Category Archives: club

A film night: Jackson Hole WILD films!

Jackson Hole WILD films coming to the Upper Credit Field Naturalists, January 23rd

Jackson Hole WILD Film Festival

On Tuesday evening January 23rd, 2018, at 7:30 P.M., selections from the world-famous Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival are coming to our backyard! Join us for a special WILD On Tour screening of short filmsWe are highlighting the joyous and informative exploration of nature. Ron has chosen a variety of shorter films instead of 1–3 long films.

1. Project Coyote – Killing Games: Wildlife in the Crosshairs. 30 min
2. 16 Legs: Spider Love. 25 min (a spider expert will be presenting to our group this March)
3. Between Two Lichens. 15 min
4. Nature RX. – 2min
5. Microsculpture. – 5 min
6. Blue. – 4 min
7. Banana Slugs: Secret of the Slime. – 4 min
8. Return of the Cicadas. – 7 min.
9. Explore Your Backyard Wilderness. – 4 min
(Total screening time 96 min)

For more info about the film and for trailers for some of the films:

Films from Jackson Hole WILD Film Festival

Contact us!

Our Christmas Bird Count —  initial results

On Saturday December 30th, we completed our annual Christmas Bird Count.

The Numbers:

  • 23 + 7 participants; 715 km driven; 10.5 km walked; 2.5 hrs owling; -14ºC minimum;
  • 38 species overall; estimated 3983 individual birds overall;
  • most populous: American Crow 931, Snow Bunting 740, European Starling 342, Dark-eyed Junco 335, American Goldfinch 300, Black-Capped Chickadee 272, Wild Turkey 223,
  • least seen: Ruffed Grouse 1, Northern Harrier 1, Sharp-shinned Hawk 1, Cooper’s Hawk 1, Snowy Owl 1, Belted Kingfisher 1, Northern Shrike 1,
  • Christmas Bird Count participants: (23 participants):
    (Area 1): Ron Jasiuk, Bill, Mike, Russ, Cynthia, Leo;
    (Area 2): Mark Whitcombe, Jerry, Paul, Katherine;
    (Area 3): Linda Lockyer, Mike, Dilys, Debby;
    (Area 4): Ron Ritchie, Mary Lynn, Betty;
    (Area 5): Dawn Renfrew, Darcie;
    (Area 6): Rob Best, Kevin, Anne-Marie, Suzanne
  • Christmas Feeder Watch participants: (7 participants):
    Doug & Jane, Jean, Joan, Robin, Rachel, Liz

Northern Shrike (by Kevin Tipson)

Comments (by a botanist …)

Of note, the cold weather we’ve been having through much of December meant there was very little open unfrozen water, so the geese and other waterfowl including gulls that cluster around water were mostly absent. Northern visitors (i.e., Dark-eyed Juncos, Snow Buntings and Pine Siskins) were present, but few of the more sporadic irruptives were seen. The most notable of these were the one Northen Shrike, and the one Snowy Owl reported by a non-member south of Orangeville along Highway 10. Crossbills, etc., were not reported. (I suspect the excellent seed and cone production during last summer’s well-watered growing season have kept those birds farther north.)

Approximately three-quarters of the total number of individual birds came from 7 out of the 38 species, mostly from those species that congregate in large flocks in winter often taking advantage of agricultural leftovers, i.e., American Crows, European Starlings, Wild Turkeys.  On the other end, 7 species were represented by only 1 individual bird.

In Area 2, south-east from Caledon, we certainly noticed that over a third of birdfeeders maintained and filled in previous years were inactive. That certainly reduced the number and the diversity of species we saw both in residential areas, and along the rural roads near houses.

Dark-eyed Junco (by Paul Blayney)

Comments from Russ (a birder!)

  • Up Trend:  Highest number of Red-bellied Woodpeckers (20) versus 12 last year which was then the highest count. Red-bellied Woodpeckers were first seen in 2006 (1 bird) and then not seen again until 2010 (2 birds).
  • Down Trend:  House Sparrows at 16. Average the last five years is 30. Average for the first five counts (1987-91) was 441.
  • Not a trend, but, rather surprisingly, we saw record numbers of Juncos, Snow Buntings and Grackles (2).
  • On the Snow Buntings, a large flock was seen in both Areas 4 and 6, which adjoin on Hwy 9. I wonder if it was the same flock (estimated at 340 and 400 birds).

Snow Buntings (by Kevin Tipson)

The Pattern

All of this fits with the pattern reported to Ontario Birds by Josh Vandermuelen, one of the aggregators on that site:
“The unrelenting cold weather that has descended upon even the most southerly reaches of the province has limited the number of lingering bird species being discovered, and as a result the Ontario winter bird list is lower than it has been by this date in previous winters.
“Since my last update on December 14, eight new species have been added to the list, bringing it up to 192. In comparison, last year by this date the winter bird list was 207 species, finishing at 216 species. The new additions since my last update are: Vesper Sparrow (Ottawa, London, Sandbanks), Brewer’s Blackbird (Long Point), Tufted Duck (Mississauga to Toronto), Eastern Meadowlark (multiple locations), Indigo Bunting (Seeley’s Bay), Lincoln’s Sparrow (Toronto), Ovenbird (Toronto) and Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Brantford).
“There are very few remaining expected species. Some of the more likely species to be added to the list over the next two months include Boreal Owl, Fish Crow and Pine Warbler. Other species missing from this winter’s list that are more unusual but still observed most winters include Eared Grebe, Black-headed Gull, California Gull, Slaty-backed Gull, Harris’s Sparrow, Spotted Towhee and Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch.”
(ONTBIRDS is presented by the Ontario Field Ornithologists (OFO) – the provincial birding organization. For information visit


Red-bellied Woodpecker (by Kevin Tipson)


All in all, an excellent experience again this year! Important data was gathered and submitted to the Audubon Society. Citizen Science is important! We had good times together. We welcomed new and accomplished members, and welcomed back some great friends whom we’ve not seen much of. I’m sorry to have missed the wonderful potluck and post-count gathering hosted by Kevin and Carol.

Thanks to Ron Jasiuk and Russ Macgillivray for organizing this important UCFNC annual event! (If you wish more complete information, please Contact us!

A Glorious Gallimaufry!

Nicola Ross will be speaking to us next Tuesday, November 28th, 7:30 P.M. at the Orangeville Seniors Centre. Nicola will be talking about her latest book Dufferin Hikes: Loops and Lattes. This is the third in her series of local hiking guides, the others being Caledon Hikes, and Halton Hikes.

A number of us have used these books as guides for mostly short half-day hikes. She has cleverly chosen interesting routes that loop back to the starting point — and she caps that off with recommendations of where to have excellent snacks and lunches. I’ve enjoyed the several of her recommended routes that I’ve done. My wife hikes every Wednesday with a group of local women who have nearly completed all of the hikes in Nicola’s first two books, and are now beginning to hike through her Dufferin book. They’re loving the routes she recommends!

Nicola has a fascinating background, including being the editor for one of Ontario’s leading environmental journals. She is a hometown woman, having grown up in this area. She has become part of Caledon’s community landscape. Years spent hiking local trails, wandering down country roads and exploring villages prompted her to start the Caledon Countryside Alliance to help protect the area from urban sprawl. A columnist with In The Hills magazine for almost two decades and the award-winning author of five books including Caledon and Dufferin County, Nicola lends her knowledge of Caledon’s past and present to her familiarity with the trails that crisscross its dramatic landscape.

One of many things that fascinate me about having Nicola speak to us is her ability to combine enthusiasm for and understanding of her home environment with a remarkable ability to take action on her concerns, and then wrap that all in an entrepreneurial flavour as an author. She’s a fine example of how to live her passions. Besides, anyone who can title their blog A glorious gallimaufry of hiking stories, facts, figures and reviews, simply has to be seen and heard!

Nicola will no doubt be bringing copies of her books to sell. I know quite a few people who have or are going to get certain books as presents! …

Members’ Night, Tuesday October 24th, 7:30 P.M.

The evening will include:

  • A couple of short informal presentations.
  • A slide show of UFCNC member’s photographs.
  • Displays of nature art, specimen collections, handiwork such as bird feeders.
  • Lots of time for socializing and connecting with each other.

“The success of this evening is dependant upon your participation. We really want you to come and be an active part of this.  Let us know what you would like to do and/or bring.”

  • Is there something interesting that you would like to share? How about giving a 5 – 8 minute presentation related to natural history.
  • Do you take photographs?  Send us 10–20 of your favourite nature photos of plants, animals, rocks, landscapes, whatever that you have taken in the past year and we will merge them into a slide show.
  • Have you got something to display … a collection of bones, plants, a nature project that you’re working on such as a bluebird trail nest boxes, insect hotels or a native plant garden?  We’ll reserve a table for you to display your stuff.
  • Are you creative and have artwork such as paintings, sculptures, carvings that you would like to display. Let us know and there will be a table for you.
  • Can you contribute of baked goods/snack items?  Finger foods only please so we can avoid creating dirty dishes.

Contact us by replying at the top of this post by Saturday Oct. 21st and let us know what you would like to present or bring to the UCFN Member’s Night. If you are contributing food also let us know, please.

American Painted Lady butterfly

American Painted Lady, Vanessa virginiensis, one of the migratory butterflies

Christmas Bird Count done!

Thanks to the more than 20 people who turned out to do our annual Christmas Bird Count on Friday December 30th!  Special thanks to Ron Jasiuk and Russ McGillivary for their organization and to Kevin and Carol for hosting the fine potluck dinner afterwards!

UCFNC Christmas Bird Count areas

Russ will compile the results from our six different teams and from the others who contributed Feeder Watch data. We’ve not got a preliminary guess as to how many species nor how many individual birds we say. What we can say is that because of our cold weeks earlier in December there was no open water other than in streams and creeks so that our large numbers of waterfowl from last year were all but absent this year. It’s not about bigger or better numbers — it’s about getting as detailed an inventory each year to build into larger patterns. Let’s see how this the numbers from this year turn out!

I had the great fortune to be out in Area 2, southeast of Caledon over to Caledon East with wonderful birders. Hart brought along Gordon, a friend of his from the Nature London Club and an experienced birder. I’m always in awe of folks with good ears — and Gordon certainly had them. The others would hear things that I couldn’t even with my top-quality hearing aids turned up fully.

Can you see the Red-tail Hawk sitting in the tree down the field — and can you spot the Rough-leg flying away up and to its right?

Highlights for me:  spotting a Belted Kingfisher (and hearing another) at the spot that Chris P had seen them at for many years down at the bottom of the Escarpment along a branch of the Credit River — and seeing a cold-looking Great Blue Heron at the same spot!; being shown a Rough-legged Hawk sharing a tree and sitting directly above a Red-tailed Hawk along the Grange Sideroad east of Highway 10; (the Rough-leg took off leaving the Red-tail sitting in the tree; look closely and you’ll spot the Red-tail in the tree near the middle of the photo, and possibly see the Rough-leg flying away just above and to the right in this mobile phone photo); learning that Gordon had worked with an amazing birder with whom I spent a marvellous summer way back in 1972 working on an ecological inventory of Prince Edward County; getting together with almost everyone afterwards and sharing sightings and stories; wandering up and down the side roads and concessions of Caledon, looking at the wonderful diversity of habitats — and yet realizing how remarkably young almost every top of forest actually was.

A pothole beside the road — with the Phragmites looking lovely in a sinister sort of manner …


(Posted by Mark Whitcombe)

A bedraggled House Finch huddled against my back deck door in a snowstorm (… seems to have survived well enough to eventually fly away — but will it actually survive …)

A Great Egret song

Great Egrets

Great Egrets on Island Lake, August 15, 2015     (photo by Mark Whitcombe)

On an increasingly warm morning, Linda and Chris led us on an exploration of the impressive new trail & boardwalk that completes the circle around Orangeville’s Island Lake. The finished trail is a wonderful tribute to the volunteers of the Credit Valley Conservation Foundation! The many walkers, joggers, families (… and perhaps too many fast bike riders…) speak to the value of this addition to the community.

We saw lots of Canada Geese and Mallards, many Cedar Waxwings, several Kingfishers, some Kingbirds, two Great Blue Herons, a still-enthusiastic Red-eyed Vireo, as well as a Caspian Tern. There were Painted Turtles galore in some spots, sunning on stumps, basking in the shallows, and ploughing lanes through the water plants. I saw at least three species of dragonfly that I couldn’t identify over the open water. I only saw 3 butterflies, all Cabbage Whites. The hit of the trip for me was seeing three Great Egrets, so graceful in their pure whites and their gently swooping flight.

Chris and Linda said this was their ‘swan song’ after 3 years as our field trip organizers. I prefer to link to the graceful egrets, species that Linda in particular has a solid history of working with. I thanked Chris and Linda for their wonderful efforts in providing the club with so many regular and diverse opportunities. We owe them our deepest respect and thanks!

This highlights the need of our club to arrange and offer field trips for the coming year. As I think about fulfilling this, I wonder how we could do this differently.

There are several different components — which could/should involve different people. There is the publicity aspect, involving the writing of emails and sending them out after clarifying details. There is the actual leading of the trips, something that should be separate from the other aspects of field trips. It is not our expectation that those who organize field trips actually lead them (though they are welcome to). There is the component of deciding which field trips to offer and who might actually lead particular excursions. For all  these aspects, there’s a wealth of knowledge and expertise and help within the club.

How can we accomplish this organization and delivery of field trips differently than relying on one or two stalwarts to give so much of their time and effort? Please use the Comments form to share feedback. (I read and approve everything before publishing comments, so if you wish to make your comments private, please indicate this.)

(By the way, Linda has officially reached 163 species for her Big Dufferin Year, her concerted work to find as many species of bird in one year in Dufferin County. Congratulations!)

Once again, thanks to Chris and Linda for giving us so much these last few years!

Now how many of us will step up to offer to move us forward?

The Upper Credit Field Naturalists Club

The Upper Credit Field Naturalists Club is made up of people who share a common interest in the natural environment: enjoying it, preserving it, and learning more about it, in all of its incredible complexity and beauty.

  • We organize a variety of activities throughout the year, including the ever-popular Spring and Christmas bird counts, wildflower walks and other field trips.
  • We hold regular monthly meetings which are our cornerstone activity.
  • We also publish to members as quarterly members’ newsletter, The Bluebird, which contains club news, details of upcoming speakers and field trips, and articles on wildlife and the environment.
  • The membership form is here.

For more about us, check our ABOUT page.

Dragonfly exuvia BeechLake

Dragonfly exuvia, from a Swift River Cruiser, Macromia illinoiensis.  The white tubes are the trachea which connect the developing body of the adult inside the nymphal case through to the outside air as the nymph ceases to use its gills while it comes out of the water to emerge. I had the wonderful privilege of watching and filming thIs take more than 4 hours to come out of the lake, find a spot to anchor itself, and go through the slow orderly sequence of emergence, finally flying away as an adult.   (Photo by Mark Whitcombe)