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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



November 6, 2018


Article by Brian Reid

It was cold and wet on Saturday morning November 3rd – the date scheduled for the annual fall cleanup at the Samuel Wilmot Nature Area in Newcastle. The inclement weather had not deterred the many anglers who converge on Wilmot Creek at this time of year. The parking lot at the south end of Toronto Street was filled with vehicles. It would seem that salmon and trout anglers are a determined lot!

So too were the 23 volunteers and members of the SWNA Advisory Committee who braved the elements to remove trash from the trails and the shoreline of the Creek itself. The volunteer members of the Advisory Committee regularly pick up litter and empty the 10 garbage barrels located throughout the Nature Area. But major cleanups are organized by the Committee in the spring and again in late autumn and “advertised” with posters and through social media. “It is encouraging that so many members of the larger community come out to assist with keeping this community amenity in a condition that everyone can enjoy“, said Advisory Committee Chairperson Brian Reid. “At the same time, it is rather depressing to see the quantity of refuse that we haul out each time.“

The Samuel Wilmot Nature Area Advisory Committee would like to express its appreciation to all who gave up a part of their weekend to assist with this project. Special thanks to Toronto area angler Chris and his nine-year old son who were the first to arrive Saturday morning to pitch in!


October 30, 2018


October 17, 2018


Visitors to the Samuel Wilmot Nature Area will notice some new “equipment” in place at various locations throughout the reserve. Six special receptacles have been constructed and installed to provide anglers with a place to deposit used and broken fishing line for safe disposal.

Monofilament line is not biodegradable and can last hundreds of years in the environment. Line that is not disposed of properly creates serious hazards for wildlife, particularly birds and turtles.

Wilmot Creek, of course, is a prime fishing site for both salmon and trout with hundreds of anglers visiting the area throughout the year. We encourage all anglers to make use of the receptacles.

The six units were constructed by Mr. Kevin Leckie, a resident of the Port of Newcastle and a very good “ friend “ of the Nature Area,  from materials generously donated by Mr. John Albi of Rona Hardware in Newcastle.  Locations for the units were identified by SWNA Advisory Committee members Tom Hossie and Leo Blindenbach. The units were then installed by Kevin and Leo.

Installing Fishing Line Recycling Units

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Leckie, Mr. Albi and committee members Tom and Leo for their generous donation of time and materials to make this project a success. 

Submitted by Mr. Bear Reid


October 4, 2018



September 20, 2018

Cold temperatures and brisk winds didn’t lessen the enthusiasm of the “citizen scientists” who turned out to our Monarch Butterfly Tagging event on Saturday September 8th. A crowd of approximately 150 showed up at the stretch of parkland along Lakeview Drive in the Port of Newcastle to assist the Samuel Wilmot Nature Area Advisory Committee (SWNA) in capturing, tagging and releasing monarch butterflies as they begin their long migration to Mexico. This is the second year that the group has organized a tagging event, which is likely to become an annual undertaking.

Led by Conservation Biologist Dr. Tom Hossie, an Assistant Professor at Trent University and member of the SWNA Advisory Committee, the event has generated a great deal of interest. Those who attended heard a brief commentary from Dr. Hossie about monarch biology and migration and received instructions on how to safely “capture” the monarchs using nets provided by the Committee, GRCA and Trent University. Several of Dr. Hossie’s graduate students from Trent volunteered their time to provide additional technical expertise. Forty five nets were available for the public to use and they were all signed out within minutes, then signed out again by others as soon as they were  returned. One participant made a quick side trip to a local store and purchased an additional half dozen children’s nets which she later donated to the organizing committee!

Monarch Tagging Pic 2

The somewhat unseasonal weather did affect the number of butterflies that were captured and tagged. A total of 107 were processed between approximately 10:15 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., compared to just over 200 in 2017. But this does not mean that there are fewer butterflies this year, only that the cooler temperatures made them less active. (The stiff breeze also meant that those that were out and about were harder to catch!) Indeed, many people have commented on the large numbers they have seen in recent days. The scientific consensus is that 2018 is as good a year, if not better, for monarch numbers than last year, which was considered exceptional.

Monarch Tagging Pic 3

The population of monarch butterflies has declined dramatically in the past 25 to 30 years due to habitat loss at their wintering grounds in Mexico, pesticide use and the destruction of milkweed, the only food source for monarch larvae. But numbers have been improving in recent years, thanks in large part to the efforts of communities and volunteer organizations such as the SWNA Committee who have committed a great deal of time and effort to promote awareness of the plight of monarchs at workshops and information sessions, who have planted large amounts of  milkweed and other pollinator plants, and who have organized tagging events such as this one.

“There is a growing awareness that we can all make a difference.” said SWNA Advisory Committee Chair Brian Reid.  “Hands-on on activities such as this tagging event are a great way to get the public, and particularly our children, involved. The look of wonder on a child’s face as a butterfly that he or she has caught is carefully tagged and then released is priceless.”

Committee members will continue the tagging process over the next 2-3 weeks and anticipate reaching the mark of 500 that was attained last year.

The Samuel Wilmot Nature Area Advisory Committee would like to express its appreciation  to the Rotary Club of Bowmanville whose financial donation earlier this year allowed the Committee to purchase professional nets, to the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority and the biology department of Trent University for their loan of additional nets, and to all the organizers and participants who made this event a success!  See you again next year!

Monarch Tagging Pic 4


September 5, 2018

In fact, there were eight Rangers with us at the Nature Area on Thursday August 16th – and their two Team Leaders.

The Stewardship Youth Ranger Program is sponsored by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and provides summer employment opportunities for students supporting community projects relating to environmental stewardship and resource management.

The hardworking crew cleared brush and weeds from the area surrounding the snake hibernaculum; along the walking paths behind the sewage treatment plant, and south to the cobblestone beach. They then turned their attention to the bike path leading to the new bridge. They finished the day clearing the trail adjacent to the lookout platform at the southern end of the Nature Area on the west side of Wilmot Creek.

“We were delighted to have the Rangers with us again this year,” said SWNA Advisory Committee chair Brian Reid who, along with Committee members Leo Blindenbach and Rod McArthur, were on hand to provide direction and additional hands. “The Rangers have assisted our group on at least three other occasions. It’s amazing how much they can accomplish in a short period of time.”


During lunch break, Mr. Reid talked to the crew about the history and ecology of the Nature Area.

“They were really interested in the salmon hatchery and Samuel Wilmot’s efforts to restore Atlantic Salmon in the late nineteenth century.“ said Reid. Earlier this year, the Advisory Committee organised a presentation by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters on the subject of current efforts to restore Atlantic Salmon to the Great Lakes.

“At the end of their working day, the Rangers even drove to Belmont House to see where it all began!”

Thank you Team Leaders Natalie and Alysse, and Rangers Jasmine, Matt, River, Kaeden, Haohan, Rhys, Matt and Russel, for all your hard work. It was great working with you!


Article by Brian Reid

Photos by Leo Blindenbach