North Durham Nature

Our Mission

To foster awareness and appreciation of nature through education, observation and experience.

To promote the protection and conservation of the environment through community activities.

What We Do

We provide educational opportunities and foster awareness of nature, particularly the flora and fauna, as well as earth sciences and astronomy.

We lead and facilitate field trips to learn and experience nature. We promote the protection of nature, biological diversity and sustainability within North Durham.

We carry out projects in co-operation with other community groups, to conserve and protect the environment within North Durham.

NDN is a member
of Ontario Nature Organization


NDN Events-2017

Event Director  -  email James at

Talks - 2017

 4th Thursday night at 7 pm,
bring a mug to enjoy a coffee or tea
 A $5.00 donation is appreciated from non-members attending our monthly talks to cover refreshments, insurance and rental.

 Uxbridge Senior’s Centre – 75 Marietta Street Uxbridge


Scugog Memorial Library. -231 Water Street, Port Perry

 (underlined text links to details)


April 27th, 2017 - "Life in a Wetland" presented by North Durham Nature's Cara Gregory - Uxbridge 

Wetlands support a diverse number of plants and animals, with a variety of adaptations to life in a wet environment.  Cara will discuss what defines a wetland, the different types we have in Ontario, and what makes each one unique, as well as the important functions a wetland performs, what threatens them, and the need for their protection.  The main focus of the presentation will be on Port Perry's Nonquon wetland, specifically on the life of and unique adaptations of the wide variety of plants and animals found in this large wetland, situated in the Nonquon Provincial Wildlife Area.  The location and unique features of other North Durham wetlands will be also be mentioned.  LIVE ANIMALS:  There will be an opportunity during the presentation for the audience to view and interact with a few local reptile and amphibian species.   

May 25th, 2017 - "Kawartha Lakes Flora Project" presented by Anne Barbour (Kawartha Field Naturalists) - Port Perry 

Kawartha Lakes Field Naturalist have undertaken a major project to document the complete flora of the extensive Municipality of Kawartha Lakes.  Anne will talk about the details of this five year project, highlighting some of the discoveries and interesting plant habitats in Kawartha Lakes.  

Walks - 2017   

all walks require preregistration

(underlined text links to details) 

Saturday April 29, 2017 – Amphibians in Crow’s Pass Conservation Area

7:30 pm - meet at corner of Middlemarch Road and Ashburn Road

Spring Peepers and Wood Frogs are the first species to sing in the early spring wetlands, soon followed by American Toads and Gray Treefrogs.  The little known Crow’s Pass CA on the Oak Ridges Moraine contains kettle ponds that are the breeding sites for these frogs as well as newts and Spotted Salamanders.  We will listen for frogs and lookt for salamanders with herpetologist James Kamstra.  Please pre-register for this hike by e-mailing James at

Saturday May 13, 2017 – Spring Birds at Glen Major

8:00 am meet at parking lot at Glen Major Forest, Uxbridge Concession 7, 6 km south of Durham Road 21

Wood warblers, sparrows, flycatchers and many other migrants are arriving and setting up territories.  Glen Major has forest and field on rolling terrain of the Oak Ridges Moraine and offers good opportunities to see a variety of these birds.  We should also experience a number of early spring wildflowers.   

May 27th, 2017 - Passport to Biodiversity - NDN and Friends of Nonquon

9:30 am - Noon:  Meet at the Pheasant Pen Classroom Site of the Nonquon Environmental Education Centre (19745 Old Simcoe Road, Greenbank, ON), on the East side of the street, 1 km North of Scugog LIne 10.  About 5 km North of Port Perry.

North Durham Nature and the Friends of Nonquon would like to share this magical time of year in the wetland with you!  North Durham residents and their families are invited to explore the wetland with us.  Stations will be set up for visitors of all ages to explore at their leisure, and wetland experts will be on hand to share their knowledge with you. You may choose to spend time at a couple of stations, or visit them all!  Short-guided hikes will be run throughout the event as well.  The following stations will be offered:  Pondering the Pond, Feathered Friends, Incredible Insects, Biodiversity of Nonquon and Nature Creations. Challenge yourself to complete our species checklist and earn 150 points in celebration of Canada's 150thbirthday.  For more information please contact Cara by e-mail at  

Saturday June 17, 2017 – 150 Species Challenge at the Uxbridge Countryside Preserve

9:30 am meet at parking lot on east side (back) of Walmart/ Rona.

To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday we will search for and find at least 150 species of flora and fauna. Countryside Preserve contains an interesting range of habitats from fields, forests, ponds and plantations.  We will search for and tally plants, birds, insects, amphibians, and mammals


Saturday July 9, 2017 – 150 Species Challenge at the Nonquon Outdoor Education Centre

9:30 am meet at the Pheasant Pen Classroom Site of the Nonquon Education Centre (19745 Old Simcoe Road), 1 km North of Scugog Line 10.  About 5 km North of Port Perry.

To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday we will search for and find at least 150 species of flora and fauna. The Nonquon Centre contains an interesting range of habitats from fields, forests, ponds and swamps.  With luck we will find frogs, turtles, dragonflies, butterflies, tall trees, tiny flowers and many more.

All events are open to the public and free.  A $5.00 donation is appreciated from non-members attending our monthly talks.

Membership in North Durham Nature is $40 for singles, $50 for families for calendar year.  All members receive a quarterly newsletter and priority email of events coming up plus more. Fees cover insurance, room bookings and incidentals. We are non-profit members of Ontario Nature.  For more information, please call Derek at 905-852-5432 or email or

*New* - Like us on Facebook!


NDN Projects

Logo Contest - Deadline June 15th, 2017

Contest Rules:

  1. Contest is open to any member of NDN or their extended family.
  2. The logo should be submitted in hard copy on letter-sized paper or as a scan that can be emailed.
  3. The logo should consist of original artwork and not be a copy.
  4. The logo should be handed in at an NDN meeting or emailed to: no later than June 15, 2017
  5. A prize (yet to be determined) will be awarded to the winner.
  6. The winning logo will become the property of North Durham Nature to be used on the website, newsletter, letterhead or wherever the organization sees fit without any further compensation to the artist.
  7. The logo can include one or more species of plant or animal that characterizes the nature of North Durham. 
  8. The logo should be clearly distinct from logos of other organizations.
  9. The artist must provide a verbal description of the logo and its significance in the context of North Durham with the application.
  10. The various submissions will be presented to members attending the June NDN meeting.
  11. Members present at that meeting will be able to vote for their preferred logo by secret ballot.  Subject to Board approval, the logo, which receives the most votes, will become the NDN Logo.

Lafarge - Regan Pit (7th concession) Bird Boxes

NDN had a three year contract with the company to monitor 50 bird boxes which we recommended and located in the restoration area of the pit. The club selected Paul Rothfels "Mouse Proof" bird box design after recommendations from neighbours on the 7th concession. The design benefits of reducing predation without the extra costs of a baffle plus the willingness of Lafarge to pay for a secure pole system were factors in choosing the design.

In the first year 52% of the boxes were occupied and all successfully produced eggs and young.  The Tree Swallow occupied most of the boxes, six boxes raised Eastern Bluebirds, and one raised a Black -capped Chickadee. There were no House Wrens, sparrows, mice or other vertebrates in any boxes.

In year two 71% of the boxes were active and a slight increase was observed in target species, allthough House wrens arrived in late summer in a couple of boxes.

In year three  81% of the boxes  were occupied by 29 Tree swallow, 9 Eastern Bluebird, and I Black capped Chickadee families producing over a 100 fledged young. This is a huge success. Considering the concern over population declines in aerial insectivores our boxes have certainly helped the Tree swallow populations.  A more detailed report is available in the club newsletter. 

Many thanks to all the volunteers who assisted in the monitoring. We will apply to Lafarge to continue this conservation success.

In Memory of Paul Rothfels a Gathering was held on March 4, at the Udora Hall from 2 - 4. Memories, both spoken and written will be most welcome.  Click on My tribute to Paul and the OBIT

Uxbridge Countryside Preserve- Bird Houses

NDN took over from the Uxbridge Birders who had been monitoring and repairing the bird boxes first placed in the Preserve in 2008 by the Scouts. The number of boxes was reduced to 26 from 45 in 2014 to improve success. Changes in habitat caused by the invasion of Scot Pine and other plants had slowly reduced the meadow habitat which is important for swallows and bluebirds.  A Scot Pine thinning program is now in place on an annual basis. The  box system is not predator proof and was  modified with the help of the Uxbridge Scouts in 2015. Juice cans and plastic pipe along with an additional front was added to some boxes over the entrance  to act as a predator deterrent.   Tree Swallows accepted the change however Bluebirds did not use these boxes.  It is believed the Preserve can only support four Eastern Bluebird nests in any year because of the reduced meadow habitat.   Tree Swallows however are still increasing  and the reduction in boxes available appears to have lowered the House Wren population and competition. Two additional boxes will be installed this spring using the "Mouse Proof " model.  Two years of  intensive monitoring continued by six Uxbridge resident volunteer familes ( BIrd Box Buddies)  resulting in more accurate data. Thanks are extended to the Bird Box Buddies who put in many hours monitoring the boxes over the summer and the Township of Uxbridge for their support. The Spring Bird House Inspection 2017 indicated we are open for business and tenants will be arriving soon. We are looking for landlords? 

If you are interested in helping out, learning how bird boxes work or want to buy a box to save cavity nesting  birds contact Derek at 905-852-5432 or

Ontario Nature Youth Summit for Biodiversity and Environmental Leadership

Last fall 2016 we continued our annual commitment and sent two young students, Hayden DeBarros and Rylee Brown to the Ontario Nature Youth Summit at Lake Couchiching, where they were engaged in interactive workshops and activities on topics including food security, endangered species, medicinal plants, sustainability and much more. You can read about Rylee's experience in the club newsletter. Interested students should contact us or click on Ontario Nature to find out more . If you are or know any interested teens in participating for 2017 contact us.

Late May - The  Great Canadian Bird-a-thon

North Durham Nature's Geoff Carpentier  participates yearly in this charity birding event. The James Baillie Bird-a-thon changed its name to Great Canadian Bird-a-thon, but it's still about counting birds for conservation.  If you would like more information or to sponsor Geoff please click on the underlined link above.  Thanks to everyone's generous donations last year, Geoff was able to raise over $2600 to help fund projects to protect birds and their habitats.  25% of the money raised helps  fund North Durham Nature's nature-based projects.  

Birdathon Results 2015

Birdathon Results 2016

Conservation Action 2017

NDN will be assisting in a Prairie grass and forbs planting May 6th with Uxbridge Scouts in the Uxbridge Countryside Preserve.

Scot Pine will also be thinned in the Preserve to keep the more open meadow

NDN adds its signature to Ontario Nature's call to ban hunting of Snapping Turtles in Ontario.


Feral Cats- A request was made to Uxbridge council to change the cat bylaw giving more freedom to cats.  As many of us know cats are major predators to birds and other native species. We apposed the change. Read our letter linked here. Feral Cats



 Community Events

  (underlined text links to details)

April 19th, 2017:  Phragmites Presentation from 7 to 9 p.m. - Wetland Ecologist Janice M. Gilbert Ph. D. Purple Woods Conservation Area

Have you seen the tall, yellowish, swaying reeds and feathery plumes as you drive along the roads in Durham Region?  Many people stop to take pictures, or collect the seed heads for indoor and outdoor decoration.  This seems harmless, but did you know this plant is invasive and threatens native habitats, particularly wetlands and the wildlife and plant species that call them home.

The plant, is called Phragmites (pronounced "frag-mite-ees") (Phragmites australis), is also know as Common Reed, and it presents a significant threat to watershed health across southern Ontario.  It is extremely aggressive, spreads quickly and can reach heights of up to 5 metres (15 feet), allowing it to out compete native plant species for water and nutrients.  Add to that impact the economic reality that this plant in other parts of Ontario has actually lowered property values, particularly along shorelines.  With an ability to spread quickly through long underground stems that can reach as far as 60 ft. and through their seeds which spread by the wind.

We need your help to give it some immediate attention.  Fortunately, local Phragmites populations in the Lake Scugog watersheds are still small and manageable.  Left unchecked, populations will grow and the cost of control will eventually become prohibitive and the long-term effects of this, on our community, will be irreversible.

The Scugog Environmental Advisory Committee, in partnership with North Durham Nature, Scugog Lake Stewards, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Kawartha Conservation and Central Lake Ontario Conservation are hosting renowned wetland ecologist and Phragmites specialist, Janice M. Gilbert Ph. D. on April 19th from 7 to 9 pm at Heritage Hall, Purple Woods Conservation Area.  Come out and learn about this invasive plant, what we can do to stop it, and meet community members that are working together in a call to action for an invasive species management program for Phragmites. 

Blitzing the Moraine 2017 - Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust

I hope you’ll consider joining us again in 2017 as a naturalist leader in one (or more) of our 3 bioblitzes scheduled for 2017.  Once again, we’re planning on 3-4 hour shifts with volunteers supporting your efforts.  This year we have blitzes planned for Durham, Stouffville, and King Township. 

Claremont Field Centre (4290 Westney Rd. N, Goodwood) 
- 2017 Claremont Community Events and March Break 2017 Wilderness Survival Camp
- Summer Nature Day Camp 2017 
August 5th to 13th, 2017 - Long Point Bird Observatory 2017 Doug Tarry Natural History Fund: Young Ornithologist Workshop

To all young ornithologists:  Long Point Bird Observatory is looking for keen teen birders to apply for the 2017 Doug Tarry Natural History Fund - Young Ornithologist Workshop to be held from August 5 to 13, 2017. Participants will receive hands-on training in field ornithology including bird banding, monitoring, field identification, birding trips, preparing museum specimens, guest lectures,and more! Six of Canada’s most promising ornithologists between the ages of 13-17 will be selected to attend, and will receive the Doug Tarry Bird Study Award to cover all on-site expenses.  Applications are due April 30, 2017. For more information and an application form visit, or contact

Official Audubon Christmas Bird Counts - Uxbridge Dec 27th 2016, Beaverton Dec 30th 2016

Once again we joined birders throughout the Americas in the annual bird count now in its 117th year.  Learn more about the count by visiting http://

Follow underlined link to Audubon results:  Uxbridge CBC   Beaverton CBC . Written reports in the club newsletter. Join us to get one!
Uxbridge - 43 species; Beaverton 41 species 

Ducks Unlimited Canada Nest Box Program

Ducks Unlimited Canada is currently looking for project sites that will help provide habitat for cavity nesters like wood ducks and Goldeneye. If you have a wetland on your property larger than a couple of acres, and would like to provide habitat for ducks and other wildlife (like tree swallows and screech owls), then this program is meant for you!  Landowners are responsible for installing, maintaining and monitoring the nest boxes, but DUC provides the nest boxes and technical advice to landowners. Nest boxes are placed in wetland habitats like beaver ponds, where they will be most useful to ducks.  If you're interested in more details, please contact Jenn Lavigne at Ducks Unlimited Canada: (705) 721-4444.

Wood Ducks



(underlined text links to reviews)

AGM - February 23rd, 2017 - Uxbridge

Constitution changes accepted, Maximum 4 Year term for President and Treasurer possible if renewed after 2 years, all other positions on board may continue if voted in every two years. President Derek Connelly and Vice President Cara Gregory renewed for another 2 year term, new Directors Kim Adams voted in as Treasurer, Pat Baldwin as Membership Director.  Other Directors staying include Mark Stabb secretary, Geoff Carpentier newsletter, Jay Thibert at large, James Kamstra events, Carol Apperson at large.

Presidents Message  Constitution Change

January and February 2016

September to November 2015


      (underlined text links to reviews)

Saturday April 8th, 2017 – Waterfowl on Lake Scugog

On April 8th, 14 “waterfowlers” joined Geoff Carpentier as we searched the Port Perry waterfront and nearby areas for ducks, geese and swans. The pickings were at first slim because the ice had gone out on Lake Scugog and the birds were widely scattered . An Osprey was a nice treat along the causeway and several ducks were visible in the Osler Track. Northern Shoveler, Mallard, Ring-necked Duck, Northern Pintail, Bufflehead and Common Merganser were found. From here, Geoff took the group to the Nonquon Sewage lagoons, where he had arranged a permit for the group to enter. Now we hit the jackpot as hundreds of ducks of several species were found. A  muddy walk along the northern berm of the lagoons yielded: Mallard, Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, Common Golden-eye, Canada Goose and Mallard. Other nice birds for the day were Tree Swallow and Fox Sparrow. We all had a nice day on this cool early April morning! Thx to all who came out and shared the adventure.

March 19th 2017 - Bird Box Inspection Walk on the Bird Loop in the Uxbridge Countryside Preserve

Eighteen interested nature enthusiasts enjoyed a sunny +10C stroll around a 3 km “Bird Loop” assisting Derek Connelly inspect the bird boxes for this year’s arrivals. The walk started with a review of the importance of boxes as nest cavities to replace the many dead trees we are removing for development and as hazards; the variety of birds that use them and what a typical nest looks like using an old  Bluebird nest and eggs one of the preferred Bird House tenants.  On the walk larger Duck boxes were pointed out by the pond and stories of some of the birds that use them told.

The nearby bird feeder was topped up with Black oil sunflower seed and Derek explained that keeping this feeder full by the everyone on their visits to the preserve could lead to being able to feed chickadees by hand in the future. Hiking up to Observation hill we finally reached the first Bluebird or Swallow box.  Here cleaning, relabeling and the predator control structures were checked. The lookout from here gives everyone a good view of the landscape the birds use. Dropping down from the hill volunteers helped out checking boxes as we continued our circle of the Preserve.

Fortunately not one box had any sign of mouse or squirrel activity this winter. New labels and the addition of a screen ladder to help young birds climb up to the exit were identified on some boxes. A couple of boxes had come loose on their poles but fortunately one volunteer had brought his power driver which made a quick fix.  An older box with a chewed wide hole finished the walk. It contained an old nest of a House Wren and on top evidence of an unknown bird nest start using well woven grasses and tissue into a circle? Was this a nuthatch? A House sparrow? Obviously more observations will be needed this summer.

Participants were invited to help this summer with the Bird Box monitoring and to join us at our next event a talk on Trees this Thursday in Port Perry. Derek thanks all  those who added their experiences to the walk, helped out carrying equipment, checked, fixed and cleaned boxes.  We now have a welcome home for our feathered friends If you are interested in helping monitor the Birds Boxes in the Countryside Preserve contact Derek Connelly at or come  out to a Nature Club event

February 4th, 2017 - Winter Wetland Snowshoe at the Nonquon Provincial Wildlife Area

A successful joint venture between the Friends of Nonquon and North Durham Nature with approximately 50 participants!  People of all ages gathered at the Pheasant Pen Classroom site at the Nonquon Wetlands, put on a pair of snowshoes, and went on several guided hikes lead by knowledgeable volunteers. The Big Brother's and Sister's of Clarington joined local families for this event, and were a welcome addition. The chickadees were glad to receive a hand feeding of sunflower seeds on this chilly winter day!  Many animals signs were spotted along the hikes, including a beaver lodge, footprints left by a variety of animals, woodpecker holes, muskrat lodges, and a red squirrel tunnel.  The hike was ended with a warm mug of hot chocolate and cookies, giving participants a chance to warm up and explore the displays in the building.

November 6 - Lake Simcoe Field Trip  

James Kamstra of North Durham Nature led a group of 12 to the southeast area of Lake Simcoe to see what waterbirds could be found.  Twelve eager participants ventured out on this mild and calm sunny day. 

The first stop was Holm’s Point, on the York Region side of the lake.  In a sheltered bay on the east side of Duclos Point, 3 Tundra Swans swam together.  A solitary Red-necked Grebe was swimming and diving.  A gathering of Bonaparte’s Gulls were having a feeding frenzy.  Suddenly a Merlin came zipping along from the water, hot in pursuit of an unknown passerine.

At a parkette midway between Holm’s Point and Port Bolster we spied three Red-throated Loons in winter plumage among more numerous Common Loons. Eight female Black Scoters played in the gentle surf; and further to the right several White-winged Scoters.  A flock of 11 Sandhill Cranes flew overhead.

From another lake vantage point at the end of Brock 2nd Concession we saw close to a hundred Horned Grebes spread out across the lake, as well as Common Goldeneyes and Buffleheads, a Long-tailed Duck and a tight gathering of Hooded Mergansers. 

In all about 40 species of birds were noted including a good assortment of waterfowl. 

Saturday April 2 – Waterfowl at Durham’s Lake Ontario Marshes

Four naturalists joined Geoff Carpentier on a trip to Cranberry Marsh on April 2nd. Despite a snowy start to the day, the weather turned perfect and allowed us to see 48 species of birds including 12 kinds of ducks, geese and swans, Horned Grebe, a beautiful adult Little Gull, Tree and Barn Swallows, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, a singing Fox Sparrow and more. At one point a Downy Woodpecker, Back-capped Chickadees and two White-breasted Nuthatches landed on birders’ hands to snack on some sunflower seeds. Perhaps the highlight was watching a pair of otters "cavorting" at the marsh. Presumably a male and female but possibly siblings, they spent over 30 minutes swimming slowly side by side, occasionally rolling over so that paws and tail were skyward, and at one point one was atop the other perhaps mimicking mating. Interesting to watch and as quickly as they arrived they were gone.

February and March 2016
September to December 2015


Event Archives - 2016


Members Night - Jan. 28th

Your Pane is their Pain - Presented by Michael Mesure, Executive Director of the Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP) - Feb. 25th

The Messenger (with Roxy Theatres) - March 6th

Birding in Columbia - March 24th

Rouge River:  Canada's First Urban National Park. - April 28th

Biodiversity Primer - May 26th

Colonial Waterbirds of Tommy Thompson Park - June 23rd

Monitoring Black and Polar Bears in Ontario - Sept. 22nd

Running on Empty:  California's Climate Disaster - Oct. 27th 

A Celebration of Nature Art - Nov. 20th


Snowshoeing and Winter Botany at the Nonquon Provincial Wildlife Area - Feb.7th

Amherst Island Hawks and Owls - Feb. 28th

Signs of Spring Hike at Goodwood Tract Conservation Area- March 20th

Waterfowl at Durham’s Lake Ontario Marshes - April 2nd

Amphibians in Crow's Pass Conservation Area- April 23rd

Birds, Bees, Wildflowers and Trees at the Ganton Hobby Farm - May 7th 

Warbler and Wildflower Ramble along the Ewen Trail - May 29th

Evening in the Beaver River Wetland - June 4th

Durham East Cross Forest Bioblitz (Phase 2) - June 11th

How the Natural World Prepares for Winter - Sept. 10th

Shorebirds and Lake Summer Insects - Sept. 17th

Waterbirds at the Lake Ontario Marshes - Oct. 16th

Autumn Waterbirds on Lake Simcoe - Nov. 6th

Christmas Bird Count for Kids (with Friends of Nonquon) - Nov. 26th

Official Audubon Christmas Bird Counts - Dec. 27th and 30th