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Newletter 27
Fall 2005

Wanted for the Festival…

Lots of goodies and good people are needed to make the Birds, Beavers and Butterflies Fall Festival on September 17 all it can be.  Baking, arts & crafts, salesmanship, smiles—everyone has a specialty. Can you donate your own time or talents? Phone (905) 725-2116 with offers and ideas. We need:

° cookies, pies, muffins, cakes and harvest preserves for the popular bake sale
° nature-related bucket raffle items
° goods and services for the silent auction, including kids stuff for a special children's table
° Special request: we need someone who loves rocks to help sell rock baskets at the geology display!
° Most of all we need lots of people to come celebrate nature in the meadow. Plan to attend and tell everyone you know.

A Very Special Thank-You

On behalf of the board of Thickson’s Woods Land Trust, we would like to extend our sincere appreciation to Crestview Investment Corporation and their president, Bert Grant, for their extremely generous donation of $25,000. Among their many endeavours across the province, Crestview Investment constructed and owns the building housing the new Mandarin Restaurant on Taunton Road north of the Oshawa Airport. 

We would also like to thank the anonymous benefactor whose extraordinarily generous donation of more than $41,000 enabled us to pay off a large chunk of the mortgage.

Raffle for Spectacular Nature Art 

Look for Art Raffle tickets at the Birds, Beavers and Butterflies Festival on September 17. Buy a $5 ticket for a chance to win one of five spectacular pieces of nature art, generously donated by celebrated artists.

These pieces include a truly gorgeous pastel of "Carolina Parakeets" by Paul Bridges, a magnificent aquatint "Rhapsody in Milkweed" (which could be a portrait of our very own Meadow in winter!) by George Raab, and a very lovely watercolour "Haliburton Marsh" by Diana Bellerby.

The draw for these great prizes will take place during a fun-filled Strawberry Social to be held in the beautiful grounds of Inverlynn in Whitby on June 11, 2006.

Don’t Miss These Coming Events!

° 4th annual Birds, Beavers & Butterflies Nature Festival in the meadow:  Saturday, September 17,  9 to 4
° 5th annual Pancake Breakfast in the meadow: Saturday, May 6, 2006, 9 to 12
° Art Raffle & Strawberry Social: Sunday, June 11, 2006 at Inverlynn in Whitby

A Tribute to Susan Morgan
by Margaret Bain

It is with very great sadness that we have to let you know of the recent most untimely death of Susan Morgan, valued member of the Thickson’s Woods Land Trust board and a tireless fund-raiser in our acquisition of the Meadow. Susan was a multi-talented, energetic, imaginative person who made friends wherever she went and loved the outdoors, sports, hiking, travelling, and birding in Thickson’s Woods. The skills she developed in raptor identification made her a prized member of the Cranberry Marsh hawkwatch where she will be very much missed in the coming days of fall migration.

Susan served as president of the Canadian Foundation for Dietetic Research from 1997 to 1999 and then as manager until 2004. She joined the Thickson’s Woods board in 2000. Along with her background in fund-raising, she brought boundless energy and infectious enthusiasm to the task of raising money to make possible the purchase of the meadow. She contacted a wide variety of charitable foundations, and helped plan and organize an art auction and annual pancake breakfasts and fall nature festivals.

She loved to cook – her homemade soups were legendary and much appreciated by all, especially her husband and best friend, Brian Steele. Susan and Brian shared their enthusiasms and their travels; they both loved cars and Susan revelled in her zippy little Mini Cooper. But what most of us will remember her for was her indomitable spirit in her last illness. She had one good year following her cancer diagnosis, then failed very rapidly over just one month, but remained busy, cheerful, and positive to the last. We will all miss her enormously, but plan to remember her well-lived life with a memorial in the Meadow she did so much to preserve.

Of all the beauties of nature, Dorothy Macaulay loved wildflowers best. She kept a wildflower garden at her home in Mississauga and was always pointing out flowers and ferns when she visited friends’ cottages. A very special flower-filled corner of the meadow has been saved in her memory.

Gifts That Will Last Forever
Many metres of the meadow have been saved in the name of: Katie Brailsford; Lucas Brailsford; Katherine Bryce; Kerry C. BrownEmily & Sara Dulong; Marjorie, Alison, Sam & Casey FudgerBill, Jillian & Jeremy Fulton; Mike Giza & Virginia Vranckx; Barb Glass; Winifred & Jim Holliday; Jesse & Nicole Jones; Donald Lloyd; Jill Montgomery; Doris & Dennis Pascoe; William Peleshok; Christopher & Kellen Posacki; Nora ReadMargaret Roberts; Susan Diana Roden; Norman Schipper; April Sexsmith; Sylvia Valentine; Janet & Ralph Wenckstern; Lacie White  


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

Vera M. Clarke
Clare Filkin
Lisa Gantwerger
William Robert Hambly
Bert Heaver
Dorothy Jay
Russell Langley
Brenda Larsen
Dot Macaulay
Walter MacNeill
Sharon Marshall
Susan Morgan
Doris Power
Gerald Schultz

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

Mayrathon a Resounding Success

Many factors contributed to the unprecedented success of this year’s Mayrathon for the Meadow, the enthusiasm and hard work of our Mayrathoners, and the generosity of their supporters, being paramount.

A special thank-you to Peter Mills, Lloyd Paul, Dan Russell and Mary Schuster, who joined the Mayrathon team for the first time, and, in total, raised more than $3500. Thanks to veteran Mayrathoners Gus Yaki, David Shilman, Frank Pinilla, Ken & Mary Lund, Carol Horner, Joanna Holt & Alex Hill, Barb Glass, Joachim Floegel, Jim Fairchild, Linda Cole, Margaret Carney, Judy Bryson, Dennis Barry, Margaret Bain and Jack Alvo, the overall amount will likely be about $12,000.

Stories from the Front Lines

With their typical enthusiasm, the Pickering Naturalists have started a new season of fund-raising for the meadow. They sent in a whopping $1,500 in June, after their very successful yard sale and spring silent auction events. This fall they're continuing their "Pro Session" auctions at every meeting, bidding on unique one-on-one lessons and services donated by their
talented members.

You can take part in the bidding by phoning Heather Jessop at (905) 837-1775.

  • September - Jane Brooke - learn watercolour painting from an artist

  • October - Marnie Bracht - relax and heal with a soothing aromatherapy massage

  • November - Del Umholtz - learn to take great digital photographs from an expert

  • December - Steve LaForest - your own private stargazing night

  • January - Susanne Bittermann - learn to make authentic & delicious Viennese apple strudel

  • February - Dennis Barry & Margaret Carney - enjoy a day in a Haliburton County sugar bush

Students and staff from both Henry Street High School and Bellwood Public School in Whitby put in lots of time and effort raising money for the meadow last spring. The Bellwood Environmental Club also collected garbage from the meadow and planted fifty trees raised and donated by Richard Woolger

Members of the Durham Region Field Naturalists collected cash at their annual bird feeder outing specially for the meadow project.

Thank you all!

The Wishing Tree
by Margaret Carney

"You should have a wishing tree in the meadow," Molly Tharyan declared in her exotic Indian accent. I gazed at her sceptically. My good friend Molly has been a long-time supporter of the meadow, coming up with many creative ideas for fund-raising. Born in Kerela, southIndia, she's lived and traveled all over the world, so has a grasp of many cultures and conventions. I'd never heard of a wishing tree, but she convinced me to have one at the pancake breakfast in May. Then she went off to sunny Chennai for the winter.

"We need birds and butterflies," I told my neighbours, Cathy and Warren Brailsford.  "Coloured ones to write wishes on." Cathy is an imaginative teacher, her husband a talented artist. They came up with several patterns, which Dianne Pazaratz—enthusiasm personified—helped me trace and cut out of bristol board, then string with yarn. 

With a stepladder, markers and pens, we set up shop beside a young Scots pine the morning of the pancake breakfast, charging a loonie a wish, a toonie for a big one. Soon kids were busily colouring and creating, adults pondering over what they really wanted in life, and more and more colourful birds and butterflies decorated the wishing tree. Christine Dory, a dedicated student volunteer, handled the donation box, and Anne Fox, who drove all the way fromPeterborough, helped sell wishes, which went like hotcakes.

Everyone was surprised when Christine handed $140 to treasurer Brian Steele at the end of the morning, every dollar helping to pay off the mortgage on the meadow.

The wishes fluttered on the tree throughout May migration, a moving expression of human hopes and aspirations. Some humorous, some heart-rending, they ran the gamut from "ivory-billed woodpecker" to "health and healing," with a dozen "save wildlife habitat" wishes thrown in.

Be sure to stop by and make a wish at the fall festival on September 17. Let the universe know what you long for!

by Brian Steele

After the optimism I expressed in our last newsletter about how we were doing against the mortgage, by early April I wondered what I’d been thinking when I made that statement. Donations were just $3,943 in the month of February. March was even worse, with only $552 coming in. We need to pay $20,000 of principal every quarter in order to pay off the mortgage by the due date. It was beginning to look like we would barely cover the interest. 

Then one magical evening I received a phone call from someone who had not donated to Thickson’s Woods before, but wished to make a donation in honour of a friend who loved nature. She donated stock, which we sold, and our net was over $41,000—by far the largest single donation we have ever received!

On May 2 lightning struck a second time. Crestview Investment Corporation, my employer, made a donation of $25,000! This is the second largest single donation we have ever received.   So what had started as a disastrous quarter turned into our best ever, and we were able to pay $65,000 against the mortgage. After interest of $2,743.84 we were able to apply $62,256.16 to the principal. The balance outstanding after the May 2nd payment was $98,499.08. We had paid off over 75% of the mortgage.

In May we had our most successful pancake breakfast ever. We sold over 300 breakfasts, (thank-you Lofthouse Brass) and the proceeds, combined with our silent auction, bucket raffle, bake sale and plant sales, grossed over $5,000.

There are certainly a lot of people doing Mayrathons this year. This has turned into a major fund-raiser and I expect that the final figure will be over $10,000 when all pledges are paid. I’m sure Mayrathoners have exciting adventures. It’s great when fund-raising can be this much fun. One other significant financial item was a $5,000 donation left to us in a supporter’s will.

I’m writing this before the mortgage payment on August 2 and I anticipate a payment in the range of $35,000. This would bring our principal balance below $70,000. Since we began our campaign to raise money to buy the meadow we have collected nearly $510,000.

We weren’t sure when we committed to buy the meadow that we would be able to raise enough money to complete the purchase. But you have proved that our fears were groundless. Your steadfast support has never wavered and now there is light at the end of the financial tunnel.

Thank you so much!

Changes to our Board of Directors

Many thanks to Norman Schipper, who has left our board of directors after several years of service. Norm was the one who insisted that we had to buy the Meadow to protect it and the woods. Thanks, Norm! You were right! While Norm is no longer on the board, he’s still a staunch supporter of Thickson’s Woods Nature Reserve and visits often.

We’re pleased to welcome Don Mitchell of Brooklin as our newest board member.

Thickson’s Woods and the Boreal Forest – an Intimate Connection
by Dennis Barry

Many of the passerines that utilize Thickson's Woods Nature Reserve as a refueling stop in May still have hundreds of kilometres to travel before reaching their nesting grounds in northern boreal forests. Finding adequate food supplies during their northward migration is essential if they are to arrive in peak physical condition to nest successfully.

During the second half of June, Margaret and I spent two weeks
surveying bird populations in northwestern Ontario as part of the fifth and final year of the second Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas project. We flew nearly two hours northwest out of Pickle Lake to Seeber Lake near the Manitoba border at nearly 54 degrees north latitude. Here black spruce forests predominate, with some aspen groves on deeper soil. On rocky ridges jack pines grow, while burns of varying sizes and ages cut across the higher ground.

The species that seem to thrive in all habitat niches in the area
were ruby-crowned kinglets, yellow-rumped warblers, Swainson's thrushes and white-throated and chipping sparrows. Other species are more selective. In lower areas along streams and shores with openings dominated by alders, Tennessee warblers sang all day long, with occasional olive-sided flycatchers joining in.

This part of Ontario is north of any all-weather roads; hence
there is no logging, and no clear-cuts. Species that have evolved over thousands of years to exploit this habitat can return each spring to a familiar landscape where they reproduce successfully. Those that live here year-round thrive as well. In the mature black spruce forests, we were rarely beyond the sound of the raucous calls of gray jay family groups. The commonest woodpeckers were three-toed. Boreal chickadees could be heard regularly, while we glimpsed only one black-capped chickadee in two weeks.

A long the shores of lakes and streams, northern waterthrushes were abundant, with lesser numbers of alder flycatchers. Burns were growing up to thickets of white birch and alders interspersed with jack pine seedlings on rockier ground. Fox sparrows sang from prominent perches atop dead stubs of trees killed by fire, while yellow warblers were singing everywhere, mostly keeping out of sight among the shrubbery. Smaller numbers of Wilson's warblers and least flycatchers utilized the new growth.

Red-eyed vireos were widespread, but not abundant. Philadelphia
vireos seemed to prefer young aspen groves, while blue-headed vireos frequented more open black spruce stands. Warbler species common a bit farther south in the Canadian Shield were scarce or entirely absent at this latitude. These included black-throated blue, black-throated green, Canada, Nashville, blackburnian, chestnut-sided, mourning, American redstart, ovenbird and common yellowthroat.

The southward migration of passerines is more relaxed than the
frantic dash north in spring to raise families during the brief boreal
summer. Flocks of southbound warblers and vireos show up in Thickson's Woods with cold fronts in late August and September. They move quietly through from east to west, feeding as they go.

Thickson's Wood Nature Reserve provides an impressive variety of habitats to nurture passing migrants on their journeys. Lake Ontario and its shoreline attract sandpipers, diving ducks and loons. Corbett Creek Marsh and the beaver pond offer foraging opportunities for a variety of herons, rails, waders and dabbling ducks. The alder/dogwood fringe between wetland and woods are essential feeding places for swamp sparrows, waterthrushes, yellowthroats and rusty blackbirds. Patches of shrubbery in
the meadow shelter sparrows, kinglets, catbirds and flycatchers.
Thickson's Woods itself, with its towering hundred-foot white pines, is a vertical banquet hall for birds that feed at varying heights and in diverse parts of the trees. From black-throated blue warblers hovering for insects among eye-level shrubbery, to pine warblers feeding out of sight at the very tops of the pines, there's food to meet the needs of all.

Thanks to the enormous generosity of so many caring people, both migrant and resident birds can count on the shelter of Thickson's Woods Nature Reserve to nurture them and their offspring for millennia to come.

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