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Newsletter 28
Winter 2005

Win a thing of beauty in our
Nature Art Raffle!

Five dollars gives you a chance to win one of five exquisite pieces of nature art painted and donated by celebrated Canadian artists. The beautifully framed works, ranging in value from $350 to
$1,500, include:

Time to Leave (Eastern Bluebird) by Marc Barrie

Rhapsody in Milkweed by George Raab

Carolina Parakeets by Paul Bridges

Flying High (Golden Eagle), a limited edition print by Robert Bateman

Halliburton Marsh by Diana Bellerby

See photos of the art on our website, http;//www.thicksonswoods.com/whats_new.html

The draw will be held on Sunday, June 11, at a garden party at the
lovely Inverlynn Estate in Whitby. A limited number of tickets to this strawberries and champagne affair will be sold separately. Obviously, attendance is not required to win, but you won't want to miss this fun-filled event, geared to help retire the mortgage with pizzazz!

To purchase raffle tickets, tickets to the garden party ($50), or to
obtain books of tickets to sell to your bridge club, church group or
bowling league, please contact Judy Bryson at (905) 576-0492, or any member of the TWLT board.

Circle these events on your 2006 Calendar!

Breakfast and Bobolinks, May 6—enjoy a pancake breakfast in the meadow and a free tour of arriving migrants, led by expert birders.

Garden Party, Silent Auction and Art Raffle Draw, Sunday, June 11—at the elegant Inverlynn Estate in Whitby. Don't miss it!

Birds, Beavers and Butterflies, September 16—our 5th annual fall festival exploring nature in the meadow.

A Warm Welcome to our Newest Board Member

We are extremely pleased that Dianne Pazaratz has agreed to join the board of directors of Thickson's Woods Land Trust. For several years she has been helping in many ways, from organizing the silent auctions at our spring and fall events, to assisting with the upcoming art raffle.

Welcome, Dianne!

by Brian Steele

Since the last newsletter we made a healthy payment of $35,000 against the mortgage. After paying interest of $1,737.90, the principal was reduced by $32,262.10, bringing our outstanding balance to $65,236.98. I am writing this before the November payment but am anticipating paying just under $30,000. This would reduce our mortgage to a little under $40,000.

The end is in sight! What a relief it will be to make that last
payment and know that the meadow will completely belong to the
Thickson's Woods Nature Reserve and be protected forever – just as the woods are. But we can't get ahead of ourselves. We still have $40,000 to go and that is a lot of money.

Congratulations if you attended the Birds, Beavers and Butterflies Festival on September 17, because it was our best ever. We grossed $9,000 for the day! If you did not get to the festival, be sure to make it a priority for 2006. Glorious weather, terrific shows from Muskoka Wildlife and Creepy Critters, butterfly tagging, bird banding, magic shows, pond dipping, box building and much, much more kept kids and adults alike entertained. The $10 entrance for a family of four is an unbeatable bargain.

Remember that donations to Thickson's Woods are tax deductible. A donation made by the end of 2005 can be claimed on your income tax return and you will receive the tax benefit when filing in the spring of 2006.

I wish to acknowledge the fine tribute that Margaret Bain wrote in the last newsletter for my wife, Susan Morgan, who passed away on August 16. Susan was fund-raising chair for the board and was completely committed to doing all she could to get the mortgage paid off. Just ten days before she died we were leaving the house for the emergency ward when Dennis Barry dropped by on Thickson's business. Even then she had an idea for the fall festival she wanted to run by him before we could leave for the hospital.

There is now a memorial stone placed in the meadow in her honour, close to the platform. I hope that you will stop by and see it the next time you are there and give a passing thought to her and the work she did.

We all know what a special place Thickson's Woods is. It is a refuge from the busy outside world, a place where you can lose yourself in nature and serenity. It is this world I went to on the day of Susan's funeral. After days of planning, visitations, the funeral itself and the gathering afterwards at our house I had to get away. Leaving guests at the house, I literally snuck out. I took Susan's car and drove to Thickson's Woods. I walked the paths, contemplated the ancient pines, crossed into the meadow and sat on the platform. After an hour or so I felt calm re-enter my life and was able to return home. It is moments like that when I'm reminded how very important preserving Thickson's Woods is and how proud I am of the work we are doing.   

Gifts That Will Last Forever

Many metres of the meadow have been saved in the name of: Jason Bellinger; Maggie Eaton; Derek Gillette; Angela Marzolini & Dan Kozlovic; Doris & Dennis Pascoe; Aileen Pelzer & Gus YakiThis holiday season 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)
Just fill out the gift certificate and give it to the person. Then
send a cheque for the appropriate amount to Thickson's Woods Land Trust.


Recent donations have been made in memory of these special people:
Randy Barnes
J. Carson Bock
Eve Carroll
Allan Gallie
Susan Morgan

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.

A Whole Bunch of Thank-You's

are due a lot of special people who helped save wildlife habitat this year at the Thickson's Woods Nature Reserve. Wild bergamot smells so much nicer than diesel fumes. Crickets and cicadas sound so much more peaceful than truck engines. Many people worked hard to ensure that a precious bit of land along the Great Lakes flyway stays green and welcoming to migrating birds coming home to Canada to nest.

Thank you to the dedicated volunteers who helped out with nature tours, bake sales, bucket raffles, silent auctions, ticket sales, etc., etc., at our public events in the meadow—you know who you are, and everyone who attends recognizes your smiling faces.

Thanks to Lofthouse Brass and its stalwart crew for donating
and cooking hundreds of pancake breakfasts and hotdog lunches, in the shelter of their glorious tent.

Thanks to Jerry Hegel for making rustic benches for the
woods and meadow out of Holly Bruce's fallen oak tree. Thanks to Tom Crawford for mowing the grass in the meadow before the fall festival.
Thanks to the “Bee Man” for bringing his bees and
honey. Thanks to enthusiastic student volunteers from Anderson CVI and Courtice Secondary School. 

Thanks to Hard-Co for starting to build earthen berms that
will shelter the meadow from truck traffic along Thickson Road. Thanks to Richard Woolger for donating his native plants, sale profits and expertise to the cause.

Thanks to Hannah and Eliot for making their famous “organic
vanilla cake and cream cheese icing” for the last bake sale, and to
15-year-old Jillian Fischer who saved two square meters of the meadow with her hard-earned baby-sitting money.

Thanks to Kathy Aelkar's drama students of Lakeside Public
Schoolin Keswick
who wrote and presented an environmental issues play called "This Earth Has 22 Minutes" and unanimously voted to send proceeds of their efforts to help with the meadow.

Thanks to the West Humber Naturalists for their generous
donation, and to the Pickering Naturalists for their monthly "Pro Session" silent auctions. 

Thanks to the Neil and Shirley Macdougall Fund at the
Toronto Community Foundation
for help with paying off the mortgage on the meadow, and to the Ontario Power Generation for helping with expenses for the Fall Festival.

And most especially, thanks to the dozens of committed and generous donors who sent in cheques to help pay off more than $120,000 of the meadow mortgage in the past year. You guys are wonderful!

What's that Bump?
by Harvey Medland

For several hours during the peak of May migration, expert birders
scurried along Thickson's south trail sharing the warbler influx. They disregarded a “bump” on a nearby branch. Colleen Bird and friend stood near “the book” concentrating on what appeared to be a vacant limb. She stopped me and asked, “What's that bump?”

With my fifty years of birding experience, I confidently
replied, “It's just a bump.”

She was indignant. “It's not a bump! It's a bird!”

I checked again and she was right. The “bump” was a
whip-poor-will. With apologies I explained what an exciting discovery she had made, but she was not impressed and walked off. With a last hope for redemption, I ran to her with “the book” and asked her to enter the sighting. She did and signed “Colleen Bird.” Thank you, Colleen, for the whip-poor-will and for a lesson in humility.

(Harvey is a former member of our board of directors and the person responsible for the interesting and informative signs identifying mushrooms in the woods at last year's fall nature festival.

Interestingly, two springs ago a young man with the last name of Bird spotted an insignificant bump on a limb that turned out to be a common nighthawk.)

We Get Letters…

“It has been 50 plus years since I last enjoyed birding, and needless to say I am somewhat rusty at best. However, thanks to the knowledgeable companionship of my friend Norman Schipper, I was re-united with the beauty and thrills that I experienced as a young man.

One of our most recent trips was to Thickson's and we were
bountifully rewarded.

Please accept the enclosed donation as an expression of my
gratitude for the worthy and dedicated efforts of your foundation.
I look forward to many future visits as well as to other
similar locations.”
Yours truly,
Jack L. Toker

(We hope the places Jack enjoyed birding more than half a century ago are still as welcoming to birds and birders as they were back then.)

Changing Habitats
By Dennis Barry

Thickson's Woods Nature Reserve lies at the heart of a larger area
that encompasses patches of woods, grassland, overgrown fields,
marshland, and shrubby, treed creek valleys. Fortunately, members of Whitby Council, with the cooperation of local industries, had the foresight to set aside a wide natural corridor along the Waterfront Trail extending some three kilometres westward from Thickson's Woods to Whitby Harbour. Together with the east and west valleys of Corbett Creek, Intrepid Park, Corbett Creek Marsh, the barrier beach separating the marsh from Lake Ontario, and the lake itself, the area provides a variety of habitat types that migrants can utilize to rest and refuel before continuing their journeys.

No habitat remains static. Before the first European settlers arrived, the meadow at the Thickson's Woods Nature Reserve was probably covered by mature forest, with white pine, eastern hemlock, sugar maple, black cherry, butternut, yellow birch and red oak predominating.

At some point after the land was cleared, a large part of the meadow was planted to apple trees. No doubt eastern bluebirds were common summer residents, nesting  in hollows in the trees. A few trees of northern spies and greenings still remain, along with the skeletons of others that have fallen. This year those still alive produced a bumper crop of fruit, some of which remains to provide winter food for pine grosbeaks and robins.

More recently the area became a cow pasture, and remained as such until the early 1980s. Now red osier dogwood, nannyberry and some ash trees are taking over parts of the grassed areas.

Currently the TWLT board of directors is considering how
best to maintain a mix of habitat types that will continue to offer
the most value to migrating birds. A berm has been started along the west side bordering Thickson Road. When completed this will be planted to provide a sight, sound and wind barrier. White spruce seedlings planted several springs ago along the west property line are doing well. This native species was chosen because it is the evergreen that best withstands the ravages of windblown road salt. While the soil is not ideal, the spruces should soon start to shoot up to provide shelter and food, just as those planted some twenty years ago along the south border have done.

Every habitat type is utilized by species that have evolved
to take advantage of what that ecosystem offers. Two habitats that have perhaps suffered the most throughout the Americas, and with them the species that depend on them, are grasslands and
shrublands. Neither was a major component of pre-settlement Southern Ontario. Pioneer farms allowed many grassland species to expand. Bobolinks and meadowlarks, savannah and vesper sparrows took advantage of hayfields and pastures to raise their families. In pioneer days hay was harvested in July after nestlings had fledged. In the mid 20th century, with the expansion of mechanized farming, a trend to earlier harvesting began, until today the first cut of hay often happens in late May. Hayfields are no longer safe places for nesting birds to raise families.

“Shrublands” in Southern Ontario are really places that are
in transition from field to forest. In permanent pastures such as
those in Carden, grazing animals slow the transition so that
hawthorns, wild apples and other hardy species persist for many years, providing nesting opportunities for birds such as loggerhead shrikes, brown thrashers and willow flycatchers. With rapid population growth in south Durham Region, shrubby overgrown fields rarely persist for long before being converted to other uses.

While the Meadow is too small an area to provide a great
deal of nesting opportunity, it can shelter and feed migrants who are at home in field and shrub habitats. As surrounding areas of grass and shrubs disappear, it will be increasingly important to maintain some of these habitat types in the nature reserve.

Corbett Creek Wetlands

Recently the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources published a report entitled “Provincially Significant Corbett Creek Coastal Wetland Comple”. Authored by Steve Varga, Inventory Biologist Aurora District, the document details information about the wetland and its ecology. Since the western part of Corbett Creek Marsh is an integral part of Thickson's Woods Nature Reserve, here are some pertinent sections.The Corbett Creek Coastal Wetland Complex“consists of five wetlands in close proximity within the Corbett Creek watershed. The main wetland is situated in a coastal bay behind a wide barrier beach. The bay has formed at the confluence of the tributaries of the East and West Corbett Creeks, with continuous wetlands extending upstream, except for a break on East Corbett at Wentworth Street. Three small isolated
wetlands under 0.5 hectares in size also occur as swales between the dune ridges on the barrier beach. They are included in the complex because as dune swale wetlands they are rare in the site district.“The Corbett Creek wetlands are covered 76.5% by marshes with the remaining 23.5% swamps. They sustain 20 wetland vegetation communities.

“The Corbett Creek wetlands and environs support 431 vascular plant species, 74 breeding bird species, incidental observations on 20 mammal species… and 9 reptiles and amphibians… Eleven fish species are found in the coastal bay and streams.

“Adjacent uplands are important for wetland species at Corbett Creek and they are critical for the maintenance of its wetland
functions. Waterfowl such as Mallards nest in fields around the
wetland. The Wood Frog and Tree Frog relies on the spring-flooded
thicket swamps and marshes for breeding, but forages and hibernates in the surrounding upland forests and plantations. Other frogs such as the Leopard Frog forage in fields a considerable distance from the wetlands. They also move between wetlands, hibernating in the bottom of deeper permanent ponds, and breeding in more shallow wetlands. The Snapping Turtles and Painted Turtles live year-round in permanent wetlands, but lay their eggs in the surrounding uplands. The populations of Green Frogs resident in open water wetlands, especially in the beaver ponds, also forage in the surrounding regenerating uplands.

“The Thickson's Woods Land Trust owns 6.5 hectares in the southwest portion of the marsh. It sets aside one of the best old-growth forests on the Lake in Durham Region, as well as high quality seepage wetlands that feed into the main part of Corbett marsh.

“Durham coastal wetlands are among some of the most disturbed wetlands on the Canadian side of Lake Ontario, with disturbance increasing as one approaches Toronto. Preliminary results show Corbett wetlands are in generally good condition… However, Corbett's watershed only has 18% natural cover, which is low in comparison to other Durham coastal wetlands that can vary from 18% to a high of 70% natural cover.

“The Corbett Creek Coastal Wetland Complex… is situated on the Lake Iroquois Plain in site district 6E13. This site district stretches
along the shore of Lake Ontario from the western border of Durham region and through Northumberland County to Trenton. Its northern limit is the edge of Glacial Lake Iroquois.

“Wetland loss has been particularly severe for coastal wetlands… The lakeshore or coastal marshes in Durham Region represent the largest concentration of such wetlands in the western portion of Lake Ontario and in site district 6E13. They have been designated Important Bird Areas by Bird Studies Canada and are the focus of international conservation efforts through the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement under the International Joint Commission.

“The Corbett wetlands have 54 significant species including the
provincially threatened Least Bittern, and Milk Snake as a species of special concern. In addition, 34 provincially significant bird
species, 3 regionally rare plant species and 15 locally rare ones

“Coastal marshes such as those at Corbett are important as nursery and spawning areas for Lake Ontario fish.


“The Corbett Creek Wetland Complex is provincially significant with a total score of 603 points and 250 points for the special features component. A wetland that scores 600 or more points or has 200 or more points in either the biological or special features component is provincially significant.

The Corbett wetland complex is noteworthy for sustaining a
good quality, diverse coastal wetland which is rare in
western Lake Ontario.”

(The report also makes important recommendations that are critical to maintaining the health of Corbett wetlands. We will outline those in a future newsletter.)

Earthly Treasures
By Shirley ‘Bee’ Mohammed

Look around, what do we see?
A curled leaf, a spiral shell, a majestic tree?
Stones with puzzling patterns delicate and bold?
Matter so mysterious and wondrous to behold.
Eyes brighten; senses quicken; imagination freed!
Now look around! With eyes awakened, we can truly see.
Look around, what do we hear?
A loon's cry, a buzzing bee, a sparrow's trilling near?
Breezes sighing, waves lapping, raindrops pitter, pattering?
Everywhere, Earth's tender music is beckoning.
Nature's melodies are whispering in our ears.
Now, look around! With ears attuned, we can truly hear.
Look around, what do we feel?
An unquenchable longing to know what is real?
Pursuing worldly pleasures empties us in their quest.
Discovering earthly treasures fills us with tranquil rest.
Our melancholy spirit rises refreshed and healed!
Now, look around! With hearts uplifted we can truly feel.

You Could be a Winner!!

To encourage end-of-the-year donations, Gallery Brougham is once again offering an irresistible incentive. Send a donation by year's end and your name will be entered in a draw to win a Marc Barrie print.

Thank you for you support!

1350 CKDO
A & P70 Thickson Rd. S.
Bicycles Plus
Birders Journal
Buckingham Meat Market
The Environmental Factor
Home Depot
Mitchell Brothers Lumber
The Town of Whitby
W J Medland & Son

Don't forget to order your books of tickets for the Art Raffle. You
wouldn't want your colleagues and friends to miss out on a chance to win one of these beautiful works of art. (The tickets make great
stocking stuffers too!)


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