of a Wonderful Friend
Thickson's Woods and Edge Pegg entered my life at the same time, with quite an impact. I was just becoming a birder, thrilled with each new species that came my way. Thickson's Woods was filled with birds, and Edge not only loved birds, he knew lots about them. It was common ground for a lifelong friendship.
Dennis and I often met Edge in the woods on a May morning, peering up into the white pines at warblers and vireos, tanagers and orioles, while Betty was off chasing birds with her camera. It was Edge who found the rare Black-throated Gray Warbler one June morning, a vagrant from Arizona, positively ID'd the following day by a small circle of awed, excited birders.
I have vivid memories of Edge throughout the struggle to save Thickson's Woods in the eighties. Of him and Dennis putting in the cedar rail fence at the entrance to the woods, to block off the open gash left by skidders dragging 30-foot lengths of logs from 200-year-old white pines felled in that travesty. The two men, one tall, one short, took turns wrestling with the posthole digger Edge used for years on his farm.
I recall Edge and I hanging felt banners covered with Betty's beautiful "bird pins" across our chests, peddling them at one of the giant yard sales that left Margaret Bain's lawn trampled, butnetted $2000 toward paying off the mortgage.
I remember Dennis and I settling Edge in the middle of our canoe and paddling him, like a pharaoh on the Nile, up Corbett Creek Marsh to show him a great horned owl and a swampsparrow. Edge was doing a "May-rathon," and had so many dollars pledged for each species, because he had so many friends, that we raised lots more money—and had more fun—hauling Edge around to see various birds than just trying to spot them ourselves.
This autumn, in his 92nd year, Edge Pegg passed away, mourned by all those friends of his, and remembered with tears, laughter and a million stories. The more than $3,000 donated by friends and family to Thickson's Woods in his memory is a poignant part of his legacy.
Nature is a great recycler. This October one of the tallest, oldest pines in the woods, one of the few “saved” during the September '83 logging debacle, was snapped in half during Hurricane Isabel. I happened to be standing at the window, watching pine branches waving in the wind, when a fierce gust grabbed the tree, broke off the top half and threw it to the ground with a crash. It was the tree where Edge found the Black-throated Gray Warbler.
Next spring the Thickson's Woods Land Trust will place a bench in Edge Pegg's memory in an appropriate spot in the meadow—along the "Edge," overlooking the creek valley below. Someplace sheltered where he’d like to sit, watching yellow warblers and white-throats flit by in the nannyberries and dogwoods. We'll put up a plaque so generations of birders to come will remember his name.
But to me his true memorial will be deep in the woods, with no plaque and no fanfare—the tall, stark stub of a giant pine that fell when he did.
on Edge Pegg's 85th Birthday
Those eyes have
Those eyes have
Small things, lovely
Those eyes welcome
They gleam with
an inner light.
from the Front Lines
This year Metro Toronto zookeepers held a bacon-on-a-bun breakfast and raised $200 for the meadow, a sum matched by the American Zookeepers Association. Thank you, Charles Guthrie, Eric Cole and all other generous zoo-ologists!
To our delight, three more May-rathoners we didn't know about sent in donations from their many sponsors. Joanna Holt and Alex Hill togetherraised $236, Joachim Floegel $300. Congratulations and hooray! Asking friends and co-workers to pledge a certain amount for every species of bird you see on a certain day, or throughout the month of May, provides a lot of big-hearted people with a very practical way to protect nature. And it sure helps to pay off the meadow!
Joan Trott had her own great idea—cashing in her air miles to help with the cause. She figured out which binoculars from the rewards catalogue would be most popular with birders, sent for them and donated them to the silent auction at the fall festival.
How do you raise half a million dollars to protect a little piece of precious wildlife habitat? With human energy and ingenuity! Is there something fun you could do toraise money for a great cause? Set up a hot chocolate stand on a busy street corner or along the Waterfront Trail? Auction off some latent talent or skill? How about raffling off to your bridge club or bowling league a big pot of homemade soup, cabbage rolls or lasagne, from your grandma's favourite recipe?
Winners Have a Glorious Flight
A window of sunshine was forecast in a dreary week, so on September 12 we set off. Our pilot, Gerry Bellingham, had donated a return flight to Pelee Island as a raffle prize at a Thickson’s Woods fund-raiser, a trip financed by Lofthouse Brass. We were the lucky winners!! With our competent pilot at the helm and Serge as an "apprentice" beside him, we took off in the 5-seater Piper Navajo from Enterprise Air in Oshawa.
Routed north of Toronto, we found ourselves testing our acuity, looking for landmarks to identify the towns below. The low altitude offered a fascinating bird's-eye view.
After about two and a half hours we reached Point Pelee, impressed by the needle sharpness of the point as seen from the air. Pelee Island soon came into view and our perfect landing enhanced what was to become a wonderful day.
We were met by a
local taxi company with a van we had rented for the day, a vintage vehicle
that reliably took us the few miles to see the island=s attractions
and wildlife. After a patio lunch, we headed off around the island. We
hiked several trails, including ones at the Stone Road Alvar, and Canada's
most southern locale, Fish Point. Some plant species on the island,
including the prickly pear cactus, are unique in Canada. Our one regret
was we didn’t know that James Kamstra was on the island the same
day, conducting tours. Had we joined him, we would have seen much more
flora and fauna than our untrained eyes noticed.
After stocking up at the local winery, we began our return flight. A fuel stop in Chatham ensured that we would make it back. Luckily for us, air traffic control routed our small plane along the Toronto shoreline, where we had a wonderful view of the city skyline at dusk, including an open Skydome.
As we landed once again in Oshawa, we had nothing but praise for our pilot and the wonderful day we had spent at Pelee Island. We will definitely go again, but driving many miles overland from our home in Prince Edward County will never compare with our birdlike migration this September.
Excellent Monarch Butterfly Adventure
Once upon a time, one fine September day (Sept. 26-02), Earl Dillan and his brother-in-law, Lyle Swain, were driving in their 1997 Chevy truck near their hometown of Reedsville, Ohio (in the extreme southeast part of Ohio near the border with West Virginia). While Lyle drove along at 50 mph, a monarch butterfly struck the truck's antenna and the force of the wind held it there.
Earl spotted a "white dot" on the butterfly's wing and asked Lyle to pull over. Earl collected the butterfly and later mailed the tag to the address printed on it: University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas 66045.
It was later discovered
that this particular tagged monarch—#BGR 303—had been released
during the Thickson's Woods Festival in Whitby, Ontario on September
21-02 by Monarch Watch tagger Don Davis. The total distance traveled
by this butterfly was 359 miles, or about 72 miles per day.
Monarch banding was a highlight of our 2002 festival. Unfortunately, Don was unable to join us this year due to other commitments. We hope he’s able to come back next year on Saturday, September 18, to continue helping unravel the mysteries of monarch migration
you, one and all!
The winning ticket
for Cathy Schuler's beautiful "Dance in the Meadow" quilt
was drawn at the fall festival. We want to thank everyone who
peddled or bought raffle tickets. Three cheers for Judy Bryson
of Oshawa, who spent countless hours organizing and running the raffle. Also
to Aileen Howes, Fred Sewell and Ray Bryson. Kudos to the enthusiastic
Oshawa Garden Club, the group that bought the most tickets.
Others who donated
art were: Antony’s Gallery, Margaret
Bain, Margaret Carney, Edwin Goodman,
Hugh Peacock, Birders Journal, Susan
Morgan, Brenda O’Connor, Craig
Onafrychuck, Brian Steele, Ivor Simmons,
and Rosemary Speirs.
Early fall at Thickson’s brought huge flocks of Double-crested Cormorants to the bay tofeed. Sometimes there were several thousand, always accompanied by wheeling Ring-billed and Herring Gulls hoping to steal a morsel. The first heavy frost of the fall came in early November. Goldeneyes, Buffleheads and Mergansers filled the bay, forced down from frozen lakes up north. Ever opportunistic, the gulls turned their attention to this new crew of fishermen.
The strong northerly winds on November 13 saw the first large concentration of Greater Scaup sheltering near shore below the bluff. A careful search in good light would, no doubt, have revealed the presence of a few Redheads on the edge of the flock.
In early fall the hedge by our house was filled with Dark-eyed Juncos and Chickadees gleaning seeds from White Spruce cones. Now, each dawn, flocks of finches can be heard passing westward along the shore. Goldfinches predominated through October, but November brought Pine Siskins and Common Redpolls in increasing numbers.
Last summer a forty-foot Chokecherry blew over near our bird feeder. Under the brushy top three handsome Fox Sparrows are throwing up leaves as they search for seedsalong with Whitethroats and Song Sparrows. As darkness falls two Great Horned Owls call back and forth in anticipation of a new nesting season just weeks away.
You Warm and Happy Holidays
can be winners!
Until one is committed,
there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, alwaysineffectiveness. Concerning
all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth
the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that
the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All
sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A
whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour
all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance
which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.
have been made in memory of many special people:
Though it seems like a tiny, out of the way corner of the planet, Thickson’s Woods is linked to people around the globe. Gillian Margaret Clark worked for the Christian Children’s Fund in Baghdad, Iraq, and on the 19th of August, 2003, she was killed in a bomb blast there. Jim Griffith of Toronto sent in a donation in her memory, forging a poignant connection.
Gifts That Will Last Forever
Many metres of the meadow have been saved in the name of: Doris Courtney; DarleneDalke; Ros Goss; Lorraine Johnson.
Thank you to everyone who gave a friend or loved one a share in this living legacy—a gift that will last forever!
Do you have a bit of time on your hands? We're looking for more stampers and stuffers of newsletters.
Plus we need help with publicity for upcoming events. Anyone with media experience or connections out there..?
While birding in the woods earlier this fall, Jacqueline Brookes found an expensive pair of small bifocal eyeglasses. If you lost them, or know who might have, call (905) 725-2116.
Attractive, durable, high quality cotton/polyester blend
S-M-L-XL-XLL, khaki or denim blue $30
Woods Land Trust
Calling all cooks!
Tables laden with goodies at save-the-meadow bake sales prove that a lot of fine bakers are dedicated to the cause. Would you send in a favourite recipe or two for goodies you’ve contributed? We’ll publish a cook book to sell as a fund-raiser—a brainstorm of TWLT vice president Susan Morgan, a very fine cook herself. Susan regularly donates feasts for four at our silent auctions.