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September 13, 2019

Somewhere between 175 and 200 people converged on the waterfront park in the Port of Newcastle on Saturday September 7th for a special Monarch Butterfly Tagging Event organized by the Samuel Wilmot Nature Area Advisory Committee. This is the third year that the event has been held and it has grown each year in size and popularity.
Dr. Tom Hossie, a professor of Conservation Biology at Trent University, and a member of the Nature Area’s Advisory Committee, gave a brief overview of monarch migration patterns and provided instructions on how to capture, tag and release the fast-flying butterflies.

Volunteers Pic 1

The mild temperature, light breeze and sun/cloud mix made for ideal weather conditions. The monarchs must have agreed because they showed up in very large numbers! A total of 67 nets were made available by the committee for participants to use. A sign out system was put in place to ensure that everyone had an opportunity to catch a butterfly and have it tagged by trained committee members. The seven “tag teams“ were kept so busy that all 500 of the special encoded tags that the Committee had purchased were gone in an hour and a half!

“Everyone was talking about the sheer number of monarchs this year” said Committee Chair Brian Reid. The numbers are certainly encouraging given that monarch numbers across North America have been in decline for many years. There are many factors which affect overall population, but extensive planting of milkweed and pollinator plants along the waterfront by the SWNA Committee and community volunteers has certainly improved conditions for monarchs. Approximately 1200 such plants have been added to the stretch of parkland along Lakebreeze Drive and elsewhere within the Nature Area. There are also extensive patches of goldenrod and Joe Pye weed, such as that pictured below, within the Nature area. Both are favourite foods of monarch butterflies.

Joe Pye Weed Pic 2

A documentary film crew based in Atlanta happened to be in the Toronto area in the days leading up to the event. It learned about the event on social media and showed up to take footage for a documentary project called “Where Do The Butterflies Go?”.

Film Crew Pic 3

Another pleasant surprise guest was Carol Pasternak of Toronto. Carol is known as the Monarch Crusader for her efforts in promoting the cause of monarch butterflies. She is the author of “How to Raise Monarch Butterflies: A Step-by-Step Guide for Kids”. It was a pleasure to have Carol with us sharing her experience and expertise – not to mention the additional tags she brought with her!!

The Samuel Wilmot Nature Area Advisory Committee would like to express its appreciation to everyone who came out to participate in this year’s tagging event. Special thanks are due to those who provided additional nets: the Biology Department of Trent University, The Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority, and Mr. John Albi of Rona Hardware in Newcastle; and to Committee member Leo Blindenbach and his crew of volunteers who did so much to make the day a success.

We hope to see everyone again next year!!

Article by Brian Reid


September 3, 2019

Members of the Durham Region Field Naturalists visited the Samuel Wilmot Nature Area on Saturday August 25th for a guided walk. The group spent approximately 2 ½ hours enjoying the pleasant temperatures and observed a variety of flora and fauna. The primary focus of the group was birds. To that end, the group was rewarded by the sighting of 23 species. Perhaps the most interesting sightings of the day were a Great Crested Flycatcher, a Blue-Gray Gnat Catcher, a Spotted Sandpiper and a female Orchard Oriole.

Bird Watching Over Creek

Photo by John McFeeters

Bird Watching Group

Photo by Brian Reid


August 2, 2019

Are you a naturalist wannabe? Do you have local plant and animal species knowledge? Do you just want to find out more about the species you see while enjoying the Samuel Wilmot Nature Area?

Our iNaturalist event can help!!

The Samuel Wilmot Nature Area Management Advisory Committee will be hosting a special iNaturalist Learning Session as follows:

DATE: Sunday August 18, 2019

TIME: 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

PLACE: Gather at the SWNA Parking lot on Toronto Street for a short instructional session. From there, we will fan out through the Nature Area putting our new found knowledge to work!


iNaturalist is a free app available for your smart phone. It allows the novice naturalist to have experts identify unknown plant and animal species or the expert naturalist to help the novice users. The app (which also has a website/desktop version) allows you to take a photo of any flower, insect, tree, bird etc. and submit it electronically for identification. The photo, identification, location etc. are uploaded to a central data base and can be grouped and categorized to compile a cumulative inventory of the flora and fauna present within a given geographic area. So when you upload a picture from the SWNA, we learn about what is in the SWNA from its users. It can also serve as a digital walking tour for those who want to learn more about the area.

It is free, fun, educational and easy to use by children and adults alike. What a great way to blend technology with enjoying and learning about the natural world!

iNaturalist app screen


  • Download the free app to your smartphone or other portable device:


Google Store:;

Apple Store:

  • Dress appropriately – this event will be in the forest or wetland so sturdy shoes, long socks, light pants and a light long sleeve top are suggested.
  • Meet us at the above date, time and place for a short introduction about how to use the app.
  • Accompany committee members through the Nature Area, phones in hand, and start having fun!
  • Proudly refer to yourself as a “ citizen scientist”!!We hope to see you on August 18th!!


If you can’t make this event, we will also be hosting our annual Monarch Tagging event in late September (watch for details) where we can use the iNaturalist app to photo id species along the waterfront and Cobbledick portions of the SWNA. The SWNA Committee also expects to showcase what has been found in a SWNA celebration event, date TBD in 2020.

by Kate Potter and Brian Reid

BioBlitz 2019

July 30, 2019

WesleyVille Village Bio-Blitz PosterWesleyville Village Bio-Blitz

The Bio-Blitz is going to be conducted to help gather data about the wildlife of the
surrounding area, which will be used in the Conservation Management Plan. The Bio-Blitz will take place on the Wesleyville Village Property (2082 Lakeshore Road, Port Hope) on Sunday August 11, 2019, from 10am – 12pm. People will be encouraged to use the app iNaturalist, however, paper and pens/pencils will be provided for anyone who wishes to simply record doing so.

The goal of this event is to collect data about the species in the area, encourage people to visit the site, and to draw in a younger audience (as our target audience is currently an older generation).

Additionally, if anyone has any helpful tips, concerns, or ways to improve the event,
please email me at



May 30, 2019

Things seemed a little backwards on Saturday May 25th. That is when members of the Samuel Wilmot Nature Area Advisory Committee and about 20 community volunteers planted 500 assorted pollinator plants at Newcastle Waterfront Park on Lakebreeze Drive.

Row of Planters

It was a miserable day, raining steadily if not heavily throughout the morning – but the plants didn’t seem to mind! And the volunteers really “dug in“ quipped Committee spokesperson Brian Reid. As uncomfortable as they may have been for those doing the planting, the conditions were actually favorable for the plants themselves.

Tiny Planter

This is the third consecutive year that the group has undertaken a planting project. The plants themselves were provided by Ontario Power Generation.

“We are thrilled to take part in this important program designed to help enhance a breeding habitat for monarch butterflies, native bees and other pollinators.“ said Cheryl Johnston, Corporate Relations Manager, Darlington Nuclear. “It is also a great way to get the community excited about biodiversity and importance of habitat and stewardship.“

The Waterfront Park has been the site of two successful fall Monarch Butterfly Tagging events in 2017 and 2018. It is situated along a natural flyway that monarchs in particular use when making their long migration to Mexico. Tags from monarchs tagged in Newcastle have been recovered in Mexico in both years. A third tagging event is being planned for 2019.

Monarch populations have shown some recovery during the past two years after many years of serious decline. “We are happy to be doing what we can to help them along!” said Reid.

Thanks to everyone who contributed their time, efforts and resources to this project!

Article by Brian Reid

Photos by Patrick Bothwell and Leo Blindenbach


May 6, 2019

Over 40 volunteers braved cold temperatures, high winds and drizzle to assist with the annual spring cleanup of the Nature Area on Saturday April 27th.

“We were very impressed with the turnout “said Brian Reid, chairperson of the SWNA Advisory Committee.“ It is gratifying to see that there are so many folks out there who really care about our natural environment and who are prepared to invest their time and energy in such a project, particularly in such foul weather.“

The cleanup was done in conjunction with the communities of Bond Head and The Port of Newcastle. In total, more than 180 people participated.

Thanks everyone!!

Monarch Tag Recoveries

May 6, 2019

The following information was provided last week to the members of the SWNA Advisory Committee by Committee member Professor Tom Hossie of Trent University. Dr Hossie has spearheaded our monarch tagging project for the past two years. We wanted to share this good news story with the public:

Hello Everyone,

The list of monarch tag recoveries from their overwintering sites in Mexico were released yesterday. I’m happy to tell you that four of the monarchs our group tagged in Newcastle were recovered in Mexico. For three of them I have been able to determine who tagged the butterfly (I’m working to figure out the last one). Note that one was tagged by Kate! [our Vice-Chair ] Two of the recoveries were male and two were female, one was a captive reared individual. Three were recovered in the El Rosario colony, and one was recovered in Cerro Pelon.

Here is the link to the the Location of the Monarch Overwintering Sites in Mexico:

In the end, our group tagged a total of 384 monarchs during the 2018 Fall migration. On our main tagging day (September 8 2018) we tagged 107 monarchs. We tagged a total of 166 females, 209 males, and 9 where sex was not identified. Most of the tagged monarch were wild, only 17 were reared.

Mexico Tag Recoveries:

YAJ 701

Female, Wild, Tagged Sept 8 2018 by Jasper Leavitt (MSc volunteer from Trent )

Recovered: El Rosario

Photo attached! See below!

Tagged Monarch Butterfly

YAJ 956

Female, Reared, Tagged Sept 12 2018 by Mathew Wilson (resident of Newcastle)

Recovered: El Rosario


YAL 010

Male, Wild, Tagged Sept 14 2018. Tagged by John McFeeters and Brian Reid.

Recovered: El Rosario


YAL 106

Male, Wild, Tagged Sept ? 2018 by Kate Potter!

Recovered: Cerro Pelon


The complete list of tag recoveries can be found here:

I’m certainly looking forward to this event again in September 2019!