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Newletter 23

Bob AllinSimply Irreplaceable

It’s with sad hearts that we acknowledge the passing of Robert Allin of Newcastle. Bob served on the Thickson’s Woods board of directors for the past decade, and helped out in countless ways for years before that while his wife, Esther, was treasurer. A quiet man, always ready with a smile, Bob was someone who would help out no matter what the task or weather. Chilly mornings setting up for pancake breakfasts in the woods, raising tents at the fall festivals, selling tickets, planting trees—it’s hard to think of a single Thickson’s Woods event where he and Esther weren’t on hand at first light, helping the day go smoothly. Betty Pegg said it best: “You could depend on Bob for anything.”

Since selling their farm in 1973, Bob kept more than busy helping his nephews with farming, his daughter with her horses, the Agricultural Association Coop put on the Orono Fair. He served as liaison between the Orono Credit Union and the Auto Workers Oshawa Credit Union, receiving a plaque for distinguished service in 1994.

Esther loves to bird, and Bob loved Esther, so often accompanied her on Durham Field Naturalists Club outings and Christmas Bird Counts. Both of them loved to travel, packing up their trailer and heading west across Canada. They also traveled to Arizona, Texas, England and the Continent.

Bob wasn’t the most talkative person at a TWLT board meeting, but his input was always valued and insightful. He was a sensible man who suggested workable, economical solutions to a whole raft of problems. It was Bob who mowed the meadow before fall festivals and helped maintain corduroy bridges across wet places in the woods. When board members talked about buying a bench for the ridge overlooking Corbett Creek, a great place to sit quietly and watch birds work their way up the valley, he built a solid, rustic seat from lumber he had on hand, took it out there and set it up.

We’ll be dedicating Bob’s bench in his memory during the pancake breakfast on May 8. It’s not extravagant or fancy; rather, it’s practical, like he was. That was Bob Allin. Who could ever replace him?

Stories from the Front Lines

Peter Clute of Ajax has a great idea for meadow fundraising—linking up with LCBO outlets, which every month set donation boxes for a chosen charity next to their cash registers, where clients can deposit spare change. It’s certainly a good fit—the central warehouse for LCBO products operates directly east of Thickson’s Woods Nature Reserve, on the other side of Corbett Creek Marsh. Surely administrators of the Ontario Liquor Control Board would be happy to support nature in their own backyard.

Does anyone out there work for the LCBO, or know someone who does? We need to find the right person to approach the appropriate decision-makers and ask if they’ll adopt our Save the Meadow campaign as one of their month-long projects. Phone (905) 725-2116 or email nature@thicksonswoods.com if you have any great contacts or ideas.

Susan Morgan is still keen to compile a cookbook of bake sale recipes as a fund-raiser for the meadow. She’s had some response from bakers but would like to hear from lots more. You can e-mail a favourite recipe or three to: smorgan@sympatico.ca, or phone (905-655-4895).

And finally, let’s have a round of applause for the Pickering Naturalists, who are steadfastly fundraising for the meadow at their monthly meetings, auctioning off a dozen teddy bears at the last one. Thank you, Karin Fawthrop, Heather Jessop, Doug Lockrey, Alan Woods and all the naturalists who bring in items and then try to outbid each other. Keep up the fine work, and we’ll keep trying to spell your names correctly.

Get Your Quilt-Raffle Tickets Pronto!

“Treasured Blooms” is the title of a beautiful quilt donated for raffle this year. Its four talented creators, Marguerite Irwin, Joan Lesier, Sandy Sharples and Anne Wood have all been birding in Thickson’s Woods. The motif of baskets of colourful flowers is set off by multi-toned blue triangles on a white background, so the almost-twin-size piece would make a gorgeous hanging. It was hand-quilted by the “Bay Buddies” in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia.

Two beautifully framed nature scenes donated by Heather Jessop will be raffled as second and third prize.

Prices are $2 per ticket, $5 for three tickets and $10 for nine—the last a real bargain for increasing your odds of winning. Like last year, the draw will be held at the fall festival in the meadow, on September 18—plenty of time to sell lots of tickets to all your cronies and co-workers.

Phone Judy Bryson (905- 576-0492) for books of tickets to sell, and books to buy yourself in hopes of winning.

Nature Notes
by Dennis Barry

A female Pileated Woodpecker took up residence in Thickson’s Woods for the winter. Late each afternoon she returned from foraging expeditions to enter a roost hole in the centre of the woods. Visitors and area residents alike were impressed with how tame she was, and how large. While we’ve had Pileated Woodpeckers visit for a day or two, this is the first one to stay. This makes a total of seven woodpecker species that have spent time in the woods during the past year.

For a brief time in mid-winter, both Long-eared and Short-eared Owls roosted in yards along the western edge of the woods. The Great Horned Owl pair has probably already nested, perhaps in the same nest they used last spring. However, they seem to have made little inroad on the burgeoning cottontail rabbit population. Up to four Rough-legged Hawks patrolled the meadow in January, often roosting in the dead willows at the north end of the beaver pond.

Large rafts of diving ducks, primarily Greater Scaup, loafed and fed in the bay beneath the shelter of the bluff for much of the winter, no doubt feasting on zebra mussels attached to rocks off the shoals to the east and west. One cold, sunny winter afternoon as I walked along the bluff, I was startled to hear what sounded like the flight call of a Common Nighthawk. I soon realized that what I had heard was the courtship call of a drake Common Goldeneye. Perhaps the distance and the wind created a similarity I had never noted before.

Although winter has lingered far longer than many of us would wish, subtle changes in the land bird population point to the approaching spring. For most of the winter Tree Sparrows were the predominant ground feeders in our yard, with Slate-colored Juncos clearly in the minority. By mid-March numbers were reversed as Juncos began to return from farther south, and Tree Sparrows drifted off northward. Remaining Tree Sparrow males can be heard singing their beautiful haunting songs. Soon they will be joined by the most beautiful of all sparrow songsters, Fox Sparrows

View from a Suburban Balcony
by Peter Mills

This, I said to myself, was not going to be a good move. Circumstances had obliged me to move from the family home. I thought that I would have to say goodbye to seeing birds up close again, without having to leave the comfort of my own home and garden. Never would I have a chance of seeing that Rose-breasted Grosbeak again and getting a photo.

Just to prove how wrong one can be, I attach a list of the species I have observed over the past eight years from the balcony of my apartment in a seniors building in south Ajax. I include all the species - even the ubiquitous sparrows with their constant bickering—that bring colour to brighten my days.

Broad-winged Hawk, American Kestrel, Mourning Dove, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Eastern Phoebe, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet,
Hermit Thrush, Wood Thrush, American Robin, Gray Catbird, European Starling, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Pine Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Ovenbird, Hooded Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, American Tree Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Common Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, Orchard Oriole, Baltimore Oriole, House Finch, American Goldfinch, House Sparrow.

Not bad for a balcony that faces east and receives sun for only a short period of time each day.

Treasurer's Corner
by Brian Steele

A quick recap and update: In February, 2002 the meadow was purchased for $531,000. After payments at the time of closing, the vendor held a February 2004 payment, the outstanding balance is $245,205.

The success of our fall festival and the art auction allowed us to pay off $40,000 in November, 2003. Your generous donations since then ensured a payment of $31,000 against the principal in February. This has brought us back to exactly where we need to be to pay off the mortgage by February, 2007. With 60% of the time remaining on the mortgage, 60% of the debt remains.

In order to stay on track, we need to pay off just over $20,000 of principal each quarter, plus interest. This is a large amount to come up with every three months. While events like the spring pancake breakfast and fall nature festival help, it’s only due to the generosity of people like you, who care about wild places, and especially about Thickson’s Woods, that the goal will be reached.

Since our campaign began in September, 2001, we have raised over $300,000. This is an incredible amount of money and shows just how much you care about the environment, and the sacrifices you are willing to make to preserve a part of it. When the TWLT board of directors made the decision to proceed with the purchase of the meadow, people involved with other land trusts in Ontario were flabbergasted that we would be so bold as to attempt such a task. Now, when they ask how we’ve managed to be so successful, we just say, “Our supporters care, and they’re determined to do whatever it takes to ensure that the meadow and Thickson’s Woods remain wild forever.”

Perhaps your generosity and dedication will serve as an inspiration to others to take similar action. Buying land and protecting it may be the best way we can preserve natural habitats for future generations.

One far-thinking supporter surprised us by donating some stocks. In response, we set up an account with a broker in order to sell it--and we can now accommodate others who wish to do the same thing. There are tax advantages for individuals who donate stock to a charity, best illustrated by an example.

If someone sold stock worth $5,000 that had originally cost $1,000, the $4,000 profit would be included in their income as a capital gain, and half of it—$2000—would be subject to tax, amounting to approximately $900. If the $5,000 was then donated to charity, the tax credit would be about $2,300.

On the other hand, if the stock itself was donated to a charity, only 25% of the profit, or $1,000, would be subject to tax, and the tax payable would be about $450. The individual would still get the $2,300 tax credit, and would be ahead, tax wise, by $450. This tax break was given by the federal government as a means to encourage donations to charities.

If you’d like more information, please contact me at (905) 655-4895.

This year give a gift that will last forever – a piece of “The Meadow”.

10 square metres -$150
5 square metres - $75
2 square metres - $30
1 square metre - $15

(Or for that very special person – 1 acre $62,500)

Meadow gift forms are available on our website, or contact us and we’ll send you as many as you need. Fill out the form and send it to the recipient and mail us a cheque for the appropriate amount. Recipients will be recognized in our next newsletter, on our website, and in a permanent format in the meadow in future.

Breakfast & Bobolinks at the Thickson's Woods Nature Reserve

Saturday, May 8
9:00 to Noon

Breakfast features sausage, and pancakes with real maple syrup

Door Prizes
Nature Tours
Bake Sale
Plant Sale
Silent Auction
Bucket Raffle

Baked goods and nature-related items for raffle and auction are needed, and willing hands are very welcome.

Phone (905) 725-2116 for further information, or to volunteer.

To get to the nature reserve, turn south on Thickson Road from 401 in Whitby, past Wentworth Street toward Lake Ontario.The entrance to the nature reserve is 100 metres east along the Waterfront Trail.

All proceeds will help pay off the mortgage on "The Meadow", a vital part of this very special nature reserve.

May-rathon for the Meadow - 2004

Last year’s May-rathon was the most successful yet, in terms of number of sponsors, number of May-rathoners—15—and money raised - more than $10,000.

“What is a May-rathon?” you ask. The traditional one, which has been conducted off and on at Thickson’s since the early ‘80s, involves trying to see how many birds you can spot within one mile of the woods during the month of May. Friends and acquaintances agree to sponsor you either for so much per bird, or for a set amount. At the end of the month you would write a report to your sponsors listing the birds you saw and mentioning some of the highlights of your adventures. You would then collect the money and send it in. Tax receipts will be issued by our treasurer for all donations of $10 or more.

However, you can decide to do a May-rathon anywhere and anytime you choose. Some people prefer to see how many birds they can spot in one day. Some choose their yard or their neighbourhood as their location. Others decide to count any species seen in the whole province. One potential May-rathoner was considering a more exotic foreign location.

Basically, you make up your own rules. Just be sure to let your sponsors know, when they sign up, the approximate number of birds you expect to see.

As an example, someone birding fairly frequently in Thickson’s for the whole month of May could expect to see or hear about 150 different kinds of birds, while someone birding for just one day in their own neighbourhood might see one-third that many.

Why is a May-rathon a good way to raise funds to pay off the mortgage? First of all, it’s fun. Secondly, it spreads the financial burden of paying off the mortgage over a larger number of people, folks who might not otherwise be asked to contribute.

So get involved! There’s always a friendly rivalry among May-rathoners, yet they help one another for the common good.

And if you can’t do a May-rathon yourself, at least consider sponsoring one of the participants listed below. Even better, use this May-rathon sheet to collect sponsors for them.

The following people did a May-rathon last year. They had lots of fun, so we expect most of them, if not all, will be involved again this year.

David Shilman
Norman Schipper
Frank Pinilla
Ken & Mary Lund
Carol Horner
Joanna Holt
Alex Hill
Joachim Floegel
Jim Fairchild
Linda Cole
Margaret Carney
Dennis Barry
Margaret Bain
Esther Allin

Year #3 of the great Save the Meadow campaign started in February—the third year out of five raising three-quarters of a million dollars to pay for the meadow at the Thickson’s Woods Nature Reserve, including interest. Though daunting, the effort is worth it. So many birds use the meadow, from woodcocks displaying in April to rough-legged hawks perched atop the apple trees scanning the ground for meadow voles in January. It’s hard to imagine going for a walk in the reserve in any season without popping into the meadow to check what’s around.

Many wonderful people have done amazing things to keep the momentum going—thank you all!

We envision a wide range of projects to help save the meadow this year, tried and true events plus brand-new ideas suggested by thoughtful volunteers. You are warmly invited to take part in whichever appeal to you and sound like fun.

Would you like to try a “May-rathon,” asking your friends to sponsor you so many cents for every bird you see during migration this spring? Are you a great ticket seller, so would enjoy peddling raffle tickets for this year’s lovely quilt to your bridge club or golfing buddies?

Maybe you love baking or building, and would feel a great deal of satisfaction in producing some special item for a bake sale or silent auction.

We’ll be starting with our annual Breakfast and Bobolinks pancake-and-sausage feast in the meadow on Saturday, May 8, from nine till noon. Lots of helping hands will make the morning go smoothly. Lots of donated yummies for the bake sale, crafts and nature items for the bucket raffle, and goods and services for the silent auction will help make the fundraising a great success.

Be sure to photocopy the attached flyer and post it at your office, school, local shops and libraries to help publicize the event.

Rain or shine, the day is always unforgettable if you enjoy eating pancakes smothered with real maple syrup in the great out-of-doors, while warblers, thrushes and thrashers make music in the hedgerows. Free birding tours led by local naturalists help bring spring migration into colourful focus.

Thanks to our Corporate Donors!

We want to extend our fervid thanks to the George Cedric Metcalf Charitable Foundation for their very generous contribution toward helping to save the meadow.

Kinderman Canada and TCE Capital Corporation sponsored Frank Pinilla in his May-rathon efforts in support of the woods. IBM matched Don Johnston’s contribution.

The Ontario Field Ornithologists sent in a hefty cheque this quarter. Eleanor Beagan, the secretary, wrote: “We are very much aware of the significance of preserving these crucial areas. While we are not a conservation club per se, we know that many of our members make great use of Thickson’s Woods and the meadow. Thank you for having the foresight of keeping these natural gems for our wildlife friends.”


Recent donations have been made in memory of many special people:

Bob Allin
Bud Ariss
Gwen Armerod
Nick Beckie
Geoffrey David Bessel
John Brookes
Frank Browning
Kay Dumas
Jessie & Wilbert Fallis
Helen Hiebert
Tim Jones
Stanley Kent
John Kury
Bruce Lush
Ronald McDonald
Robert McQuoid
Avis & Glenn Nichol
Edge Pegg
Aileen Pollard
Alan Roberts
Fred and Marion Sextro
Ida Starr
Elsie & Karlheinz Stein
Christiaan Van Helsdingen

We join their families and friends in mourning their passing, and acknowledge their unique contribution to the rich web of life on planet earth.

On our website we recognize all past donations made in memory of friends and loved ones.

Gifts That Will Last Forever

Many metres of the meadow have been saved in the name of:

Bessie Anastopoulos; Ross Armstrong; Lou Car; John Cardingly; Sherran Coyle; Salmon Cupid; The Duff grandchildren; John Jacenty; Terry Jacenty; Lorna Jones; Bill Lardner; Donald Joseph McIntosh; Bev & Craig McLauchlan; Nancy Melcher; Ryan & Sean Mitchell; David & Joanne O’ Connor; John E. Overs; Pat Patterson; Abigail Ranoo; Mindy Ranoo; Gloria Samuel; Marion Vipond; Fred Waite; Hester Warne; Gail Wild; Margaret Wilson; Gus Yaki; Lisa Zdanowicz

Thank you to everyone who gave a friend or loved one a share in this living legacy—a gift that will last forever

We Get Letters

“Here is my payment for the meadow mortgage - a gift to a friend who has almost everything. I just want to let you know how much we enjoy the woods, meadow and beach. There is always something new to discover. My grandchildren were thrilled to see the garter snakes coming out of their den in the spring (a first for all of us). Michael celebrated his 4th birthday at the pancake breakfast, and I celebrated my September birthday at the Fall Festival.”

“Have a great year!”

Maggie Eaton

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In Memorium Form
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