Field Trips

The Club organizes regular seasonal field trips. They are usually half day events held on weekends. They are informal and often open to the public, though we hope participants will see the value of joing our club. Field trips are local to the Headwaters area where five of Southern Ontarios rivers each rise:  the Credit, the Humber, the Grand, the Nottawasaga, and the Sauren Rivers. Headwaters Nature maintain a field trip notification list as part of our membership value. We also participate in the North American Christmas Bird Count and hold a Spring Bird Count.

Recent field trips have included:

  • Searching for Frogs and Salamanders
  • Birding at Minesing Swamp
  • Tundra Swan Migration
  • Animal Tracking
  • Owl Rehabilitation
  • Discovering Mushrooms
  • Butterflies and Dragonflies
  • Hawk Migration
  • Birding at Luther Marsh
  • Tree Identification
  • Wildflower Walks

If you are a member, you will get semi-regular notifications of field trips through the Field Trip Notification List as their details become clear.

Contact us!

Field Trip:  Rockin’ the roads of Headwaters:  Touring the landscapes of Headwaters

Our next field trip will be a Geology and Geomorphology Field Trip on Saturday Feb 13th.

Our goal is to help us all learn how to see our local landscape in a way that’s more inter-connected and explicable than just seeing it as pretty and hilly.

We’re going to look first at the general area of the old Orangeville brickworks, and get some idea of how that mix of clay and marl was deposited some 12,000 years ago. That involves learning about the Alton moraine plug that was dropped by the last glacial advance in this area when a lobe of ice temporarily moved back northwest across what is now Lake Ontario during a brief period of regrowth of the otherwise retreating glaciers. Then we’ll wander across that moraine plug of hummocky hills north and west of Alton, training our eyes to the particular look of end moraines.So far, this will be studying geomorphology, here focusing on the effects of glaciers in this area. Our next major stop will be down in the Belfountain area, when we take a brief hike across remarkable bouldery terrain to the Devil’s Pulpit overlook for a stunning look at how the glaciers roughly carved the solid escarpment. This valley will be our first look at a re-entrant valley, though later on in the trip we’ll traverse the much larger Hockley Valley which was also partly gouged out by the glacier.

From there, we’ll take a look at the Cheltenham Badlands. Although this is now closed off, we’ll be able to see it from the side of the road. Among other topics here, will be how this feature is actually the direct result of recent human activity and is not really a natural landscape. Which of course, raises questions about how it should be preserved.

Then we’ll continue ahead to look at the most dramatic impact of humans on our local landscape — the Caledon gravel pits. That economically essential sand and gravel deposit was left by the glaciers. Here, we’ll think about the various impacts of our human actions, and then think ahead to what this area could become — and how we might influence that process.

We’ll then head up Kennedy Road, turning east along Highway 9 to climb up the eastern side of the Orangeville Moraine. This feature forks around Orangeville and reasonably clearly shows where three lobes of the ice sheet met overtop of present-day Orangeville. We’ll then head up the Third Line, dropping down into the Hockley Valley, perhaps looking at another exposure of what is in our area the bottom of the Niagara Escarpment at the Red Mud Cliffs. From there, we’ll head further up the Third Line and switch over to the Fourth Line, tracing the dramatic spillway where huge amounts of water flowed off the melting ice lobes, and drained across Orangeville, and down through Hillsburgh into what is now the Grand River and into the present-day Lake Erie.

This brings us back to the beginning feature of our tour, because it was the interruption of this spillway that led to the marl beds southwest of Orangeville and the subsequent re-routing of the meltwaters down the present Credit River.

Changes to the trip will by communicated via the field trip notification list.  If you are a member of the Upper Credit Field Naturalists Club, you should have received a more detailed notice. If you are not a member … well …  Contact us if you need further details!

FIELD TRIP:   Butterflies #3

Sunday August 9th, 9 A.M., Amaranth Township, in the area of the railway trail north of Amaranth 15 Sideroad

We’ll start out along the old railway trail where it crosses Amaranth 15 Sideroad, just 250 metres west of the Amaranth Third Line. The trail passes through some of the headwaters wetlands of the Grand River. We may also move slightly further along the roadway to find suitable old-field habitat with goldenrods and asters beginning to bloom, as well as milkweeds. The aim is to find the butterflies that are adapted to late-summer-blooming plants as well as those species whose caterpillars feed on mid-summer plants. Interestingly, so much of this area is either good agricultural land that is moderately intensively farmed (and therefore inimical to butterflies because of a dearth of suitable food species as well as pesticide use) or is hard-to-travel wet swampy lands — not great for us to traverse.

 Changes to the trip will by communicated via the field trip notification list.  Contact us if you need further details!

FIELD TRIP:  New Boardwalk Trail at Island Lake, Orangeville  

Saturday August 15, 9:00am at the parking lot at Zehr’s (Hwy 10 & 4th Ave.).

While the new boardwalk won’t be officially opened until the Autumn, it is actually already open to the public.   So join us and enjoy seeing parts of the lake we haven’t seen before on foot.

  Changes to the trip will by communicated via the field trip notification list.  Contact us if you need further details!

new Island Lake West Trail

New boardwalk on west side of Island Lake   (photo by Mark Whitcombe)

Chimney Swift survey in Orangeville on clear evenings over the next couple of weeks

  • UPDATE: a number of us have been out at least nine times since early June.  
    • Our first night, we counted as many as 16 adults flying high above the main core of the downtown.  Much of the flyhing was north of Broadway. As the evening passed, they seemed to fly lower and closer together more often. Fifteen minutes after sunset, 10 of them flew tightly together and low over the buildings, heading south, and disappeared.  Five minutes later 4 birds repeated the pattern of flying tightly together low over the buildings and again disappeared.
    • On other evenings, I watched a similar pattern, though only with 10 birds, and then with only 7 birds, and finally only 6 birds.  I moved around the downtown, scouting for what seemed to me like suitable chimneys, and noticed that almost all the old and new chimneys were covered over or even closed off. 
    • Each new evening, I moved ever further south and east, trying to catch the swifts as they flew to roost. The last evening, Cathy and I observed behind the buildings on the south side of Broadway.  As the evenings were still lengthening, the timing of disappearance stretched to 9:15 pm and then to 9:21 pm.  At that late time — when the ‘floating specks’ in my eyes were becoming noticeable as the light levels dropped — 1 last bird flew overhead and disappeared. But this time, I think I might have found at least one inhabited roost chimney! 
    • Since then, we have discovered 2 chimneys in downtown Orangeville in which Chimney Swifts are nesting. We have observed and photographed birds entering as well as leaving chimneys, including daytime observations.
    • Thanks to input from several of our Shelburne members, we have also located and photographed one  active roost in Shelburne.
UCFNC Chimney Swift entering Mill St roost 2015June24

Chimney Swift entering Mill St roost 2015June24

UCNFC Chimney Swift exiting Shelburne roost 2015July16

Chimney Swift exiting Shelburne roost 2015July16

Chimney Swift leaving chimney roost

Chimney Swift leaving chimney roost

Chimney Swift exiting roost Broadway 2015July29

  • I have begun the careful process of contacting the owners of the roost chimneys, letting them know that they are supporting a threatened species, which places some restrictions on when and what they can do with their chimneys. The simplest view is that doing nothing is probably their best course of action. However, there are many possible complications. 

I would invite any of you to join me near the Library on Mill Street in Orangeville on clear evenings fifteen minutes before sunset over the next couple of weeks to see what we can continue to observe about Chimney Swifts.  The birds will shortly be leaving this area, so our remaining time is short. However, at least last week, they were still entering roosts during the daytime, which seems to indicate that they still have pre-fledglings in their nest. ( … You might want to do this in your home town instead! …)

  • Historically, Chimney Swifts inhabited large, hollow trees. As Europeans settled in North America, these habitats became scarce. Swifts adapted and began using chimneys for nesting and roosting.
  • Chimney Swifts are once again facing complex challenges. Their Canadian population has declined by 95% since 1968. We know relatively little about what’s driving severe declines among this group of birds. Suspected causes include: nesting habitat availability; human-caused disturbances; changes in food supply (insect populations); and unpredictable severe weather events (climate change). Lastly, because these species roost or congregate in large groups to spend the night, they are especially vulnerable to degradation or loss of roosting sites.  Their habitat is being lost as buildings are modernized and chimneys are capped, steel-lined, or torn down. Other factors, such as severe weather events and changes in insect abundance quite probably due to pesticide use, are likely also affecting swifts.
  • Through SwiftWatch, volunteers and community members are filling critical information gaps and addressing key threats. Since 2010, volunteers have identified 750 active chimneys in the Maritimes and Ontario. Of these, over 100 are now regularly monitored. Bird Studies Canada and partner organizations are working with schools, home owners, building managers, chimney sweeps, and townships to maintain and protect these sites.
  • SwiftWatch is a Citizen Science monitoring and conservation program that brings volunteers and community groups together to act as stewards for Chimney Swifts and their habitat.  Ontario SwiftWatch succeeds because community groups and biologists work together to locate, monitor and conserve Chimney Swifts and their habitat in our urban centres.
  • We will submit our data to SwiftWatch.  There is information about Chimney Swifts and this program on that and related pages.

• Field Trip dates to pencil in on your calendars:

          (… more to come …)

Past Field Trips:

 • A Field Trip to a local ‘arboretum

 Saturday July 18, 9 A.M.

We toured one of Mono’s most closely guarded secrets! Over the last decade or so, two women have done extensive planting  of a great variety of trees and shrubs, especially trying to see how the extension of typically more southern trees and shrubs might fare further north in the face of global warming.    The property is a mixture of very attractive gardens with a range of perennial flowers and shrubs, interspersed with native and non-native trees including some endangered species and certainly many you will not have seen before in Ontario.

We hasten to add that the term ”arboretum” has been applied by us rather than any claim by the women involved!  This is a wonderfully impressive example of what concerted individual efforts can do to restore and develop biodiverse ecosystems!

 • A Field Trip — Butterflies #2

 Sunday July 5, 9 A.M.

More than a dozen members walked along the old railway bed on the west side of Orangeville and continued our exploration of local butterflies. This area is the first area we have explored in any of the previously-uncensused local squares of the ButterflyAtlas of Ontario. Thus everything we found was new information to be fed into that database of Ontario butterflies, extending public knowledge. We had a grand time, finding 15 species, only a few of which we had found a month earlier further east around Island Lake in the adjacent square. (Butterflies often have quite short flying periods, frequently only a few weeks in which to feed, mate and lay eggs. For instance, a month earlier at Island Lake, on a grassy verge, we had seen over 200 Common Ringlets, all in wonderful condition. In a somewhat similar environment, we saw only one ragged individual, despite having similar grasses available on which to eat.) We only saw 1 Monarch Butterfly, a very beat-up individual, presumably just recently arrived on these breeding grounds from the southern states of the US. One of our special moments was watching Rob, after some great gymnastic chasing, catching a gorgeous Great Spangled Fritillary that had eluded many others. (The highlight was the butterfly, though the chase was rather fine as well!) Another interesting observation was that on our way outbound along the trail, we saw no Common Wood Nymphs, yet a scant 2 hours later, they were in fine numbers in the same location.

UCNFC GtSpangledFritillary Orangeville

Great Spangled Fritillary  (photo  by Mark Whitcombe)

 • A Field Trip to CVC’s Upper Credit Tract

 Saturday June 27, 9:00 am

The Credit Valley Conservation’s Upper Credit Tract is a pleasant, non-strenuous walk. A mixture of open fields, riverside, woodlands, bridge over the Credit, Chris’ favourite tree, and we saw both savannah sparrows and bobolinks easily.

• A Field Trip to Palgrave Forest and Wildlife Area (PFWA), with Chris Punnett and Linda McLaren

 Saturday May 16, 8:30am.

Palgrave Forest and Wildlife Area (PFWA) is a maze of trails around established forest, plantations, wetland areas and ponds.   For those who like a simple life we will be walking a loop consisting of the Oak Ridges Trail and the Bruce Trail/Palgrave Side Trail.

 • A Field Trip to Mono Cliffs Park for early birds and wildflowers, with Chris Punnett and Linda McLaren

Saturday May 9, 8:30am

Mono Cliffs Park, south end  (Distance from Orangeville: about 15 minutes.)

We took a pleasant stroll following the stream between the cliffs, home to ancient cedars and ferns, lichens and mosses.  In addition to the plant life, the spring birds were here in fine numbers!

 • A Field Trip to Luther Marsh, with Chris Punnett and Linda McLaren

Saturday April 18, 9:00am at the main entrance to Luther Marsh.

Spring is here and so are the warblers, ducks and a few wild flowers.   The diverse habitat at Luther Marsh should generate some interesting sights and with the weather warming up it’s time to wake from your hibernation!  We will have a scope with us and we expect to finish about noon.  Ordinary walking shoes/boots should suffice.

 • A Field Trip to the Sugar Bush with Anne-Marie Roussy, in Mulmur.

Saturday April 4.  10:00am at 718208 1st Line East, (Terra Nova).

With the juices (i.e., sap) now flowing, Anne-Marie Roussy, former club president, invited the club to visit a sugar bush to see the maple syrup production process.

We appreciate that this is Easter Saturday but we have no control over when the maple sap starts to flow, or stops!!  This is a 100-acre property and is interesting even without the maple sap collecting.

 • A Field Trip to Humber Bay Park Wes for Watrerfolw Migrants, Toronto Waterfront, with Chris Punnett and Linda McLaren

Saturday April 11, 9:30am at the parking lot in Humber Bay Park West.

With spring in the air, we went on a field trip to Humber Bay Park West.  This park is on the Toronto waterfront.

The Upper Credit Field Naturalists holds a Beginners Birding Course on an occasional basis. The course includes:

  • How to recognize birds
  • The basics of binoculars
  • Backyard birding
  • Field Guide recommendations
  • Where to bird locally
  • Practical birding demonstrations

Future courses will be held as requested.

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