Field Trip to North Shore of Lake Ontario 2019

On Saturday March 9, 2018, David Gascoigne led a group of 16 people on the WRN annual field trip to the north shore of Lake Ontario. As usual, David has provided a full report on his blog with lots of photos taken by Miriam Bauman, so here are just a few of those photos and a link to that report:

Waterloo Region Nature Annual Field Trip to North Shore of Lake Ontario 2019

Hooded Merganser
Hooded Merganser
Trumpeter Swan display
Trumpeter Swan display
Long-tailed Duck
Long-tailed Duck
Black-capped Chickadee
Black-capped Chickadee
Common Goldeneyes
Common Goldeneyes
Bronte Harbour
Bronte Harbour

Larry Lamb honoured with Lifetime Achievement Award

Larry Lamb Award
Larry Lamb Award
Larry Lamb with Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Elizabeth Dowdeswell and Ontario Heritage Trust Chair, Harvey McCue. Photo Credit: The Ontario Heritage Trust

Waterloo Region Nature honorary life member Larry Lamb was awarded the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Trust Lifetime Achievement Award in a ceremony at Toronto’s Queen’s Park on February 22, 2019.

From the Region of Waterloo media release:

Renowned botanist Larry Lamb honoured with Lifetime Achievement Award

Waterloo Region - Local botany and ecosystem restoration expert Lawrence (Larry) Lamb was awarded the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Trust Lifetime Achievement Award in a ceremony at Toronto’s Queen’s Park on February 22, 2019.

Larry Lamb, a well-known advocate for naturalizing gardens and landscapes, has been an active life-long supporter of natural heritage conservation within Waterloo Region, the province and beyond.

“Larry Lamb is one of those volunteers whose passion for his field of expertise is contagious. He is able to affect the people around him, especially the next generation of conservationists. Without people like Larry, the work to recognize and protect our local ecosystems would have been a lot more difficult to undertake,” said Regional Chair Karen Redman. “Regional Council and staff recognized the important role Larry has played by nominating him for this award, and we are pleased the Ontario Heritage Trust has recognized his contributions.”

Throughout his over forty-year career at the University of Waterloo, and into his retirement, Lamb has generously shared his expertise and connections, influencing the way natural heritage features have been identified, valued and protected.

Locally, Lamb drew on his extensive knowledge of the region’s flora and fauna, and natural areas to help identify what would be designated Environmentally Sensitive Policy Areas (ESPAs) by the Region of Waterloo. These were the first municipally-designated natural areas in the country, and continue to be conserved through the Region’s Official Plan.

Lamb has undertaken many significant naturalization and restoration projects. He has advised on many conservation plans and publications. He is meticulous in documenting and collecting; and has donated his records and collections to public institutions so that they are available for future generations.

New Book – Best Places to Bird in Ontario

Best Places to Bird Ontario

Ken and Mike Burrell (who are well known to many WRN members) will have a new book out this spring (anticipated for late April), titled, Best Places to Bird in Ontario. The book covers the top 30 birding destinations in the province, with each covered in a chapter, having an in-depth overview to the region from a birding perspective, and a site guide with directions, colour maps, and photographs.

Until March 31st they are offering a pre-order rate of $20/copy ($5 off regular pricing). Book orders can be picked up from Ken at WRN meetings.

For more information about the book:

For ordering information:


Best Places to Bird Ontario

WRN Teens – Chickadee Banding

Chickadee Banding at Wrigley Corners Outdoor Ed Centre with Levi Moore
Feb 23 2019
WRN Teens were down south of Cambridge again, this time to visit Wrigley Corners Outdoor Ed Centre. We met Levi Moore, the outdoor educator who teaches there, working mostly with high school students. He is a certified bird bander and does on-going studies of Black-capped Chickadees.
To demonstrate how it works, Levi has a mist net (for catching the birds to be banded) set up inside.  He used a stuffed Northern Cardinal to demonstrate how birds get caught and how he removes them from the net.

It was a bit windy but seemed like a fine day to band Black-capped Chickadees. However, we saw only a couple briefly and there were none at the feeders and, more importantly, none at all got caught in the mist nets. So, no bird banding for us!

Instead, we wrapped up our visit by examining and trying to identify Levi's impressive skull collection.


Just checking out the amazing nature stuff in Levi's classroom kept us occupied for a while! Then Levi did a really inspiring presentation. First he explained how he ended up in outdoor and environmental education then he showed us a super informative slide show about bird banding. We got to handle all the tools necessary for the job.


We hope to get back to Wrigley Corners sometime and maybe the chickadees will be more cooperative!

Thanks as usual to the Teens who were able to make it out, to their fearless parents for driving, to Linda who helped out and took photos, to Paul and Cathi who put our reports on-line, and of course, to Levi for spending part of his weekend sharing his knowledge and love of nature with us!

ON Government Proposing Changes to Endangered Species Act – Act Now!

Snapping Turtle
Snapping Turtle

As many of you heard at the February Membership meeting, the Ontario Government is proposing changes to the Endangered Species Act. These changes will impact species at risk while supporting easier development. This is not the proper way forward.  We need your voice to speak out against proposed changes. You can write a letter or use the Ontario Nature template to sign onto their campaign.

Here is the link to Ontario Nature Campaign -

Please consider signing on today!

Thank you for your awareness and voice on this matter.

WRN Kids – Predator-Prey Simulation Game

On Saturday February 23, 2019, WRN Kids learned about the different levels of the food web by acting the roles of herbivore, omnivore, carnivore, disease and human.


They had to collect food and water while avoiding predators and seeking out prey to tag.


For more photos and a full explanation of how to play the predator-prey game see the report by one of the participants on the WRN Kids blog at: February 23, 2019 – Predator-Prey Simulation Game.

WRN Teens – Owl Prowl

Screech Owl surprised when cleaning out Wood Duck box.

We arrived at Huron natural area just as it became dark. We then spent about half an hour learning about the different kinds of owls that can be found in Ontario and more specifically the KW area. We learned about their shapes and sizes and some of their behavioural habits as well as listened to some of their calls. We then began our hike in the forest. We would walk for a couple of minutes, then stop and play either the call of the Eastern Screech Owl, or the Great Horned Owl. We would listen for a response and then continue walking. About halfway through the evening during one of our stops something small and grey flew over our heads. We turned on a light and scanned the trees around us until we spotted an eastern screech owl perched on a branch close to the group. We admired it for a few minutes until it grew bored of us and flew away.

Linden Imeson Jorna


Photo ops were scarce in the dark -- in spite of it being a beautiful moonlit evening, so here's a daylight photo of another screech owl.


Thanks to Josh Shea, WRN president, WRN Teens planning committee member, and City of Kitchener Natural Areas Coordinator who led WRN Teens -- and their specially invited parents! -- for this activity in Huron Natural Area.

Screech Owl

Great Backyard Bird Count 2019

On Saturday February 16, 2019, WRN birders went on a 3 stop outing where we watched birds comfortably from inside while our generous hosts plied us with food and drink. Thanks go to Irene Simpson and Jim Cappleman for starting us out on the Baden sandhills, Dave Westfall and Jaimie and Sandy Hill for hosting us at SpruceHaven Farm in St. Agatha, and Brenda and Alan Holvey for a pizza lunch at their home on Lakeside Park.

White-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Dark-eyed Junco
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Cooper's Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Mourning Doves (and a Dark-eyed Junco)
Mourning Doves (and a Dark-eyed Junco)
Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker

For a full description of the outing with lots more photos see David Gascoigne's Travels With Birds blog at: Great Backyard Bird Count 2019 and for yet more photos see the WRN Facebook page.

WRN Teens – Tracking at Bechtel Park

Saturday, January 26, 2019

WRN Teens has turned out to be a combination of work-projects, learning opportunities, and enjoying nature. We were really fortunate that for our January activity, Anita Smith (WRN Teens planning committee member and WRN conservation director) gave us a workshop on tracking. Anita describes herself as a tracking apprentice and we were impressed by her dedication to her apprenticeship and the depth of her knowledge.

We met at Anita's house for an overview of tracking, what can be observed and the many ways we can get information. We had a look at her amazing skull collection.


Big thanks to Anita for sharing her passion with us! We learned lots and will all want to work on our tracking skills in the future.

Then, we headed outside through Anita's backyard and into Bechtel Park where she spends lots of time -- along with lots of creatures! We saw branches chewed by deer, lots of small mammal tunnels, opossum tracks, fresh coyote tracks, and we did our best at identifying many others. We also found several raptor pellets. We checked out various holes and looked for evidence of recent activity. We learned that Anita sometimes catches nighttime photos of animals with a trail camera.


WRN Kids – Winter Tracking

On Saturday January 26, 2019 WRN Kids headed outside and found lots of evidence of creatures sharing space with us.

They saw tracks of all kinds - a tuft of deer fur beside deer tracks, several different small mammal tunnels, and bird tracks. Other evidence of animals and insects included rabbit scat, a Goldenrod gall and a cocoon.


For more photos see the WRN Kids blog at: January 26, 2019 – Winter Tracking.

WRN Kids and WRN Teens – Christmas Bird Count for Kids 2018

CBC4Kids 2018
CBC4Kids 2018

Christmas Bird Count for Kids
at rare Charitable Research Reserve on January 12, 2019

WRN Kids and WRN Teens had a special opportunity recently: rare Charitable Research Reserve hosted their third annual "Christmas Bird Count for Kids" on January 12 and we were all invited!

There was a large group this year, including a few of our WRN Kids families.  First, we all learned about birdwatching basics from Adam in the Slit Barn then everyone headed out in small groups, each led by an expert birder (including Adam and WRN members David Gascoigne, Fraser Gibson and Josh Shea as well as rare staff Emily Leslie) to count all the birds they could find.  The Kids were enthusiastic in spite of the cold, managed their binoculars like pros, understood why we walked to several different habitats, and saw an impressive number of birds!  They enjoyed warming up afterwards with a hot chocolate in the ECO Centre next door.

As well, four of our dedicated WRN Teens volunteered to help out at the event, filling feeders, assisting group leaders, moving furniture, and washing dishes.  While doing jobs that needed to be done, they were also super role models for the Kids.

Huge thanks to rare for hosting, the volunteer birders for continuing to inspire us all, the parents for getting their families outside, the Teens for volunteering early on a cold Saturday morning, and especially the Kids for wanting to learn about and protect nature!

Jenna Quinn, rare Program Scientist summarizes:
"Together, we identified 23 species and made over 900 individual observations, of (accounting for duplicate observations) approximately 275 birds.  Canada Geese were the most abundant species we observed, and every group was able to spot a juvenile Bald Eagle perched in a tree.  Two groups were lucky to see three Eastern Bluebirds, a rarity at this time of year."

See the full results below.  We're all pretty proud to be contributing to Citizen Science with our Bird Count!  Can't wait to do it again next year!

WRN Kids & Teens coordinator
Marg Paré

CBC4Kids 2018 Results

Mill Race St. Jacobs Outing

Black-capped Chickadee

The Mill Race St. Jacobs outing on Thursday morning, January 17, 2019 was well attended. The bird life was pretty active and there was much to see. At the other end of the trail there was a cafe for warm-up and refreshments.

For photos and a report of the outing see David Gascoigne's Travels With Birds blog at: Waterloo Region Nature Outing to The Mill Race, St. Jacobs.

Golden-crowned Kinglet
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Black-capped Chickadee
Black-capped Chickadee
Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker

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.