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 On the first Thursday of each month, September to June, Pickering Naturalists meet to enjoy presentations on nature and conservation. All meetings include refreshments and a silent auction of nature books and other items. Visitors are always welcome.

Regular meetings have expert guest speakers with talks on a wide range of topics including wildlife, conservation, botany, nature photography, astronomy, and nature in other parts of the world. 

Our December meeting is a Member’s Night, with short presentations by PN members on a variety of nature subjects, plus nature displays which may feature photography, stamps, fabric art, publications, etc., a bucket raffle, a holiday bake sale and the presentation of our Pickering Naturalists Conservation Award.

We meet at 7.30 p.m. in the O’Brien Rooms at the Chestnut Hill Developments Recreation Complex  located at 1867 Valley Farm Road, Pickering, ON L1V 3Y7 formally, Pickering Recreation Complex
The O’Brien Rooms are at the back of the Recreation Complex, near the skating rinks – visitors will need to drive to the back of the building via Diefenbaker Ct.

   Zoom Meetings

To attend our Zoom meetings, non-members must pre-register with your name and email that you will use to join the meeting. Send a note with your request to Dan Shire at  pickering.naturalists@gmail.com to register. You will receive a reply within 24 hours with instructions on how to join the Zoom meeting.

  6 June 2024 – A2A: Keystone for Wildlife movement in eastern North America – Emily Conger

The first part of the talk will focus on the significance of the Algonquin to Adirondack region: its biodiversity, its unique position in wildlife movement within the Great Eastern Wildway, and its fragility. The second part will focus on how the A2A Collaborative addresses the threats to the region and the need to support its work.

    Previous meetings

  2 May 2024 – Project Swallowtail, an urban rewilding collaboration Clement Kent

Many people understand that rewilding urban areas with native plants that are hosts to native insects is essential. However, there's a big need to scale up local efforts to the urban scale. After leading several small to medium sized Pollinator Garden and Pollinator Corridor projects, the Horticultural Societies of Parkdale & Toronto turned to like-minded people at Pollinator Partnership Canada, World Wildlife Fund Canada, David Suzuki Foundation, the City of Toronto, North American Native Plants Society, and several others. We formed a collaboration called Project Swallowtail. We found funding, got native plants raised from local seed sources without pesticides, and enrolled 350 volunteers in a 24 square km part of downtown west Toronto. There are now over 800 volunteers! Some unique aspects of Project Swallowtail include the grassroots, bottom-up, collaborative organization and the direct focus on ecological science.

  4 April 2024 – Muskrats, water, and cattails: a story of love and loss. - by Jeff Bowman

The muskrat is an iconic species in Canada, valued for both its fur and its integral role in wetland ecosystems, and widely regarded for its perseverance. However, the resilience of this semiaquatic mammal seems to be in question now as increasing evidence points to widespread population declines. I will provide an update on studies from Ontario that collaborators and I have undertaken to better understand the magnitude of this effect, and to begin to identify the causes.

  7 March 2024 – Citizen Science - by Geoff Carpentier

Citizen Science – What's it all about and how does wildlife benefit?
Geoff will introduce you to the concept and reality of the science that we as citizens generate as we go about our daily natural history observations .. how does this data get shared, who uses it and to what end?

  7 December 2023 – Online Members' Night Meeting

We have a good line-up of presentations – Jan’s nature photos from her trip to South Africa, Tim Thorington's amazing images of breeding birds in Nunavut, Dan Shire: "Trinidad and Tobago, a quick trip round the islands", Martin Galloway on canyon hiking in Utah,  James Kamstra on Bird Names, Frank Dempsey on Recent & Upcoming Eclipses, and more.

  2 November 2023 – A field guide to Trees of Ontario by Deborah Metsger

  12 October 2023 – Will our Songbirds survive?– by Erica Nol

Erica Nol is a professor and ornithologist from Trent University.
Erica has done extensive research on shorebirds, forest bird ecology and more recently, on grassland birds.  She has looked at the effects of forest fragmentation, forestry practices and urbanization and the impacts of agricultural practises on Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlarks.  Her work attempts to understand broadly, how birds and humans can co-exist in settled landscapes.

  7 September 2023 – DRAGONFLIES – by David Bree

David Bree, who has given us some excellent talks, will be telling us about one of his favourite subjects, Dragonflies, which he has studied in great detail.  Their life cycle is fascinating.  We have many beautiful species, some of whom will be migrating soon!

  1 June 2023 – The Meadoway: Restoring meadows in hydro corridors – Sarah Kotsopoulos

The Meadoway is 16 kilometres of hydro corridor in Scarborough which has beentransformed into a broad green pathway of restored meadows with a linear trail system – ecologically diverse lands for people and wildlife.   This ground-breaking initiative by the Toronto Region Conservation Authority connects more than 15 parks and greenspaces, seven watercourses, the Toronto Zoo and the future Rouge Park Visitor Centre.  Plans are now being made to extend this wide green corridor through Pickering.

Sarah Kotsopoulos is the Site Supervisor with the TRCA.  She will tell us how they did the restoration and detail the unique opportunities presented by the project.

  4 May 2023 – 2023 Edge Pegg Lecture: City of Kawartha Lakes Through the Eyes of Plants – Dale Leadbeater

Each year one outstanding program is chosen as the Edge Pegg Memorial Lecture, to honour one of our co-founders.  The Lecture this year is by Dale Leadbeater, a retired environmental consultant and field ecologist who is also a former president of Pickering Naturalists. We presented Dale with our PN Conservation Award in 2008 for decades of outstanding conservation work. 

For Dale Leadbeater and Anne Barbour, a plant checklist that was a volunteer project of the Kawartha Field Naturalists grew into an amazing book, “The Flora of the Kawartha Lakes”, with over 150 photographs and illustrations.

This presentation is a virtual hike through the Kawarthas.  We will connect landscapes, waterbodies and plant communities – a botanical CSI into the plants around us:  why they are there, the importance of sharing that information and how they change through time and interact with the species (including people) who live among them.

  2 March 2023 – Birding the Chaco and Atlantic Forests of Paraguay and Uruguay – Geoff Carpentier

Most birders who go to South America think of Brazil, Ecuador or Peru, but Geoff decided to take the path less traveled, so to speak. He went to Uruguay and Paraguay for two reasons. One – he's never been to either country, and two – they have Hyacinth Macaws.  To find out what marvelous creatures Geoff saw and why he cares so much about the Macaw, join us at our March meeting!

9 February 2023 – PARADISE IN LIMBO: Biodiversity and conservation on the island of Mauritius – Patrick Moldowan

You'd be excused if you've never heard of Mauritius, a spectacular jewel in the western Indian Ocean and former home of the ill-fated Dodo. This vibrant island nation is brimming with natural and cultural history, and today is a fertile training ground for conservation scientists expanding their toolkits to prevent species extinction. In this talk, Patrick will share the natural history and biodiversity of Mauritius through his experience as Canada's "New Noah," and discuss the conservation successes and challenges of past, present, and future. Be sure to pack your sun hats!

   12 January 2023 ­– Drama in the Butterfly Garden – Carol Pasternak

Explore the secret lives in your yard or nearby natural area.  Through macros and videos, you’ll see insects hatching, eating each other, transforming, parasitizing, fighting for territory, courting, and even farming!   Take a break from the news.   Butterfly expert and author Carol Pasternak will dazzle you with brilliant photography, then stay to answer all your questions.

Carol Pasternak is an author, teacher, photographer and sought after speaker who has been raising monarch butterflies with her families for 40 years.   In her free time, she can be found in ditches, meadows and forests, scouring every crevice for signs of wildlife.   Her book “How To Raise Monarch Butterflies A Step-by-Step Guide for Kids”, has sold 50,000 copies and received international acclaim.  Her latest book, “5 Butterflies” launched in January 2022.

   1 December 2022 ­– Tales from Antarctic Ecosystems – Martin Galloway

Blessed with isolation, this unique environment is extremely productive in spite of its special harshness. Lately though, the southern ocean ecosystem has tales to tell of trouble ahead and at the same time some inspiring stories of conservation success.

Martin Galloway, who has taught ecology and biology at Seneca College and York University, will share insights from his recent visit to Antarctica.

   3 November 2022 – Stories from a Migration Hotspot! – David Bree

Billions of birds, butterflies and dragonflies fly over our heads every spring and fall in North America, providing exciting opportunities to see some of these creatures. Retired Presqu'ile Park Naturalist David Bree will look at the migration phenomena, how we study it and share some of his favourite migrant stories from 35 years of visiting and working at the park.

    6 October, 2022 – My Ontario Big Year – Jeremy Bensette

Point Pelee area birder and naturalist Jeremy Bensette had a very successful Big Year in 2017, travelling to the far reaches of his home province of Ontario in pursuit of every bird species he could possibly cross paths with. This presentation touches on many of the highlights, lowlights, statistics, results, and antics of his Big Year. Join Jeremy for a summary of his year-long competitive and social birding journey that turned out to be so much more rewarding than he expected!

   1 September 2022 – What is Biodiversity? – James Kamstra

You have likely heard this term many times and probably know that it is about the tremendous variety of living things that inhabit this planet. But what does Biodiversity really mean? How is it measured? How are so many life forms even possible?  Ecologist James Kamstra will explore the various levels of biodiversity from genes to ecosystems, how our understanding is changing, and the challenges in protecting biodiversity.

   5 May 2022 – The Woman Who Loves Giraffes – Anne Innis Dagg

We have a very special guest for a different kind of meeting on Thursday May 5, Anne Innis Dagg, one of Canada’s foremost zoologists and a world expert on giraffes.  Anne was only a toddler when she saw her first giraffe, in a zoo in the mid 1930s, and a lifelong passion was kindled.  She determined to learn all she could about these amazing animals.  But little was known about them, so after studying biology in university, she decided to visit Africa to see them in the wild.

For a woman to travel in Africa alone in the 1950s was unheard of.  This was before Jane Goodall went to observe chimpanzees, before Dian Fossey’s studies of mountain gorillas.

To hear how she overcame numerous obstacles and to learn of her adventures and research in the wilds of South Africa over 60 years ago, we have been given a special password to see the 2018 documentary film “The Woman Who Loves Giraffes” on Vimeo.  You will want to watch this film before our meeting on May 5, when Anne and her daughter Mary will join us, and we will be able to ask Anne all about giraffes, her research and also her campaigns to protect giraffes in Africa and to counter discrimination against women in science. 

Here are the link and password to the 53 minute film “The Woman Who Loves Giraffes

Password:  NewPWTrident1

   7 April 2022 – A Trip to Borneo – David Bree

The Malaysian State of Saba on the island of Borneo offers the amateur naturalist fairly easy access to exotic and exciting birds and butterflies (and a few mammals), including many endemic species.  Join David and Yvette Bree as they journey to the heights of Mount Kinabalu and the jungles along  the Kinabatangan River to see what they encountered.  In addition to the natural splendour we will see a bit of the culture of this mostly Muslim nation.  Good tourist infrastructure provides a reasonably comfortable trip but as everywhere, development comes at a cost to the natural world. We will briefly touch on these thrats and what you can do to help. 


   3 March 2022 – The Art and Ethics of Wildlife Photography – Mark Peck

Wildlife photography has never been more popular than it is today but is our need to get the perfect image detrimental to the plants and animals we point our lenses at? Join Mark, a lifelong wildlife photographer and birder, as he discusses the positive and negative aspects of wildlife photography yesterday and today.

Mark is the Manager of the Schad Gallery of Biodiversity at the Royal Ontario Museum.

   3 February 2022   – California Superbloom   – Anna Leggatt

California deserts have plants that can endure, resist or avoid drought, often for years. Everything bursts into bloom when sufficient rains occur. Animal life is more evident and the deserts are fascinating. This presentation will show many flowers, with some wild life + the spectacular desert badland landscape and warnings of hazards that can be avoided.

Anna has visited many times to see this remarkable phenomenon.

   6 January, 2022 – Albatross - Life on the Wing  – Geoff Carpentier

Expert birder and world-traveler, Geoff Carpentier, brings us another excellent talk.

Albatrosses are primarily southern hemisphere birds made famous by marine superstition and immortalized in Coleridge's poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.  Although most are found south of the Equator, three species breed north of there.  Come explore the private lives of these majestic birds and learn how and where they live, breed and survive in some of the harshest environments on Earth.

   2 December 2021 – Members' Night

We have a good line-up of presentations – Jan’s photos of birds from this summer, a unique nature display that Rosemary Oliver and her crocheting friends took to the ROM, PN Outings from the past season, new publications from the Matt Holder Environmental Fund, planting rare Pitch Pines to help the species, Environmental issues that your PN club has supported over the year, the latest news on the proposed condo towers for the foot of Liverpool Rd., and more.
Anna Leggatt will be presenting a new “Round-the-world” Picture Wildflower Quiz.
And last but not least the presentation of our annual Conservation Award to Ally Zaheer and Devin Mathura, two young people in Pickering who worked, mainly behind the scenes, but strongly and effectively, through last winter to stop the destruction of the Lower Duffins Creek Wetland.  They organised a phone-zap to government officials, a Shoe Strike for Pickering City Hall, a letter campaign to City Council and Provincial Ministers, and more.  They kept media attention focused on the issue and motivated people to be involved and active, both inside Durham and around the GTA.  They became the voice of youth defending nature and the environment.  They connected with leaders in the Green Party and the NDP, worked with EANAP and Environmental Defence to help in their cause.
And in the end the campaign was successful.  And these two university students were an important part of it.
We are proud to have Ally and Devin working for nature in Pickering.  Please join us in congratulating them.

   4 November 2021 – Protecting and Recovering Butterfly Species at Risk in Ontario – Jessica Linton

Jessica Linton is the coordinator of the Ontario Butterfly Species at Risk Recovery and Implementation Team. She will provide an overview of her research and ongoing work, which includes spear-heading Ontario's first reintroduction project for Mottled Duskywing at Pinery Provincial Park, in addition to other current provincial and national efforts to protect and restore Ontario's butterfly species at risk. In addition to Mottled Duskywing, Jessica will touch on efforts focused on Monarch, Frosted Elfin, Karner Blue and Eastern Persius Duskywing. 

   7 October 2021 – The Bruce Peninsula – Martin Galloway 

Martin Galloway returns this Thursday, to show us one of his favourite places in Ontario.  Much of the Bruce Peninsula is based on limestone of the Niagara Escarpment, which forms some of the most spectacular scenery in the province.  On this limestone have developed many interesting habitats, supporting wildflowers not found elsewhere in Ontario.  Martin will tell us a bit about how the Escarpment formed.  He will show us some of the interesting plants, birds and animals that he has seen there, observed with the eye of a scientist and the passion of a dedicated naturalist. 

   2 September 2021 – The Crossroads of Extinction: a Discussion on Hawaii’s Critically Endangered Birds – Jody Allair  

When Captain Cook visited the Islands in 1778, Hawaii was home to 71 endemic birds, species found nowhere else in the world.  Many of them have since disappeared and others are in serious trouble. Jody will look at all of the endemic songbirds on the four main islands of Hawaii, discuss the various threats and conservation challenges they face and what is being done to try and save them.

Jody Allair is a director of Birds Canada, where he is very active in public outreach.  You may remember the entertaining and informative talks that Jody has given for our club on birds and dinosaurs. 

   3 June 2021 – The importance of Action - Citizen Science with Ecospark – Donna Rice & Dave Gordon 

Any solution to the climate crisis and associated challenges such as habitat biodiversity loss will require active community and citizen engagement. EcoSpark projects support community members to monitor their local environment, training participants to gather scientific data and to then use their data to engage in the public policy process, fostering commitment to long term local action among participants. Come learn about the origins and goals of EcoSpark and how their programs can empower citizens to take action.

Presented by Donna Rice, Chair, EcoSpark; TDSB Principal (retired)

David Gordon, Past Chair, EcoSpark: Teacher, Dunbarton High School (retired)

Participants in the Greenbelt Youth Ambassador Program

   6 May 2021 – The Value of Urban Wetlands– Andrea Kirkwood (Ontario Tech U.) 

Urban wetlands are exceedingly rare in cities, yet they provide essential greenspace and habitat for wildlife. Urban wetlands also provide free ecosystem services such as flood mitigation, water and air purification, and carbon storage. A common refrain from those who aim to develop urban wetlands is that they are degraded ecosystems not worthy of protection or restoration. However, the science is clear that these ecosystems warrant protection and resources for restoration. This presentation will provide an overview on the value of urban wetlands, with a focus on Duffin’s Creek wetland complex in Durham Region.

    1 April 2021 – Compiling the Third Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas – Mark Peck & Emily Rondel

The 5-year mission of each Breeding Bird Atlas is to map the distribution and abundance of Ontario's approximately 300 species of breeding birds, with expert birders stepping up to be responsible for monitoring 10-km squares.

The first Ontario Atlas, published in 1985, used data from 2500 volunteers. It was a ground-breaking book, yielding much previously unknown information and patterns that helped scientists and birders understand where our bird species lived.

Over 3000 birders collected the data that was compiled for the second Atlas in 2005. This remarkable publication showed not only distribution and numbers but the changes our bird populations had undergone in 20 years.

This year an even larger number of birders are embarking on the third Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas. As well as the experts taking on their 10 km squares, the Atlas organisers are asking for sightings from less-experienced birders from all parts of the province.

Mark and Emily will tell you why they want everyone to register, and how you can help.

    4 March 2021 – Conservation of Pollinators at Risk of Extinction – Sheila Colla 

Bees are our most important pollinators, but little is known about the status of most wild bee species in Canada.

Dr. Sheila Colla teaches at York University and heads up a Native Pollinator Research Lab there. She will describe what has been learned about the ecology and conservation status for the best-studied group of wild bees, the bumblebees.  She will tell us how policy and science need to come together to conserve general biodiversity as well as bee species known to be at-risk of extinction.

   4 February 2021 – Namibia: Desert Kingdom and Wildlife Paradise – Anna Leggatt

On the west coast of southern Africa, sparsely-populated Namibia has some of the oldest deserts in the world.  Starkly beautiful, it is the home to amazing wildlife, many birds and animals found nowhere else. 

     When Anna was there 3 years ago, she visited the famous waterholes at Etosha, where there are 114 Species of mammals, several endemic and endangered.  Beyond the lions, zebras and giraffes, Anna will show us some of the many beautiful antelopes from the noble Oryx to the diminutive Damara Dik-dik, birds both exotic and strange, spectacular colourful lizards, bizarre plants.  Namibia is a naturalists’ paradise.

   7 January 2021 – Butterfly Counts: What we have learned in 25 years – James Kamstra

After compiling data on Butterfly Counts for the past 25 years, much data has been assembled and some trends in butterfly populations have become apparent.  James will highlight the observed changes in some species and describe how the counts have given us greater understanding of the local butterfly fauna. 

James Kamstra is an ecologist who has coordinated two butterfly counts in Durham for the past 25 years.  He is the Ontario Regional editor who compiles all of the provincial counts for the North American Butterfly Association and the Toronto Entomologists’ Association.

   3 December 2020 – Aquatic Species at Risk in the Great Lakes– Kat Lucas   on Zoom

Our Great Lakes support a diverse array of plants and animals, with rich ecosystems that are unique in the world. The lakes provide us with fresh drinking water, food and recreational opportunities. This session will focus on some of the species at risk in our Great Lakes and our role as individuals to protect this sensitive ecosystem.

Kat Lucas is the Aqua-Links Program Assistant at the Toronto Zoo.  She has a passion for conservation education and connecting others with the environment.

    5 November 2020 – Are there Penguins in the Arctic? – by Jean Iron on Zoom

To answer this question, Jean will explore the link between penguins of the Southern Hemisphere and the family of seabirds called Alcids that live in the Northern Hemisphere, including the Arctic.

Jean is one of our top bird experts and leads ecotours to many world locations.  She takes superb photographs and remarkable videos.  Her talks are always informative and very enjoyable. 

   6 February 2020 – Raptor ID Workshop  – Rayfield Pye

Puzzling over distant hawks?  Is that an eagle flying over or just a Turkey Vulture?  Struggling with telling Sharp-shinned Hawks from Cooper’s in your backyard?  Perhaps you’ve mastered the common raptors, but would like to move up to helping with the Cranberry Marsh Raptor Watch.

Rayfield’s ID workshop can help.  A great opportunity to add to your birding expertise (or just to enjoy an evening of indoor raptor-watching).

   2 January 2020 – Black and White - Cormorants and Great Egrets in Southern Ontario – Chip Weseloh

Chip Weseloh has been studying colonial waterbirds for most of his career and is one of our foremost experts on this group.  He will be telling us about two of the most distinctive of those species that live in our area. Double-crested Cormorants, in an amazing recovery, have a local massive colony on the Leslie Street Spit. You are probably less familiar with nesting Great Egrets, who are increasing their range and now nest not far from Pickering.  An interesting study in contrasting bird species.

   5 December 2019 – Members Night

Our members will share their interests and experiences on a variety of nature subjects, from Astronomy to Zoology, with slides, photographs, artwork, stamps and needlework. A highlight will be the presentation of our Pickering Naturalists' Conservation Award. And don't forget our combined Christmas Bake Sale & Silent Auction!

   7 November 2019 – Best Places to Bird in Ontario – Mike Burrell 

Since kids, Mike and his brother Ken have been obsessed with birds and traveled across the province in search of them.  He'll share their favourite spots, strategies and stories and how they decided which would make the cut for their new book, Best Places to Bird in Ontario.

Mike will bring copies of their book, which is getting excellent reviews from readers.  Treat yourself, or get one as a Christmas gift for your favourite birder.


   3 October 2019 – Predators and Prey – Dave Taylor

Dave Taylor is a expert wildlife photographer and illustrator, and the author of more than 40 books and several magazine articles on wildlife and ecology.  Dave has traveled throughout the world capturing nature with his camera.

In this program he explores the surprisingly complex world of predators and predation, using examples from both near and far.  The talk is often humorous and sometimes very serious. It relates the lives of predators to parallels with our own lives.  Whether it is the relationship between coyotes and wolves or deer and humans 

the presentation draws the listener in to thinking about his or her role in the food chain. 

   5 September 2019  – Gulls and Shorebirds: Ashbridges Bay Flood – Jean Iron  

The flooding of Woodbine Beach in spring and summer 2017 produced the finest shorebird and gull watching in Toronto in many years with close views and many rarities.  The exceptional visitors included Franklin’s Gull, Black-legged Kittiwake, Little Gull and others.  The continuing high water has brought more unusual species like a Red-necked Phalarope this summer.

Jean Iron is one of our foremost bird experts.  She will have superb photos and dynamic videos to show us.

   6 June 2019 – The Owl Foundation - A fly-by-night organization? – Peter Thoem 

It started in the late ‘60s with Kay McKeever rescuing almost any injured or orphaned animal. Eventually she and husband Larry developed a focus on owls and other raptors.  Now, fifty years later, the Owl Foundation with its three full-time staff receives and treats more than a hundred owls a year. 

Foundation volunteer Peter Thoem will tell us about at the mishaps (mostly man-made) that befall owls, the treatment and care they receive at the Owl Foundation, and also what was learned from the big Snowy Owl irruption in the Polar Vortex winter (2013/14) and the Great Gray Owl irruption of 2004.  He will share images of our beautiful Ontario owls, both under treatment and in the wild.

   2 May 2019 – “Your Pane Is Their Pain” - Making your windows BirdSafe® – Michael Mesure 

Every year millions of birds die in collisions with windows, 90% of these at peoples’ homes.  Learn about simple, effective and affordable ways to save the lives of birds at your home or workplace. 

Michael Mesure is a founding member of FLAP (Fatal Light Awareness Program), a non-profit organization which has led the way in bringing public attention to this significant cause of bird deaths and in finding solutions we can implement.


   4 April 2019 – How do Black Bears and Polar Bears handle Winter?- Martyn Obbard

Did you ever wonder how black bears and polar bears manage to survive our harsh Canadian winters?  Noted bear scientist Dr. Martyn Obbard will share his knowledge and experience gained after many exciting years observing bears in Ontario.

Martyn is an emeritus research scientist with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and adjunct professor at Trent University (Peterborough, Ont.).   He retired in 2016 after a 32-year career with the ministry, including 27 years in the research section studying black bears and polar bears in Ontario.  He is also a longtime member of the Canadian federal/provincial/territorial polar bear technical committee, and is vice-president (Americas) of the International Association for Bear Research and Management.


   7 March 2019 – Rare Birds in Ontario - Luc Fazio 

Each year our Executive chooses one outstanding program as the Edge Pegg Memorial Lecture, to honour one of our co-founders.  This year we enthusiastically endorse this talk by Luc Fazio, with video and photos of many of Ontario’s rarest birds.

We have had some really remarkable birds visiting Ontario recently, including a few that have never been seen in this province before!  Crowds of enthusiastic birders travelled to see the Reddish Egret in Olifant, in August, the Great Kiskadee in Rondeau in September, the Calliope Hummingbird in Goderich in November, among others.  Luc Fazio has documented all these with video and posted them online with informative commentary.  He will share these with us, and tell us about nearly 40 other bird species that are rarely seen in Ontario.

   7 Febuary 2019 – Native Plants for Bees & Butterflies - Paul Heydon 

With the news of the alarming worldwide decline of insects, particularly the pollinators that we depend on for much of our food, people are becoming more aware that the usual garden annuals are of little help.  Ecologist Paul Heydon of GrowWild Native Plant Nursery will tell us how our Ontario native plants evolved naturally with our pollinators and as foodplants for our butterflies.  In contrast to the non-native flowers being bred for a colourful but short life, they offer lots of pollen and nectar for honey bees as well as native pollinators, and can provide beauty through many seasons.

   3 January 2019 – Double-crested Cormorants in Tommy Thompson Park - Gail Fraser

Gail Fraser has been studying colonial-nesting waterbirds for over 20 years, and specifically Double-crested Cormorants on the Leslie St. Spit since 2006, where she is currently working on a 10-year project monitoring the Cormorants and Black-crowned Night-herons.  She will discuss human-wildlife conflicts associated with cormorants in the Great Lakes, then tell us about the management of their large colony in Tommy Thompson Park and some unexpected interactions with these native birds.

   6 December 2018 – Members’ Meeting 

Our members will share their interests and experiences on a variety of nature subjects, from Astronomy to Zoology, with slides, photographs, artwork, stamps and needlework. A highlight will be the presentation of our Pickering Naturalists' Conservation Award to a Durham resident who has made an outstanding contribution to nature and conservation not only locally but province-wide. And don't forget our combined Christmas Bake Sale & Silent Auction!

   1 November 2018 – Our Amazing Canada Jays: the “impossible” birds of our country’s great northern forests – Dan Strickland

Dan Strickland, retired Chief Park Naturalist of Algonquin Park, will describe the major findings of his over 50 years of studying this remarkable bird in Algonquin, Quebec, and most recently in British Columbia.  Learn how this permanent resident of our northern forests succeeds in living all year round in a hostile, seemingly foodless environment—even to the point of nesting in late winter—but is now under some threat from climate warming. Dan will also tell us a little about what led to the official restoration earlier this year of the original name, Canada Jay, and how it may yet be chosen as our country's national bird.


   4 October 2018 – Lyme disease: what is happening in Ontario? – Andrew Peregrine 

This talk will review the ticks that can be found on dogs and people in Ontario, and how to identify the tick responsible for Lyme disease.  Data will be presented to indicate how the risk of exposure to the organism that causes Lyme disease is changing across Ontario and what will likely happen in the future.  Lastly, strategies to reduce the risk of infection in both dogs and people will be discussed.  Dr. Andrew Peregrine is a clinical parasitologist at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph

    6 September 2018
 – Searching for Owls – Leslie Abram

Leslie Abram is a skilled photographer from Eastern Ontario with a particular fondness for owls.  She has spectacular shots from Amherst Island, Presqu’ile Provincial Park and other locations – in flight, with prey and also as adorable owlets.  She will share tips on where and how to find owls.  She will discuss owl behaviour and how to observe owls without causing them to be stressed.   Leslie’s presentation uses humour, storytelling and poetry as she shares her obsession with owls and what they have taught her. 

   7 June 2018 – The Secret Lives of Spiders – Catherine Scott  

Spiders are among the most misunderstood animals with whom humans share this planet, but a glimpse into their world of ingenious silk traps, masterful masquerade, and dangerous liaisons will show that they are far more fascinating than fearsome.  Catherine Scott is a PhD student doing ground-breaking research on spiders at U of T.

   3 May 2018 – Bird Song For Everyone – Ernie Jardine

Ernie will explain his system for learning to identify bird songs, developed through many years of listening to our birds, studying their songs, recording and analyzing them.  He will illustrate how this works, using specific example songs and going through the “process”.  He will also tell us about the highs and the lows he experienced in writing and publishing his two books on bird song identification.

   5 April 2018 – Conserving Canada’s Birds – Jody Allair

Birds are one of the most the most conspicuous and captivating groups of animals in nature.  With their vibrant colours and fascinating behaviours, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better subject matter for sparking people’s interest in the natural world.  But globally, birds are facing an increasing number of threats in the form of habitat loss, pesticide use, and even climate change.  Join Bird Studies Canada’s Jody Allair for a presentation on Canada’s birds, challenges to their conservation, and a discussion on the ways you can make a difference for these amazing animals.

   1 March 2018 –Tracking Migrating Birds & Butterflies – Ryan Norris

Each year, billions of migratory birds and insects travel vast distances between their temperate breeding grounds and tropical overwintering habitats. Ryan will share with us how we've uncovered some of these incredible, record-breaking migrations and, using an example of the iconic monarch butterfly, show why tracking individuals over the course of the annual cycle is fundamental for their successful conservation.

   1 February 2018 – The Evolving Role of the Modern Zoo in Conservation – Kevin Kerr

Zoos have a centuries-old history, but their role as conservation centers has only evolved in recent decades. While attitudes toward zoos remain variable, the growing consensus is that they have a responsibility toward the preservation of species and the education of the general public. In this talk, Kevin Kerr will provide an inside peek into how modern zoos manage healthy captive populations, decide which species to include, and endeavor to modify visitors' behaviour for the benefit of the natural world. Kevin is Curator of Birds and Invertebrates at the Toronto Zoo.

    4 January 2018 – Monarchs, Mountains, Mexico! – Anna Leggatt 

PN member Anna Leggatt will take us away from the frigid winter to warm, colourful Mexico. On her 2014 trip, she visited a variety of habitats from seacoast to mountains. As well as the over-wintering monarchs, Anna will show us some of the other wonderful butterflies, dragonflies, flowers, birds and turtles of the country. Most of you will remember the excellent mini-talks that Anna has given us at Members' Meetings. She is an exceptional all-around naturalist with a particular interest in botany and butterflies. Attachments area
   7 December 2017 – MEMBERS' MEETING

Our members will share their interests and experiences on a variety of nature subjects, from Astronomy to Zoology, with slides, photographs, artwork, stamps and needlework. A highlight will be the presentation of our Pickering Naturalists' Conservation Award to a Durham resident who has made an outstanding contribution to nature and conservation not only locally but province-wide. And don't forget our combined Christmas Bake Sale & Silent Auction!

   2 November 2017 – From Birder to Birder Murder – Steve Burrows

Local author Steve Burrow's first mystery novel, A Siege of Bitterns, was published in 2015, receiving international acclaim and a major award for Best First Novel. He followed up with three more excellent mysteries and his fans are eagerly awaiting the next. Steve will tell us how his Birder Murder series grew out of his environmental writing for Asian Geographic and how he got his first book published. On a birding trip to Columbia he researched the details for his latest, A Shimmer of Hummingbirds, and also observed both birds and birders in habitat.

    Ontario's Environmental Bill of Rights: A Toolkit for Change Ellen Schwartzel

5 October 2017 – Ontario's Environmental Bill of Rights: A Toolkit for Change – Ellen Schwartzel Ellen will share information on the tools of the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) and how to use them effectively to the benefit the environment.

    7 September 2017 – Madagascar: a Land of Contrasts – Otto Peter

Otto Peter is a widely experienced naturalist and world traveller.  He spent a month in Madagascar exploring this massive island and searching out many of its fascinating and unique flora and fauna – 90% found nowhere else in the world!  He will show us bizarre lemurs and colourful chameleons, many amazing birds and animals.  But most of Madagascar's forests have been destroyed and much of the wildlife is threatened or close to extinction, living on borrowed time.

    1 June 2017 – A Tale of Two Ecosystems, in Brazil and Spain – Martin Galloway

Martin Galloway is fascinated by how ecosystems work. He will tell us about two areas in very different parts of the world where an abundance of nature exists with longtime agricultural use. He gave us a short introduction to the amazing Pantanal region in Brazil at our Members' Meeting in December. Extremadura, in western Spain has been settled since Roman times, but wildlife still flourishes there. Martin will tell us what this balance teaches us about living with nature.

    18 May 2017 Birds of Northumberland County – Elizabeth Kellogg   

Date change: For one meeting only

 This talk introduces some of the good birding places in Northumberland County and talks about some representative species that use these habitats. The bird photographs are mostly by local photographers who have generously shared them with me for use in this presentation.


    6 Apr. 2017 –  Co-flourishing With Canids – Lesley Sampson

Lesley Sampson co-founded Coyote Watch Canada in 2008.  She is a specialist in coyote behaviour and on educating people on their neighbourhood coyotes and how to get along with them.  Lesley will provide insight into coyote/human dynamics, canid family structure and how to cultivate compassionate, citizen-focused coexistence through humane policy development and community partnerships.

    2 March 2017 – 40th Anniversary Meeting - "NOTE early start at 6:30 p.m.

Tonight we are celebrating our first 40 years, in pictures and stories, of past outings and get-togethers.  A host of early members, Conservation Award winners and speakers have been invited to share in the festivities and meet old friends.  Marg and Reid Wilson have promised to send us a personal musical greeting!

A special Silent Auction will be held, featuring a gorgeous stained glass reproduction of our PN logo by former president Chip Weseloh, a beautiful large framed fine art print of wolves, a new copy of “The Private Lives of Birds”, Bridget Stutchbury’s book on her cutting-edge songbird research.

We will have wildlife painting exhibits by Barry Kent MacKay and Stuart Kenn.  Rosemary Oliver will bring one of her wonderful displays of nature fabric art.

Special refreshments will be on offer (veggies, fruit, cookies and an anniversary cake!).

If you know of anyone who is a past member but has lost touch with the group, please let them know about this memorable evening.

    2 February 2017 – The Piping Plover Reclaims Lake Ontario – Glenn Coady

In the spring of 2016, Glenn Coady discovered two Piping Plover nests at Darlington Provincial Park. These were the first breeding Piping Plovers ever for Durham Region and the first successful nests on the Canadian shore of Lake Ontario since 1934. The Great Lakes population of Piping Plover reached a critical low of just 12 pairs in the early 1980s, but since then conservation efforts have brought the number of nesting pairs back up to a post-crash high of 75 nesting pairs in 2016. Come and hear the story of one of Ontario's most endangered breeding birds and learn what you can do to help them recover.

    5 January 2017 – Restoration of Damaged Natural Habitats for Wildlife – Steve Smith

Steve is a forester and certified arborist with Urban Forest Associates Inc., a small firm in Toronto.  He has supervised hundreds of ecological restoration projects throughout Ontario over the past 34 years, working with many partner groups. Steve works with homeowners, businesses and municipalities to manage individual trees, forests and natural gardens.  Much of his work involves control of invasive plant species and restoration of urban natural areas. 

    1 December 2016 – Members Meeting

Our members will share their interests and experiences on a variety of nature subjects, from Astronomy to Zoology, with slides, photographs, artwork, stamps and needlework. And don't forget our combined Christmas Bake Sale & Silent Auction!

    3 November 2016 – The Bird That Kicked the Wasps' Nest: Red-throated Caracaras & Social Wasps – Sean McCann

Over a century has passed since Wallace, Spruce and Bates explored the Amazon, and to this day many of the region's animals remain poorly known. Over the course of five field seasons, Sean and his colleagues travelled to French Guiana to study the unusual habits of the Red-throated Caracara.

They documented for the first time the intense cooperative breeding of these birds, their high reliance on wasp larvae, as well as their spectacular predation behaviour. Sean's talk will highlight what was learned, and give us an introduction to the spectacular scenery and animal life of the Guianan rainforest.

    6 October 2016 – Colombia: The New Birding Frontier – Geoff Carpentier

Colombia, in the northwest corner of South America, includes remarkably diverse regions: Caribbean coast, Pacific coast, high mountain ranges, volcanoes, tropical rainforest, savannah and vast grasslands. It's not surprising that it has more bird species than any other country in the world. Parrots, toucans, a staggering 153 species of hummingbirds! And this birders' paradise is only now becoming widely known to eco-travellers. Geoff Carpentier, PN member and world traveller, will introduce us to this fascinating country and its exotic birds.

1 September 2016 – Monarch Butterfly Tagging along the Bluffs – Terry Whittam

This presentation will discuss the remarkable fall migration of monarch butterflies through Rosetta McClain Gardens. This beautiful garden park at the top of the Scarborough Bluffs attracts a surprising number of butterflies of different species besides migrating monarchs. Monarchs continue to stage a nice recovery and data collected over the past years will be shown. Photos of the monarchs and the process of tagging them will also be shown.


   2 June 2016 – The Road to Recovery: Turtle Conservation in Action – JB Jaboor

JB will give us an overview of Ontario's turtle species, their life history and the threats they face. He will highlight the work that the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre (OTCC) undertakes to conserve the species including medical rehabilitation in the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre (KTTC), education programs, and field monitoring projects. .

    5 May 2016 - Arizona Adventures by Christopher Siou

Award-winning nature and landscape photographer Christopher Siou will take us on a virtual tour of the most spectacular scenery in the American Southwest – Monument Valley, South Coyote Butte, Lower Antelope Canyon, Lake Powell and beyond.  See this wonderful country through the camera of an artist.  You will want to pack your bags and go!

   7 April 2016 – Twinkle Twinkle Little Bat – Toby Thorne

An introduction to the mysterious night time world of bats. Toby has been studying bats since the age of eleven and recently completed a master's degree at the University of Western Ontario. He will talk about the biology of bats in general and about the species present in southern Ontario, and maybe dispel a few myths along the way.

    3 March 2016 – Extreme Bees in Extreme Environments – Laurence Packer 

The Atacama Desert is the driest in the world, yet it also has some of the most interesting bees on the planet. 
Laurence will describe the various habitats in the Atacama,  discuss why its bees are so interesting and tie in the evolution of the bees to palaeoenvironmental and geological understanding of the region of the past. 
Laurence Packer is a biology professor of at York University whose main academic passion is the study of wild bees.

   4 February  2016 – A Tale of Two Nests: Owls in the Manitoba Interlake – Skip Shand 

Skip Shand is a retired Glendon College professor of English and Drama Studies, with a lifelong interest in birds and a summer cottage in the bird-rich Manitoba Interlake. This short photo essay records his lucky encounters with daily-life at a pair of nests: a Northern Hawk-Owl nest on a square he monitored for the forthcoming Manitoba Atlas of Breeding Birds, and a Long-Eared Owl nest on the Interlake farm of one of Canada's foremost Owl biologists. 

    4 February 2016 – The Rouge Wetland – Colin Angus

Colin Angus is an accomplished photographer who has focused much of his art on the natural world.  For many years, the wetland on Beare Road just east of the Zoo has been one of his favourite places to explore.  Colin will show us the beautiful and sometimes surprising plants, animals, birds and insects he has found there over the seasons. 

    7 January 2016 – Biological Control of Invasive Species – Sandy Smith

Despite their natural resilience, forest ecosystems in North America have become increasingly vulnerable to invasion through natural and manmade processes. Homogenization and successive waves of invading species are now commonplace in the settled landscapes of Ontario, primed to spread beyond into Canada's intact forests. Conservation strategies that emulate nature, such as rewilding and biological control using native diversity and natural enemies, will impede invasion and provide the best long-term prescription for forest health.

    3 December 2015 – Members' Meeting

Our members will share their interests and experiences on a variety of nature subjects, from Astronomy to Zoology, with slides, photographs, artwork, stamps and needlework. And don't forget our combined Christmas Bake Sale & Silent Auction!

    5 November 2015 – Lessons from Loons – Doug Tozer

The Common Loon is a popular symbol of the state of the environment, and the choice turns out to be an extremely good one. Over the years loon research led by an army of naturalists has revealed numerous natural history and environmental secrets. Doug Tozer, Ontario Program Scientist with Bird Studies Canada, will overview revolutionary discoveries of how loons survive and reproduce, and whether human activities are negatively influencing the loon's unique way of life and the lakes they depend on, now and in the future.  

    1 October 2015 – Monitoring Ontario's Breeding Birds – Mark Peck

If you want to get more involved in protecting our birds today then "Citizen Science" programs are the way to go. And, the best program of all...Project NestWatch! It's fun, it's challenging and it provides a wealth of valuable information for our birds. Mark Peck, ornithology specialist at the Royal Ontario Museum, will tell us about Project NestWatch, the Ontario Nest Records Scheme and how you can help with wild bird conservation.

   3 September 2015 – DifferingViews on the Rouge National Urban Park –Jim Robb, Larry Noonan & Alan Wells

Jim Robb of the Friends of the Rouge Watershed will outline serious flaws in the federal Rouge National Urban Park Act and the management plan for the new Rouge NU Park and the improvements necessary to “meet or exceed”existing science-based standards for the protection and restoration of ecological integrity and water quality within the Park and watershed.  This view is supported by a number of environmental groups.

Rouge NU Park supporters and PN members Alan Wells and Larry Noonan will give a different view.  They feel that the Act (and associated legislation and management plan) is providing the best possible protection for plants, the animals and the ecology of the Park.  Alan Wells is past president of North Durham Nature.  Larry Noonan is the Chair of Altona Forest Stewardship Committee and has also worked in the Rouge for many years.

    4 June 2015 – The Lake Iroquois Plain – Mark Stabb

    7 May 2015 – Biomimicry: Learning from Nature's Designs – Richard Aaron

Biomimicry, from the Greek words bios (life) and mimesis (imitation), is a recent discipline that strives to solve problems by imitating designs and processes from nature.  Discover how 3.8 billion years of “research &  development” is inspiring engineers, scientists, architects and others to develop everything from gecko-like  adhesive tape to “echolocating” canes for the blind. 

You may remember Richard from the wonderful talk he gave us on the mushrooms of our area, or from the excellent odonate workshops he has led for us the past five summers. This subject appeals to Richard's particular interest in the weird and wonderful details in nature.  Prepare to be amazed!

    2 April 2015 – Save The Salamanders – Matt Ellerbeck

Join Salamander Conservationist - Matt Ellerbeck (A.K.A The Salamander Man) for an educational and exciting presentation on the conservation and protection of salamanders! The presentation will feature live salamanders, both local and exotic species. Don't miss this chance to observe some of these rarely seen amphibians.

    5 March. 2015 – Where are the Whip-poor-wills? – Audrey Heagy

Whip-poor-will populations in Ontario have declined by more than 50% since the 1980s and this iconic species is now considered a Threatened species.  In 2010, Bird Studies Canada launched a project to find out more about where whip-poor-wills are (and aren't) still present in Ontario, and to look for clues as to their disappearance.  Audrey Heagy of the Ontario Whip-poor-will Project will tell us about the natural history of this enigmatic nocturnal species and the survey and research efforts underway in Ontario.

   5 February  2015 – Journey to Nepal and India – Geoff Carpentier

Worldwide nature tour leader and PN member Geoff Carpentier will introduce us to the exotic birds and mammals of eastern Nepal and north central India.  As well as three national parks, we will see some surprising green spots in this densely populated area.  In addition to magnificent Bengal tigers, beautiful deer and Indian elephants, he'll show us the Indian one-horned rhinoceros and some of the region's over 1000 bird species. 

    8 Jan. 2015 – Why Birds are Dinosaurs – Kevin Seymour

Kevin will review the history and importance of the first excavated fossil ”bird”, and arguably the world’s most famous and significant fossil species: Archaeopteryx lithographica.  For over a century this fossil species has dominated the story of the evolution of birds.  Recent finds in Liaoning, China however, have started to fill in the gap between reptiles and birds.  By the end of the talk, Kevin will hope to convince you that Archaeopteryx is not a bird after all, but actually a flying dinosaur, and that our living birds clearly descended from these flying dinosaurs.

    4 Dec. 2014 Members' Meeting

Our members will share their interests and experiences on a variety of nature subjects, from Astronomy to Zoology, with slides, photographs, artwork, stamps and needlework. Rayfield Pye will test us with his popular Nature Quiz. And don't forget our combined Christmas Bake Sale & Silent Auction!

We will also be presenting the Pickering Naturalists Conservation Award to Don Davis.

    6 Nov. 2014 – Badgers in Southwestern Ontario – Josh Sayers

Over the past few years research has been conducted on the badgers of Southwestern Ontario with the aim of answering the questions necessary for their conservation in the province. With the help of public sightings, genetic analysis, and radio-tracking, we have slowly been learning more and more about these unique animals and their lives in the hidden corners of this region (and sometimes undetected right under our noses).
Josh Sayers, of the Ontario Badger Project, has been studying them since 2008. Josh will introduce us to these fascinating but elusive animals.

    2 October 2014 - Twilight to 2000: The Evolution of Ontario's Flora – Dale Leadbeater

Dale will give us a look at the influence of the last glaciations, megafauna, human occupation and modern use of the land has shaped the flora and fauna with which we are familiar today.  On the 100th anniversary of the death of Martha, the last Passenger Pigeon, this is a particularly poignant and revealing look at where we think we are going in the future.

    4 September 2014 – The Important Bird Areas Program in Ontario – Mike Burrell

Come hear about some of Ontario's most important sites for bird conservation and how your help can make a difference on a global scale. Ontario's Important Bird Areas Program is a global initiative to identify, monitor, and conserve the world's most important sites for birds and biodiversity. Using scientific criteria, nearly 600 Canadian sites have been designated. IBAs are found throughout the country. Ontario's 70 IBAs cover more than 23,000 km2, largely along the coasts of the Great Lakes and Hudson and James Bays. Most sites regularly host large concentrations of birds, or significant numbers of species at risk. Join Mike Burrell to find out more about these amazing sites and learn how you can help make a difference.

June 5, 2014 - A Tour of the Solar System - Jesse Rogerson

Our talk this evening is really out of this world!  Jesse Rogerson, who brought us the excellent talk a couple of years ago on Exoplanets - the Search for Earth II, will be taking us on a Tour of the Solar System, with amazing images and all the latest discoveries.  Jesse is working on his PhD in Astronomy and is also researcher/programmer astronomer at the Ontario Science Centre.

May 1, 2014 - Dragonflies & Damselflies of Rouge Park–Bev Edwards

Soon to become the first National Urban Park in Canada, Rouge Park is home to over 40 per cent of Ontario’s odonate (dragonfly and damselfly) species.  For four summers, Bev led the first comprehensive survey of odonates in the Park.  She will discuss their life history and why they have been described as “aerial acrobats”and “jewels of the air.” She will also present the results of the odonate survey and, using photos, describe some of the species.

Join us to learn about some of the most beautiful inhabitants of our new park.

3 April, 2014 - A Voyage to the Galapagos: What Darwin Didn't See – Justin Peter

The Galapagos Islands often conjure up images of iguanas, boobies, tortoises and... Charles Darwin. In this illustrated talk filled with personal anecdotes, Justin will lead us on an exploration of these islands that Darwin helped to bring to our attention, and will share some of the things we've learned since the HMS Beagle plied the waters of this unique archipelago. Justin is an expert naturalist who leads ecotours around the world.

6 March, 2014 - Arctic Wildlife of Iceland, Canada and Greenland – Jean Iron

Jean Iron is one of our foremost birders, but also interested in all the other elements of nature that make up our world. Last summer she visited Iceland, James Bay, Nunavut and Greenland. Jean's presentation will show and contrast the wide diversity of birdlife, mammals, flora and habitats found in four areas of the North. Although quite different, each of these northern wildlands has a beauty of its own and is teeming with life in the Arctic summer.

6 February, 2014 - Ontario Road Rocks – Nick Eyles

2 January, 2014 - Saving the Birds of South Georgia Island - Geoff Carpentier

South Georgia Island is a place of breath-taking beauty, with snow-capped mountains and rugged shores, in the remote south Atlantic near the tip of South America.
Designated an Important Bird Area, it is home to millions of seabirds, including several birds unique to the island, as well as different species of Albatross, Diving Petrels, Giant Petrels, Prions, Penguins and many others. Like many islands, many of its breeding birds have been decimated by invasive predators.

Geoff Carpentier, long-time birder and Worldwide Quest tour leader, will tell us about South Georgia's wonderful birds and the ground-breaking program that has been undertaken to save them.

December 5, 2013 - Members' Meeting

Our members will share their interests and experiences on a variety of nature subjects, from Astronomy to Zoology, with slides, photographs, stories and needlework. And don't forget our combined Christmas Bake Sale & Silent Auction!
We will also be presenting the Pickering Naturalists Conservation Award.

November 7, 2013 - Birds of Algonquin Park - Ron Tozer

Ron Tozer retired in 1996 after 25 years as the Park Naturalist in Algonquin Provincial Park.  He has drawn on his 50 years experience as a keen birder and records keeper in the Park to write an outstanding book.  “Birds of Algonquin Park” covers a wide range of topics such as changes in migration timing, declines in aerial insectivores, changes in species and numbers over time, major changes in Park habitats, finding northern specialties and winter finches.  Ron will tell us about his book and share with us his insights on the birdlife of Ontario’s greatest park.

October 3, 2013 - Geodes, & Other Mysterious Round Rocks - Elfi Berndl

Elfi Berndl is an avid rockhound who dabbles in many aspects of the hobby and is active in a number of rock and mineral clubs. Colour & texture are the aspects of rocks that appeal to her most. She loves pyrites, agates and geodes the best, but has rarely met a mineral she doesn't like.

Elfi will explore formation theories of the beautiful crystal geodes as well as their relationship to other round rocks such as nodules, concretions, spherulites, amygdules and other round rocks. Whether you're an experienced rockhound or a complete beginner, you will enjoy this talk.

September 5, 2013 - Hurricane Sandy: a Superstorm of Rare Birds - Brandon Holden

Brandon will take us through the meteorological history behind the Hurricane Sandy event in the fall of 2012; and show how it brought about the incursion of pelagic Storm-Petrels, Kittiwakes, Jaegers and other amazing birds into Southern Ontario.  Along with the ornithological events associated with it, he will tell us what we can learn about the relationship between birds and major weather systems in the future!

Brandon is more than your average obsessed birder – he makes his living at it! And you will have seen some of his wonderful bird photographs gracing the pages of Ontario Nature Magazine and other publications.

June 6, 2013 - What the &@$% is a Bioblitz? - Shawn Blackburn

In May 2013 dozens of nature enthusiasts and experts converged on Rouge Park for our first Bioblitz. They were on a voyage of discovery, and they were not disappointed! Shawn Blackburn, from the Toronto Zoo, was the lead coordinator. He will tell us about the exciting new way that scientists and naturalists are coming together to discover the biodiversity of our natural communities.

May 2, 2013 - Reptiles & Amphibians of Eastern North America - Sid Daniels

Sid Daniels is interested in all facets of nature, but he has a special enthusiasm for reptiles and amphibians. Most of his holidays are adventures in search of elusive scaly creatures! Sid will show us an amazing variety of frogs, turtles, snakes, toads, salamanders and lizards, many of which can be found in our own backyard.
Did you know that Ontario has its own beautiful lizard? Frogs that can change their colour? Salamanders with lungs, with gills, with neither? Many reptiles and amphibians are creatures that live in our own woods and waterways, but we seldom see them. Creatures with their own unique beauty.

April 4, 2013 - Birds and Dinosaurs of the Alberta Badlands - Jody Allair

Join Bird Studies Canada biologist Jody Allair for a look at the amazing world of the southern Alberta badlands.  This talk will highlight some of the unique natural history that exists in this strange and beautiful region of Canada.  We will also look at some of the prehistoric life that existed in this region 70 million years ago and discuss the fascinating link between modern birds and their ancestors – the theropod dinosaurs.

March 7, 2013 - The Return of the Trumpeter Swans - Bev Kingdon

When Harry Lumsden started Ontario's Trumpeter Swan Restoration program in 1982, Trumpeters had not been seen for almost 100 years, since 1886 when a hunter at Lake Erie's Long Point shot the last known individual.  Bev Kingdon is a key member of the dedicated team of volunteers who have worked tirelessly to bring these magnificent birds back to Ontario.  She will tell us the story of that struggle, and these beautiful birds she has come to know intimately.

February 7, 2013 - An Evening with the Reluctant Twitcher - Richard Pope

Richard Pope, a relatively normal birdwatcher, morphed into a "twitcher" in 2007, pursuing rare species of birds from Rainy River to the Ottawa, seeking to record at least 300 birds in Ontario for his "Big Year."  The book that he wrote about his quest is titled  “The Reluctant Twitcher.”  He will share with us some of his humorous adventures and images of some exciting birds.

January 3, 2013 - Hudson Bay Shorebirds and Tundra Wetlands - Jean Iron

Jean Iron is one of our foremost experts on birds, and is an excellent photographer.
In spring 2012, Jean was a member of a four-person crew at a wilderness camp on the Ontario coast of Hudson Bay surveying breeding shorebirds.
 Concerns about climate change have prompted the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources to initiate this new study of Ontario's tundra. In her presentation, Jean will show breeding shorebirds and specialty birds of the Hudson Bay coast, as well as mammals, tundra wildflowers at their blooming peak, butterflies, and more.

December 6, Member's Night

Our members will share their interests and experiences on a variety of nature subjects, from Astronomy to Zoology, with slides, photographs, stories and needlework.  And don't forget our combined Christmas Bake Sale & Silent Auction!
We will also be presenting the Pickering Naturalists Conservation Award.

November 1, 2012 - Greenwood Conservation - Kimberly Krawczyk
Hoofs, Paws, Wings and Feet - Larry Kirtley

At our November 1st meeting, Kim will brief us on the progress that TRCA is making in adding two major tracts of land to the already popular Greenwood Conservation Area.

These additional spaces will be very popular with naturalists from across the GTA.

Kim will discuss a little of the history, what vision TRCA had for the lands, the process that they used to engage all the interested parties and what the future holds in store.

For the second half of the meeting, photographer Larry Kirtley will show us a program of beautiful nature images accompanied by music.

October 4, 2012 - Autumn Astronomy: The Fall Colours Above! - Paul Delaney

It is not just the season for great sights on the ground but in the sky as well.  The transition from the warm days of Summer to the darker, longer and cooler nights of Fall allow the star gazer to view both globular and open clusters in the same evening.  The Milky Way is setting but Cassiopeia is rising high and the variety of objects accessible to binoculars and smaller telescopes is excellent.   This talk will hopefully whet your appetite for finding the nearest telescope and partake of a long night of celestial wonder. Paul Delaney is a professor and popular lecturer of Astronomy at York University.

September 13, 2012 - Praying Mantids: Masters of Disguise - Julio Rivera

Despite their popularity with scientists and the general public, praying mantids are one of the least studied orders of insects.  With over 2300 species around the world, many have taken on some bizarre and beautiful forms.  Julio will show us some of these fascinating predators and tell us little-known details of their hunting strategies, behaviours and adaptations.
Julio is a Peruvian-Canadian entomologist at the Royal Ontario Museum and has been studying praying mantids for over 10 years.

June 7, 2012 Assisted Species Migration: helping species or hurting communities - Nina Hewitt

As the climate warms, and the weather tends to be more extreme, many plants and animals will find it impossible to survive in their present locations. The talk will examine the controversy surrounding the policy of assisted migration of plant and animal species polewards/upslope during climate change.
Example species will be presented to illustrate the potential risks and benefits of such a policy. Nina will discuss the feasibility of these proposals and how different interest groups may reach a consensus.

Nina Hewitt is a professor of Geography and works with the Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability at York University

Introduction to Birdsong Workshop - Thursday May 3rd 6:00 to 7:15 pm before the May meeting.

We will also have a chance to practice these identification skills during the outing to Thickson's Woods on Saturday, May 5th.
The workshop is intended as an introduction to birdsong and will concentrate on the identification of songbirds that could be moving through the woods in early May.
Anyone interested in beginning or adding to their skills is encouraged to attend. Acquiring these skills adds greatly to the enjoyment of birding. There will be some handouts but no test.

May 3, 2012 - Creatures Small and Smaller: Shooting Macro - James Kamstra

James Kamstra grew up in Durham Region and has been an avid naturalist here his whole life.  He is employed as an ecologist / environmental consultant for the engineering firm AECOM  based in Markham.  He conducts biological inventories and environmental impact studies.  

James spends a lot of time in the field searching for unusual organisms, both locally and further afield.  James has been practising photography for many years before the digital age, and is particularly interested in natural subjects.  He will present examples of small wildlife (insects, reptiles, amphibians) and discuss techniques for finding and photographing these fascinating subjects at close range.  

April 5th - Earle Keatley - Views from Below- Meeting at 7.30 pm

We seldom get a chance to visit the “other world”, under the ocean that covers nearly 3/4 of our planet.  Fran & Earle Keatley are active scuba divers and naturalists.  They have travelled the globe to assemble a wonderful collection of undersea images, to take us on a tour of that spectacular world.  From tiny spectral crabs lurking in coral to menacing sharks and ponderous sea turtles, we will see the mysterious ocean world in all its brilliant colours and bizarre shapes.

March 1, 2012 Great Slave to Svalbard -Travels in the Arctic and Subarctic - Peter Money

All human attempts to define the Arctic are flawed, as will be discussed. Human definitions in any case mean nothing to the flora and fauna of these vast regions. The presentation will be illustrated by images of these challenging environments and of a wide variety of plants and animals that have successfully dealt with that challenge.

February 2, 2012 The Forest Understory - Paul Heydon

January 5, 2012 - Planets beyond our Solar System: The Hunt for Earth 2 - Paul Delaney

Since 1995, over 550 new exo-planets have been discovered. When the Kepler spaceprobe was launched in April 2009, many expected hundreds of new worlds to be discovered in its 4 year lifespan. It appears that some 1200 of exo-planets may have been found within the first year of its mission, suggesting that planets are more common than we had thought or dared hope.

In this talk, Astronomy and Physics Professor Paul Delaney discusses the exploding field of exo-planetary astronomy, what we can expect in the coming months and its implication for other Earth's and life within our galaxy.

December 1, 2011 - Member's Night

Our members will share their interests and experiences on a variety of nature subjects, from Astronomy to Zoology, with slides, photographs, stories and needlework.  And don't forget our combined Christmas Bake Sale & Silent Auction!

 We will also be presenting the Pickering Naturalists Conservation Award to Rosemary Speirs.

November 3, 2011 - Gull Watching in Ontario - Jean Iron

Gulls are fascinating and challenging. This presentation will help you appreciate the 21 species of gulls in Ontario with tips on identification, plumages, and where and when to see rare gulls.
Among our foremost birders, Jean is probably the best at pointing out just what we need to identify birds to species.  

Enjoy her wonderful photographs and brush up on your ID skills, just in time for our November Niagara Gulls outing!

October 6, 2011 - Pollinator Gardens - Clement Kent

Many of us know that honeybees have declined drastically, some of us know that other pollinators such as native bees and butterflies are experiencing habitat loss, disease, and use of pesticides.  This talk focuses on positive things you can do to create pollinator habitat and enjoy wildflowers and native plants - a win-win proposition!
Clement Kent has a PhD in insect genetics and behaviour.  He researches the genomics of honeybees at York University.

September 1, 2011 - Bats: Evolution of Flight & Echolocation - Kevin Seymour

Most living bats use echolocation to detect and capture flying prey. Echolocation and the ability to fly are the key innovations largely responsible for the evolutionary success of bats today. But how did these two characteristics evolve? Up until recently, the fossil record has been mute on this subject because all fossil bats looked pretty much like living bats.

The world's most primitive bat was described by Kevin and his colleagues in 2008, and this changed all that. Because of the preserved features in this fossil, now we know that in the evolution of bats, flight evolved first and echolocation evolved later.

June 2, 2011 –Invasive Plants and Insects - Stephen Murphy

Stephen Murphy is a professor in the Department of Environment and Resource Studies at the University of Waterloo.  He specialises in restoration ecology and the ecology of invasive plants such as garlic mustard and knapweed.  Stephen will cover a range of plant and insect species, focusing on the evolutionary reasons why some species invade,  human management or mismanagement of landscapes that encourage invasives and some effective management responses.   He will also take a wry look at the sometimes hysterical and sometimes blase coverage of invasives.

May 5, 2011 –An Introduction to Bird Banding - Elizabeth Kellogg

As the spring bird migration gets into full swing, so do a number of  birding activities organised to add to our knowledge of our feathered friends.  This presentation is an introduction to bird banding – why it is done, how it is done, where it is done and how the birds are caught to be banded.  

Elizabeth Kellogg and her husband, Roger Frost, band in Northumberland County as the Willow Beach Banding Group.  She will present banding through her personal experience of banding, primarily in Northumberland County.  The talk will be illustrated by photographs of the banding process.

April 7, 2011 – Northbound Shorebirds - Jean Iron

Shorebirds provide birders with some of our greatest challenges in identification.   Jean Iron, one of our top birders, who has a special interest in studying them, has come to the rescue, with this wonderful interactive program.
Jean will cover 28 regularly occurring spring migrant and breeding shorebirds, plus 8 rarer species that migrate through southern Ontario to their Arctic breeding ground.  Her talk is loaded with tips to sharpen identification skills, and you will increase your knowledge of shorebird molts, plumages and aging. You will learn to identify shorebirds by jizz or giss - general impression of size and shape. You can test your new knowledge by doing interactive shorebird quizzes and find out the best spots to see shorebirds in spring.

March 3, 2011 – Bees - Laurence Packer

Laurence is a biology professor at York University and a renowned expert on bees.  He will bring his new book “Keeping the Bees: Why All Bees Are at Risk and What We Can Do to Save Them .”
He says: Bees are in trouble and there is news about this almost every week.  But few people know what bees are.  It would surprise most people to find that there are over 19,000 described bee species.  I will dispel some myths about bees based upon common misconceptions about them, outline their diversity in the world and in Canada, explain their importance to us concentrating on their potential role in environmental monitoring and outline two Canadian-led initiatives that seek to help us make best use of them.  Lastly, I will outline some ways in which we can make our backyards better for bees.

Feb 3, 2011 – Natural Brazil – Peter Money

Brazil has a diversity of ecosystems and a very large number of species of mammals, birds and other fauna, many endemic to specific ecosystems. This natural history “snapshot” includes several areas in the Atlantic Coastal Rainforest and others in the savannah-like cerrado, the Amazon Rainforest and the Pantanal wetlands. Mammal highlights include the endangered northern muriqui monkey endemic to the Atlantic Coastal Rainforest, giant anteater on the cerrado, and giant river otter and jaguar in the Pantanal. Additionally, there are many birds, other mammals, some reptiles, insects, and flora, and views of  their environments.

Jan 6, 2011 – Fungi on Our Doorstep: The Mushrooms of Durham Region - Richard Aaron

Mushrooms and other fungi are an integral part of the natural world, with a rich diversity of species found right here in Durham Region. We will become acquainted with some of the region's common and less common species while discussing their life histories and various uses. From tiny bird's nests to giant puffballs, and the stunningly beautiful to the oddly bizarre, a world of discovery awaits you in the fungal kingdom. Richard lives in Toronto and operates a nature interpretation business. He gives lectures, walks and workshops on plants, dragonflies, and fungi (http://natureknowledge.weebly.com). From 1996-2002, Richard led a joint mushroom outing each fall for the Pickering Naturalists and the Durham Region Field Naturalists.

Nov 4, 2010 – Wild Ontario - Raptor Rescue & Conservation - Jenn Bock and friends

When the Wild Bird Clinic at the University of Guelph had to close in 2006, some members of the group determined to reform and pursue their goals in a different format. After considerable reorganisation, they have re-emerged as" Wild Ontario" , with a mandate to educate the community about wild bird and habitat conservation. Jenn Bock and her volunteers will be bringing 3 or 4 of their raptor friends to our meeting - perhaps Einstein the Great Horned Owl or Socrates the Turkey Vulture, maybe beautiful little Artemis the American Kestrel or Indiana the majestic Red-tailed Hawk. They will share their stories and discuss their adaptations to survival in Ontario. Come and meet some of our wonderful raptors close-up, and learn how we can change the impact that humans have on wildlife from negative to positive.

Oct 7, 2010 – Insect Life Cycles and How They Survive our Winters - James Kamstra

We all know about the complete metamorphosis of butterflies, with four stages from egg to adult. Other insects, such as dragonflies and grasshoppers, have an incomplete metamorphosis, with only three stages in the life cycle. The variations, however, are as wide ranging as the diversity of insects. While late spring to early autumn is when most insects are active, all of our species must somehow cope with the long snowy winter. James' presentation will highlight the life cycles of a number of southern Ontario insect species, looking at the variety of strategies that they employ to survive the cold season.

James lives in the Oak Ridges Moraine north of Whitby and works as a full-time naturalist for an environmental consulting company. He is an excellent all-around naturalist with a particular interest in insects.


Sept 2, 2010 – Birding Northeastern Australia

Otto will be taking us on a birding trip from Sydney, Australia, north to Cairns.

Northeastern Australia is a land of spectacular scenery and lush tropical rainforest. Otto visited a number of the country's beautiful national parks, seeking out the bizarre and exotic birds that the area is famous for.


John Black and Kayo Roy have put together an impressive new book on the birds of Niagara, involving 25 authors and over 400 illustrations and photographs! John will tell us how they achieved this impressive task, and show us some examples of the page layouts.

John will also give a presentation on his 18-day birding trip to Papua New Guinea. This tropical land of rainforests, volcanoes and mangroves has 630 species of birds, and 84% of the animal genera are endemic. He will show us some of the amazing things he saw (including the strange wig college and many birds of paradise).

May 6, 2010 – Nick Eyles - Frenchman's Bay, 150 Years of Change

Nick will describe more than ten years research on the Frenchman's Bay watershed by University of Toronto and McMaster University and explore the major changes that have affected the area over the last 150 years. This talk will identify the effects of urbanization on the Bay and its aquatic biota.

A professor of geology at U of T Scarborough, Nick's main research is in environmental geology and ice age geology. He gave us an excellent talk on Ontario's Long Geologic Journey a couple of years ago.

April 1, 2010 – Sixty Years of Birding Around Toronto - George Bryant

Many of you will know George Bryant as a prominent birdwatcher, both locally and as a leader on trips abroad. He has bee interested in birds since he was a boy in Toronto. George will tell us about the history of birding in the Toronto area, using both historical photos and personal anecdotes.
He will also talk about how many of our birds have been affected by the changes that human settlement and activities have made to their environment, using information from the two Ontario Breeding Bird Atlases.

March 4, 2010 – Ontario's Polar Bears

February 4, 2010 – Western Canada & AlaskaCoastal Rainforest to Sub-arctic Taiga - Peter Money

An introduction to the dramatic mountain ranges of the western and northern Cordillera of Canada and Alaska and to the diverse flora and fauna in this region and in near-shore environments in the adjacent Pacific Ocean. Featuring, among many others, Turkish towels and calypso orchids; bald eagles and willow ptarmigan, grey whales and sea otters; moose, black-tailed deer and caribou, and black and grizzly bears. Peter brings his knowledge and insight as a geologist and dedicated naturalist to show us this spectacular landscape with its amazing wildlife

January 7, 2010 - Antarctica - First Journey! - Geoff Carpentier

The mystique of the Antarctic enthralls everyone, but few dare venture to its icy shores. But for those who do, a myriad of questions arise - what do I wear? What will I do? What will I see? How do I prepare? Geoff Carpentier, a veteran expedition guide, has travelled to the Antarctic, South Georgia and the Falklands 11 times so far and loves it more each time he visits. Join Geoff as he treats you to an insider’s view of the wildlife, the history and the sites you will see if you venture there. Learn about the penguins, seabirds, whales, seals, dolphins, safe travel and ice, ice, ice as Geoff shares his knowledge of this remote region. He will also bring us copies of his new book on Antarctica.

November 5, 2009 - A NEW SURVEY for Ontario's Reptiles and Amphibians - Joe Crowley

Ontario Nature has begun work on a new Ontario Herpetofaunal Atlas Program, under the direction of biologist Joe Crowley. The objective of the program is to improve our knowledge of the distribution and abundance of Ontario's reptiles and amphibians, collectively referred to as herpetofauna, through public solicitation of species observation data, field surveys and the amalgamation of existing databases. Joe will provide a brief summary of reptiles at risk in Ontario, discuss the new atlas program and how to get involved, and will also talk about how to survey for and identify local reptiles and amphibians.

October 1, 2009 - DRAGONFLIES and DAMSELFLIES of ONTARIO - Colin Jones

All summer our ponds and marshes have been alive with the acrobatic flight of dragonflies and damselflies (odonates). Colin will give us an overview of the fascinating biology and life cycles of these beautiful aerial hunters, and also touch on their conservation.
Colin is a contract biologist with the Ministry of Natural Resources in Peterborough. He is very well-known and respected in the odonate world as an expert. He is one of the authors of the new book Dragonflies and Damselflies of Algonquin Park and Surrounding Areas. He will be bringing copies of his book to this meeting for those who want to purchase it.

September 3, 2009 - BIRDS of ECUADOR - Carol Horner and Kevin Seymour

Ecuador, because it is bisected by the Andes, has a very large biodiversity in a very small area, making it an excellent choice for a birding destination. Carol and Kevin will talk about birding on the east and west slopes, and páramo regions of the Andes, as well as birding in the eastern Amazonian lowlands. The presentation includes beautiful photographs, not only of birds, but also plantlife, butterflies and the spectacular Ecuadorian scenery.

Carol Horner is a birder and nature photographer. She is a member and former board member of the Pickering Naturalists, as well as former board member of the Ontario Field Ornithologists. Kevin Seymour has been a birder and a naturalist for many years, and is currently President of the Toronto Ornithological Club.

June 4, 2009 - The Wonderful World of Vernal Pools

Ever notice those large puddles in a forest that seen to be full of calling frogs in the spring and early summer? These are vernal pools and they are important to Ontario because of their contribution to groundwater recharge, flood attenuation, maintenance of water quality, as habitat for species at risk, and to the preservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity.

Join the Pickering Naturalists and Ontario Vernal Pool Association for a presentation that explores the weird and wonderful world of the vernal pool.

Peter Money

Peter Money brings us another of his excellent nature programs, from the point of view of a naturalist and geologist. He will introduce us to the Appalachian mountain system, a region extending from coastal Labrador to northernmost Florida, including fauna ranging from puffins and moose to salamanders, pelicans and armadillos, many flowering plants, and fossils of the oldest known (565 million years old) multicellular life. Peter’s expert photography brings to life this vast area of impressive landscapes, delightful wildflowers and a surprising variety of wildlife.

Cindy Cartwright

Few birds inspire such delight as the tiny hummingbird. That such a diminutive jewel-like bird can migrate thousands of kilometres is a constant source of amazement. The Ontario Hummingbird Project is a long-term research effort throughout the province to understand the life cycle of Ontario's hummingbirds. Cindy Cartwright is the Founder/Coordinator of the project and is one of only three active Canadians with permits to band hummingbirds in Ontario. Learn more about the project and how you can help.

Lorraine Johnson
Sweeping from Toronto to Lake Huron and Lake Erie, Canada’s Carolinian Zone is a region of exceptional biological richness. This area is home to dozens of southern species not found elsewhere in Canada – trees, grasses and wildflowers, as well as birds, animals, fish, amphibians and reptiles, butterflies, dragonflies and other insects. Lorraine Johnson will show us many of the flora and fauna of this unique region featured in her new book. “Natural Treasures of Carolinian Canada”.
Feb 5, 2009 - Birding in northern Peru
Hugh Currie
Northern Peru is an area of great diversity – Amazon rainforest, high Andes mountains, montane forest, savannah and even desert. These habitats support an amazing variety of birds, animals and insects, as Hugh Currie found when he visited the area in 2007 with a small group of eager naturalists. Hugh, an expert Toronto birder, will show us some of the wonderful birds, wildflowers and insects that he saw on that trip.
Jan 8, 2009 - Subarctic Wildlife of Akimiski Island
Jean Iron

Jean joined an Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources research crew counting, aging, and studying shorebirds on Akimiski Island. In this digital presentation you will see Akimiski's birds, mammals, and wildflowers, and experience its subarctic wilderness.

Come and see Akimiski's birds, mammals, wildflowers, and experience its subarctic wilderness.

Thurs, 4 Dec 2008 -MEMBER’S NIGHT  
 Member participants

Join us for the Annual celebration of member presentations, sharing of collections and fun.

Sid Daniels

Sid is interested in all facets of nature, but he has a special enthusiasm for reptiles and amphibians.

Nick Eyles

Many of us know about the Lake Iroquois shoreline.  Nick will tell us the fascinating history of the lakes, hills and rivers that shape our part of the world.


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