By Natalie Sopinka
At the November monthly meeting members were treated to an overview of the Ontario Nature Youth Summit by OFNC ambassador Sarah Wray, and amazed by Bruce Di Labio’s ability to recall memories of birding at Lac Deschênes.
Sarah Wray attends youth summit
When she’s not playing soccer and basketball, you can find Sarah Wray, a grade 10 student at Nepean High School, volunteering in the FWG’s Butterfly Meadow. This year Sarah was sponsored by the OFNC to attend the 4th annual Ontario Nature Youth Summit held at the YMCA Geneva Park in Orillia. Sarah enthusiastically shared her stories and photos from the summit with OFNC members at the meeting.
During the summit Sarah learned how to identify edible mushrooms and medicinal plants and take photographs of wildlife from unique and unusual perspectives. She also found out which birds of prey vomit. Sarah’s new favourite bird, the turkey vulture, will vomit when under the threat of predation in hopes their regurgitated stomach contents will distract the predator.
The summit’s keynote speaker was Canadian filmmaker and conservationist Rob Stewart, whose words inspired and motivated Sarah. Sarah told OFNC members that it’s “not just polar bears” that need our attention; we must also consider the many small-scale and local conservation issues that need to be addressed too. Find out more about the summit here!
Bruce Di Labio’s work at Lac Deschênes
Bruce Di Labio is tackling local conservation issues through his work on the Lac Deschênes IBA (important bird area). The large lake, comprising various habitats (e.g., grasslands, deep waters, mud flats, rapids), is a valuable feeding and resting stop for birds that travel between James and Hudson Bays and the Atlantic shores. Over 350 species have been recorded in the Lac Deschenes IBA, with several new species spotted since 2011 (e.g., razorbill, violet-green and cave swallow).
Bruce started birding at Lac Deschênes when a bicycle was his only mode of transport and a pay phone call to alert fellow birders cost 10¢. At the meeting, he took OFNC members on a journey through his meticulously kept records. He first observed Arctic terns in Lac Deschênes on June 11, 1972, their distinctive short legs perched on log booms. Armed with 10-pound Tasco binoculars, Bruce observed over 2000 red throated loons circle frantically through the air on a foggy day in November 1984. An army of 2500 black scoters flew in on October 21, 1987 and an epic 11 000 brant on May 26, 2011. Be sure to check out Bruce’s Lac Deschênes birding spots: Britannia Point, Britannia Pier, Dick Bell Park and Shirleys Bay. More on Lac Deschênes here!
Continuing bird records will ensure Lac Deschenes remains an IBA. Although the Bird Status Line is no longer in service due to operating costs, members can still submit counts to the OFNC (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Bob Cermak (email@example.com).
The meeting ended with Bruce receiving one of the OFNC’s new lens wipes. The lens wipe attaches to your camera, binoculars, hand lens and glasses. Lens wipes are on sale now for $8 each or 2 for $15. Also available are handcrafted maple hiking sticks donated by Gillian Marsden ($20 each).