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Christmas Bird Count 2017: Get your binos and warm clothes ready!

Our annual Christmas Bird Count will be on Saturday December 30th, 2017!  Ron Jasiuk and Russ McGillivary are organizing this year’s event. We be sending out more details and invitations very soon!

Contact us!

UCFNC Christmas Bird Count areas

In the past, we’ve had six different teams, each with an area (outlined on the map to the left). As well, we welcome the data from others who contribute Feeder Watch data. This event is not only about identifying and counting birds. It’s about sharing our enthusiasms together, both during the actual counting as we drive and walk through our assigned zones, and then afterwards as we gather for an informal potluck dinner and sharing session. Drivers, photographers, recorders, and general naturalists are needed — as well as good birders! (I’m personally fortunate to be linked up with a good birder!) We start in the early morning, and count until a lunch break, getting in and out of cars to more carefully scan significant areas. Some sort of lunch break is arranged within each group. Then, later in the afternoon, we gather to have our potluck sharing session. (For those who want, you are welcome to spend some time Friday evening listening for owls as well!)

Last year, because of our cold weeks earlier in December there was no open water other than in streams and creeks so that waterfowl were all but absent in late 2016.

However, this Christmas Bird Could is 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 the numbers from this year turn out!

January Nature Movie Festival is changed to January 23rd, 7:30 P.M.

We are taking advantage of a new opportunity for our January meeting: a nature film festival. Check this out and click on the €œFestival Films on Tour.€ We are using mainly short films from Jackson Hole Wild to host an event at the Seniors centre for our members. We’ll provide more details shortly!

Because of renovations at the Seniors’ Centre during the last week of January, we have to move the date away from January 30th to Tuesday, January 23rd at our usual time of 7:30 P.M.

The “L” word and they’re everywhere!

A word that I have not uttered or thought about for probably thirty years popped into my head when looking at this picture of …….Lenticels. Although I was able to associate the word with the horizontal lines found on the Birch tree trunk I remembered nothing about the structure or function of Lenticels.

“Raised circular, for sale oval or elongated areas on stems and roots are known as lenticels.” After reading this I saw lenticels everywhere..on my carrots, beets, apples, potatoes and houseplants.

Lenticels function as pores to allow for the exchange of gases. It’s how tissues within stems, trunks and roots get oxygen.

For some tree species such as the Pignut Hickory and Northern Spicebush, the shape of the lenticels can help with winter identification.

Split Rock side trail, Bruce Trail, Mono, ON


An Urban Weasel

Orangeville residents Kirsten and Carmen Plester have a weasel living in their garage. Kirsten managed to photograph the very curious and seemingly unafraid weasel with her cell phone. The Plesters suspect that this little carnivore has been feeding on mice and Chipmunks.
They’re hoping to get another look at it in order to determine whether it is a Long-tailed Weasel, a Short-tailed Weasel or a Least Weasel.


 It was surprising to find that the best sources of information about these three species of weasel was from websites geared towards fur trappers such as this…/wildlife/trapping/docs/weasel.pdf and!weasel/czxh

FYI: In a 2012 article on Least Weasels by Gilbert PROULX in Canadian Wildlife and Biology Management said “The Least Weasel (Mustela nivalis) is the smallest carnivore of Canada….no ecological studies were conducted on this species….The absence of field work on the Least Weasel in Canada….I argue that the lack of interest in Least Weasel research is due to its body size and elusive behavior, its difficulty to study, and its poor economic value.”

Once again it’s surprising to realize how little we know about a “common?” species.

A Naturalist in the Maritimes

It’s a large world; it’s a small world; it’s a diverse world; it’s a connected world.

We’re a third of our way through our tour of the eastern provinces, presently staying in Nova Scotia with friends from university and before.
Turns out that “D” was the statistics advisor to Troy Macmillan, whom you might remember as our lichen speaker and field trip guide from several years back. It’s a small interwoven world!

We’re staying with “D&L” at their cottage on a lake in the interior of Nova Scotia. We could be on any Algonquin area lake, with rich brown humus-y water, Common Loons, Lake Trout, Ospreys and Poison Ivy. But something is subtly and significantly different. Red Maples predominate, not Sugar Maples which are rare. There’s Grey Birch as well as the more familiar Silver and Yellow species. The American Beechs almost all have fungal infection that makes their mature bark look more like a maple than the elephant’s leg we admire. There’s copious shaggy wisps of Usnea lichen on the trees. It’s a diverse world. (And we’ve not really been on the sea coast yet!)

Cantharellus minor (?), small red chanterelle

Cantharellus minor (?), small red chanterelle

I’m struck by the rich palette of paints used on the wooden house sidings. (“L” has a fondness for Maud Lewis!) Nothing to do with natural history, you say! However … perhaps there’s a relationship between damp maritime climates, available housing materials and skills, and a human desire for colour … It’s a connected world.

Passing through the well-treed city of Fredricton — gorgeous American Elms! — we stopped to see the chimney where an estimated 200 Chimney Swifts rooster earlier this year.


Fredricton Chimney Swift roost — 200+this year!

Fredricton Chimney Swift roost — 200+this year!

The slow-moving line of heavy storms we pierced as we left Orangeville hammered us in Arnprior that night, blasted us in Québec City a couple of days later, and then blinded us as we drove at night down the Saint John River valley in New Brunswick. That same line of heavy weather passed back and forth above us for more than a week! It’s a small inter-connected world.

Thunderstorm over the upper Saint John River Valley

Thunderstorm over the upper Saint John River Valley

A Bald Eagle, an adult with a magnificent white tail, just glided over me as I write this. It’s a magnificent world. And seeing all of this through a naturalist’s ‘eye’ is wondrous!

Watching Saturn & waiting for Tiangong, the Chinese space station

Watching Saturn & waiting for Tiangong, the Chinese space station