Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

For all MVFN members and friends.  If the early bird gets the worm, then the early birder gets the birds!  From 6-8 am on four Wednesdays in April.  Dress warmly. Bring binoculars and camera. You do not need to register for these walks. Just show up!

The details:

Wednesday, April  5 :  Al Potvin’s Trail in Almonte

Meet at Al Potvin’s trailhead for 6 a.m. Al’s trail starts at 38 Carss St. near the river.

Leader is Michel Gauthier; email: 

Wednesday, April  12 :  Clayton Lake

Meet at the start of the laneway of the Robinson’s home at 2645 Tatlock Rd. (just before the village of Clayton), 6 a.m.

Leaders: Howard & Mary Robinson  613-256-0817 ; email: 

Wednesday, April  19 : Taylor Lake

Meet at the trailhead for 6  a.m.  Corner of Lanark Concession 12 and Wolf Grove Road.

Leader Michel Gauthier; email: 

Wednesday, April 26 :  Mississippi Riverwalk Trail, Carleton Place

Meet at the Carleton Place arena, 75 Neelin St., CP at 6 a.m.

Leader Tim Pullen   613-203-5295

For more information, please contact the leaders for the date shown.

Robin, Almonte 2016. P. Donaldson

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Birding Costa Rica 2016: Travel Day 4

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

Day 4 is a travel day and we are kind of winging it.  It is about a 4-hour drive to our lodge in the Caribbean highlands south of Turrialba so we didn’t expect too much on the birding front; boy were we wrong!  The day before, Luis told us about a birding spot along the route, run by a friend of his called Cope, so he arranged for us to make a quick stop there and gave us a number to call to arrange a time and get directions.  This was a last minute arrangement and our only hope for birds.

So we are up just after 6, late, ate breakfast and headed to the Tirimbina forest for one last 2 hour walk before our driver arrives.  We saw what we thought were 2 ‘lifers’, Streak Crowned Antvireo and Plain Xenops.  Later Rick’s pictures when blown up revealed the Xenops to be a Wedge-billed Woodcreeper which we already have.  It was not the last time Rick’s pictures aided our identifications.



Darwin our driver arrived and off we went. The telephone number I was given for the bird stop on the way did not seem to work.  So we told Darwin about the arrangement and I showed him a picture of Luis who had set up the stop.  Small world as he knew Luis so he called him and got the location and time sorted.  On the way we stopped for fabulous coffee, food and sweet cakes at a set of roadside stores.  Seems Darwin, a 26-year-old single guy, knew all the best coffee shops in southern Costa Rica.   On arrival at a small town called La Union we found Cope’s place. He is an artist who has replaced his art income with birding tours, as they are much more lucrative.  He is busy with a tour from England so William one of his guys takes us on a fast tour.  First stop is a road side view of a Great Potoo with its baby.  This gets many high 5’s.  Now, there are two species of Potoos on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica,  Great and Common.  The Great imitates a slanted tree branch and the Common imitates a vertical branch/trunk.  Next a walk through a local forest provides great looks at a Spectacled Owl, and a Black Throated Trogon on the nest.  We could see the babies under her.  Finally, a quick stop at his house turns up a Gray-necked Wood-Rail and hummer feeders.  This all made for an excellent day!







We continued on to Rancho Naturalista which we chose because it is mostly geared to birders.   It has access to many local trails up and down the hills and it is near several local hot spots.  As well, the facilities are first rate with gourmet meals served family style.  A real treat after Tirimbina.  Our drive ended after passing the last village on lots of slow winding roads and then up a steep and rocky 1/2 km gravelly track which made the tires spin.  You definitely need a 4-wheel vehicle.  We finally arrived and are greeted by Harry (Englishman) the resident guide and the local German Shepard.  We are quickly in our rooms (nice, no flat screens or phones) and then onto the balcony where we try to identify all 12 species of hummers.  Beautiful Coquettes, Plumeteers, and Hermits fighting for a place at one of the many feeders.  We thought we had died and entered nirvana.





Plan is to relax and then take a short walk to look for birds but then we meet Jackie and Tom on their way to the Pools to watch hummers.  Hmm, sounds interesting so off we go.  The Pools are really three or four very small puddles fed by a trickle of water which runs thru the middle of a forest gorge a few 100 meters from the lodge.  You stand maybe 10 or 15 meters above them on a wood platform and watch species come for their end of the day baths as the light slowly fades.  Woodnymphs, Snowcaps and Hermits dipping in to the water very much like dancers.  Then Silver-throated and Emerald Tanagers bathe for a while.  Foliage-gleaners and Leaftossers arrive and a Manakin races by.  This is an end of each day event.  Harry the guide just stands there naming birds, describing them and their calls.  His knowledge is impressive.  Eventually the light is so bad we head back to our rooms.





After showering I hear the dinner bell and arrive at the table.  We are joined by the two Aussies (Jackie and Tom), as well as Harry the guide and Rene, a Brazilian birder who was asked to come to Costa Rica to do Macaw research and is now enjoying just birding and guiding at the lodge.  Food quality is terrific followed by coffee and scotch.  While eating we listen to the calls of a Mottled Owl.   Species count 151.



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Click here to link directly to the Ontario Nature Action Alert

Ontario is proposing to weaken legal protection for migratory birds by exempting commercial building owners from a key provision of the Environmental Protection Act (EPA). The proposed regulatory amendment would remove the requirement for owners to deal with light reflected from tall commercial buildings, which is known to lead to the death or injury of millions of birds in Ontario every year.

Please join Ontario Nature in helping oppose this proposal (EBR Registry Number 012-3605)!

In 2013, an Ontario court ruled reflected light from building windows to be a ‘contaminant’ under the EPA. The court confirmed that the Province had the legal authority to require building owners to deal with light reflected from windows that were at high risk of killing or injuring birds. Yet, instead of acting upon the findings of the court, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) is proposing to give up its power to protect migratory birds from reflected light.

The 2014 – 2015 Annual Report of the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario called out the MOECC for abdicating its responsibility:

“… it appears that the ministry’s preferred approach is to ignore its regulatory responsibility and leave it up to property owners and managers to voluntarily follow guidelines and suggested strategies.” (p. 63)

Voluntary approaches will not address the problem. Based on over two decades of work by the Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP) Canada, it is clear that most commercial building owners will not take voluntary action.

Millions of birds, including many species at risk, will continue to die if the problem of reflected light is not adequately addressed. Sadly, these deaths are preventave. Technical solutions are available, but they will continue to be ignored without the compliance and enforcement measures in place to drive uptake by commercial building owners.

Join Ontario Nature in urging the MOECC not to proceed with this ill-founded proposal. Let the ministry know that Ontarians expect it to strengthen environmental laws, not to weaken them by changing the rules to sidestep its duties.

Please send in comments by the December 04, 2015 deadline. You can go to the Ontario Nature  article to submit comments, being sure to reference Environmental Registry #012-3605. Or set yourself up with a user name on the Environmental Registry and you can post comments confidentially to Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner on this issue (Reference  Environmental Registry #012-3605) and other notices posted directly on  Ontario’s Environmental Registry site on-line.

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 Birding Open Houses at Observation Tower Almonte Lagoons

Mississippi Valley Field Naturalist’s Birding Committee invites you to attend one of the open houses at Almonte Lagoons observation tower.

Walk in and view a multitude of shore birds in migration. An expert birder with spotting scope will be on site.

Dates:   3:00 pm to 5:00 pm on 4 Wednesdays: September 16, September 23, September 30, and October 7, 2015.

Directions: From Almonte, take County Rd 16 (Wolf Grove Road) towards Middleville, 2 km. Turn right (north) onto Ramsay Conc. 8 at the Auld Kirk, travel 200 m. Trail entrance is on Ramsay Conc.  8, across the road from Auld Kirk Cemetery.

An MVFN ‘greeter’ will be on hand to give directions to the tower.

For further information call or email Cliff Bennett at   613-256-5013 or

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Here is a tally of bird species seen or heard from 2009-2015 during MVFN Early Morning Bird Walks. Typically these early morning walks take place between 6 and 8 am on four Wednesdays in April,  in various locations in and around Mississippi Mills and other areas in Lanark County, Ontario. Watch the MVFN website in early Spring for dates and locations of the next Early Morning Bird Walk!

The information was compiled May 18, 2015 by Neil Carleton.


IMG_6383 Gray Catbird Robinson

Gray Catbird: This photo was taken in the spring and is one of the species seen on an Early Morning Bird Walk in 2011; but this particular Gray Catbird was seen during MVFN’s 4-day trip to Point Pelee National Park, May 2015 and was photographed by Howard Robinson. What a fantastic picture!



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