Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) are pleased to announce that four district graduating High School students were recently awarded the 2019 MVFN Cliff Bennett Nature Bursaries.  The deserving recipients of the $1000 bursaries are:  Hazel Cobus, who graduated from St. John Catholic High School in Perth and will be pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science at the University of Ottawa; Natalika Culhane, a graduating student at Carleton Place High School who will be working toward a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Geography at Carleton University;  Kea McKay who graduated from Notre Dame High School in Carleton Place and will be studying for a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, with the intention of specializing in the field of Marine Biology at the University of Victoria; and Jasper Nault from Perth and District Collegiate Institute who will be attending Algonquin College in Pembroke in a program to become an Outdoor Adventure Naturalist.


Photo: H. Robinson

The MVFN Cliff Bennett Nature Bursary was established in 2007 by MVFN members, friends and family of retired educator Cliff Bennett and co-founder of MVFN, on the occasion of his 75th birthday. Since 2007, more than $16,700 has been awarded to twenty-one  students from Almonte and District High School; Carleton Place High School; Notre Dame Catholic High School; Perth and District Collegiate Institute; St. John Catholic High School in Perth and West Carleton Secondary School.

Application information for the bursary awards on MVFN’s website, under Bursary and Awards, at school Guidance Departments in late fall, or through Trish Larkin, Chair of the MVFN Cliff Bennett Nature Bursary Committee.


“Seeing Nature together from the Waters’ Edge”

We are pleased to announce our 12th annual MVFN Canoe Camp, set this year for Whitefish Lake in Algonquin Park. Please see all the details below!

MVFN Canoe Camp, photo September 2016 by B. Boyd

When:  Friday, September 6 to Monday, September 9, 2019

Where:  Whitefish Lake Group Campground, Algonquin Park, 36 km into the Park on Highway 60

For: All current MVFN members who enjoy canoe/kayak/hiking/camping, with a maximum of 25 people.

Cost:  $75 per person.  This covers site registration, per person payment; parking; firewood and program planning. If there is a surplus from registration fees, money will go to the MVFN Cliff Bennett Nature Bursary Program.  If there is a deficit, additional money will be requested from each camper.  Some people may only wish to attend for part of the camp, which is fine, but the set fee is the same for everyone, as MVFN has to pay for everything ahead of time.

Program:  We paddle for 4-5 hours/day, stopping to observe any interesting flora and fauna along the way.  We divide the paddle up between morning and afternoon sessions, with a leisurely lunch on shore in between.  The paddles are designed for people of all paddling abilities – no white water paddling!!  Alternately, you may choose to hike one of the beautiful trails nearby, or go for a 1/2 day paddle.  Leaders will be assigned for each activity.

You are responsible for bringing and cooking your own meals and beverages of choice (including alcoholic beverages), except for Saturday dinner, which is a group potluck (with leftovers Sunday evening!).   We do cook and eat together in a communal kitchen area, with our own equipment.  We eat dinner together at a set time, but breakfast is on your own time.

I’m sure some people wonder why we so often return to Algonquin Park at either Whitefish Lake or Achray Group campgrounds.  Firstly,  they have lovely large campsites.  Secondly, there are several options of day paddles and hikes at each campground that are not available at other provincial parks with group campsites.  Thirdly, the Park is within reasonable driving distance.  And finally, there is something magical and mystical about Algonquin Park that calls to all of us, and everyone seems to be totally happy to be back in our favourite area for camping, enjoying each other’s company, and paddling pristine lakes and rivers in lovely, almost bugless early September weather.

Preliminary Registration:  To pre-register (which will hold your spot), please send your name, email address and phone # to Brenda Boyd at:   or call Brenda at 613-256-2706 with any questions.

NOTE: Registration is limited to 25 people, and is on a first-come, first-served basis.

You must be a current MVFN member in order to attend this camp. In early August, you will be asked to formally register and pay the fee online.

We look forward to a relaxing, fun weekend with you!  Bring your musical instruments and campfire singing voice.

MVFN Nature Notebook Sighting

Received July 1, 2019

“It appears that most loons on Clayton and Taylor lakes are still nesting as of 2019-06-30. There was one family with a single chick that was stretching its leg. Up until now I had never seen a chick stretching its leg and at one point it was stretching both of them at the same time.”

~Howard Robinson

Loon Chick stretching, Clayton Lake, June 2019. photo H. Robinson

Nesting Common Loon, June 2019. photo H. Robinson

NOTE: Watch the website and MVFN’s Facebook page for details of our next MVFN paddle, July 28, 2019.

Submitted by Howard Robinson, MVFN Birding Committee

On June 23, 2019 we canoed/kayaked Canonto Lake and birded by sight and sound from the water on a Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists’ outing, led by Cliff Bennett. There were 8 vessels, and 12 people in the party, but not all our time was spent birding.

Below is a list of bird species, and respective counts, that were seen or heard. The list has been submitted to eBird and shared with our MVFN birding account as an historical record.


Canonto Lake Paddle, June 23, 2019 photo H. Robinson

A faulty/deadly loon platform, Canonto Lake, observed on June 23 paddle. photo H. Robinson

eBird Checklist – 23 Jun 2019 – Canonto Lake, – 23 Species

8 Wood Duck

6 Mallard (4 of the 6 mallards were ducklings)

2 Sandhill Crane  (seen flying over the lake)

3 Ring-billed Gull

4 Common Loon

7 Great Blue Heron

4 Turkey Vulture

2 Belted Kingfisher

1 Northern Flicker

4 Red-eyed Vireo

3 Tree Swallow

3 Barn Swallow

2 Black-capped Chickadee

2 White-breasted Nuthatch

2 Hermit Thrush

3 American Robin

2 Chipping Sparrow

6 Song Sparrow

40 Red-winged Blackbird

6 Common Grackle

4 Ovenbird

1 Yellow Warbler

2 Scarlet Tanager

MVFN Nature Notebook Sighting

“A “strange” sound alerted me to a bird sitting high up atop a locust tree in our garden a few blocks from the Mississippi River. It took examination of these photos to identify the bird as a green heron. And a search of sounds documented for this bird, revealed that what I probably heard was the bird calling for a mate.”

~ Pauline Donaldson

Green Heron, Almonte, ON June 4, 2019. photo P. Donaldson


Green Heron, Almonte, ON June 4, 2019. photo 2 P. Donaldson


Green Heron, Almonte, ON June 4, 2019. photo 3 P. Donaldson