A Message From the President
Least Bitten at the Outlet Collection Ponds.
© Jean Hampson
s we get older, time seems to fly by at a brisk pace, and 2020 was no
different. It is hard to believe it has now been a year since government
measures were put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19. Though there
were some constraints, I still managed to get out and enjoy nature.
On a personal note, getting out was more important after the death of
my father in July. My dad and mom took my brothers and me out for weekly
hikes to various spots in Niagara when I was a child. A time when you
did not encounter many others while walking along a trail or in a park.
My dad instilled my interest in the natural world, and it brought me
great comfort during the weeks that followed his death. The Least
Bittern observation at the Outlet Collection Ponds less than a week
after his passing certainly filled me with positive vibes.
Knowing how nature positively affects our mental health, it is essential
to continue organizing PFN outings. Aswedidinthefallof 2020, the
executive and I will schedule events following the current guidelines.
Losing a few fellow PFN members last year made it challenging, and a
walk through the woods certainly provided the much-needed serenity.
Getting out in nature is essential for peace of mind, and I can say
without a doubt that my dad would approve.
Bob Highcock, President
New Life Members
by Jean Hampson and Bob Highcock
Suprise! Mary and John at our annual picnic.
© Jean Hampson
ary and John Potter have been awarded a Peninsula Field Naturalists
Life Membership. The Potters have been members of our club for over
twenty years and in that time have held many positions and contributed
in many ways. John served on the PFN Board as Director, President and
Past President for eighteen years, and he was also the editor/publisher
of the club's newsletter for 36 issues with Mary as his assistant. Mary
has been making the coffee and organizing the treats for our social
gatherings after our meetings.
In addition to arranging for speakers during his tenure as President,
John also gave memorable presentations to the © Jean Hampson club,
including his talk about Owls of Southern Ontario and his trip with
Mary to the Yukon. Without fail, John would always have a corny dad
joke when thanking the speaker for their presentation to the club.
Club walks with them are always instructive and fun. Mary cheerfully
helped with identification, and John thoughtfully explained his
decision. One of our favourite outings was the Maple Syrup Walk in
Short Hills Provincial Park, where John would point out several species
of trees along the trail, followed by a delicious pancake breakfast.
For the annual St. Catharines Christmas Bird Count, Mary and John would
arrange for the rental of the North Pelham Youth Hall to hold the
Round-Up after all the counting was done. Setting up chairs and tables,
preparing the kitchen and having warm coffee and cider at the ready
were a few of the things they did every year.
The PFN is just one amongst the many organizations that Mary and John
have contributed countless volunteer hours to. They indeed are an
asset to the Niagara Region.
Please join us in congratulating The Potters and also thank them for
all they have contributed.
In Memory of Our Members We’ve Lost
by Bob Highcock
Lynn at various club events.
© Bob Highcock
n April 3, 2020, PFN member Lynn Glover passed away. Lynn was active
in the club and a former member of the attended outings and meetings
regularly and participated in many bird counts throughout the year.
You could find Lynn at Malcolmson Eco- Park but not just for birding,
she also enjoyed watching the Welland Canal ships as they approached
Lynn, Jean, and I would stop for lunch during bird counts and discuss
politics, nature, and many other topics over a bowl of hot wonton soup,
but the hot and sour soup was Lynn’s favourite. The next time we take
a break from counting birds, I’ll order a bowl of hot and sour soup and
fondly remember Lynn’s admiration for nature.
by Janet Damude and Marlene Sanders
Don in mid-discussion with Marlene. Highcock
© Bob Highcock
n October 3, 2020, we lost one of our long-time members. Don Heatherton
was always the first to arrive at meetings and outings. He was a quiet,
unassuming man sitting at the side of the room waiting for the meeting
to start. He took care of the members' name tags, quietly walking around
the room gathering the tags from slowpokes that hadn't put theirs in the
box after the presentation, then took them home to put them
alphabetically on the board he made for the club.
He was very knowledgeable and had an extensive library about native
plants, trees, birds, gardening, history and antiques. As an avid
reader, he supported the Endowment & Trust's Honor Program at tne St.
Catharines Public Library. Don had all of the answers to anyone's local
His big, older home and large yard that sloped to the Twelve Mile Creek
on Martindale Road in St. Catharines was a history and nature lovers'
dream. He took great pride in showing off his lot of native trees and
plants, and he had an extensive collection of antiques.
Don was a member of the Empire State Antique Truck Association and
Historical Society of Canada. During his younger days, Don enjoyed his
job as a long-distance trucker, and it seemed that there was never a
place mentioned in North America that he had not visited. It was
terrific that he supported the Saturday Breakfast Program for the needy
at his St George's Anglican Church in St. Catharines.
When we can again gather for meetings, there will be a void where this
kind, helpful man used to be.
Mick Young —Jan 19, 1934 – Aug 11, 2020
by Carol Horvat
Rick and Carol on a club outing.
© Rick Young collection.
y first memory of Rick was many years ago when I came to the Dufferin
Islands outing on a cold February afternoon. It was my first time
joining the Niagara Falls Nature Club. Rick and his wife Dora introduced
themselves and walked with me, pointing out and identifying every plant,
bird and waterfowl that we saw. For some reason, American Black Duck
stands out for waterfowl and Eastern Skunk Cabbage for plants in my
mind. They made me feel so welcome. I now lead that walk.
As most of you know, Rick was very knowledgeable about plants as well
as birds. Much of what I know today, I learned from Rick. He was a
special friend to me. After Dora passed away, we took many trips and
outings together, from weekends at Red Bay to many trips a year to
Long Point. We would go to the Selkirk area looking for Long-eared Qwls,
visiting Jim Smith at the Rock Point Bird Banding Station and later to
Jim and Gerda’s home.
Doug and I miss him a lot, as I’m sure many of you do too.
arold was a friendly, helpful man and an avid birder.
Barb was the PFN President in 1980-1981 and particularly liked the
early morning outings.
Fall into Zoom
by Jean Hampson & Bob Highcock
n September 28, 2020, our first foray into Zoom meetings was kicked
off by Peter Thoem with his presentation An Old Bird Book, which was
rescheduled from March when we went into lockdown.
Old bird book.
© Peter Thoem
Many years ago, Peter purchased a box of miscellaneous books at an
estate auction. The contents included 1906 field guides by Chester A
Reed: Bird Guide-Land Birds East of the Rockies and Bird Guide-Water
and Game Birds East of the Rockies. The guides contain many handwritten
notes on sightings, abundance and occurrence dates, most between 1905
and 1940 and we travelled back in time for a birder's eye view of the
observed species at that time. For example, Red-bellied Woodpecker was
noted as a "rare summer resid." When walking through the woods now,
birders will hear and see this species often throughout the year. The
illustrations and comments discussed made for a very enjoyable
At Peter's request, his honorarium was donated to The Owl Foundation.
Peter's own birding sightings and notes can be found at
or the October 26 meeting, Renée Bisson from the NPCA talked about the
oldest and finest Sugar Maple tree in Canada, the Comfort Maple. And
yes, it is the very same tree featured on the PFN logo.
Comfort Maple Fast Facts:
Owen with a Chameleon Gecko.
© Owen Bjorgen
wen Bjorgan treated us to a virtual tour of tropical North Queensland
for the November 2020 virtual meeting. Owen's tales, images and videos
from where the world's oldest tropical rainforest meets the Great
Barrier Reef were enthralling. He travelled to a remote area that is
not as well known to tourists as other areas of Australia. He
encountered venomous snakes, exciting insects, colourful fish and a
giant Cassowary wandering through their camp.
To see complete video documentation of Owen’s adventure in northeast
Australia, visit his YouTube link.
Youth Programming at the RBG
by Mary-Lou Davidson
anuary 25 was the first Zoom meeting of 2021 and Jackson Hudecki was the
perfect choice for a speaker. His enthusiasm and optimism were
\contagious and just what we needed.
Born and raised in Hamilton, now a father of two, he still resides
there. He graduated from Sir Fleming College and, in 2015, started a
new position with the Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) as a Special
Jackson provided a few interesting facts about the RBG and some
beautiful photos that made you yearning to go birding there. In 1919,
the Hamilton Bird Protection Society (now the Hamilton Naturalists'
Club) secured the Cootes Paradise Marsh ecosystem's south shore. In
1926 the City of Hamilton bought Burlington Heights for a
beautification project, including the 5.5-acre gravel pit. In 1927, the
City of Hamilton purchased the south shore of Cootes Paradise Marsh for
a new botanical garden, university campus, and development protection.
In 1930 King George V approved the name "Royal Botanical Gardens"
applied to the south shore of Cootes only. In 1932 Rock Garden opened
to the public, and later that year, Rock Garden and Burlington Heights
were included in the RBG. Through the provincial Act of 1941, the RBG
was incorporated, and T. B. McQuesten was the board's head. The latest
update to the act took place in 1989. The four pillars of the RBG are
conservation, education, horticulture and science.
The RBG and the Hamilton Naturalists' Club partnered to have a
nature-oriented club for kids and youth in the Golden Horseshoe. It was
strictly outdoor exploration and education and only for children from 6
to 13. Jackson noted that up until grade 4, the children were excited
about anything to do with nature. Then he observed that by grade 5, the
children became a lot more quieter, and the idea of being enthused with
nature was nerdy. By grade 9, he said there was a definite split. He is
encouraged that youth are starting to see younger role models such as
Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. What is needed is some rock stars to
give nature lovers a big thumbs up.
Jackson with one of the youth groups.
© Jackson Hudecki
Seeing a gap in the program offerings for teenagers led to creating the
Young Environmental Science (YES) Alliance. It had a 3-tiered approach
consisting of active and outdoors, meeting professionals and experts and
guiding them towards post-secondary education in the Environmental
sector. Jackson made a point of saying he was never aware that there
were careers available in the Environmental sector when he was in high
school and trying to decide on a career path. He wasn't shy to say that
one of the best motivators was free food! Some of the pilot year
activities included wetland studies, removing invasive species, a
behind-the-scenes tour of RBG, reptile exhibits, hikes, night hikes,
tree identification, bird box clean-outs, native tree planting and
canoe exploration. The students had a great deal of input and designed
Jackson was getting a glimpse into the minds of "some" of the youth. He
found them busy yet aware. They're young and learning; they're smart.
They're worried yet encouraged. They have potential. They know what's
at stake. They're ready for anything. "I want to keep giving them a
platform." Two focus groups were conducted. One with the YES Alliance
and the creation of HHYPE - Hamilton and Halton Youth Promoting the
Environment, and the other was a call to youth where the participants
were seated in groups and had the opportunity to voice their opinions
and be heard.
With COVID- 19, the meetings continued by Zoom. The youths were
encouraged to read, study, do backyard birding and observation, music,
baking etc. The advice was to be patient with everyone, including
themselves, give each other space, feel their emotions, and find the
positive. The feedback was that their time in nature was fulfilling and
getting them through this.
Jackson's final thoughts for the evening were to point out that we are
role models and mentors. Do the things you like, to show younger
generations what excitement looks like. Be an example of who to look up
to. Be authentic. He further asks, "What can you provide for youth in
your life, in your world? Talk to them! Ask them what they want to do
and then do it!" As nature enthusiasts, we have all had that one person
, maybe a teacher or parent, who planted the seeds for our love of
nature. Jackson has sparked young people's curiosity, resulting in them
becoming aware and intrigued and protective of our natural environment.
They will go on to educate and inspire the next generation.
It was a real treat and inspiration to listen to Jackson and feel his
positive energy. Perhaps he could start a mandatory boot camp for some
of our politicians!
Come Walk With Us
by Jean Hampson and Bob Highcock
n February 22, 2021, Sonya Richmond and Sean Morton spoke to the PFN
about their initiative Come Walk With Us. They left their jobs, sold
their house and dedicated their time to walk across Canada on The Great
Trail. Their walk along the 24,000 km long trail is still in progress,
and even with the complications of COVID-19, they still hope to
complete it by the fall of 2022. Their inspiration to start Come Walk
With Us came from feeling disconnected from nature and spending too
much time on social media. Sonya and Sean hope to raise awareness of
the importance of protecting birds and their habitat across Canada
while they hike The Great Trail.
© Sonya Richmond and Sean Morton
Sonya and Sean started their walk on June 1, 2019, in Cape Spear,
Newfoundland, and their presentation was mainly about the maritime leg
of their journey. They spent 49 days walking the trail in Newfoundland,
viewing incredible icebergs, many seabirds, shorebirds and songbirds.
Stopping points included St. John’s, Big Gull Pond, Gambo, Gander, Gros
Morne and the Codroy Estuary Important Bird Area (IBA).
Leaving Newfoundland behind, Sonya and Sean crossed the Gulf of St.
Lawrence on the Blue Puttees ferry to continue their walk in Nova
Scotia. While in the province of Nova Scotia, they hiked the Cabot
Trail, visited National Historic Sites, one National Park and 2 UNESCO
sites, recorded 92 bird species and visited three IBAs. Sonya and Sean
spent a total of 52 days walking on Cape Breton Island and mainland
After another ferry crossing, they started their walk at Wood Islands,
Prince Edward Island, the third province in their journey. The Great
Trail on PEI is how the trail had been envisioned, a more accommodating
trail with shade and rest areas.
After crossing the Confederation Bridge, they started their walk
through New Brunswick. Sites and stops included Sackville, the Marshes
Trail, Moncton, Bay of Fundy, Riverfront Trail, Dobson Trail, Fundy
National Park and Edmundston.
Travelling through Quebec was a shorter journey, ending on November 11
in Riviere- du-Loup. The 2019 portion covered 3,000 km of The Great
Trail. In the spring of 2020, the restrictions and guidelines due to
COVID-19 had Sonya and Sean continue their walk through the province of
Ontario. The remaining section in the province of Quebec would have to
For the remaining provinces, we will have to follow Sonya and Sean
along in 2021 and 2022 at
Outing to Mountain Locks Park
by Jean Hampson
The group walks along the trail.
© Jean Hampson
020 started well; the PFN had a lovely brochure printed up – full of
outings and interesting events to attend. As the date for our walk at
Mountain Locks Park approached, we heard rumblings of cancellations and
postponements of events due to the new threat of COVID-19. Fortunately,
we could have an outing on March 14, 2020, and at least get together one
more time before we faced restrictions. Even so, we remained vigilant to
keep physically distant and not share items.
Ten of us met at Glendale Avenue to walk along the Merritt Trail,
following the old second Welland Canal route. We admired the stonework
of the old locks and the Lock Tenders houses still standing on Bradley
Lock Tender’s home on Bradley Street.
© Jean Hampson
Eighteen species of birds, including three woodpecker species (Hairy,
Downy and Red-bellied), Cooper’s and Red-tailed Hawks and an active and
vocal Carolina Wren were identified. A pedestrian bridge across the
waterway led us to the Bruce Trail. We followed it back along the other
side of the canal through a sunny meadow, a great place to find
butterflies on a warm sunny day in the summer. We were happy to get the
outing in. As the weekend ended, the pandemic was declared, shutdowns
began, and most of our planned events on our carefully scheduled
brochure were cancelled.
We look forward to having another walk at this location when we can
meet once again.
Old lock of the second Welland Canal along the walk
© Jean Hampson
In Search of the Purple Sandpiper
by Jean Hampson and Bob Highcock
Looking out into Lake Ontario on a beautiful November day.
© Jean Hampson
he last PFN pop-up outing of 2020, on November 8, looked promising.
There were several Purple Sandpiper observations reported on eBird
Canada in the days before we walked on the Port Weller east pier. The
statistics were good, and the weather was even better. Sun and 20°C are
always welcome in November.
Eight participants walked the path on the bay side of the pier to reach
the red and white beacon at the end of the spit. Though we spent over
three hours hiking and viewing some good birds, the Purple Sandpiper was
once again not found.
While following the prescribed health guidelines, we identified 33
species of birds. Notables included Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal,
Redhead, Surf Scoter, Ruddy Duck, Common Loon, Cooper’s Hawk, Merlin,
Golden-crowned Kinglet, Winter Wren, Carolina Wren and 6 Common
Undeterred by the absence of Purple Sandpiper, this outing remains a
favourite year to year, and we look forward to our 2021 search.
First Outings after the First Lockdown
by Marlene Sanders
An old wagon wheel along the trail
© Jean Hampson
t felt so good to be with members of the nature club again! There is
nothing like getting out in nature with friends and other naturalists.
At the time, we were restricted to 25 people in an outdoor gathering.
Ten members went for a lovely walk on September 26 along the Gerry
Berkhout Trail in Fenwick. Bob & Jean, Doug & Carol, Janet, Barb,
Loretta, Don, Debbie, and I enjoyed the fall colours and perfect
© Jean Hampson
The 2-hour outing started at the Cream Street entrance and ended at
Poth Road. There were not many birds to see or hear, the highlight
being a Red-Bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus). Still, no one
seemed to mind. Plant highlights were American Pokeweed (Phytolacca
americana), Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus), Bouncing-bet
(Saponaria officinalis), and a massive patch of Scouring Rush
Having to wear masks during an outing was new to us, but we wanted to
keep each other safe. The trail was a little busy with runners,
cyclists, walkers, and even two horseback riders. I do not know if we
have come across horses on our past outings before.
Dekay’s Brown Snake.
© Jean Hampson
Only two of the naturalists had been on the trail before this outing,
so everyone enjoyed the new location for us to explore.
On October 24, we started at the Poth Road entrance for a 2 1⁄2 hour
walk to Effingham Road. This time there were eleven naturalists, Bob &
Jean, Doug & Carol, Janet, Loretta, Bev, Don, Debbie, Ken and I. We
didn’t have the ideal weather that we had on September 26, but it was
nice to get out with fellow naturalists again. We heard Eastern
Bluebirds, got our binoculars on a BrownCreeper, Ruby-crowned Kinglets
and many White-Throated Sparrows. Some of thehikers had the good
fortune to see a Northern Harrier.
Let’s hope we can get back to hiking together this spring.
Fall colours starting to show.
© Jean Hampson
Birds on the Niagara 2021
by Doug Gillard
ver Valentine's Day weekend, the Birds on the Niagara Festival was
held. This year with the COVID pandemic continuing, BON21 was a virtual
event, with thirteen programs presented. BON21 is the only
International Bird Festival in North America.
Birds on the Niagara focused on raising awareness of conservation and
conservation needs in the International Niagara River Corridor with a
sharp focus on birds, the Globally Significant Important Bird Area, the
Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance, the Niagara Greenway, and
the American and Canadian shores and adjacent lands and waters.
We spent the weekend watching all the programs. They all were
fascinating and informative. They covered a variety of topics, from
identifying gulls todesigning bird-friendly and biophilic cities.
Aprogram on bettering your skills at photographing birds and Tifft
Nature Preserve's program called "Virtual Winter Backyard Birds" were
geared towards new birders learning to ID birds
FLAP gave a very informative program on preventing bird window
collisions with many ways to treat your windows at home.
We watched every program and even watched the keynote speaker twice. J.
Drew Lanham's talk "Coloring the Conservation Conversation" was
excellent and well worth watching a second time.
I hope everyone tuned in to watch BON21. If you were not able to see
the presentations live, they are available to watch at
St Catharines CBC
by Jean Hampson & Bob Highcock
ollowing Birds Canada COVID-19 protocols and guidelines, The Peninsula
Field Naturalists held their Christmas Bird Count on Sunday, December
20, 2020. Counters experienced relatively mild temperatures of 3 - 4°C,
but some sections experienced rain all day while others had no rain at
New high counts were recorded for Cackling Goose (2), Pileated
Woodpecker (3), Common Raven (7), Carolina Wren (51) and Common Redpoll
(377). Fish Crow (2) and Red Crossbill (1) were a new record for the
For this year's count, we had 39 participants. John Black, Sam
Brockington, Paul Chapman, Sue Chapman, Paula Clark, Emily Cornfield,
Rachael Cornfield, Trevor Cornfield, Rob Dobos, Philip Downey, Chris
Escott, Jean Hampson, Shirley Harrison, Bob Highcock, Shannon Hingston,
Myra Kennedy, Mike Kershaw, Terri Kershaw, Nabil Khairallah, Nabila
Khairallah, Laurie King, Olivia King, Kara Kristjanson, Debbie
Loveridge, Catherine Manschot, Bill Rapley, Melad Razzouk, Judy Robins,
Marlene Sanders, Karin Schneider, Gord Sisler, Bill Smith, Ken Smith,
Nancy Smith, Roy Sorgenfrei, John Stevens, Katherine Stoltz, Sally
Tasane, and Tom Thomas.
Thank you to all the participants who assisted with the count. Many
thanks to Sharon Wilson and Carla Carlson for allowing access to their
properties during the count.
|American Black Duck
|Great Blue Heron
|Great Black-backed Gull
|Eastern Screech Owl
|Great Horned Owl
|American Tree Sparrow
|Total number of species
|Total number of individuals
Nature Quiz #2
by Marlene Sanders
Which owl sounds like it says, "Who cooks for you?"
Which caterpillar looks like it sticks its tongue out when it
What is the full moon in February called?
What are the names of two walking trail systems in Pelham?
What trail in Wainfleet is named after a former mayor?
What species of owl had less than five known pairs in Ontario
in 2010, and what is thought to be this species' demise?
Which organization is working to restore and preserve cold
water habitat for Brook trout in the Twelve Mile Creek?
Which butterflies have punctuation names?
What is the most southern point of Ontario?
Which Maple tree is considered invasive?
The answers can be found on the back page.
Club members still searching for the Purple Sandpiper at Lake
Ontario Nov 8, 2020.
© Mary-Lou Davidson
The Peninsula Field
President - Bob Highcock
Vice President - Carol Horvat
Secretary - Jean Hampson
Treasurer - Doug Gillard
Membership Secretary - Barb West
Directors - Janet Damude - Mary-Lou Davidson
- 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 #2 Answers
© Blair Dudeck | Macaulay Library
The Giant Swallowtail caterpillar has an organ that extracts as
a defence mechanism.
© Sadaf Syed, CC BY 2.0
Snow Moon because February is typically the coldest and
snowiest part of winter. North American tribes also called it
the Hunger Moon.
Steve Bauer Trail, Gerry Berkhout Trail
Gord Harry Conservation Trail
© Matt Davis | Macaulay Library
Barn Owl. The loss and degradation of grasslands and tallgrass
prairie ecosystems that provided hunting grounds.
© Ian Smith
Trout Unlimited Canada, Niagara Chapter
© C. Lux Hayes CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Question Mark and Comma butterflies are named for the tiny
markings on their wings that resemble punctuation.
© Archer7282 CC BY-SA 3.0
Middle Island is an uninhabited island in Lake Erie that is
18.5 hectares (45 acres) and lies 150 metres (164 yards) from
the US boundary. It is the southernmost point of land in
© Public domain
Norway Maple (Acer platanoides) trees because it spreads