Nature Down-Under: Escape from the February deep-freeze

Nature Down-Under: Escape from the February deep-freeze
By: Inga Hinnerichsen We couldn't have picked a better time for our recent trip to New Zealand! The summer is still going strong in February (like our August), but the high tourist season is already tapering off and the local kids are back in school. During the week the beaches are less busy and you'll have a better selection of campsites. On the other hand, this is not a great time to visit Northern Australia! The "Wet" is in full swing, the outback is flooded by torrential rains, devastating cyclones tear at the north and north east parts of the continent. The South is usually hot and dry with plenty of bushfires raging. Roughly 80 million years ago the land mass now known as Zealandia broke away from the supercontinent Gondwana together with Australia. This continent has since eroded away…
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NFN winter birding field event

By: Cody Rowe There is something about the call of the outdoors that brings birders together, regardless of the weather, and Sunday January 18, 2015 was no exception. A group of 13 birders flocked to the shores of Lake Erie, all were eager to venture forth and find birds a little less common than the handful of Mallards and Ring-Billed Gulls that were gathered around the Port Dover Harbour. Led by the wonderful guides, Audrey Heagy and Dave Okines, our seven-vehicle convoy made their way to Silver Lake. Unfortunately the lake was frozen over, but we did find a pair of American Black Ducks, hundreds of Canada Geese, House Sparrows, and some European Starlings. Leaving Silver Lake we followed the Lakeshore Rd to a beautiful dark morph Rough-legged Hawk (one of many seen that day) and a few American Crows.…
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CBC Fisherville count results

Compiled by: Linda Thrower The Fisherville Christmas Bird Count was held on December 28th, 2014. For the end of December the weather was amazing. No snow to speak of, nice clear roads, open water, temperatures above freezing and low winds. I could not have asked for better weather. Well, maybe the glare off the lake could have been less, which would have allowed for a few more waterfowl to be counted. You would have thought with the weather like that the birds would have been easier to find, but I guess with the water and the fields being open the birds were spread out rather than all bunching up. I know we had to beat the bushes to get a few species that are usually an easy find in the winter. But thanks to the awesome birders who were nice…
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CBC Woodhouse count results

Compiled by David Okines Greetings Counters, These are the results of the 28th Woodhouse CBC held on December 14th 2014. The Woodhouse CBC is centred 7 km east of Simcoe, at the crossroads of Highway 3 and Cockshut Road at Renton in Norfolk County and roughly covers from Port Dover to Waterford and just west of Simcoe to east of Jarvis. Weather: The weather this year was certainly different from last year. Last year had a significant snow cover, this year none.There was some drizzle overnight and the day was overcast with occasional light drizzle but this had stopped by mid morning. Most of the standing water was free of ice. Temperatures varied from a low of +2 when owling to a high of +5 during the day. Many thanks to Madaline Wilson for hosting the round-up on short notice.…
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The Owl’s Nest

By: Linda Thrower One very cold moonlit night in February many years ago my husband, a friend and I hauled a ladder down to a frozen pond to reach the duck box in the middle of it. An Eastern Screech Owl had been living in it for quite a few years. As do many homes, a box requires repairs every so often. The roof had a leak in the middle of it and water would drip on top of the owl's head as it was sunning itself in the early morning. My husband climbed the ladder while our friend held it in place on the ice. As I stood watch the owl came out of its box and flew around twice, then settled in a tree watching what was going on with its home. None of us were sure how…
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Long Point Butterfly Count

Report by: Adam Timpf This year's Long Point butterfly count was held on July 5th, 2014. We had an uptick in participation this year with 31 observers and had all parts of the circle well covered. Despite this, and nearly ideal weather conditions on the day, most groups commented on the lack of butterflies. With everyone's hard work we still managed to find 3731 individuals of 52 species. If it wasn't for the 2108 Edward's Hairstreaks, our individuals total would be far under the long term average of 2622 individuals. 52 species is slightly above the long term average of ~49. Notable sightings: 2108 Edward's Hairstreak. This will likely be a new North American high count surpassing the 1004 record set by our count last year. 71 Banded hairstreak. New count high. Previous high was 57 in 2006. 1 Meadow…
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Reptile Trivia

The largest (i.e. longest) snake found in Norfolk County (and Ontario) is the endangered and very rare Gray Ratsnake which can grow to a maximum length of 2.5 metres (8 feet). Also endangered, the Eastern Foxsnake can grow to 1.7 metres in length (over 5 1⁄2 feet). The smallest snake in Norfolk County (and Ontario) is the tiny Red-bellied Snake. This species reaches a maximum length of 40cm (16 inches). The more common DeKay’s Brownsnake can be slightly larger, with a maximum length of 50cm (20 inches). The non-venomous Eastern Foxsnake, Gray Ratsnake and Milksnake (special concern) will all vibrate their tails when threatened. These constrictors are excellent at rodent control. The Eastern Hog-nosed Snake is found in sandy parts of Norfolk County and, despite its theatrics, is also harmless to humans. When threatened, it may puff out and flatten…
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In Memoriam: Alex Landon & Barbara Browne

This summer the Norfolk Field Naturalists lost two of our Founding Members. Alex Landon The Landon family is a long-time supporter of the NFN. Monroe Landon, one of the founders, Alex & Doris, and son Zeb, have all served in volunteer capacities within our Club. We would like to convey our deepest condolences to the Landon family, and sincerely appreciate being named the charity for donations in honour of Alex’s life. The Norfolk Field Naturalists wish to recognize with gratitude all those who made donations in the memory of Alex Landon on behalf of this organization: Barbara Browne (Mrs. B. W. Anderson) Her long-time involvement with NFN includes the original designs for the Dogwood logo and the Lotus on the newsletter, an expression of her artistic talent and love of nature. We extend our deepest sympathy to the Browne family,…
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Conserving Endangered Reptiles

By: Inga Hinnerichsen / Gregor Beck January 25, 2014, brought blizzard conditions making road travel impossible or very hazardous at best. The Reptiles At Risk Advanced Workshop had to be postponed, although a handful of hardy souls had braved the conditions to attend this event. The rescheduled event was staged instead on August 6th at the Backus Conservation Education Centre, presented by Scales Nature Park in partnership with Long Point Basin Land Trust (LPBLT), Long Point Region Conservation Authority (LPRCA) and Norfolk Field Naturalists (NFN). Roughly 50 reptile enthusiasts of all ages attended the event. The presenters from Scales Nature Park, Kelsey Crawford, Miranda Virtanen and Damien Millen gave an outline on all Ontario reptiles and their conservation status. At the end of the evening the participants had the rare opportunity to acquaint themselves hands-on with many live snakes and…
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Causeway Project update

By Rick Levick Plans to install up to nine more wildlife culverts under the Long Point Causeway are moving ahead now that the Environment Assessment has been completed without any comments or objections from the public. The project will move forward to final design, permitting and tendering over the next couple of months. Construction of up to six of the nine proposed culverts is planned for October or November this year. Stephen Burnett and Associates (SBA), the consulting engineers for the first three culverts installed in 2012, prepared the EA report for Norfolk County. The entire cost of the EA report and related studies has been paid for by the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve Foundation with funding received from Environment Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program (HSP) and Ontario’s Species at Risk Stewardship Fund (SARSF). As well, the annual monitoring of…
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