Category Archives: field trip

Field trip

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 …)

Credit Valley BioBlitz Registration is now open!

Guided Blitz Registration is now open!

Join us for the 2016 Ontario BioBlitz in the Credit River Watershed on June 11-12!

The Guided BioBlitz is an opportunity for less-experienced nature enthusiasts to learn a bit more about their favourite species through field surveying and identification techniques – important skills for understanding the world around us. Our 2015 flagship event in the Don Watershed was a big success. Thanks to the 700+ registered participants and volunteers – we couldn’t do it without you!

The Guided BioBlitz is open to all ages and all experience levels, but be aware that sessions can require a lot of walking. Please also note that there can be a 40 minute drive between Guided BioBlitz sites.

Visit http://www.ontariobioblitz.ca/guided-registration.html to register for sessions, look at the map of the Guided Blitz sites, and download a copy of the schedule.

Most sessions are limited to 30 people per group, and will fill up quickly – so make sure to register early! Participants will be contacted with more information about their particular session shortly after registration closes, on May 20th, 2016.

As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, we would be happy to answer them – just send us an e-mail at  ontariobioblitz@gmail.com, or visitwww.ontariobioblitz.ca for more info.

Rockin’ the roads of Headwaters: Touring the landscapes of Headwaters

Our next field trip will be a Geology and Geomorphology Field Trip on Saturday Feb 13th. If you are a member of the Upper Credit Field Naturalists Club, you should have received a more detailed notice. If you are not a member … well …

Our goal is to help us all learn how to see our local landscape in a way that’s more inter-connected and explicable than just seeing it as pretty and hilly.

We’re going to look first at the general area of the old Orangeville brickworks, and get some idea of how that mix of clay and marl was deposited some 12,000 years ago. That involves learning about the Alton moraine plug that was dropped by the last glacial advance in this area when a lobe of ice temporarily moved back northwest across what is now Lake Ontario during a brief period of regrowth of the otherwise retreating glaciers. Then we’ll wander across that moraine plug of hummocky hills north and west of Alton, training our eyes to the particular look of end moraines.

So far, this will be studying geomorphology, here focusing on the effects of glaciers in this area. Our next major stop will be down in the Belfountain area, when we take a brief hike across remarkable bouldery terrain to the Devil’s Pulpit overlook for a stunning look at how the glaciers roughly carved the solid escarpment. This valley will be our first look at a re-entrant valley, though later on in the trip we’ll traverse the much larger Hockley Valley which was also partly gouged out by the glacier.

From there, we’ll take a look at the Cheltenham Badlands. Although this is now closed off, we’ll be able to see it from the side of the road. Among other topics here, will be how this feature is actually the direct result of recent human activity and is not really a natural landscape. Which of course, raises questions about how it should be preserved.
Then we’ll continue ahead to look at the most dramatic impact of humans on our local landscape — the Caledon gravel pits. That economically essential sand and gravel deposit was left by the glaciers. Here, we’ll think about the various impacts of our human actions, and then think ahead to what this area could become — and how we might influence that process.
We’ll then head up Kennedy Road, turning east along Highway 9 to climb up the eastern side of the Orangeville Moraine. This feature forks around Orangeville and reasonably clearly shows where three lobes of the ice sheet met overtop of present-day Orangeville. We’ll then head up the Third Line, dropping down into the Hockley Valley, perhaps looking at another exposure of what is in our area the bottom of the Niagara Escarpment at the Red Mud Cliffs. From there, we’ll head further up the Third Line and switch over to the Fourth Line, tracing the dramatic spillway where huge amounts of water flowed off the melting ice lobes, and drained across Orangeville, and down through Hillsburgh into what is now the Grand River and into the present-day Lake Erie.
This brings us back to the beginning feature of our tour, because it was the interruption of this spillway that led to the marl beds southwest of Orangeville and the subsequent re-routing of the meltwaters down the present Credit River.

(Mark Whitcombe)

The Devil's Pulpit overlook of the re-entrant valley near Belfountain

The Devil’s Pulpit overlook of the re-entrant valley near Belfountain

Annual Christmas Bird Count 2015-6

xmasbirders

SATURDAY JANUARY 2ND – SAVE THE DATE FOR OUR ANNUAL CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT More information coming soon about how you can participate in our local count. In the meantime find out more about this 100+ year old citizen science event that occurs all over North America, drug in many European countries and involves thousands of volunteers just like you.

http://www.audubon.org/conservation/science/christmas-bird-count

cardinal & chickadee

(Ron Jasiuk)

The Supermoon Eclipse — before the clouds eclipsed …

Four of us turned out at Island Lake to hope for clear skies — and we were in luck! Clouds covered the moonrise to the east, but the cloud-free western skies for sunset gave us hope. In the meantime, 5 cormorants flew to roost nearby in a remarkably flimsy dead tree, swaying in the light breezes. Muskrats dove in front of us, surfacing with winter vegetative clumps on which they munched while lying on the surface. At least three Killdeer called repetitively amongst themselves. Two Great Blue Herons foraged successfully in the shallows right beside us long into darkness.

image

 

The clouds stayed off low along the horizon to the east as the Moon rose above them. Shafts of high thin altocumulus rose westwards out of the bank of clouds. These shafts of cloud alternately covered and uncovered the eclipsing Moon, providing some gorgeous opportunities for photos. My trusty smartphone was pushed to its limits in this low light, but this next photo at least partly captures the atmosphere.

Streaks of clouds lit by the eclipsing Moon at Island Lake

Streaks of clouds lit by the eclipsing Moon at Island Lake (photo by Mark Whitcombe)

A surprising number of people were still out, even at 10 P.M. when the clouds finally eclipsed the slightly-over-half eclipsed Moon. So we saw the reddening as the cloud entered the umbral shadow of the Earth beginning at 9:11 P.M.  But we didn’t see the full eclipse. The clouds ultimately won …

The clouds won the eclipse show …

The clouds won the eclipse show …  (photo by Mark Whitcombe)

When I asked at the UCFNC meeting the next Tuesday, about 20 people put up their hands to say that they had seen at least some part of this impressive natural event, almost all directly from their homes. Nice!

(by Mark Whitcombe)

 

 

 

 

Supermoon Eclipse this Sunday September 27th!

There is a special eclipse of the Moon Sunday evening, and despite the forecast of some cloud during the early evening hours, and the possibility of rain overnight, I’m going to head out to see it! Perhaps it will be cloudy, perhaps there may even be some showers, but I’m hopeful that there’s going to be either light enough cloud to see something worthwhile, or that there may actually be a break in the clouds during the critical hours just after dark as some weather models show.

You are invited to join me. I’m going to park at Home Hardware and walk across Highway #10 at the lights. Once across the road, I go through the ‘gates’ and turn left along the new path that heads northwards parallel to the highway. I’m going to go close to the end of the first long bridge, which is about half a kilometre of easy flat walking.

Sunset is at 7:09 pm local time, and the full moon will rise at 7:01 pm and we’ll be looking at it across the lake — which should be quite lovely. As you can see from the attached graphic, at 9:07 pm, the Moon will begin to be eclipsed by the umbra of the Earth (the darkest part of the Earth’s shadow. This will likely be the first time that noticeable changes to the Moon will occur. Perigee, the closest approach of the Moon to the Earth, is at 9:46 pm. The Moon is full, i.e., in direct opposition to the Sun, at 10:50 pm, and totality will begin ending at 11:23 pm, with all visible changes likely gone by 12:27 am on Monday morning.

SupermoonEclipse

Fred Espinak’s excellent graphic of the Supermoon Eclipse

I’m aiming to be out at the lake by about 7:00 pm, warmly enough dressed and with a lawn chair, binoculars, camera, tripod, and several flashlights. I’ll stay until conditions are too poor to see anything — or until the eclipse is over … You are welcome to come any time, and to leave any time. You will be responsible for getting yourself to where I’ll be viewing the eclipse. I’ll not be waiting anywhere other than at my chosen viewing position. The peak time will be from 9 pm to midnight. Perhaps you might poke your head out the door several times as the evening progresses, and make your decisions to whether to wander out and join me!

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?