Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
August 4, 2006
by Sheila Edwards
Another excellent paddle with the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists from Pakenham to Blakeney
The heat and humidity had temporarily broken July 23rd, just in time for a paddle along the Mississippi River. The three kayaks and three canoes put in behind the Community Center in Pakenham, heading upstream to the Blakeney waterfalls.
The Mississippi is particularly beautiful along this stretch; its tree-lined shores are generally 50 to 100 m apart and are edged with blooming aquatic plants. Those living along its shores are blessed with a quiet river; we encountered only one motorboat during the trip. Once we left the noisy highway behind, we felt as though we were paddling in a remote provincial park.
The range of birds seen was good for a mid-morning paddle; at least 22 different species. Of the darker varieties, we saw numerous red-winged blackbirds, grackles, European starlings, turkey vultures, ravens, crows and a cormorant. Near the Blakeney waterfalls, a red-tailed hawk soared over our heads. Someone even spotted a hummingbird, not a species generally seen while paddling.
After the first leg of our journey upriver, we lunched under an ancient willow across from the foot of the rushing Blakeney waterfalls. Zak, a canine member of our group, burnt off some energy swimming after sticks. A friend of the club had given us permission to use their dock. Thanks, it was great!
Many of us were puzzled by a tall flowering stalk with a beautiful cluster of pink blossoms that we were unable to find in the reference books we carried with us. After further investigation back on land, the plant was identified as Flowering Rush, Butomus umbellatus. Such a shame that it is an escaped exotic which is actively spreading!
The return trip downriver was fairly challenging as the wind had picked up. It was a relief to get side-tracked and explore Indian Creek, as it was sheltered and calm. During the summer the creek is fairly shallow and becomes un-navigable fairly quickly, but with the trees almost meeting overhead, and interesting shoreline, it was a nice addition to the trip. A few of us plan to explore Indian Creek more extensively in kayaks the next time out.
A detailed description of the route we traveled, “Pakenham 1”, can be found on the website of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists at here.
For those interested in participating in future paddles, the club has two more canoe trips planned for this season. On Sunday, August 13 we will be paddling the Tay River from Glen Tay to Perth. On Sunday August 27 we will be exploring Canonto Lake. If interested, and for more information contact Cliff Bennett at 613- 256-5013 or e-mail .