Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

MVFN NatureNotebook Sighting

Below are photos of some species to test your identification skills. They are photos of recent sightings, sent in by Lise Balthazar June 21, 2017: three moths, a snake, and an amphibian. Photos are by Nat Capitanio.

To record your identification of one or more, or to see what others say, check out our MVFN Facebook page for a link to this post. We hope you enjoy a summer of observing nature!


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MVFN Nature Notebook Sighting

Extra Spring flooding is bringing reports of lots of interesting water birds on flooded fields in Lanark County.

This report and photos were sent in on May 10, 2017:

“Our back field is flooded, as it’s usually the case in the Spring, but this year it’s a bit more extensive.  It’s attracting several Mallards, Wood Ducks, Canada Geese, a Great Blue Heron and even 4 Greater Yellowlegs.”

Lise Balthazar

Sheridan Rapids

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Birding Costa Rica 2016: Irazu Volcano

PART VI: Rick’s and Iain’s excellent adventure!

NOTE: All photos by Rick Muise

Today is a big day. We are off to bird Irazu Volcano from the bottom to the top.  The volcanos in Costa Rica provide different environments and hence different species as you go up in elevation with the top providing home for several endemics found nowhere else.

We start very early with Lynette and Otto joining us and both local guides, Harry and Rene.  We drive through a lot of the best agricultural land around and no wonder given the beautiful volcanic soils.  Cabbages, coffee, corn and potatoes everywhere.   We see what are called “shade grown” coffee plantations, which just means the shade trees are there but are kept at maybe 3 feet taller than the coffee with no spreading branches so they don’t obstruct the sun.  Hmmm, makes you wonder about some of the brands we buy in Canada that advertise they are “shade grown”.

The first stop was a small bridge over a gorge of fragmented forest.  While dodging the occasional car, we see lots of Wilson’s Warblers, Mountain Elaenias and Acorn Woodpecker.  Next stop was another piece of roadside forest with Collared Redstart, Flame throated Warbler and Yellow Winged Vireo; all beautiful birds.  The Redstart works its way along a fence closer and closer to Rick while he watches a completely different bird.  We chased Wood Partridges through the forest but only heard them and had to move on.     Next was a farm with surrounding forests, at 9000 feet up.  There were lots of workers hand-hoeing the soil and using oxen pulled plows looking exactly like it is centuries ago.



We stop here for Quetzals with permission of the owner.  Around the field edges we find several Nightingale Thrushes singing their beautiful songs, two types of Silky Flycatchers and the Slaty Flowerpiercer.  Eventually patience pays off and the Quetzals are located in amongst tall trees; 2 Males, 1 Female and 1 juvenile.  Terrific looks.  We are at 9500 feet by this point and all of us were feeling the altitude but we take it easy.



Finally, to the top of the Irazu, 11,200 feet, where it was misty and cool.  Some people were forming a ring in the crater by holding up a long sheet of white cloth that had a diameter of maybe 250 feet.  Not sure what was the point but from the behavior it might have been a team building session or a new age ritual.  We ate at a picnic table while a scrawny cat begs for food as we watch the Volcano Juncos and Volcano Hummingbirds, two of the endemics we came for.   We walked the crater rim listening to Timberline Wrens but never seeing them; overhead were Chestnut-collared Swifts and again there are lots of Wilson’s Warblers.    The longer we are over 11,000 feet the quieter the 6 of us get, except for Harry who is still a non-stop stream of identifications.   Later we discover all of us are suffering bad headaches from the altitude.  Eventually a thunderstorm arrives and rain starts so we head back down.





The ride down the volcano is much faster, but the scary thing is the people who pass on blind curves.  On the way back to the lodge we stop at a large pond to see Bank, Cliff, Northern Rough-winged and Blue and White Swallows.  Lots of Spotted, and one Solitary Sandpiper.  Got back to the lodge exhausted after an 11-hour day but the numbers were great.

Species     233


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by Iain Wilkes

Birders and nature enthusiasts in Carleton Place and surrounding areas can join citizen scientists throughout the Americas and participate in the Audubon Society’s longest-running wintertime tradition, the Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC). The Carleton Place CBC will be held this year on Tuesday, December 27th and it is sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) and coordinated in Canada by Bird Studies Canada.  The count area is a 24 km circle centered on the bridge over the Mississippi River in Carleton Place, and includes Almonte, Appleton and Ashton. Details for Christmas Bird Counts can be found on the Audubon website.

Thousands of individuals participate in counts throughout the Americas and beyond between December 14, 2016 and January 5, 2017. “Each CBC volunteer observer is an important contributor, helping to shape the overall direction of bird conservation.”  Bird Studies Canada and our partners at the National Audubon Society in the United States rely on data from the CBC database to monitor bird populations.  Last year, during the 2015 Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count over 60 volunteers spent the day observing birds resulting in the recording of over 6700 birds and 46 different species.

The CBC tradition began over a century ago when 27 conservationists in 25 localities, led by scientist and writer Frank Chapman, changed the course of ornithological history.  On Christmas Day in 1900, the small group posed an alternative to the ‘side hunt,’ a Christmas day activity in which teams competed to see who could shoot the most birds and small mammals.  Instead, Chapman proposed that they identify, count, and record all the birds they saw, founding what is now considered to be the world’s most significant citizen-based conservation effort.   The first Audubon bird count in Carleton Place took place in 1944.

Volunteers are essential to the success of the CBC. You don’t need to be an expert but it helps to be familiar with local bird species.  In any case, participants in the field counts will be placed in a team led by an experienced birder and everyone is welcome. You will need a pair of binoculars.  As well residents with bird feeders within a count area can  help by listing all birds at your feeder or in your yard on the count day.

For more information or to register for the Carleton Place CBC on December 27th, please contact Iain Wilkes at    If you are interested in helping out by counting birds at your feeder/yard, please register with Georgina Doe at 613- 257-2103.  At the end of the Carleton Place count day, field participants return to the Community Room upstairs at Mitchell’s Independent in Carleton Place on McNeely Avenue for the count-in as well as refreshments.

Best of the Season to All!

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GODDARD, Peter Gilling


Left us suddenly and too early with dignity and love, while walking the autumn trails of Shaw Woods with the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists and his brother, Allan.

Third son of his late parents Elizabeth Anne Goddard (Macdonald) and Raymond Gilling Goddard of Smiths Falls. Survived by brothers John (Debbie), Allan, David (Nancy), sister Jennifer (Grant), Barbara (and husband) Kathy, nephews Graeme (Emily), Geoffrey, nieces Naomi (Andrew), Keenan Anne (Adam), friend Caroline and especially the twinkles in his eyes, Zoey Elizabeth and Winston Gilling.

Pete served with dedication the Boy Scouts of Canada for over 40 years in various capacities of teaching, instruction, leading and managing. He instructed and lead outdoor activities at the Bill Mason Center and recently retired from active outdoor field management and instructing with the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority. He was an active and caring member of the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa.

Dear Peter, so fondly missed by his loving family and so many friends and especially by brother Allan, room-mate, friend, brother.

In memory of Pete, please plant a tree, save one, contribute to his beliefs. He cared so much about the world in which we live.

A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, November 26 at 4:30 PM in First Unitarian Congregation, 30 Cleary Ave., Ottawa. Dress casual.

Funeral arrangements are entrusted to the care of the C. R. GAMBLE FUNERAL HOME & CHAPEL 127 Church Street, Almonte, Ontario. (613)256-3313

Condolences & Tributes:


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