRN Teens – Birding Walk

feeding chickadees

WRN Teens Birding Walk

April 30, 2022 was another 2-job Saturday for WRN Teens. In the morning, we did our usual monitoring of salamander boards and nest boxes at SpruceHaven farm. 

In the afternoon, we had a birding walk led by David Gascoigne in Riverside Park in Preston, Cambridge. We had beautiful weather and, with two new members, we had fun getting to know each other. There were few of the spring migratory bird species we had hoped to see but we practised our identification skills on Northern Cardinals, White-throated Sparrows, Red-winged Blackbirds, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Tree Swallows, Buffleheads and lots more. David encouraged the Teens to start their “life lists” now, so it was an important first day for Teens who carefully recorded sightings.

Other firsts for some Teens included discovering Riverside Park and feeding chickadees in their hands.

As well as birds, we also saw a White-tailed Deer, Painted Turtles and Snapping Turtles, and for most of us, had our closest encounter ever with Raccoons! 

The Teens were very enthusiastic about everything and we had requests for a return visit. Thanks to David for sharing his knowledge and inspiring us all, both Teens and adults. 

feeding chickadees
watching racoon
racoon eating on railing