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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!





April 1, 2019

Please see the link below for a very interesting article on “Migrating with the Monarchs”. “Bowmanville nature photographer/author Monica Taylor celebrates release of book on monarch butterfly with Mexico trip”:

Migrating with the Monarchs

Enjoy! 🙂

Brian Reid


March 28, 2019

Members of the Samuel Wilmot Nature Area Advisory Committee have completed the annual spring cleaning and monitoring of the bird boxes located throughout the Nature Area. Approximately 60 boxes are in place on the Toronto and Cobbledick sides of the SWNA.

SWNA Bird Box Pic 1

“We were pleased with the high occupancy rate again this year.“ said Committee spokesperson Brian Reid. 92% of the boxes hosted birds, predominantly tree swallows, last season.

The boxes are opened, cleaned and repaired where necessary, to make ready for this season’s guests. Tree swallows should be returning any day now.

SWNA Bird Box Pic 2

Thanks to Committee members Leo Blindenbach and Rod Macarthur for their work on this project.

SWNA Bird Box Pic 3

Article by Brian Reid

Photos by Leo Blindenbach and Brian Reid


March 25, 2019

Many of you will be familiar with recent media coverage of an incident where carelessly discarded fishing line resulted in serious injury to a dog and expensive surgery.

Last fall, a number of special receptacles were constructed and installed at various locations throughout the Nature Area for the express purpose of providing a safe means of disposing of used fishing line. Our monitoring shows that they are in fact being used for their intended purpose (some of them have also been used by idiots to hone their graffiti-writing skills, but that’s another matter).

We have recently installed a number of specialty signs pointing out the dangers posed by fishing line and encouraging use of the receptacles. Watch for them on your next walk through the Nature Area.

DoNotDropMeALinePicture - SWNA

Kevin Leckie, Brian Reid and Leo Blindenbach with new signs

(photo by Phil Rivait)

Special thanks to Leo Blindenbach of the Samuel Wilmot Nature Area Advisory Committee for organizing this project and to Kevin Leckie and Phil Rivait for their work in constructing and installing them!


February 19, 2019

Various sources are advising that the 2018 migration of monarch butterflies from Canada to Mexico was exceptional. The David Suzuki Foundation recently sent out a bulletin indicating that the number that safely reached the wintering grounds is twice as high as last year. It noted that ” Goldilocks ” weather along the migratory route  – not too hot, not too cold, just right – helped the eastern monarch population reach its highest level in more than ten years! The graph below, prepared by Monarch Watch, is a powerful visual indicator of monarch population change.

Monarch Update Graph

The bulletin pointed out that this year’s successful migration is also the result of the collective actions of thousands of people in planting milkweed and pollinator-friendly wildflowers  to improve monarch habitat.

As you know, the Samuel Wilmot Nature Area Advisory Management Committee has coordinated major planting and monarch tagging initiatives over the past two years . We would like to express  our appreciation to corporate sponsors such as OPG, the Rotary Club of Bowmanville and the Lions Club of Newcastle and to ALL of the concerned citizens, student groups and volunteers who have contributed so much time and energy to this endeavour.

We thank you – and the monarchs thank you!!

Watch for news of upcoming projects and events at SWNA.


Brian Reid


Samuel Wilmot Nature Area Management Advisory Committee