Giant Hogweed Monitoring at Montgomery

Originally posted May 5, 2020. Reposted June 30, 2020 with more reports and photos from the rest of the monitoring season.

Hi Members and Friends of Waterloo Region Nature

The members of the Montgomery Committee thought you might be interested in the one activity that our committee can continue while in Corona Lockdown, and that is the monitoring of The Montgomery Wildlife Sanctuary for Giant Hogweed (GH). We did not carry out our normal spring clean-up this year as that requires the cooperation of the entire committee carrying out tasks in groups, so no tarps’ placements to restrain the periwinkle, no trail clearing (except Wendy Shaw & her husband who did go down and work one lovely day in April). However we did, and can, safely do the Giant Hogweed monitoring. Our monitors report, after each weekly outing, on their observations & activity related to GH, and often that includes general observations of plants, birds and animals seen or heard. This way you will hear about nature’s response to this unusual spring in 2020.

Marg Lewis-Macdonald

Digging up a not so giant Giant Hogweed
Young Giant Hogweed
Friday, April 17, 2020 – Today we had the first of this year’s Giant Hogweed inspections and what a day we had. First, the weather was superb. No insects! Second, Graham and Margaret Macdonald accompanied us on our inspection. Lynda and Margaret walked the trail, checking the signposts and picking up what little trash there was.  Graham and I walked the riverbank.
 
We found 6 GH plants, of the size shown in the photo. They have just started growing so are easy to dig with most of the tap root attached. It was not deemed necessary to remove the plants so they were chopped up and left to desiccate in place.
 
There were a large number of trees lying down in the sanctuary; probably due in part to the torrent of water that swept through the area earlier this year. There were many trees to climb over along the river while looking for GH. The path appeared to be well trodden, causing us to wonder if more people are using the area as a place to walk during the covid-19 lockdown.
 
We saw a number of species of plants including:
(* denotes blooming )
 
Bloodroot*
Red and white trillium*
Yellow and White Trout Lily*
Spring Beauty*
Twinleaf
Great Angelica
Blue Cohosh
Mayapple
 
Birds:
Great Blue Heron
Belted Kingfisher
Red-Tailed Hawk (very far away)
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
American Robin
 
Wayne Buck
 
White Trout Lily

On Monday, 4 May 2020, Graham and Marg Macdonald accompanied by Wayne and Lynda Buck, entered the property for the season’s second inspection for Giant Hogweed. The ladies were tasked with walking the trail clockwise to install aluminum trail markers. The normal direction is counterclockwise which follows the progression of numbered posts. Weather – Mix of sun and cloud, 5C, very windy from NW.

Since the previous week, despite warm weather, there was very little additional growth, The extraordinary lack of any leaf litter on the ground was again noted, as were the great number of downed trees and associated huge piles of vegetative debris, up to 4 feet above the ground. This was all due to the very severe flood waters March 10 and 11, 2020, that scoured the property.

Graham and Wayne walked the river bank and the adjacent forest interior (up to 25 paces in from the “Fisherman’s path”. Three small GH plants were found and dug up. One was in the interior, one was next to the path, and the third close to the river. All were on the segment of the property still owned by the farm across the river to the west.

There is evidence of much foot traffic on the paths, and several new paths have appeared to circumvent the debris piles. Two dog walkers and one family with young child were seen. The increased traffic is probably due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

The Spring Ephemerals were becoming more abundant in bloom:
Narrow-leaved Toothwort – widespread, Spring Beauty, Bloodroot, Dutchman’s Breeches, Yellow Trout Lily. White Trout Lily – Very widespread, White Trillium -just starting, Red Trillium – one found, Twin-leaf, Yellow Violet, Purple Violet, Coltsfoot – Alien, Garlic Mustard – just starting to bloom – ALIEN!, (Periwinkle in bloom) – ALIEN!

Plants noted emerging:
Iris sp., Michigan Lily, Wild Leeks, Wild Geranium

Only birds seen were Robins, Chickadees, and a Thrush – perhaps a Gray-cheeked, but view was very brief with binocs. Red Bellied WP heard (Lynda & Marg)

Compiled by Graham Macdonald.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020 – Just finished at Montgomery. Ten plants dug up, root and all. The ground quite soft after all the rain so digging was easy.

Lots of birds, but as I spent most of my time looking down I did not identify that many. Did ID Blackburnian and Black-throated Green warblers, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and Northern Orioles. Numerous woodpeckers also heard and seen.

A few bugs but no mosquitoes yet.

Wendy Shaw

small Giant Hogweed plants

May 29, 2020 – After a week full of heat warnings, I finally made it out to Montgomery on a pleasant Friday morning. Mosquitoes have definitely arrived, but they were only slightly bothersome.

I ended up spotting and digging up 4 Giant Hogweed plants around 2 feet tall. After all the time I spent scrambling around in the underbrush by the river, 3 of the 4 were mockingly sitting right beside the path. The fourth was on the riverbank straight out from the first wood duck box. While trying to find this plant again after fetching my shovel, I accidentally flushed a fawn. Mommy was nowhere in sight.

There were many Wild geraniums in bloom, along with Mayapple, Star-flowered Solomon’s Seal, and aliens like buttercup and Tatarian Honeysuckle.

The ponds had lots of frogs and there were all sizes of toads throughout the forest.

Birds spotted:

  • Turkey Vulture
  • Northern Flicker (heard)
  • Blue Jay
  • American Crow
  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • Gray Catbird
  • American Robin
  • American Goldfinch
  • Song Sparrow
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Northern Cardinal

Paul Bigelow

Thursday, June 4, 2020

I visited Montgomery with all my Giant Hogweed required equipment – a pail containing a squirt bottle of soapy water, face shield, rubber gloves, long-sleeved rain coat and towel along with a long handled shovel. After applying insect repellent and forcing myself to leave the binoculars in the car I headed into Montgomery in search of GH. It was a beautiful calm morning and birds were singing everywhere.

Everything has grown rapidly so while walking off trail in search of Giant Hogweed it is very difficult seeing what is in front of your next step. The shovel acts as a great walking stick.

Some Jack-in-the-Pulpits were at least a metre high and Purple-stemmed Angelica is now as tall as my shovel is long.

I found 3 Giant Hogweed plants during my search. One was in the neighbouring property just north of our property line. Two others were further downstream, the furthest being very near our number 8 marker at the Black Maple tree. Near that point I discovered an obvious trail through a large patch of Ostrich Ferns so I followed it to the rivers edge where I found a pile of old tree branches against a fallen tree overhanging the river bank. An animal splashed at the base of this pile and disappeared. I later heard some faint noises coming from the pile of sticks. I believe we have a beaver attempting to make our shoreline its home. There, right at the river’s edge I found the third GH plant. This was the smallest of the 3 plants I found and possibly very close to where Paul found a plant last week.

All of my plants were less than 30” tall so you nearly have to step on top of them to find them. This is a good sign our searches are working because by now a well established plant would be at least as tall as the angelica plants and stand above most other nearby vegetation.

I visited both Wood Duck boxes and beneath the most easterly I discovered several Eastern Screech Owl pellets. Other birds of note that I heard or saw during my time at Montgomery were: Bald Eagle, Green Heron, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Belted Kingfisher, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Eastern Phoebe, Great Crested Flycatcher, Baltimore Oriole and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. I also saw a few toads. On my arrival a White-tailed Deer was seen in the field just east of Montgomery.

Fraser Gibson

Thursday, 11 June, 2020 –

Well it is true, it was a good to be at Montgomery. We followed the trail to post #4, applied insect repellent and I then ventured toward the river past our property marker. In total we found and removed 2 small plants. The first one about 24″ tall and not very bulky. The second was about 12″ tall and had only a single stalk. We would have missed this one except that we were admiring the ferns when it caught my eye.

Other species: Numerous American Toads of varying sizes, One large green frog, ? yellow swallowtail butterfly(you decide), numerous ebony jewel wings, chipmunk, grey squirrel,. Twin leaf with their seed pods, some trilliums with their last remnants of petals, Michigan lily some of which have flower buds, much evidence on various plant species of deer browse. Also !9 species of birds incl., RWBL, COGR, BLJA, RBWO, HOWR, BCCH, AMRO, GRHE, EAWP, BAOR, SOSP, RTHA, NOCA, REVI, GRCA, TRSW, YWAR, EAKI & OSPR.

After last night’s rain, the trails were slippery and had standing water in some places. Trail markers worked well. Some parts of trail well used, other parts not so much. No other persons encountered while there.

In terms of how little GH was found, and none of it on our property, I see no need to go out weekly. Perhaps another monitoring in two or three weeks.

Marco and Donna DeBruin

Tuesday, 16 June, 2020 – Wendy Shaw found no Giant Hogweed plants, so it was decided to skip the following week of monitoring.

Tuesday, 30 June, 2020 – I visited on a sunny day with few mosquitoes, but during the morning it slowly turned into a sauna. I didn’t expect to find Giant Hogweed, and didn’t find any (but that wasn’t a sure thing since I found some last year at about this time).

There were a number of Ebony Jewelwings flitting about, but none of them was kind enough to pose for me. There were quite a few Michigan Lilies blooming. Other flowers in bloom were Canada Anemone, Fringed Loosestrife,  and Tall Meadowrue. Great Angelica was living up to its name, many of them now taller than me.

Along with the usual chatter from Robins, Chickadees, Redwings and Jays, there were some birds just getting on with life. A Brown Thrasher sat there quietly, and a pair of Baltimore Orioles perched in their orange and yellow finery. A male Downy Woodpecker was racking up air miles fetching food for his youngster. A juvenile House Wren was showing off, while still keeping an eye on me.

I trimmed some branches that were blocking the entrance to the trail, but there is still some trail clearing work left to be done.

Well that’s a wrap for the Giant Hogweed monitoring season for this year. Thanks go to the volunteers who helped us keep this noxious intruder under control.

Paul Bigelow

Peregrine Falcon Fledge Watch 2020

Peregrine Nest Box

Kitchener-Waterloo Peregrine Falcon Fledge Watch 2020

The peregrine falcon fledge watch begins Saturday, June 6 and runs until the end of June. We will observe from the vicinity of the CTV Tower on King St. across from Grand River Hospital.

If you are interested in participating this year please contact Dale Ingrey by email ingreyda@hotmail.com or phone 519-884-3667 for details.

Any amount of time from an hour or two to as much as you can spare would be appreciated. Don’t worry if you have had no experience in rescue. What is most important is keeping an eye on the fledglings as they take their first flights and reporting their location if they come down to the ground.

Peregrine Nest Box
Peregrine Falcon chicks from a previous year.

Peregrine Falcon 2019 Report

Peregrine Nest Box

KW Peregrine Falcons 2019

Peregrine Nest Box
Peregrine Falcon chicks from a previous year

Our Kitchener-Waterloo falcon chicks hatched on May 6 and 7 and were banded at three weeks of age on May 28. Our three eyases had been well fed by parents Mystery and Mystery Man, so named because they are unbanded birds. The chicks were assessed, weighed, and christened Kawhi (this was during the NBA playoffs when Toronto Raptor fever was running high), Jupiter and Hemera.

On June 15 Kawhi was the first to leave the nestbox at the CTV tower on King St. Jupiter followed him the next day and then Hemera shortly after with a precarious flight to the window ledge just below the lower roof of Grand River Hospital after being enticed by the adult falcons. She did manage to return to the CTV tower before dusk, but was unable to gain enough loft to reach home. Hence she spent the night on a strut below the nestbox. She finally managed to return to the box the next day and over the course of the next two weeks joined her siblings on numerous flights to the King’s Towers roof and over the sports field to the east.

The rest of the fledge watch was fairly uneventful as we watched the adults taking the fledglings on flights farther afield and higher and higher. For the first time in the eight years we have been involved in the fledge watch, we did not have to rescue a downed fledgling even once, a pleasant surprise indeed.

Over the summer the young were schooled in the art of hunting their prey in the air and bringing it to various roof tops in the area. By mid September they were heading south to Central and South America for the winter. We may receive news in the next year or two if our KW falcons return to Ontario to raise families of their own. Meanwhile Mystery and Mystery Man will stay in Kitchener Waterloo for the winter and do it all over again next year.

Many thanks to WRN members Randy Fowler, Christine Alexander, Fraser Gibson, Don Thomas and Sandra Moores who participated in this year’s fledge watch.

Dale Ingrey

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 – https://ontarionature.org/programs/endangered-species/

Please consider signing on today!

Thank you for your awareness and voice on this matter.

Growing the Greenbelt to Waterloo Region

Entering The Greenbelt Sign
Entering The Greenbelt Sign
The Greenbelt Sign flickr photo by Jimmy Emerson (Creative Commons BY-ND)

Provincial Greenbelt Expansion

Province Seeking Public Input to Protect Important Water Resources

Ontario is taking action to protect important water resources in the Greater Golden Horseshoe by launching a public consultation on expanding the province’s Greenbelt. The province is considering expanding the Greenbelt to include areas in the outer ring of the Greater Golden Horseshoe, an area that is experiencing significant growth and is under pressure from urban development.

The public, municipalities, conservation authorities, stakeholders, and Indigenous communities and organizations are invited to provide input on a study area for potential Greenbelt expansion. The consultation comprises seven areas most in need of protection, including moraines, cold water streams and wetlands such as the Waterloo Moraine, the Paris-Galt Moraine, the Orangeville Moraine, the Oro Moraine, the Minesing Wetland and other valuable water resources that communities rely on for their water supply.

Comments may be submitted at www.ontario.ca/greenbelt, and letters of support should be sent directly to political leaders, or via www.protectourwaters.ca or at an upcoming Open House Meeting before March 7th, 2018.

Open House Meeting

Participate at a public open house being held in the Greater Golden Horseshoe study area. The dates, times and venue locations are subject to change and periodic updates may occur. Please check back often to review the most current information at http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/Page17641.aspx

The local open house is at:

Tannery Event Centre
151 Charles Street West
Kitchener

Thursday, February 22, 2018
5:30-8:00pm

Map of Study Areas

To see a map showing the areas being studied for expansion see:

Study Area – Coldwater Streams and Wetlands.

Voice your support before March 7th at: www.ontario.ca/greenbelt, www.protectourwaters.ca and https://ontarionature.good.do/bluebelt/sign/

Region of Waterloo
http://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/regionalGovernment/contact-regional-council.asp

Regional Chair Ken Seiling – (519) 575-4585 – kseiling@regionofwaterloo.ca
Regional Planning and Works Chair Tom Galloway – tgalloway@regionofwaterloo.ca
All of Council – regionalcouncillors@regionofwaterloo.ca

Local MPP’s and Premier
Daiene Vernile – (519) 579-5460 – dvernile.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org
Kathryn McGarry – (519) 623-5852 – kmcgarry.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org
Catherine Fife – (519) 725-3477 – cfife-co@ndp.on.ca
Michael Harris – (519) 954-8679 – michael.harris@pc.ola.org
Ted Arnott – (519) 787-5247 – ted.arnott@pc.ola.org
Kathleen Wynne – (416) 325-1941 – kwynne.mpp@liberal.ola.org

The Importance of Honey Bee Pollination

Apiary

Written by Stephen Trink
December 2016

Beekeepers
David Gascoigne, Emma and Stephen Trink ready to inspect the bees

Almost five years ago, I was reading a newspaper article about the plight of honeybees and was inspired to do something about it. Perhaps you will recall the news headlines regarding Colony Collapse Disorder or “CCD” for short? Suspected causes for this phenomenon include varroa mites, malnutrition, loss of habitat and a new class of pesticide called neonicotinoids. After reading about this catastrophe, I was determined to read every book and watch every DVD I could get my hands on at our local library and spent endless hours searching the internet for information on how to keep bees. After six months of intense research, I finally purchased our equipment which included wooden hive boxes filled with frames, a protective suit, hive tool, gloves and a smoker. Finally, I painted the boxes glossy white, ordered our bees and registered as an official beekeeper with the Ministry of Agriculture (registration is free by the way). Nothing could have prepared me for the wonderful adventure that awaited us!

 

Honey Bee Frame
Inspecting a frame of bees with brood and capped honey visible

While my original motivation was to help these important pollinators, I quickly realized the sweet reward of raw wildflower honey which we were starting to harvest in great abundance by the second year! In addition to honey, I also collected the wax which we now make into homemade lip balm and candles. This has proven to be a richly rewarding hobby for our entire family and a lot of fun too! Last year, I purchased a child size suit which enabled our kids to join us during hive inspections.

 

Beekeeper
Emma Trink in a Bee Suit

I feel privileged to have this opportunity of being a beekeeper; I am constantly learning new things about bees and developing better strategies for managing my hives from other beekeepers at our local Grand River Beekeeper’s Association. It is richly fulfilling to know that I am doing my part to help these important pollinators. It was Albert Einstein who wisely stated that, “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.” This is the challenge we face right now and failure is not an option.

 

Inspecting Hives
Stephen and David Gascoigne inspecting bees in St. Agatha

Pollination provides one of the clearest examples of how our disregard for the health of the environment threatens our own survival. About 75% of all crops require pollination, often by bees, but sometimes by flies, butterflies, birds or even bats.

 

In southwest China, they are forced to hand-pollinate their apple and pear orchards because their excessive use of pesticides has completely eradicated their entire wild bee population.

 

Farmers in these areas carry pots of pollen and paintbrushes to individually pollinate every flower! Obviously this is not a viable solution to the problem as there are not enough humans in the world to pollinate all of our crops by hand.

 

Another problem is the increasing lack of natural habitat for pollinators. Admittedly, the situation in China is one of the most dramatic cases in the world today but there is increasing evidence from around the globe pointing to unsustainable farming practices which are incompatible with the long term survival of our pollinators.

 

So, what can be done? Promising studies conducted in both Europe and North America have shown that planting strips of wildflowers on farms or leaving patches of natural vegetation such as forests, can greatly boost pollinator populations including honey bees! According to these studies, these practices increase populations of natural predators, which decreases the need for pesticide use.

 

Frames in bee hive
Frames of bees at the St.Agatha apiary

In Ontario, our government can no longer ignore the increasing scientific evidence which clearly shows that neonicotinoid insecticides are highly toxic to honey bees and other beneficial insects. Part of the problem is that these potent insecticides don’t break down quickly in soil. They are water soluble and easily run off into local water systems, where they can harm aquatic insects also. The province has promised to reduce the number of acres planted with neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seed by 80% by the year 2017. This is a good start but is it too little, too late? Several years ago in Europe they implemented a five year ban on neonicotinoid insecticides after determining that they posed an “unacceptable” danger to bees.

 

In the United States alone, crop pollination by insects is estimated to be worth $14.6 billion to the economy. Some pollination is done by domesticated honeybees, like blueberries and almonds but the bulk of pollination of most crops is done by wild insects like bumblebees.

 

Without bees, our diets would be rather boring. How would you like to survive on wheat, barley and corn, and little else? Raspberries, apples, strawberries, peas, beans, melons, tomatoes, blueberries, pumpkins and many more all rely on pollination. Most importantly, imagine a world without honey!

 

Bees and other insects have provided free pollination for our crops for millennia. They will continue to do so if we learn to recognize their importance and return the favour by providing them with what they need to survive.

 

Apiary
St.Agatha apiary at Sprucehaven

Stephen and his wife April have been beekeeping hobbyists for the past 5 years. They currently manage 12 hives located in Teeswater and St. Agatha. Stephen received his undergraduate bachelor’s degree in Science (BScN) from McMaster University in 2006. In his professional career, Stephen worked in an acute care setting at St. Mary’s General Hospital as a Registered Nurse for several years. For the past ten years, he has been working in a management role in long term care. He is a member of the Grand River Beekeepers’ Association and joined the Waterloo Region Nature Club earlier this year. April and Stephen are the proud parents of five beautiful children and live in Kitchener, Ontario. If you are interested in getting into beekeeping Stephen would be happy to answer any questions you might have and is willing to mentor new beekeepers! Please email him directly: stevetrink@hotmail.com

 

Climate Change Consultation Event

2015 – Warmest Global Year on Record (since 1880)

2015 – Warmest Global Year on Record (since 1880)
2015 – Warmest Global Year on Record (since 1880) By NASA Scientific Visualization Studio – https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov / Goddard Space Flight Center – https://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Regional environmental organizations have invited our five local Members of Parliament, who have all confirmed attendance, to a public consultation on climate change that will be held on August 18th at 7 pm in the Kitchener City Hall Rotunda. To RSVP, please click on Waterloo Region Town Hall – Federal Climate Action Consultation.

 

Grow Our Greenbelt

Highway 401 Greenbelt

Highway 401 Greenbelt
By Haljackey (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The Government of Ontario is conducting a Co-ordinated Land Use Planning Review and a key component of this review is the future of the Greenbelt. The Greenbelt was created to preserve prime agricultural land and key natural and hydrologic features like the Niagara Escarpment and the Oak Ridges Moraine. We call on our membership to campaign for an increased Greenbelt to protect vulnerable water supplies and natural areas and to decrease urban sprawl. For more information view the following links:

 

Grow Our Greenbelt

http://www.growourgreenbelt.ca/action

 

Waterloo Region (current system)

http://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/abouttheenvironment/growthmanagement.asp

 

Environmental Bill of Rights – comments

Shayne Sangster
Conservation Director
Waterloo Region Nature