Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley
Mississippi River at Pakenham

Field Trips

Dragonflies and Butterflies 

On this morning visit to the Blakeney Rapids,  we will look for the endangered Rapids Clubtail dragonfly which has an isolated population on this stretch of the Mississippi River. We will also be looking at other dragonflies and damselflies. We also hope to spend some time looking at butterflies to help people prepare for the Manion Corners Butterfly Count coming up on July 8.

Meet at the parking area for the Blakeney Rapids Park, just west of the Blakeney Road bridge over the Mississippi River, on Saturday, June 17 th at 9:30 am. We’ll probably finish up around noon.

This is an area with good trails but it is rocky and some of the trails are a bit rough for someone with mobility restrictions. We’ll be walking less than 2 km.

For further information contact Ken Allison 613-256-4283

Pre-registration: Please pre-register for this event by contacting Ken Allison at  or call 256-4283

Bring: Water, insect repellent, sun protection, hat, binoculars, camera, and field guides. There is long grass here. Protect yourself from ticks. Wear long pants, long sleeve shirts and tuck your pants into your socks.

Directions: From Almonte travel north west along Martin Street North (Milano’s Pizza is on the corner, runs past the high school) for about 5.5 km.  Turn left at the stop sign and follow Blakeney Road and follow through the village until you cross the bridge over the Mississippi River. Immediately after the bridge turn right into the parking lot.

Facilities: Parking is free and there are no admission costs or donation boxes. There is a picnic table at the site, but no washrooms, stores, or restaurants. Valuables should be locked out of sight in your car or carried with you.


Warblers and Wildflowers on Wolf Grove Walk

May 13, 2017

Ken Allison

Five brave souls met at 7 AM at the Allison property on Wolf Grove Road.  There had been some rain during the night, but when we headed out the clouds were broken by small patches of blue sky. By about 9:30 it had started to rain so we went inside to warm up with a cup of tea while watching birds at the feeders.

There had been some bird migration overnight, but the number of spring migrants was still not up to normal levels. Most of the warblers were either very high up or singing in hemlock trees which made getting good views challenging. Seven species or warblers were eventually recorded, although we had good views of only Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Green and Orange-crowned. The last species was probably the highlight of the trip, although we did have great looks at Baltimore Orioles, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. A Sharp-shinned Hawk flew over carrying its breakfast in its talons and Spotted Sandpiper, Red-eyed Vireo, Orange-crowned Warbler and Northern Oriole were new for the year at our location. In the past 5 years, 102 species have been recorded at the Allison property and we found almost half of those during our walk this morning.

Early spring wildflowers were at their peak, but many were not fully open due to the damp weather.  We did see many white and red trilliums, spring beauties and trout lilies and were able to compare Dutchman’s-breeches and Squirrel Corn with adjacent clumps.

Photos and a complete bird list for the outing are included below.

Canada Goose
Great Blue Heron
Green Heron
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Spotted Sandpiper
Mourning Dove
Belted Kingfisher
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
Least Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Tree Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Winter Wren
Hermit Thrush
Wood Thrush
American Robin
European Starling
Black-and-White Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole
Purple Finch
American Goldfinch

Red Trillium photo Ken Allison

Red Trillium   photo Ken Allison

Warblers and wildflowers watchers on Wolf Grove

Warblers and wildflowers watchers on Wolf Grove. photo Blanche Gauthier

Northern White Violet. photo Ken Allison

Northern White Violet    photo Ken Allison

Goose on Wolf Grove pond. photo Michel Gauthier

Geese on Wolf Grove pond     photo Michel Gauthier



Outing to Fortune’s Maple Sugar Bush

Leader: Allan Goddard, B.Sc., ODH

Date: Saturday, March 25, 2017 *THIS IS THE NEW DATE

Wander the Fortune Family Farm with Allan Goddard. Learn how maple syrup gets from the roots of the tree to your breakfast pancakes. Experience a day in the woods in early spring. Activities include bird identification, examination of early insects, tree identification, and animal track identification. Go into the sugar house to see the process of boiling down the sap to the sweet syrup we all love. Enjoy that yearly tradition of taffy on the snow. If we are lucky they will be making maple fudge. Lunch will be around the fire.

Maple syrup


Child and Grandchild Friendly: It’s March Break. Bring the kids and grandkids.

Departure: meet at 9:30 am. for departure at 10 am from Almonte Civitan parking lot, or meet at Fortune Farms at 10:10 am.

Returning: from Fortune’s Farm:1:30 pm.

Car-pooling: Highly recommended. Meet at the Almonte Civitan parking lot (Wolf Grove Road). This is important as the parking lot at the sugar bush fills quickly and parking spreads to a busy road.

Level of difficulty: easy, snow-packed main walkways. We will walk the trails if they are hard-packed and in stable, walking condition.

Bring: binoculars, field guides, layered clothing, waterproof footwear, sunglasses, sun protection, lunch and water.

Facilities: There is a store where you can buy freshly produced maple syrup.

Cost: There is no cost for this event and no entrance or parking fees apply.

Registration: You must pre-register for this event. To register, please email Gretta Bradley at glbradley@icloud dot com and provide the following information:

1. Names of participants and

2. Where you intend to meet the group (Almonte Civitan parking lot or at Fortune Farms).

Please dress appropriately. Should cancellation be necessary, registrants will be contacted by email by 8 am. If in doubt, please call 613-256-4202 before 8:30 am the day of the outing to confirm.


MVFN is offering a change of venue for our major nature tour this year: a Canadian trip led and organized by Quest Nature Tours (our tour company for the four down South tours we have organized in the past several years).  We thought it was time we did some exploration of our own country that’s not within driving distance of our area.

We have selected a six-day tour, starting in Moncton, travelling down the Bay of Fundy, and taking the ferry to Grand Manan Island.  We would leave Ottawa by Porter Airlines on July 31, 2017, and return from St. John by Air Canada August 5 evening. Ian Shanahan is the Tour leader (yes, son of Don Shanahan, our leader on our first trip to Cuba).

Quest’s description of the Bay of Fundy & Grand Manan nature tour:

“Every six hours and thirteen minutes, over 100 billion tonnes of Atlantic Ocean seawater move in and out of the Bay of Fundy, which is the bay with the highest tides in the world. But the tides themselves are just one reason that Fundy has become such an iconic piece of Canada. Our tour of this region begins in the upper bay where hundreds of thousands of migrating Semipalmated Sandpipers fill mudflats and beaches for a few magical midsummer weeks. We then move to Grand Manan Island in the lower bay where puffins, razorbills, gannets, storm-petrels, shearwaters and whales are too numerous to count. The Grand Manan archipelago has a pull of its own, owing to its unspoiled nature and welcoming island residents.

We are staying four full days at the Marathon Innon Grand Manan near Fundy’s entrance where so many people have first felt Fundy’s allure. Startling rock formations, coniferous forests, wildflower-filled meadows and tidal pools are the backdrop to an incredible annual migration of songbirds and shorebirds. Off shore, resident and migratory seabirds join whales in spectacular congregations of marine life. There is a pervasive “anything can happen” vibe underscoring each day here.”

Northern Gannets

Northern Gannets


Machias Seal Island (photo Nina Stavland, source Worldwide Quest website)

Machias Seal Island (photo Nina Stavland, source Worldwide Quest website)


Trip costs are as follows:

Tour: $2,295 CDN

Gratuities:  $195

15% HST:  $345

Flights: ~ $ 500*

TOTAL: ~ $3,265 CDN

The tour total includes:  tour leader, local guides, ground transportation, accommodation, meals, gratuities.  The only additional costs are:  snacks, beverages, extra tips.  Please note that all these figures are in Canadian dollars.  (FYI, many other tour companies’ prices are quoted in American dollars).

*I will investigate the possibility of group rates for the flight, when the trip is a “go” (minimum of 12 participants).  MVFN will book the flights for the whole group, so we arrive & depart at the same time.

There is a $500 refundable deposit upon registration, an additional $1,000 deposit due February 28, and the balance (excluding the air fare) due April 30. There is a single occupancy room premium.

As the maximum number of participants is limited to 16, please let me know you wish to register ASAP or 256-2706.  I will put you on the list, and send you a detailed itinerary.


Please feel free to contact Brenda Boyd with any questions, concerns, etc.

Looking forward to an exciting new Canadian area to explore together!

Brenda Boyd

Fall Colours Hike in Shaw Woods 


“Along the lines of smoky hills there will be a crimson forest stand, and no doubt the blue jay will call throughout the woodlands. It is possible we may see a crimson maple leaning over a brook, and of course the sumacs on the hillsides will have turned red from their summer green. There may be a mist over a marsh, but there’s no river nearby. The birds will be collecting to fly southward as we quietly walk this autumn day.”  ~With thanks to Wilfred Campbell

Please join me, and others as we re-visit this woodland at a different time of year. This time we’ll walk the trails from finish to start, to see what it looks like going the OTHER way!!   If you weren’t with us in the spring, please come along for an enjoyable day out!

Details: Allan Goddard will be our guide hiking the trails of Shaw Woods. We will walk for about an hour, before a break for a bagged lunch, and then continue after lunch for an additional hour. The hike will go along Johnny’s Lookout and the Old Growth Loop. Lunch will be at the Pine Pavilion. Level of difficulty: Old Growth Loop: easy; Johnny’s Lookout: moderate. Arrival back in Almonte should be between 3:30 and 4 pm.

Shaw Woods is located at 2065 Bulger Road, North Algona Wilberforce Township. See details at

Car-pooling: From Almonte area: meet at the Almonte Arena (160 Bridge St.) parking lot at 9:15 am. for departure at 9:30 am. From Pakenham area: departure from Pakenham Public School at approximately 9:40 am.

Bring: binoculars, field guides, hat, sunglasses, insect repellent, sun protection, lunch and water.

NOTE: Entry to Shaw Woods is free, but there are donation boxes for those who wish to contribute.

Registration: You must pre-register for this event. To register, please email Gretta Bradley at  and provide the following information:

1. Names of participants and where you intend to meet the group (Almonte or Pakenham).

2. If you plan to meet the group at a different location, please indicate the place and time. It must be a clearly identifiable, safe location for meeting.

The event will go ahead rain or shine. Please dress appropriately. Should cancellation be necessary, registrants will be contacted by email. If in doubt call 613-256-4202 before 9 am the day of the outing to confirm.



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MVFN's natural history talks take place on 3rd Thursdays, Jan-April and Sept-November, at  Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin St., Almonte, ON. All welcome!

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