Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

The Last Picture Show

All good things must come to an end and Arm Chairs Travelers is no exception. The third and last in this winter’s series will be this Friday, March 8, from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. in the Mississippi Mills Public Library Conference Room (155 High St, Almonte).


Karen and Bruce Thompson are back with a presentation on a two-month road trip from the Blue Ridge mountains south to North Carolina, then west through Tennessee, Kansas, Utah and Montana. Experiencing the awesome landscapes and fantastic fauna will chase away the winter blues and put you in the mood for spring travel.

Lydia Wong, a master’s student at the University of Ottawa, has titled her presentation “For bees or not for bees? Native and non-native floral hosts in an urban landscape.

Amidst the city roads, pavement, traffic, and buildings, urban areas can still be home to a surprising diversity of organisms. In particular, Toronto is home to 364 different bee species despite it being the largest city in our country. Bumblebees, sweat bees, carpenter bees, cuckoo bees and the like have all made habitats within the city’s residential gardens as well as in local parks and ravines. Lydia will talk about who these city bees are, what they do all day, and how we as city-dwellers can make our cities a welcoming place for bees.


Our third presenter, Michael Morash recently retired from a thirty-five-year career with local technology companies serving various technical and business roles. It was during that time and numerous trips around the world that he developed a passion for off-the-beaten-track travel. Since retirement with more time on his hands, Michael continues his off-the-beaten-track adventures with a focus on experiencing diverse world cultures, unique and textured landscapes and exotic and endangered species. Through all these travels his camera is not far from his side.

Michael will talk about his experiences and share photographs from a recent trip to the largest fjord system in the world, Scoresby Sund, Greenland.



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The MVFN Membership Year is coming to a close on March 31, and it is time to renew or join for the 2019/2020 Membership Year which begins April 1.

Please find a Membership Form on the website under “MEMBERSHIP”. From there you may print, fill out, and send along with your membership dues as directed, or you could fill out the auto-fill membership form on-line and submit membership fees and/or donations using PayPal. (Unfortunately, we cannot accept e-transfer of funds at this time.)

Membership Application forms are available and payment accepted at monthly natural history talks which take place in Almonte in January, February, March, April, May and September, October and November.

If you have any questions about your membership status, please contact Membership Committee Chair Sylvia Miller at .

And please continue to visit our website, join us on Facebook, pick up a brochure at one of our events. General inquiries can be made by email to to learn more about what the Club is offering, or how to volunteer your time, knowledge, and ideas.

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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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