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.
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.
Montgomery Fall Workday Report 2018
Friday, October 19, 2018
Present: Wayne & Lynda Buck, Fraser Gibson, Jim Cappleman, Chris Wright, Sandy Ponic, Wendy Shaw, Pat & Paul Bigelow, Donna & Marco Debruin, Anita Smith, Marg & Graham Macdonald, Regrets: Genie Berger
A beautiful morning around 8-10 degrees and sunny!
We worked in 3 groups. Jim, Paul & Wayne cleared trail and there were some problem areas one (downed tree) completely blocked the trail just past Post 5. Also more trail blazes are needed from Post 4 to Post 6. At Post 6 renewed blazing is needed to indicate the turn! Blazing not done as temperature too low for paint to adhere.
A second group (Lynda, Donna, Pat) inspected the trail for features, hazards, debris and signs of undesired invasion.
All property signs were in place and in good condition. The natural features at each trail post were present. There was no evidence of intrusion nor any safety hazards observed.. Several safety hazards were corrected in the spring work day eg. post in animal hole at top of the incline from the lower section of the property to the upper level. West of Post 1 fungi covered the trunk of a dead beech! Between Post 2 &3 a large area of debris from spring flooding was observed along with a small wooden chair.
The third group (Fraser, Chris, Wendy, Sandy, Marco, Anita , Graham) examined the property overall and checked the wood duck boxes. Chris Brought green garbage bags and focused on garbage collection! Not too much as usual and no large debris. Two boundary markers #6 and #8 which have been missing for several years were replaced - thank you Fraser. Some wildlife of note observed giant ragweed, a pileated woodpecker, the scrape of a deer, a red backed salamander (under a log turned over by Fraser) and a woolly bear caterpillar.
There was no contact with hikers or neighbours although adjacent to our property after post 8 a neighbour had cleared a path to the Nith , had a mowed area and set up with a rustic bench (2 split logs) set up to view the Nith. They also had a bird nest box on a close by maple. It was decided this area was not our property.
Giant Hogweed: There was no sign of Giant Hogweed flowers , no plants seen but vegetation is still quite high so small plants could be present.
Wood Duck Boxes: The West Box (Nith) was severely leaning. That was corrected as much as possible but next spring will need to be redug and straightened. In that box we found evidence of wood duck hatching - broken eggshells and no whole eggs as we have found in the past. The West box (inland) showed signs of owl nesting with owl pellets and a rodent foot inside it. The debris found in the shavings was removed and the old shavings returned to the boxes.
Reported by Marg Macdonald (chair)
October 21st, 2018
At the WRN Annual General Meeting on Monday May 28, the new board for 2018-2019 was presented:
Membership Director - Anne Godlewski
Outings Director - Graham Macdonald
Program Director - Rachael Edwards
Past-President - Jon Walgate
Treasurer - Paul Bigelow
President - Josh Shea
Secretary - Erin Bannon
Director at Large - Jason Earle
Not Present -
Conservation Director - Anita Smith
David Gascoigne was presented with a Conservation Award at the WRN meeting on Monday, April 23, 2018.
Introductory remarks by Conservation Director Anita Smith:
The Award Criteria for Waterloo Region Nature’s Conservation Award reads as follows: The nominee shall have participated in or instigated or increased public awareness of endeavours that have contributed to the conservation and/or preservation of the natural environment of the Region of Waterloo.
This year’s recipient of the Conservation Award meets those criteria hands down. Not only has he initiated programs that increase public awareness and conservation efforts locally, his work is recognized well beyond Canada’s borders. His efforts have been broadcast on the front page of The Record, as well as CTV news and the CBC.
Our award winner has served as president of Waterloo Region Nature. He is a volunteer at RARE, gives talks, leads walks and is an avid birder. He has initiated a barn swallow monitoring program that compares colonies in two local barns, carefully recording every detail; eggs are counted, birds are banded and some even have trackers so their migration to the south can be monitored. Bird Studies Canada was asked to rate this barn swallow monitoring program and on a scale from 1 to 10 they gave him a 12! Our winner has engaged a community of volunteers and students to join him in the work and now salamanders and butterflies are being monitored in the area as well.
As an avid birder he is known around the world. Recently the world’s gull expert, Klaus Malling Olsen, contacted our award winner asking for photos to include in his latest book; A book which, by the way, Princeton University Press has asked our winner to review!
This year’s Conservation Award recipient is genuine, engaging and inspiring. Graduate students request to work with him over the paid TAs assigned to courses. Even the youngest children he works with, such as in a class in St. Jacobs, find his enthusiasm contagious. A six-year-old girl in that classroom recently asked for his phone number, so she could give him a call the next time she spotted an interesting bird.
Please join me in congratulating this year’s Conservation Award recipient, David Gascoigne.
On Saturday March 10, 2018, David Gascoigne led a group of 20 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:
The 6th annual WRN Great Backyard Bird Count outing was held on Saturday February 17, 2018. It was well attended with about 20 people at each of the stops and a core group that made it to all 3 locations. Each host made sure that we were well supplied with coffee and snacks while viewing the birds.
At the Cappleman property we watched a variety of birds coming to the feeders with plenty of window space and lots of activity.
At the rare Eco Centre we went behind the building to watch activity at the feeders and in the nearby trees. A pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers showed up, with observers commenting on how rare that would have been a few years ago.
At Lakeside Park, Mary Ann Vanden Elzen led a short walk while describing the park's history and some of the recent projects that the city and local residents have undertaken there. Unfortunately the birds were smarter than we were, and didn't bother to show up.
After the walk in Lakeside Park, we descended on the Holvey house for pizza and cookies, where the main birding question was how many constantly moving House Sparrows were hiding out in their backyard hedges.
For a full report on the day and lots more photos, see David Gascoigne's blog: Great Backyard Bird Count 2018.
WRN visited SpruceHaven Farm just north of St. Agatha on Saturday September 16, 2017 on an outing led by David Gascoigne.
We started out watching a number of birds being banded at a picnic table just outside the barn.
Next up was a talk about the Barn Swallow monitoring program inside the barn with its dozens of numbered mud nests. The Barn Swallows had already left for the winter.
We then toured the various habitats on the property, and heard about the Motus bird tracking tower located there, and the salamander monitoring project.
We finished up with refreshments at the house of the property owners - David Westfall and Sandy and Jamie Hill.
For a full report on this outing by David Gascoigne with photos by Miriam Bauman see https://travelswithbirds.blogspot.ca/2017/09/bird-banding-and-visit-by-waterloo.html.
A group of about 30 WRN members and a few guests including 3 children, met at Jane Schneider’s property on the Waterloo Moraine on Sunday 20th August.
After making our way though Jane’s fabulous field display of prairie flowers, largely giant Prairie Dock, Prairie cone flowers, Cup plants, Ironweed, and Monarda, the group made their way behind the house to the garden area.
The group was gathered to join Dan Schneider for a quick expose on the topic of spiders and their place in the environment. Dan started by talking about spiders, their structure and abundance and how they fitted into the ecosystem. He showed the group his “pet” spider, Charlotte, an amazingly hairy, medium-sized Mexican Redknee tarantula. This rather beautiful, and docile, spider is native to parts of Mexico. Although severely threatened in the wild by people pouring pesticides and gasoline into burrows, it is easily bred into captivity where it is a popular spider sold in the pet trade.
During the talk we were briefly distracted by dozens of Ring-billed gulls circling above.
Dan showed several species that he had brought along to demonstrate the variety of shapes, colours and sizes of commonly seen spiders. The children handled some of these.
Dan had a colourful Black and Yellow garden spider with distinctive yellow and black markings on the abdomen and a mostly white cephalothorax. This fairly common spider spins a large web that is consumed and re-built daily. The children released it in a patch of Rudbeckia in the garden, in an area with the Goldenrod soldier beetle.
The next discovery at the front of the house was made by the children who found a web with a “Bowl and Doily” spider whilst the adults were looking at wasp nests and American house spider webs. The Bowl and Doily spins a double web with the lower “doily” preventing predators from attacking from below, and the upper “bowl”-shaped web is the principal catch area.
From here the group walked to the lower meadow, passing an area of goldenrod, buzzing with insects, including bees, butterflies, wasps and hornets. The three children did a fantastic job of sweeping to collect spiders and insects that we could all then see more closely.
We were very fortunate in coming across an unfortunate grasshopper that had jumped unwittingly off the pathway into a spider web. It was quickly trussed up by a rather large Shamrock spider, a member of the orb-weaving spider family, Araneidae. In the first image you can see the web being sprayed out of the abdominal spinneret encompassing the doomed grasshopper. Two other views show the continued trussing of the grasshopper and the colours of the large abdomen.
The excursion finished with a visit to the pond area, the capture (and release) of a small leopard frog, and a brief discussion on water spiders.
Our thanks to Dan for an exciting glimpse of spiders in the wild, to Jane for allowing the group onto her property and to the weather gods for a beautiful day.
Alan and Anne Morgan.