Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Flowers of the Ottawa Valley

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
Submitted by: Roberta Clarke, Programme Committee
April 22, 2003

Flowers of the Ottawa Valley

Spring Wildflowers“Flowers of the Ottawa Valley” was the focus of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalist meeting on Thursday evening April 17th, held in the Almonte United Church. A large group gathered for a slide presentation by Sheila and Harry Thomson, well known veteran naturalists from Ottawa. Bobby Clarke, MVFN host for the evening, introduced Sheila and Harry.

Sheila then took the audience on a leisurely walk along some Ottawa Valley trails highlighting the many flowering plants that bloom through early spring to summer. Harry illustrated the talk with his exquisite slides covering the common “Spring Beauty” to the rare “Calypso Orchid”. The evening was made even more enjoyable by Sheila’s interesting and entertaining knowledge of local and flower folklore. Did you know that you are not likely to be an Ottawa Valley local if you call the Dog-toothed Violet a Trout Lily?

Sheila and Harry were thanked and given a Highlands Honey Gift Basket.

The next MVFN event will be outdoors on May 25th at Duncan’s Organic Farm/10a.m Barbecue.

For further information on the MVFN and upcoming events, please call: Cliff 256-5013 or visit our website at www.mvfn.ca

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Breeding Bird Atlas Shows Bird Nesting Trends

Submitted by: Cliff Bennett,
Saturday, March 22, 2003

CardinalRavens are now nesting in downtown Ottawa! How did we know that? They were observed and listed in the second Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas (OBBA), 2001 to 2005. Paul Jones, a member of the Region 24 (Ottawa and district) OBBA coordinating committee, disclosed this fact as an example of the tracking of birds which are currently breeding in Ontario and especially in the Ottawa area.

Paul Jones, an Ottawa lawyer currently working for the Canadian Association of University Teachers, spoke to the monthly meeting of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists at the United Church Hall in Almonte on Thursday, March 20. Using slides of birds and accompanying charts showing their distribution, Jones explained certain trends occurring so far in this second of two breeding bird atlases for Ontario. The first atlas was conducted between 1981 and 1985.

As Jones disclosed, much can happen to the bird world in twenty years time and the purpose of this second atlas to map these changes. For instance, in 1981, ravens nested to the north and west of us but are now raising their families locally, especially in Ottawa.

Merlins, a northern raptor, are another example of a population shift. In the first altas, they were shown nesting as far south as Pembroke but are now also nesting locally. House finches were just beginning to make their way into Eastern Ontario from the USA in 1981-85 but today, as noted in the past two years of this current atlas, are well established as far north as Renfrew.

At the conclusion of Paul Jones presentation, the audience asked numerous questions as to how the atlas is organized and who can participate. MVFN is currently conducting studies in one square, in the Appleton area. Introduced by Cliff Bennett, Paul was thanked by MVFN Board member Michael MacPherson. A lively discussion continued over refreshments.

The next MVFN activity will be an evening presentation on wild flowers, to be held at Almonte United Church, Thursday, April 17. For details and much more, visit the Field Naturalist’s website at MVFN .ca.

submitted by Cliff Bennett 256-5013

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Organic Farming Aids Natural World

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
Submitted by Cliff Bennett
Feb. 23 2003

Growing Food Naturally

SeedlingIn keeping with its broad mandate of concern for our natural world, members and guests of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists were treated to a dynamic presentation on organic farming, at its Feb. meeting, held in Almonte. Bruce and Janet Duncan, who operated a certified organic farm on County Road 17 in Ramsay Ward of Mississippi Mills, enthralled their audience with a slide show of their farm and its operations, complimented by a vivid description of the history of their farm, how they got into organic growing and finally, a description of the current state of organic growing in Canada. They noted that most of their products from their 150 acre farm, are sold locally.

Key to the Duncans’ presentation was the fact that, through maintaining rigid values in organic farming, they are not only enhancing the health of all citizens who consume organic products, they help protect the environment from continual contamination by chemical and artificial agricultural practices. On their organic farm, the Duncans grow a diversity of crops, using low and no till operations, all without the use of pesticides and herbicides. As a result, critters on and in the ground are not poisoned nor are the birds which eat them.

Introduced by MVFN Chair of Environmental Issues Susan Fisher, Janet and Bruce entertained questions from the audience which lasted well over one half hour. In thanking them, Susan presented the Duncans with a gift of an environmental book. Refreshments were served after the meeting.

The next MVFN event will be a meeting on Thursday March 20, at which noted birder and naturalist Paul Jones, will present documentation and slides on the current on-going Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas.

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An Evening with Field Naturalist Tony Beck

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
October 26, 2002
Written by: Tine Kuiper

An Evening with Field Naturalist Tony Beck  

Barred Owl (c) Tony BeckThe recent meeting of the Missisippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) kicked off with a short presentation by Mississippi Mills resident Hannah Larkin, an 11 yr. old student in R.Tait McKenzie Public School in Almonte. She told of her adventures at the United Nations sponsored International Children’s’ Conference on the Environment, held in June in Victoria, British Columbia. Hannah, who was chosen when she entered an essay on the environment, was partially funded by the MVFN through its Environmental Education Projects Programme. She was one of over four thousand children from sixty-five different countries around the world, who met to plan strategies and policies to present a challenge to the World Conference on the Environment held in Johannesburg, South Africa, last August. Hannah enjoyed the interaction with other the children, learning much about their cultures and dreams of a safer, cleaner environment. Her message to the audience was an appeal to take care of our environment through active and pro-active activities.

The main program of the evening, featured field naturalist and birder Tony Beck of Nepean, introduced by Tine Kuiper. For about one and a half hour he had the audience spellbound as he presented more than 100 of his beautiful photographs of birds found throughout the Ottawa Valley. These birds were either permanent residents or migratory species. Each photo showed great detail and colour, was subtly lighted, and the eyes were always perfectly in focus. Tony explained that the eyes provide a window to the soul, and without this focus, the bird would appear lifeless. Throughout the talk he provided many interesting details on bird behaviour, bird songs, conservation issues, and which birds were increasing or decreasing in number in our area. The photograph taken by Tony is of a barred owl, which commonly nests in this region. The next indoor meeting of the MVFN takes place on Thursday November 21 at 7:30 pm at the United Church, featuring Jane Buckley on Loon Lake studies.

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Speaker Helps Field Naturalists Rediscover Trees

Press Release
Missisisippi Valley Field Naturualists
September 21, 2002
Written by: Cliff Bennett

Speaker Helps Field Naturalists Rediscover Trees 

Autumn ColoursThere are probably many ways of looking at a forest, but surely the most manageable method is to focus on a single tree. This was the message delivered by one of Canada’s noted lichenologists Rob Lee, at the first autumn meeting of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists, held recently at the United Church in Almonte.

Rob Lee, an award winning member of the Ottawa Field Naturalists and leader of the Macoun Field Naturalists Club for junior members, told the audience of MVFN members and guests of a ten year project to identify and study individual trees in an NCC forest in West Ottawa.

Entitled “Hooked on Trees”, each Macoun member adopted their own tree ten years ago, sketched and photographed and studied all the field marks, the tree’s attributes and its interaction with the rest of the forest. In subsequent years, the members returned to the forest, found their personal tree and updated their information on it.

Using a series of excellent colour slides, Lee illustrated, for example, a hickory tree adopted by a Macoun member, who listed its age, timing of leaves in spring and fall patterns, how and when it produced nuts and other special features of the tree. By the time the child is ten years older, he will have learned not only the biology of this one tree but, by comparing notes from others, will become very knowledgeable about the entire life of the forest.

MVFN host for the evening Roberta Clarke introduced and thanked Mr. Lee and presented him with a token of appreciation. During the question period, it became evident that Rob kindled much enthusiasm and heightened awareness of trees and forests, something non-naturalist people seem to take for granted.

The next indoor meeting of MVFN is Thursday, Oct. 17 and the guest presenter is noted birding expert Tony Beck. Meanwhile, check out programme details and other nature matters on the MVFN website, mvfn.ca.

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