Midland-Penetanguishene Field Naturalists
Socially Distanced Walk With Friends

Sunday Nov. 29, 2020 10 AM

at Simcoe County Forest’s
Martin’s Valley Tract.  
We know this is short notice, but looking at the weather for the next couple of weeks it seems like Nov. 29th will be our best bet for good weather.  The prediction is for a high of 8 degrees, mainly sunny with light winds.  After that we get a week of rain, snow and dropping temperatures followed by a cold windy weekend.  Sometimes you have to strike when the iron is hot – or at least not freezing!  Bob Codd says to think of it as a “Naturalist Flash Mob”. 
 
To get to our meeting point go west on Golf Link Rd from Hwy 93.  When you get to Marshall Rd. turn right into the forest.  Apparently old timers in the area call this intersection Howes Corners.  A short drive will take you to a gate blocking the entrance to the forest.  There is a small parking lot.  The area is popular with mountain bikers.  If the parking lot is full, park along the side of the road, leaving clearance for traffic down the centre.  
 


Watch the Video of our First Ever MPFN Zoom Meeting

Birds of Colombia

On Thursday Nov. 19, 2020 The Midland-Penetanguishene Field Naturalists held their first Zoom meeting, featuring a wonderful presentation by Chris Evans and Ian Cook on their birding trip to Colombia.  
 


MPFN Socially Distanced Walk With Friends

Trip Report Tiny Marsh

Friday Nov. 20, 2020

On Friday morning Nov. 20, 2020 the Midland-Penetanguishene Field Naturalists had another Socially Distanced Walk With Friends starting at the 2nd concession entrance to Tiny Marsh.  

Read Ken’s Outing Repost Here



Stand against MZOs and the crippling of our

Conservation Authorities

Our MPFN interim Vice President Bob Codd recently spoke to the local online newspaper Midland Today about our provincial government’s disturbing and increasing use of MZOs (Minister’s Zoning orders) to allow development on Provincially Significant Wetlands (PSWs) without any public consultation.  

Here’s a link to the article: 

https://www.midlandtoday.ca/local-news/three-letter-acronym-now-a-weapon-of-mass-destruction-in-the-planning-world-critics-say-2890114

And here’s the link to sign on to Ontario Nature’s email campaign against this practice.  

https://ontarionature.good.do/psws/email/?utm_source=midlandtoday.ca&utm_campaign=midlandtoday.ca&utm_medium=referral

Our Ontario Nature Regional Coordinator Barbara Mackenzie-Wynia would like us all to take action on the other big issue facing the province – the looming disaster for our conservation authorities threatened by the inclusion of Schedule 6 in the omnibus bill 229 currently at second reading in the house.  Don’t delay in letting your MPP know what you think about this.  Here’s Barbara’s call to action: 

Dear Nature Network friends and colleagues,

As you are likely aware, earlier this month the Government of Ontario tabled omnibus Budget Bill 229 proposing numerous changes to the Conservation Authorities Act (CAA) that will severely curtail the role of Conservation Authorities in watershed planning and management and undermine efforts to conserve biodiversity and build community resilience to climate change. The changes are contained in Schedule 6 of Bill 229.

Ontario Nature, working in partnership with the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA), Environmental Defence and many other organizations is urging the government to remove Schedule 6 from the bill. I am reaching out today to request that you contribute to this collective effort by contacting your members and others in your networks to raise awareness and ask them to become engaged. 

Bill 229 is already at second reading. Now is the time for people across Ontario to speak up in support of conservation authorities.  You can help by promoting our action alert: https://ontarionature.good.do/conservationauthorities/send/  Close to 12,000 people have signed our Action Alert but we need more folks to sign on.

Even more important, please encourage your friends, neighbours and colleagues to phone their MPPs, and Hon. Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance 416-325-0400 to express their concern, and ask that Schedule 6 be removed from Bill 229. A personal phone call is not easy to ignore and will leave a much stronger impression than an email.

Among the key concerns identified in Schedule 6 are:

  • Narrowing of the scope and powers of Conservation Authorities, impeding the achievement of the overall purpose of the CAA, which is to “provide for the organization and delivery of programs and services that further the conservation, restoration, development and management of natural resources in watersheds in Ontario;”
  • Restricting the duties of Conservation Authorities’ members so that they no longer must act to further the watershed-based mandates of the Conservation Authorities, but rather can act only on behalf of the narrower interests of their respective municipalities;
  • Reducing the ability of Conservation Authorities to act as independent public bodies in land use planning, including removing their ability to seek to appeal municipal planning decisions;
  • Introducing new rights for developers to force fast-tracking of development approvals and to appeal decisions they do not like, without providing the same opportunity to citizens who may wish to challenge decisions that damage the environment; and
  • Giving the Minister new power to overturn a conservation authority’s decision to refuse to issue a development permit.

For more information, please invite your contacts to watch the video of a webinar, co-hosted by CELA, Environmental Defence and Ontario Nature earlier this week:  https://cela.ca/we-need-our-conservation-authorities-webinar/

Thank you so much for your attention and support. Together we can make a difference.

Best regards,

Barbara

_______________________________

Barbara MacKenzie-Wynia,

Regional Coordinator Nature Network 

Barbaraw@ontarionature.org


Diane Saxe, the former Environmental Commissioner for Ontario and newly appointed Deputy Leader of the Ontario Green Party, has also spoken out on this issue: 

When I was the Environmental Commissioner at Queen’s Park, one of the issues I reported on the most was the continuous loss of farms, fields and forests.

When we pave over nature with highways and subdivisions, we create more avenues for climate pollution, wildlife loss, and flood damage.

Doug Ford’s latest attack makes the situation worse.

He wants to make it easier to overturn science-based decisions and allow reckless development where it doesn’t belong – like wetlands and floodplains.

This will cost us.

You know what the ironic part is?

Conservatives are rolling back flood protection at the same time as extreme storms are on the rise due to climate change.

Hurricanes are reaching further inland and making landfall for longer according to a report out this month.

Without forests and fields to absorb it, floodwaters have nowhere to go but our streets and basements.

The average repair cost for a flooded basement is $43,000.

I doubt the Premier will pick up the tab.

Ken, we need to reverse this dangerous move.

Sign our letter asking the government to maintain flood protection. 

Dianne Saxe
Deputy Leader
Green Party of Ontario

“Many of us are old enough to remember the environmental disaster of Hurricane Hazel which led the Progressive Conservative governments of the day under the able leadership of men like George Drew and Leslie Frost to create and strengthen our local Conservation Authorities.  Their forward looking stewardship resulted in a more than 40 year reign of the Conservative Party in the province.  By turning their backs on their own conservation heritage, I feel the current government is guaranteeing they will be gone in four.” 

Ken MacDonald

MPFN Ontario Nature Representative. 

Here are some other links with info on this topic that may give you some ideas for your letters and emails to your MPP. 

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/london/ontario-thames-conservation-authority-1.5807081

http://aware-simcoe.ca/2020/11/proposed-changes-to-conservation-authorities-act-and-planning-act-puts-people-property-and-our-environment-at-risk/

Contact area MPPs:

Jill Dunlop, Simcoe North jill.dunlop@pc.ola.org

Norman Miller, Parry Sound—Muskoka norm.miller@pc.ola.org

 Doug Downey, Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte doug.downey@pc.ola.org


And finally some good news that shows
grass-roots efforts can make a difference. 

 Seven young Ontarians, supported by Ecojustice, have won a significant hard fought victory against the provincial government.  

For the first time ever, a Canadian court has ruled that fundamental rights protected under the Charter can be threatened by climate change and citizens have the ability to challenge a Canadian government’s action on the climate crisis under the highest law in the land.

The news comes almost a year to the day that our youth clients sued the Doug Ford government for weakening Ontario’s climate targets and violating Ontarians’ Charter rights to life, liberty, and security of the person. In its ruling, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice delivered a rebuke of the Ford government’s attempt to shut down the youth-led lawsuit and affirmed that our clients’ case will be heard in full.

According to the court’s ruling: “This case is of public interest, in that it transcends the interest of all Ontario residents, not just the Applicants’ generation or the ones that follow.”

Here’s a link to find out more about this ongoing battle for the future of the younger generation. 

https://ecojustice.ca/gen-climate-action-our-biggest-climate-lawsuit-yet/



 
Our Next MPFN Socially Distanced Walk With Friends
Friday Nov. 20, 2020 10 AM
Tiny Marsh Concession 2 entrance (east side of Marsh)
 
Looking ahead at the forecast for the next couple of weeks it looks like this coming Friday will be our best chance to have the weather cooperate with our next outing. 
And so our next MPFN Socially Distanced Walk with Friends will be Friday Nov. 20, 2020 10 AM at Tiny Marsh Concession 2 entrance (east side of the Marsh)
To get to our meeting spot, turn west on Concession Rd. 2W off of County Rd. 6.  Follow the concession past the last house into the wooded area of the marsh.  You will pass an intersection with a boarded up outhouse.  Keep going straight on (don’t take the road to the right).  The road will curve to the left, following a stream, and come to a small parking area.  Watch out for potholes. 
We’ll aim for about a 2 hour walk.  No washrooms on site so go before you come. 
We should have our new MPFN toques available at this walk.  Same price as our ball caps, 1 toque $20, 2 toques for $30.  Colours – Navy and Black, one size fits all.  See the attached file for sample images.  We still have some ball caps available for sale as well.  And we will bring along some of our Magic Wye Bean Soup mix – 1 bag for $3, 2 bags for $5.  Please try to bring exact change if you’d like to make a purchase. 
There are a couple of new safety measures in effect at this outing as we try to keep our walks safe for all members.  Someone will be recording attendance, making sure that we have contact info for all participants, just in case any contact tracing needs to be done.  Be sure that you check in with this person. 
Also, though it is not absolutely required that masks be worn outdoors as long as social distancing is observed, we’d ask that all participants carry a mask with them.  That way if you find yourself in a situation where social distancing is difficult (trying to see that rare bug or wildflower!) you can put your mask on until you’re able to get the requisite 6 feet away.  You may want to carry some hand sanitizer with you as well. 
We ask participants in these outings to practice social distancing (stay approximately one Trumpeter Swan’s wingspan apart), wear masks if you like but not required outdoors as long as you practice social distancing, and do not take part if you are experiencing any flu-like symptoms.  We realize that many of our members are in the high-risk age group so we understand if some members may decide to give these opportunities a pass.  But we feel a socially distanced walk in the outdoors is a fairly low risk activity.  We are not expecting large groups but if we have a surprising turn out we can always split up into smaller groups.  
We ask you to look on these walks, not as official club outings, but rather low key get-togethers of friends to enjoy nature together. 

And remember Ken will be bringing along our brand new MPFN toques. They’re the same price as our popular ball caps – 1 toque for $20 or 2 for $30. Just in time for Christmas!

Two for $30. A real bargain!!


Action Alert – We Need Our Conservation Authorities

MPFN President Susan Hirst wants all our members to be aware of the Ontario government’s plans for Conservation Authorities.

On November 5th, the Government of Ontario revealed its plans to severely curtail the role of Conservation Authorities in watershed planning and management. Schedule 6 of omnibus Budget Bill 229 proposes numerous changes to the Conservation Authorities Act (CAA) that will undermine efforts to conserve biodiversity and build community resilience to climate change.

Bill 229 is the most recent in a disturbing trend of using omnibus budget measures bills to make substantial changes to environmental laws, thereby sidestepping the public’s right to comment under the Environmental Bill of Rights.

We need to call on the government to retain the current mandate of the Province’s 36 Conservation Authorities.

The Canadian Environmental Law Association will be hosting a webinar in partnership with Environmental Defence and Ontario Nature on Tuesday, Nov 17th at 7pm about the proposed changes to the Conservation Authorities Act and to the conservation authorities’ role in land use planning. These changes are contained in the Ontario government’s recently tabled omnibus budget measures Bill 229.

Action Alert from CELA:

Action Alert – We Need Our Conservation Authorities

Here is a link to Ontario Nature’s petition:

Conservation Authorities Under Fire



 
MPFN Socially Distanced Walk With Friends Trip Report
Penetanguishene Rotary Park Do-over
Sunday Nov. 8, 2020 
 
 
On Sunday Nov. 8, 2020 the Midland-Penetanguishene Field Naturalists had another Socially Distanced Walk With Friends at Penetanguishene’s Rotary-Champlain-Wendat Park.  This was a do-over of the previous week’s walk.  The weather was much nicer than the previous weekend – plus 20 degrees with lots of sunshine.  What a difference a week can make!  We had a record turnout for this walk with more than 30 participants.
 
 
 


 
MPFN Socially Distanced Walk with Friends
Penetanguishene Rotary Park Do-over
Sunday Nov. 8, 2020 10 AM
 
The weather didn’t cooperate very well with last weekend’s Nov. 1st Socially Distanced Walk With Friends at Penetanguishene Rotary-Champlain-Wendat Park, but a few hardy (or is that foolhardy?) naturalists did go for a somewhat abbreviated walk.  It was great weather for ducks and we saw hundreds.  
 
We decided that this walk deserves a do-over so we’re taking a mulligan.  We’ll return to Penetang’s beautiful waterfront park for our next walk on Sunday Nov. 8, 2020 10 AM.  That way all you sensible MPFN members who stayed in bed and enjoyed your extra hour of sleep won’t have to miss out on this great location.  
 


Important News from the

Midland-Penetanguishene Field Naturalists

And Our First Ever

“Zoom General Meeting”

During these pandemic times the MPFN executive had their first meeting on Zoom a few days ago. 
As a result, there are some things that all members should know. 
 
  • Great news – we have a VP!!
  • The club moves to a January membership renewal
  • Preparations for a modified Christmas Bird Count are Underway
Midland-Penetanguishene Field Naturalists
First Ever
“Zoom” General Meeting”
 
Birding in Columbia
 
 
Thurs. Nov. 19, 2020 7 PM on the Zoom platform
Guest Speakers: Ian Cook and Chris Evans
“Birding in Colombia”


Calling all Simcoe County and Area Birders!
MPFN Members Ken MacDonald & Bob Codd have become the “principal birders” for two Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas squares that cover Midland, Parts of Penetanguishene and Port McNicoll. They’ll need assistance form MPFN members to accomplish the task of documenting the birds that breed right here in our own backyards. Check back for updates and important information. Everyone can contribute so stay tuned!
The following is courtesy of Ian Cook, Regional Coordinator for the BBA’s Simcoe region.
 
Ontario’s third Breeding Bird Atlas is set to kick off in the spring of 2021, and we’re looking for birders to make this the most successful effort yet.
The atlas is a five year project intended to document the presence and distribution of all the birds that breed in the province, and to provide data on their relative abundance. Previous atlases were undertaken from 1981 to 85, and 2001 to 2005. Ontario is one of the first jurisdictions anywhere to begin its third atlas, providing valuable information on population and distribution trends over time.
Data is collected by citizen scientists (volunteers like you and me) in the field. The entire province is divided into 10km x 10km squares. The goal is to achieve a MINIMUM of 20 hours of birding effort in every square, recording the birds observed during the breeding season, and documenting evidence of breeding (nest-building, courtship display, feeding young, etc). In addition, volunteers are asked to complete 25 point counts where all the birds seen and heard at specified points in the square are recorded.
I’m the regional coordinator for the Simcoe County atlas region. My priority is to try to assign a birder to each square in the region. This person will ensure that the minimum effort is met in that square. It doesn’t mean others can’t submit records for the square, and it doesn’t mean that the person assigned a square can’t do atlassing elsewhere. 20 hours spread over 5 years is not a huge effort. It could be completed with one visit every year, although the more time spent in the square the better. Personally I find it’s a great way to give you incentive to get out there, sharpen your birding skills, and discover lovely new birdy spots in your square.
Ideally I’d like the birders I recruit to “adopt” a square to be experienced. By that I mean be familiar with most of the birds likely to breed in the region, and be proficient with at least the more common bird songs likely to be encountered. If you are a more novice birder, or unsure of your skills, there will still be lots of opportunity to participate and to sharpen your skills.
More information including detailed protocols and data collection software is available at the atlas’ website at https://www.birdscanada.org/birdmon/onatlas/main.jsp Most importantly, register at https://www.birdscanada.org/birdmon/onatlas/register.jsp
If you think this is for you, contact me at simcoe@birdsontario.org About two-thirds of the squares have already been assigned. If you have a square you would particularly like to adopt or a general region of interest let me know; I will try to accommodate. Remember though, if your favourite birding spot is in a square assigned to someone else, you are still more than welcome to provide data. This really is a fun project for those of you who, like me, love to get out in nature and have an interest in birds.
 
Good birding!
Ian Cook


On Saturday morning Oct. 17, 2020 the Midland-Penetanguishene Field Naturalists had a Socially Distanced Walk with Friends on the Trestle Trail between Port McNicoll and Hogg Bay.

Read Ken’s full Outing Report on his Blog



MPFN Sharing Time with Kate Harries

Leave the Leaves

MPFN member Kate Harries writes an excellent blog at returnofthenative.ca You can subscribe to it on her website. In 2019 Ontario Nature awarded its Carl Nunn Media and Conservation Award to Kate. This award is presented to an individual, team or media outlet who has engaged in effective communication on one or more conservation issues. Kate also writes frequently for the Aware Simcoe site. aware-simcoe.ca

Her most recent blog is very timely and records an overheard conversation between a human and a tree.



Sharing Time with the MPFN, Trumpeters and Gobys

MPFN member Bob Codd has a couple of stories to share with the group.  The first story is about a family of Trumpeters, the beautiful birds featured in our new club logo.

Read Ken’s latest Blog posts here



The next MPFN Socially Distanced Walk with Friends

Saturday October 17, 2020 10:00 AM

Trestle Trail Port McNicoll

Our next socially distanced walk with friends will be Saturday Oct. 17, 2020 at 10 AM.
We’ll meet at the S.S. Keewatin parking lot at the foot of Talbot St. in Port McNicoll.  From there we’ll walk along the Trestle Trail towards Hogg Bay and return by the same route.  It should be a 90 minute to 2 hour walk on a level easy trail.  
This outing should give us all a chance to be a part of The Cornell Lab/eBird’s Global October Big Day.  Here’s some more info about this worthwhile worldwide project:

Mark your calendars for October Big Day—17 October 2020! Big Days are a 24 hour opportunity to celebrate the birds both near you and around the world.

October Big Day

In addition, this year’s October Big Day 2020 is happening during the first Global Bird Weekend. The goal of Global Bird Weekend is to make October 17-18 the biggest ever birding weekend and support BirdLife International’s appeal to end illegal bird trade. One of Global Bird Weekend’s aims is to have more than 25,000 people submit eBird checklists on 17 October—will you be one of them?

https://ebird.org/canada/news/october-big-day-2020-bigger-than-ever

Of course, we’ll be just as interested in all the flora, fauna and other parts of nature that we see on the walk, but it will be quite special to join with birders all over the world doing something good for bird conservation. 

It’s quite easy to get to the Keewatin Dock. Drive east on Highway 12. Just past the traffic signals at Ogden’s Beach Rd (Martyrs Shrine) there is a left turn lane onto Talbot Street. If approaching from the East or South, use Triple Bay Rd. to get to Talbot street

Drive down Talbot, through Port McNicoll until you see the Keewatin on your right. Big white steamship. You can’t miss it!

Beware of the driveway!! The entrance into the parking lot has lots of ruts and holes but is easily passable with a bit of care. But the exit is much, much worse. There are numerous deep potholes that are impossible to navigate around. I would strongly suggest that everyone enter AND exit via the entrance driveway. BC

There are a couple of new safety measures in effect at this outing as we try to keep our walks safe for all members.  Someone will be recording attendance, making sure that we have contact info for all participants, just in case any contact tracing needs to be done.  Be sure that you check in with this person. 
 
Also, though it is not absolutely required that masks be worn outdoors as long as social distancing is observed, we’d ask that all participants carry a mask with them.  That way if you find yourself in a situation where social distancing is difficult (trying to see that rare bug or wildflower!) you can put your mask on until you’re able to get the requisite 6 feet away.  You may want to carry some hand sanitizer with you as well.  
 
We ask participants in these outings to practice social distancing (stay approximately one Trumpeter Swan’s wingspan apart), wear masks if you like but not required outdoors, and do not take part if you are experiencing any flu-like symptoms.  We realize that many of our members are in the high-risk age group so we understand if some members may decide to give these opportunities a pass.  But we feel a socially distanced walk in the outdoors is a fairly low risk activity.  We are not expecting large groups but if we have a surprising turn out we can always split up into smaller groups.  
 
We ask you to look on these walks, not as official club outings, but rather low key get-togethers of friends to enjoy nature together. 
 
Those planning to participate may wish to RSVP to this message so that we can look out for you but last minute arrivals are also welcome.
 
See you on the Big Day, Sat. Oct. 17th! 

 



MPFN Socially Distanced Walk With Friends Trip Report 

Uhthoff Trail Coldwater Oct. 3, 2020

On Saturday Oct. 3, 2020 several 2 legged Midland-Penetanguishene Field Naturalist members and one 4 legged associate member (Piper Codd) had another Socially Distanced Walk With Friends on the Uhthoff Trail starting at Coldwater and walking west towards Fesserton.  After finishing our walk on the Uhthoff Trail, several members went on to Big Rock Landing where the North River crosses Lawson Line.  

Read Ken’s Outing report here



Important Breeding Bird Atlas Webinar 

Tuesday night, Oct. 6, 2020 7:30 PM

To all Midland-Penetanguishene Field Naturalist members:
 
If you care about birds you should be sure to register for this important webinar re: the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas. MPFN members Bob Codd and Ken MacDonald have agreed to be the coordinators for a couple of squares in our area (the squares incorporating Midland, Port McNicoll and a bit of Penetanguishene) but we’ll be looking for lots of help. The webinar will tell you what it’s all about.
 
The Third Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas starts in 2021! And on Tuesday, October 6 from 7:30 – 8:30 pm Eastern, you can join Mike Cadman to find out what the atlas project is about and how you can get involved.
Every 20 years, Ontario birders survey all breeding birds, including owls and marsh birds, across the whole province over a five-year period. These data are vital for conservation and planning. Mike will outline how the project works, how the data are used and how every birder can participate.
Mike Cadman has been a Songbird Biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Service for 28 years. He coordinated the previous two Ontario Atlas projects, and was awarded the Ontario Field Ornithologists’ Distinguished Ornithologist of the year in 2008 and Ontario Nature’s W.W.H. Gunn Conservation Award in 1988.
This webinar is open to all – you do not need to be an OFO member to attend. Note, that this is a Facebook Live event but you do not need a Facebook account to attend.
OFO – Ontario Field Ornithologists
 
 


MPFN Socially Distanced Walk With Friends

Sat. Oct. 3, 2020 10 AM Coldwater/Uhthoff Trail

Our next socially distanced walk with friends will be Saturday Oct. 3, 2020 at 10 AM.
We’ll explore the Uhthoff Trail starting from Coldwater.  There is a parking lot for the trail on the Sturgeon Bay Road entrance to Coldwater (the first exit off of Hwy 12 coming from Midland) just before the Beer Store.  We’re not sure about the status of the washrooms at this trailhead.  Best to go before you come.  
We’ll plan to do a 90 minute to 2 hour walk going west on the trail and returning by the same route.   This is a trail that Robert and Susan Codd (and Piper Codd) know well.  Bob writes of the trail:  
I think folks will enjoy a walk through some interesting and varied habitat.  
There is a natural turn around point marked by 2 bridges in  the wetland section of the walk. For those who may be unfamiliar with the Uhthoff Trail this stretch starts in a kind of suburban setting, quickly transitioning to farmland with some tall mature trees. A bit further along it opens up to the wetlands with a little river and a very scenic view of the changing colour in the distant forests. 
It’s 1.2 kilometers each way on a flat, level, well drained trail. 
Mary, Heather, Sue and I walked that stretch of the Uhthoff Trail recently. We did quite well for Warblers and a few other interesting species. We had a young Scarlet Tanager and two Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, lots of sparrows and about 1500 Red-winged blackbirds.
 
 
After we finish our walk on the Uhthoff Trail, some participants may wish to extend the trip with a visit to the Big Rock Landing at Lawson Line where there are often some interesting waterfowl.  You may want to pack a lunch or snack.  Also there is an excellent cafe, Em’s Cafe, on the main street of Coldwater where participants can grab a quick lunch. 
 
There will be a couple of new safety measures in effect at this outing as we try to keep our walks safe for all members.  Someone, likely Susan MacDonald, will be recording attendance, making sure that we have contact info for all participants, just in case any contact tracing needs to be done.  Be sure that you check in with this person. 
Also, though it is not absolutely required that masks be worn outdoors as long as social distancing is observed, we’d ask that all participants carry a mask with them.  That way if you find yourself in a situation where social distancing is difficult (trying to see that rare bug or wildflower!) you can put your mask on until you’re able to get the requisite 6 feet away.  You may want to carry some hand sanitizer with you as well. 
 
We ask participants in these outings to practice social distancing (stay approximately one Trumpeter Swan’s wingspan apart), wear masks if you like but not required outdoors, and do not take part if you are experiencing any flu-like symptoms.  We realize that many of our members are in the high-risk age group so we understand if some members may decide to give these opportunities a pass.  But we feel a socially distanced walk in the outdoors is a fairly low risk activity.  We are not expecting large groups but if we have a surprising turn out we can always split up into smaller groups.  
We ask you to look on these walks, not as official club outings, but rather low key get-togethers of friends to enjoy nature together. 
Those planning to participate may wish to RSVP to this message so that we can look out for you but last minute arrivals are also welcome. 
 


MPFN Socially Distanced Walk With Friends Report Sunday

Copeland Forest   –   Sept. 20, 2020

On Sun. morning Sept. 20, 2020 several 2-legged members of the Midland-Penetanguishene Field Naturalists and one 4-legged associate member (Piper Codd) had another one of their Socially Distanced Walks with Friends at the Copeland Forest near Horseshoe Valley. 

Stay tuned for the date, time and place of our next Socially Distanced Walk With Friends.  Keep an eye on your emails. 

Read Ken’s report here



September 18 2020

In Memoriam Terry Whittam

Terry Whittam (left) with sister-in-law Judy Whittam and nephew Dan Whittam at the September 2019 meeting of the MPFN

Almost exactly one year ago the Midland-Penetanguishene Field Naturalists gathered for their September meeting at the Wye Marsh to hear Terry Whittam give a great presentation on his monarch butterfly tagging project at Rosetta McLain Gardens in Scarborough.  We had hoped to see Terry’s project in action this fall.  We had also hoped to invite him back for many more presentations on various topics.  Sadly now this cannot be.  Terry passed away on Tuesday of this week.  There is never a great time to be ill or to mourn, but these times of restricted gatherings of family and friends make it especially difficult.  I’m sure all MPFN members extend their heartfelt sympathies to Judy, Dan, and all of Terry’s family.  We are there for you even when we can’t be there for you.  His niece Becky Whittam, daughter of Bob and Judy Whittam, wrote this moving tribute to her uncle, a great naturalist and more importantly, a wonderful human being:

When I was a kid my Uncle Terry took me waterskiing almost daily in the summer on Clearwater Lake. I’d swim or paddle over to his cottage and he’d get the boat ready and cycle through the kids and cousins who wanted to ski. Everyone got a turn. On meteor shower nights in August we’d sit with our families on our respective beaches across the little bay from each other and pretend we saw the largest shooting stars with our exaggerated “ooohs” and “aaaahs”. Terry was always the loudest; he always saw the brightest star.
When I got older, I moved away and had a family but the door to the cottage was always open when we came to Ontario for a visit. Evelyn and Eric spent countless hours with Great Uncle Terry learning how to drive the boat and tend to the bees. Sean and Terry created an iNaturalist project for Clearwater and we’d often get calls or emails from Terry asking about a particular sighting. Terry and I planned my Dad’s last visit to the cottage, “Operation Bring Bob to Clearwater”. We pulled it off with only a few hitches and only one call to neighbours to help get Dad’s wheelchair down the back stairs. It was worth it. When Dad died about a year later (and only 10 months ago), Uncle Terry made sure our celebration included a telling of all the funny stories no one had ever heard before, to keep us from falling apart.
Sometimes Uncle Terry would call us on a cold winter night, to haze Eric when the Leafs were beating the Canadians. Sometimes he’d call just to say hi. When the pandemic struck, he set up biweekly zoom calls for our family to keep in touch. Every Wednesday and Saturday at 4:30 we’d hit the “join” button and the first person we’d see would be Uncle Terry, letting everyone talk noisily over each other, just saying hi, sharing stories of lockdown in different parts of the country, showing old photos, teasing Aunt Darlene, and generally keeping us all sane.
On Tuesday, Uncle Terry, a joyful, generous and inquisitive man, keeper of bees and tagger of monarch butterflies, died of a cancer he didn’t even know he had just 2 months ago. He was dealt a very bad hand, but I’m told that he handled it with great courage. My heart aches for his grandchildren, Emily, Kayla and Fraser, who won’t have the benefit of growing up alongside him – but I do know that Cheryl, Ryan and Lisa, Kevin and Caroline and Marion will do their very best to pass on all they learned from him.
Uncle Terry, you’re now the brightest meteor in the sky. We see you up there, streaming through the night, telling us to stay strong, stay together, stay safe, stay happy. We love you.
Operation “Bring Bob to Clearwater”


MPFN SOCIALLY DISTANCED WALK WITH FRIENDS COPELAND FOREST

Ken’s report on our September 5th outing can be found here

SUN. SEPT. 20, 2020 10 AM

Our next socially distanced walk with friends will be this Sunday Sept. 20, 2020 at 10 AM.

We’ll explore the Copeland Forest, starting at the P1 parking lot off of Ingram Rd.

There are 2 easy ways to get there from the Midland-Penetanguishene area.
Either take Hwy 93 south and just past Hwy 400 take a left turn on Ingram Rd. Follow Ingram north and the entrance to the P1 parking lot is basically where Line 3N should be. You’ll see a farm way up on a high hill as you look across Hwy 400.

Or you can follow Rumney Rd from Hwy 12 all the way through Mt. St. Louis and across Hwy 400. Then it’s a right turn on Ingram Rd. and just a short hop to the P1 parking lot.

Be careful as you drive down the driveway of the parking lot. There are usually some ankle crunching potholes. If the parking lot is full some of us may have to park on Ingram Rd.

We’ll plan to do a 90 minute to 2 hour walk. It’s a good time of year for fungi and migrating passerines (warblers, vireos and other bird species). With good weather we may see some evidence of raptor migration as well.

No washrooms on site so go before you come.

I think this link should take you to a map of the Copeland Forest trails.
http://www.copelandfriends.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/page-0.jpg

The Coronavirus trend has been heading in the wrong direction recently. Let’s all work hard to remember to stay 6 ft. apart during these walks. I’ll be wearing a mask and you may want to consider doing so as well, though it’s not required outdoors. Hopefully we can keep these outings safe and fun.

We ask participants in these outings to practice social distancing (stay approximately one Trumpeter Swan’s wingspan apart), wear masks if you like but not required outdoors, and do not take part if you are experiencing any flu-like symptoms. We realize that many of our members are in the high-risk age group so we understand if some members may decide to give these opportunities a pass. But we feel a socially distanced walk in the outdoors is a fairly low risk activity. We are not expecting large groups but if we have a surprising turn out we can always split up into smaller groups.

We ask you to look on these walks, not as official club outings, but rather low key get-togethers of friends to enjoy nature together.

Those planning to participate may wish to RSVP to this message so that we can look out for you but last minute arrivals are also welcome.



Open Letter Regarding Fall Harvest of Double-crested Cormorants

“Fifty-one experts are calling on the Ontario minister of natural resources and forestry to provide a scientific explanation for a province-wide hunt on double-crested cormorants that is slated to begin within two weeks.

In an open letter to John Yakabuski, dated on Tuesday, the experts raise concerns about the hunt, saying it is not based on science, the province has failed to indicate what population of cormorants it considers desirable and it will not require hunters to report the numbers of birds they have killed.” CBC News

DCCO_OpenLetter

Contact Minister Yakabuski

john.yakabuski@pc.ola.org

Contact MPP Jill Dunlop

jill.dunlop@pc.ola.org

Contact MPP Doug Downey

doug.downey@pc.ola.org



Our next MPFN Socially Distanced Walk With Friends will be Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020 10 AM at Ste. Marie Park in Midland. 

Read Deepthie’s Blog post on the outing

Ken’s Outing report can be found here

We’ll meet at the parking lot near the intersection of Wye Valley Rd and Hwy 12 (across the river from Martyr’s Shrine). The plan will be to go for a 90 minute to 2 hour walk through Ste. Marie Park, circling around and returning on the Trans Canada Trail. Easy walking but no washrooms on site so go before you leave home.

We ask participants in these outings to practice social distancing (stay approximately one Trumpeter Swan’s wingspan apart), wear masks if you like but not required outdoors, and do not take part if you are experiencing any flu-like symptoms. We realize that many of our members are in the high-risk age group so we understand if some members may decide to give these opportunities a pass. But we feel a socially distanced walk in the outdoors is a fairly low risk activity. We are not expecting large groups but if we have a surprising turn out we can always split up into smaller groups.


Club Member and MTM Conservation President Kate Harries provides this update on Ontario’s Cormorant Cull


Next MPFN Walk Monday Aug. 24 10 AM Sawlog Bay

Ken’s Outing report can be found here

Deepthie holding Sweet Grass

Our next MPFN Socially Distanced Walk With Friends will take place at the home of MPFN member Mary Deepthie Rajapakse on Sawlog Bay at the very north end of the Penetang Peninsula. Mary’s address is 25 Couchiching Cres. It’s a long and winding road up Champlain Road to get to her place so give yourself some driving time to get there for our 10 AM start of the walk.

Champlain Rd will try to shake you off a few times as you journey north. When you see the Sawlog Bay store you’ll know you’re getting close. When Champlain Rd. takes a sharp left to go along the top end of the peninsula, you’ll pass Chippewa Cr., Coppercliff Cr., Iroquois Cr., and finally Mary’s street Couchiching Cr.

We’ll tour Mary’s beautiful garden and then head out on the Sunset Trail for a 1 hour to 90 minute walk. There are some beautiful quiet sand beaches nearby so if the weather is hot bring a suit and a towel.

We ask participants in these outings to practice social distancing (stay 2 turkey vultures wingspans apart), wear masks if you like but not required outdoors, and do not take part if you are experiencing any flu-like symptoms. We realize that many of our members are in the high-risk age group so we understand if some members may decide to give these opportunities a pass. But we feel a socially distanced walk in the outdoors is a fairly low risk activity. We are not expecting large groups but if we have a surprising turn out we can always split up into smaller groups.

We ask you to look on these walks, not as official club outings, but rather low key get-togethers of friends to enjoy nature together.

Deepthie’s Gardens at 25 Couchiching Cr Tiny ON



Trip Report from Tiny Marsh Walk Thurs. Aug. 13, 2020 and next walk Matchedash Bay Thurs. Aug. 20 4 PM

Ken’s Outing report can be found here

Our next group get-together will be this coming Thursday Aug. 20, 2020 4 PM at the Thiffault Trail in the Matchedash Bay area.

Again the goal is approximately a 90 minute to 2 hour walk. No privies at Thiffault so best to go before you arrive. We may have time after the walk for a short drive over to Lawson Line if anyone is keen.

The trailhead for Thiffault is on Quarry Rd. Go east over the 400, go past Hodgins Rd. on your left then look for the small parking area on your right. If you get to St. Amant Rd. you’ve gone too far. Some cars may have to park on the road.

The trail is easy walking but some areas may be wet and muddy. Long pants and appropriate footwear recommended.



As Ontarians were distracted by Covid-19 the Ford administration has quietly initiated a cull of native Double-crested Cormorants

The scariest aspect of this decision relates back to BILL 197 which was passed late July with first, second and third reading all completed in one week with no public consultations.

Bill 197 gutted the Environmental Assessment Act and gave sweeping powers to Ministers to override municipal by-laws that protect the environment and its citizens so to swiftly approve development projects especially on the protected Greenbelt.

It is worth noting that Cormorants ARE NOT PROTECTED by the Migratory Birds Treaty Act to which Canada is a signatory, despite them being both migratory and a native species.     MBTA Protected List

In Ontario, it’s open season on cormorants. But is the hunt based on science?

What you can do – We need hundreds of people to engage:

  • Please call your local provincial park and ask if cormorant hunting will be permitted and if so, will they be providing blinds and/or adding additional blinds to accommodate the increase in hunters.
  • Please email enforcement and ask how they intend to police the hunt. Will they be adding more officers specifically to monitor the hunt. Rick Watchorn, Director Enforcement Branch: rick.watchorn@ontario.ca
  • Please monitor the hunt in your area. Hunters are not permitted to kill cormorants without collecting the dead birds. Please record any dead birds that wash up on the shoreline. Please photograph the birds and send the images to us ppc@peacefulparks.org with the exact location and time. We will call Crime Stoppers on your behalf or you can call them directly. 

Hot spots to monitor: Bay of Quinte,  Lake Nippising, Rice Lake, small colonies along the Trent River, the Severn River. Presquile Provincial Park,  Rondeau Provincial Park or any colony close to home.

The best time to monitor this hunt is on opening day – September 15! and early In the morning.

Please make a commitment to be out there on September 15 as cormorants will not be anticipating a hunt and the greatest kill will occur on opening day. This is true for any hunt as wildlife is unsuspecting.  Please continue to monitor through to the first week in October.

Please send us an email if you can participate and/or tell us about a gathering of cormorants in your area. You cannot interfere with the hunt but you can bear witness to the hunt and document dead birds.

Read the full story below


Peaceful Parks
August 2020

Doug Ford and Double-crested Cormorants

Doug Ford Gets Sued over BILL 197 

Late on Friday afternoon before the August 1 Civic holiday, Doug Ford announced a hunting season on Double-crested Cormorants in Ontario.

The hunting season opens on September 15th and closes on Dec 15th.  Hunters can kill up to 15 birds a day until the end of the season.

They are no limits as to how many hunters can engage in this hunt as long as they have a small game hunting license. Approximately 197.000 hunters in Ontario hold a small game hunting license. There are approximately 290.000 cormorants in Ontario. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/conservation-groups-concern-ontario-hunt-cormorants-fall-1.5672509

Do the math. 15 birds a day for approx. 90 days x 197.000 hunters

The Ford Govt. does NOT routinely monitor the impact of sport hunting on wildlife populations. Monitoring is done ‘periodically’ (their words) via hunter surveys and the policing of the hunt is the responsibility of the province not the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS). The CWS is the agency that issues waterfowl licenses and polices the hunt in Ontario, but they will NOT be policing the cormorant hunt.  There are no additional Conservation Officers hired to monitor this hunt and the fall includes hunting seasons of many other big game species such as black bears, deer, elk, and wild turkey.

Conservation Officers do not typically patrol waterways. Therefore, we are confident in concluding that there will be no policing of the cormorant hunt by the Ford govt.. That sends sport hunters a clear message that they can do whatever they want to these birds. 

There will be hunting in provincial parks.

However, the scariest aspect of this decision relates back to BILL 197 which was passed late July with first, second and third reading all completed in one week with no public consultations.

Bill 197 gutted the Environmental Assessment Act and gave sweeping powers to Ministers to override municipal by-laws that protect the environment and its citizens so to swiftly approve development projects especially on the protected Greenbelt.

Doug Ford is being sued over Bill 197: please read notice below.

The largest colonies of Double-crested Cormorants in Ontario are found within the boundaries of municipalities such as Toronto, Hamilton and Kingston.  Bill 197 makes it legal for the province to override municipal jurisdiction pushing aside Conservation Authorities such as the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority which protects the colony at Tommy Thompson Park – the largest colony in Ontario. With Bill 197, Doug Ford can potentially initiate a cull of cormorants within cities without necessarily using firearms. 

This is a real possibility, as Doug Ford bowed down to the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters whose supporters continue to lament that the largest colonies remain protected.

But they are not protected up North where numerous small colonies collectively form a good proportion of the cormorant population in Ontario.  

While a fall hunt is less effective than shooting nesting cormorants, they remain extremely vulnerable because of their tendency to ‘stage’ in the fall.  

Staging is when cormorants gather along shorelines to rest and feed in preparation for migration.

Presquile Provincial Park – staging of cormorants

Presquile Provincial Park – staging of cormorants with blind in the background  

 If there is no limit on the # of hunters that can ambush a colony especially using waterfowl blinds, it is very possible  to kill dozens of cormorants before they fly off.  Even if many survive, the stress on the birds impact they ability to store energy for migration.  This hunt is cruel and unethical because hunters can spoil the birds, something which goes against basic conservation principle, where hunters are normally required to eat what they kill. 

What you can do – and we need hundreds of people to engage:

Doug Ford is mute on the details of this hunt, therefore we need you to:

  • Please call your local provincial park and ask if cormorant hunting will be permitted and if so, will they be providing blinds and/or adding additional blinds to accommodate the increase in hunters.
  • Please email enforcement and ask how they intend to police the hunt. Will they be adding more officers specifically to monitor the hunt. Rick Watchorn, Director Enforcement Branch: rick.watchorn@ontario.ca
  • Please monitor the hunt in your area. Hunters are not permitted to kill cormorants without collecting the dead birds. Please record any dead birds that wash up on the shoreline. Please photograph the birds and send the images to us ppc@peacefulparks.org with the exact location and time. We will call Crime Stoppers on your behalf or you can call them directly. 

Hot spots to monitor: Bay Qunite,  Lake Nippising, Rice Lake, small colonies along the Trent River, the Severn River. Presquile Provincial Park,  Rondeau Provincial Park or any colony close to home.

The best time to monitor this hunt is on opening day – September 15 ! and early In the morning.

Please make a commitment to be out there on September 15 as cormorants will not be anticipating a hunt and the greatest kill will occur on opening day. This is true for any hunt as wildlife is unsuspecting.  Please continue to monitor through to the first week in October.

Please send us an email if you can participate and/or tell us about a gathering of cormorants in your area. You cannot interfere with the hunt but you can bear witness to the hunt and document dead birds.

Thank YOU !!

Peaceful Parks   

Greenpeace is heading to court again to protect Ontarians’ environmental rights.

On behalf of Greenpeace Canada and Wilderness Committee, Ecojustice has just filed a lawsuit against the Ontario government. We’re arguing the government acted illegally when it steamrolled through major changes to environmental laws in July as part of an economic recovery bill — without consulting Ontarians.

Doug Ford’s first action as Premier was to kill the province’s cap-and-trade system without first consulting with the public, as required under Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights. Thanks to a lawsuit Greenpeace launched with Ecojustice nearly two years ago, Ontario’s Divisional Court found that the government broke the law in its failure to consult. But the court stopped short of actually sanctioning the government. 

Now, under the cover of the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, Ford has yet again side-stepped public consultation in making major changes to the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act, the Planning Act and other environmental laws. These changes remove the right to public appeal and mean that public sector projects will no longer require environmental assessments by default.[1] 

This isn’t an economic recovery act — it’s a smokescreen to sneak in the wishlist of regulatory rollbacks Ford’s business buddies have been seeking since before the pandemic began. Ford’s government has enjoyed more favourable polling thanks to its response to the COVID-19.[2] But this attempt to exploit the pandemic and undermine Ontario’s environmental protections is a blatant violation of our environmental rights.

SOURCES

[1] https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/07/15/news/doug-fords-changes-environmental-assessments-explained

[2] https://abacusdata.ca/ontario-political-update-doug-ford-image-may2020/ 

END

Peaceful Parks

www.peacefulparks.org

toll free: 1.877.785.8636



Ken’s Outing report can be found here

Come on Midland-Penetanguishene Field Naturalists, Let’s Get Out There!

So now that we’re in Stage 3 of these crazy times and outdoor gatherings of up to 100 socially-distanced people are allowed in the province, perhaps it’s time for the Midland-Penetanguishene Field Naturalists to get together to do something again as a group.

It’s been suggested that we try some low-key outings. Perhaps we shouldn’t look on these as official club outings with official leaders and organized itineraries but rather as just a group of club members and friends getting together to enjoy nature and see what they can see. As we all know on any outing the more eyes the better.

The first outing we’ll try will be Saturday Aug. 8, 2020 10 AM at the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre in Midland. Meet in the Wye Marsh parking lot. The goal will be an outing of approximately 2 hours with some easy walking. The Wye Marsh building is still closed to the public. They have an admissions box in the parking lot where they are asking for donations. Washrooms are closed but they do have some portajohns.

After that we’ll try a second outing at Tiny Marsh on Thursday Aug. 13, 2020 6 PM. Meet at the parking lot at the base of the Trotter (the North/South) dike. Again the goal is approximately a 2 hour walk on the Trotter dike, easy walking. The privies at Tiny Marsh are only for the brave of heart and strong of stomach so best to go before you arrive.

We’ll ask participants in these outings to practice social distancing (stay 2 turkey vultures wingspans apart), wear masks if you like but not required outdoors, and do not take part if you are experiencing any flu-like symptoms. We realize that many of our members are in the high-risk age group so we understand if some members may decide to give these opportunities a pass. But we feel a socially distanced walk in the outdoors is a fairly low risk activity. We are not expecting large groups but if we have a surprising turn out we can always split up into smaller groups.

Those wishing to participate may wish to RSVP to this message so that we can look out for you but last minute arrivals are also welcome. As usual these outings should proceed rain or shine.

After the Aug. 13th outing we’ll see where we go from there. Let us know if you have any other ideas for possible future outings.



Dave Lord of the Copeland Forest Friends Association invites people to try out some of the trails in this beautiful nearby natural area.  A trail map is attached to this message and is also available on the Copeland Forest Friends Association website. 

The trail from the P1 parking lot to the Ducks Unlimited Pond has now been thankfully cleared, by the

“Copeland Forest Friends Association”  Trails Committee. (Station 6 to 41 attached map)

This is an excellent trail for those interested in studying butterflies, dragonflies, birds, and any other open field

activity on the way over to the pond.

A nice loop trail is 6 -41-42-6, about 3km, mostly level.

Dave Lord



Together we can hold decision-makers to account – Ontario Nature

Ontario Nature is there when nature needs us the most, and every time you support our conservation campaigns, you amplify our collective voice for nature.

As I’m sure you have likely noticed, we’ve been asking a lot of you lately. The Government of Ontario has been steadily dismantling environmental laws and policies, undermining protective measures, and riding roughshod over public participation in environmental decision-making. Much of this environmental deregulation has occurred under the guise of recovering from COVID-19 and obscured by misleading rhetoric. We cannot and we will not be silent while this happens.

Here’s a recap of the recent lowlights with links to how you did or could help.

Omnibus Bill 197
The government rammed through a bill that will negatively impact the health of our communities and environment for years to come. Thanks to those who contacted their MPP. Unfortunately, the bill still passed.
Read our press release

Proposed changes to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe
Proposed changes will lead to more sprawl, more gridlock, more flooding, and less greenspace and farmland in Ontario’s fastest-growing region.
Join 2,700 others in saying no to more sprawl

Minister’s Zoning Orders
The Government of Ontario is abusing its power to fast-track development projects without public consultation or the right to appeal.
Join 4,200 others to demand greater public accountability and resilience to climate change

Piping Plovers at Sauble Beach
Found guilty last year of intentionally destroying piping plover habitat in 2017, the Town of South Bruce Peninsula has applied for two permits under the Endangered Species Act 2007 to do so again – but this time with government approval. The government’s decision is pending.
1,850 of you spoke up for the plover.

To learn more about Ontario Nature’s advocacy, please visit our website and subscribe to our blog.

Your voice matters. Thank you for sticking with us through challenging times. Your kids or grandkids will be grateful.

Yours for nature,

— The Ontario Nature Team

P.S. Your support makes all the difference. Please consider making a gift or becoming a monthly donor to help speak up for Ontario’s wild species and wild spaces.



Support the Owl Foundation!

Every year the Midland-Penetanguishene Field Naturalists donate the proceeds from our Mystery Christmas Gift Auction, held at the wrap-up potluck for the Xmas Bird Count in December, to the Owl Foundation of Vineland. Many of our members have taken advantage of the passes to their annual open house in September that they award to us as a thank you for our donation. Unfortunately, this year, like many other events, their open houses have been cancelled due to Covid 19. But you can still read about the great work they are continuing in their most recent newsletter, attached here. I think there may be a photo of the 2 Great Horned Owl chicks that MPFN member Bob and Susan Codd helped to transport to the Foundation this past May.

2020 June Newsletter

Please help us continue to help owls.

Help Us

The Owl Foundation relies on private funding. The “Help Us” insert has a fantastic owl photo and a form to submit a donation by cheque or credit card; or you can visit CanadaHelps to make a secure on-line donation using your credit card.

A direct link to our CanadaHelps page is below.

https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/the-owl-foundation/

Thank you for your interest and support and I hope you enjoy our latest newsletter.

Sincerely,

Cathy

_________________
Catherine B. Foxcroft

Business Administrator

The Owl Foundation

4117 21st Street

R.R. 1

Vineland Station, Ontario

L0R 2E0

905-562-5986



Say No to More Sprawl, Less Nature and Less Farmland

From Ontario Nature

Read the Ontario Nature Blog

The provincial government is proposing to amend the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, which is home to more than 55 percent of Ontarians. The proposed changes prioritize sprawl over natural areas, prime farmland and species at risk.

The proposed changes align with other recent efforts to dismantle environmental policies.

Please sign our petition & join us in opposing the proposed amendments. The consultation period ends July 31st.

Sign the Petition



SS Keewatin under threat – Again

As Naturalists we are often called to take a stand to preserve the natural heritage of where we live, but now one of our great cultural treasures, the S.S. Keewatin, is in danger of disappearing.  MPFN member Bob Codd recently did a great job redesigning our website mpfn.xyz along with help from Wayne Coombes, the marketing and communications director for the Friends of Keewatin. Bob is making a personal appeal to his friends in the MPFN to support the effort to keep this beautiful boat in Port McNicoll where it belongs. 

Over to Bob: 

I imagine you have heard about the threatened relocation of the Keewatin from Port McNicoll by now. It’s a matter of great concern to my friend Wayne Coombes and many others who have given their time and efforts to the restoration of the historic vessel. 

I would consider it a personal favour if you would follow the link in the attached coverage from Midland Today to a petition intended to help keep Keewatin in our community. I understand this is really not nature related but it is part of our local history. Given how much Wayne has done – voluntarily – to get our club’s website up and running I feel we should try to repay him by supporting the cause that he has devoted so much of his time and energy to protecting and promoting. It’s a worthwhile cause all on its own and Friends of the Keewatin need our help to keep this historic ship in its natural home. 

Thanks! 

Bob 

Here:

https://www.midlandtoday.ca/local-news/residents-urged-to-sign-petition-signalling-historic-ships-sos-2547035?utm_source=Email&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Email



Connecting extreme weather, phragbusting, high water levels, and more.

From Georgian Bay Forever
A white-knuckle trip for this communications director in my little hybrid.
I was off on a mundane task to pick up some long-sleeve shirts, part of the uniform for our Phragbuster students. They are working with you to protect the biodiversity of our shorelines and coastal wetlands from being taken over by that monoculture menacing plant, invasive Phragmites (Phrag).
ABRUPTLY, EXTREME WEATHER GOT IN THE WAY.
Leaving, in what appeared to be sunshine for a theoretical half-hour drive, I resolved that this trip would be a news-free/meditative-type time. Foolish! A powerful storm with strong gusting winds had hit the west end of Toronto and I was obliviously driving into the aftermath.
The storm dropped 65 millimetres of rain on some areas of Toronto within about half an hour. The MONTHLY average is about 80 mm. With me at the wheel, my hybrid nervously crawled through several knee-high ponds of water on a jam-packed Lakeshore Blvd. in Toronto. Later reports indicated many trees came down landing on cars and pulling down hydro wires that effected electricity for many areas and even started a fire, the water broke through some banks in the Black Creek area prompting a concern that some houses may need to be evacuated due to possible flooding, and many cars were flooded and stranded (see some accounts here). There were no injuries reported thank goodness. Needless to say, there was no way to make my appointed time range, a COVID safety precaution that was so appreciated. While I didn’t get the shirts, my hybrid and I were lucky we made it through damage-free THIS TIME.

NOT AN ANOMALY IN THE GREAT LAKES BASIN: More extreme weather including heavy precipitation events are part of human-fueled accelerated global warming. Globally, floods and extreme events now occur 4 x more often than in 1980. And in the Great Lakes Basin (including Georgian Bay) heavy precipitation events increased 35% from 1951 to 2017. Cited in in Executive Director David Sweetnam’s 1-hour webinar video, Water Levels: What’s Going On, these stats represent part of the complex picture emerging of more variability and extreme water levels in Georgian Bay. In exit surveys of the webinar, you let us know you really liked this overview, but wanted some of the topics explored in more depth. We’re working on more about global warming/increased energy, precipitation, evaporation, and groundwater – but you also wanted more on regulatory controls.

DISCOVER MORE ABOUT THE ROLE OF CONTROL BOARDS ON WATER LEVELS. All are invited to a webinar by the International Joint Commission’s boards that promises to provide an overview of why the Great Lakes are at their current levels and how the International Joint Commission’s boards play a role in balancing the interests of all impacted by water levels in the Great Lakes. Date: Friday July 17,2020 form 12 pm to 1.30 pm. REGISTER HERE.

AT A GLANCE.
Quick considerations for you to do:

Water Levels: IJC Control Boards Webinar on Friday July 17th at 12 pm to 1.30 pm. REGISTER HERE.

Do a shoreline cleanup on your own property (household only, not group events), and sending in the tally sheet. Reduces current, helps reduce future litter at source if we can prove what it is.
PROCESS HERE
TALLY SHEET HERE
6 households have sent in sheet – our goal is 40!

WEBINARS and EVENTS from our Friends.

UofTTrashTeam and CafeteriaCU present an award-winning documentary, Microplastic Madness, featuring a story of fifth graders in Brooklyn who led a plastic free movement in their community.With registration, a link will be sent to you to view between July 16 and 19th. REGISTER HERE.

The Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve has a number of upcoming webinars, 2 that are water-related: Game of Thrones: Septic Health and Best Practices July 14, and Managing & Monitoring Muskellunge: A Twenty-Year Retrospective and Beyond, Thursday August 27th. REGISTER HERE.

BACK TO PHRAG PROGRESS – I guess the students may be doing work without GBF long-sleeved shirts for a little while – but they, and GBF staff are working very hard:

The students (more about them here) are currently re-mapping Phrag sites in the most inundated communities of Honey Harbour and Tay to compare their status verses 2019 (in those 2 communities, sites are estimated to be around 330 of the 546 live stands on the Eastern coast side).
After mapping, GBF’s plan is that the students go out and tackle 85 huge stands in these 2 communities to get them to a more community-manageable size, help organize Truxors (large machines) for about 27 sites, and help community leaders encourage their amazing volunteers to cut a further 59. It’s so important to help harder hit communities to reduce the risk of spread to low-Phrag communities as this plant doesn’t respect borders.
And that’s not all the planned activity, at the same time, GBF is working with other Eastern Georgian Bay leaders to have volunteers tackle more than 75 manageable stands in Sans Souci and Copperhead, Woods Bay, Pointe au Baril, Cognashene, Twelve Mile, Wah Wah Taysee, South Channel and more.
This is year 1 of a 5-year plan to have all the 588 sites that were identified in 2019 so harnessed by the end of 2024, that most will be GONE, and the few left can be easily cut by community members until they also cease to exist. GBF has many programs working to protect the water health of Georgian Bay such as our Phragmites Eradication program. But we are in jeopardy of not reaching our funding goals that would ensure we meet our objectives for programming. Your consideration of a monthly donation would very much help our all our efforts to protect the Bay. Donate here.
If you want to know more about the threat of Phragmites, and want to volunteer time this summer to help mitigate this threat in your Georgian Bay community, email heather.sargeant@gbf.org and I will put you in touch with your community leader. Cutting starts around Mid-July and goes to about Mid-August.

MORE AT A GLANCE.
Quick considerations for you to do:

VOLUNTEER TO PHRAGBUST (Help shorelines and biodiversity this summer by learning about and removing an invasive plant).
HOW DO I DO IT HERE

MICROWASTE
10 tips to reduce your microwaste CLICK HERE
1 hour video of the webinar: Water pollution comes from tiny fibres in your clothes. Discover research & solutions to change that.
CLICK HERE

UNENCAPSULATED DOCK FOAM
Ends up as fragmented litter all over our shores. READ THE REPORT: The Probelms with Polystyrene. Envionmental Fate and Effects in the Great Lakes.
If you have this type of floatation for your dock, please email info@gbf.org if you are interested in learning about some alternatives.


Time for Action: Follow Up to Quarrels with Quarries Webinar

I’m writing to invite you to a follow-up meeting to the Quarrels with Quarries webinar.   On July 9th at 7PM we will focus on action!  The purpose of this meeting is to plan for a province-wide campaign to challenge the Ford government’s aggregate expansion agenda–and we want your input.

RSVP for the July 9th aggregate campaign planning meeting  

This campaign planning meeting will be hosted by Wellington Water Watchers.  Wellington Water Watchers has been engaged with four groups fighting quarry applications in their communities – Concerned Residents Coalition (Hidden Quarry); ACTION Milton (Campbellville Quarry); Ramara Legacy Alliance (Fowler); Citizens for Safe Ground Water (Hallman Pit). WWW supports these campaigns as aggregate extraction is the #1 threat to groundwater in Ontario. 

WWW and the Wilderness Committee believe it is time for a province -wide public campaign to draw attention to the cumulative impact of aggregate extraction in Ontario and the injustice of the David vs. Goliath fights community groups are forced to wage.

Please join us in outlining the first steps in moving forward.   The campaign planning meeting  will take place on Zoom at 7pm on Thursday July 9.  You can register here: 

https://wellingtonwaterwatchers.nationbuilder.com/aggregate_campaign_planning_meeting

Hope to see you there!  

In the meantime, don’t forget  to add your comments to the environmental registry to oppose the recent Ford proposal to remove restrictions to gravel pits and quarries in endangered species habitat.  You can do it easily with this handy tool: https://www.wildernesscommittee.org/take-action/tell-ontario-stop-sprawl-protect-nature

 
 
 
 

Ontario’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is proposing to make amendments to the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) region’s growth plan
 From a Concerned resident of Greater Golden Horseshoe area
Environmental Defence has an online petition you can sign:

Ontario’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is proposing to make amendments to the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) region’s growth plan (A Place To Grow – Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe).

Proposed amendments include expanding the horizon for growth projections from 2041 to 2051 (which causes the projected population growth to increase from 13.5 million to 14.9 million), and allowing municipalities to “make available land for urban development to accomodate the needs of the growth forecast for a time horizon of up to 25 years” (currently, the time horizon is 20 years). Limits on development within certain areas within the GGH (such as Simcoe County) will be removed. In addition, a second proposal from the Ministry indicates that “Assumptions [on population growth] that include density targets lower than those required in the Plan would require Minister’s approval.” The cumulative effect would be a required increase in urban development.

There are also changes to several definitions within the growth plan, including:

– “Cultural Heritage” (removing the following: “Examples may include, but are not limited to, heritage conservation districts designated under the Ontario Heritage Act; villages, parks, gardens, battlefields, mainstreets and neighbourhoods, cemeteries, trailways, viewsheds, natural areas and industrial complexes of heritage significance; and areas recognized by federal or international designation authorities (e.g., a National Historic Site or District designation, or a UNESCO World Heritage Site).”)

– “Ecological Function” (removing mentions of hydrologic and chemical functions)

– “Habitat of Endangered Species and Threatened Species” (reducing the number of species to which the term may apply)

– “Municipal Water and Wastewater Services” (adding that such services may be decentralized)

The proposal also states the following:

“Mineral aggregate resources plan an important role in the development of housing and municipal infrastructure. Ensuring adequate aggregate resources are available is critical to achieving the success of [A Place To Grow]. The proposed changes will make it easier to establish mineral aggregate operations closer to market and the product’s end users throughout the GGH.The proposed change to the Plan’s aggregates policies would be more permissive of new aggregate operations, wayside pits, and quarries within the Natural Heritage System for the Growth Plan.”

I have only highlighted amendments within the proposal; the full document is linked below.

Overall, it appears that the proposed amendments would skew the GGH’s growth plan to favour the interests of large land developers and mineral exploitation/aggregate operations. In the context of the definition changes listed above, I am concerned that this new plan will endanger existing natural and rural landscapes, as well as sources of drinking water.

Please alert anyone within your organization who may be interested in this issue. Additionally, if possible, would you mind keeping me updated on any actions your organization may take?

Proposed amendments:
https://prod-environmental-registry.s3.amazonaws.com/2020-06/Proposed%20APTG%20Amendment%20%28ENG%29_0.pdf

Environmental Registry of Ontario post: Proposed Amendment 1 to A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe
https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/019-1680

Environmental Registry of Ontario post: Proposed Land Needs Assessment Methodology for A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe
https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/019-1680

Current GGH growth plan:
https://files.ontario.ca/mmah-greater-golden-horseshoe-place-to-grow-english-15may2019.pd

https://act.environmentaldefence.ca/page/62895/action/1?en_chan=fb&locale=en-US&ea.tracking.id=facebook&fbclid=IwAR1CTRHYKGZugCzXxV8QKGWsSTiLUv8KAtJ1J3gt-mujWheg6xizJt1Hnu0



OFO Call Notes: Ontbirds Reopening,

OFO News, Time-Sensitive Conservation Issues

Ontario Field Ornithologists Call Notes

News and events for Ontario’s birding community

June 20, 2020

Welcome to Call Notes!

As always there is a lot to talk about. This email includes updates on:

Ontbirds Reopening
June OFO News – not just for OFO Members during the pandemic
Tick Information
Time-Sensitive Conservation Issues: Piping Plovers, Barn Swallows and Minister’s Zoning Orders
Upcoming Events

Ontbirds: Open for Sightings Reports

With the easing of the pandemic restrictions in many parts of the province, OFO has decided the time is right to reopen Ontbirds for rare bird reporting. Please wait a few days while we update our posting guidelines to indicate which birds are considered rare or reportable.

We are also easing the requirement to include detailed directions in every post. However, please include the species and general location in the subject line. Please also include the time of the sighting and general location in the body of the message.

And it goes without saying that, although restrictions are easing across the province, please do not travel unnecessarily and make sure you follow the local and provincial physical distancing guidelines.

OFO News June Edition

The June edition of OFO News is en route to OFO members; in fact, some of you will have already received it. It is also posted on our website at: http://www.ofo.ca/library/list/key/on. During this time, the online version is available to everyone — even if you are not an OFO member.

With this issue, we introduce the OFO Birding Academy, a series where experts will explore bird ID challenges. The first article, by Tony Beck, delves into the differences between crows and ravens.

Other articles in this issue include:

Birding at Home Challenge – The Results So Far
In Praise of Birdsong: All about Songs
Eavesdropping on Birds: Bioacoustic Monitoring in Hamilton
Summer Birding in Lesser-known Ontario Hotspots
Ticks in Ontario
The Battle to Save Waverly Woods

We are proud of this issue and hope you enjoy it.

Tick Information

Please read Angie Williams’ article on ticks in the June OFO News. Then, check out this link for further information.

I'm sharing some important information about ticks. Please be careful out there.

Posted by OFO – Ontario Field Ornithologists on Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Conservation News

The following three issues are the most time-sensitive and we wish to draw these to your attention.

Sauble Beach Piping Plovers: Beach Maintenance Proposal: Open for comments until June 25th

Once again, the town of South Bruce Peninsula is proposing doing mechanical beach raking of Sauble Beach near occupied Piping Plover nest sites. You may recall that the town proceeded with illegal bulldozing of the beach in 2017, and in 2019, was convicted and fined for destroying Piping Plover habitat.

OFO, along with Birds Canada, Ontario Nature and Owen Sound Field Naturalists is strongly opposed to the proposal for several reasons, including: the timing of the activities to coincide with Piping Plover nesting season, the intrusion into the foraging margin of the plovers, and the vagueness of the proposal – there is no plan, no oversight and no commitment to protect the endangered plovers.

The proposal is available for review and comment until June 25th at: https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/019-1818

We will be posting our response on Facebook and our website.

For additional information, please read Ontario Nature’s thorough comments at: https://view.publitas.com/on-nature/ero-019-1818/page/1

2,000 Strong London Bank Swallow Colony Threatened by Development

A large Bank Swallow colony with close to 2,000 birds is threatened because of proposed construction. Bank Swallows are protected species and destroying their habitat is illegal.

For more information and to sign a petition aiming to halt the imminent destruction, please go to https://www.change.org/p/city-of-london-save-london-ontario-s-bank-swallows

OFO will be tracking the situation and will provide updates as they become available.

Minister’s Zoning Orders Circumvent Land Use Planning and Protection

OFO supports Ontario Nature’s campaign to stop the Ontario Government from using Minister’s Zoning Orders to override due process in land use planning. This loophole makes it even harder to protect our remaining greenspace and bird habitats.

As birders, we know that habitat for many birds is shrinking and the value of natural spaces is incalculable.

Thank you, Ontario Nature, for bringing this serious issue to light.

https://ontarionature.good.do/mzo/email/

Other Issues

We are also following other ongoing conservation issues, including the destruction of osprey nests while under construction and the need for protection of grassland bird species.

Upcoming Events

Sunday, June 21st, 1:00-3:00: OFO Workshop: Bird Songs and Calls with Ian Shanahan

“Look for birds with your ears” is a useful guiding principle; during the breeding season, it is sometimes the only option. Join this workshop led by Ian Shanahan to apply time-tested listening techniques applicable to a broad range of habitats.

To register, go to: https://ofo25.wildapricot.org/event-3687010

Tuesday, June 23rd, 7:00pm: Interview with David Sibley: What It’s Like to be a Bird

Please join Justin Peter, President of the Toronto Ornithological Club as he interviews, David Sibley whose most recent book is “What It’s Like to be a Bird”.

To register go to: http://torontobirdcelebration.ca/event/david-allen-sibley-talks-about-whats-its-like-to-be-a-bird/

May 28th – 30th – OFO Sault Ste. Marie Birding Festival – Save the Date!

We are thrilled to announce a new birding festival! Please join OFO and the Sault birding community to experience Spring migration in the heart of the Algoma District in 2021!

Good Birding,

Lynne Freeman

OFO President

OFO Call Notes is brought to you by OFO – Ontario Field Ornithologists, the provincial birding organization dedicated to the study of bird life in Ontario. We organize over 60 field trips and workshops annually, publish OFO News and Ontario Birds three times a year respectively, host an annual birding convention and manage ONTBirds, the rare bird email service. OFO is for everyone interested in birds and birding!

Find us at ofo.ca or visit the OFO Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/OntarioFieldOrnithologists.


Sauble’s piping plovers need you now!

Piping Plovers are one of the rarest and most imperilled breeding birds in Ontario. Absent for many years from our Great Lakes shorelines, they reappeared in 2007 and nested at Sauble Beach. Every year since they have returned to this location, gradually reoccupying other Ontario Great Lakes beaches as well.

Despite their comeback, the plovers are now threatened by plans to damage and destroy their habitat at Sauble Beach. Found guilty last year of intentionally destroying piping plover habitat in 2017, the Town of South Bruce Peninsula has applied for two permits under the Endangered Species Act 2007 to engage in destructive beach grooming activities again – but this time they’re seeking government approval first.

In a cynical attempt to get around the court’s conviction, the Town is asking for permission to remove large natural materials and mechanically rake the beach, commencing before the July 1st holiday and then again before long weekends and other special events. The raking will flatten hummocks, and remove the natural vegetation, debris and woody materials that the plovers rely on to find food, shelter from storms and cover from predators.

The timing couldn’t be worse as it coincides with the nesting and fledging periods when piping plovers are most vulnerable. The raking may also reduce habitat suitability and availability for years to come. As noted by one expert government biologist, this sort of activity can modify beach and dune dynamics, with long-term impacts on food sources for the plovers, and potentially detrimental effects on the survival and recovery of the species.

Please join Ontario Nature in urging the Government of Ontario NOT to grant the Town permission to damage and destroy critical piping plover habitat at Sauble Beach. For further details, please read our full submission to the Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks, the Honourable Jeff Yurek

The deadline for comment is June 25th.


Covid 19 Updates

Hello fellow Midland-Penetanguishene Field Naturalists We hope you are all keeping safe and well in these unusual times.

This is to inform you that the Midland-Penetanguishene Field Naturalists are cancelling their general meeting scheduled to be held at the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre in Midland on Thursday May 21st 2020. The state of emergency in Ontario has been extended, organized gatherings of more than 5 people are still banned in the province and our venue the Wye Marsh, as a Federal Nature Reserve, is now closed by order of Environment Canada until further notice.
The latest news is that there has been some success in flattening the curve of Covid 19 in Ontario and some things are reopening with appropriate control measures. However at this time it looks unlikely that we will be holding our season ending potluck and AGM at Tiny Marsh on June 18, 2020. Hopefully we can get back to some sort of normal programming in September but we will keep you advised.
Please visit our website https://mpfn.xyz for more news about the Midland-Penetanguishene Field Naturalists.

There have been many positive changes in the MTM organization, including a new website
https://www.mtmconservation.org/
and several new board members. But unfortunately the Tiny Marsh Bioblitz scheduled for Sat. June 20, 2020 has been cancelled.
You can purchase an MTM membership using Paypal on the MTM website.

The latest news is that the province will be opening provincial parks and conservation areas next week, some on Monday and some on Friday. Day use only, no facilities, washrooms, etc. open. Free until the end of the month. I’m not sure how this will affect Ste. Marie Park which is administered by Huronia Historical Parks, a provincial organization. The Georgian Bay Islands office is federal but I’m pretty sure the park itself is provincial. The land is owned by the Martyr’s Shrine but the Jesuits gave over the maintenance of the property to HHP several years ago.

Ken MacDonald


Wye Marsh is excited to announce that they will be re-opening the trail system in a limited capacity at 9:00 am on June 1, 2020 … But Needs Our Help During Difficult Times!

Wye Marsh staff have been working with Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) on a plan to safely reopen, which will be done in phases. During the first phase, from June 1 – 14, admission will be by donation in the parking lot as we build an outdoor admissions booth. Once the booth is constructed, reduced admission rates will apply until we are back up and running 100%. Access to washrooms will be available via the back doors, but otherwise the Centre remains closed to the public. There is no access to the Birds of Prey Field during this time. Canoe tours and other programming will remain suspended at this time.
While on the trails, please keep the following in mind:
Be mindful of wildlife who have become accustomed to the trails and boardwalks being unused by humans. Please give them space and do not attempt to approach or feed them, especially on the boardwalk.
Please respect social distancing guidelines while on the trails, especially at intersections and narrow sections.
The gates will open daily at 9:00am and close at 4:00pm
For up to date information on Wye Marsh’s phased reopening, please click here.

https://www.wyemarsh.com/covid-19-updates
Thank you to everyone for your ongoing support.


Ontario Nature Defends Conservation Authorities

Ontario Nature, on behalf of itself & its affiliates has sent this letter to the Ontario Government defending the role of local conservation authorities in opposition to proposals made by the Ford administration. Read the letter. 


The Cleanest Water on Earth Remains Threatened by the Ontario Government’s Economic Expansion Policies
 
Please take a moment to watch the following short video. If you find it as moving as I did please consider emailing our local MPP, Jill Dunlop and voice your strenuous opposition to this ill-considered assault on the cleanest water on the planet. Email Jill at:  jill.dunlopco@pc.ola.org
 
Robert Codd
MPFN Website coordinator
 
 
MPFN member and President of the Matchedash Tiny Marl Conservation Association Kate Harries wants to share this excellent video from the Elmvale Foundation.  It tells you all about the unique water in our area that so many of us have fought hard to protect.  Here’s the link: 
 
And here’s a link to a Canadian Geographic article about the same issue. 
 
During this time of pandemic a lot of other issues seem to have been pushed into the background but the fight against new quarries and quarry expansion continues. 
For more information, copy and paste the link below into your browser:
http://www.tinycottager.org/aggregates-and-water-in-tiny/