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Notes From The Field – Winter 2018

Noella & Peter, Beaver-chewed willows, & Moose Droppings. photos: Dave Hawke

On Saturday March 19th Noella Storry, Peter Robinson, and Lou Probst joined Stewardship Manager Dave Hawke for a Property Monitoring trip to Prospect Marsh.

Prospect Marsh is a 180 acre Willow-Thicket and Cattail Marsh donated by Judy Probst in 2008.  While Beaver and Coyote are common on the property, the group observed Moose droppings for the first time. 

An invasive species of concern on this property is Glossy Buckthorn, which was introduced from Eurasia 100 years ago and forms dense thickets that out-compete other species.   Work was done to remove these plants by the Property Team about five years ago,  and they check carefully on each visit for their return. 

That’s almost a wrap for the winter property monitoring season which will end March 31st.  There’s still time to get your property monitoring visit in if you haven’t yet. 


photo: Bill Sherwood

Missing Wylie Road?  Here’s what it looked like Friday March 9th.  

Bill & Vicki Sherwood will be continuing to monitor McGee Creek this year, but are taking on a new site  further downstream at Sedge Wren Marsh (pictured here).   Undeterred by reports that Wylie Road was closed, Bill was anxious to get out and explore his new monitoring site.  He reports that the road is open, and spent two hours exploring on foot. 

This year one of our water projects will focus on water entering and leaving Carden Alvar Provincial Park (CAPP), which the Conservancy stewards for Ontario Parks.  We want to make sure that McGee Creek water quality is as good when it leaves CAPP as when it enters.  Meagan & Trudy Coughlin will be monitoring McGee Creek just south of CAPP.

You may remember Bill & Vicki Sherwood’s posts of McGee Creek flooding its banks last spring along Shrike Road. They’ve been monitoring the water quality there for nearly two years – enough to get a good baseline to compare any changes that might occur to the water quality in the future.  Now they will monitor this site once per season. 

Morris recorded his route around Bluebird Ranch. 


February 22:   Morris Ilyniak made his winter property monitoring visit to Bluebird Ranch without his team-mate Grant Mask, who is away on an internship with the Canadian Wildlife Federation. 

Morris did a terrific job of letting us know what ground he covered by taking a gps unit with him and turning on “tracks”.  The resulting map is pictured at left.  Morris also sent in photos of the kinds of things that worry a Stewardship Manager in the dead of winter when they can’t get around to every property:  Open gates & the state of wells and water systems.



photo: Morris Ilyniak


Morris  also informed us that Wylie Road is closed at the moment!  

As our portfolio of protected properties increases, we need your eyes and ears on the ground to help us steward properties. 








Ann Marie, Alan, and Jane at the Avenza for iphone course (photo: Dorthea Hangaard)

Nineteen trailblazing volunteers have now learned the Avenza Map Application and are ready to take their monitoring efforts to the next level.  Over three separate courses in November and February, both Android and iOS smartphone users have found a new way to easily track their routes on property visits, tag interesting sightings and add a photo and description, view their results in Google earth, and send us a file with the results. 

By all accounts it’s easy and fun.

Ann Marie Kungl and Jane Brasher are new volunteers who will be using their training to monitor Frog calls and Reptiles, and Alan Smale is a long-standing member and volunteer who  monitors the Helen M. Butler Reserve.   – February 8, 2018



Brown Creeper.


A great sighting on a cold day! Tanya Clark, Development Coordinator, and her family were out at the Alexander Hope Smith Nature Reserve on January 14, and saw a Brown Creeper!

Brown Creepers are tiny yet lanky songbirds. They have long, spine-tipped tails, slim bodies, and slender, decurved bills. Learn more about this bird on All About Birds.

The Alexander Hope Smith Nature Reserve was donated in 2007 by Ms. Hope Smith. At 113 acres, this precious tract of green space stands in memory of her grandfather, one of the early settlers in this area. Learn more here and download a trail map.





Morris Ilyniak monitoring water quality along Mill Creek in Scout Valley. Dec 11 ’17 photo: Grant Mask


For members of the Water Team, the rule-of-thumb on when to stop monitoring for the year is:  When you are no longer comfortable going out.  For some teams  this is a green light to go out all winter.  Grant Mask and Morris Ilyniak monitor Mill Creek in Scout Valley, which has a strong enough flow that it usually doesn’t freeze over. 


When asked why he likes to water test in the winter, Morris said, “Environmental problems don’t choose seasons.  I feel it is important to go out all year round to get the most accurate baseline information.”

Morris says that winter water testing is enjoyed most  from the warmth of the car when its over!



Read the Fall Notes From the Field Here