Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

View from the pasture – pesticides and pollinators

Submitted by Cheryl Morris for Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists

On Thursday, October 15, 2015, the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) will host the second presentation of their 2015-16 natural history series: “Naturally Special Places”. This event will be held in the Social Hall of Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin St., Almonte Ontario at 7:30 pm.

Guest speaker for the evening will be Dr. James Coupland, Director of FarmForest Research, a research and development company based out of Almonte that serves the agricultural community across Canada, North America, and around the world, including research work in developing countries with very challenging climates. The presentation is entitled “What’s Happening Down In the Pasture? Pesticides and Pollinators”. Dr. Coupland graduated from Almonte District High School before studying at Queens University. He completed his PhD in Zoology at University of Aberdeen in Scotland. Coupland worked for 10 years as an invasive species biologist with the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) based in southern France. FarmForest Research was established by Dr. Coupland in 1991 in Montpellier, France, and combines a broad technical and practical understanding of agriculture, biology, ecology, and entomology (the study of insects). The core area of the company’s expertise lies in solutions for invasive species of insects and as such, it is a leading authority on Integrated Pest Management including the use of biological control systems (biopesticides).

Many of our naturally special places are being degraded by pollutants, including pesticides. Our waterways and water pastures, especially, are increasingly threatened by runoff from towns and farms, with pesticides delivering a ‘knock-out blow’ in some of these areas. In Dr. Coupland’s words “Our Naturally Special Places are under threat and the inhabitants therein are especially under threat”. The talk will focus on the threats to pollinators living within these ‘special places’. Pollinators are components which are vital to maintaining the integrity of nature’s landscape for future generations. “Pollinators along with many other species worldwide are under threat for many reasons such as loss of habitat, changing weather patterns and environmental pollutants. In this talk, I will discuss the importance of pollinators to both the ecology of natural habitats and to crop production in Canada. The recent decline in native pollinators and the potential economic impact due to the reduction of both wild and domesticated bees has been the driving force for research into the causes of their decline”, states Dr. Coupland.

Our speaker will discuss what has been revealed thus far by this research and what else needs to be studied and implemented to reduce and reverse this alarming trend.

Please join MVFN for this informative and important presentation. Refreshments and discussion will follow the talk. There is a non-member fee of $5. For further information, please contact MVFN’s Program Chair, Gretta Bradley at .

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Naturally Special Places: theme for MVFN’s 2015-2016 series of nature talks

updated Jan 4, 2016

The theme for this season of MVFN nature talks/presentations is Naturally Special Places. We have a wonderful group of guest speakers for these presentations. All presentations take place at 7:30 pm at Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin St., Almonte:

NOTE: featured image of gray tree frog on cardinal flower is by our March speaker, Grant Dobson, President of Shaw Woods Outdoor Education Centre, one of our featured Naturally Special Places.

September 17

Sparrows, Warblers and Hawks, OH MY! Taking a Peep at the Wild Bird Centre, Patty McLaughlin, Wild Bird Care Centre

October 15

What’s Happening Down in the Pasture?  Pesticides and Pollinators, Dr. James Coupland, FarmForest Research

November 19

On Guard for Nature: Ontario Nature’s Fight to Uphold the Endangered Species Act,  Dr. Anne Bell, Ontario Nature

January 21,  2016

Exploring the Soundscapes of Naturally Special Places, Chad Clifford, Wilderness Rhythms

February 18

Purdon: Uniquely Natural, Shannon Gutoskie, Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority

March  17

Shaw Woods: A Diverse Ecological Gem, Grant Dobson, President, Shaw Woods Outdoor Education Centre

April 21

Wild Life Journals, Members Night 

Grant Dobson (1280x899)

photo by Grant Dobson, Shaw Woods Outdoor Education Centre

 

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The wild bird care centre: A bird’s-eye view

by Cheryl Morris

On Thursday, September 17, 2015, the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) will begin a new season of lectures relating to the theme “Naturally Special Places”.  All talks will be held in the Social Hall of Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin St., Almonte Ontario beginning at 7:30 pm.

Photo 2 Eastern Screech owlEastern Screech Owl, avian patient at the Wild Bird Care Centre. Photo by Patty McLaughlin

Guest speaker for the evening will be Patty McLaughlin. Patty is well-known to many in the area as the Program Leader of the MVFN Young Naturalists. Patty holds a B.Sc. in Zoology as well as a Master of Science from Carleton University. In 2013, Patty received The Elizabeth Le Geyt Award in recognition of her outstanding contribution to public awareness and care for wild birds.

Patty will introduce us to a very special place in nature, The Wild Bird Care Centre  located on Moody Drive in Nepean, just west of Ottawa. Patty is a full-time staff member of the Centre. She has entitled her talk “Sparrows, Warblers, and Hawks, OH MY! Taking a ‘Peep’ at the Wild Bird Care Centre”. The Wild Bird Care Centre was established in 1981 by the late Kathy Nihei. It was incorporated in 1991 as the Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre and has operated as the Wild Bird Care Centre at the Stony Swamp Conservation Area location since 1992. It is the only place in the Ottawa Valley which is dedicated to the care, treatment, and release of sick, injured and orphaned wild birds. The staff of the centre care for over 2300 wild birds annually.

Throughout McLaughlin’s presentation, we will learn more about the Centre’s history, daily operations, and hear stories about the most common and also some unusual patients!  Patty will focus her talk around the most difficult, yet memorable birds, the Raptors. In Patty’s own words, “You may think its a thrill to spot one in the wild and catch a glimpse of their power and speed but I will tell you what it is like to work with them up close. I will describe their typical personalities, tricks we use to keep them comfortable while in captivity, some very neat facts about Raptors, as well as miraculous recoveries—I have lots to share!” Patty hopes to be accompanied for her presentation by “her usual stuffed suspects” as well as “Indy”, “the non-stuffed, defiantly living American Kestrel”.

Please join MVFN for this lively, informative, and inspiring presentation. Refreshments and discussion will follow the talk. There is a non-member fee of $5. For further information, please contact MVFN’s Program Chair, Gretta Bradley at glbradley@icloud .com.

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Our Trees—Our Heritage: to Protect or Destroy?

Servants and Masters: Trees on the Landscape

by Cheryl Morris for the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists

On Thursday, March 19, 2015, the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) will present the sixth lecture in their current series. The event will be held in the Social Hall of Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin St., Almonte Ontario at 7:30 pm.

The  guest speaker will be Justin Peter, Director of Programs and Senior Naturalist for Quest Nature Tours. He has entitled his talk “Servants and Masters: Trees on the Landscape”. Prior to working at Quest, Justin was Senior Naturalist at Ontario’s world-renowned Algonquin Park where he coordinated the park’s interpretive program and recruited promising junior naturalists. He is a popular speaker at birding festivals and nature clubs, including MVFN , and, as well, is researcher for regional and international projects and publications. He founded the Facebook page ‘Landmark Trees of Ontario’, which features some of Ontario’s many remarkable trees and their stories. He recently led the review of the popular book Trees of Algonquin Provincial Park (author Dan Strickland), the latest edition of which was released in 2015. This book emphasizes that “…of all the living things that inhabit Algonquin Provincial Park, none are more important than trees.”

photo Howard Robinson

Trees in the landscape: Lanark County. photo Howard Robinson.

Justin Peter states: “In one sense, trees are passive elements of the landscape, vulnerable to the vagaries of environmental change and human activity. On the other hand, they are tremendously adaptable and responsive to opportunity, and their presence (or absence) influences life all around them. In this illustrated talk, we will discover some of what our native trees can tell us about our landscapes as we explore the diverse ecological and cultural roles that they play—past and present—as well as their potential to enrich our future landscapes.” Justin will expand on this statement as he discusses how the economic value that we place on different trees affects how much or how little we know about them and their conservation status. His talk will enlighten about how important specific trees are to the wildlife that depends on them for survival. He will discuss the existence and magnitude of ongoing threats to the survival of our trees including those posed by pests, diseases and climate change. As well, he will describe the under-appreciated presence of historic trees in nature and their great potential to help re-forest the landscape. In discussing these topics Justin will make us aware of how our own values affect the ability of trees to survive and flourish.

Please join MVFN for this interesting and informative presentation. Refreshments and discussion will follow the talk. There is a non-member fee of $5. For further information, please contact MVFN’s Program Chair, Gretta Bradley, at . For MVFN events, membership and other club information visit http://mvfn.ca.

 

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Environmental Threats to Avian Species: with Michael Runtz

A Springtime of Silence?

Will we one day experience a springtime of silence? On Thursday, February 19, 2015, the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) present the fifth lecture in their current series.  Award-winning Carleton University educator Michael Runtz will be guest speaker for this presentation entitled “Environmental Threats to Avian Species”.

Yellow Warbler

 

What are the current threats to birds such as this yellow warbler photographed in the Spring of 2014?  Photo by Susan Wilkes.

Runtz is a well-known biologist and naturalist and author of many scientific articles and award-winning books about nature, such as Wild Wings: The Hidden World of Birds, which features, as do several of Runtz’s books, his own spectacular photographic record of the natural world. A passionate and insightful observer of birds (and many wild creatures) since childhood, in addition to his work in the Carleton Biology department, Runtz educates and inspires the public to learn about the natural world; for example in his role as coordinator of the annual Pakenham-Arnprior Christmas Bird Count and his long-standing volunteer involvement, currently as President, with the Macnamara Field Naturalists Club.

Runtz states: “Rachel Carson was instrumental in preventing deadly insecticides from killing millions of birds. But today many other threats exist, some equally as insidious as DDT. This highly visual presentation will examine a few of the challenges that currently face our bird populations.” Runtz refers of course to Rachel Carson, author of the 1962 book Silent Spring which first brought to the world’s attention, the startling facts about environmental damage (particularly to birds) caused by pesticides. Birds continue to be threatened, but which threats would Michael Runtz consider the most important for birds today?: environmental toxins both new and old? . . .  habitat loss? . . .  introduced predators? . . .  or other threats?

Join MVFN for what promises to be an interesting and informative presentation. The presentation “Environmental Threats to Avian Species” will be held at the Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin St., Almonte, ON at 7:30 pm. Come with your questions about your favourite local species. There is a non-member fee of $5. For further information, please contact MVFN’s Program Chair, Gretta Bradley, at . For MVFN events, membership and other club information anytime visit http://mvfn.ca.

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