A TIME OF
By Caroline Schultz
pring is a magical time when life renews itself and nature bursts forth
from its subdued state in our wetlands, woodlands and lakes. As
naturalists, each of us has our own most evocative sight, sound or smell
that beckons us outside.
For me, spring starts with maple sap rising and the rich, musty
smell of warming leaf litter. Spring comes with waterfowl returning from their
wintering grounds in early March and with the advance of salamanders to
ephemeral breeding ponds, as Don Scallen demonstrates in his article “Here
today, gone tomorrow” (page 3). Soon afterwards, the chorus frogs begin their
creaking mating calls, followed by the calls of spring peepers and wood frogs.
Then there are the birds. The resident cardinals and chickadees sing cheerfully
while common grackles squeak their distinctive rusty-hinge song. Robins wake
you before daybreak with their fruity notes. Streaming from the south, migrating
raptors quietly arrive with the leading edge of returning birds, and the first
loons pass by overhead.
In the still-brown woods, the first mourning cloaks flit through the branches.
Below them, the forest floor starts to come alive with flashes of bright spring flowers
– trilliums, trout lilies, hepaticas, spring beauties and Dutchman’s breeches. And
there is another spring sight that stirs my emotions – people outside soaking it all up.
There are the general nature lovers – people taking in the warm days and the
emerging greenery, and celebrating whatever comes their way. There are the
nature seekers – those who search for their favourite birds, plants and animals.
And there are the focused field naturalists – individuals who are taking their
hobby, love and enthusiasm to the next level as citizen scientists.
I feel my pulse quicken as I write about these wonders of spring, itching to get
outdoors and not miss a thing. There is also sadness, however, at the passing of
longtime Ontario Nature member and northwestern regional director, Rick
Cathrae. Rick was a true field naturalist who contributed data to the Atlas of the
Breeding Birds of Ontario, the Reptile and Amphibian Atlas and many Christmas
Bird Counts. He also attended several Youth Summits, where he passed on his
love of nature and inspired the next generation of environmental leaders. In
recent years Rick, an avid birder and naturalist from southern Ontario, and his
wife, Pam, had become northerners, making their home among the forests and
lakes around Elliott Lake.
This spring, as I experience the sensations of the season, my experiences will
mingle with memories of Rick and so many other naturalists who have left the world
a better place through their love for nature and their work on its behalf.
Ontario Nature protects wild species and wild spaces
through conservation, education and public engagement.
Ontario Nature is a charitable organization representing
more than 30,000 members and supporters, and 150
member groups across Ontario.
Ontario Nature Officers – Directors
President Kevin Thomason
Past President Angela Martin
Vice-President Otto Peter
Secretary/Treasurer Ted Crichton
Carolinian East Ron Corkum
Carolinian West Anita Caveney
Great Lakes West Peter Kelly
Huronia Dorothy McKeown
Lake Ontario North Otto Peter
Ontario East Cathy Keddy
Northern West Vacant
Northern East Franco Mariotti
Directors at Large
Joanne Brown, Lesley Lewis, Casey Richardson-Scott,
Andrew Reeves, Tina Rosenstein, Janice Wright
Ontario Nature Staff
Executive Director Caroline Schultz
Executive Assistant Jaklynn Nimec
Director of Finance and Administration Kamilla Molnar
Administrative Assistant Christine Ambre
Conservation & Education
Director of Conservation and Education Anne Bell
Boreal Program Manager Julee Boan
Greenway Program Manager Joshua Wise
Conservation Science Manager Tanya Pulfer
Conservation and Education Coordinator Sarah Hedges
Conservation Science Coordinator Emma Horrigan
Conservation Data Technician Bradley McGinn
Nature Reserves Assistant Stephanie Muckle
Conservation Science Assistant Smera Sukumar
Membership & Development
Annual Giving Manager Nicole Chamula
Manager of Major and Planned Giving Kirsten Dahl
Member Relations Coordinator Portia Mohlmann
Database Coordinator Irene Milani
Communications & Engagement
Director of Communications and Engagement
Nature Network and Communications Coordinator
Regional Nature Network Coordinator
Communications Technician Noah Cole
Digital Communications Specialist Leyla Top
ONNATUREMAGAZINE.COM SPRING 2017 ON NATURE 5