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February 18, 2023 - Lake Ontario Waterfront Birding
Eight birders joined Geoff Carpentier and Derek Connelly as we explored some of the waterfront areas of south Durham. We started at the east side of Frenchman's Bay where our first bird was a Northern Harrier! Then the chilly wind encouraged us to move to the western shore of the bay so the wind was at our back! From here we saw three species of swans and many ducks. From here we traveled eastward to Cranberry Marsh where a variety of land birds put on a great show for us. Included amongst the flurry of "small things" was a beautiful adult Bald Eagle. The next stop was Whitby harbour to look for a Snowy Owl, but alas it was not there when we were. After that we headed out to search for small owls but again dipped, although we did find a nice owl pellet from a presumed Long-eared Owl. We ended the adventure at Pringle Creek, where Derek somehow spotted a totally hidden Belted Kingfisher - don't know how he saw that one but good on ya mate! An so ended our adventure - not a big species list but a nice one!
November 13, 2022 - Lake Simcoe Waterfowl
A group of eight hearty birders braved a chilly morning to gaze at ducks and other waterfowl that stage annually at Lake Simcoe. The first stop was more productive wind-wise than duck-wise, but a Cooper's Hawk teed up in the parking lot and a fly-by Bald Eagle carrying a duck breakfast was a treat. The next stops came through with calmer weather and thousands of waterfowl of 14 species (plus Common Loon and Horned Grebe). On Lake Simcoe large flocks of Red-breasted Mergansers flying hither and thither out over the lake as well as small groups of dainty Bonaparte's Gulls. On the water we had great comparisons of female Red-breasted and Common Mergansers, fancy male Hooded Mergansers, beefy White-winged and Surf Scoters, as well as Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, and Horned Grebes. The Beaverton Lagoons then produced tight rafts of hundreds of Aythya ducks, which gave the opportunity to look at identification between Greater and Lesser Scaup, gawk at over 1000 Redheads, and pick out a couple male Ring-necked Ducks out of the bunch. All in all a great morning for those who came out! Beaverton Harbour rounded out the day with our first Canada Geese of the day (finally!) and some male Common Mergansers. All in all a great outing for those who faced the wintry weather.
October 15, 2022 - Life in a Wetland
A rainy fall day but the sunshine held for an hour and a half as Cara led us through the Nonquon wetlands. Her many years at the Nonquon and skills as an outdoor educator were evident as we learned about the adaptations of the wetland inhabitants to the approaching winter. A bird highlight was when she spotted a Fox Sparrow, an uncommon migrant feeding in the leaves.
Many thanks to the DDSB for letting us use the David Caroll classroom at the Nonquon, warmth, washrooms and live animals adds a special bonus to a nature walk. Cara has recently left the DDSB Nonquon employment and works for Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority. We hope she continues to volunteer on our walks here in North Durham. Thanks Cara!
October 2, 2022 - Mushrooms and Lichens with James and Lynda Kamstra
Twelve participants came out on this fine autumn day accompanied by the leaders to learn about the strange worlds of mushrooms from James Kamstra, and lichens from Lynda Kamstra. While the mushrooms were not as abundant as last year, many eyes were able to find a good variety in the mature mixed forest. Lynda came equipped with a portable digital microscope to look at structures of lichens growing on bark.
September 17, 2022 -Scugog River in September – An Exploration by Canoe - Bev and Jay Thibert
It was an early launch on Saturday, September 17 for nine North Durham Nature paddlers. At 7:30 a.m. the Scugog River was calm, the temperature a was a warm 14 C and the winds were light from the east. The Canada Geese were calling from the far shore, alert to our presence. At this location, east of village of Valentia, the river is wide and just beginning its journey to Lindsay and beyond. The west shore is lined with homes and the east is an expansive wetland butting up against farmland. The group examined the diversity of plant life among the cattails and the aquatic plants that our paddles dipped into. We saw several ducks including Wood Duck and Mallard and Kingfishers were still on the hunt in the shallow waters. We traveled north for a few kilometres were the river starts to narrow and observed a large eagle nest in the top of a White Pine tree. Thanks to all who joined this group and for the contributions they made in learning about the flora and fauna that we saw.
May 15th, 2022 - Migrant Birding - Mark Dorriesfield
Eight members joined Mark and ventured out to look for migrant and breeding birds alike. The Beaver River Wetland provided great views of Yellow Warblers and Common Yellowthroat, while further in the forest a pair of Black-and-White Warblers eventually delighted the group with excellent views of their creeping up and down trunks. Other species played harder to see, with it noted being more "bird listening" than "birdwatching", though a Great Crested Flycatcher teed up nicely and a Green Heron calling and flying above the forest was a surprise.
After the hike a handful of Least, Spotted, and Solitary Sandpipers were observed with a male Blue-winged Teal, and elsewhere a couple Bobolinks showed off nicely to end the day.
May 7th, 2022 - Wildflower Walk: Spring Ephemerals - Derek Connelly and Mark Humphrey
Seven spring ephemerals plus other wildflowers were identified by eight budding naturalists this past Saturday in the Uxbridge Countryside Preserve!
Visitors from Lindsay, Whitby and Oshawa joined Uxbridge locals to explore the trails of the Countryside preserve in search of these short lived native plants. We will return again in two weeks to witness the first of the summer plants.
Check out the Wildflowers of North Durham facebook page for photos coming soon!
April 10th, 2022 - Signs of Spring - James Kamstra
10 members attended this entertaining walk while looking at plants, trees and a few flowers. There were very few birds but it was a lovely outing nonetheless through this hardwood and mixed forest setting in Glen Major.
March 12th, 2022 - Animal Tracking and Signs - Cara Gregory and Lynda Kamstra
A fresh snowfall just before the Animal Tracking hike on March 12th - what luck! Cara & Lynda had a full hike with 10 participants at Secord Forest near Goodwood.
With all eyes looking, we managed to find track activity: fox/coyote, mink/weasel, red squirrel, ruffed grouse, and possibly deer! With the fluffy snow, it was difficult to find a clear print so we discussed how other clues such as track pattern, habitat, and behaviour could be used to help with the identification. Evidence of pileated woodpeckers, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, and beaver were also observed. We even found evidence of the less desirables including holes of the Emerald Ash Borer. Cara had a backpack full of animal artifacts including jaws, fur, and scat which were helpful in discussing other survival topics.
February 19th, 2022 - Birdfeeder Tour with Derek Connelly
Winter snow blowing and -20 C wind chill was not what NDN had in mind for an out of doors Covid friendly tour of bird feeders! The birds however were sticking to feeders so if we could find any shelter , we could see what feeders they liked. While six human participants had shown an interest in the tour the weather cut numbers down to three. Birds however were finding the feeders the best place to be in the storm.
The tour started at Derek Connelly’s where after signing in with masks on we entered the warm home and had great views of the garden . Two main feeding stations on poles with baffles were looking after about eight species of birds with goldfinches dominating the scene. Tube feeders of different designs and wooden box like shacks with perches were the feeder styles. Participants had bird experience and bird Apps and one individual was involved in the Breeding Bird Atlas this year. They were all interested in setting up more feeders and keen to see what others are doing.
Our second stop was a quick look at Gerry Conyers heated bird bath and his feeder set up on his upper deck . Gerry backs on to the Barton trail so his birds have a forest to live in. Next stop was Ann and Alan Wells farm near Lakeridge Rd . Ann guided us into their small old century home past a warm fire and out the back to the backyard feeders Alan provided a friends recipe for “suet” which he puts into holes drilled into a cut branch of a tree which he hangs. He also offered plans for making a bird feeder as many of his were homemade. Ann told us of the Red-tailed Hawk which one day was sitting right on her back porch! Next we drove back along O’Neil Rd through a white out wondering if we might spot the Snow Buntings Ann had spotted this morning . We barely made it to Brock Street through the blowing snow then off to Geoff Carpentier’s as our final stop.
Geoff bundled up and joined us outside leading us around back. His small acreage has a diversity of plants and he has a number of feeding stations including a covered patio at the house where he scatters cracked corn. Birds here were very active and a number of Northern cardinals were seen. Geoff explained his seed preferences, feeding strategies and information about another bird App for bird call identification. The wind was not letting up unfortunately and the cold temperature while keeping birds at the feeder was sending us back to our warm cars and home to hot beverages!
Many thanks to Lynda for coordinating the sign up, Derek, Gerry , Ann and Alan and Geoff for hosting us, and to Miriam, Cyndi and Brian who braved the cold to join Derek on his annual Feeder tour.
January 30th, 2022 - Photography Hike with Jay Thibert - 9 - 11 a.m.
The landscapes and light of winter can delight the photographers eye. Join Jay Thibert with your camera and questions to explore winter photography. This will be an informal and social outing that takes place from 9 AM to 11 AM. All skill levels are welcome as we capture fast moving chickadees and the long shadows of winter.
Saturday November 6, 2021: Waterfowl and Other Waterbirds on Lake Simcoe
James Kamstra led an enthusiastic group looking for migrant waterfowl along the south shore of Lake Simcoe. Geoff and others helped with spotting, and there were up to five scopes in use at one time! Nine species of waterfowl were spotted on this calm, sunny day, along with had 45 loons and 2 Horned Grebes. A great day out!
Friday October 22, 2021: Health Benefits of a Walk in Nature
With Derek Connelly and Pat Baldwin
A very cold 5C windy morning greeted the 5 participants on this fall hike. Despite the cold, the group did spend two hours in the Uxbridge Countryside Preserve & received the benefits of forest therapy.
Pat had a number of stops planned to explain the Japanese Forest Bathing concept. After orientation to the Preserve map and post system by Derek Connelly, and a quick yoga stretch led by Pat, we began our 2 km stroll.
The sounds of the Uxbridge Brook, the attention to birds and nature's sounds (even if hard of hearing), the visual stimuli of 'nature's fractals' or patterns in the forest and meadow scenes, and the gases/phytoncides given off by trees all worked together to make us healthier and to heal us.
Studies show lowered heart rate & blood pressure and if repeated regularly the body defends and heals itself. Pat explained the benefits of these volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or 'essential oils' given off by trees which we breathe or contact when we touch the bark are because of their purpose for trees. The essential oils have natural antimicrobial and insecticidal qualities that protect the tree from germs and parasites which help our immune system.
Participants were from Oshawa, Stouffville, Port Perry, Uxbridge, Cannington & Georgina. Thanks all for joining us & to Pat for enlightening us about forest therapy!
Report by Derek Connelly
Saturday August 21st, 2021; 10:30 am - National Flight of the Monarch
Led by Derek Connelly, we counted the monarchs before they head to Mexico! Wandering the Uxbridge Countryside Preserve our group learned about monarchs, their life cycle and migration and tallied as many monarchs as we could find as a part of the National Flight of the Monarch event.
Saturday October 3rd, 2020; 10:00 am – Autumn Forest and Fungi Walk at North Walker Woods - (2 hour duration)
It was a fresh autumn day, when the subterranean strands of fungal mycelium sent their spore-producing mushrooms to the surface to impress the humans. Taking advantage of this opportunity James Kamstra led a hike into the rich forest at North Walker Woods followed by 13 participants eager to learn what they could about these strange life forms. Many species were encountered ranging from the diminutive conical Mycenas, various Polypores, banded Turkeytails, smoking Puffballs, Aborted Entolomas and abundant delectable Honey Mushrooms.
Past Special Events
2020 Christmas Bird Count Results
Uxbridge hits new record, Beaverton not far behind! -Thank you all!
Both north Durham counts benefited from the influx of northern finches adding to the Christmas lists. Uxbridge’s hit 61 species surpassing its previous high of 53 in 2014. Beaverton hit 55 species its third highest. Participation was up for both counts in particular Uxbridge’s count and weather in Uxbridge was clear making conditions ideal. Beaverton’s weather was poor but the birds showed up though in smaller numbers and Feeder watchers found the diversity. Evening and Pine Grosbeaks, Common and Hoary Redpolls, Pine Siskins, Red Crossbills , Bohemian Waxwings were all seen in Uxbridge with Common Redpoll flocks (totaling over 2000) topping the individual count which was also a new high almost 12,000 total birds for Uxbridge. Follow the link for bird lists for 2020 CBC. Note minor changes may occur if rare bird species are rejected and late reports added.
2020 Butterfly Counts
June/July, 2020 - Summary - Thank you to all participants!
Oshawa (Sunday, June 28)
13 participants formed 7 parties
We had a total of 41 species and 2246 individuals.
Results (click on underlined link to view results)
Sunderland (Sunday, July 5)
Thank you so much for all participants who contributed on this exceptionally hot day. Could not have done it without you.
The real highlight of the count was an Atlantis Fritillary found and photographed by Rayfield Pye. Not only was it a new species for the Sunderland Count, but it had not been previously recorded in Durham Region. Record high numbers of Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and Silver-spotted Skippers turned up.
Results (click on underlined link to view results)
Butterfly Guides for sale! "A Pocket Guide to Butterflies of Southern and Eastern Ontario (and Southwestern Quebec)" by Rick Cavasin are available for purchase from NDN for $14. Please e-mail NDN's Treasurer Kim Adams at email@example.com to pay through e-transfer, and to arrange pick-up/drop off of the guide. A portion of the proceeds goes to support NDN.
Christmas Bird Counts
15th Annual Uxbridge Bird Count Results - December 27th, 2019
44 species 5157 individual birds
24% of birds seen were starlings
Fog and limited open water reduced numbers
Swamp sparrow unusual . Details on attached links
Beaverton Bird Count - December 30th, 2019
Sunday July 14th, 2019 – Oshawa Butterfly Count
Sunday July 7th, 2019 – Sunderland Butterfly Count
The late spring butterflies emerged a week or two later and therefore some of the regulars were missed or in very low numbers on the Sunderland count.
The Oshawa Count was delayed by two weeks since I had to travel north with work. This was a blessing since many of the later species are usually missed on this count such as hairstreaks and sedge skippers. The 53 species was the second highest species recorded in the 25 years of this count! The Hickory Hairstreak which I found near Utica was a new species for the count.
Thank you so much to all the participants who came out to help find all these butterflies.
Click on the following links for the results: 2019 Butterfly Count Results
June 2019 - Beaver River Walk - Beaver River Wetland Rail Trail
6 club members joined Geoff as we hiked the rail trail through part of Beaver River Marsh. Lots of birds delighted us including American Bittern, Green Heron, Sora, Marsh Wren and Virginia Rail.
On the way to the starting point we were treated to spectacular views of a pair of Sandhill Cranes that took an unprecedented interest in some Turkey Vultures that were sitting in a field. At first we thought the vultures might be scavenging on a dead crane because they were so close to each other but later Geoff entered the field with permission of the landowner and determined that there was no that crane there. Not sure why the vultures were there but it was certainly a happier ending than we anticipated!
June 2019 - Bird Loop Walk - Uxbridge Countryside Preserve
Sixteen people participated in yesterday’s walk in gorgeous sunshine! Four NDN members including Kim & Anne Adams who helped with bird ID and anecdotes; many visitors from the GTA; and 4 ORTA members.
Bird activity was quiet however the bird houses guaranteed three species with good views. Indigo Bunting was a highlight! Ovenbird & Red-eyed Vireos demonstrated and their calls were heard by all a number of times. Green Frogs, Grey Treefrog, Painted Turtle were other sightings.
Thanks to Kim for explaining the Apps and Anne for spotting the treefrog and other birds. Others added their own bird experiences making for an enjoyable morning.
Saturday, March 17th, 2018 - 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!
Event Archives - 2019
January: Feeder Tour 2019 - Derek Connelly
February 2019: Winter Wetland Snowshoe Adventure - Friends of Nonquon
March 2018 - Bird Photography - Stephen Wright
April - Amphibians - Friends of Nonquon
April - Forest Bathing - Patricia Baldwin
May - Frog Walk - Canoe Hike - Jay Thibert
May - Spring Wildflowers of the Uxbridge Countryside Preserve trails (two times) - Derek Connelly
May - Bird Hike - Derek Connelly
May - Birds and Wetland on Scugog Island - James Kamstra
June - Evening Marsh Birds at the Beaver River Wetland - Geoff Carpentier
June - Bird Loop Hike - Uxbridge Countryside Preserve - Derek Connelly
August - Native Plants - Derek Connelly
September - Hawk Watch in Cranberry Marsh - Geoff Carpentier
September - Trees - Patricia Baldwin
October - Mushroom Walk at Glen Major Forest - James Kamstra
October - Beaver River Wetland Hike - Cara Gregory
November - Lake Simcoe Waterfowl Outing - James Kamstra and Derek Connelly
November - Christmas Bird Count for Kids - Patricia Baldwin
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