Written for my Root Issues column in the Barrie Examiner.
Although I’m proud of the two-decade heritage of Environmental Action Barrie: Living Green, on whose board I sit, there is a local ecological organization with an even greater pedigree – the Brereton Field Naturalists’ Club. This month they celebrate their Diamond Jubilee, the 60th anniversary of their founding in honour of local naturalist Dr. Ewart Brereton, the renowned ornithologist who passed away in 1950.
Over the ensuing sixty years, in addition to authoring “Birds of Simcoe County”, and helping establish trails & conservation centres, volunteer members of the BFNC have been regularly promoting local conservation and education through field trips and evening speakers. Next week will be a blitz of such events, and I hope you’ll find the time to take part in one or more of them.
The fun starts Tuesday morning (May 24th) with a demonstration of bird-banding at Little Lake, a process where birds are carefully netted and fitted with a tiny numbered band so their migrations can be tracked. At noon is the proclamation and flag-raising by Mayor Lehman at City Hall, along with announcement of the BFNC’s new $20,000 student award fund at Georgian College. Then in the evening you can watch the unique and fascinating at-risk Chimney Swifts as their flocks circle downtown chimneys before roosting inside.
The next morning marks the beginning of the daily (9 to noon) nature hikes, at Little Lake (Wed.), Ferndale Wetland (Thurs.), and Mayer’s Marsh (Minesing, Fri.) followed by longer hikes (7 am – 2 pm) on Saturday and Sunday at Matchedash Bay and Tiny Marsh, respectively. (For those, bring a lunch). Or perhaps you would prefer Wednesday evening at the Gables, or Friday evening’s short, easy walk on the Hunter Russell trail (Midhurst).
All hikes begin and end at the Spirit Catcher (where Maple Avenue meets the waterfront), with carpools arranged from that parking lot. Rain or shine, dress for the weather, wear your hiking shoes/boots and bring sunscreen/hat, bug spray, and water. The hikes are all open to the public at no charge. These are great opportunities to see spring wildflowers and rare plants, birds, insects and other wildlife, with some great views of our area’s stunning natural heritage.
Prefer something a little more formal? Then attend the gala dinner at the Georgian College dining room the evening of Thursday, May 26 with keynote speaker Michael Runtz: award-winning naturalist, biologist, teacher, author, wilderness guide, photographer and all-round outdoorsman. You may know him from his frequent guest spots on natural history TV or radio programs; now you can meet him in person. Tickets are only $45 but must be purchased in advance by calling 705-726-8969.
For more event details, call the number above or visit http://www.breretonfieldnaturalists.org/.
Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is an educator, father, volunteer, and politician.