Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Wednesday, September 5th at 2:30 PM

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) are very pleased to announce the grand opening and dedication of the Mike McPhail Bird Viewing Shelter, located just west of Almonte, behind the Municipality of Mississippi Mills Waste Water Treatment plant.

This special project to create a new local birding facility was conceived, developed and built by the MVFN Birding Committee and many other construction-minded MVFN volunteers.  The viewing shelter is dedicated and named for the late Mike McPhail, a former President of MVFN and a tireless advocate for nature in our community.  The Mike McPhail Bird Viewing Shelter is located along the same path as the Al Potvin Observation Tower, which has been well used by birders from near and far for many years and overlooks the largest and westernmost of the decommissioned lagoons.

 

Bringing a big project from conception to completion involves a lot of planning and many steps.  Starting in the spring of 2017, the investigation of several designs and sizes and shapes of bird viewing shelters was undertaken, and a preliminary structural plan was designed by Michel Gauthier.  This was taken to Mississippi Mills municipal staff for review, and a request to build beside the lagoon on town property.  The project was approved unanimously by Council in the fall, and the necessary building permits were obtained.

A call was sent out to MVFN members for help with construction, and the response was amazing – 22 people signed up!  The first step was to level the ground, and spread gravel, which was done by Howard Robinson and his trusty tractor.  Because of the early onset of winter in mid-November, the cement support posts had to be formed and dried in Al Potvin’s heated garage.  Over the long winter months, volunteers calculated materials needed and arranged to purchase them from Home Hardware in Almonte.

Then the long wait for spring to arrive began, and the crew waited, and waited, then waited some more. Finally, we emerged from early spring to high summer weather, the ground was dry and firm, materials were ordered, and the eager volunteers finally began construction. There were many talented volunteer carpenters and apprentices, which kept the cost down significantly.  However, the “commanders-in-chief” had a knack for organizing work crews on the very hottest days of June!  In spite of the heat, however, the construction moved along quickly, and by early July, the shelter was complete.

And what a beautiful and sturdy shelter it is, with a perfect panoramic view of the lagoon and marsh areas.  Constructed of beautiful pine with a green metal roof, it can be seen off in the distance from Wolf Grove Road. Future plans include permanent signage along the path to the shelter and at the shelter, educational material inside, and natural landscaping around the shelter, which hopefully will attract even more wildlife.

The MVFN Board of Directors and members are delighted with the results of the tireless efforts of the co-managers and construction crews over the past year.  We are proud to offer the public birding community a unique place to visit, spring, summer and fall.  MVFN is also very grateful to the Municipality of Mississippi Mills for allowing the shelter to be built, for the help and support they offered throughout, and to Home Hardware for their expert advice.

Besides migrating waterfowl and shore birds at the lagoon, there are woodland birds along the path, and field birds which can be seen out from each side of the path.  To access the path, turn right off Wolf Grove Road to Concession #8.  The path is located a few hundred meters up Concession #8, across the road from the far end of the Auld Kirk Cemetery.  Parking is permitted on both shoulders of the road, except in front of the gate.  The rather hard-to-see entrance to the pathway is marked with a small yellow sign on the right.  Please respect the “Rules of Etiquette” on the path and in the shelter.

The Official Grand Opening and dedication of the MVFN Mike McPhail Bird Viewing Shelter will take place Wednesday, September 5 at 2:30 PM at the shelter. All are welcome to attend the ceremony. This also marks the start of four September Birding Open Houses taking place every Wednesday in September from 3 to 5 PM, when you will have an opportunity to speak to an MVFN bird expert who will have a scope ready for very close-up and personal views of the birds!  Bring your binoculars!  All summer, spring and fall, the Observation Tower and the Bird Viewing Shelter are open at any time for the public to walk in and view birds.

NOTE: Link to current E-bird checklist for this location is at https://ebird.org/canada/printableList?regionCode=L2327732&yr=all&m

For further information, please visit mvfn.ca or email inquiries to or 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Plenty Canada, a non-profit Indigenous-based charity in Lanark County are starting a World Wildlife Federation funded field project to study wild rice in the surrounding area. The organizers have heard there could be beds of wild rice in Clayton Lake and contacted MVFN asking for local information on these, or possible locations.

If you are aware of any wild rice beds in any Lanark County lakes please get in touch with Shannon Farmer directly at or (705)740-5874.

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Here’s a chance to get involved in citizen science while out on the water!

MVFN, in conjunction with the Mississippi Lakes Association, will once again conduct this year’s Canadian Lakes Loon Survey on Mississippi Lake, for Bird Studies Canada.

The task involves pairs of volunteers making one, two or three visits by boat to a section of Mississippi Lake, searching for loons and recording the findings.

The three visits are during the last week of June, July and August. You can volunteer for one, two or all three of the monthly visits. Each visit lasts up to two hours. Maps and forms will be provided.

A motor boat and driver will be made available for each team. Each team will coordinate, with the boat driver, the preferred day, time, and location of the launch.

You will need binoculars and sunscreen.

Orientation session: To prepare for the survey work, an orientation meeting will be held at the Mill of Kintail Gatehouse on Wednesday, May 16 at 1:30 PM. Please register with Cliff Bennett at or 613-798-6295 by May 15.

For further information please contact Cliff.

NOTE: to read about the results of the 2016 Mississippi Lake Loon Survey click this link

NOTE: link here to 2017 Loon Lake Survey results

 

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A new MVFN Membership Year begins April 1st and so it is time to renew your membership or perhaps to become a new member of MVFN for the 2018-2019 season!

We invite you to renew or become a member to . . .

  • Be a voice for nature; MVFN is a member group of the Ontario Nature Network
  • Participate in our canoe/kayaking program, nature walks, nature watches, citizen science efforts and outings
  • Enjoy monthly natural history talks/presentations January-April & September-November in Almonte
  • Support our conservation initiatives and environmental education programs
  • Volunteer on a committee or special project or on our Board of Directors

NEW AND RENEWING MEMBERS

Please complete a membership form (click here for printable membership form) and send with a cheque for your membership dues to:  MVFN, Box 1617, Almonte, ON K0A 1A0. We cannot accept e-transfer of funds at this time. Or, you could complete a form and renew your membership (cash or cheque) at one of our upcoming meetings/nature talks in Almonte (check details for the February 15th and March 15th talks on our Calendar of Events).

MVFN Annual Membership rates: $35 family; $25 individual; $20 seniors (65+); students $10.

If you have any questions about your membership status, please contact Membership Committee member Elizabeth Veninga at

Please continue to visit our website, join us on Facebook, pick up a brochure at one of our events, or contact Brenda Boyd, MVFN President (613-256-2706) to learn more about what the Club is offering, or to volunteer your time, knowledge, and ideas.

Thank you!

Sylvia Miller,

Chair, Membership Committee

/  613-256-7825

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Our windows reflect a lot of beauty, but please make sure the windows at your home or business are not harmful to birds. During the Almonte screening of The Messenger, a documentary film about the decline of songbird populations, the issue of fatal light attraction and collision with windows was highlighted. Two “striking” revelations from that film, and worth emphasizing particularly for our rural area of Ontario:

  • Windows that reflect natural surroundings (trees, hills, forest, water etc.) may present more of a hazard to birds than those reflecting an urban landscape
  • many more bird deaths could go unnoticed in a natural environment or in locations where industrial buildings are directly on the water (hydroelectric and other structures).

There are ways to reduce collisions at home and elsewhere.

According to Safe Wings Ottawa:

“Residences are responsible for 44% of bird collisions, while low-rises (4 to 11 storeys) account for 55%, and high-rises less than 1%. This is because most collisions happen within 5 storeys of the ground, and there are many more houses and low-rise buildings than big towers.

Many of these incidences go unnoticed because homeowners are away during the day, in another room, or otherwise not aware when collisions occur. They also may not find any dead or stunned birds because these are quickly picked off by neighbourhood cats or other creatures.

So just because you haven’t witnessed many collisions does not mean your home is not killing birds — for every collision you witness, there may be dozens more every year. And that means treating any hazardous windows as well as clear deck railings can make a tremendous difference.”

The key to preventing collisions is to make your windows visible to birds by applying visual markers in a dense pattern, ideally with a maximum gap of 5 cm (2″) between pattern elements, on the exterior surface of the glass. Read on for tips and strategies for reducing collisions at home.”

Read more at Safe Wings Ottawa about how to ensure your house or business does not present a risk to birds; also what else you can do to help reduce bird mortality due to collisions by monitoring buildings, reporting collisions, rescuing birds and other volunteer activities.

 

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