News & Notes: Summer 2018


Ontario Nature’s Reptile and Amphibian Atlas program is interested in all of your sightings: past or current, common species or species at risk. Observations can be submitted online, or on printable forms that can be mailed in. For each observation, you will be asked for contact information, the species and how you identified it (with a photo whenever possible), site description, and date. You can register with the atlas, receiving an atlas ID number and regular communications.

For more information or to send in observations, visit, or write to

You can also submit turtle and frog observations via Ontario Turtle Tally and FrogWatch Ontario (see, part of the Toronto Zoo’s Adopt-A-Pond program. These data are shared among different programs.


At their annual spring meeting in April, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) changed the statuses of a number of species. One turtle species and three bird species are Nature London locals. The Midland Painted Turtle has now been designated as Special Concern status. Sadly, this means that all of Ontario’s eight turtle species are now at risk. Two of the bird species have an improved status – the Common Nighthawk and Olive-sided Flycatcher – with their status improving from Threatened (2007) to Special Concern. Unfortunately, the status of the Red-headed Woodpecker has deteriorated from Threatened (2007) to Endangered and, as reported by Bird Studies Canada, “The Canadian population is now likely less than 6000 mature individuals, and continuing to decline steadily. Trends are also strongly negative in all adjacent states, reducing the probability of rescue.” Visit for more detailed information.


The Ontario government is advising people living or visiting wooded areas with tall grass, rushes or moist environments to take the following precautions:

  • Stay on marked trails.
  • Wear long sleeves, pants, socks and closed shoes.
  • Tuck pants into socks and wear light-coloured clothing to make ticks more visible.
  • Use insect repellent with DEET or Icaridin on clothes and exposed skin.
  • Check pets.
  • Wash and dry clothing that has possibly been tick-exposed.

Check thoroughly for ticks after being outdoors, as promptly removing ticks from the body can help prevent infection. The government is asking the public to consult a health-care professional if a person experiences any of these symptoms after a tick bite: skin rash, headache, fever, muscle and joint pain, spasms, weakness, numbness or tingling, and generally feeling unwell. Visit for more detailed information.

Nature London’s Indoor Meeting on Friday, September 21st will feature Andrew Peregrine speaking about Lyme disease in Ontario – recent developments, prevention, and tick identification. See further details in the Nature London Program listings in this edition of The Cardinal and on the Nature London website.


London City Hall is moving toward tightening up a bylaw on garbage in parks with the aim of deterring the over-feeding of wildlife in public spaces. A new rule would impose a one-cup limit on any feeding product-bird seed, peanuts, bread crumbs etc. Anyone in violation of the bylaw would be subject to a fine. Scott Stafford, Director of Parks for the City of London, said “They think they’re helping, but really it hurts the natural foraging skills of the animals; they become reliant on the feed that people give them.” The concern is that some individuals are scattering amounts as large as a bucketful of food product. The public was invited to attend a recent meeting of the Community and Protective Services Committee to provide comment.


Friends of the Coves Subwatershed Inc., the City of London, and Stantec will be partnering on a restoration project focusing on the east branch of Silver Creek in the Coves Environmentally Significant Area (ESA). The project has been developed as a result of recommendations from various reports including the 2014 ESA Conservation Master Plan. The reports recommended restoration to protect and enhance the habitat of the Coves ESA. The east branch of Silver Creek has been selected as the focus of the project because it has the highest and least vegetated banks, many erosional features, barriers to flow, long jams, and woody debris; and because it includes the location of the pedestrian bridge described in the Coves ESA Master Plan. Stream Channel Restoration will allow for the pedestrian bridge and trail implementation. The project will be funded through a Friends of the Coves Ontario Trillium Foundation grant and by the City of London which is contributing one-third of the design cost. For more information on the background, design, and funding of the project visit:


Peter Gorham, a Professor with the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Hawaii, has conducted research that may answer the long-standing conundrum of how spiders can balloon to altitudes of several kilometres when there is virtually no wind. Charles Darwin, while on the maiden voyage of the HMS Beagle noted, “I repeatedly observed the same kind of small spider, either when placed or having crawled on some little eminence, elevate its abdomen, send forth a thread, and then sail away horizontally, but with a rapidity which was quite unaccountable.” The spiders observed by Darwin ranged in size from two to approximately seven millimetres.

A theory proposed in the 1830s suggested that the spiders used electrostatic forces to lift them into the air. However, this idea was discounted by the biologists of the time who believed that thermal currents would provide the necessary boost. Still, this explanation was inadequate in explaining how the spiders launch themselves with such great speed without wind, how larger and weightier adult spiders are lifted, and how the spiders are able to reach such impressive altitudes.

Dr. Gorman has revisited the theory of electrostatics being at play in these spiders’ amazing abilities. While there is more research to be done, this theory better explains the entire phenomenon. To read more about these fascinating spiders and the electrostatics involved visit


In the good news department, London’s Million Tree Challenge has surpassed the milestone of a tree planted for every Londoner – 383,822 (London’s population in the 2016 census)! ReForest London has launched a new campaign to keep Londoners planting and registering trees to be part of the Million Tree Challenge, a leafy legacy for the Forest City. Londoners have several options for participation:

  • Getting a free tree at one of ReForest London’s tree depots or seedling giveaways.
  • Going to one of the Million Tree Challenge Partner garden centres to purchase a tree.
  • By sponsoring a tree for $25 to be planted in a park. This is a great idea if you live in an apartment or condo.

Visit for all the relevant information and links.