News & Notes: Recent News


SPRING 2018






WINTER 2018


Remembering Dorothy McCallum


Long-time Nature London member Dorothy McCallum passed away on 4 October 2017 at the age of 85. Dorothy and her husband Jack joined the club back in 1979 when it was known as the Mc-Ilwraith Field Naturalists. She was still a member at the time of her death, for a remarkable run of 38 years. The 1990s were a very active time for the hard-working members of the club’s Conservation Committee. By 1991 (perhaps even earlier) Dorothy was a member of that team. For a decade or more she went to City Hall every Friday afternoon to pick up the agenda (often several inches thick) for weekly City Council meetings. With great thoroughness, Dorothy combed through that heavy, often highly technical reading, flagging all items that had any relevance to environmental, conservation or other club interests. Then she ensured the pertinent information was forwarded to the appropriate committee member so action could be taken.

For several years Dorothy served as the club’s representative on Urban League, retiring in 2003. Dorothy and Jack were regular participants in the London Christmas Bird Count, the area around the CPRI grounds being their particular bailiwick for a number of years. They also attended club meetings and other club functions, including events at Cedarcroft. After the 2001 fall picnic at Cedarcroft, they shared the recipe for a yummy broccoli salad they had brought. To this day, that salad continues to be a favourite at many Nature London potluck gatherings.

Nature London fondly remembers Dorothy for her many years of dedicated service to the club, especially in the area of conservation. Sincere condolences
are extended to Dorothy’s husband, Jack, and daughter, Stephanie.


Remembering Bert Stonehill

Bert Stonehill, a long-standing member of Nature London, passed away on 10 November 2017 after coping with Alzheimer’s disease for many years. Bert was 89. He was a cheerful and engaging presence at Nature London meetings and events. Bert always carried a twinkle in his eye and was ready to pitch in with projects, particularly at Cedarcroft cleanups where he was a regular and enthusiastic participant. In fact, Bert and his wife Betty so loved Cedarcroft that to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary their children donated monies for a bench to be purchased for placement at a prime resting and viewing location on the Nature London property. Not only did Bert help out with Cedarcroft events, but he was renowned for the delicious date squares and butterscotch squares that he frequently baked for the refreshment break at Nature London meetings. They quickly disappeared!

Bert was such a dedicated nature conservationist and birder that his family wished this to be reflected at his service; so Bert “attended” his service in a birdhouse. He was a valued Nature London volunteer and he will be missed. Nature London extends sincere condolences to Bert’s family and friends.


Doug Tarry Young Ornithologists’ Workshop (YOW) at Long Point

This week-long workshop / natural history camp has been offered at Long Point Bird Observatory (LPBO) since the mid-1970s. Thanks to naturalist Doug Tarry, the workshop is offered free to six selected participants, aged 13 to 17. It focuses on hands-on learning and training in field ornithology, including how to identify, age, and sex birds; study their populations and behaviour; handle and band birds; prepare specimens; and take a census of birds. There will be lots of field trips and evening activities.

This year, the workshop will run from Saturday, 4 August to Monday, 13 August, 2018. Prospective participants are invited to download and complete the application form at www.birdscanada.org/longpoint/?targetpg=lpboyow. The website provides more information. Applications are due by Monday, 30 April, 2018.

Throughout August, LPBO is also offering student internships to mature teenagers with a strong interest in field ornithology. Often, internship students are graduates of YOW. Visit the website for more information and to make an application.


Year of the Bird

Cornell Lab of Ornithology has announced it is joining National Geographic, the National Audubon Society, BirdLife International, and more than 100 organizations to declare 2018 the Year of the Bird. This initiative coincides with the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act’s ratification. The Year of the Bird promotes the notion of pledging to do one thing per month to help birds.

To kick off the year, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has suggested six resolutions to help you #BirdYourWorld in 2018. To view these ideas and for more information visit www.allaboutbirds.org.


Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act

On 12 December 2017, the Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act (Bill 139), which includes Schedule 4 amending the 1946 Conservation Authorities Act, was passed. Some of the key changes to the Conservation Authorities Act include establishment of a service delivery review table, development of a more defined role around climate change adaptation, greater transparency and accountability of the conservation authorities, and updated funding mechanisms. The Act has been under review for two years and during that time input was solicited from many sectors. Bill 139 recognizes watershed management as critical in assisting the province to adapt to factors such as rapid growth and climate change. The 36 Ontario Conservation Authorities work with the Province and other partners to restore, conserve, and manage important water (including drinking water) and land resources. For more information visit www.conservationontario.ca.


Mature, Blight-free American Chestnut Found

Dan Brinkman, a Land Stewardship Technician working for the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority (LTVCA), discovered a mature, blight-free American Chestnut tree while on a Saturday morning hike in October. The tree was located in a private woodlot near Mt. Brydges in Strathroy-Caradoc. In the past century 99.9% of the native chestnut trees in Southern Ontario have been destroyed by blight. It is unusual to find a healthy 60–70 year-old specimen. With the landowner’s permission, the Canadian Chestnut Council was contacted and two representatives met with Mr. Brinkman to examine the tree and to discuss restoration and research projects that could be implemented in the Lower Thames watershed. Visit www.lowerthames-conservation.on.ca/conservation-partners-working-together-to-bring-back-american-chestnut-from-the-brink/ for more information.


Springbank Dam Decommissioned

On 16 January, 2018, London City Council voted unanimously to decommission Springbank Dam. The debate over deciding what to do with the dam began in 2008 when bolts snapped off during a test on the aging structure. Nature London was one of the groups that advocated for the dam to be decommissioned. In his letter of 29 September, 2017 to Ashley M. Rammeloo, Acting Division Manager of Stormwater Engineering for the City of London, Bernie VanDenBelt, Nature London President, stated “Numerous studies have demonstrated the ecological benefits of having rivers flow freely.” The entire letter may be read in the Fall 2017 edition of The Cardinal, No. 249. Look for an article on the decommissioning of the dam in the next edition of The Cardinal.


FALL 2017


ONTARIO YOUTH SUMMIT FOR BIODIVERSITY AND ENVIRONMENTAL LEADERSHIP
Local student Quinten Wiegersma was sponsored by Nature London to attend the Ontario Youth Summit for Biodiversity and Environmental Leadership. The eighth annual Ontario Nature Youth Summit was held on September 22-24, 2017, at YMCA Geneva Park in Orillia. The event, partnered with the Youth Council, allowed 98 youth from 50 communities to participate in a number of workshops. Workshops included Exploring the Link between Humans and the Wild, Pollinators and Youth Action, Birds of Prey, and Climate Change Campaigning. For more information visit
www.ontarionature.org/connect/nature_guardians/youth_summit.php.


UTRCA “TURTLE TEAM” RELEASES RECORD NUMBER OF BABY TURTLES
On August 22nd the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA) announced that the Species at Risk Reptile Team (aka “the Turtle Team”) was releasing more than 6000 baby turtles back into the Thames River! The UTRCA has one of the longest running and most
successful reptile research, recovery, and education programs in Canada. The Spiny Softshell Turtle is endangered both provincially and federally. Only a small number of hatchling turtles reach adulthood, so it’s critical for biologists to protect the eggs and release as many hatchlings as possible. Early studies along the Thames River revealed almost zero turtle egg survival, but recent research shows that protection efforts are having an impact locally. The Spiny Softshell Turtle population has shown increases in the number of turtles of all age classes and their range along the Thames River. Nature London has supported the UCTRA’s Spiny Softshell Turtle research and recovery efforts for several years and specifically the work of Scott Gillingwater and the “Turtle Team.”


SPRING 2017


SNAPPING TURTLE HUNT ENDS!
After many years of relentless advocacy by Ontario Nature and other organizations and concerned individuals, on March 31st the Government of Ontario announced the decision to end the hunt of Snapping Turtles.  The fight to end the hunt has been ongoing since 2007.  In 2012, 11,000 people signed a petition supporting termination of the hunt.  There were many within the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry who supported this science-based decision including biologists, policy advisors, and the Minister, Kathryn McGarry.  Congratulations to all who persevered in the efforts to protect this important at-risk species.  Well done!  Visit www.ontarionature.org/connect/blog/at-long-last-an-end-to-the-snapping-turtle-hunt/ for a detailed report.


“NATURE IN MEDWAY − BENCHES AND SIGNAGE” PROPOSAL SELECTED
Four interpretative signs and three benches are to be placed along the trails in the Medway Valley Heritage Forest ESA by the Friends of Medway Creek.  The Friends were successful in submitting a proposal through the London City Council’s Neighbourhood Decision Making Pilot Project, “Medway Decides”.  Residents submitted proposals and then voted to decide how a portion of the municipal budget will be directed in the area.  Members of the Medway community selected the Friends proposal as one of three projects to receive support.


CHECK OUT THE RESULTS OF THE 2017 “GREAT BACKYARD BIRD COUNT”
Results are in for the 2017 Great Backyard Bird Count.  Participants in 143 countries around the globe recorded 5907 species and counted 2,733,124 birds.  173,251 checklists were submitted.  Canadian counters recorded 258 species and submitted 14,908 checklists!  As readers of The Cardinal, folks will be interested to note that the Northern Cardinal appeared on more checklists than any other species during the GBBC.  For the complete 2017 GBBC summary visit http://gbbc.birdcount.org/2017-gbbc-summary/.


ONTARIO NATURE’S YOUTH COUNCIL AND POLLINATOR PROTECTION
Ontario Nature has received funding to begin a new phase of its efforts to defend pollinators.  The Ontario Nature Youth Council, a network of 90+ youth aged 14-20, will be working with the new advocacy group, Bee City Canada, to promote commitment to pollinator protection by municipal governments, and elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools across the province.  The Youth Council, in conjunction with local partners, will also be hosting planting events that will focus on pollinator-friendly plants.  For more information visit
https://www.ontarionature.org/protect/campaigns/pollinators.php.


ONTARIO NATURE ADVOCACY CAMPAIGNS
A reminder that Nature London’s affiliate organization, Ontario Nature, is involved in several nature advocacy campaigns.  For a complete listing of campaigns and descriptions and to learn how to become involved visit https://www.ontarionature.org/protect/campaigns/.


SIGHTINGS AT KIRK-COUSINS MANAGEMENT AREA
The Kettle Creek Conservation Authority (KCCA) has asked that visitors use their eyes and ears when walking through the Kirk-Cousins Management Area (KCMA), or A’Nowaghi) in south London.  Please report natural history sightings (e.g., Species at Risk or other notable species) to Jennifer Dow by e-mail, jennifer@kettlecreekconservation.on.ca, or by telephone, 519-631-1270 ext. 228.

If you observe any inappropriate uses such as bush parties or all-terrain vehicles at KCMA, please contact Elizabeth VanHooren, General Manager of KCCA, at 519-631-1270 ext. 222, or elizabeth@kettlecreekconservation.on.ca.

All visitors to KCMA must have a visitor’s permit.


ITEMS FOR SALE
The following items are for sale from Nature London.  Prices include tax.

  • Guide to the Natural Areas of London and Region, 5th Edition – $15
  • Photo field guides published by the St Thomas Field Naturalist Club:
    • Reptiles and Amphibians of Ontario – $15
      Bats of Ontario $8
    • Butterflies of Southern Ontario – $10
    • Some Caterpillars of Southern Ontario – $10
    • Some Wildflowers of Southern Ontario – $15
  • Published by The Hawk Cliff Foundation:
    • A Field Guide to the Migrating Raptors of Hawk Cliff – $10

You can buy these items from Ann Henderson at meetings or by calling 519-473-6719.