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Samuel Wilmot Nature Area Annual Fall Clean-up Day

October 10, 2017

Wilmot-Pitch-In 2017 poster

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MONARCH TAGGING EVENT A “ROYAL” SUCCESS

September 18, 2017

By Brian Reid

If you were anywhere near the waterfront along Toronto Street in the Port of Newcastle on Sunday 10th, you would have noticed a LOT of activity. Well over 100 people of all ages joined members of the Samuel Wilmot Nature Area Advisory Committee in the catching, tagging and releasing monarch butterflies.

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Photo by Leo Blindenbach

The event marked the culmination of a year of activity organized by the Nature Area Committee to implement the Mayor’s Monarch Butterfly Pledge.  The Municipality of Clarington signed the pledge last September after being approached by the Committee to join with other municipalities across North America in addressing the serious decline of the monarch butterfly population.  Clarington is one of only seven municipalities in all of Canada to have done so.

To implement the pledge, committee members have held public information sessions, spoken to and worked with various groups and community partners, gathered and disseminated milkweed seeds, and organized extensive plantings of milkweed and pollinator plants.  Tagging of the monarchs has been done in Newcastle in the past on a relatively small scale and some of the butterflies tagged here have been found in Mexico.  It was decided to conduct tagging on a much bigger scale this year and to involve the public as “citizen scientists”.

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“We were delighted by the turnout and level of interest”, said Committee Chairperson Brian Reid.  Participants were allowed to sign out nets loaned to the Committee by the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority and Trent University and were given a brief demonstration of how to catch the fast-moving creatures without harming them.  Dr. Tom Hossie, a conservation biologist and sessional lecturer at Trent University, and member of the Nature Area Committee, trained other committee members in the delicate art of affixing the tiny numbered tags to the wings of the butterflies.  Several of his graduate students from Trent and representatives from the Durham Field Naturalists also loaned their tagging expertise to the project.

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Dr. Hossie shows a budding naturalist how it’s done

Photos by Leo Blindenbach

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Photos by Joan Hukazalie

Some even came dressed for the event!  “The children in particular seemed to really enjoy the whole process”, said Reid.  Judging by the smiles on the faces of many of the adults, they were not alone.

Photo by John McFeeters                                                      Photo by Crystal Kelly

At several points during the four hour event, all 50 nets that were available for sign out were in use.  In addition to the 100 plus persons in attendance along the waterfront, approximately 30 – 35 were working from the Cobbledick side of the Nature Area.  In total, approximately 250 monarchs were tagged and safely released.  Committee members will continue tagging for the next few weeks before the monarchs begin their long journey south to Mexico.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEWARDSHIP RANGERS DIG IN AND HELP AT SWNA

August 15, 2017

by Brian Reid

 

The Samuel Wilmot Nature Area welcomed a group of 4 high school students and their supervisor to the Nature Area on August 9th and 10th to assist committee volunteers with various maintenance projects .

Five loads of limestone screenings were spread along the trails on the Cobbledick side to fill ruts and build up low areas caused by erosion. A particular focus was the southern gazebo that overlooks the bluffs. Grasses and weeds had begun to take over the seating area. These were scraped away and the area was re-covered with screenings.

Stewardship Rangers (1)

Photo by Leo Blindenbach

Brush and weeds were also removed from the area around the snake hibernaculum just north of the sewage treatment plant off Toronto Street. Lastly, the trail leading to the cobblestone beach was tidied up and a large patch of burdock removed.

Stewardship Rangers (2)

Photo by Leo Blindenbach

Committee members also cleaned and swept all three lookout platforms and scraped away lichens and moss from the railings. Even 3 year old Avery, daughter of SWNA Committee member Meaghan Vandenbrink, pitched in! Below,

Stewardship Rangers (3)

Photo by Meaghan Vandenbrink

The Stewardship Youth Rangers Program is a summer employment program operated by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.

“ We were delighted to have the Rangers with us “, said SWNA Management Committee Chair Brian Reid. “ With their help, we were able to enhance our trail system and do much-needed maintenance in a relatively short time-frame. “

Stewardship Rangers (4)

 

The crew –  From left to right:

SWNA Management Committee Vice-Chair Kate Potter with Keira and Dylan, Committee Member Leo Blindenbach, Rangers Kylee Henson and Daniel Dawber, Supervisor Keegan McKitterick, Rangers Ethan Fisher and Rowena Keyes. Missing from photo: Committee Meaghan Vandenbrink and daughter Avery, Brian Reid Committee Chair

Photo by Brian Reid

Calling all Citizen Scientists

June 26, 2017

Let’s Play Tag!

Monarch Butterfly Tagging Project

 

Join us for a fascinating morning as we tag monarch butterflies so they can be tracked during their fall migration to Mexico.Monarch Tagging

Led by Conservation Biologist, Dr. Tom Hossie of Trent University.

Volunteers will learn to safely catch butterflies and apply a tag.  Butterfly nets will be provided or you can bring your own.

All ages welcome.

When:     Sunday, September 10, 2017 at 10 a.m.Butterfly Tagging Event

Where:    Samuel Wilmot Nature Area

Meet in the parking lot at the south end of Toronto Street in Newcastle.

Monarch Tagging 2

 

STARTING EARLY!!

June 16, 2017

Proving once again that one is never too young to get involved in a worthwhile project, primary students from two local elementary schools have been doing their part to help monarch butterflies.

Students from the Duke of Cambridge Public School in Bowmanville and Newcastle Public School planted milkweed seeds in their classrooms in late winter. The seeds were provided by the Samuel Wilmot Nature Area Management Advisory Committee. Planting soil was also provided. Rekkers Greenhouses donated a quantity of cell trays. In total, 13 classes of students were involved.*

The Committee was delighted when kindergarten lead teacher Kelli Santos of the Duke suggested bringing students to the Nature Area to actually plant what they had grown. A field trip was organized for Wednesday May 31st.

( see story and photos below )

“ This was an incredible educational experience for the children “ said Committee Chair Brian Reid.

The planting complemented a major undertaking by the committee, OPG , local scouts and volunteers who  close to 1000 milkweed and other pollinator plants on May 27th.

Reid singled out Committee Co-Chair Kate Potter who first approached the schools about participation and who liaised with them throughout the project. She also transplanted the seedlings into larger containers to facilitate transportation and the planting process itself.

OUR PRIMARY PLANTERS!!

On May 31st, more than 120 kindergarten students from Duke of Cambridge P. S. in Bowmanville participated in a project to restore the monarch butterfly population in the area. After observing the life cycle of the monarchs in the fall, the students had the opportunity to plant milkweed seeds in their classrooms this spring and were invited to transplant the seedlings at the nearby Samuel Wilmot Nature Area along with the project volunteers. Tagging for the monarchs will occur on September 10th for anyone interested in participating.

Child Planting 6

Child Planting 5Child planting 1

*The classes who participated are listed below.

Newcastle Public School : Ms. Wilson  JK/SK;  Ms. Allen Grade 1

Duke of Cambridge P.S. :   Mme. Robert   Grade 1; Mme. Josee  Grade 1; Mme. Steff  Grade 1; Mme Ballard, Grade 1; Mme. Julie-Anne Grade 1; Mme. Giroux, SK; Mme. McLaren, SK;  Mme. Hosking, SK; Mme. Barnett, SK;, Mme. Vance, SK; Mme. Santos, SK.

Thanks to everyone who assisted in this effort.

 

SWNA ADDRESSES DURHAM REGION FIELD NATURALISTS

June 8, 2017

The Durham Regional Field Naturalists invited SWNA Committee Chairperson Brian Reid to speak at its monthly meeting on May 29th to highlight the various events and activities undertaken at the Nature Area during the past year. Of particular interest was the focus SWNA has placed on implementing the Mayor’s Monarch Butterfly Pledge on behalf of the Municipality of Clarington. Reid discussed the kickoff presentation by Dr. Tom Hossie held in April , the involvement of local service clubs, students and volunteers, and the large scale milkweed and pollinator planting event held on May 27th.

“Our two organizations have similar objectives “ said Reid. It is becoming increasingly common for members of both organizations to participate in the events and activities of the other. Both had information booths at the recent Feather Friends Festival held in Oshawa and some DRFN members have already indicated that they plan to assist with SWNA’s Monarch Tagging Project in September.

FEATHERED FRIENDS FESTIVAL

June 5, 2017

The 4th annual Feathered Friends Festival, organized by the Friends of Second Marsh, took place on Saturday June 3rd at the General Motors Headquarters in Oshawa. Traditionally, the focus of the Festival has been on birds. This year, the organizers decided to include butterflies and invited SWNA to participate because of its involvement in implementing Clarington’s Mayor’s Monarch Butterfly Pledge. Representatives from the SWNA Advisory Committee had their own information tent and  distributed handouts on how people can assist monarch butterflies and other pollinators. Visitors to the tent also learned about the many activities the SWNA group has undertaken and has planned to further the objectives of the Mayor’s Pledge. General information about the Nature Area, invasive plants and healthy land stewardship was also given out.

Feathered Friends 1

The family-focussed event attracted hundreds of people. The SWNA Management Advisory Committee would like to thank The Friends of Second Marsh for the invitation to participate in this fine event.

Feathered Friends 2

Article by Brian Reid

Photos by Eve-Ann Reid and Brian Reid