Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

March Madness – A Conifer Countdown




Inspired by Owen Clarkin’s presentation, MVFN is launching a hunt for conifers. Owen has agreed to be the resident “expert” on iNaturalist to confirm any observations made in March. And, he has agreed MVFN can share a recording of his presentation.

We are lucky to have at least ten native conifer trees in Lanark. They are easy to find in the winter. So when you are out and about keep your eyes peeled and see if you can find all 10 conifers.

The species are: Eastern White Pine, Red Pine, Jack Pine, White Spruce, Black Spruce, Eastern Hemlock, Easter White Cedar, Tamarack, Balsam Fir and the common Juniper.

When you locate one of the conifers on the list take a few photos of the tree (it’s needles, cones and bark) using your cell phone or a digital camera and upload it to our iNaturalist project. It will also be fun to see where the largest of each species is in the county. When you find one: measure the circumference of the trunk at chest height using a string or cloth measuring tape. Enter your measurement in the note field.

The tallest tree in Ontario is currently a white pine in Arnprior that is 47 meters (154 feet) tall. Can we find one that is close to this?

If you haven’t already joined our iNaturalist project, you can find directions on the website at

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Western Chorus Frog Monitoring



May be of interest to some MVFN members – please get in touch with the company directly if you are interested in helping out. 

The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence-Canadian shield population of western chorus frogs is listed as threatened in Canada, and declines have been anecdotally noted in recent years. Blazing Star Environmental has partnered with the Canadian Wildlife Service and Trent University to create a long-term, range-wide monitoring program for the western chorus frog. Their project hopes to determine the distribution and extent of the chorus frog in its range through periodic monitoring of the species.

They are looking for volunteers in our area to monitor local sites 2-3 times, during the 2-3 week calling window. Unlike most other frog call programs, the surveys take place during the day.

Blazing Star Environmental will provide training, help select sites and send out alerts when frogs start calling in our area. They have provided an informational webinar on the program. The webinar recording is available for download here:

If you are interested in participating in this effort, contact Blazing Star Environmental at

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Wanted Alive, or Not! for Loitering and Jay Walking



David Seburn’s zoom presentation on freshwater turtles inspired many of us to keep an eye out for turtles crossing the road and give them a hand if it is safe to do so.

MVFN would also like to help his Eastern Ontario Turtle Project. The intrusion of COVID-19 means that a whole field season may be lost. We have therefore started another Lanark County wildlife project on iNaturalist called “Lanark County Turtle Watch”.

We are looking for photos of turtles. Turtles crossing the road, turtles nesting or turtles sunning themselves on a log or a rock. And, sadly we would also ask you to include photographs of turtles that did not make it across the road. All photos provide helpful information.

While you are out and about please watch for turtles and keep your phone or camera handy. By photographing turtles and uploading the images to the project “Lanark County Turtle Watch”, you provide important data on the location and population of turtles.

To participate:
1. Open an account on iNaturalist. Open
2. Join the MVFN Lanark County Turtle Watch project. Join
3. Start posting turtle observations in Lanark County. iNaturalist will guide you through entering the requisite data including location, type of roadway observation and nesting activity.
You can find a guide to using the MVFN Turtle Watch interface here: Guide
If you need help, use the following email

Please call the Ontario Turtle Centre at 705-741-5000 immediately if you come across an injured turtle.

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Local wild rice beds? Citizen scientists help requested

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.

Spring paddle, Clayton Lake, 2015. photo Howard Robinson

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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Help look for loons in the 2018 Mississippi Lake Loon Survey

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

Loons return to Mississippi River, 2018. photo Nat Capitanio

Mated pair and chick. photo P. Donaldson


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