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-2018

Event Director  -  email James at

Talks - 2018

 4th Thursday night at 7 pm
 Uxbridge Senior’s Centre – 75 Marietta Street Uxbridge   OR    Scugog Memorial Library. -231 Water Street, Port Perry   

bring a mug to enjoy a coffee or tea

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

Spiders are a mysterious group of eight-legged invertebrates that now terrify more people than snakes do.  Tom will describe the life history of these fascinating organisms, their importance in the ecosystem and he will overview some of the more common species in Ontario.  Tom was formerly curator of birds and invertebrates at the Toronto Zoo and is Director of Canadian Organization for Tropical Education & Rainforest Conservation (COTERC) in Costa Rica.  Tom is well known as a spider expert, and is in high demand at every provincial bioblitz since he is one of very few who can identify most arachnids that he finds.

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

The Hudson Bay shore is home to world’s most southern population of Polar Bears.  Martyn Obbard is a recently retired research biologist with Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and adjunct professor at Trent University who has been studying the magnificent white carnivores for the past 25 years.  He has counted, tracked, tranquilized and hundreds.  Martyn will describe the Polar Bear’s behaviour and ecology with personal anecdotes from the Hudson Bay lowlands and elsewhere.  Dr. Obbard will also discuss the new challenges that the bears face in the recent light of climate change.

Walks - 2018    

Details on meeting locations and to preregister:

Saturday, April 21, 2018 – Amphibians at Nonquon Outdoor Education Centre

7:30 pm - Please 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. 

With the first rains of spring amphibians come out of their long winter hibernation then head to the nearest pond to find a mate.  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 in the Nonquon Provincial Wildlife Area contains several permanent ponds and vernal pools that are the breeding sites for these frogs.  We will check out several wetlands to listen for frogs and look for salamanders with herpetologist James Kamstra.

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

April is a great time of year to explore the Nonquon River by canoe. The water flows high and cold and is free of aquatic plants. The wetlands are starting to welcome some early spring arrivals and it is a great scene to be a part of. 

This is North Durham Nature’s first outing on the water.  We are hoping that members will be inspired to get their canoes out of storage and join us on this early spring wetland exploration. Please note the details below:

- start at the bridge on Old Simcoe Road, just south of the 10th concession at 8:00 a.m., on the water by 8:30 a.m. 

- pre-registration is necessary at <

- maximum of 6 canoes. 

- must dress warmly for this time of year and time of day

- should have basic paddling skills

- all participants must have and wear a pfd

- bring snacks and water/hot drink in thermos

- no washrooms other than shore landings

- bring binoculars 

- no pets

- this is an out and back route

- we are paddling up stream (to the west) and then returning with the current to our starting point


All events are open to the public.

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.

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

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

*New* - Like us on Facebook!


NDN Projects

Logo Contest - Deadline Extended!!!  Sept 19th, 2017

Contest Rules:

  1. Contest is open to any member of NDN or their extended family.
  2. The logo should be submitted in hard copy on letter-sized paper or as a scan that can be emailed.
  3. The logo should consist of original artwork and not be a copy.
  4. The logo should be handed in at an NDN meeting or emailed to: no later than June 15, 2017
  5. A prize (yet to be determined) will be awarded to the winner.
  6. The winning logo will become the property of North Durham Nature to be used on the website, newsletter, letterhead or wherever the organization sees fit without any further compensation to the artist.
  7. The logo can include one or more species of plant or animal that characterizes the nature of North Durham. 
  8. The logo should be clearly distinct from logos of other organizations.
  9. The artist must provide a verbal description of the logo and its significance in the context of North Durham with the application.
  10. The various submissions will be presented to members attending the June NDN meeting.
  11. Members present at that meeting will be able to vote for their preferred logo by secret ballot.  Subject to Board approval, the logo, which receives the most votes, will become the NDN Logo.

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 over the past three years.

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

Margaret has passed on Paul's Bird box gig and materials to Keith Stait Gardner who has offered his workshop to the Nature club to assemble more bird houses to support the club.

For 2017  members  John and Lee Fisher will take over monitoring  at the Regan Pit as Lafarge is interested in continuing this conservation success.

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.  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)  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. The Spring Bird House Inspection 2017 indicated we are open for business and tenants will be arriving soon. We are looking for landlords? 

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

BIRD HOUSES -Mouseproof Design long lasting , support your club - $45 each discounts for bulk orders

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

Ontario Nature Youth Summit for Biodiversity and Environmental Leadership

Last fall 2016 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 . If you are or know any interested teens in participating for 2017 contact us.

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)

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

Volunteers wanted for Scot Pine ( invasive) thinning  in the Uxbridge Countryside Preserve fields to keep the meadows open. Stay tuned for dates .


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)

October 3rd, 2017:  Last of the Curlews - Fred Bosworth at 2 p.m.
October 15th, 2017: The Last Curlew presented by Tom Allen at 1:30 p.m.
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)

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 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


June 22nd, 2017 - “Natural Areas of the Oak Ridges Moraine” presented by Mark Stabb (Nature Conservancy of Canada) - Uxbridge 

Mark Stabb explained the  rolling landscape of the Oak Ridges Moraine highlighting specific areas the Nature Conservancy has been involved in protecting from old hardwood forests to globally rare oak savannah habitats. He promised to lead a hike to one of these areas this fall . Stay tuned !

February and April 2017
January and February 2016
September to November 2015


      (underlined text links to reviews)

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 

December 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.

A list of birds seen is on our website.   

Good Birding !  Derek Connelly

Feeder Tour Bird List

Special Events
December 27th, 2017 - Uxbridge Christmas Bird Count

2017 CBC Event Review

2017 CBC Results

December 30th, 2017 - Beaverton Christmas Bird Count

Thanks again for all your help counting birds last week. It was cold but not as cold as today. The results this year were not as good as the last few years but that is not a result of our efforts. We were lacking winter finches and open water and as a result our number of species was reduced by at least 10 species. We saw 39 species on count day and another two during count week.

Your efforts resulted in record numbers of Dark-eyed Juncos, Northern Cardinals, Winter Wrens and Red-bellied Woodpeckers. The Winter Wrens were a complete surprise even though they have been seen on the count before. Another significant surprise was the number of Red-bellied Woodpeckers. We saw 28 this year compared to our previous record of 16 last year. It is always nice to see Snowy Owls and we saw 5 this near, all in the Simcoe Street area between Cannington and Woodville. Large flocks of Snow Buntings were seen across our circle.

You can see all the results by clicking on the link below, where you will notice the important role played by our feeder watchers. They accounted for count week species of Cedar Waxwings and Red-winged Blackbirds as well as our only sightings of Winter Wrens and Brown-headed Cowbirds.

Thanks again for your help. Hope to see all of you next year on Sunday December 30th.

2017 CBC Results

Saturday, November 25, 2017 - Christmas Bird Count for Kids

Another CBC4Kids is in the books. Here is how it went according to the numbers. 

Species observed: 12  (last year was 20)

Total number of birds: 110  (last year was 435)

The day started out with a little drizzle, but stopped and birders stayed dry.  There were several returning participants. Everyone learned about birds and bird watching, and had a pleasant time outdoors.  Thanks to everyone for creating a great day of learning.

Saturday, November 4, 2017 - Lake Simcoe Field Trip

James Kamstra of North Durham Nature led a group of 10 to the southeast shoreline area of Lake Simcoe to search for staging migratory waterbirds.  They stopped at several areas where they could get good vantage views of the lake. 

 Places to look included Holme’s Point and Corner Park, on the Georgina side, Brock Soccer Park, and the ends of some Brock concession roads.    All three species of scoters were seen off Holme’s Point including a male Surf Scoter, three female Black Scoters and a couple pair of White-winged Scoters.  There were many Common Loons bouncing in the offshore waters. Mark Dorriesfield picked out a Red-throated Loon and another distant bird that looked very much like a Pacific Loon but was so far out that it was hard to be certain.  A large tight raft of about 1000 ducks out from Cedar Beach consisted or Redheads and Greater Scaups.  At least 1000 Red-breasted Mergansers were scattered more broadly along the lake’s eastern waters, as well as numerous Bonaparte’s Gulls, Common Goldeneyes, Long-tailed Ducks and a handful of Horned Grebes.  Lake Simcoe is clearly an important staging area for waterbirds in November.  

Sunday, September 17th - Happy Valley Hike with Mark Stabb

Tree planting in rows. Weeds mowed down between. A variety of mushrooms. Note the orientation indicates growth when the tree was standing. The giant serpent like tree, can we hold it up ! When a giant falls in the forest the open meadow provides the light for the next generation of trees. Intrigued?  Please visit our photo gallery to see photos taken on this hike.

Saturday April 8th, 2017 – Waterfowl on Lake Scugog

On April 8th, 14 “waterfowlers” joined Geoff Carpentier as we searched the Port Perry waterfront and nearby areas for ducks, geese and swans. The pickings were at first slim because the ice had gone out on Lake Scugog and the birds were widely scattered . An Osprey was a nice treat along the causeway and several ducks were visible in the Osler Track. Northern Shoveler, Mallard, Ring-necked Duck, Northern Pintail, Bufflehead and Common Merganser were found. From here, Geoff took the group to the Nonquon Sewage lagoons, where he had arranged a permit for the group to enter. Now we hit the jackpot as hundreds of ducks of several species were found. A  muddy walk along the northern berm of the lagoons yielded: Mallard, Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, Common Golden-eye, Canada Goose and Mallard. Other nice birds for the day were Tree Swallow and Fox Sparrow. We all had a nice day on this cool early April morning! Thx to all who came out and shared the adventure.

February and March 2017
April and November 2016
February and March 2016
September to December 2015


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).

                                     - ON Conservation Awards - click on the underlined text to nominate a worthy candidate by March 25th.

Bird Studies Canada

Durham Region Field Naturalists

Pickering Field Naturalists - Thursday March 2nd, 2017 - 40th Anniversary Celebrations!

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 - 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