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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


Monarch Butterfly Tagging Project

September 5, 2018

Wilmot Monarch Tagging Event 2018 poster_Page_1

“Let’s Get Wild” Event a Big Success

June 27, 2018

By Brian Reid

What could be more adorable than a baby porcupine? How about a de-scented skunk, a baby woodchuck, a pair of silver fox pups named Ebony and Copper, or an adolescent bobcat!


Adolescent Bobcat

These animal ambassadors and their human handlers from Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue delighted a crowd of about 60 people at the Samuel Wilmot Nature Area on Saturday June 9th.

Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue is Durham’s only Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre and is licensed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and Canadian Wildlife Services to rescue, rehabilitate, and release sick, injured, abandoned, and orphaned wildlife. It also conducts educational programming sessions in schools and elsewhere.


Wildlife Educators

Wildlife Educators Jaquie Rombough, Rhiannon Lace, and Tristian Loughlin engaged the excited children in an informative discussion about the differences between herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores and displayed a variety of pelts, skulls, and scat samples. The “animal ambassadors” were introduced in turn with a brief story about how they came to be at the Rescue Centre and were then circulated through the crowd to allow everyone the opportunity to see them up close – and even pet them.

Jackie Winterfield

Event sponsor Jackie Winterfield snuggles with one of two silver fox pups brought by the team.

“Let’s Get Wild” was organized by the Samuel Wilmot Nature Area Advisory Committee and was sponsored by Newcastle resident Jackie Winterfield of Re/Max Hallmark First Group Realty.

Thank you Jackie for making this event possible!

Pollinator Event

March 7, 2018

Wilmot-Pollinator event poster


March 2, 2018

Might we once again see Atlantic Salmon moving up Wilmot Creek to spawn?

Until the early part of the 19th century, Wilmot Creek was a major spawning stream for this prized fish. By the mid-1800s, however, overfishing, shoreline degradation, sedimentation etc. had combined to reduce salmon stocks dramatically – here and throughout the entire Lake Ontario watershed.

Samuel Wilmot, after whom the creek and our own nature area are named, began to experiment with the artificial propagation of Atlantic Salmon on his farm along Wilmot Creek in the late 1860s. Within a few years, he was Superintendent of Fish Culture for all of Canada and built and managed 15 fish hatcheries across the country. Unfortunately, in spite of the large numbers of fry introduced during his tenure, the Atlantic Salmon population did not recover and was considered extirpated from Lake Ontario by 1898.

That was then. On Thursday February 22nd, 2018, representatives of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry were on hand at the Newcastle Public Library to present information on an exciting program to reintroduce Atlantic Salmon to the Great Lakes.   Colin Lake , Lead Planning Biologist with the Ministry, Dr. Kathryn Peiman, Coordinator of the Atlantic Salmon Restoration Program for OFAH, and Mr. Chris Robinson, Conservation Program Manager with OFAH, provided a comprehensive overview of the program. Topics covered included the life cycle of the Atlantic Salmon, a chronology of various stocking initiatives, current plans and strategies to reintroduce the species and mechanisms and technologies used to monitor progress. The speakers concluded the session by fielding questions from the many well informed anglers and residents who attended. You are invited to visit www.bringbackthe to learn more about this exciting program.



February 21, 2018


Great Lakes Atlantic Salmon