Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

The Secret Life of Lichens

On Thursday, January 17, the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists 2018-19 series “Earth, Water, Wind and Fire” continues with a presentation by Troy McMullin Ph.D.,  lichenologist with the Canadian Museum of Nature. Our speaker has studied lichens throughout Canada and internationally, and has published extensively on this group, including the 2015 book Common Lichens of Northeastern North America: A Field Guide, co-authored with Frances Anderson.

Join Troy to explore the often overlooked, but beautiful and fascinating world of lichens.  Learn about their role in different ecosystems, rare species in southern Ontario, and how they are used in medicine, science, and more.  You will gain a new appreciation for the small things in life!

Teloschistes chrysophthalmus or Golden-eye lichen; the Great Lakes population of this species has a status of ENDANGERED in Ontario. Photo provided by speaker

 

Speaker: Troy McMullin Ph.D.

Presentation: The Secret Life of Lichens

Date:   Thursday, January 17, 2019

Time:  7:00 PM for socializing & refreshments, 7:30 for program

Place:  Almonte United Church Social Hall, 106 Elgin St., Almonte

Admission: is free for MVFN members. There is an admission fee of $5 for non-members. No charge for youth 18 and under. We always welcome new members.

For further information, please contact Cliff Bennett MVFN Program Chair at or 613-798-6295.

A NOTE ABOUT A VERY RARE LICHEN

Golden-eye lichen (Teloschistes chrysophthalmus), Great Lakes population, is ENDANGERED in Ontario. Ontario Species at Risk information for this species, as follows, can be found at https://www.ontario.ca/page/golden-eye-lichen-great-lakes-population#section-0

“The Great Lakes Population of Golden-eye lichen is vulnerable to several threats due to its limited restriction to a single host tree. Threats that may impact on this population include severe weather events, invasive species, acidification from air pollution and recreational activities . . .

What you can do?

Report a sighting

Report a sighting of an endangered animal or plant to the Natural Heritage Information Centre. Photographs with specific locations or mapping coordinates are always helpful.

Volunteer

Volunteer with your local nature club or provincial park to participate in surveys or stewardship work focused on species at risk.

Be a good steward

Private land owners have a very important role to play in species recovery. If you find Golden-eye Lichen on your land, you may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats.

 

 

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Bioblitz Canada 150

Canadian Nature Federation:

The Results Are In! To celebrate Canada 150, the Canadian Wildlife Federation and our partners in biodiversity asked you to help us capture Canada’s “nature selfie” during the BioBlitz Canada 150 project. Canadians coast to coast to coast were invited to become “citizen scientists,” working alongside conservationists and specialists to track and record biodiversity – from the depths of the ocean floor to the tree tops of the boreal forest. Nearly 10,000 Canadians participated in this Canada 150 signature project that explored 35 ecologically important areas across Canada. What did we find?

Link to high resolution graphic at Canadian Nature Federation. 


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Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas has a new App

New Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas App

There is an urgent need for volunteer citizen scientists of all levels to submit sightings of all reptile and amphibian species, not just the rare ones.

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“The Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas is a citizen-science project that tracks distributions and spatial trends of reptiles and amphibians across the province over time. The over-arching goal is to increase the collective knowledge base of reptiles and amphibians. Equally important, however, is the engagement of non-scientists of all ages and abilities, in all parts of the province, in nature study and conservation.

Reptiles and amphibians are experiencing global declines of 20 and 40 percent respectively. In Ontario, 75 percent of reptiles and 35 percent of amphibians are listed as nationally and provincially at-risk.”

It is very helpful to report sightings:

We need volunteer citizen scientists of all levels to submit sightings of all reptile and amphibian species, not just the rare ones. Just in time for spring, we’re proud to announce the launch of our updated Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas App!

The new App!

There are several new features, including a field guide for the 48 species of reptiles and amphibians found in Ontario with colour photos, descriptions and calls that can be used to help you identify your sightings. If you have the previous version of the app, make sure to download the updated version to access all the new features! This project is supported by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Species at Risk Stewardship Fund, and the Environment Canada Habitat Stewardship Program. All illustrations provided are courtesy of the Toronto Zoo. The app is available for both iOS and Android devices.

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Almonte Lagoons and Nature Trail Receives Rare Visitor

 August 19, 2016

The Almonte Lagoon and Nature trail, across from Auld Kirk cemetery on Ramsay Concession 8, has been the recipient of several rare birds over the past few years. The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) Potvin Observation Tower provides  views across the lagoons.

On Saturday morning, August 13th, a Western bird, a juvenile male yellow-headed blackbird was spotted by noted Ottawa birder Mark Gawn, feeding on the exposed mudflats and hiding in the cattails. Immediately the signal went out over the birding networks and area birders began pouring in to get a glimpse of this rarity. At one point in the morning, a peregrine falcon zoomed in over the lagoon like a marauding spitfire and scared all of the shorebirds and the blackbird away, but within half an hour, the rare visitor returned, much to the delight of those who came to observe the bird and log the sighting in their records.

The yellow-headed blackbird has a range across the west from Lake Michigan, with a few coming into the Point Pelee area around Windsor. An inch larger than our most familiar red-winged blackbird, the adult male is all black with a brilliant yellow head and chest. Most distinctive is a white wing patch. The adult female has a more mottled yellow head and chest and does not show a wing patch.

The Almonte lagoon and Nature Trail sports an observation tower overlooking the fence and berm. The tower, named for its donor Al Potvin, was erected by MVFN several years ago and the nature trail leading to the tower is maintained regularly by MVFN members.

Having this excellent site and access trail in our area is of great value to local birders and others, and also has value for the local economy. In an economic study of the facility done in 2015 by MVFN member Cliff Bennett, a questionnaire was sent out all across Ontario through the ONTBIRDS network to gauge the dollar value of this magnetic draw of rare shorebirds and other birds coming in to rest and feed during migration. The results showed that during the year, 88 people had visited the lagoon, making a total of 265 visits. While in town, they spent over $4000 on gasoline, food and other shopping.  Today, the Lagoon and nature trail is regularly visited and reported on by the Ottawa birding network as well as local birders.

If you have not yet visited this facility, watch for MVFN’s series of September Open Houses at the Potvin Observation Tower. These will be held on four Wednesdays in September/October, details tba. From 3 to 5 P.M. on each of these days, an expert birder will be on site with a spotting scope to help you identify the lagoon’s visitors.

Submitted by Cliff Bennett, MVFN Past-President

 A female Yellow-headed blackbird. Photo source: Akiroqu Brust on free stock photo site: https://pixabay.com/en/female-yellow-headed-blackbird-1427772/

A female Yellow-headed blackbird. Photo source: Akiroqu Brust on free stock photo site: https://pixabay.com/en/female-yellow-headed-blackbird-1427772/

Photographed August 13th on the mudflats in the distance, a positive ID was later made of a rare Yellow-headed blackbird, a male juvenile. Photo by Mark Gawn.

A juvenile male yellow-headed blackbird photographed August 13th from the observation tower. The bird was in the distance on the mudflats; a positive ID was later made. Photo by Mark Gawn.

 

Now (August 19), a week later rain has flooded the area; but last week the exposed mudflats were teeming with birds, including the rare yellow-headed blackbird. Photo Pauline Donaldson

Nearly a week later (August 19), rain has flooded the area, but on August 13, 2016 the exposed mudflats of the Almonte lagoons were teeming with birds, including the rare yellow-headed blackbird. Photo Pauline Donaldson

At the lagoons a platform provides views across the berm, and a place to set up a tripod or spotting scope. Photo Pauline Donaldson

At the lagoons a platform provides views across the berm, and a place to set up a tripod or spotting scope.

 

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On Ramsay Concession 8, across the road from and just past Auld Kirk cemetery, a yellow sign marks the entrance to a short, easy nature trail out to the lagoons and the Potvin Observation Tower. Photos by Pauline Donaldson

On Ramsay Concession 8, across the road from and just past Auld Kirk cemetery, a yellow sign marks the entrance to a short, easy nature trail out to the lagoons and the Potvin Observation Tower. Photos by Pauline Donaldson

 

 

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