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

Field Trips

On May 28th a group of MVFN members took part in a morning visit to Shaw Woods, hiking around some of the trails and having lunch there. Below is an account of the day by trip leader Allan Goddard, and following the account, some of the excellent  photos, taken during the visit by Howard Robinson. Also included is a list, provided by Mary Robinson, of all the birds seen or heard during the visit.

NOTE: Shaw Woods is off Hwy 9 near Eganville and Golden Lake, about an hour or so drive from the Almonte area. For directions and other details, visit the Shaw Woods Outdoor Education Centre website at 

MVFN Shaw Woods Hike Spring 2016

I don’t recall that any one of us had been to this gem of a woodland.  Our first hike was into the old growth forest, and we were in awe as to what we had entered. Huge towering trees, sugar maples, eastern hemlock, American beech, created a cathedral -like canopy over our heads, and under – canopy trees and shrubs such as striped maple, Canada yew, and various species of dogwood, and of course the many ferns and mosses at eye level as we meandered along the trail. It was quiet. The silence being beautifully interrupted by the musical voices of the wood thrush, veerie, hermit thrush, ovenbird, red eyed vireo, various warblers, and even the robin. We were in THEIR element. And on what was a muggy buggy day elsewhere, we were in a different world.

After Grant had shown us the eagles’ eerie which was plainly in view from the roadside, and after we all lined the road shoulder to view it and take many photos of this year’s family, we lunched at the shelter and boardroom table of the center, all the while being entertained by a red squirrel, which was clearly intent on a luncheon with us. He or she was not disappointed! Grant also stayed with us and answered queries about this and that, and then very much needed to get to his greenhouse to water crops in need!

Our second hike took us on to an upland trail, more open, sunny and crispy dry. Fire wouldn’t have waited a second. This trail was very different in vegetation with a mixed, open forest canopy typical of granite uplands, with plenty of ironwood, chokecherry, shrub juniper, and numerous lower shrub species. Birds were quiet –it was hot. It was much more of an up-and-down trail and when we arrived back to the lake on the loop, we could see the eagles again, and briefly watched them for a bit. Also saw the fringed polygala, a beautiful and small pink spring flower typical of this forest, which very much had a boreal character at times.

Haven’t been there?  Strongly suggested. Grant and his supporters have created a very special place. We all agreed that a fall hike would be another enjoyable outing.

 Allan Goddard

Admiring a yellow birch. Photo Howard Robinson

Admiring a yellow birch. Photo Howard Robinson

Group of twelve assemble and talk before walk. photo Howard Robinson

Group of twelve assemble and talk before walk. photo Howard Robinson


Nesting Bald Eagle. photo Howard Robinson

Nesting Bald Eagle. photo Howard Robinson


Fringed Polygala. photo Howard Robinson

Fringed Polygala. photo Howard Robinson

Eastern red-backed salamander. photo Howard Robinsion

Eastern red-backed salamander. photo Howard Robinsion

Check out these dragonfly exuviae. photo Howard Robinson

Check out these dragonfly exuviae. photo Howard Robinson


List of Birds during Shaw Woods Hike 2016, compiled by Mary Robinson

  1.  American Woodcock
  2. Ovenbird
  3. Black-throated Blue Warbler
  4. Wood Thrush
  5. Eastern Wood-Pewee
  6. American Redstart
  7. Pileated Woodpecker
  8. Red-eyed Vireo
  9. Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  10. Red-breasted Nuthatch
  11. Blue Jay
  12. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  13. Veery
  14. Great Crested Flycatcher
  15. Hermit Thrush
  16. Black-capped Chickadee
  17. Bald Eagle
  18. Pine Warbler
  19. American Robin

Purdon Blooms with Ted Mosquin

Sunday June 19, 2016

Dr. Ted Mosquin will be our guide on this early summer visit and walk at Purdon Conservation Area. We plan to walk to the lookout and walk along the boardwalk to view the spectacular Showy Lady’s Slipper orchids. We will learn from Ted, who has worked and studied extensively on conservation of the orchids at Purdon, the history of Purdon and what is required to maintain the orchids. We will take the Highland Trail by the Marsh Boardwalk, reaching the picnic area by noon for lunch. Ted is hoping we will catch a glimpse of European Skippers visiting the flowers!

We plan to leave for the return trip home from Purdon upper parking lot area at approximately 1:30 pm.

Details: Car-pooling: Almonte area meet at the Esso Station (corner Hwy 29 and Almonte St.) for departure by 9 am. Departure from Hopetown will be at about 9:30 am.

Bring: binoculars, field guides, hat, sunglasses, bug protection, lunch and water.

Pre-registration: You must pre-register for this event. To register, please email Gretta Bradley at

 Should cancellation be necessary, registrants will be contacted by email.

If in doubt please call 256-4202 before 8:30 am the day of the outing to confirm.

NOTE: there is no entry fee to Purdon, however there are donation boxes for visitors.

Purdon 1 GutoskiePhoto courtesy Shannon Gutoskie

A Hike in Shaw Woods 

May 28

A hike in Shaw Woods is planned for Saturday, May 28th. Allan Goddard will be our guide hiking the trails for about an hour before we break for a bagged lunch. The hike will continue after lunch for an additional hour before we leave to return to the Mississippi Mills area. 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 of the site at this link

Details: Allan will lead the group on the Old Growth Loop departing from West Trailhead. This will be followed by a stop for lunch at the Pine Pavilion. He will then take us along Johnny’s Lookout Trail departing from East Trailhead. Our March speaker, Grant Dobson suggests this should be an excellent introduction to the area. NOTE: Level of difficulty: Old Growth Loop: easy;  Johnny’s Lookout: moderate.

Car-pooling: Almonte area meet at Esso Station (corner Hwy 29 and Almonte St.) at 9:15 am for departure at 9:30 am; departure from Pakenham Public School at approx. 9:40 am.

Bring: binoculars, field guides, hat, sunglasses, bug protection, lunch and water. 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   This event will go ahead rain or shine. Please dress appropriately. Should cancellation be necessary, registrants will be contacted by email. If in doubt please call 256-4202 before 9 am the day of the outing to confirm.

Amherst Island Owling Adventure

Join our outing to Amherst Island, west of Kingston, to tour the island and Owl Woods, and look for different owl species including Barred owl, Northern Saw-whet, Boreal owl and Snowy owls plus species of hawks and water birds.

Date: February 27, 2016

Car Pooling: Meet at Union Hall for departure at 7 A.M.; Glen Tay Public School for departure 7:30 A.M.

Destination: Amherst Island Ferry dock, for 9:30 A.M. sailing. Return sailing 3:00 P.M.

Bring: Binoculars, spotting scope (if you have one), lunch and hot thermos. Dress warmly for Lake Ontario winds are cold.

Pre-registration: Registration beforehand is required. Please contact Cliff Bennett at 613-256-5013 or 

In case of unsuitable weather, this event will be cancelled. 

The photos below are from a 2005 MVFN Amherst Island outing. We are not certain of the photographer (but if you read this post and can name the photographer, please let us know at ). Read full story of the 2005 trip and others by searching with key word Amherst.

Amherst2  Amherst1

Museum of Nature Outing

With the exception of a few reluctant flyers, birds have migrated and most of us have put away the canoes and kayaks. This may be the time of year to consider an outing with friends to our national nature museum!

Come join us for a day of browsing the galleries at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa!

In the morning, we can take our time and wander through a special exhibit: Bugs: Outside the Box. Italian sculptor, Lorenzo Possenti’s massive models challenge viewers to experience the insect world like never before.  If you are not quite convinced, go to the  website and find out more.

In the afternoon, museum staff will guide us on a tour highlighting informative and interesting aspects of the Mammal Gallery, Bird Gallery and Water Gallery.

Microsite header

Where: Canadian Museum of Nature, 240 McLeod Street, Ottawa

When: Saturday, November 28th.

Time: Meet for carpooling at the Almonte Civitan parking lot at 10:00 am. Park for free at 100 Argyle St. across from the museum.


10:45 am- noon: Special Exhibition, “Bugs: Outside the Box”

12:45 pm-1:45 pm: Guided tour of the Mammal, Bird and Water Galleries.

Approximately 2:45 pm, return to Civitan parking lot.

Cost: $19 Adult; $17 (Seniors 65+). Taxes not included.

Pre-registration: As the museum requires groups of at least 15 people (and up to 20 max), registration is required. For questions, and to register, please contact Gretta Bradley at or 613-256-4202.


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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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