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

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.  Please pre-register for this hike by e-mailing

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

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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 who assisted in the monitoring over the 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. Last year we built 45 boxes and will have sold them by this summer. We plan to build another 26 this summer which will use up supplies left by Paul. If you are interested in purchasing a box check out our brochure (Rothfel's Bird Box)and order through Derek or 905-852-5432. Thanks to Paul Rothfels the birds have a safe place to raise their young. 

For 2018  members  John and Lee Fisher will continue monitoring  at the Regan Pit anyone interested in helping let us know.

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 2018 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 every June !

Ontario Nature Youth Summit for Biodiversity and Environmental Leadership

In the 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 of interested teens in participating  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)

April 23rd and May 15th, 2018:  BIOBLITZ WORSHOP at UXBRIDGE LIBRARY

Are you interested in refreshing your knowledge of birds or plants ? Do you like participating in bio blitzes? Well here is your chance ! NDN is on board with the Land Trust team here in Durham.  Geoff Carpentier is our bird expert and Paul LaPorte our wildflower specialist.  Click on the above underlined link for dates and times to add to your calendar and for registration details. To get a good seat arrive early as library space is limited.

May 11th-13th, 2018:  Ontario Bioblitz event at Heber Down Conservation Area (Whitby)

A BioBlitz brings together people of all ages and from all walks of life to find and identify as many species of animals and plants as possible in a specific area over a 24 hour period. At our event, we will work together to count all of the living things in Heber Down Conservation Area.  More information on registration can be found here:   

A nature festival is being planned in conjunction with this year's event, which will include activities for kids, food trucks, renewable energy stations, educational programming, live educational animal shows, D.I.Y. workshops, guided walks and more.  The festival will run from 11am to 5pm on Saturday May 12.

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)

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)

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!

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

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).

                                     - 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 - 2017

Talks - in the process of being updated

Walks - in the process of being updated