News & Notes: Winter 2018

Remembering Dorothy McCallum

Long-time Nature London member Dorothy McCallum passed away on 4 October 2017 at the age of 85. Dorothy and her husband Jack joined the club back in 1979 when it was known as the Mc-Ilwraith Field Naturalists. She was still a member at the time of her death, for a remarkable run of 38 years. The 1990s were a very active time for the hard-working members of the club’s Conservation Committee. By 1991 (perhaps even earlier) Dorothy was a member of that team. For a decade or more she went to City Hall every Friday afternoon to pick up the agenda (often several inches thick) for weekly City Council meetings. With great thoroughness, Dorothy combed through that heavy, often highly technical reading, flagging all items that had any relevance to environmental, conservation or other club interests. Then she ensured the pertinent information was forwarded to the appropriate committee member so action could be taken.

For several years Dorothy served as the club’s representative on Urban League, retiring in 2003. Dorothy and Jack were regular participants in the London Christmas Bird Count, the area around the CPRI grounds being their particular bailiwick for a number of years. They also attended club meetings and other club functions, including events at Cedarcroft. After the 2001 fall picnic at Cedarcroft, they shared the recipe for a yummy broccoli salad they had brought. To this day, that salad continues to be a favourite at many Nature London potluck gatherings.

Nature London fondly remembers Dorothy for her many years of dedicated service to the club, especially in the area of conservation. Sincere condolences
are extended to Dorothy’s husband, Jack, and daughter, Stephanie.

Remembering Bert Stonehill

Bert Stonehill, a long-standing member of Nature London, passed away on 10 November 2017 after coping with Alzheimer’s disease for many years. Bert was 89. He was a cheerful and engaging presence at Nature London meetings and events. Bert always carried a twinkle in his eye and was ready to pitch in with projects, particularly at Cedarcroft cleanups where he was a regular and enthusiastic participant. In fact, Bert and his wife Betty so loved Cedarcroft that to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary their children donated monies for a bench to be purchased for placement at a prime resting and viewing location on the Nature London property. Not only did Bert help out with Cedarcroft events, but he was renowned for the delicious date squares and butterscotch squares that he frequently baked for the refreshment break at Nature London meetings. They quickly disappeared!

Bert was such a dedicated nature conservationist and birder that his family wished this to be reflected at his service; so Bert “attended” his service in a birdhouse. He was a valued Nature London volunteer and he will be missed. Nature London extends sincere condolences to Bert’s family and friends.

Doug Tarry Young Ornithologists’ Workshop (YOW) at Long Point

This week-long workshop / natural history camp has been offered at Long Point Bird Observatory (LPBO) since the mid-1970s. Thanks to naturalist Doug Tarry, the workshop is offered free to six selected participants, aged 13 to 17. It focuses on hands-on learning and training in field ornithology, including how to identify, age, and sex birds; study their populations and behaviour; handle and band birds; prepare specimens; and take a census of birds. There will be lots of field trips and evening activities.

This year, the workshop will run from Saturday, 4 August to Monday, 13 August, 2018. Prospective participants are invited to download and complete the application form at The website provides more information. Applications are due by Monday, 30 April, 2018.

Throughout August, LPBO is also offering student internships to mature teenagers with a strong interest in field ornithology. Often, internship students are graduates of YOW. Visit the website for more information and to make an application.

Year of the Bird

Cornell Lab of Ornithology has announced it is joining National Geographic, the National Audubon Society, BirdLife International, and more than 100 organizations to declare 2018 the Year of the Bird. This initiative coincides with the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act’s ratification. The Year of the Bird promotes the notion of pledging to do one thing per month to help birds.

To kick off the year, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has suggested six resolutions to help you #BirdYourWorld in 2018. To view these ideas and for more information visit

Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act

On 12 December 2017, the Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act (Bill 139), which includes Schedule 4 amending the 1946 Conservation Authorities Act, was passed. Some of the key changes to the Conservation Authorities Act include establishment of a service delivery review table, development of a more defined role around climate change adaptation, greater transparency and accountability of the conservation authorities, and updated funding mechanisms. The Act has been under review for two years and during that time input was solicited from many sectors. Bill 139 recognizes watershed management as critical in assisting the province to adapt to factors such as rapid growth and climate change. The 36 Ontario Conservation Authorities work with the Province and other partners to restore, conserve, and manage important water (including drinking water) and land resources. For more information visit

Mature, Blight-free American Chestnut Found

Dan Brinkman, a Land Stewardship Technician working for the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority (LTVCA), discovered a mature, blight-free American Chestnut tree while on a Saturday morning hike in October. The tree was located in a private woodlot near Mt. Brydges in Strathroy-Caradoc. In the past century 99.9% of the native chestnut trees in Southern Ontario have been destroyed by blight. It is unusual to find a healthy 60–70 year-old specimen. With the landowner’s permission, the Canadian Chestnut Council was contacted and two representatives met with Mr. Brinkman to examine the tree and to discuss restoration and research projects that could be implemented in the Lower Thames watershed. Visit for more information.

Springbank Dam Decommissioned

On 16 January, 2018, London City Council voted unanimously to decommission Springbank Dam. The debate over deciding what to do with the dam began in 2008 when bolts snapped off during a test on the aging structure. Nature London was one of the groups that advocated for the dam to be decommissioned. In his letter of 29 September, 2017 to Ashley M. Rammeloo, Acting Division Manager of Stormwater Engineering for the City of London, Bernie VanDenBelt, Nature London President, stated “Numerous studies have demonstrated the ecological benefits of having rivers flow freely.” The entire letter may be read in the Fall 2017 edition of The Cardinal, No. 249. Look for an article on the decommissioning of the dam in the next edition of The Cardinal.