Notes from the Field – Spring 2017

In News by couchiching

RBC have been loyal partners in our Water Quality Monitoring Project, and we took the afternoon of Friay June 16th to celebrate RBC Bluewater day with local staff. This year we showcased our Mill Creek water monitoring site in Scout Valley, which originates near Fergus Hill Estates and enters Lake Simcoe beside the City of Orillia landfill.  Bob Bowles led us to some significant land features in Scout Valley, and revealed hidden treasures such as a cold water spring bubbling up from the ground and logging in at 8 degrees celsius.  See photos from the day here

The RBC Bluewater Project is a ten year global charitable commitment to help provide access to drinkable, swimmable, fishable water to present and future generations.  Read their 2017 Canadian Water Attitudes Study here.


photo: Dorthea Hangaard

Despite the heat warning, the thick forest canopy of Elliott Woods kept Ingrid VanderMarel cool on June 10th during her Property Monitoring visit. Ingrid, Joan Grandine, and Val Watt have been helping to steward Elliott Woods for the past eight years, and have developed a strong bond with the forest.  With 45 properties under our management, we can’t continue to grow without volunteer support.  To get involved, visit our Volunteer page.




photo: Tanya Clark

Thank you to all of the Ambassadors who were able to make it to our training sessions in May. We had some great talks and some wonderful feedback on how we can better reach out to community members. As productive as it was the, icing on the cake was truly the baby blue birds who attended the session on May 31st with Ron and Sharon. They were knocked from their nest and are now being taken care of by some very supportive surrogate parents. If you find a bird or animal in trouble please let us know. We would love to help you get in contact with the appropriate people to help you assess the situation. Here’s to four more healthy bluebirds! 

Update July 5, 2017:  The Bluebirds are doing well!  Ron and Sharon took them to Shades of Hope who planned to get them ready for release into the wild. 



photo: Dorthea Hangaard


Carthew Bay Nature Reserve receives a whole lot of stewardship love from the Orillia Naturalists’ Club; a very large and capable Property Monitoring Team.    On May 29th nine members of the ONC walked the property checking on trail conditions and looking for evidence of un-permitted activities such as hunting or littering.  Wildlife observations included  Wood Thrush, Water Thrush, and a well-used Porcupine Den. 

The fluffy seeds of  Poplar Trees covered the ground in one section of the forest like snow. 

Pictured left is the team under a mature Butternut Tree, which are listed as Endangered in Ontario due to Butternut Canker

Mary & Omer Mick, Heather Ewing, Dianne & Arni Stinnissen, Fern Splitchal, Sue Deadman, Alex Sinclair, and Warren Ryckman.






photo: Dave Hawke


Prospect Marsh got a face-lift this week with a very sturdy new sign. Pictured is a very dedicated volunteer fighting the wind to put some finishing touches on the instillation. Dave is hoping it will hold for a few more storms, we think it just might. 

To find out how to visit Prospect Marsh click here





photo: Dorthea Hangaard


Thirty Environmental Studies Students from Orillia Secondary School waded right in to study Benthic Macroinvertebrates  and Water Quality at Scout Valley May 16th.   Thanks to support from Heather Wilton at Ontario Streams  and Brittany Hope from the Nature Conservancy of Canada (pictured left) we had a fantastic day identifying these spineless-but-visible-to-the-naked-eye creatures.  Students were able to identify Stonefiles, Caddisflies, Beetles, Clams, Crayfish, and Blackflies, among other animals. 




photo: Dorthea Hangaard


The Agnew/Fawcett Property Team got together on May 1st to share supper and discuss plans for property monitoring for the upcoming year. 

From left to right:  Jane Sloley, Peter Robinson, Carol Sinclair, Noella Storry, Lisa Neville, Dave Hawke, and Gayle Carlyle





photo: Kelcey McLean


Our 2017 Engagement Organizers, Kelcey and Grant have been braving the flooding in Carden not only to speak to our supporters and nature enthusiasts in the field, but also to help local wildlife get around. One important note from the field is that the turtles are out and about. Be careful when driving to take care of turtles, like the painted turtle seen here with Grant. 









photo: Grant Mask


Use caution in Carden! For a bit of scale Engagement Organizer Kelcey is posing in front of a Wylie Road ‘puddle’ on May 11th. This remote area can be difficult to access at the best of times and with no indication of depth there is danger for you and your vehicle at these pond-like puddles. Stay safe, and if you see Kelcey and Grant tell them to just keep swimming!





photo: Vicki Sherwood

A flood watch was posted for Carden the weekend of May 6th.  Bill and Vicki Sherwood didn’t want to miss the action at McGee Creek, which they steward as part of our Water Quality Monitoring Program.They  reported that water levels rose 14 centimetres between Thursday and Saturday, but the photos say it all.  See more here

If you have been considering joining the Water Monitoring Team, now is a great time to get involved.  The next training session for new volunteers is May 31, 2017

#rbcbluewater   #intactfoundation




photo: Dorthea Hangaard


Data Loggers are a great way to collect continuous information on stream temperature.  A small device is placed in the stream and collects temperature readings at regular intervals. At the end of the season, the data loggers are brought back to the office and the information downloaded onto a computer.  On Wednesday May 3rd, Meagan Coughlin and Dorthea Hangaard installed three data loggers in Conservancy streams.  Two more to go! 

#rbcbluewater    #intactfoundation



photo: Dorthea Hangaard

Gerry Church and John Pitts made their first property monitoring visit to the Kris Starr Sanctuary on Friday April 28th.   Its location just south of QEII Wildlands Provincial Park and reputation for Species at Risk make this an exciting property to visit and Friday’s monitoring trip didn’t disappoint.   Five-lined Skink (Ontario’s only Lizard and a Species at Risk), Sandhill Cranes,  and a Butternut Tree (also a Species at Risk) all made an appearance.    The Head River was flowing high. To see more photos from the trip click here.   If you would like to join a property monitoring team,  you can check out available properties here


photo: Dorthea Hangaard

Our newest property, the Adams Nature Reserve, is a 107 acre wildland on The Land Between, adjacent to the Kashe Lake Barrens and QEII Provincial Park. Thanks to dedicated volunteers, we already have a Property Monitoring Team established – Ron Reid and Janet Grand – as well as a Water Monitoring Team – Noella Storry and Peter Robinson.  Wetlands on the property drain into First Creek, which flows across the property to eventually merge with the Black River.  On the evening of April 24th, Noella and Peter took their first trip to First Creek  to collect water quality data.  For a full year they will monitor twice per month, to give us a good baseline of information to compare against future years.  P.S:  The mosquitoes are out. 

#rbcbluewater   #intactfoundation


photo: Bill Sherwood


A warm and sunny day April 24th made for a very relaxing refresher course for some of the water team members.  In attendance were Mary Mick, Bill & Vicki Sherwood, Ron and Sharon Hancock.  Dorthea and Meagan Coughlin led the session.   Thanks to Bill Sherwood for taking photos.  You can see more photos from the day on our flickr album here.


#rbcbluewater    #intactfoundation



photo: Ginny Moore


Wolf Run Alvar in Carden is remote enough that we set aside our expectations of securing volunteers to monitor the site.  Tom Wilson, however, is no shrinking violet, and not only pulls off a visit in every season, but invites other to come along with him. On April 22nd, Tom Wilson, Ginny Moore, John Ford, Arthur Gladstone &  Sue McIntosh conducted the spring site visit, in part to help John Ford prepare for his fall Passport to Nature Event called, “Rock, Dirt, Glaciers and Grikes”.   You will have the opportunity to visit this unique property on September 16th.  Register here.




photo: Dorthea Hangaard


Grant Wetland has a new property monitoring team:  Adrienne Kohl and Alyson Karson.  On April 20th, Adrienne took her first monitoring trip of the property, accompanied by Dave Hawke Dorthea Hangaard.  Grant Wetland is our most urban property, but we saw four kinds of willow trees and heard the mating call of a Wood Frog.  We looked for suckers in Sundial Creek, who could show up any day now, but found none.   Property Monitoring Teams are assigned a permanent property to caretake and visit at least one per season.  If you are interested in becoming a Property Monitor, click here.  



photo: Dorthea Hangaard


Garry Fell and Geri Poisson are the new Property Monitoring Team for Church Woods, our southern-most property.  On April 13th, Geri made his first site visit to the property with Dave Hawke and Dorthea Hangaard.   Wild Leek were in abundance, and Coltsfoot was just beginning to bloom.  Large Beech Trees and a mature stand of Black Walnut were observed, and one remaining living Butternut Tree.   Garry and Geri will continue to monitor this property seasonally.  If you think you’d like to be a Property Monitor, click here for the job description and available opportunities



photo: Jennie Clark


While some Water Teams never stopped testing this winter (Andrew McPhee, Morris Ilyniak, Alyson Karson, Laura Robert), most teams are now ready for the spring freshet.  The deep and fast-moving waters in spring make it extra-challenging to collect samples safely and effectively.  Here’s Adrienne Kohl sampling from the Talbot River at Doyle Road using the lay-on-the-culvert method.  April 12, 2017.





photo: Bill Sherwood


Bill and Vicki Sherwood made an early start at their water monitoring site on Shrike Road in Carden.  On a balmy Sunday afternoon on April 2nd, they spotted this Brook Stickleback in McGee Creek as well as Bluebirds, Robins, and Turkey Vultures.  All are sure signs of spring! The Stickleback posed for a quick photo and was returned to his stream unharmed.  Click here to see more water team photos