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.

Columbia Lake Walks

We have been attempting to figure out how to safely resume some WRN activities.  David Gascoigne came up with the idea of leading multiple walks with small groups rather than a single walk with twenty participants. So, he and Miriam Bauman organized five outings to Columbia Lake during the week of September 7 – 12, 2020, alternating between morning and evening, with a limit of four other participants per walk, so that it would be easy to maintain social distancing while also permitting everyone to see the birds found. Here are a few photos from the various walks.

For the full report on the walks, with lots of photos, see David’s blog at Large Milkweed Bugs, Laurel Creek, Hillside Park and COVID Walks.

Great Backyard Bird Count 2020

On Saturday February 15, 2020, 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 Brenda Holvey for starting us out at her home beside Lakeside Park, Fraser and Nancy Gibson for hosting us a short distance away at their home beside Cloverdale Park, and finally Dave Westfall and Jaimie and Sandy Hill for providing lunch at SpruceHaven Farm in St. Agatha.

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For a full description of the outing with lots more photos see David Gascoigne’s Travels With Birds blog at: Great Backyard Bird Count 2020.

Signs of Animal Life in Winter

A small group of WRN members spent Saturday morning, January 18, 2020, on an informative and enjoyable walk through Laurel Creek Nature Centre led by Fraser Gibson. Constantly falling snow flurries erased any animal tracks in the snow that we were hoping to see (except for recently walked dogs). However there were lots of other signs of nature, if you were observant and knew what to look for.

Emptied Reservoir

A number of trees had the remains of Fall Webworm Moth tents still fluttering from their branches.

The bird feeders at the nature centre were mobbed by chickadees, who were also happy to eat out of human hands.

There was a small birds nest in a little tree at chest height, but we never quite decided which bird built it.

Beavers from previous years had left behind gnawed stumps as evidence of their activity.

We saw the semi-circular exit holes of the Emerald Ash Borer (which sadly has done in all the ash trees there), as well as the holes where woodpeckers went after the grubs under the bark.

Ball Gall "2010-03-06 Ryerson Conservation Area 3" by JanetandPhil is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Fraser pointed out two different types of goldenrod galls in the field. We opened one ball gall to observe the larva inside. Fraser had samples of ball galls that had been pecked open by a Chickadee and a Woodpecker (a much neater hole), as well as a gall where the Goldenrod Gall Fly had emerged successfully without becoming lunch for a bird.

Bunch or Rosette Gall © Quinten Wiegersma, some rights reserved (CC-BY) from iNaturalist

We encountered a couple of these deer rubs where bucks had rubbed their antlers during rutting season to mark their territory.

There were also a number of narrow paths in the undergrowth, likely made by deer.

 

 

 

It was well worth the time spent on this walk, but with the wind whipping snow in our faces as we headed back, we started looking forward to our warm houses and lunch. Thanks to Fraser for helping us see what we normally would just have walked past.

Deer Rub

Volunteer Recognition

10+ Year Volunteer Pin

At the WRN meeting on Monday, October 28, 2019, volunteer recognition pins were given out by president Jenna Quinn, assisted by past-president Josh Shea and volunteer recognition co-ordinator Fraser Gibson.

 

Ten year pin recipients were Roger Suffling, Elaine La Ronde, and Dale Ingrey.

Volunteer pin recipients –
Front: Nina Ingrey, Heather Bagg
Middle: Cathy Hale, Genie Berger, Steph Shaw, Sandy Ponic, Jon Walgate
Back: George Greer, Jason Earle, Robert McNair, John Pries, Fred Shantz, Walter Zimmerman, Zack Stevens

Montgomery Work Day Fall 2019

Friday October 25th

At 9am on a lovely cloudy fall day we gathered to do our annual Property Inspection. As we went down into the property we were held up by a downed tree that had to be cleared. It was a sign of things to come as we had more trees down (3 big trees across the trail) as we went. It was hard work with bow saws, so we left the clearing of the biggest windfall to our spring clean-up. Throughout the property more trees were down on the forest floor – mainly ash.

 

Property markers were all in place and giant hogweed was not to be found. Another super job done by our Hogweed volunteers.

Signs were in good condition, trail features all still present, the ferns fast fading. There was one beer bottle -the only piece of garbage found on the property.

Running Strawberry Bush
New beaver lodge on the Nith River

Graham had made 70 aluminum markers to apply to trees which will replace the paint markings we have used in the past. Graham & Wayne placed 63 of them on trees marking the trail in one direction. He will make more for the spring when we will mark the trail going in reverse.

 

Wood duck boxes: we all gathered to watch the west wood duck box be opened and examined for evidence of wood duck breeding. As the box was lowered everyone jumped! – a screech owl flew out.

Eastern Screech Owl
unhappy with being turned upside down and quickly leaving the scene
West wood duck box contents

 

The East wood duck box did show evidence of wood duck nesting with remnants of egg shells and membrane but not as much as usual. There were Flicker feathers inside as well. Both boxes were cleaned and the old wood chips replaced with fresh.

East wood duck box contents


We gathered at the roadside to have our juice and cookies before heading out for the rest of the day.

A big thank you to everyone! Always such fun to be together and enjoying a fall morning in a beautiful setting!

Reported by Marg Macdonald

SpruceHaven Visit 2019

The annual WRN visit to SpruceHaven was well attended this year. Along with a look at screech owl boxes and beehives, the other activities were:

A talk about the Barn Swallow colony and the ongoing monitoring and research project there.

A visit to the salamander monitoring area, with its numbered boards. (Our WRN Teens group has recently taken on this ongoing monitoring project.)

A visit to the beginnings of a prairie grassland.

Ending up with refreshments provided by the owners – Dave Westfall and Sandy and Jamie Hill.

For a full report and lots more photos see David Gascoigne’s blog at Annual Visit of Waterloo Region Nature to SpruceHaven.

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

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
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Mourning Doves (and a Dark-eyed Junco)
Mourning Doves (and a Dark-eyed Junco)
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Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
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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.

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
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Black-capped Chickadee
Black-capped Chickadee
Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
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