Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Reminder of birding open houses at Almonte Lagoons

Every autumn, tens of thousands of shorebirds migrate through our area from nesting grounds in the high Arctic. Hundreds stop off to feed and ‘refuel’ at the Almonte Lagoons area behind the water treatment plant on Wolf Grove Road.

MVFN’s Birding Committee invites you to attend one of four birding open houses at the Almonte lagoons observation tower. MVFN built and continue to maintain an observation tower which overlooks the lagoons, as well as a short trail into the tower off Ramsay Concession 8. For fifteen years now, birders from all over the Province and beyond have made this location, a prime viewing spot for shorebirds and other species. While walking the short 200 m trail into the tower one can also see many fall warbler and sparrow species.

Photo 1 Almonte lagoons open house 2015 (1280x1023)Juvenile spotted sandpiper, one of the many shorebird migrants which may be seen at the Almonte lagoons at this time of the year. Photo by Howard Robinson

The open houses will take place from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm on 4 consecutive Wednesdays: September 16, September 23, September 30, and October 7, 2015. Walk in and view a multitude of shore birds in migration. On each of these occasions, you will be greeted at the trail start by an MVFN member, who will point out directions to the tower.An expert birder with spotting scope will be on site at the tower to give all who attend an opportunity to learn the identity of the different birds and a bit about them. Birding experts will include Ray Holland (Sept 16), Ken Allison (September 23 and Oct 7) and Mike Jaques (Sept 30).

Directions to the tower:From Almonte, take County Rd 16 (Wolf Grove Road) towards Middleville, 2 km. Turn right (north) onto Ramsay Concession 8 at the Auld Kirk Church and Cemetery. Trail entrance is on Ramsay Concession 8, across the road from Auld Kirk Cemetery.

For further information please call or email Cliff Bennett at 613-256-5013 or


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Photo Story from Point Pelee, May 2015

Link to Neil Carleton’s article published in The Millstone: “Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists Flock to Point Pelee National Park”

See also Pelee Bird Species List post

A hardy group of 24 participants recently took a 4-day trip to Point Pelee National Park to observe the annual bird migration and other wildlife. It looks like they had a great time judging by these photos taken by Neil Carleton!  All the photos here were taken at Point Pelee National Park, May 4-7, 2015, with the exception of  one taken at Rondeau Provincial Park where the group also explored. Our apologies for the sequence of photos which may not be exactly as they were intended for this post. WordPress software can be a little temperamental and stubborn and has its own plans for the sequence.

Thank you for the pictures Neil!  Enjoy.



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March 31, 2015

Ducks galore at Presqu’ile viewed by MVFN group

As the ice recedes in Presqu’ile Bay on the north shore of Lake Ontario, thousands of migrating ducks move in to await our northern lakes becoming free of ice, so they can move into their breeding homes. A small group of Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) members and friends journeyed to Presqu’ile Provincial Park on March 28th to view this natural spectacle, and they weren’t disappointed.

The MVFN outing, led by MVFN President Cliff Bennett has become an annual event for the club. From the various viewing stands, the group was able to see fourteen different species of waterfowl including a single white-winged scoter, a single American coot, and redhead and canvasback ducks by the hundreds. There were also dozens of long-tailed ducks and thousands of greater scaup, buffleheads and golden-eye ducks.  Dozens of mute swans dotted the whole bay and herring gulls picked up various bits of debris along the ice edge.

As well as ducks and other waterfowl, the group observed several raptors, including a red-shouldered hawk, a harrier, and a pair of kestrels, several red – tailed hawks, and a Cooper ’s hawk. Spring arrivals included red-winged blackbirds, grackles, American woodcock, turkey vultures and robins.  In total, the group tallied forty-five species in all for the day’s viewing.

Viewing so many ducks in one area is often quite revealing as one sees them in breeding colours and observes distinctive courting activities. A particularly active scene was demonstrated by a pair of mute swans; the female was completely submerged in the water by the male for at least ten seconds, followed by an intimate rubbing together of necks.

As spring weather approaches, there are many upcoming events being organized by MVFN’s active birding committee. The next of these are the popular spring Early Morning Bird Walks. This series will take place on 4 Wednesdays: April 8, 15, 22 and 29. For information on these events check the MVFN website at Other MVFN events in April include the Alvar Pub Night Friday, April 10 to raise funds to support the Burnt Lands Alvar Campaign, and an MVFN Members Night and AGM which will take place on Thursday, April 16.



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MVFN Presqu’ile Provincial Park Day-Trip for the Annual Duck Migration

Experience this huge migration event of over 10,000 waterfowl, plus many land birds, which collect in the bay and off the lighthouse point around the Park on the north shore of Lake Ontario, getting ready to move inland to breed. There are usually over 20 different species of birds to be seen in, on and around the water.

Date:  Saturday, March 28th

Time: Departure by 7:30 AM from Union Hall; 8:15 AM from Glen Tay Public School. Car-pooling is the order of the day.

Bring: Lunch, binoculars and spotting scopes.

Dress: Have extra clothes ready for cool, windy weather.

Details:The drive to Presqu’ile is about three hours each way, with a 15 minute pit-stop prior to the turn-off from Hwy 401. We should be back home by 6 PM.

You must pre-register for this trip

For further information and registration, please contact Cliff Bennett at 613-256-5013 or .  In case of severe weather, the trip will be cancelled. If in doubt, call Cliff before 7 AM.


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