North Durham Nature

Our Mission

To foster awareness and appreciation of nature through education, observation and experience.

To promote the protection and conservation of the environment through community activities.

What We Do

We provide educational opportunities and foster awareness of nature, particularly the flora and fauna, as well as earth sciences and astronomy.

We lead and facilitate field trips to learn and experience nature. We promote the protection of nature, biological diversity and sustainability within North Durham.

We carry out projects in co-operation with other community groups, to conserve and protect the environment within North Durham.

NDN is a member
of Ontario Nature Organization


NDN Events-2017

Event Director  -  email James at

Talks - 2017

 4th Thursday night at 7 pm,
bring a mug to enjoy a coffee or tea

 Uxbridge Senior’s Centre – 75 Marietta Street Uxbridge


Scugog Memorial Library. -231 Water Street, Port Perry

 (underlined text links to details)


February 23rd, 2017 - "Five Great Extinctions, Are We Entering the Sixth?" presented by Kevin Seymour (Royal Ontario Museum) - Uxbridge

The fossil record shows that the earth has experienced five periods where massive extinction of life forms occurred, likely caused by cataclysmic events.  Each of these events significantly altered the course of evolution.  Kevin Seymour will discuss at how human caused changes to the planet may be triggering another period of massive extinctions.

This night is also our AGM we will report on our progress, constitution changes and what's coming up.

March 23rd, 2017 - "Tree Trouble" presented by North Durham Nature's James Kamstra - Port Perry

Trees are a dominant feature of the natural landscape. Unfortunately, one by one Ontario’s tree species are being assaulted by a range of fungal blights, diseases, and introduced insect pests altering the species makeup of our forests.  Chestnut Blight, Dutch Elm Disease and Emerald Ash Borer come to mind. James will look at the origins, spread and implications of the various pathogens, and warn us of new ones on the horizon.  

April 27th, 2017 - "Life in a Wetland" presented by North Durham Nature's Cara Gregory - Uxbridge 

Wetlands support a diverse number of plants and animals, with a variety of adaptations to life in a wet environment.  Cara will discuss what defines a wetland, the different types we have in Ontario, and what makes each one unique, as well as the important functions a wetland performs, what threatens them, and the need for their protection.  The main focus of the presentation will be on Port Perry's Nonquon wetland, specifically on the life of and unique adaptations of the wide variety of plants and animals found in this large wetland, situated in the Nonquon Provincial Wildlife Area.  The location and unique features of other North Durham wetlands will be also be mentioned.  LIVE ANIMALS:  There will be an opportunity during the presentation for the audience to view and interact with a few local reptile and amphibian species.   

May 25th, 2017 - "Kawartha Lakes Flora Project" presented by Anne Barbour (Kawartha Field Naturalists) - Port Perry 

Kawartha Lakes Field Naturalist have undertaken a major project to document the complete flora of the extensive Municipality of Kawartha Lakes.  Anne will talk about the details of this five year project, highlighting some of the discoveries and interesting plant habitats in Kawartha Lakes.  

Walks - 2017   

all walks require preregistration

(underlined text links to details) 

Sunday, March 19, 2017 – BirdBox Inspection at the Countryside Preserve

1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. 

Bird Boxes are cavities for nests used by Tree swallows, Eastern Bluebirds, House Wrens. Chickadees, and Eastern Screech owls. While we may have preferred tenants (birds), our boxes are sometimes modified by Flying squirrels, Red Squirrels, Gray squirrels, and Field Mice, over the winter and may need cleaning or repair. Put on your boots and possibly your “Grip Ons”/Ice grabers and join Derek Connelly for a 4 km walk around the Countryside Preserve as he checks the bird boxes.  Preregister by e-mail to or by phone at (905) 852-5432 to confirm what tools you need.  Please note that this event is weather dependent.

Saturday April 8th, 2017 – Waterfowl at Durham’s Lake Ontario Marshes

8:30 am – SE corner of the Port Perry Arena parking lot (1655 Reach St.)

Once the ice leaves the wetlands, large numbers of migratory waterfowl suddenly appear and stage for a few weeks before moving on to their breeding grounds.  The marshes on Lake Ontario in southern Durham are excellent places.  Geoff Carpentier will lead this trip to see what has arrived at several locations that may include Lake Scugog, Cranberry Marsh, Duffin’s Creek Marsh or Oshawa Second Marsh. Pre-registration is required since the trip may be cancelled if ice conditions are not suitable.


Saturday April 15, 2017 – Amphibians in Crow’s Pass Conservation Area

7:30 pm - meet at corner of Middlemarch Road and Ashburn Road

Spring Peepers and Wood Frogs are the first species to sing in the early spring wetlands.  The little known Crow’s Pass CA on the Oak Ridges Moraine contains kettle ponds that are the breeding sites for these frogs as well as newts and Spotted Salamanders.  We will listen for frogs and dip net for salamanders with herpetologist James Kamstra.

May 27th, 2017 - Nonquon Springs to Life - NDN and Friends of Nonquon

9:30 am - Noon:  Meet at the Pheasant Pen Classroom Site of the Nonquon Environmental Education Centre (19745 Old Simcoe Road, Greenbank, ON), on the East side of the street, 1 km North of Scugog LIne 10.  About 5 km North of Port Perry.

North Durham Nature and the Friends of Nonquon would like to share this magical time of year in the wetland with you!  North Durham residents and their families are invited to explore the wetland with us.  Stations will be set up for visitors of all ages to explore at their leisure, and wetland experts will be on hand to share their knowledge with you. You may choose to spend time at a couple of stations, or visit them all!  Short-guided hikes will be run throughout the event as well.  The following stations will be offered:  Pondering the Pond, Feathered Friends, Incredible Insects, Biodiversity of Nonquon and Nature Creations.  For more information please contact Cara by e-mail at  

All events are open to the public and free.  A $5.00 donation is appreciated from non-members attending our monthly talks.

Membership in North Durham Nature is $40 for singles, $50 for families for calendar year.  All members receive a quarterly newsletter and priority email of events coming up plus more. Fees cover insurance, room bookings and incidentals. We are non-profit members of Ontario Nature.  For more information, please call Derek at 905-852-5432 or email

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NDN Projects

Lafarge - Regan Pit (7th concession) Bird Boxes

NDN had a three year contract with the company to monitor 50 bird boxes which we recommended and located in the restoration area of the pit. The club selected Paul Rothfels "Mouse Proof" bird box design after recommendations from neighbours on the 7th concession. The design benefits of reducing predation without the extra costs of a baffle plus the willingness of Lafarge to pay for a secure pole system were factors in choosing the design.

In the first year 52% of the boxes were occupied and all successfully produced eggs and young.  The Tree Swallow occupied most of the boxes, six boxes raised Eastern Bluebirds, and one raised a Black -capped Chickadee. There were no House Wrens, sparrows, mice or other vertebrates in any boxes.

In year two 71% of the boxes were active and a slight increase was observed in target species, allthough House wrens arrived in late summer in a couple of boxes.

In year three  81% of the boxes  were occupied by 29 Tree swallow, 9 Eastern Bluebird, and I Black capped Chickadee families producing over a 100 fledged young. This is a huge success. Considering the concern over population declines in aerial insectivores our boxes have certainly helped the Tree swallow populations.  A more detailed report is available in the club newsletter. 

Many thanks to all the volunteers who assisted in the monitoring. We will apply to Lafarge to continue this conservation success.

In Memory of Paul Rothfels a Gathering  is being held on March 4, at the Udora Hall from 2 - 4. Memories, both spoken and written will be most welcome.  Click on My tribute to Paul

Uxbridge Countryside Preserve- Bird Boxes

NDN took over from the Uxbridge Birders who had been monitoring and repairing the bird boxes first placed in the Preserve in 2008 by the Scouts. The number of boxes was reduced to 26 from 45 in 2014 to improve success. Changes in habitat caused by the invasion of Scot Pine and other plants had slowly reduced the meadow habitat which is important for swallows and bluebirds.  A Scot Pine thinning program is now in place on an annual basis. The  box system is not predator proof and was  modified with the help of the Uxbridge Scouts in 2015. Juice cans and plastic pipe along with an additional front was added to some boxes over the entrance  to act as a predator deterrent.   Tree Swallows accepted the change however Bluebirds did not use these boxes.  It is believed the Preserve can only support four Eastern Bluebird nests in any year because of the reduced meadow habitat.   Tree Swallows however are still increasing  and the reduction in boxes available appears to have lowered the House Wren population and competition. Two additional boxes will be installed this spring using the "Mouse Proof " model.  Two years of  intensive monitoring continued by six Uxbridge resident volunteer familes ( BIrd Box Buddies) this year resulting in more accurate data. Thanks are extended to the Bird Box Buddies who put in many hours monitoring the boxes over the summer and the Township of Uxbridge for their support. Check the NDN newsletter for more.

If you are interested in helping out, learning how bird boxes work or want to buy a box to save cavity nesting  birds contact Derek at 905-852-5432 or

Ontario Nature 2016 Youth Summit for Biodiversity and Environmental Leadership

This fall we continued our annual commitment and sent two young students, Hayden DeBarros and Rylee Brown to the Ontario Nature Youth Summit at Lake Couchiching, where they were engaged in interactive workshops and activities on topics including food security, endangered species, medicinal plants, sustainability and much more. You can read about Rylee's experience in the club newsletter. Interested students should contact us or click on Ontario Nature to find out more .

Late May - The 2016 Great Canadian Bird-a-thon

North Durham Nature's Geoff Carpentier will be participating again in this year's Bird-a-thon. James Baillie Bird-a-thon changed its name to Great Canadian Bird-a-thon, but it's still about counting birds for conservation.  If you would like more information or to sponsor Geoff please click on the underlined link above.  Thanks to everyone's generous donations last year, Geoff was able to raise over $2600 to help fund projects to protect birds and their habitats.  25% of the money raised helps  fund North Durham Nature's nature-based projects.  

Birdathon Results 2015

Conservation Action 2017

NDN adds its signature to Ontario Nature's call to ban hunting of Snapping Turtles in Ontario.



 Community Events

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Claremont Field Centre (4290 Westney Rd. N, Goodwood) - 2017 Claremont Community Events and March Break 2017 Wilderness Survival Camp
August 5th to 13th, 2017 - Long Point Bird Observatory 2017 Doug Tarry Natural History Fund: Young Ornithologist Workshop

To all young ornithologists:  Long Point Bird Observatory is looking for keen teen birders to apply for the 2017 Doug Tarry Natural History Fund - Young Ornithologist Workshop to be held from August 5 to 13, 2017. Participants will receive hands-on training in field ornithology including bird banding, monitoring, field identification, birding trips, preparing museum specimens, guest lectures,and more! Six of Canada’s most promising ornithologists between the ages of 13-17 will be selected to attend, and will receive the Doug Tarry Bird Study Award to cover all on-site expenses.  Applications are due April 30, 2017. For more information and an application form visit, or contact

Official Audubon Christmas Bird Counts - Uxbridge Dec 27th 2016, Beaverton Dec 30th 2016

Once again we joined birders throughout the Americas in the annual bird count now in its 117th year.  Learn more about the count by visiting http://

Follow underlined link to Audubon results:  Uxbridge CBC   Beaverton CBC . Written reports in the club newsletter. Join us to get one!
Uxbridge - 43 species; Beaverton 41 species 

Ducks Unlimited Canada Nest Box Program

Ducks Unlimited Canada is currently looking for project sites that will help provide habitat for cavity nesters like wood ducks and Goldeneye. If you have a wetland on your property larger than a couple of acres, and would like to provide habitat for ducks and other wildlife (like tree swallows and screech owls), then this program is meant for you!  Landowners are responsible for installing, maintaining and monitoring the nest boxes, but DUC provides the nest boxes and technical advice to landowners. Nest boxes are placed in wetland habitats like beaver ponds, where they will be most useful to ducks.  If you're interested in more details, please contact Jenn Lavigne at Ducks Unlimited Canada: (705) 721-4444.

Wood Ducks

Community Action 2016

Feral Cats- A request was made to Uxbridge council to change the cat bylaw giving more freedom to cats.  As many of us know cats are major predators to birds and other native species. We apposed the change. Read our letter linked here. Feral Cats

Event Reviews


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November 6 - Lake Simcoe Field Trip  

James Kamstra of North Durham Nature led a group of 12 to the southeast area of Lake Simcoe to see what waterbirds could be found.  Twelve eager participants ventured out on this mild and calm sunny day. 

The first stop was Holm’s Point, on the York Region side of the lake.  In a sheltered bay on the east side of Duclos Point, 3 Tundra Swans swam together.  A solitary Red-necked Grebe was swimming and diving.  A gathering of Bonaparte’s Gulls were having a feeding frenzy.  Suddenly a Merlin came zipping along from the water, hot in pursuit of an unknown passerine.

At a parkette midway between Holm’s Point and Port Bolster we spied three Red-throated Loons in winter plumage among more numerous Common Loons. Eight female Black Scoters played in the gentle surf; and further to the right several White-winged Scoters.  A flock of 11 Sandhill Cranes flew overhead.

From another lake vantage point at the end of Brock 2nd Concession we saw close to a hundred Horned Grebes spread out across the lake, as well as Common Goldeneyes and Buffleheads, a Long-tailed Duck and a tight gathering of Hooded Mergansers. 

In all about 40 species of birds were noted including a good assortment of waterfowl. 

Saturday April 2 – Waterfowl at Durham’s Lake Ontario Marshes

Four naturalists joined Geoff Carpentier on a trip to Cranberry Marsh on April 2nd. Despite a snowy start to the day, the weather turned perfect and allowed us to see 48 species of birds including 12 kinds of ducks, geese and swans, Horned Grebe, a beautiful adult Little Gull, Tree and Barn Swallows, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, a singing Fox Sparrow and more. At one point a Downy Woodpecker, Back-capped Chickadees and two White-breasted Nuthatches landed on birders’ hands to snack on some sunflower seeds. Perhaps the highlight was watching a pair of otters "cavorting" at the marsh. Presumably a male and female but possibly siblings, they spent over 30 minutes swimming slowly side by side, occasionally rolling over so that paws and tail were skyward, and at one point one was atop the other perhaps mimicking mating. Interesting to watch and as quickly as they arrived they were gone.

February and March 2016
September to December 2015


(underlined text links to reviews)

January and February 2016
September to November 2015


Event Archives - 2016


Members Night - Jan. 28th

Your Pane is their Pain - Presented by Michael Mesure, Executive Director of the Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP) - Feb. 25th

The Messenger (with Roxy Theatres) - March 6th

Birding in Columbia - March 24th

Rouge River:  Canada's First Urban National Park. - April 28th

Biodiversity Primer - May 26th

Colonial Waterbirds of Tommy Thompson Park - June 23rd

Monitoring Black and Polar Bears in Ontario - Sept. 22nd

Running on Empty:  California's Climate Disaster - Oct. 27th 

A Celebration of Nature Art - Nov. 20th


Snowshoeing and Winter Botany at the Nonquon Provincial Wildlife Area - Feb.7th

Amherst Island Hawks and Owls - Feb. 28th

Signs of Spring Hike at Goodwood Tract Conservation Area- March 20th

Waterfowl at Durham’s Lake Ontario Marshes - April 2nd

Amphibians in Crow's Pass Conservation Area- April 23rd

Birds, Bees, Wildflowers and Trees at the Ganton Hobby Farm - May 7th 

Warbler and Wildflower Ramble along the Ewen Trail - May 29th

Evening in the Beaver River Wetland - June 4th

Durham East Cross Forest Bioblitz (Phase 2) - June 11th

How the Natural World Prepares for Winter - Sept. 10th

Shorebirds and Lake Summer Insects - Sept. 17th

Waterbirds at the Lake Ontario Marshes - Oct. 16th

Autumn Waterbirds on Lake Simcoe - Nov. 6th

Christmas Bird Count for Kids (with Friends of Nonquon) - Nov. 26th

Official Audubon Christmas Bird Counts - Dec. 27th and 30th