Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

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

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 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!

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.


Continue reading...

At the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) 2016 Spring Gathering held on May 19th, Jennifer Kingsley’s “Meet the North” presentation and the generosity of communities near and far shone brightly. The sold-out event saw more than 150 in the community enjoy a reception and banquet dinner in the Almonte Civitan Community Hall decorated with the color and glow of the “Northern Lights.”

Spring Gathering 2016 Photo 1

MVFN’s 2016 Spring Gathering event was enjoyed by a sell-out crowd at the Almonte Civitan Community Hall, decorated for the evening with a Northern Lights theme thanks to the creative mind and energy of Lucy Carleton and her team.

Through the keynote presentation we were privileged to meet many generous people who are making a good life for themselves and their families in Northern communities (in locales such as Longyearbyen, Svalbard; Pond Inlet, Nunavut; Iceland), and who invited guest speaker journalist/naturalist Jennifer Kingsley into their homes and lives as she traveled to “Meet the North” one introduction at a time. It seemed as if the Arctic circle curved south for this one night as we learned quite unexpected things about Northern life from the sparkling personality of Kingsley. On her journey, Kingsley explained, she has had to “let expectations go” and the result she said is summed up with the word “unexpected.” Enjoying tea in Pond Inlet made with fresh water collected from a nearby iceberg!  The unexpected stories from “Meet the North” were told formally for the first time at MVFN’s Spring Gathering, leaving the audience intrigued and humbled by many special moments, for example images of a group of people with divergent political views together “singing their hearts out” in a coal mine in a distant Norwegian archipelago. The stories were all brought to life in the images of photographer Eric Guth, carried south and shared by Kingsley. You can follow the continuing journey on-line on Kingsley’s “Meet the North” blog.

Spring Gathering 2016 Photo 2 a

Spring Gathering 2016 Photo 2 b

At MVFN’s Spring Gathering, Jennifer Kingsley shared her “Meet the North” stories and signed copies of her award-winning book “Paddle North: Adventure, Resilience and Renewal in the Arctic Wild.”

The generosity of our local community also shone very brightly on this Spring Gathering evening. Thanks to the support of bidders and individuals and business who contributed to a silent auction, over $3000 was raised for MVFN’s Environmental Education program. This program is currently supporting Monarch butterfly conservation education at seventeen local and nearby primary schools. Using provided plants, soil, and milkweed seeds butterfly gardens are being, or have already been, developed and are being nurtured. In September, with “live monarch release kits” students will observe the life cycle of the butterfly and regenerate the “super-generation” of this imperiled species. A special thank you to the following contributors for enabling these efforts!

Our 2016 donors: Garden Inspirations, Pat Purdy, Greta Bradley, Ken Allison, Carolyn Lunn, Bob and Sherryl Smith, David Sale, Love That Barr, Pakenham General Store, Pakenham Golf & Country Club, Terri Knuuttila, Mill Street Books, Arnold Polk, Cartwright Springs Brewery, Textile Traditions, My Upholstery Shop, JB Arts, Blackbird Home Décor, Kentfield Kids, Gene Fytche, Centennial Restaurant, Fern Martin, Al Potvin, Paddye Mann, Jim Bendell, Bob McCook, Equator Coffee,  Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority, Marion Wilson, Fulton’s Maple Sugar Products, Fairwinds B&B, Pakenham Horticultural Society, JazzNHouse, Cliff Bennett, Wilderness Tours, Helena & Gerome Knap, Alan Goddard, Café Postino, Al Barratt, Chris Hashimoto, Whitehouse Perennials, Five Span Feed & Seed, L.G. Lee & Sons, Maple Leaf Auctions, Howard Clifford, Acanthus Florals, Almonte Fitness Club,  The Mill Street Crepe Company, Textile Traditions, Almonte Bike Shop, Barley Mow Pub, Mississippi Animal Hospital, Mississippi Golf Club, Nancy Young, General Fine Craft, Gilligallou, Healthy Food Technologies Inc. (HFT), Baker Bobs, Nicholson’s, Vamos, Home Hardware.

MVFN as a charitable organization and member group of Ontario Nature has a mission to advance nature education and conservation, and presents several awards to recognize and support excellence. At the Spring Gathering, the 2016 Cliff Bennett Nature Bursary Award for post-secondary education was presented to St. John Catholic High School (Perth) student Erin Symon who will begin a 4-year Bachelor of Arts degree program in Environmental and Resource Studies in September.

Spring Gathering 2016 Photo 3

Erin Symon, a student at St. John Catholic High School in Perth, was awarded the 2016 Cliff Bennett Nature Bursary for post-secondary studies presented by Cliff Bennett (left) and Nature Bursary Committee Chair Mike Macpherson.

In addition to the student award, two MVFN Champion for Nature awards were presented, to recognize individuals or groups for outstanding achievements in wildlife conservation, and whose actions have raised awareness and contributed to the protection of our local natural heritage. Dr. Tineke Kuiper, a resident of Wolf Grove and former MVFN Board member and Program Chair, was nominated for her tireless research work making presentations and providing support and advice regarding development of Natural Heritage System policies for Mississippi Mills and for heading up MVFN’s recent efforts to prevent development within Burnt Lands Alvar. A second 2016 Champion for Nature award was presented to Ray Holland, a “transporting angel of injured birds.” Lynda Bennett: “There is nothing Ray would not do to protect any living species.”  In the 1980’s Ray helped Kathy Nehei save hundreds of Ring-billed gulls and as a resident of Pakenham, he has spent a lifetime studying birds and their habitat. He watched over and cared for the female Bullock’s Oriole found in Pakenham last March. More detailed Champion “Profiles” can be found at

The 2016 MVFN Champion for Nature Awards were presented by MVFN President Brenda Boyd (right in both photos), one to Tineke Kuiper and the other to Ray Holland.

MVFN wholeheartedly thanks everyone who made the event such a success! We remind members of the upcoming summer paddling program and invite the public to join the club for the summer program of canoeing, nature field trips and citizen science work; our natural history lecture series will resume in September after a summer break. Please visit for an events calendar and membership information.

All photos by Pauline Donaldson



Continue reading...

Don’t forget to reserve your ticket by this Friday (May 13) for this popular annual event, featuring a reception (share a drink with friends & bid in the silent auction for environmental education),  delicious dinner and this year’s stunning presentation by Jennifer Kingsley!

Event is Thursday, May 19 at the Almonte Civitan Community Hall, but tickets must be reserved or purchased on or before Friday May 13.


To pre-order and pay at the door, contact Brenda Boyd at  or 613-256-2706 on or before May 13.


In Almonte at Gilligallou Bird Store, 14 Mill St. 613-461-7333

In Carleton Place at The Blossom Shop, 167 Bridge St. 613-257-1855

In Perth at The Office, 11 Wilson St. 613-267-2172

We hope to see you there!

Full details


Continue reading...

NOTE: Feature photo: A bundled smile. Jennifer Kingsley after a few hours outdoors at Pond Inlet, Nunavut. Photo by Eric Guth

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists, a local member of the Ontario Nature Network will hold their seventh annual Spring Gathering on May 19 at the Almonte Civitan Community Hall. The evening will feature a banquet and a keynote presentation by award-winning naturalist and journalist Jennifer Kingsley.

Photo 1 A bundled smile photo Eric Guth

Jennifer Kingsley first met the north on long canoe trips, and is the author of Paddlenorth: Adventure, Resilience, and Renewal in the Arctic Wild, winner of a top prize at the 2015 National Outdoor Book Awards. Her work as a broadcast journalist has been recognized by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. In 2015 Jennifer Kingsley founded the “Meet the North” project, and during the past year, as field correspondent for Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic she has undertaken a remarkable journey— from home in Ottawa, to Europe, Svalbard (an Norwegian archipelago), Iceland, Greenland and towns in the Canadian Arctic— to understand the ecology, the culture, and most importantly the people of remote and northern lands increasingly the focus of global attention.

In her presentationMeet the North: Life in the Arctic, One Introduction at a Time.”  Kinglsey will take us on a journey around the top of the world with stories you won’t find in any newspaper! With a small project team, “Meet the North” gets its direction from the people of the north. “Their ideas set our path; we listen, and we follow their lead. By meeting one person at a time, and by asking that person to introduce us to someone new, we are getting to know the Arctic community, and we are sharing our journey.”  Kingsley provides regular updates at Meet the” From April 2016 Nunavut: “This berg is within walking distance from town . . . Aside from being very beautiful, it’s a destination for ice harvesters. Iceberg meltwater makes the best tea in town”; Sept 4, 2015: “These [crowberries] are perfectly ripe, with the best balance of juice, sugar and bitterness. Eva is teaching me about what to gather from the land.She’s an Inuk from Baffin Island, Canada, she was the premier of Nunavut, and she is a language expert. I am already looking forward to visiting with her again.”

 Join us May 19th as Jennifer Kingsley travels south to share stories and spectacular images with us, taking us beyond the headlines and into the lives of those who call the Arctic their home. For naturalists and travelers alike, it is an unexpected Arctic which Kinglsey will share.

Spring Gathering 2016 begins at 5:30 pm with a reception and chance to share a drink & chat and bid in the silent auction to benefit Environmental Education. Dinner begins at 6:30 pm and then, sit back and enjoy the journey: “Meet the North: Life in the Arctic, One Introduction at a Time”. Tickets ($40) must be purchased or reserved in advance by Friday, May 13 and will be available in Almonte at Gilligallou Bird Store, at The Blossom Shop, Carleton Place, and in Perth at The Office. For more information or to reserve your ticket/s for pick up at the venue, please contact MVFN’s Brenda Boyd at or 613-256-2706.


Continue reading...

Advance tickets for MVFN’s Spring Gathering 2016 will be available starting tomorrow night, April 21st at our Annual General Meeting/Member’s Night and as outlined below.

MVFN’s Spring Gathering 2016 will take place Thursday May 19, 2016 at Almonte Civitan Community Hall. The evening will feature a reception, banquet dinner, silent auction fundraiser for our Environmental Education Program, and a keynote presentation. Meet Jennifer Kingsley, an award-winning naturalist and journalist who will be our Spring Gathering 2016 guest speaker sharing her experiences from visits with people around the top of the world. After dinner, sit back and enjoy the stories and spectacular images of her presentation: “Meet the North: Life in the Arctic, One Introduction at a Time.”  Tickets ($40) will be available at the AGM/Member’s Night tomorrow night. Tickets will also be available in Almonte at Gilligallou Bird Store, in Carleton Place at The Blossom Shop, and in Perth at The Office. Or, to reserve your ticket/s for pick up at the venue on May 19, please contact MVFN’s Brenda Boyd at  or 613-256-2706All tickets must be purchased or reserved in advance by Friday, May 13.

REMINDER: Following the brief AGM tomorrow night, we have a wonderful pair of Wildlife Journals presentations planned, highlighting intriguing owls and then loons. Also, if you have not already renewed your MVFN membership for the April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017 membership year, you may do so tomorrow night prior to the AGM. Elizabeth Veninga of the Membership Committee will be at the Membership table to answer your questions.

Thank you and we hope to see you there!

Continue reading...