By Ken Allison
On Saturday, July 4, the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club will be holding the 14th annual Manion Corners Butterfly Count. Similar to Christmas Bird Counts, this event is an all-day survey of a 24-km diameter circle. Although this count is facilitated by the Ottawa club, the count area is centred on Manion Corners (southwest of Ottawa) and includes several important butterfly areas such as the Long Swamp and the Burnt Lands alvar.
Appalachian Brown butterfly. Photo Ken Allison
Burnt Lands Alvar is home to Burnt Lands Alvar Provincial Park and the alvar itself, much of which is situated within Mississippi Mills, is a designated Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI). If you are intrigued by recent attention focused on the alvar and the guided walks on the alvar this spring (focused primarily on habitat and the unique and rare plant species), this event will give you a chance to see the rich butterfly fauna of the ANSI. Jeff Skevington and Peter Hall are the coordinators for the count. You might recognize Peter’s name as he is one of the authors of The Butterflies of Canada, which is the standard ‘go-to’ guide book on Canadian butterflies.
If you wish to participate in the count, meet at the parking lot at the intersection of Dwyer Hill Road and March Road at 8:30 a.m. This is a ‘child-friendly’ event and is a great opportunity to introduce children to the interesting world of butterflies. The count goes all day until 4:30 p.m. and this is followed by a meeting, at 6 pm, for a compilation and pot luck dinner. All participants are invited to the compilation and it is always a very enjoyable event with great food and fun interactions with a group of real enthusiasts. If you can’t make it to the compilation, arrangements can be made to get your data in sometime during the afternoon before you leave.
There is a $4 charge to participants, to support the publication of the count results. No experience is necessary – the organizers will put teams together on Saturday morning and match up people so that everyone has a chance to learn from the experts. If you have binoculars and a butterfly net, please bring them along. Butterflies may be captured for identification and release. Rubber boots are recommended, as some of the sites have a lot of poison ivy, especially in the Burnt Lands.
The rain date for this event will be Sunday, July 5 at 8:30 am. Call Jeff Skevington Friday evening at 613-720-2862 if there is any doubt about the weather or for specific questions regarding this event.