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Newletter 24

Come to the Festival
Saturday September 18 - 9:00 to 4:00

More fun and informative than ever! The third annual Birds, Beavers and Butterflies Nature Festival in the meadow promises to be the best yet. Daylong events include a full roster of tried-and-true favourites—from pond dipping to bird banding to building bird houses and lots more. Brand-new events include mushroom walks, a glass-fronted honeybee hive, a snake and spider show and an astronomy center where you can safely look at the sun through a special telescope, checking for spots and flares. Come learn from the experts. See the enclosed flyer for more exciting activities!

The fall nature festival is our biggest fund-raising event of the year, with all proceeds going toward paying off the meadow mortgage. It’s a great chance to spread the word about why saving wildlife habitat is so necessary for the planet, and why Thickson's Woods Nature Reserve is such a very special place.

We couldn't do it without you…

A fund-raising effort at Johnson Control resulted in a hefty cheque—nearly $2,000—sent in support of the meadow, which is right across the road from their complex. Thank you, Jason Frankow and everyone who participated!

Thanks to AIM Trimark and IBM Canada for donations from their Employee Matching Contribution Programs. Also to BMO Fountain of Hope Employees Foundation; Harry Rosen Inc.; John Robert Carley, Architect Incorporated; Mitchell Lumber and the Neil and Shirley McDougall Fund at the Toronto Community Foundation for their generous contributions.

Thanks to everyone who helped out at the pancake breakfast in May and especially to everyone who sent donations this spring and summer.

The Pickering Naturalists plan to hold a silent auction at their monthly meetings again this year to help save the meadow, plus a yard sale next June. Thanks so much to the enthusiastic organizers and all members who take part. You inspire us all by making fund-raising so much fun.

Help keep the momentum to save the meadow going!
Send a donation today!

Dave Calvert loved Thickson's Woods
by Margaret Carney

I'll never forget the day I met—really met—David Calvert. It was 1983. Thickson's Woods had just been gutted, with 66 ancient, towering white pines cut and dragged out, their mighty carcasses hauled away on jumbo, double-length logging trucks. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Margaret Bain, Dennis and I and other naturalists were working desperately to save what was left of this precious bird sanctuary.

Dave Calvert dropped over for a visit. He and Mary sat patiently in the living room while Dennis and I spoke with someone else about the formidable task of trying to purchase the woods—the only way to save it. When the other person left, Dave asked a question or two, then told us he and Mary wanted to help buy the woods—by donating five thousand dollars.

I stared at Dave, choked with emotion, while he and Dennis talked. "Are you sure?" I finally asked him. I knew he was retired from GM, on a pensioner's salary. He told me he'd rather spend what money he had saving wildlife habitat than anything.

I saw straight into Dave Calvert's warm, generous heart that day and was hugely impressed. His decisive action, taken long before we were able to issue tax receipts, seemed a validation that we were right to take a chance, throw caution to the wind and buy the woods, at a time when some people thought we were crazy for doing so. Dave's unfailing generosity in the decades to follow helped significantly to pay off the woods, build a sustaining fund and purchase the meadow. His daily visits, filling the feeder he put up, made him a familiar sight in the woods.

I discovered a lot of surprising things about my friend Dave Calvert over the years. That this quiet unassuming man had a great singing voice and a dramatic flare for ballads. That he was as good at weather forecasting as anyone at Environment Canada. That he'd spent 4 1⁄2 years of his youth tromping across Europe during World War II, helping to liberate Holland and make the world a better place for baby boomers like me.

Dave died on June 21 this year—appropriately, on summer solstice, the day with the most sunshine and bird song. I for one miss him sorely—his wry sense of humour, his stories, his friendship. Dave Calvert loved nature profoundly—as deeply as anyone I know. And he wore his heart on his sleeve.

Robert William Hambly
by Dennis Barry

It was with shock and deep sadness that we learned recently of the passing of Robert Hambly. A lifelong resident of Oshawa, Bob spent most weekday mornings at his office along the lakeshore at the south edge of the woods. He was an ardent conservationist and a staunch supporter of Thickson’s Woods. For years he paid for the printing of our newsletter and quietly helped out in many other ways.

Whether he was out walking or driving to his office, Bob always had time to stop and visit for a few minutes. Although I didn’t know him well, I considered him a good friend.

One of the true gentlemen of this world, Robert William Hambly will be sorely missed by the Thickson’s Woods community, and, I am sure, by all who knew him.

Treasurer's Corner
by Brian Steele

Since the last newsletter we have made two more quarterly payments against the mortgage. Unfortunately, we have been unable to sustain our momentum. If you recall, we need to pay $20,000 off the principal every quarter to ensure that the mortgage will be fully paid off when it matures in February, 2007. Our May payment was just $14,000 and after interest of $4,200 $9,800 was applied to our debt. In August our payment was $21,000 and $16,800 was applied to the principal. We are now exactly halfway through the mortgage term and owe $218,591.16, about $14,000 behind schedule. The great fear of the TWLT board when we made the decision to buy the meadow was the risk of "donor burnout" whereby our supporters’ financial commitment would begin to flag. Now that we have come so far and paid so much towards the meadow, we cannot fail. The board has not lost faith or energy in our efforts to succeed, so please don’t you. Without your financial support we will not achieve our goal.

Thickson’s Woods Land Trust is a registered charity and receipts are issued for all donations over $5.00. Donations can be claimed on your income tax return to reduce your tax liability. If a donation comes from a couple, I generally make out the receipt in the name of the person who signed the cheque, or the name I have on file from a previous donation. Either spouse can then claim the donation on their income tax return. When filing your return, all charitable receipts should be claimed by one spouse to maximize tax savings. Generally it is more beneficial for the person with the higher income to make the claim.

The Thickson’s Woods post-box is cleared out weekly. Within two or three days of that I make up a bank deposit and write tax receipts. The money is deposited on the next business day. In most cases any cheque should have cleared your bank within two weeks of mailing. If you have a cheque outstanding for a month, something has probably gone wrong and you should make enquiries. Even if we go on vacation, money mailed to the box should be deposited within a month. If the money was forwarded in some other manner, there could be a longer delay in depositing cheques. For example, Mayrathon participants may choose to accumulate all pledges before sending the money to me.

Tax receipts are then forwarded to our secretary, Margaret Carney, who along with other volunteers writes thank-you notes for each donation. There can be substantial delays in our getting the receipts to her and her getting them in the mail. Please don’t panic if your receipt does not arrive but your cheque has been cashed. It will get there eventually and definitely in time for tax season.

Local Craftsman Donates Benches

A little bit of magic happened in the meadow last spring. Just when we needed benches as memorials for Edge Pegg and Bob Allen, two dear friends of Thickson's Woods who had passed away, Jerry Hegel of Whitby phoned up and said he'd just made some benches from trees he had to trim in his backyard. Would we like them? They were rustic but solid, he said—and that was exactly what we’d envisioned. Talk about serendipity!

Each bench provides a quiet place for rest and contemplation at the edge of the meadow overlooking the Corbett Creek valley. Thank you, Jerry! And thanks to Lofthouse Brass for designing and crafting brass name plates in tribute to our friends.

Mayrathon for the Meadow, a Great Adventure
by Dennis Barry

Some years, May Day still feels more like winter, with few warblers and other insectivorous passerines. This year, warblers showed up in great variety by late April. When this happens, rarities appear, since they overshoot their summer homes to the south. Human visitors to the woods were thrilled with close-up views of as many as three male Hooded Warblers, as well as a number of Blue-winged Warblers, and a singing male Summer Tanager discovered by Jim Fairchild. On May 1st I was lucky enough to find eighteen species of warblers, a respectable total for any spring day at Thickson’s, but unheard of so early. Within a one-mile radius of the woods, I found 94 species that day, a record for me. Even then there were a couple of hidden pockets of habitat in the circle I didn’t get to that might have yielded more species.

Almost every morning in early May brought excellent birding in the woods and meadow, giving a head start for my record 168 species for the month, thirteen more than last year. (Of course Margaret Carney saw two more than I did, including the Sandhill Crane Rayfield Pye spotted over the meadow, a new bird for the Thickson’s Woods checklist.) At the end of April, Margaret had found another new bird for Thickson’s Woods, a beautiful male Le Conte’s Sparrow just outside our back door. I tell her she sees more birds because she can see better, but in fact it’s because she’s more patient (and more competitive?) Her patience also led to the discovery of a Least Bittern, which she spotted from the walkway over the east branch of Corbett Creek. By the time I brought other birders to look, it had vanished like a ghost.

Other memorable moments included watching a Common Nighthawk that spent the day perched in an oak tree, and finally spotting a singing Gray-cheeked Thrush in another oak just across the laneway.

Later in the month not every day was as productive, but a few had fall-outs with spectacular numbers of birds. By the time Margaret Bain discovered a Kentucky Warbler in the middle of the woods in mid-month, the understory had leafed out so much that some people had to wait for hours to catch a glimpse. Late migrating Connecticut Warblers managed to hide so well that I never did find one.

Mayrathon 2004 Results

Although the final totals aren’t in, so far reported Mayrathon pledges total nearly $10,000. This year we welcomed our first out-of-province Mayrathoner. Gus Yaki of Calgary raised nearly $500. Thanks, Gus! Closer to Home, Christine Shaughnessy of Whitby joined our Mayrathonteam. Welcome, Christine! Carol Horner once again travelled the province for the month of May, racking up a personal record 202 species and raising nearly $1200. Some of her most special moments were in Thickson’s Woods. Ken and Mary Lund spotted 155 species this year, a new high for them, and had pledges well over $2000. Norm Schipper canvassed colleagues in his office and collected $850. Jack Alvo managed time from his busy schedule to do a Mayrathon at Point Pelee on May 8. He spotted 108 species and raised $735. David Shilman did his 24-hour May-rathon over two days and raised $550. Jim Fairchild concentrated his May-rathon efforts in Thickson’s Woods and vicinity. Frequently we would arrive home from somewhere to find a note on our back step alerting us to Jim’s latest discovery. On the day of the pancake breakfast, Mayrathoner Joachim Floegel spotted a cliff swallow among a flock of several hundred swallows perched on wires on the west side of the woods sheltering from the cold wind, and rushed over to let us know.

Other Mayrathoners included Margaret Bain, Judy Bryson, Linda Cole, Barb Glass, and Frank Pinilla. Thanks to all; if we missed anyone, please let us know so we can report on your exploits in our next newsletter.

Once again, a sincere thank you to all those who sponsored a Mayrathoner this year. And a special thank you to Jay Vandergaast who sponsored both Margaret and I for $1 per species.

Every time I watch woodcocks perform their courtship flight on a May evening, or listen to bluebirds passing overhead on a crisp October morning, I am reminded of what a magical place the meadow really is. It’s a treasure that must be preserved for future generations of wildlife and humans alike. Take the time to relax on the Lofthouse platform for an hour and I know you’ll feel the same way.

Can you help?

We need:

  • lots of goods and services for the Silent Auction. Ask businesses you patronize to contribute their specialty. It's great PR for them!
  • your favourite baked goodies and preserves for the popular Bake Sale
  • nature odds and sods for the Bucket Raffle
  • smiling volunteers to welcome visitors and help with activity centres
  • lots of nature supporters to bring their favourite kids and grandkids to enjoy the day

Phone (905) 725-2116 or e-mail nature@thicksonswoods.com if you can help out. All support is warmly welcomed!


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

Robert Allin
John Brookes
David Calvert
Mary Thometz Carney
Henry Maxwell Gawman
William Robert Hambly
Colin Hando
Stanley Kent
Thomas & Beatrice Murphy
Gwenn Ormerod
Edge Pegg
Annette Plourde
Aileen Pollard
J. Clendon Reid
Peggy Ruscoe
Else Stein
Karlheinz Stein
Bill Taylor
Ida Wooldridge

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: RobertAllin, Michael Biro, Kate and Tess Calder, Pat Clark, Darlene Dalke, Frank Frauts, Terry Jacenty, Margaret Roberts, Susan Sheard. Thank you to everyone who gave a friend or loved one a share in this living legacy—a gift that will last forever.

An Innovative Fundraising Idea
by Angus McDonald

A few months ago Angus McDonald sent a donation that he said was "to sponsor a flock of 12 chickadees in Thickson’s Woods to welcome visitors." Perhaps you’ve met some of them on your visits.

Thanks, Angus!! Maybe others will follow your example and sponsor different species.

You could be the lucky Winner!

There’s still time to get your tickets for the magnificent "Treasured Blooms" quilt handmade by four Thickson’s Woods birders. The draw will take place at 3:00 p.m. at the fall festival.

Phone Judy Bryson (905-576-0492) for tickets to buy or sell, or visit her table at the festival to view the exquisite handicraft of these four artists.

Many thanks to Judy and Ray Bryson, Maggie Eaton, Harvey Medland, Rob Miller and Molly Tharyan for helping to get newsletters in the mail this year. Many hands make light work, so we could really use more assistance with this major task. Any volunteers?

Keep warm this winter with a Thickson’s Woods sweatshirt available in a variety of styles and colours, with or without a hood. Get them at the fall festival, or place your order with Barb Haynes at (905) 725-9846 or barb.haynes@sympatico.ca

Mayrathon Mistake

Sincere apologies to my Mayrathon supporters for the inclusion of Le Conte’s Sparrow in my list. It actually appeared at the end of April. My total number of species should have been 168, not 169. So if you sponsored me per species, I’ll be happy to refund any extra money. Or give you a credit for next year?


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