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-2019

Event Director  -  email James at

Talks - 2019

 4th Tuesday night at 7 pm,

Two locations either :

Uxbridge - 75 Marietta , Uxbridge Seniors Centre


Port Perry - 231Water Street , Scugog Memorial Library 

bring a mug to enjoy a coffee or tea

Please check site closer to the talk date for more details.

Tuesday March 26th, 2019 - Hiking in Auyuittug National Park, Baffin Island - Jay and Bev Thibert - Port Perry **New Night**

Auyuittuq, Inuktitut for “Land that Never Melts”, has a dynamic landscape with craggy mountains, sheer granite cliffs and glaciers that define the Akshayuk Pass. The presentation will share our three-week hiking adventure on Baffin Island through pictures and stories. We hiked through this dramatic and ever changing northern landscape above the Arctic Circle and met Inuit people that are adapting to a new way of life in small communities. Join us for a glimpse of this unique landscape and changing culture in Canada’s north.

Tuesday April 23rd, 2019 - Weird World of Mushrooms - Pat Burchell (Fleming College) - Uxbridge **New Night**

Discover the fascinating world of fungi; their role in nature and the many different kinds of mushrooms which may be found in southern Ontario. Find out how to recognize some of the more common and distinctive species found in this general area.

Pat Burchell is an amateur naturalist with a special interest in mushrooms and other fungi. A retired teacher and librarian, she has been a longtime member and past President of the Mycological Society of Toronto.

Tuesday May 28th, 2019 - Life at the Edge:  Habitat, Heat, and Herpetological Pursuits on the Canadian Shield - Josh Feltham (Fleming College) - Port Perry **New Night**

The Five-lined Skink is the only lizard in eastern Canada, yet most Canadians have never seen one. Learn all about how it has adapted to live here. What factors influence their distribution, abundance, and behaviour at the northern limit of their range? Find out about the challenges of documenting the movement and activity of individual lizards and how VHS saved the day when it came to capturing one of the fastest reptiles in Ontario! Josh is a professor and coordinator of the Ecosystem Management Program at Fleming College.

Tuesday, June 25th, 2019 - Cattails and Phragmites:  Change in our Wetlands - Sara Pieper (Trent University) - Uxbridge  **New Night**

Sara, a M.Sc. Student at Trent University, will present her research on hybridization in cattails and how it is transformed the structure of cattail marshes. She will also discuss the highly aggressive and non-native Phragmites which has recently invaded many of our local wetlands. .

Walks - 2019

Details on meeting locations and to preregister:
*** Please check back closer to each date for more detail ***
Saturday March 16, 2019 – Nature Photography at Lynde Shores Conservation Area - Stephen Wright

9:00 am - meet at Uxbridge Secondary School Parking lot (or 10:00 at Lynde Shores)

Acclaimed nature photographer Stephen Wright will lead this outing, and give the group advice on taking better nature photographs. The feeders and woodlands at Lynde Shores are well known for their very approachable birds which makes it a great location to practise wildlife photography.

New Date Sunday, March 31st, 2019 - Homes for Birds - Derek Connelly - Uxbridge Countryside Preserve

1 PM - meet at Preserve parking lot behind Rona/Walmart 

Humans  are pretty good at cutting down dead hazardous trees that have holes which provide places to live for wildlife, but we are not so good at providing alternatives. The twenty four bird houses in the Countryside Preserve are one solution; join us as we prepare them for the new bird residents for 2019. A 4 km walk.  Wear boots, bring gloves, a short brush, soap and a vinegar spray bottle if you want to help. Opportunity to adopt a bird house for summer, watch the family raise chicks.  Sign up with Derek - all welcome –,  905-852-5432.

Friday, April 26th - Amphibians at Nonquon - Friends of Nonquon and North Durham Nature

With the first rains of spring amphibians come out of their long winter hibernation, then head to the nearest pond to find a mate.  We hope that you can join us for an evening of discovery and learning about these amazing life cycles. Spring Peepers and Wood Frogs are the first species to sing in the early spring wetlands, soon followed by Leopard Frogs and American Toads. The Pheasant Pen site at the Nonquon Provincial Wildlife Area contains several permanent ponds and vernal pools that are the breeding sites for these frogs. Come and learn how citizen science is helping amphibians. We will check out several wetlands to listen for frogs and look for salamanders with herpetologist James Kamstra and other Friends of Nonquon leaders. Please meet at 7:30 p.m. at the Pheasant Pen Classroom site of the Nonquon Environmental Education Centre (19745 Old Simcoe Road, Greenbank, ON), on the East side of the road, 1 km north of Scugog Line 10. About 5km North of Port Perry.  This event takes place rain or shine and do dress for outdoor evening activities. You must register for this event by replying to this email, <>, no later than Monday, April 22, 2019. Space is limited to 30 participants. 

Saturday, April 27th, 2019 - Canoe Nonquon - Jay Thibert

Sunday,April 28th, 2019 - Nature for Health - Pat

Sunday May 5th, 2019 - Wildflower Walk - Derek Connelly - Uxbridge Countryside Preserve at 1 p.m.

Saturday, May 18th, 2019 - Frog Walk - Derek Connelly - Uxbridge Countryside Preserve

Sunday, May 19th, 2019 - Wildflower Walk - Derek Connelly - Uxbridge Countryside Preserve at 1 p.m.

Saturday, June 8th, 2019 - Bird Loop - Derek and Kim - Uxbridge Countryside Preserve at 9 a.m.

Sunday June 9th, 2019 - Birding Scugog - Geoff Carpentier

Sunday July 7th, 2019 - Sunderland Bird Count - James Kamstra - Brock

Saturday, September 14th, 2019 - Hawk Watch - Geoff Carpentier - Cranberry Marsh

Sunday, October 13th, 2019 - Mushroom Walk

Saturday, November 2nd, 2019 - Waterfowl on Lake Simcoe - James Kamstra - Brock

Saturday, November 23rd, 2019 - Christmas Bird Count for Kids - Friends of Nonquon and NDN - Nonquon E.E.C.

Friday, December 27th, 2019 - Uxbridge Christmas Bird Count - Derek Connelly

Monday, December 30th, 2019 - Beaverton Christmas Bird Count - John Mclean

Club Fees

All events are free to members and open to the public.

Membership in North Durham Nature is $25 for singles, $40 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. Join!

A $5.00 donation is appreciated from non-members attending our monthly talks to cover refreshments, insurance, rental and speakers  

For more information, please call Derek at 905-852-5432 or email

Like us on Facebook!

NDN Projects

Lafarge - Regan Pit (7th concession) Bird Boxes

NDN had a three year contract (2014-2016 )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 for members in the April 2017 club newsletter. 

In 2017 and now 2018 we have continued monitoring the boxes. Many thanks to all the volunteers including John and Lee Fisher and David and Liz Taylor .

NDN helps Paul's Vision

Paul Rothfels passed away suddenly in Feb 2017 . In Memory of Paul Rothfels a Gathering was held on March 4, 2017 at the Udora Hall from 2 - 4.  Click on My tribute to Paul and the OBIT

Margaret Almack  passed on Paul's Bird box gig and materials to Keith Stait Gardner who offered his heated workshop to the Nature club to assemble Paul's bird houses to support the club. Last year we built and sold 45 boxes and this year another 26 were completed. We have now used up all the supplies Paul left and the next step becomes more difficult. Fortunately Margaret has decided she would like her family to get involved in purchasing materials and carry on Paul's work. NDN will continue to support Paul's vision of a safe home for cavity nesting birds like the Eastern bluebird. 

If you are interested in assisting in anyway contact NDN. 

Uxbridge Countryside Preserve- Bird Houses

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 in the first year.  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 were installed this spring using the "Mouse Proof " model.  Two years of  intensive monitoring continued by six Uxbridge resident volunteer familes ( BIrd Box Buddies)  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.  We are always looking for landlords? If you walk the Preserve regularly in the summer and would like to be involved contact Derek - 905-852-5432 or

Uxbridge Countryside Preserve Canada 150 Species Count

- Follow the underlined link to read all about it over 180 sp countedCanada150 Species Challenge Met!

List of Plant Species 2017

List of Animal Species 2017

Our plan is to turn the count into an annual family event a Bioblitz every June !

Ontario Nature Youth Summit for Biodiversity and Environmental Leadership

Each year we put aside money to sponsor two north durham high school students for a fun weekend at  the Ontario Nature Youth Summit at Lake Couchiching in September . Students are engaged in interactive workshops and activities on topics including food security, endangered species, medicinal plants, sustainability and much more. You can read about their experiences in the club newsletter. Interested students should contact us or click on Ontario Nature to find out more . If you are or know of interested teens contact us.

Thank you letter from NDN sponsored student - 2018

Late May - The  Great Canadian Bird-a-thon

North Durham Nature's Geoff Carpentier  participates yearly in this charity birding event. The 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, Geoff raises $1000's  to help fund projects to protect birds and their habitats.  25% of the money raised helps fund North Durham Nature's nature-based projects.  Donations are tax deductable!

Birdathon Results 2015

Birdathon Results 2016

Birdathon Results 2017

Conservation Action 2017 

(click on underlined text to open link)

The office of the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO) needs your support ...

The Government of Ontario announced plans on November 15, 2018 to eliminate the office of the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO) and transfer much of its responsibility to the jurisdiction of the Auditor General. This misguided decision effectively undercuts the power and independence of Ontario’s environmental watchdog.  North Durham Nature has signed a letter composed by Ontario Nature to Premier Ford and Finance Minister Fedeli to let them know that Ontarians need the office of the ECO and that we reject the slashing of this essential oversight and accountability role.  Please click on the underlined link to sign your name  to this letter too, and show your support for the office of the ECO and its role. 

Review of the Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993

Group Letter to Premier

Summary of Recommendations for Reform

Proposed Regional Natural Heritage System for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (EBR 013-1014)
Spring Wildflower Planting

NDN assisted the Uxbridge Scouts in a Prairie grass and forbs planting May 13th  in the Uxbridge Countryside Preserve. 300 native plant plugs were planted in a 10 x 25 m rototilled plot. These plants will enhance the field with food and habitat for butterflies, bees, birds and other meadow wildlife.  If you would like to adopt a plant and help it establish itself through the summer by watering and weeding contact Derek 905-852-5432


NDN adds its signature to Ontario Nature's call to ban hunting of Snapping Turtles in Ontario  and we were successful ! Now we need to figure out how to reduce road mortality.

Coming up each Fall in November 

Volunteers wanted for Scot Pine ( invasive) thinning in the Uxbridge Countryside Preserve to keep the meadows open. Saturday Nov 3rd

Contact Derek for more info

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

Conservation Action 2018

Protected Places Campaign

NDN adds its signature to Ontario Nature's Protected Places Campaign.  You can show your individual support as well by signing the declaration (click on underlined text)



 Community Nature Related Events

  (underlined text links to details)

Friday, April 5th, 2019 (9am to 3pm) - The Brook Never Sleeps - Uxbridge Town Hall and Centennial Park

Pre-registration required. Call Uxbridge Youth Centre 905-862-3456

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.



(underlined text links to reviews)

February 26th, 2019 - AGM and Gavin Miller (TRCA): Greenwood Resource Management Tract

Tuesday night's AGM was a success, with all 9 standing board members elected, thanks to our 17 voting members present.  8 of them were up for reelection, and we have one new director on our team, Brenda Near.  She is a long time Durham Resident (Zephyr area) with an interest in all things natural, and is an avid gardener, particularly interested in planting native plants to create back yard habitat for native bees, butterflies and birds.  Geoff Carpentier has stepped down from the board, but has agreed to continue to be the writer/editor of our newsletter.  A big thankyou goes out to Geoff for all that he has contributed over the past few years on the Board, and for all that he continues to contribute.  Another thank you goes out to Derek Connelly, past President, for all his hard work, leading the team over the past 4 years.  He remains on the board in the role of Director.  Cara Gregory, leaving the role of Vice President, is our new President.  She will continue to look after the website, and will remain our Ontario Nature representative.  James Kamstra is our new Vice president, and will continue to be our Program Director, organizing our walks and talks.  James, Cara, and Mark reviewed the 2018 year in terms of past events, membership and finances.

Gavin Miller, a Floral Biologist with the TRCA, gave an informative talk on the flora, fauna, and other natural features of the Greenwood Resource Management Tract, and how they has evolved over time.  He spoke as well on the challenges and opportunities for improving its biodiversity.  His talk was followed by an engaging question and answer session.  Thanks Gavin.

Thanks also goes to Nancy and Anne who provided an assortment of delicious treats and refreshments.

November 22nd, 2018

Twenty four guests enjoyed James Kamstra's description of the Natural history of Cuba along with geography , architecture and a touch of historical culture. He explained how despite Cuba's close proximity to Florida, Yucatan and other Caribbean Islands it has evolved its own unique diversity of species. In particular the lizards ( anoles) , and amphibians ( frogs) have many more species than we might expect possibly as result of few mammalian predators . Jay Thibert's incredible close photos of the birds was a major contribution to the slides, his sequence of the Cuban heron catching a fish was a bonus feature. The Cuban Eco tour was taken last February by six members of North Durham Nature . 

May 2018 - Spring Wildflowers of the Uxbridge Countryside Preserve trails 

In order of observation, in flower, some seen in numerous locations,  in May 2018.

Can you identify the ephemerals? Add to the list and email me for next year.

  1. Coltsfoot
  2. Trout Lily
  3. Sharp lobed Hepatica
  4. Bloodroot
  5. Miterwort
  6. Bunchberry
  7. Wild strawberry
  8. Field Pussy-toes
  9. Violets- White, Blue, Yellow
  10. Northern Bedstraw
  11. Red Trillium
  12. Yellow Trillium
  13. Large flowering trillium
  14. Jack in the Pulpit
  15. White Baneberry
  16. False Solomon’s seal
  17. Solomon’s seal
  18. Starflower
  19. Fringed Polygala
  20. Wild lily of the Valley
  21. Foam flower
  22. Kidney leaf buttercup
  23. Red Baneberry
  24. Virginia Waterleaf

Please contribute photos to our Facebook group “Botanists of the Countryside Preserve, Or Facebook page -  North Durham Nature.  Thanks to those who joined me and added to the 2018 Spring wildflower walks.  Derek Connelly –  Here’s a website with photos to keep us looking for next year and consider planting at home….

Thursday, April 26th, 2018 - Polar Bears of Ontario’s North Shore - Dr. Martyn Obbard

Dr. Martyn Obbard presented his findings of many years of polar bear research in northern Ontario on Thursday night to a record crowd of almost 70 people at the Port Perry library. He believes our impact on carbon dioxide levels has resulted in the decline of sea ice and the ultimate decline in polar bear populations in the areas he studied. He used a BBC video clip to show the importance of sea ice for polar bear hunting seals, and still maps  and graphs to indicate the ice decline over time with increases in carbon dioxide levels. He strongly believes that we must make wise choices to provide long term protection for the polar bears. Recently retired Dr. Obbard continues his quest to save the polar bear. 

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018 - Spiders of Ontario - Tom Mason -  Uxbridge 

Tom kept the audience of thirty people enthralled till 9 pm with his stories of his close encounters with scorpions, Black widows and spiders of every size around the world and here in Ontario. Their adaptations to fly with a balloon of silk many kilometres off shore, to spit and catch their prey, their traps, their lures, their incredible eyes , their sharp spikes, their jaws , their dances and jumps, ...gosh so much behavioural and physical variety in eight legged creatures. Tom has been bitten handling spiders but generally they tend not to bite at all just run away. He claims many of the bites we get which we blame on spiders are not spiders at all. In any case I am happy to just look and photo that big dock spider at the cottage!

January 25th, 2018 - AGM and Nature Quiz Night

A fun night of nature interpretation!  Approximately 30 participants circled around in teams to several tables with different nature objects (skulls, furs, nests, feathers, foot prints) and tested their ID skills.  The answers were revealed through a Power Point presentation delivered by North Durham Nature's Vice President, Cara Gregory.  Participants found some items challenging, but did very well, and enjoyed getting to know other members.  Thanks to members that contributed to the table items.

Annual Report



      (underlined text links to reviews)

Sunday, Jan 20th, 2019 - Bird Feeder Tour

Birding 101 ---that’s about how many birds we saw on our tour of Uxbridge and Brock countryside. Nineteen species ( Brenda saw a Shrike on her way from Zephyr to us! Paul, Genny and I saw a Raven at USS) Carol and Doug anything to add? Anyone see something on the way home?
What a great day! Garry and Mhairi greeted us with coffee and tea and a backyard hopping with birds. We put about 12 species on the list right away. Then off to Hedgerow farms where Neil had put food out all around the house in a variety of feeders. We did a walk about the property in hopes of spotting waxwings and as we were leaving Paul and Genny spotted a small flock . Unfortunatley too quick to ID which type of waxwings. On to Margarets place and incredible muffins with rhubarb mmmmm. Redpolls yeah another species . Fond memories of Paul entertaining us and seeing the Barred owl here two years back. South to Zephyr and Brenda’ and Neal’s home. More redpolls – energy efficient house solar panels geothermal, bird protection film on windows like Carol and Dougs . More goodies …gaining weight and species.Off south again to Roseville and Caroline and Jim’s place . Homemade soup and fresh made sourdough bread. Whose said this was all about birds !
Eighteen Species and Hundred and one individual birds and six happy bird tourers . A cold day but full of sunshine . Thanks to Garry, Neil, Margaret, Brenda, and Caroline and their helpers for opening your gates and doors and sharing your bird stories with us along with the goodies of course! Thanks to Carol who handed out homemade suet to the hosts. Thanks to Genevieve ( Genny) who kept track of species and filled in my missing gaps . Thanks to all who made my day!
Next year we head south and east Glen Major, Chalk Lake, Utica what do feeders in the winter look like there?
See you at Nature Club members night Thursday Jan 24th Scugog Memorial Library 7 pm Derek


Special Event

December 27th, 2018:  Uxbridge Christmas Bird Count – Numbers way down!

At -15C overnight there was very little water open for waterfowl and with reduced habitat and less people feeding at feeders the numbers of birds plummeted this year to 4300 birds. This was our lowest in the last ten years and down 3400 birds from last year. Even European starlings took a hit dropping to 133 the lowest in the last ten years. Evening and Pine grosbeaks were a welcome addition from the north this year while Purple Finch were missed. Once again, we added summer birds to our increasing list of birds found at Christmas with James Kamstra photographing a Chipping sparrow and a very rare Ovenbird.

Our species count despite these additions was down to 45 from 48 last year.

Participation was similar to other years in numbers with a number of birder recruits which we hope have caught the birding bug and join us next year. 30 people observed in the field while 20 watched at home feeders. With 780.5 km were driven, 59 km walked, 3.5 hours were spent owling adding 3 Barred owls to the count. Thanks to Carol Coleman Trotter for hosting the pot luck for those in the field, Kim Adams for inputting the data and all the birders and people that kept their feeders full and helped with the count. Winter’s weather is hard for all of us, consider lending a hand to the birds by keeping a feeder full. As climate and habitat changers we are responsible for their livelihood too.

Derek Connelly compiler Uxbridge Christmas Bird Count

Results  (click on underlined text)
Saturday, November 10, 2018 - Lake Simcoe Waterfowl Outing 

Five hardy souls set out to search for staging migratory waterfowl on the southeast shore of Lake Simcoe.  Large numbers and variety of birds were encountered during the 2016 and 2017 outings.  However on this day, a strong wind blew in from the west forming whitecaps on the lake and tears in the eyes of observers as they looked through their scopes.  There were few birds to be seen: occasional Bufflehead, Common Goldeneyes, Long-tailed Ducks and Red-breasted Mergansers.  Also a few Bonaparte’s Gulls dipping over the angry waters.  The highlight of the day was a Northern Shrike among the shrubs at the Beaverton Lagoons.  Blowing snow and poor visibility resulted in early termination of the outing.

Saturday, November 3rd, 2018 - Forest Bathing - Crow's Pass C.A. - Patricia Baldwin

Eight hikers braved the rain/snow precipitation and ventured into Crow’s Pass Conservation Area to learn about the health benefits of forest bathing, Canadian style.  Mother Nature rewarded us with beautiful sunlight filtering through the forest canopy displaying a lovely luster to the damp and shiny forest trees.  We breathed in the clean forest air, high in oxygen, very low in air pollutants and filled with beneficial tree aromatics or phytoncides (smells produced by trees which help to increase human immunity to cancer).  It was a pleasure to find many mushrooms along the way.  And, those city sounds were too far to hear.  Those who completed the mood test were amazed to see the pre-hike and post-hike results.   All agreed that it was a lovely way to spend the morning.

Sunday, October 14, 2018 – Mushroom Walk in Crow’s Pass Conservation Area

Autumn is the time for finding fungi in the forest.  Pat Burchell of the Toronto Mycological lead a group of interested group of 25 persons through the conservation area in search of any mushrooms they could find.  A good assortment of mushroom-friendly habitats was found.  In particular mature deciduous forest with rotten logs and fallen limbs.  She showed a non-descript small brown mushroom known as the Deadly Galerina, and it is one of the most toxic.  In all about 30 species were found and identified including misshapen Aborted Entolomas, lovely banded Turkey Tails, Purple-toothed Polypores and the highly revered Chaga, known for its medicinal properties.

Saturday, September 15, 2018 - Hawk Watch in Cranberry Marsh

Geoff led a small group of NDNers to Cranberry Mash on Saturday to look for migrating hawks. The conditions were lovely for beach goers but no so great for hawks. Nut we did see a few hawks – Osprey, Sharp-shinned Hawk and Turley Vulture. Cranberry Marsh was gorgeous with the many flowering plants and hummingbirds and Marsh Wrens flitted about, while loons and mergansers floated on the glass clear lake. Later we went to Carruther’s Creek Marsh and watched several Lesser Yellowlegs and two lingering Barn Swallows as they prepared for their migrations!

Saturday, June 9th, 2018 - Bird Loop Hike - Uxbridge Countryside Preserve

Eight of us enjoyed a walk about the Countryside Preserve yesterday listening and spotting breeding birds. Kim Adams demonstrated how a smart phone App now replaces the book for many new birders. Using the App both the call and the visual clues can be used to figure out what you are looking at. Derek stressed the need for caution with playing back the calls during breeding season as birds can assume there is a real threat to their nesting or courtship and may leave an area possibly abandoning a nest or mate. With that in mind the call should be played quietly so you hear it and the real bird does not.

Many of the group were able to identify by call the Red-eyed Vireo, Ovenbird, Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Song Sparrow and House Wren on the walk. An eBird checklist was generated using 61 past sightings for June and we were able to add to the list this June! All in all about 15 birds were seen or heard by the group during the 2 hour walk. The weather was cloudy at first and still in contrast to Friday’s sunshine and thermal updrafts which brought in more activity (34 Birds were recorded by Kim Adams on Friday morning)

Butterflies also added to the fun! A Tiger Swallowtail flittered by, an American Copper appeared near a bird house, and a Common Ringlet was seen. A Red-spotted Purple challenged the whole group on the trail as we attempted to see it with binoculars or photograph it with a cell phone and it wouldn't stay still for long.

New summer flowers were appearing - lots of the tall Yellow Goatsbeard and a dandelion-like plant possibly Mouse-eared Hawkweed.

Some of the group were past members wishing to join up again and we look forward to seeing them at the next event.

In July look for a Butterfly Walk in the Countryside Preserve date to be determined.

Saturday, June 9th, 2018 - Bird Watching at the Sewage Lagoons

Seven members of the Orillia Naturalists Club joined Geoff Carpentier and Cara Gregory June 9th as we visited the Nonquon lagoons in Port Perry. All had obtained their mandatory access permits before we headed out on our adventure. Although the weather was quite warm, the sun and light breeze felt great. We immediately were treated to good looks at several Black Terns as they hawked over the lagoons picking off bluets and midges. Our primary goal had been to see shorebirds, but high waters put a stop to that. Or did it? Geoff quickly spotted a large shorebird in the south cell of the lagoons and identified it as an adult Reeve. This rare visitor from European and Asia is seldom seen here. After comparing photos later, Geoff determined this was the same female that stayed for a few hours at Cranberry Marsh in Whitby two days earlier. After we had our fill of this great find, we also saw a locally uncommon Ruddy Duck and a summering Red-necked Grebe in one lagoon. A female Hooded Merganser, a Wood Duck with about 15 babies, two Ospreys tending their nestlings, two male Shovelers, two Trumpeter Swans with their 5 cygnets and much more entertained our little group. Myriad, butterflies, dragonflies and both Green Frogs and Bullfrogs added to our species list.

May 27th, 2018

Four of us started our Flower walk by exploring the roadside of Elgin Park Drive on the east side below the Wooden sticks trail. Wood Anemone,  and Oxeye Daisy were in bloom as where the aliens' Yellow Goatsbeard, Birdsfoot trefoil, and Cow Vetch.   Goatsbeard is a challenge as it is a common name for two quite different plants so the colour is important in the name. The native goatsbeard has  small white/cream flowers on finger like clusters giving a bearded appearance. The introduced plant is like a tall dandelion and it closes its flower by noon so you often miss it. Of course being a native plant supporter I wish we did!

 We were invited into the private lane behind the new housing development and looked at flowers near an old pond near the Uxbridge Brook.   More aliens  White and Pink Rocket,  and Bladder campion possibly planted    and our native Virginia waterleaf were identified. The waterleaf is very similar to baneberry in leaf but the flowers are quite different .  Returning to the Countryside Preserve trail we saw the trilliums once a mass of beauty through the woods now fading away, and the baneberry going to seed with the stalk which will soon hold its doll's eyes like  berries. A season changes and summer flowers take over.  Foam flower was in bloom popping up in large patches and some of our spring plants  showing their true identity as all summer flowers . Lily of the Valley and the three Solomon seals continue blooming through June.  

It will be interesting to add more flowers to our summer list in the Uxbridge Countryside Preserve in the weeks ahead. Thanks to Ann, Lynne and Willa for joining me.

May 20th, 2018 - Wildflower Walk - Uxbridge Countryside Preserve - Derek Connelly

Six of us joined the weekly flower walk Sunday at 1pm . Retracing last weeks route we added a few more flowers to the growing list . From last week the White and Red trilliums were still in bloom but some White's were showing pink as they age. Field Pussytoes, Jack in the pulpit, Strawberry, Blue and White Violets, , Miterwort, and Red Baneberry were some of the plants identified and photographed.  

Next week we meet at the Elgin Park road entrance to the Preserve Sunday. Ann Goldring has some Yellow Trilliums to show us.  Parking in the Rexall Parking lot is safer than roadside. Sunday May 27th 1 pm 

May 13th, 2018 - Wildflower Walk - Uxbridge Countryside Preserve - Derek Connelly

Twelve budding botanists enjoyed a walk in the Uxbridge Countryside Preserve Sunday morning. While many flowers are still to come the group did identify over ten species. White trilliums were abundant and had recently opened their flowers. Sharp - leaved hepatica was also in flower, as was a small number of Dog toothed violet ( trout lily) and Canada mayflower ( Wild lily of the valley ). The day was warming up and flowers seemed to be opening as we waked so I imagine more will be showing by the end of the week.

We have agreed to meet again next Sunday at 1 pm to enjoy the advance of spring flowers. Thanks to all who shared their knowledge and enjoyment of the wildflowers.

May 11th, 2018 - Frog Walk - Uxbridge Countryside Preserve

Mother nature finally came through and gave us a cool but dry evening for frogs. Thirteen of us including two children met in the parking lot for our frog evening.  After brief introductions Derek Connelly introduced other members of the nature club Cara Gregory and Geoff Carpentier who would be sharing their experiences too. Participants received a Toronto Zoo “adopt a pond “ brochure which has pictures of the Ontario frogs and Derek and Cara clarified which ten species were found here.  Pictures and sounds of frogs from the two frog watch cell phone Aps were used. Spring is the time when frogs and toads gather to sing and mate in small bodies of water.

Walking down to the wetland areas the first pond was relatively quiet until we passed by then a few spring peepers started up. As we approached the second pond they again were quiet until we settled down to listen and then our frog solo began. The temperature was 11C which kept many frog species quiet, a true symphony only occurs after about 15 C. Wood frogs one of the first callers of spring have a quacking sound which was heard over two weeks ago were now quiet and may have laid their eggs and returned to the forest. The American Toad’s trill heard last night in many backyards was absent tonight. Spring Peepers however kept up a good chorus of peeps which came from many directions as the sound bounced off the trees around the pond.

Geoff our bird expert heard the call of the Woodcock and a brief walk into the meadow allowed others to hear it too. The male does an aerial mating dance calling to impress a female sitting patiently in the field. A barred owl also called in the distance-“who who cooks for you”.

Back at the first pond Green Frogs were spotted resting in a trance like state near the surface awaiting for warmer days when they will start their banjo like call. Green’s and Bull Frogs ( the “Jug of rum call”) usually require about 17 C before they can be heard. The children continued looking with their flashlights and reported a Leopard frog too. It was hard to leave as darkness closed in and the sounds of nature continued. Thanks to all who shared their evening with us.

April 28th, 2018 - Canoe on the Nonquon River - Jay Thibert

North Durham Nature explored the Nonquon River in canoes today. A group of 10 paddlers bundled up and headed upstream on the Nonquon River from the bridge on Old Simcoe Road. The wind was strong and the temperatures stayed in single digits, but spring was in the air. We spotted the following species: Bufflehead ducks, Red-winged Blackbirds, Kingfishers, Swamp Sparrow, Robins, Red-tailed Hawk, Great Blue Heron, Canada Goose, Blue-winged Teal, Mallard Ducks, Tree Swallows, Barn Swallows, (one very large flock) Rough-winged Swallow and six Trumpeter Swans. The Swans were a highlight as the flew overhead a couple of times. We enjoyed each others company and had a great morning on the water. Our eight year old paddler kept a strong pace to travel upstream for over two hours. We made it all the way to the eight concession and back. Thanks to all for a fun outing.

March 18th, 2018 - Uxbridge Countryside Preserve Bird Box Inspection

Ten adults and four children assisted Derek Connelly in this years spring clean out of the twenty four bird houses in the Uxbridge Countryside Preserve. One family came up from Oshawa after reading about the event in their local paper. Participants were shown pictures of the birds, their eggs and nests and some of last years nests were examined for parasites before removal from the area. Tree swallow, Eastern bluebird, House wren and Black -capped Chickadee are the birds who use the bird  houses and the Blow fly is one of the problem parasites. Six of the participants volunteered to be part of this summers monitoring program to help the birds successful nesting. Cavity birds such as these now depend on nest boxes since more of their natural habitat ( old dead trees) is being removed. If you would like to help give Derek a call or email. 905-852-5432, or 

Saturday, February 10th, 2018:  Winter Wetland Snowshoe Adventure

We had a great turn out for the Snowshoe Hike at the Nonquon Environmental Education Centre last Saturday - 79 participants (8 volunteer leaders)

All ages - children, parents, grandparents took part - many who have never been on snowshoes before!

Long, medium and shorter hikes took place. Snow conditions and temperatures were perfect for a day in the wetland. Families that have lived in the area for years were joined by newer residence of Durham in learning about this ecologically important (and beautiful) Provincial Wildlife Area. Everyone enjoyed feeding Chickadees by hand and participants shared in hot chocolate and cookies around a campfire at mornings end. Fun was had by all.

Thanks to Friends of Nonquon volunteers for their efforts in making this day such a success. Thank you to all the organizers & participants!

January 20th:  Feeder Tour 2018

Twelve people showed up for the start of the Bird Feeder tour this year in Uxbridge. Travelling from Mount Albert, Pickering , Oshawa, and Port Perry these keen birders descended on Uxbridge.  Visiting two town feeders and an estate in Uxbridge we then headed east to Scugog to visit three rural properties and an estate property. Our count for the day was about one hundred and fifty birds with thirteen species plus a possible Northern Shrike seen on the drive. Highlights were the Red Bellied woodpecker a Ruffed grouse video and the many enjoyable conversations . The Ruffed grouse was taped attacking a poodle in a backyard in Port Perry numerous times. Just one of the many funny local wildlife stories.  The local media joined us at 10 am to capture us in action which may have ruffled a few feathers however the advertising could help the birds in the long run. We learned about feeder types, seeds, habitat, bird boxes, windows, birds seen, and more, all of which will help us better serve our feathered friends.

Many thanks to the Feeder hosts who filled their feeders, opened their doors to keep us warm and shared their personal glimpses of nature with us. Thanks to those who joined the tour and shared their incites, we look forward to seeing you at another North Durham Nature event.

Good Birding !  Derek Connelly

Feeder Tour Bird List

Special Events

Saturday, March 17th, Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre - Peterborough

Early Saturday morning, during March Break, 16 North Durham Nature membersand friends, met and carpooled together, on this excursion to the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre, organized by North Durham Nature.  Upon arrival, Wendy, an education leader at the centre, and a volunteer, gave an interactive presentation on the 8 different species of turtles in Ontario, what makes them unique, their at risk status, the threats they are facing and how we can help.  A volunteer brought several live turtles around for participants to see up close, and told us their rescue stories.  Paddy, a 35 year old snapping turtle, graciously let Wendy use him to demonstrate how to safely pick him up and transport him to the side of the road, in the direction he was going of course!  The turtle nursery was also a highlight.  A fun time had by all!


Friends of North Durham Nature

Click on to link to websites -

Ontario Nature - North Durham Nature is a proud member of Ontario Nature, and is a part of its Nature Network (Lake Ontario North Region).

                        -  Ontario Nature Award Nominations Deadline March 25th, 2019 (click on underlined link to learn more)

Bird Studies Canada

Durham Region Field Naturalists

Pickering Field Naturalists

Scugog Lake Stewards

Butterflies of Ontario

Nature Conservancy of Canada

Thickson's Woods Land Trust:  Summer 2016 Newsletter

Conservation Authorities in our Area

Central Lake Ontario CLOCA

Lake Simcoe Region  LSRCA

Kawartha KCA

Toronto Region  TRCA

Wildlife Rescue

Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge –

National Wildlife Centre –

Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre –

Event Archives - 2018


January - AGM and Nature Quiz Night - Cara Gregory

February - "From Birder to Birder Murder"- Steve Burrows

March - Spiders of Ontario - Tom Mason

April - Polar Bears of Ontario’s North Shore - Dr. Martyn Obbard

May - Hawk Identification - Geoff Carpentier and Mark Stabb

June – Nature, Kids and the Anthropocene - Dr. Brendon Larson

September - Whip-poor-will Ecology - Alex Mills 

October – Cuba Natural History -James Kamstra

November - Cuba Natural History - James Kamstra 


January:  Feeder Tour 2018 - Derek Connelly

February 2018:  Winter Wetland Snowshoe Adventure - Friends of Nonquon

March 2018 - Uxbridge Countryside Preserve Bird Box Inspection - Derek Connelly

April - Canoe on the Nonquon River - Jay Thibert

May - Frog Walk - Uxbridge Countryside Preserve - Derek Connelly

May - Spring Wildflowers of the Uxbridge Countryside Preserve trails - Derek Connelly

June - Bird Watching at the Sewage Lagoons - Geoff Carpentier and Cara Gregory

June - Bird Loop Hike - Uxbridge Countryside Preserve - Derek Connelly

September - Hawk Watch in Cranberry Marsh - Geoff Carpentier

October - Mushroom Walk at Crow's Pass Conservation Area - Patricia Burchell

November - Lake Simcoe Waterfowl Outing - James Kamstra

November - Forest Bathing - Crow's Pass C.A. - Patricia Baldwin

Special Events

March -  Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre - Peterborough

November - Sixth Annual Christmas Bird Count for Kids - Friends of Nonquon

National Audubon /Bird Studies Canada official annual Bird Counts in North Durham

December 27th - Uxbridge Christmas Bird Count 

December 30th - Beaverton Christmas Bird Count