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

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MVFN Sponsors Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count

December 30, 2016

Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs) have been around in the Western Hemisphere since the year 1900. Three count circles (7 1/2 mile radius) have been operating for decades in Lanark County and area including Carleton Place, Rideau Ferry and Pakenham.

A fourth circle, the Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count (LHCBC), has been around for 12 years, since 2003. This year will be the thirteenth count. Designed to fill a large gap in Lanark County, the LHCBC, sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN), is centred on Watson’s Corners. This count circle takes in Brightside to the north, most of Dalhousie Lake to the west, south to within a km of Balderson and east to include Middleville.  The Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count is always on December 30th and this year it falls on a Friday.

The Christmas Bird Count is conducted by interested birders who are formed into teams each with a group leader.  These avid birders comb the roads, trails and woodlots during the count day to record every bird seen or heard. The results are sent to Bird Studies Canada. This annual event produces a definitive census of our bird population across the entire Western Hemisphere and is used for many research and conservation programs designed to encourage the continuing health of our avian friends.

All persons interested in gathering data on our local bird population are invited to join in the count. Teams will be formed, each team having a knowledgeable birder. Each team will be assigned a count area and will spend the daylight hours from 8 a.m. counting every bird they see or hear. Many of us meet at the Lanark Landing for lunch on George Street in Lanark at noon to warm up and share stories before heading out for a few more hours of counting. At 3:30 or so, the birders gather at the Lanark Civitan Hall just outside Lanark Village along Pine Grove Road (called South Street in Lanark Village)to record their findings and enjoy hot refreshments and some tasty goodies and watch the final count numbers as they come in. This is a fun and important day as we keep track of and record our local bird populations for research purposes.

Residents in the count circle area who have active bird feeders may like to take part in the count as a feeder counter by spending a few hours documenting birds at their feeders. Feeder Counters must register with Feeder Coordinator, Marj Montgomery, before Christmas by email at or leave a message for her at 613-259-3078.  On December 30, the feeder watchers will count every bird coming in to their feeders or appearing in their yard and, by 2 p.m., preferably email your results to Marj or leave her a message.  These numbers will be totalled and added to the main count from the field observations.

Count coordinator is Marilyn Barnett. Howard Robinson enters all the data into our central data base. Complier of the data is Cliff Bennett. If you have not participated before and would like to register for the field count, please contact Marilyn preferably by e-mail at or call her at 613-259-2269.

MVFN Program Volunteers: Lecture night October 2016

MVFN members Chris Baburek (L) and Blanche Gauthier (R) are part of the MVFN lecture night program team. This photo is from the evening of our October presentation “Coyotes: An Eastern Ontario Study” which was attended by approximately 120 people.   If you would like to assist as a volunteer with MVFN, please let us know!

The next natural history presentation in our “Wild Creature Close-ups”: series, will take place Thursday, November 17, 2016 at the Almonte United Church social hall. The presentation, “Birds in Your Backyard” will be by well-known local birder, former teacher and Councillor, MVFN Past President Cliff Bennett. The evening gets under way at 7:30 pm and the event is  free for MVFN members and youth 18 years and under. All are welcome, and refreshments and discussion takes place before and after the talk.

Thank you to Lucy Carleton for taking this photo.

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Canadian Loon Lakes Survey of Mississippi Lake

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MVFN Members:

Here is a good opportunity to get involved in some interesting and worthwhile citizen science this summer on a local project. MVFN, in conjunction with the Mississippi Lakes Association, has volunteered to conduct this year’s Bird Studies Canada Canadian Lakes Loon Survey” for Mississippi Lake.

The task involves pairs of volunteers making one, two or three visits to areas of Mississippi Lake, searching for loons and recording the findings. The visit times will be the last week in June, July and August. You can volunteer to do one, two or all three visits. Visits last up to two hrs. 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 for launch.You will need binoculars and sun screen.

Please register with Rick Erskine at  or telephone 613-257-1397 and he will match you with a boat driver and lake location. For further instructions, please contact Cliff Bennett at 613-256-5013 or   after June 15.

Silent Auction Appeal for Environmental Education

On the evening of Thursday May 19, 2016 our annual MVFN Spring Gathering at the Almonte Civitan Hall will take place, featuring a dinner, guest speaker and a silent auction to raise funds for MVFN’s Environmental Education program.

At this time we are sending out an appeal to all our members and the local community for donations of quality items, new, used or even antique, for this silent auction. This year we would like to place an emphasis again on services and experiences as auction ‘items.’ Popular examples from last year include guided hikes on the Alvar, birding expeditions, picture framing, monthly flower bouquets, and even exciting sailing trips! We welcome more creative offerings like these with a nature theme:  interpretive guided hikes to other unique natural sites in the area, a consultation on wildlife friendly landscaping, other yard work/landscaping help, bird house installations . . . or other.

If you would like to donate, please email Bob Smith at  (note the underscores between bob_o­_links) or phone and leave a message at 613-624-5307 regarding your item. We will contact you as to when and where your item can be delivered or picked up.

Thank you for your support of MVFN’s Environmental Education

Bob Smith

MVFN member and volunteer for MVFN  Environmental Education Committee

Help Wanted Help Wanted Help Wanted

Clayton Road Clean-Up Morning with MVFN

Saturday, April 30, 2016

MVFN’s Environmental Issues Committee is embarking upon a new effort to help make our part of community more ‘natural’ and ‘healthy’ by removing as much trash as possible from roadways.

We have decided to “adopt a road” each year. This year we will clean up on Clayton Road, Mississippi Mills AND we are asking your help to achieve this task! Meet afterwards for donut and coffee to relax and celebrate.

Date: Saturday April 30th from 8:30 to 10:30 am; coffee at Equator Coffee in Almonte afterwards.

Fourteen volunteers plus one or two pick-up trucks would easily complete the task. Please register for this event so I’ll know who is coming. Let me know if you have a pick-up and can help to drive helpers and/or help by collecting litter.

What to wear: long sleeves and trousers, tucked in to protect from deer ticks and wild parsnip.  Gloves are essential.  Also sun screen and insect repellant.

What to bring: a light pail with a handle and a stick with a nail in the end.

Where to meet: Esso station (corner of Highway 29 and Ottawa Street) in Almonte at 7:45 am for car-pooling.

To Register: Contact Cliff Bennett at 613-256 5013 or

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FULL-SIZED  CALENDAR WITH DETAILS

MVFN natural history talks:  7:30 pm on third Thursdays of Jan, Feb, March, April,  Sept, Oct, and Nov at Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin St. Almonte ON. All welcome! Non-members $5. 

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