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The Lone Pine Land Trust is continuing its partnership with the Northumberland Land Trust in sponsoring an annual Speakers Series. This year the Speakers Series will be held at Venture 13 at 739 D’Arcy Street Cobourg, ON. The speaker events will take place on the third Thursday of January, February, and March at 7pm.
We have a very exciting line-up of speakers.
Allie Anderson • January 17
Allie is a PhD candidate from Trent University who has been working on the James Bay Shorebird Project. Her PhD research examines flexibility in shorebird migratory strategies related to stopover diet, habitat use, departure flights, and migration.
Dianne Saxe, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario • February 21
Prior to her appointment, Dianne was one of Canada’s most respected environmental lawyers. She has 40 years of unparalleled experience writing, interpreting, and litigating Ontario’s energy and environmental laws. Dianne was appointed ECO in 2015. In 2018, the government cancelled her position. Visit http://eco.on.ca for information on the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario.
Monique Aarts and John Urquhart, Blazing Star Environmental • March 21
Blazing Star Environmental has been working locally over the past year looking at natural habitats for specific species, particularly reptiles and amphibians. The focus for their project has been Durham Region and Northumberland County due to the rapid pace of growth in the area. Fortunately, a considerable amount of connected natural habitat exists in the area. This same area is an obvious data gap for reptile and amphibian species at risk (SAR). Blazing Star Environmental has teamed up with local conservation groups to find and protect any undiscovered populations of reptiles and amphibians before it is too late. They will present their findings from the past year of study in the 2 regions.
On February 15, Jeff Bowman, professor at Trent University and scientist at the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, presented to a packed house (72 people) at the Cobourg Public Library (Northumberland Land Trust and Lone Pine Land Trust organized this event).
Dr. Bowman began his talk by showing the relationship of flying squirrels to squirrels common in North America – they are closely related. Two species of flying squirrels are found in North America, the northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus) and the southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans). Both of the species are found in Ontario, though the southern flying squirrel is limited by cold temperatures in the middle of winter. The northern flying squirrel is found in coniferous forests, while the southern flying squirrel prefers deciduous forests. Where populations overlap, Dr. Bowman’s research group has found that the two species can hybridize. This may be due to the southern flying squirrel’s winter nesting behaviour, as they prefer to nest with other individuals (presumably to keep warmer).
Dr. Bowman showed how the research team monitors a population of flying squirrels at the James McLean Oliver Ecological Centre research station (using PIT tags and small radio collars). These techniques have allowed the group to examine nesting and caching behaviours of the squirrels. He also touched on other interesting aspects of flying squirrels, such as their ultrasonic vocalizations.
Dr. Bowman answered the audience’s questions following the presentation. Comments by the audience were very positive and we all felt that we had learned a great deal about about these elusive creatures.
For more information, visit the Flying Squirrel Project.
written by Paulette Hebert
On September 9, Doug McRae and Paulette Hebert attended Prairie Day on behalf of the Lone Pine Land Trust. Prairie Day is an event hosted by the Alderville Black Oak Savanna and the Rice Lake Plains Joint Initiative to raise awareness and provide education to the public about prairie and savannah habitat that surrounds Rice Lake. Doug and Paulette greeted guests at the Lone Pine Land Trust information booth and provided information on the properties we protect, membership and opportunities to donate land or make financial contributions. The public was also encouraged to visit accessible Lone Pine properties such as the Braham Tract on Maple Grove Road. Other members of the Rice Lake Plains Joint Initiative were also on hand with information and freebies like books and stickers. It was a great opportunity to meet and network with like-minded organizations.
A host of fun and informative activities were also offered by the Alderville Black Oak Savannah and a number of other participants. There were guided tours of the Prairie, demonstrations about the cultivation and preparation of local wild rice and acorn flour, entertainment such as the Sugar Island Singers and a puppet show for the kids. There were also reptiles, bird banding, bees, plants and plenty of great food including scones, indigenous style.
What a perfect way to get your dose of nature! Many thanks to the Alderville Black Oak Savannah for all the work they put into Prairie Day, it was a great success.
Members and friends of Northumberland and Lone Pine Land Trusts attended Dr. Erica Nol’s talk on February 16 at the Cobourg Public Library entitled, “Can humans and songbirds coexist in southern Ontario.” Dr. Nol is a professor at Trent University and along with her graduate students, she studies influences on bird population dynamics.
Dr. Nol first put her talk in context; birds compete with humans for lands that are converted into more and more houses. Woodland song birds such as Veery and Rose-breasted Grosbeak are facing mild declines while grassland birds like Bobolink and Field Sparrows are showing steep declines. Common native birds such as Robins, Grackles, and Brown-headed Cowbirds are increasing. As examples, Dr. Nol expanded on various studies she has participated in that focus on songbirds in forests or grasslands including: Ovenbirds, the impact of trails on songbirds, Bank Swallows, Brown Creepers, and Bobolinks.
The ovenbird nests on the ground and their success is related to the abundance of their invertebrate food source. The research found that larger woodlots have more ovenbirds. This is related to lower temperature, higher moisture, and less wind in larger woodlots. Large woodlots are therefore better for maintaining ovenbird populations.
Next Dr. Nol highlighted research conducted in the Northumberland Forest that related trail width to abundance of forest-interior songbirds. When trails were wider, the researcher was less likely to hear songbirds, especially compared to areas that did not have trails. Nest success of Eastern Wood Peewee was less in pine plantations compared to deciduous forests and was positively influenced by forest gaps. Early thinning of pine plantations that results in faster deciduous regeneration is advantageous for this species.
The Bank swallow, a threatened species in Ontario, can reproduce in aggregate pits with appropriate soils. Compared to the Lake Ontario lakeshore, the abundance of nests was lower in aggregate sites but clutch and hatchling number were similar. Gull predation was higher at the lakeshore sites.
Brown Creepers nest under bark. A study conducted in Algonquin park found that any tree harvesting reduced numbers of creepers but populations were more likely to be sustained when yellow birch trees were left standing.
In a study examining rotational grazing effects on Bobolink, any grazing reduced the bobolink population by half (cattle were good at trampling nests). Cattle in larger fields with lower stocking densities had a lower impact but Bobolinks had the greatest reproductive success in hay fields that were cut after July 1.
I found Dr. Nol’s explanation of impacts of humans on various aspects of songbird success to be enlightening. The research examples presented demonstrated the myriad of ways that birds are influenced by our development.
While Dr. Nol did not truly answer whether humans and songbirds can coexist, it is clear that human choices have often unlikely impacts.