A Message From the President
s it has done since its founding, the Peninsula Field Naturalists’
Nature Club has advocated, educated and participated in the
conservation of natural resources and green spaces in the Niagara
Region. To do this well, the club requires a committed executive and
Rick Young and Roman Olszewski representing the club at
Winterfest. See page 4 for more information. © Rick Young
I am pleased to work with this year’s Executive and was happy to see
Carol Horvat step up into the role of Vice-President, a position that
has been vacant for a few years. I welcome the addition of Don
Stevenson to the Board, and we’ll continue to come up with exciting
presentations and outings. Many thanks to Wendy Bradley for her role
as Secretary from 2007 to 2019.
Participating in events like Winterfest and the Birds on the Niagara
will assist in informing the public of what we do for the environment
and will also inspire future naturalists. Engaging kids in the 21st
century can be a challenge, but we have a great team that continues to
come up with new ideas.
There are many knowledgeable members in this club and finding new
locations for outings in Niagara and beyond will promote participation.
I look forward to attending new hikes this spring as well as coming up
with new outings for this fall and next year when meeting with the
Together, the members and Executive of the Peninsula Field Naturalists
can look forward to spending some time in the natural areas of the
Niagara Region and beyond. Hope to see you on one of the hikes or at a
Bob Highcock, President
Since I submitted my comments for this newsletter, there has been a
drastic change in the way we lead our daily lives. To flatten or plank
the curve, we have cancelled meetings, postponed outings, and parks and
trails have closed. Many forms of social gatherings are on hold, and I
expect to send out additional cancellation notices, all to help curb
the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
It will take time, but with these measures, we will be able to meet
again and walk along a trail in a conservation area enjoying nature
together. For now, I wish you all well and to stay healthy.
In Memory of David Gittings 1933 – 2019
n May 3, 2019, PFN member David Gittings passed away in his 86th year.
David was a member of the Niagara Regional Police Service for 40 years,
retiring in 1994 with the rank of Staff Superintendent.
David enjoyed playing golf and bridge for 70 years at the St.
Catharines Golf and Country Club and also served on the Board of
Directors for the John Howard Society for many years.
Both he and his wife Judy were long-time members of Mountainview United
Church with David looking after the church facilities and chairing the
As members of the Peninsula Field Naturalists’, both David and Judy
were the first to arrive and last to leave when the indoor programs
were held at Mountainview United Church. If an issue arose or an item
was needed, David was always eager to assist with resolving the issue.
David and Judy’s dedication to club meetings is truly appreciated. The
conversations with David and Judy on Monday evenings were enjoyable,
and their presence will be fondly remembered.
Presentations 2019 - 2020
by Jean Hampson & Bob Highcock
n September 23, 2019, John Black spoke on the topic of Uganda - Land of
Gorillas and Shoebills.
© John Black
John and his birding friends spent 18 days travelling around Uganda in
July of 2018. John’s quest is to see all of the bird families, and he
needed the Shoebill, plus some gorillas would be nice. The second day
into his trip, John was able to see the Shoebill at the Makanaga
Wetlands. They travelled all around the country, which included
crossing the Equator. His group saw many other amazing sights such as
elephants, giraffes, numerous colourful bird species, hippopotamuses,
ions and beautiful waterfalls. They also managed to visit chimpanzee
and gorilla habitats for up- close looks at these great apes.
On October 28, 2019, Jean Hampson and Bob Highcock presented The Wild
West of Cuba.
© Jean Hampson
They described their February 2019 travels in the western provinces of
Cuba to search for endemic bird species and other wildlife. Highlights
of the trip were the Zapata Wren, Zapata Sparrow and the Bee
Hummingbird, the smallest bird in the world. Other notable observations
were Cuban Tody, Great Lizard Cuckoo and Cuban Trogon, the national
bird of Cuba. Historical sites were also visited while travelling
through Cuba, which included the cities of Trinidad, Santa Clara and
Havana. When not birding, Jean and Bob went spelunking, snorkelling,
boating and sampling rum. They encourage everyone to get off the resort
and explore the wild side of Cuba.
November 25, 2019, was the annual PFN Dessert Night, and our speaker
that evening was Bruce Mackenzie. Bruce’s topic was Wings Along a
Bon Echo Provincial Park is located in Cloyne, Ontario and offers
scenic views from a 100-metre-high cliff that overlooks Mazinaw Lake.
Indigenous pictographs and the Old Walt inscription can be seen on the
granite rock wall when canoeing or kayaking on the lake with a maximum
depth of 145 metres.
Geology, birds and plants can be observed while camping, boating and
hiking in the park. Just be careful to watch out for falling discarded
parts from a Peregrine Falcon’s prey while kayaking below the cliffs.
Other wings along the cliff include Barn Swallow, Eastern Phoebe,
Prairie Warbler, Turkey Vulture, Common Raven and Common Merganser.
Columbine, Pale Corydalis, Service Berry and Blueberry are just some of
the blooms that can be seen at Bon Echo. Ancient Cedars, White Pine and
Pear Tree seem to grip onto the edges of the rock wall. If you have a
list of provincial parks you would like to visit, Bon Echo should be
added if it is not already there.
Sunset reflects off Mazinaw Rock at Bon Echo Provincial Park.
© Bruce Mackenzie
On January 27, 2020, Claire Theijsmeijer and Veronica Clarke-Hanik from
The Friends of Malcolmson Eco-Park discussed the Invasive Plant Species
Removal in Malcolmson Eco-Park.
Melcolmson crew (left) Bob Highcock (right)
© Sal Sorrento
The St. Catharines park is located along the Welland Canal and gets its
name from Mary Malcolmson, who organized the first Canadian Girl Guide
Organization in 1910. Members from the Peninsula Field Naturalists have
enjoyed the natural setting of the park for many years.
The removal of invasive species from the park is a multi-year plan with
a focus on approximately two to three acres a year. Species of concern
include European Buckthorn, Oriental Bittersweet Vine, Manitoba Maple,
Sycamore Maple, Norway Maple, Multiflora Rose, Tartarian Honeysuckle
and Garlic Mustard.
The project started with the first girdling spray of two forested areas
in December 2018. In May of 2019, student groups pulled Garlic Mustard
in the forest and prairie sections of the park. Volunteers planted
native shrubs and trees. In June of the same year, a second spray was
applied in the two forested areas. In October, canopy openings were
noted in the central forest sprayed area. Volunteers cut down dead
invasive plants and planted native shrubs and trees. In January 2020, a
girdling spray was applied to another forested area. From January to
April of this year, a Niagara College field project to inventory
priority invasive plants in the forest will help identify areas of
high-density invasive species and where to focus removal efforts. They
are looking for volunteers to help with future plantings. Hopefully,
some PFN members will be able to assist with this project.
On February 24, 2020, Phil Downey presented A Traveller’s Guide to the
U.S. Southwest. It is reviewed on the next page.
Unfortunately, the March indoor meeting with guest speaker Peter Thoem
was cancelled due to recent world events. We hope to reschedule his
talk, An Old Bird Book for a future meeting.
A Traveler's Guide to the U.S. Southwest
by Janet Damude
n February 24, 2020, Phil Downey, a St Catharines resident, took club
members on a tour of the U.S. Southwest. Although Phil's primary
interest is the night sky, he has, in recent years, developed an
interest in birding. His presentation was based on three two-week trips
that were taken through the states of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah to
enjoy both birds and the night sky. He gave us such a wealth of
information; it was challenging to take notes on it all.
One piece of advice was to go on a new moon or the last quarter. The
skies are more visible, and the birds do not care. His second piece of
advice was to purchase the National Parks Pass. It is reasonably priced
and makes it very affordable to visit and revisit the parks.
Arizona was the first trip. At Kitt Peak National Observatory outside
Tucson, he found good birds, including his first Road Runner. Open
night and day, with numerous observatories for stargazing, and you can
watch professional astronomers at work. There are tours available for a
fee and telescopes for amateurs. Saguaro National Park is named for the
majestic, long-lived native desert plant, the Saguaro Cactus, found
only in a small portion of the US. The city of Sedona offers suitable
accommodations, great hiking and excellent bird watching. Flagstaff is
home to the Lowell Observatory, which offers guided tours and is home
to the telescope that made possible the discovery of Pluto. Phil
suggests several days around the Grand Canyon. He was fascinated by the
smoke from a controlled burn clouding the distant sky. The layers of
history visible by examining the cliffs of the canyon should capture
everyone's attention and the sandstone buttes in Monument Valley are
spectacular. There is a fascinating historical area around the Eldon
Pueblo Archeological site where people had lived in carved out holes.
Phil enjoyed a Raven in Petrified Forest National Park. This park had
many petroglyphs and logs that have turned to stone. Nearby is Meteor
Crater, just under a mile wide and carved by a meteorite impact; it
offers tours and a museum and has been used by Astronauts for training.
The trip to southern New Mexico provided excellent birding with lots of
new birds because of the elevation. The dark skies of the area also
made for fantastic star gazing. Pine Oak Woodlands had a profusion of
hummingbirds, some familiar and some new. Gypsum sand crystals form the
dunes of White Sands National Park. Phil was impressed with the Yucca
plant that thrives here, with it being beneficial in dune stabilization
as well as for animal and human uses. Bosque del Apache National
Wildlife Refuge is a famous birding destination. Ross’s and Snow geese
are plentiful, and they congregate at an area called the flight deck.
Early on winter mornings, there will be silence, then almost
simultaneously, thousands of geese will take off. They circle around
and eventually resettle. Large numbers of Sandhill Cranes also winter
in the wetland. For a long downhill walk, visit Carlsbad Caverns
National Park with its over one hundred caves and lots of stalactites.
From spring to fall, every evening, park visitors can watch the
spectacular outflights of bats that roost in some of the caves. Don't
forget; you have to walk back uphill.
Phil’s trip was to Utah to visit The Mighty 5 National Parks, prime
sites you can visit night or day. Zion National Park was his first
stop, which was quite beautiful. He then moved on to Bryce Canyon
National Park with its many stunning overlooks such as Sunset Point and
Sunrise Point, beautiful alpine forests and red rock hoodoos. Phil felt
it also had the best astronomy sites. At Capitol Reef National Park,
the fall colours were lovely. It has some fantastic geological
structures and offers dark sky programs for stargazing. Rain here comes
in quite quickly, so hikers must watch for flash floods. The Arches
National Park has over 2000 natural sandstone arches. Photographing was
a must, and the Balanced Rock, a massive rock balance on a natural
pillar, drew much attention. Canyonlands National Park displayed
beautiful colours and breathtaking cliffs. Within the park is Upheaval
Dome, which for many years was a mystery but is now thought to be a
After discussing each trip, Phil shared his list of bird species he
observed, and the show closed with lovely shots of the colourful sky as
the sun went down, and the stars twinkled.
by Marlene Sanders
When do Great Horned Owls begin sitting on their nests?
Why do they start so much earlier than songbirds?
In what type of very limited habitat can the Kirtland’s Warbler be
Where in Ontario has it been located?
What tree leaf is heart-shaped and has toothed edges?
When do the flowers bloom on this tree?
Which tree bark looks like ski runs?
Do the leaves have pointed or rounded lobes?
The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority oversees the Niagara
Peninsula watershed. Which two areas are part of the watershed other
How many properties or Conservation Areas does the NPCA manage?
Answers can be found on the back page.
Spring Tailgate Potluck
by Janet Damude
e arrived at our usual meeting spot on April 22, 2019, but the doors to
the Niagara Region building were locked. It was the evening of our
spring potluck party. We waited. Fortunately, it was a cool but
pleasant evening. Finally, a gentleman came out and explained it was a
government holiday, and access was not to be.
Desserts on a tailgate.
© Bob Highcock
What about our supper? President Bob decided to have members arrange
their vehicles in two lines, back to back about nine feet apart in the
parking lot. With trunks and hatchbacks open, the food was displayed,
the desserts finding their way to the back of a pick- up truck.
Everything looked delicious.
Let our tailgate party begin! Wandering between the vehicles, we filled
our plates, chatted and sampled each dish. Hot foods had been brought
warm and were still excellent if not as hot. There was a wide variety
of salads and other dishes and a punch brought by the Potters was
enjoyed. The desserts were a challenge to choose from.
When appetites were satisfied, we tidied the trunks and replaced the
food with the treasures for the auction. We purchased our tickets and
dropped them into a container next to each prize we hoped to win.
Ticket sales were brisk, and many were delighted with their winnings.
Barb, with her team, supervised the draws. Goodwill and laughter
As the light was fading and a chill fell in the air, we packed up. This
evening will not be forgotten. Hurray for tailgate parties.
In Search of the Purple Sandpiper
by Barb West
ovember 9, 2019 was a beautiful day, so we once again set out to find
the elusive Purple Sandpiper. We never did see it, but we got to see
some other exciting birds. We saw a Peregrine Falcon, a Great- Horned
Owl, Common Loons, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Tree Sparrow, Cedar Waxwing
and Snow Bunting. Among the more common birds we saw were the Downy
Woodpecker, Chickadee, Robin, Mourning Dove, Flicker, Goldfinch,
Cardinal, Junco, Blue Jay, White-Throated Sparrow, Hairy Woodpecker and
Red-Bellied Woodpecker. On Lake Ontario and the pond, we saw Cormorant,
Bufflehead, Mallard, Gadwall, Greater Scaup, Red-Breasted Merganser,
Goldeneye, Long-tailed Ducks, Wigeon, Canada Geese, Black Duck, Herring
Gull and Ring-billed Gull. So although we didn’t see the Purple
Sandpiper, we did have a successful outing. Oh well, maybe next year.
Birds on the Niagara
by Jean Hampson & Bob Highcock
he Peninsula Field Naturalists’ were invited to participate in this
international birding event on February 15, 2020. This is the second
year the Birds on the Niagara International Winter Celebration has
taken place, but last year Bob and I were in Cuba, so we were unable to
This year we set up a booth inside the Niagara Glen Nature Centre
alongside other nature clubs and organizations. We talked to a good
number of people stopping by our booth, who expressed a genuine
interest in our club. The bonus was that our booth was located next to
the Canadian Raptor Conservancy and their live birds of prey.
We also led a guided walk along the Niagara River at Brown’s Point in
Niagara-on-the-Lake. We had sixteen participants, and we observed birds
both on the river and in the wooded grove along the trail. It was a
newly introduced birding area for some of the attendees.
Marcie Jacklin from the Bert Miller Nature Club and Kayo Roy from the
Niagara Falls Nature Club also led outings at different points along
the river. Outings and events took place on the U.S. side of the river
It was wonderful to be in the company of people from both countries who
care about wild birds.
by Rick Young
Rick and Roman making bird nests with the children.
© Rick Young
//ach year on Family Day, the Heartland Forest group celebrates
Winterfest and invites many organizations such as nature clubs, geology
and astronomy groups to participate in this event at their open house.
The Peninsula Field Naturalists’ accepted this invitation and had our
display board there along with a craft for children to make and take
Our display board depicted what we had seen on our outings and walks,
items such as birds, animals, butterflies and plants. We also handed
out our club brochures describing our outings and meetings.
Our children’s event was to encourage them to make models of a bird’s
nest designed by Marlene Sanders. This they did by using a homemade
play dough made by Marlene to form the nests into a saucer-like shape.
Next, a feather and a piece of moss were added. Finally, one or two
jelly beans were added to represent eggs. At least fifty children
participated, and most took their models home.
qThis was a successful day. Many thanks to Marlene Sanders and Roman
Olszewski for providing materials and expertise. It was a beautiful
day, sunny but cool, so the large crowds were able to enjoy the outdoor
events and walks along with the indoor ones.
St Catharines CBC
by Jean Hampson & Bob Highcock
he Peninsula Field Naturalists’ held their Christmas Bird Count on
Sunday, December 15, 2019. The daytime temperature ranged from -3°C in
the morning to a high of 2°C in the afternoon with clouds throughout
Thank you to the 51 participants listed below for assisting with the
count, to Mary and John Potter and Janet and Carl Damude for organizing
the round-up party at the North Pelham Youth Hall, and to everyone who
brought main courses and treats for all to enjoy. Thank you also to
Sharon Wilson for allowing access to her property during the count.
Brian Ahara, Rhonda Armstrong, John Black, Sam Brockington, Carla
Carlson, Paul Chapman, Sue Chapman, Barb Charlton, Paula Clark, Emily
Cornfield, Rachael Cornfield, Trevor Cornfield, Rob Dobos, Philip
Downey, Rob Eberly, Chris Escott, Doug Gillard, Lynn Glover, Bev
Hadler, Jean Hampson, Sara Handrigan, Shirley Harrison, Bob Highcock,
Carol Horvat, Myra Kennedy, Mike Kershaw, Terri Kershaw, Nabil
Khairallah, Nabila Khairallah, Kara Kristjanson, Win Laar, MaryAnn
Mikolic, Gisele Mills, Matt Mills, Greg O'Rourke, Bill Rapley, Judy
Robins, Kayo Roy, Marlene Sanders, Karin Schneider, Tim Seburn, Loretta
Shields, Bill Smith, Ken Smith, Nancy Smith, Roy Sorgenfrei, Lucas
Stanfield, John Stevens, Sally Tasane, Tom Thomas, Victoria Tousaw,
New high counts were recorded for Trumpeter Swan (15), Bald Eagle (8)
and Common Raven (4). Trumpeter/ Tundra Swan (6) was a new record for
the SC CBC. Species observed during count week - Fox Sparrow.
|American Black Duck
|Great Blue Heron
|Lesser Black-backed Gull
|Great Black-backed Gull
|Eastern Screech Owl
|Great Horned Owl
|American Tree Sparrow
|Fox Sparrow (Count Week)
|Total number of species
|Total number of individuals
The Peninsula Field
President - Bob Highcock
Vice President - Carol Horvat
Secretary - Jean Hampson
Treasurer - Janet Damude
Membership Secretary - Rick Young
Directors - Barb West - Doug Gillard
- Roman Olszewski - Marlene Sanders
- Don Stevenson
Newsletter Editor - Lorraine Brown-Joyce
Webmaster - Adrian Lawler
he Peninsula Field Naturalists Club is a non-profit organization
started in 1954 with the objectives to preserve wildlife and protect its
habitat, to promote public interest in and a knowledge of the natural
history of the area, and to promote, encourage and cooperate with
organizations and individuals having similar interests and objectives.
We are affiliated with Ontario Nature and Nature Canada.
Our meetings are held on the fourth Monday of each month from September
to April (except December) at 7:30pm. We meet in Committee Room 4 at the
Niagara Region Headquarters, 1815 Sir Isaac Brock Way, Thorold, ON,
Canada. We also offer various outings around the Niagara area. Please
check our Facebook page for more information.
he Peninsula Naturalist newsletter is published twice per year, in
Spring and Fall. Submissions for the next newsletter should be received
by the end of March or September for publication.
Club members are encouraged to send in articles, photos, stories,
observations and outing reviews to PenFieldNatsNews@gmail.com. Material
accepted may be edited and will be used subject to space allowances.
Views expressed are not necessarily those of the Peninsula Field
Naturalists Club or the Editor.
Thank you to all the members who volunteer their time to our club and
also to those who make submissions to make our newsletter fabulous!
Nature Quiz Answers
© Debbie Wright
In January or February
They are such a large bird, the young take longer to grow and mature
Large stands of young Jack Pines, which grow in sandy soil and
regenerate only after fires.
Petawawa, adjacent to Algonquin Provincial Park
© Not So Hollow Farm
© Sutton Massachusetts
© Not So Hollow Farm
City of Hamilton, Haldimand County