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

Special Events

“How Things Lead to Other Things: The Unexpected Results of Pursuing Birds”

MVFN Spring Gathering 2017, May 18th

NOTE: Tickets ($40) must be purchased or reserved in advance by May 11, 2017. See details below

Can bird banding be a catalyst for social change? Find out May 18th at our annual Spring Gathering at the Almonte Civitan Community Hall. The evening will feature a banquet, silent auction fundraiser for environmental education, and a keynote presentation “How Things Lead to Other Things: The Unexpected Results of Pursuing Birds” with Rick Ludkin, an Ontario master bird bander and sponsor/educator of birders of all ages, near and far.

Rick Ludkin. photo by Nancy Furber

Rick Ludkin. photo by Nancy Furber

Rick Ludkin has a very diverse “history” in conservation birding, particularly with the “close encounters”, hands-on approach of traditional bird banding monitoring. It would be interesting to know exactly how many fragile Snow Buntings, Golden-winged Warblers, various Kenyan weavers and other birds he has held gently in his hands, to measure, band, and glance at for a fleeting moment before releasing. It must be in the many tens of 1000’s!  A children’s mental health expert by profession, Ludkin has always had a significant side-career.

He began bird banding in the 1970’s and in 1995 established a Canadian Migration Monitoring Station at Ruthven Park, Haldimand Bird Observatory. Hundreds of school children enjoy time banding and “scribing” about the migrating birds there with his team. Several field-work trips to the Arctic studying Northern Fulmars and Common Eiders, also gave Ludkin a love and respect for Snow Buntings and he later collaborated to create the Canadian Snow Bunting Network. In February, Ludkin and a small team spent a day banding the “Snow Buntings of Lanark County” at a popular stopover site for the migrant flocks at a property in Sheridan Rapids. In 2013 Rick Ludkin set out to a rural area of Western Kenya to help found the “Matangwe Bird Club” and has returned each year. The story of this transformative project and the diversity of birds Rick witnesses during his time there are stunning!

Bird banding activity in Matangwe, Kenya: Black-headed Batis male (left) and female. photo Brian Ochiago

Bird banding activity in Matangwe, Kenya: Black-headed Batis male (left) and female. photo Brian Ochiago

How far do the ripples generated reach, when children and communities develop acute knowledge and skills to study the wild species around them? Rick Ludkin will share his hopes and insights.

Details for the event are as follows:

MVFN’s Spring Gathering 2017 begins at 5:30 pm (doors open 5) with a reception and chance to share a drink with friends and bid in the silent auction. Dinner begins at 6:30 pm and then, sit back and enjoy the presentation! Tickets ($40) must be purchased or reserved by Thursday, May 11th and will be available in Almonte at Gilligallou Bird Inc., at The Blossom Shop, Carleton Place, and in Perth at The Office. Further info at To reserve your ticket/s for pick up at the venue, please contact MVFN’s Sylvia Miller at or 613-256-7825.



-submitted by Cheryl Morris-Putman for MVFN

NOTE: feature photo by Judy McGrath

On Thursday, April 20 at 7:30 pm., the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) will host their annual Members Night, to be held in the Social Hall of Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin St., Almonte Ontario. We will welcome from our membership four ambassadors for nature, Bob and Sherryl Smith, and Karen and Bruce Thompson. During the first presentation we will be inspired by a dedicated project in our region involving local youth, gardening experts and enthusiasts, and environmental educators from MVFN, all partnering to create garden habitats for our area’s pollinators, and in particular Monarch Butterflies. The second presentation will feature stunningly beautiful photographic images inspired by nature and created by two accomplished photographers from Almonte.

Sherryl and Bob Smith, who reside in Pakenham have authored the first interesting presentation entitled “Partnerships, Pollinators, and Plants”. Sherryl is an active member and past-president of Pakenham Horticultural Society (PHS) and also volunteers with the Pakenham Public School (PPS) Garden Club. Bob is the chair of the MVFN Environmental Education Committee (EEP).  EEP enhances opportunities for youth education relating to the wonders of the natural world in the Mississippi Valley Watershed, one of the key goals of MVFN. The presentation highlights the partnerships which have been created between PHS, PPS, and MVFN. EEP’s latest project, The Pollinator Garden Project, began in the spring of 2015 with 5 schools and continued through to the fall of 2016 involving 15 schools and utilizing the knowledge, skills, and dedication of volunteers from PHS and EEP in creating gardens that nurture and provide habitat for diminished numbers of Monarch Butterflies. The project was initiated and funded by MVFN and EEP in an effort to alert young people to the issue of the threatened Monarch. Over 100 Monarch butterflies were nurtured, hatched and released by the students and teachers of these schools. Bob and Sherryl will describe plant selections that attract Monarch butterflies and other pollinators. They will also outline the life cycle of the Monarch and will provide some observations about garden conditions necessary for pollinator habitats in our region.

Karen and Bruce Thompson have entitled their presentation “Takin’ A Hike”. They are gifted photographers and have traveled extensively coast-to-coast and abroad, all the while nurturing their ‘first love’ of nature photography. They are founding members of  “Photography Matters”, a group of local photographers. The members of this talented group include professionals, amateurs, film aficionados, and digital enthusiasts. There is an organized monthly and sometimes a longer-term photo challenge theme, a photo critique, as well as guest speakers or presentations, all of which helps this talented group of photography artists to further develop their artistic passion and skill. Karen and Bruce will guide us as we step into the natural world around Prince Edward County and beyond. Our eyes will feast on the beautiful photographic images of birds, flowers, animals, and native scenery. Soft music will further enhance the experience.

Please join us for this relaxing and informative evening. The doors will open at 7 pm. for those wishing to socialize until the start of the presentation. Refreshments will be available throughout the evening. The MVFN Annual General Meeting (AGM) will be held at 7:30 pm. followed by the presentations at 8 pm. There is a visitors fee of $5; there will be no charge for youth 18 and under. For further information, please contact MVFN’s Program Chair, Gretta Bradley at .



AGM and Member’s Night

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Join MVFN for two Member’s Night presentations following MVFN’s Annual General Meeting (note: only current MVFN members may vote during the AGM).   Doors open 7 pm for refreshments, which are also available after the presentations and meeting. The AGM will begin at 7:30 pm, and following a short break, there will be two presentations.

Member’s Night presentations:

“Partnerships, Pollinators and Plants” by Sherryl and Bob Smith

“Exploring Prince Edward County” by Karen and Bruce Thompson


updated April 2017 AGM poster.indd



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

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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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