PAST  WALKS

See the descriptions if the past year's events below

2024

Saturday June 15, 2024 - Learn Your Butterflies

James Kamstra lead a group of insect-interested folks at the Nonquon Provincial Wildlife Area in search of butterflies and other flying insects. A dozen species of butterflies were observed including a Monarch and the look-alike Viceroy, a few species of smaller skippers, and a highlight catch by James of a Harvester (Ontario's only butterfly with a carnivorous caterpillar). Some eye-catching moths were also observed including showy Four-spotted Forester and Virginia Ctenuchas and more cryptic brown species pretending to be butterflies. Dragonflies were out and about around the wetland as well. A sunny afternoon out and a great day for insects.

Monday June 8, 2024 - Meadowlarks and Bobolinks

Six folk joined Derek Connelly on his quest to see and hear two threatened species of grassland birds on the morning of June 5th. The Eastern Meadowlark and other birds were enjoyed at the Kettle Trail in Uxbridge along with local incites to nature by volunteer Trail Captain Tania Pringle. Next stop was a private farm where hayfields have been managed by Jon Alsop for the birds for over twenty years. Here Bobolinks appeared to be everywhere and everyone had a good look. Some bird sighting firsts for some participants included Orchard Oriole and Eastern Bluebird. Other bird species will appear on eBird for the Kettle Trail, Goodwood.

Saturday May 14, 2024 - World Migratory Bird Day - Carly Davenport, Derek Connelly and Kim Baker

Text from a press release by Barbara Samuels
This past Saturday was a landmark occasion for the Township and its migratory bird population. By proclaiming May 11, 2024 as World Migratory Bird Day in Uxbridge, the community became one of the newest members of a global movement to protect these birds and their habitat. And the Uxbridge Bird Friendly Team led the celebration.

WMBD’s theme this year: protect insects to protect birds.

In collaboration with North Durham Nature, the Bird Team showcased the theme with a guided walk through a local farm, where twenty participants (including counsellors Gord Shreeves and Todd Snooks) had a chance to observe the critical insect/bird relationship firsthand. The Team’s speakers included Kim Baker, Derek Connelly and Carly Davenport.

The farm was chosen because the fields of this 100-acre property are left undisturbed during the breeding cycle of several migratory at-risk species. “It comes as close as we can get under the circumstances to a grassland ecosystem,” explains Team founder Carly Davenport. “So you’ve provided habitat for insects, and for the at-risk species that depend on them for breeding and feeding their young, like bobolinks and eastern meadowlarks.” Both were on view during the walk.

A massive decline in insect populations has in turn triggered a decline in the number of these migratory birds. Environments like the one on display during the walk support both the bugs and the birds, and are just one way of reversing these catastrophic losses. Davenport points out that individuals can make a difference by planting native flowers, shrubs and trees to provide habitat, and ditching cosmetic pesticides and herbicides.


But as distressed homeowners know all too well, bird/window collisions also take a toll on migratory birds — Bird Team member and Executive Director of the Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP) Canada Michael Mesure says bird/building collisions kill over 25,000,000 birds a year in this country, and are a critical threat to these creatures.


“Good news is that people can do something about it,” he notes. “Special window treatments like the Feather Friendly DIY help reduce collisions by over 85%. And you can also make a big difference by turning off unnecessary nighttime lighting during spring and fall migrations. It confuses migrating birds, and can increase bird/building collisions.”

The Bird Friendly Uxbridge Team is a group of local volunteers working to have Uxbridge Township certified as a Bird Friendly City. Both WMBD in Uxbridge and Lights Out Uxbridge (a pledge drive to reduce bird/building collisions) are initiatives designed to win certification from Nature Canada and protect Uxbridge’s avian community.

Wednesday May 1, 2024 - Peepers and Creepers Wetland Walk - James Kamstra

A weekday evening with James exploring wetlands at the Uxbridge Countryside Preserve. The Spring Peeper chorus at the pond was deafening. The group also found Green Frog tadpoles and various aquatic inverts such as Water Scorpion.

Saturday April 27, 2024 - Spring Ephemerals - Derek Connelly and Mark Dorriesfield

Seven undeterred botanists joined Mark and Derek on a rainy Saturday afternoon to search for spring ephemeral wildflowers along a portion of the Uxbridge Countryside Preserve. Although relatively few flowers were open due to the cool, overcast conditions the group got to find an impressive diversity of spring wildflowers.

Saturday April 13, 2024 - Sunset on the Beaver River: Early Marsh Birds - Mark Dorriesfield

Fourteen members joined Mark Dorriesfield for an evening excursion to witness dusk at the Beaver River wetland. Luckily the wind died down and everyone made it despite a flooded road closure. We had great views of numerous harriers coursing over the marsh, both male and female. American Bittern calling during the pre-hike brief but conspicuously silent afterwards, but a pair of Wilson's Snipe put on a great show flying right over the group with it's winnowing display. It looked like the group might dip out on Sandhill Crane, but right at sunset a trio of these birds flew in from the east giving beautiful views in the setting sun. One flew in closer to us and demonstrated its bugling call, also surprising a Sora into calling as well. As dusk settled the previously quiet Swamp Sparrows burst into song across the marsh, and the Spring Peepers and Wood Frogs upped their calling intensities. All in all an excellent evening out!

Saturday March 23, 2024 - Earth Hour Full Moon Night Walk - Derek Connelly and Lynda Kamstra

NDN members joined Derek Connelly and Lynda Kamstra on a chilly but clear Earth Hour along the Transcanada Trail in the Beaver River wetland to celebrate the lightless evening. The stars were clear and bright and Orion and his belt were seen, plus even the moons of Jupiter spied through James' scope. On the wildlife front coyotes did not make themselves known, however a winnowing Eastern Screech-Owl cooperatively sang for the group. A beautiful night to be out, as an alternative to candlelit board games for Earth Hour.

February 3, 2024 – Winter Hike at Grasshopper Park - Jay Thibert

On Saturday, February 3, North Durham Nature members enjoyed a hike on a private 100 acre property just east of Burketon Station. The below freezing temperatures allowed the hikers to stay mostly on top of the frozen snow. We saw the results of the tree planting that was done in the 1960's, through to the 1990's. The blue sky and sunshine was welcomed by all. Many animal tracks - fisher, racoon, fox, coyote. A Hairy Woodpecker, chickadee and Red-tailed Hawk were observed. Thanks to everyone that participated and contributed their knowledge on this outing.

January 27, 2024 – Signs of Nature in Winter- James Kamstra

North Durham Nature held a winter walk to East Cross Forest Conservation Area led by James Kamstra. While there were few birds to be seen, other interesting features were observed including a variety of plants, lichens, mosses and fungi.

2023

November 18, 2023 – Lake Simcoe Waterfowl - Mark Dorriesfield

Yesterday four people joined Mark Dorriefield on a crisp, calm morning on Lake Simcoe for our annual fall waterfowl outing. Highlights included a family of Tundra Swans, all three scoter species and a few lingering shorebirds at Riverview Park, a Cackling Goose among Canadas and distant rafts of a couple thousand+ scaup and Redhead from Thorah Park. A beautiful day to be out!

October 21, 2023 Wetlands of Nonquon - Cara Gregory

 NDN members joined Cara Gregory on a aptly wet and rainy day to explore the wetlands of the nonquon area. Despite the weather the group was in good spirits, and enjoyed Cara's extensive knowledge of the local marshes.

October 14, 2023 – Lake Ontario Watefowl, Late Migrants, and Hawks - Dave Worthington

Eleven members led by Dave Worthington to look for migrant and staging birds. A good variety of waterfowl, as well as several hawks, shorebirds, herons and passerines were observed.

October 1, 2023 – Mushroom and Lichen Hike at North Walker Woods - James and Lynda Kamstra

Thirteen participants came out to hike led by James and Lynda Kamstra. After an unusually dry September there were fewer mushrooms than usual but still enough variety on the forest floor with recent flushes of Honey Mushrooms and Entolomas.

July 1, 2023 – Tricky Sparrows - Derek Connelly

A group of ten NDN members walked the Lafarge reclaimed gravel pit on Canada Day searching for a variety of sparrow species. And we were successful, with eight species detected! While some proved trickier to get good looks at, we had excellent looks at a number of these including highlights of a Vesper Sparrow foraging on the ground close by and Grasshopper Sparrow teed up in the scope. We also made a visit to a newly-colonized Bank Swallow colony in a newly exposed hillside in this former gravel pit.

June 11, 2023 Bobolinks and Meadowlarks - Derek Connelly

Six participants ventured out at 8 am on a cloudy damp morning to explore the Kettle Pond trail in Goodwood and a farm near Sandford. The Walk was advertised as Bobolinks and Meadowlarks and the birds did not disappoint the viewers. Meadowlarks were active at both locations while Bobolinks were much more common at the private 100 acre farm field. Nesting orioles were also observed at Goodwood and Cliff Swallows were nesting at the barn in Sandford. Over 20 species were recorded. Thanks to all who joined us it was fun as everyone shared in the bird spotting and conversation.

June 6, 2023 – Biodiversity by Design at Hedgerow Farms - Derek Connelly

Last Tuesday seventeen guests enjoyed the tour of Hedgerow Farms led by Neil Turnbull, along with his canine sidekick Kona on a sunny breezy day in Brock township. Neil told us the history of their purchase of the land and the start of his successful nursery of trees from around the world. Each tree included a unique story of its significance both from a horticultural viewpoint and design element. We walked around spring fed ponds through a corridor of Grey Birch trees, hedgerows of many trees and enjoyed the first peonies as Tree Swallows swooped into the many bird houses by the open fields. Carolyn Turnbull generously provided snacks and refreshments afterwards in the gallery. Thanks to the Turnbull's for this special visit. Check out their website to learn more https://hedgerow.ca. Photos provided with thanks by Deb Hadfield

May 21, 2023 – Orioles and Orchids at Nonquon NWA and Two Blokes Cidery - James Kamstra
May 13, 2023 – Later Spring Ephemerals - Derek Connelly and Mark Humphrey
April 29, 2023 – Early Spring Ephemerals - Derek Connelly and Mark Humphrey
April 14, 2023 – Nocturnal Amphibians at Crow’s Pass Conservation Area - James Kamstra and Cara Gregory
February 18, 2023 - Lake Ontario Waterfront Birding - Geoff Carpentier

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!

January 20, 2023 – Bare Trees and Winter Habitats at Secord Forest and Wildlife Area - James Kamstra and Cara Gregory

James Kamstra & Cara Gregory will show you how to identify various trees by their bark and buds. We will visit deciduous, mixed and coniferous forests, as well as swamp habitats where different species grow. Who knows? We might even encounter some wildlife!

2022

November 13, 2022 - Lake Simcoe Waterfowl - Mark Dorriesfield

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 - Cara Gregory

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.

April 10th, 2022 - Signs of Spring - James Kamstra

Ten 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

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.

2021

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 21, 2021 - National Flight of the Monarch

Thirteen of us enjoyed a walk sharing knowledge on butterflies & getting together although it was a hot day. James once again provided many facts on monarchs & insects in general. The count unfortunately was dismal with only 2 adults, 1 caterpillar and 1 egg (lower than last year when we had 5 adults & 7 caterpillars). We inspected 900 milkweeds over a 1.5 hour period. An article on the monarch will be coming soon.

2020

Saturday October 3rd, 2020 – Autumn Forest and Fungi Walk at North Walker Woods

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.

Other walks not conducted in 2020 and 2021 due to covid restrictions

2019

November - Christmas Bird Count for Kids - Patricia Baldwin

November - Lake Simcoe Waterfowl Outing - James Kamstra and Derek Connelly

October - Beaver River Wetland Hike - Cara Gregory

October - Mushroom Walk at Glen Major Forest - James Kamstra

September - Trees - Patricia Baldwin

September - Hawk Watch in Cranberry Marsh - Geoff Carpentier

August - Native Plants - Derek Connelly

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

June - Evening Marsh Birds at the Beaver River Wetland - Geoff Carpentier

May - Birds and Wetland on Scugog Island - James Kamstra

May - Bird Hike - Derek Connelly

May - Spring Wildflowers of the Uxbridge Countryside Preserve trails (two times) - Derek Connelly

May - Frog Walk - Canoe Hike - Jay Thibert

April - Forest Bathing - Patricia Baldwin

April - Amphibians - Friends of Nonquon

March - Bird Photography - Stephen Wright

February -  Winter Wetland Snowshoe Adventure - Friends of Nonquon

January:  Feeder Tour - Derek Connelly

© Copyright North Durham Nature