Owen Sound Field Naturalists Newsletter – February , 2024

The topic of the February presentation of the Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN) is: Changing Dynamics of the Fish Community in Lake Huron, with Arunas Liskauskas, of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.
The Lake Huron aquatic ecosystem has experienced profound changes over the last few decades, primarily driven by the effects of invasive species. Fish communities have been altered and food webs have been disrupted and changed. Predicting the future state of fish communities has become much more difficult as a result. 
Management biologist, Arunas Liskauskas, will provide an overview of management and research efforts aimed at trying to understand these changes.
Arunas Liskauskas has been working as a management biologist with the Upper Great Lakes Management Unit of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry since 1992. He received his Hon. BSc and MSc from the University of Guelph in Fisheries Science and Fish Genetics. After working in Algonquin Park and eastern Ontario he has been involved with monitoring and assessing nearshore fish community health in Lake Huron, liaising with the public on fisheries management issues and was the lead author of the Lake Huron Environmental Objectives.
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This event is scheduled for 7pm this Thursday, February 8, (doors open by 6:30pm) at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre and on Zoom – with a ZOOM LINK available upon request, by emailing, in advance, to  web@osfn.ca with Fish in the subject line.   
Everyone is welcome, with admission Free or by Donation. For more information please visit www.osfn.ca and on Facebook.
Congratulations to Beth Gilhespy, popular OSFN speaker, hike leader and author, on her recent appointment as CEO of the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy (EBC), who announced ‘We are so excited to announce the hiring of our new CEO – the incomparable Beth Gilhespy! Beth is a proven conservation leader, with a record that demonstrates not only her passion for the escarpment and protecting species at risk – but also the broad range of skills needed to get the job done!’ 
Beth Gilhespy replied ‘Soon I’ll be saying goodbye to my dear animal friends and colleagues at Toronto Zoo Wildlife Conservancy. It’s been an amazing time of learning and growing. Now back to the land, always in my heart. My last day with my amazing Zoo colleagues is March 1 (lots to do between now and then!) and I start at the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy (EBC) March 4, 2024.
Gilhespy was also on hand nearby for EBC’s afternoon of snowshoeing and hot chocolate at Mooi Nature Preserve, by the Spey River on February 3rd.
Coming soon to a backyard near you is the  Great Backyard Bird Count, February 16–19, an annual four-day event that engages bird enthusiasts of all ages around the world in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are. Anyone can participate, from beginners to experts. 
You can count for as little as 15 minutes on a single day, or for as long as you like each day of the event. 
It’s free, fun, and easy – and it helps the birds! 
The Great Backyard Bird Count is a joint program of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon with Canadian partner Birds Canada. Visit  Great Backyard Bird Count to learn more and get started! For more information contact: Coordinator Kerrie Wilcox here:  kwilcox AT birdscanada.org
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During this past month I have enjoyed several memorable encounters with wildlife, including about 80 Cedar Waxwings observed by me on two separate occasions, when I was out for a run near Timber McArthur Park. Then, when I went skiing yesterday on the Owen Sound Cross Country Ski Club’s trails at Massie Hills, I heard a Pileated Woodpecker calling loudly from the parallel trail – that I didn’t take this time (!), and a little farther along I spotted a healthy porcupine nibbling on Hemlock boughs and dropping lots of ‘niblets’ to the forest floor for the others who live there too. 

With all the talk of an early Spring going around, today I was noticing  that the willow trees are really starting to glow in the February sunshine we are enjoying now. 

Although the Owen Sound Young Naturalists’ did not meet in December, coordinator Amanda Eriksen offered them a birding challenge of their own and found that “they reported finding 24 species of birds in their backyards. It was really great to see those who were not all that interested in birds notice and even get a little excited about a rare sighting! I hope that this exercise has helped the kids to notice the world and the creatures around them.”   
They did meet as a group again “on January 29, at the property of OSFN members Elaine and Doug Van Den Kieboom, who were wonderful hosts. Due to some perfectly timed snow, the Young Nats were able to get out snowshoeing through their forest, which starts out as hardwood then becomes cedar woods as it connects with the Bognor Marsh complex.  We learned a bit about the decline of the butternut tree (of which they have only one still producing nuts and a few in different stages of illness), how the resident porcupines help keep the maples out of the cedar forest (by eating them), and how different animals like to take different trails.  We also saw some tracks in the snow that we decided as a group were coyote, porcupine, and red squirrel.
After our hike we came back to the house where we had a campfire with hot chocolate and

cider.  Elaine showed us how to cook Bannock by wrapping a piece around the end of a stick and cooking it in the coals. We now have 19 children registered and more are welcome. Our February meeting will be Crafting with Nature led by Krista McKee.” If you would like to learn more about the club and how to register someone, please email     eriksenamanda@gmail.com


And to close, here is a cute Nature quote featuring extra young naturalists, from Leon Rooke’s Swinging Through Dixie, as teacher Miss Izzard ‘the wizard, this aging mentor’ explains that her plan for the parade of pre-schoolers will include  …
“a nature prowl, if you please, though I am aware little is to be seen save nettles, briars, animal droppings, long-leaf pine – a tickle of honeysuckle perhaps. I shall compel them to sit on their heels, boys and girls alike, in a study of bug life. They will execute artistic creations in these drawing pads … They have given me, in the past, excellent bug renderings.”