Happy 30th Anniversary, Thickson’s Woods Nature Reserve!
It was three decades ago when the Thickson’s Woods drama began. When the developer who owned the woods couldn’t get permits to build condos, and sold the logging rights. When chain saws roared and 66 century-old white pines came crashing to the ground. When a handful of local birders, dismayed at the destruction to this vital rest stop for migrating birds, came together to save what trees they could, then purchased the woods outright when all appeals to other agencies for help failed.
And then began the greatest part of the story—hundreds of caring people opening their hearts and wallets and sending donations to pay off the mortgage on the woods, on the meadow, and on two lots bearing old-growth pines. Thank you again, one and all! It’s because of your generosity that the Thickson’s Woods Nature Reserve exists today, still sheltering migrating birds, as well as humans seeking peace through a quiet walk in nature.
Crashing limbs and falling treetops during the great ice storm this December brought back stark memories of those logging days to old-timers living in the area. Many trees were severely pruned by the weight of the ice, but most are still standing, ready to welcome this year’s waves of warblers and tanagers. Cause for celebration!
Come join us on Saturday April 26 for our annual Earth Day garlic mustard dig. Meet at the entrance to the woods at 9:00 a.m. If you’re a bit late, come find us. Help turf this destructive alien out of the woods. Early songbirds will be waiting to serenade you. Winter wrens, eastern towhees, cardinals and song sparrows will be in full voice. Pine and yellow-rumped warblers should be here to brighten the trees with splashes of gold. Come prepared to get down and dirty while you listen to the music. If it’s wet and muddy, we’ll try instead on Sunday, April 27, same time, same place.
Mark your calendar for the dog-strangling vine eradication Saturday, June 28. We’ll meet at the gate to the meadow at 8:00 a.m. before the sun gets too hot. Yellow warblers, catbirds and willow flycatchers will be nesting. Some people like to come early to listen to the dawn chorus in the woods and the meadow.
A small, sharp, sturdy garden spade is the best tool for digging up the underground stems that need to be separated and spread out to dry. Be sure to bring sun screen, water, and perhaps a lawn chair.
Be sure to get a copy of The Birds of Thickson’s Woods, a beautiful full-colour book featuring all 313 species of birds found so far in and around the nature reserve. Marking the 30th anniversary, it makes a handy reference, a special memento and a great gift for friends and loved ones! For more information on this exciting publication and how to get your copy, see the enclosed brochure.
Possible Electronic Version of the Newsletter
Postal rates are increasing substantially. We are looking at possibly distributing the Thickson’s Woods newsletter via e-mail for future issues. Of course we will still mail to those who prefer to receive a hard copy, or who don’t have access to e-mail. Please let us know how you feel about this plan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your e-mail address as part of your message, or drop us a note at the address at the top of this page.
Thanks to Doug Lockrey for the wildflower sketches in this issue..
Mark Saturday September 13, 2014 on your calendar to attend this fall’s Birds, Beavers and Butterflies Nature Festival.
Recent donations have been made in memory of these special people:
We join their families and friends in mourning their passing, and acknowledge their unique contribution to the rich web of life on planet earth.
To Everyone at Johnson Controls:
Thank you so much for your support of wildlife habitat in this very special corner of Whitby. Your firm’s location on the shore of Lake Ontario, at the heart of a major migration flyway for North American birds, makes every square foot of your property highly valuable from a wildlife perspective, and your commitment to keeping the grounds natural and wild, to enhance habitat value for many species, is to be commended. Johnson Controls has taken a visionary stance, showing concern for the planet as well as the neighbourhood, just by letting the grounds grow wild.
Your ongoing care and watering of the baby spruce trees you planted last year, in partnership with the Land Trust, is much appreciated, as is your generous financial donation to the Thickson’s Woods Nature Reserve, right across the street.
On behalf of the Land Trust board, of the many people who daily come to this corner of Whitby for a quiet walk in nature, and most especially on behalf of many thousands of migrating birds that stop to shelter in our neighbourhood, thank you all!
Normally male cardinals are very territorial, chasing off other males that invade their space, but in winter, especially after heavy snows, their main concern is getting enough food. In those times it’s not unusual for more than half a dozen to appear at any one of the feeders in Thickson’s Woods.
On January 8, 2014, Warren Brailsford noticed one male that was unable to fly, although it seemed otherwise healthy. He managed to capture it, and noticed that it had a silver band on one leg.
"I placed him in a cage in a very cool room of the house and he began eating and drinking almost immediately. He was extremely spunky in the cage so I tried to initially release him after about six days, but he wasn't ready yet. He continued to eat and drink very well and did not "tame down" even a little bit. On Jan. 31 I tried to release him again. This time he flew out of the cage, over the woodshed, and disappeared heading north into Thickson Woods. I didn't see him again for two weeks. I am pleased to be able to say that he appeared at my feeder on Feb. 14, and now seems to be a daily visitor."
After consulting with Elizabeth Kellog who does a banding workshop at the Birds, Beavers and Butterflies nature festival in the meadow each September, Warren reported the band number and received a certificate of appreciation from the North American Bird Banding Program. The cardinal had been banded in the meadow by someone from the Toronto Bird Observatory nearly seven years before. Sort of a senior citizen in cardinal years.
Gifts That Will Last Forever
Metres of the nature reserve have been saved in the name of:
David Hiscox & Lisa Dost & Family
Thank you to everyone who gave a friend or loved one a share in this living legacy a gift that will last forever!
30 Years of Service
Leadership, commitment and caring made Margaret Bain a key figure in the saving of Thickson’s Woods. She was one of a handful of local naturalists drawn together when the towering white pines, a migration sanctuary for thousands of songbirds each spring and fall, were threatened with logging in 1983. Margaret helped make conservation history by choosing, when all else failed, to create a land trust, one of the first in Ontario, and purchase this precious scrap of old-growth forest, then spend five years fund-raising to pay off the mortgage. She stands today as a role model for anyone who cares about nature and sees how wildlife habitat is being degraded and destroyed around the planet.
Margaret immigrated to Canada in the 70s, part of the brain drain of bright young doctors from the UK. Her natural interest in birds jelled into a lifelong passion one May morning in her backyard in Whitby, when a fallout of migrating songbirds filled the trees with wood-warblers, each more colourful than the last. In that magical moment a birder was born.
Between raising three children and running her busy medical practice, Margaret squeezed in time to bird the local hotspots, particularly Thickson’s Woods. And when, in the summer of 1983, she learned about the spray-painted red marks on all the great pines there, warning of logging to come, she flew into action. Contact the owner, find out his intentions, explain to him how valuable the trees were, maybe even offer to pay him to keep them standing—that was the initial game plan. Only he refused to return her calls. And was interested only in money, it turned out. When the developer finally agreed to sell the woods—for $90,000, a daunting amount in those days— the plan morphed into a five-year effort to purchase the woods and fund-raise like crazy to pay off the mortgage and interest, $150,000 in total.
Margaret robbed the fund she was putting aside for her children’s education to contribute part of the down payment. An able negotiator, always professional, she willingly took on the most public role, serving as president of the hastily incorporated Thickson’s Woods Heritage Foundation board, a position she served in for 25 years. She volunteered her home as the venue for two "giant yard sales" that raised over $1,000 each, but left her grass trampled and her veranda piled with boxes. She was a leading force in the wildlife art raffle that paid off the mortgage in 1989, and in a second great effort to purchase the nearby meadow a decade later. Even now, though retiring this year from the TWLT board, she’s co-authored the annotated checklist of birds of Thickson’s Woods and has agreed to serve on the Matt Holder Environmental Education Fund committee.
Despite her love of beautiful, exotic birds she’s pursued in many corners of the planet, Margaret once confessed with a laugh that if she were a bird, she’d likely be a downy woodpecker—focused, hardworking, persistently hammering away at the task at hand. One could add brilliant, dauntless, endlessly productive. Irreplaceable.
On behalf of members of the Thickson’s Woods board of directors who’ve benefitted from your wisdom over the years, the many thousands of visitors to the woods, the plants and animals that are able to find refuge in the reserve, and all in future who will benefit from your foresight, thank you, profoundly, Margaret!
The Importance of Thickson’s Woods
I have visited Thickson’s Woods for many years and enjoyed the peaceful relaxation of visiting a natural woodlot with its plant and animal life. I recall spring wildflowers like marsh marigolds, a group of recently emerged garter snakes, and a great variety of birds made possible by the varied habitat in and around the woods. In addition to the woodland paths, the surrounding lanes and lakefront provide enhanced viewing opportunities and the chance to find different species that prefer the edges or occur in the lake.
Thickson’s Woods is ideally situated as a stopover point for migratory birds because it provides natural habitat immediately adjacent to the shore where migrants can rest after crossing the lake. There are few such places remaining along the Lake Ontario shore. The importance of Thickson’s Woods in this regard cannot be overstated and can only increase as further development occurs.
I was extremely pleased when a group of forward-thinking naturalists purchased the Woods and formed a Land Trust. I have tried to support them in a modest way. Following the acquisition of the Woods this group has organized educational activities. There is no better way to encourage conservation of nature than by introducing young people to plants and animals at an early age. The attractiveness and variety of birds makes them excellent ambassadors in this regard.
Thus Thickson’s Woods is of great value to conservation and also a wonderful resource to visiting naturalists. It is a tribute to those who made great efforts to have it preserved. I trust it will be supported by the relevant authorities and remain a natural oasis for many years.
J. Bruce Falls
The TWLT board is delighted to welcome Carolyn Van Goch to the board of directors. An enthusiastic volunteer at just about every nature festival and Earth Day event in Thickson’s Woods, and a teacher who has brought environmental awareness to new heights, Carolyn brings an equal passion for habitat preservation.
All the Buzz About?
Every once in a while when I am walking through Thickson’s Woods Nature Reserve, I catch a glimpse of gold dancing over the meadow. In late fall it’s always a delight to watch monarch butterflies beginning their southerly journey. Tragically, these magical encounters are becoming far too uncommon. The steep population decline of monarchs has scientists, naturalists and the media hyped up over the severity of the problem.
We all know about the monarch situation, but why aren’t we talking about other pollinators? It may be because bees, wasps and beetles carry connotations similar to that of top predatory species. People are so overcome by a fear of these insects that they don’t recognize how vital they are to our lives. This is why I and the other members of the Ontario Nature Youth Council (the youth voice behind the environmental charity) are working to create a buzz at the local and provincial level this year.
Just a few months ago a new word was added to my vocabulary, neonicotinoids. This is an unfamiliar term to most people who are unaware that they are ingesting these pesticides every day. Although the consequences of neonicotinoids on human health is still being debated in the scientific community, the impacts that the chemicals have on pollinators are alarming. In 2012, Ontario bee farmers experienced widespread losses of more than 5,000 colonies in various locations throughout the province as a direct result of neonicotinoid poisoning. The quantities required to destroy insect life are astonishingly small. These poisons are 10,000 times as powerful as DDT. In a province with an agricultural industry of economic, cultural and ecological significance, pollinators are critically important. In fact, one-third of what we eat – things like apples, chocolate, cucumbers and almonds – depends upon pollinators.
After several years of pollinators declining, farmers are wondering, what is the tipping point where our food production is threatened by the disappearance of honey bees, wild bees, and other pollinators? Pollinators and plants are, in many regards, the perfect example of symbiotic relationships, as they rely on one another to survive.
aren’t recognizing the interconnectedness of our own survival to
pollination. It’s time that we start investigating solutions and
implementing the ones that already exist. The action of placing a moratorium
on neonicotinoids will be in the hands of the provincial government, and
many organizations are lobbying for such a ban. We can also help by planting
native flowers that attract bees and butterflies, plants such as wild
strawberry, butterfly weed, golden Alexanders, goldenrod, aster,
For more information on planting for pollinators visit www.pollinationcanada.ca.
We Get Mail
Love receiving your newsletter. It’s amazing how much wildlife your little piece of heaven protects.
Keep up the good work. It is much appreciated.
Nan James has been a loyal supporter of Thickson’s Woods for many, many years. She and her late husband, Edgar, were long-time members of the Durham Region Field Naturalists. In December 2012, she included a note saying she had recently celebrated her 100th birthday and thought she might discontinue her donations. Her hand-writing, as always, was immaculate. This December we were overjoyed to hear from her again. Belated happy 101st birthday, Nan.
A Motto for Thickson’s Woods?
Here is a very serious suggestion. The other day, Dennis asked us if we would like to walk in the meadow, in hopes of seeing a towhee; not wanting to encroach on his good nature if there were things he needed to do, I said something like: "Oh Dennis, you’re busy and we don’t want to take too much of your time:"
He quickly replied, " Oh yes, I have lots of things I need to do and one of them is birding."
We like that, and have made it our motto. When wondering whether we should be doing certain chores around the house or yard, we quickly think, "Yes, we certainly have lots of chores to do and one of them undoubtedly is bird watching." And off we go, with no guilt at all.
We wonder if that should be the motto of the Thickson’s Woods newsletter, such a lovely publication.
Do say thank you to Dennis for walking with us and teaching us so much and showing us so much, and tell him, after we parted from him, we did see a fox sparrow, heard a towhee sing (although we did not see it), had lovely looks at several hermit thrushes, and the pine warbler in the sun again. And thanks to you for the red-necked grebe and the horned grebe.
We’ll be out
again soon, since one of our most important chores is definitely bird
My Favourite Magician
Hey, Warren! Dianne
forwarded the disappointing news that you're busy this September at the
time of the festival. Totally understandable of course! I just wanted
to take the opportunity to tell you again how incredible you are, and
how amazing your performance. It's always my favourite thing, and I insist
we have the geology table right there at the corner of the open space
so we are front row center--well, side row center--for your act. And I
really do believe it's MAGIC, how you do all that. Plus lots of fun. Getting
the news about this September was a good reminder to me to tell you again
THANK YOU for all your years of aweing crowds at the festivals.
Feb. 24, 2014
OMG, I luv receiving FAN MAIL, lol.
I do appreciate the
accolades. (obviously you recognize talent when you see it :-) ) I always
look forward to performing at Thickson’s Woods, so many really nice
people. But with so many things on the go, it’s sometimes hard to
fit everything in :-( And yes I will make winter vanish. I am casting
a spell upon winter at this very moment. Though I must remind you that
my spells often take 6-8 weeks to take effect.
BioBlitz at Thickson’s Woods
On Saturday, September 28, 2013, the Whitby Environmental Youth Alliance organized a bioblitz to sample the plants and animals present in the reserve on that date. Jayden Rae, director of WEYA, coordinated the activities. Other key members of WEYA who helped out with the bioblitz were Dan Zhao, Jaime Rae, Rebecca Henson, Sarah Foran and Maurielle Jaya. They arranged for sponsors, advertised the event, gathered materials and equipment, and solicited help from knowledgeable members of the naturalist community. The idea of a bioblitz is to involve as many people as possible to search a specific area and record all plants and animals identified.
The expertise of James Kamstra and John Foster was invaluable in helping participants of all ages identify some of the diverse flora and fauna resident in the reserve, or utilizing it as a refuge on their migratory journeys. What the youngest participants may have lacked in knowledge, they more than made up for through their keen eyesight and hearing, and their boundless energy.
"We were really happy with the outcome of the event and the enthusiasm that everyone showed," Jayden reported. "In total, the groups were able to identify 144 plant species and 50 animal species in a period of two hours. Considering many participants had only a limited knowledge of different species, this is certainly an accomplishment. We plan to host another bioblitz next year and identify an even larger number of flora and fauna. We hope you’ll come join in the fun."
WEYA was formed in 2012 with the idea of creating a network of high school students who shared the common goal of promoting an environmentally responsible community. Since then, they have organized a tree planting for Earth Day, filmed a documentary for the Whitby Film Fest, and organized stewardship events, including removing invasive species at Thickson's Woods.
One of their goals is to educate other young people about the environment. They have done this through the EcoMentors program, where members travel to local elementary school to educate students on environmental issues through interactive workshops.
If you would like to get involved with WEYA, send an e-mail to email@example.com. Or keep in touch with what’s happening through Facebook or Twitter.
What I Learned at
the Nature Festival and Youth Summit
I was given the opportunity last September to volunteer at the Thickson’s Woods Birds, Beavers and Butterflies Nature Festival, assisting with nature tours and surveying people on what they liked most about the event. It was a unique experience and I learned quite a bit. Prior to the festival, I had no idea that such a large conservation area existed so near the city, and I had a great time walking through the forest and getting to know the flora and fauna. The adults I talked with seemed to have a genuinely good time spending the day out of doors with their families. It was an excellent way to teach the younger generation about the natural world.
After my experience at the festival, I was generously sponsored by the Thickson’s Woods Land Trust to attend the Youth Summit for Biodiversity and Green Solutions one weekend at YMCA Geneva Park in Orillia, put on by Ontario Nature. When registering for the summit, we were given choices as to which workshops we would prefer to attend. I especially liked the one about natural body care products, which was a real eye-opener. Manufacturers today put so many unnatural and harmful things into such products. We made our own healthy ones at the summit, and I made even more when I returned home.
Another workshop I enjoyed was going into the forest to look for wildlife like toads and snakes. Later, the organizers brought in different snakes and turtles native to Canada, and we got to interact with them. I’ve always been a bit uneasy around snakes, but this experience helped me get over that and understand them more.
We heard an informative talk by a conservationist about what’s going on right now around the planet. Learning what is happening to shark populations, how poaching has gotten so out of hand that numbers of many species have dropped dangerously low, was shocking. So many people are in the dark about these things, a situation that needs to change.
I am very glad that I was given the chance to have the experiences I did, both at the nature festival and the youth summit.
Walking on Water
One of the best views of Thickson’s Woods is from Corbett Creek Marsh, and an ideal season to visit the marsh is winter. When cold weather slows the flow down Corbett Creek, and the shallow water down the centre of the marsh freezes, a whole new world is revealed. If the first cold nights are clear and windless, the surface freezes to a glassy finish. By the time the ice thickens enough to safely support the weight of humans, wildlife has already begun using this new highway. The clear, smooth ice can be very slippery, but a walk wearing proper footwear reveals a variety of plant life below.
A light fall of wet snow that freezes to the smooth ice makes travel easier. Subsequent snowfalls reveal tracks of nighttime travelers, and sometimes stories of their adventures, or misadventures. If the first snow is dry and fluffy, young coyotes enjoy running about and sliding just like human youngsters. Of course their games are cloaked by darkness, as are the comings and goings of most other animal visitors.
White-tailed deer numbers have increased dramatically in recent years. Tracks of sizable herds crisscross the marsh, trampling through the cattails to the cover of the cedar grove along the barrier beach by the lake. Large, broad tracks identify bucks. Small daintier ones indicate that last year’s crop of fawns is thriving.
Sets of two slightly offset paw prints spaced perhaps forty centimetres apart suggest a mink was out hunting. Similar smaller tracks reveal the comings and goings of its smaller relative, an ermine. Less often a larger set of prints tell of the passing of an otter. Two nights ago one tobogganed across the marsh and down the ice shelf onto the beach, obviously enjoying what we humans are hoping will be the last substantial snowfall of this long cold winter.
Brown coats of cottontails provide excellent camouflage among dried weeds and grasses, but expose their owners to view when snow blankets their world. Venturing from cover among raspberry tangles and dogwood thickets can be dangerous. Rabbit tracks that end abruptly tell the tale of one bunny that should have stayed in bed. Feathered wing prints in the soft snow surrounding the last set of prints mark the spot where a great horned owl caught the night’s meal.
Tiny delicate footprints with a continuous line down the middle mark the passing of a white-tailed mouse dragging its tail behind. The red squirrel dining on cedar cones holds its tail curled over its back, leaving only footprints as it races about. Three-toed tracks tell of a junco or tree sparrow that stopped to feed on seeds fallen from a yellow birch overhead.
As we wander back across the ice, water darkens our snowy footprints as we pass. The strengthening sun causes the snow to melt quickly, especially in sheltered spaces where dark colours absorb its more direct rays.
It’s March 14. Surely spring will come soon. Then we hear a welcome sound, the melody of a red-winged blackbird echoing from somewhere near the edge of the cattails. A sure sign of spring at last! As we wind our way back along a sinuous trail through dead cattail stalks, I notice that last year’s red-wing nest attached to the dead stems has tipped sideways, no longer stable enough to shelter speckled eggs as it did last June. But when the striped females return in a few weeks, the red-wing males will rush to show off their scarlet shoulder patches to see who gets to father the next brood of nestlings soon to hatch in new nests among the greening stems.
As we push through the alders and enter the woods, we recall the many marsh adventures this long winter has permitted. Perhaps another cold snap will allow one more chance to wander the marsh on foot. Or maybe we’ll just have to wait till next winter to once again walk on water.
The Birds of Thickson’s Woods, Whitby Ontario
Phill and Sue Holder thought long and deeply about the best way to celebrate the life of their son, Matt. They wanted something that would be meaningful and lasting. Matt loved birding in Thickson’s Woods. His pond dipping activity at the fall nature festival was a highlight for many young visitors. A group would troop back up from the beaver pond splattered with mud and grinning from ear to ear, a tribute to Matt’s eagerness to engage young people in discovering the wonders of nature. Of course Matt was usually the muddiest of all and sported the biggest grin.
The idea of starting an educational fund to continue Matt’s passion resulted in The Birds of Thickson’s Woods. Every dollar from the sale of the book will provide seed money for the Matt Holder Environmental Education Fund.
Plans are still not finalized, but the idea is that young people who want to do an environmental research project related to Thickson’s Woods Nature Reserve will apply to a committee set up to administer the fund. Successful applicants will have to demonstrate that their research findings will be publishable so that results can be printed, leading to a series of documents about Thickson’s Woods.
Phill and Margaret Bain have produced a wonderful, fully illustrated book, unique in its format, detailing the surprising variety of birds that have been seen in and around the woods. The book also briefly details the history of Thickson’s Woods Heritage Foundation, now Thickson’s Woods Land Trust, and some of the many people responsible for the existence of the nature reserve.
Thickson’s Woods Land Trust board of directors would like to offer our sincere thanks to Sue and Phill, for this magnificent contribution to the future of Thickson’s Woods.
Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!
It takes many people working together to make a land trust function effectively. We’d like to thank every one of you who’ve contributed in so many ways.
A very special thank you to Karen Fawthrop, who, with the help of friends, makes sure that each newsletter gets mailed promptly, even reminding those producing the newsletter that a deadline for the next edition must be fast approaching.
Thanks so much to Ontario Power Generation for their very generous donation and for providing tents to house festival events.
Anne Fox and Mary Lund are the heart of our correspondence team. Thank you!! A special thank you to Rebecca Fox for maintaining our web site.
It takes many people to make the fall nature festival happen. Site preparations start in July when Tom Crawford takes his riding mower down the Waterfront Trail and into the meadow to mow the trails and open areas. Then just before the festival (Saturday, September 13 this year) he cuts the grass again. Thanks so much, Tom! Just before the festival, bakers of all ages are busy preparing their special treats to temp the hungry crowd. Linda Kelly eagerly awaits your tasty treats Thanks you one and all!! We know you’re dreaming up new gourmet delights for this September.
Now organizers anxiously watch weather forecasts and hope for a warm sunny day with moderate winds, ideally from the north to bring a flight of hawks. On Friday Mitchell Lumber delivers seating. Thanks Don!! Tents are put up, seating and tables arranged and last minute details tended to.
Early Saturday morning the meadow is a hive of activity. Thanks so much to all the student volunteers who help carry heavy boxes, direct traffic and help out in so many ways. Donations arrive for the silent auction, the bake table fills with goodies, and folks rush about to set up the many displays and activities.
The first smiling face last year’s visitors saw on their arrival was that of Eleanor Winters or Diane Peter, who directed them to whatever they most wanted to do first. When they got hungry, they found Jim Winters to buy tickets for lunch.
Many thanks to Ellen Waterson and the other Home Depot volunteers who bring tools and materials so budding carpenters could hammer happily. Liz Mitchell gets ready to entertain many young visitors at her rock painting venue. Joan Ellis awaits the hopes and dreams of visitors to the wishing tree. Young rock hounds flock to the tables where Norbert Woerns patiently answers their many questions about the rocks and minerals on display. Linda Cole awaits those who want to take home a plush bird or other memento of their visit. Those who want to see live birds up close visit the far side of the meadow where Elizabeth and Roger demonstrate bird banding. Experts Carolyn King and Steve Laforest can answer most any insect question. Arnold Brody and Warren Gallagher from Durham Skies are eager to show visitors safe views of the sun, and after dark many more exciting sights in the heavens.
Thanks also to Kristin Robinson for helping out at the silent auction, Otto Ferenc for donating a bird house, Lorna Plunkett for creating a garden stepping stone for the auction, Lin Sweet for providing a reflexology treatment, Bicycles Plus for donating a cycle tune-up, and Derek Gillette for helping out wherever his expertise was required. And to everyone else who made donations and helped out in so many other ways, thank you!!!