Mill Race Trail, St. Jacobs – Fall 2021

On Wednesday October 13, 2021, David Gascoigne and Miriam Bauman led a small group along the Mill Race Trail, St. Jacobs. Here are a few photos from that walk.

Unfortunately the second walk planned for the following Saturday got rained out.

For the full report on the walk, with more photos, see David’s blog at The Mill Race Trail with Staunch Naturalists of Waterloo Region Nature.

WRN Teens: Gardening for Pollinators

Gardening for Pollinators, Forest Heights Pollinator Patch
On Sat Oct 2 2021, WRN Teens had an afternoon work project that took us away from our usual SpruceHaven territory for the first time in a year and a half!  We were invited to do some weeding (can you tell we love all kinds of outside work?) in the Forest Heights Pollinator Patch in Meadowlane Park behind Meadowlane Public School in Kitchener.  It was a busy day as we were covering morning salamander monitoring as well, so we called in some help from Teens parents.  Several kindly joined us and it was fun to have a family event and do our distancing in family groups.
Forest Heights Pollinator Patch is the creation of Giselle Carter whom some of our Teens know as the coordinator of WRN Kids, and Amanda Farquhar.  The garden is maintained by neighbours and the students at Meadowlane School.  They are proud to be part of rare‘s “1000 Gardens Project.”  Check them out on FaceBook!  
Our job was to remove less desirable plant species to make space for a hundred or so new arrivals to be planted by classes the following week.  There were lots of weeds to go around and as always, the Teens put their brains and muscles right to work.  In two hours, we had filled several garden waste bags, freed up lots of space, and learned about what plants pollinators prefer and which tend to take over.  
Thanks to Giselle and Amanda for the invitation and patient explanations and to the hard-working Teens, Teens parents and Teens adult volunteers.  Special thanks to Teen Nicole who came out and worked hard both morning AND afternoon!  
Marg Paré
WRN Teens coordinator

WRN Kids – Scavenger Hunt

A report of the first WRN Kids outing of the 2021-2022 season on Saturday, September 25, 2021:

We went on an outdoor scavenger hunt at Huron Natural Area to find things in nature. It was sunny but not too hot, a perfect day to go on a walk.

Before we went out to look for things on the list we played two games. The first game was called builders and dozers. It was adults versus kids and we tied the first game but the kids won the second game. Then we got a parachute and bounced a stuffy up and down until it went flying off the parachute.

After the games, we went out with our parents along the trails to find things on the list before time ran out. 

My mom and I made it back to the meeting place in time to talk about what we found. Some of the pictures that the adults took were really cool. 

Only one family found an item on the list called Jack-in-the-pulpit. We were the only family that found an apple tree.

Doll's Eyes / White Baneberry

My favourite part was deep in a forest area where there were many different mushrooms that looked like plates with dirt on the top. On the bottom, they had skinny white gills. We got a little bit lost and found lots of new trails we’d never been on before. 

Jack-in-the-pulpit Berries
Thank you for reopening the WRN Nature Kids because it’s really fun and interesting.

Reported by:     Cohen

Second Trip to North Shore of Lake Ontario 2021

On Saturday, September 25, 2021, David Gascoigne led a group of 11 people on a field trip to the north shore of Lake Ontario (second of two this month). As usual, David has provided a full report on his blog with lots of photos, so here are just a few of those photos and a link to that report:

An Outing for Waterloo Region Nature – 25 September 2021



Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

Hairy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker


Double-crested Cormorant
Double-crested Cormorant

American Redstart
American Redstart

First Trip to North Shore of Lake Ontario 2021

On Wednesday, September 1, 2021, David Gascoigne led a group of 8 people on a field trip to the north shore of Lake Ontario (first of two this month). As usual, David has provided a full report on his blog with lots of photos taken by two of the participants, so here are just a few of those photos and a link to that report:

An Outing for Waterloo Region Nature with COVID at bay!

BlackEyed Susan
BlackEyed Susan
Northern Parula
Northern Parula
Wood Ducks
Wood Ducks
Green Heron
Green Heron
Double-crested Cormorant
Double-crested Cormorant

Betty Cooper 1927-2021

December Social 2016

Betty Cooper
1927 – 2021

It is with sadness that we announce the passing of Betty Cooper on July 6, 2021. Betty was a member of KWFN/WRN for 62 years – 62 very active years of participation and contribution. Betty regularly attended meetings and participated in many projects and activities throughout her time with us. When KWFN incorporated in 1969, she was listed as one of the first directors. In 1988 her dedication to the club was recognized with an honorary life membership. She was perhaps best known as the archivist for the club. For Betty, the club has been a constant in her life, bringing new interests and expanding her knowledge and friendships. Conversely, her mark on Waterloo Region Nature has been truly immense and will endure far into the future. For more information and to read Betty’s obituary, click on the Erb and Good Funeral Home website page at: Obituary of Betty Cooper.

Great Backyard Bird Count 2020

Giant Hogweed Monitoring at Montgomery 2021

Thursday April 8, 2021 – Just finished a 2 hour walkabout at Montgomery. We inspected the area all along the riverbank between the river and our trail, and walked our entire trail as well. No GH seen, but several areas are in need of chainsaw work. Spring beauty, Dutchman’s breeches, skunk cabbage, and bloodroot in bloom. Blue cohosh, trilliums and jack-in-the-pulpit emerging. Some buds in the trout lily and lots of wild leeks. Woodpeckers all over as well. Was a nice morning to be in there before the rain turns parts of it into a mud pit 🙂

Wendy Shaw

Tuesday, April 27, 2021 – Removed 4 GH plants from Montgomery yesterday. Again none on our trail; one larger one was well hidden near a fallen log. Still lots of wildflowers in bloom, and a male and female Red-bellied woodpecker were busy. Swampy areas were fairly dry but I’m sure that will change in the next couple of days!

Wendy Shaw

Tuesday April 20, 2021 – I removed 8 GH plants; seven of them were between the river and the trail closest to the river (not our trail) before you reach signpost 6. I actually did not find any on our trail. The largest plant was past signpost 6, but again closer to the river. All were easy to dig out, and the largest was a bit wider than my shovel–so no large plants.

There were a number of Ruby-crowned Kinglets–fun watching the males flashing their red patches. There was also a Great Horned Owl being mobbed by crows. Got a good look at it when it was resting in the trees, but the crows persisted and eventually it was chased across the river.

In bloom: Wood anemone, Dutchman’s breeches, White trillium, May apple, Blue cohosh, White trout lily, Twinleaf, Yellow and Purple violets, Cut-leaf Toothwort.

Overall a nice walk in the woods with a little work thrown in.

Wendy Shaw

Sunday, May 2, 2021 – Donna and I spent some time in “Montgomery” this afternoon. We removed 8 GHW plants, none of which were on our property.

We also noted a number of birds, all without birding being the focus of our visit. Included were American Robin, Red-bellied woodpecker, Downey woodpecker, Song Sparrow, House Wren, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Mallard Duck, Blue Jay, Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk, Red-winged Blackbird, American Crow and Northern Flicker.

We found an American toad (about toonie sized) and one large Green Frog. Three or four species of butterfly, including Mourning Cloak and a good number of Bumblebees. Jack in the Pulpits are beginning to unfurl, Twin leaf, already finished blooming.

Marco DeBruin

Friday, May 7, 2021 – Graham MacDonald and I just finished a walk through Montgomery. Beautiful weather. We found 2 plants near the river; both about 30 cm tall. A third was located farther inland on the east side of the trail about 60 cm tall. None were on our property. 

Plants are growing quickly. Plants: Jack in the pulpit, Canada anemone, Wood anemone, GHW. 
wren sp 
Hairy woodpecker 
Red-bellied woodpecker entering cavity
Barn swallow skimming river and entering barn on west side of river.
Wayne Buck

Tuesday, May 11, 2021 – Wayne Buck and I just completed this week’s Giant Hogweed search. We removed two plants, one quite large as shown in this photo taken by Wayne. It was 3 ft x3 ft. The other was smaller. Neither were on our property.

The following birds were heard or seen: mallard, spotted sandpiper,G B heron, kingfisher, red-bellied and hairy woodpeckers, flicker, GC flycatcher, jay, chickadee, WB nuthatch, house wren, starling, robin, goldfinch, red winged blackbird, cowbird, and cardinal.
Ostrich ferns are unfurling. There are still a few trout lilies in bloom along with wood anemone and trilliums. Jack-in-the-pulpits are emerging.

Fraser Gibson

Sunday, May 16, 2021 – I visited the Montgomery property today with my family.  Everything looked to be in order.  We ran into two families fishing and a family launching their kayaks.  
Lots of great birds (too many to list here).  Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were everywhere and we enjoyed hearing a solitary Wood Thrush near the end of our hike.  
No hogweed to report, good job everyone!!!
I flew my drone over the site and got a few nice photos of the property to share.
Levi Moore

Thursday, May 27, 2021 – I visited Montgomery today with bright sunshine, nicely cool air and fairly dozy mosquitoes. I did actually take a bit of time out from my bird-watching to scan the ground.

I found two small Giant Hogweed plants around the first inlets/sloughs by accidentally stumbling across the plants just as I was about to step on them. The surrounding vegetation is high enough to hide them now. The next 3 plants were right beside the pathway further down, and much easier to find. Somebody had already flagged them but hadn’t dug them up. I didn’t spot any GH on WRN property.

Along with lots of Dames Rocket and Buttercups, the Canada Anemone and Wild Geranium were in bloom.

Paul Bigelow

Canada Goose
Turkey Vulture
Red-tailed Hawk
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Eastern Kingbird
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
American Robin
Song Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Common Grackle

Peregrine Falcon Fledge Watch 2021

Peregrine Nest Box

Kitchener-Waterloo Peregrine Falcon Fledge Watch 2021

The adult peregrine falcons have thrown us a curve in this second year of the pandemic. Rather than raising their four young ones in the perfectly good nest box on the CTV tower, they decided to use a 9th floor ledge at St. Mary’s Hospital.

Fledge watchers are legally permitted during this period since animal rescue is the main objective.

If you feel motivated to get out of the house and observe the activities, email Dale Ingrey at and I will add your name to the parking pass sheet at the hospital and to the fledge watch group list. No experience with previous fledge watches is necessary. All you need is a lawn chair, hat, water, sunscreen, and binoculars or scope if you have one.

The watch will begin in earnest, dawn to dusk, the weekend of June 5 when the five week old peregrines are expected to take their first flights, but watchers are welcome before that as well. Any amount of time from an hour or two or longer would be appreciated. The more eyes the better when the youngsters take flight and possibly come to ground. Covid protocols will be in effect, ie. distancing and masking if in close proximity to others.


Peregrine Nest Box
Peregrine Falcon chicks from a previous year.

WRN Teens: Trimming Branches at SpruceHaven

Saturday December 12, 2020

WRN Teens’ last project for 2020 was well attended (while respecting COVID gathering limits) in spite of the weather being awful! Rain in December is never nice but have a look at Nicole’s photos of just how wet it was that day!

The job was to trim back any branches sticking into the many pathways at SpruceHaven farm-nature-reserve. This needed to be done to allow human visitors to get around and to make maintenance easier (specifically so Sandy doesn’t get branches in her face while mowing!). Sandy Hill, one of the lucky people who live at SpruceHaven, demonstrated a few trimming techniques and led one of the groups. Teens and adult volunteers chose the direction of the forest or the new pond or the meadow and trimmed as they walked. This job came with a bonus that the branches we cut — dogwood, lots of kinds of conifers, sumac — are lovely to look at and we were invited to take some home to create decorations.

Small mammal tunnels were observed by one group and another practised their tree identification. Everybody managed to enjoy some nature while doing the job — and getting very wet!

Thanks to the brave Teens and adult volunteers who came out. Special thanks to Sandy Hill for participating and to the Westfall-Hills for welcoming us to SpruceHaven. Thanks to Nicole for her photos during the project — she was the only one who thought to take any in the rain. Thanks also to Ella and Aidan for photos they sent afterwards of their branch decorations at home. And thanks to Eva for doing a quick oral report to help me remember the details to include here.

Looking forward to lots of good things for WRN Teens in 2021 — especially good weather on project days!
Marg Paré
WRN Teens coordinator

WRN Teens: Planting Trees at SpruceHaven

Saturday November 21, 2020

We are Waterloo Region Nature Teens and today we came out to SpruceHaven farm, a nature reserve outside of St. Agatha. We came here to plant trees at a — well, it’s going to become a wetland but for now it’s just a hole! But now that we’re finished, it’s a hole with over 100 more trees around it so we accomplished something!

The people who own the farm, the Westfall Hill family, are working with Ducks Unlimited to make a new wetland. This huge double hole was dug a few weeks ago with heavy equipment. They were happy to see that since this damp low spot was cleared and deepened, it has already started to collect water.

The Westfall Hills have been planting seeds and collecting small seedlings from other parts of their farm to put here. The trees we planted will help stabilize the banks of the two holes and the pathway between them, and will create more variety of habitats here.

We planted lots of cedars, several kinds of deciduous trees (with plastic guards around them to protect them from deer over the winter), some shrubs and some native wildflowers. Even though the ground is hard clay in spots, the actual planting is simple — you just dig a hole and put the little tree in!

We worked so hard that we got all the trees planted in the new wetland and still had time left. So Sandy Hill walked with us to another low damp spot that hasn’t been dug but where they want to add some new trees and plants. We planted there and then walked back to the barn, stopping for a (distanced) group photo in the meadow.

We did this planting so there can be more trees to return the environment to its natural state.  It’ll be good for all the animals that can now have a place to live like ducks that can nest here. All creatures need habitat — water, food, shelter and air in the right arrangement — to survive.  We’ve made a start at creating new habitat and we’re looking forward to observing what creatures move in!
— Report by all the Teens with a few direct quotes from Megan, Nicole, Quinn P. and Eva
P.S.  In a wonderful email from Sandy afterwards, we learned that the swale where we planted all those trees is now called Teen Hollow!  Huge thanks to Sandy Hill and Dave Westfall for welcoming us and providing us with great volunteer work opportunities.
Marg Paré for WRN Teens

Mill Race Trail, St. Jacobs – Fall 2020

David Gascoigne and Miriam Bauman organized five walks along the Mill Race Trail, St. Jacobs during the week of October 25 to 29, 2020, with a limit of four other singles or couples per walk, so that it would be easy to maintain social distancing. Here are a few photos from the various walks.

White-breasted Nuthatch

For the full report on the walks, with dozens of photos, see David’s blog at COVID Walks along The Mill Race, St. Jacobs, ON.

Montgomery Work Day – Fall 2020

What a wonderful morning the Montgomery Team had on Friday, October 16th! The air was crisp, the sun was shining, and the autumn colours were stunning!

It had been a year since this team assembled at the property as a group because of the pandemic. Everyone wore masks as we assembled to discuss some business before heading onto the property for the work. We discussed the possibility of having the teens’ group come out on a Saturday after our spring clean up to do some garlic mustard pulls and setting tarps to deal with the invasive periwinkle.

As the newbie committee chairperson, I was thankful that this team is such a well-oiled machine! Everyone came dressed, brought tools and equipment, and set off to work.

There were numerous trees which had fallen over sections of our trail that needed to be removed. The whole team also bushwhacked their way through other sections that were overgrown with vegetation over our heads!

The duck boxes are always a highlight of the morning. The west box had two unhatched screech owl eggs and many woodpecker feathers in it. The east box had a collection of feathers and several owl pellets, as well. It is surprising, and a bit disappointing, that there was no evidence of Wood Ducks using the boxes.

Not a single piece of garbage was collected, perhaps a sign that people really are heeding the message to stay home! How lovely to find the property in a “natural” state!

Several birds were heard and seen throughout the morning, including a Downy Woodpecker, several Turkey Vultures, and many Blue Jays. Fraser also pointed out a Greater Yellowlegs on an island outcropping in the river near the bridge. (Apparently it is “Greater” because its call has 3 hoots whereas the Lesser Yellowlegs usually calls with only two!) Thanks for the memory trick, Fraser!

Wayne noticed a large plant and suggested it might be Velvetleaf. iNaturalist agreed with his assessment. A group of us had a conversation about Giant Ragweed. A little further down the path we discovered a small cluster of Giant Ragweed, some with simple leaves and some lobed. There is something to wonder about every day!

Velvetleaf seed pods
Turkey Tail

As we exited the property, we met 2 people wearing hip waders. I assumed they were there to fish but soon discovered they were working on an environmental assessment of the area as mandated before the reconstruction of the bridge can begin. Dean Fitzgerald is in charge of the assessment and he shared an explanation of the process, some of the findings (like discovering two species of threatened fish under the bridge: silver shiner and black redhorse) and invited questions and comments.

Following our conversation with Jessica and Dean we refreshed with some muffins and cider and headed off after a long but productive morning. Well done, team!

Anita Smith

Fern Walk Photos

Fraser Gibson led two small group fern walks on Saturday Oct 3 and Tuesday Oct 6, 2020. Here are a few photos from the Tuesday walk.

Cambridge Linear Trail Walks

David Gascoigne and Miriam Bauman organized five walks on the Linear Trail in Cambridge during the week of September 28 to October 3, 2020, with a limit of four other singles or couples per walk, so that it would be easy to maintain social distancing. Here are a few photos from the various walks.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

For the full report on the walks, with dozens of photos, see David’s blog at WRN Teens and COVID Walks.