Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

AGM and Wildlife Journals: Member’s Night

Members and friends of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) are invited to attend the organization’s 2016 Annual General Meeting. The meeting will take place beginning at 7:30 pm on Thursday, April 21, 2016 at Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin Street, in Almonte. The meeting will be followed by discussion and refreshments, and two, sure to be engaging, “Wild Life Journals: Member’s Night” presentations! Full details at

For the presentation “Encounters with Intriguing Owls,” Simon Lunn, biologist and nature photographer, will introduce us to several very different owls that he has encountered in recent years, both in his wooded backyard and special places within an hours drive of his home just south of Smiths Falls. Each of the owls has a unique story to tell.

Members night 2016 great grey owl flying close up Simon Lunn

Photo: Great Gray Owl photo by Simon Lunn

The second presentation will be “Loons and Human Interaction” by MVFN President and well-known bird expert and local naturalist, Cliff Bennett.

Loon by Gloria Opzoomer

Photo of loon by Gloria Opzoomer.

The past year was a busy one for MVFN (a local member of the Ontario Nature Network serving Lanark County, West Carleton and areas), with significant growth in membership and interest. Highlights included a very successful Program schedule (led by committee Chair Gretta Bradley) – a speaker series and many nature related outings, including an ever popular canoeing program led by Linda McLaren and new birding events held by the Birding Committee, chaired by Tim Pullen. Other highlights were the vigorous fund raising and education effort supporting a campaign to protect Burntlands Alvar, led by Environmental Issues Committee (EIC) Chair, Theresa Peluso; and formation of a new committee, Conservation and Habitat Restoration, chaired by David Garcia. In an effort led by EIC member Tineke Kuiper, MVFN continues to work with the Municipality of Mississippi Mills (MM) on the recognition of Natural Heritage Areas and “wildlife corridors” in MM. The popular Young Naturalists program at Mill of Kintail, continued to thrive under the guidance of instructor Patty McLaughlin (of the Wild Bird Care Centre) and coordination by Ron Williamson of MVFN’s Environmental Education Committee chaired by Bob Smith. Also in 2015, the Cliff Bennett Nature Bursary committee (chaired by Mike Macpherson) awarded a $1000 nature bursary to Almonte and District High School graduate Ruth Tamas. The meeting will feature reports on all of these activities plus a complete financial report and voting for election of directors for the coming year.

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Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists Announce April 16 AGM

Following Members’ Night presentations, all members and friends of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists are invited to attend the Annual General Meeting of MVFN. The meeting will be held at the Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin Street, Almonte on Thursday, April 16th, immediately following Members’ Night presentations, which begin at 7:30 pm.

For MVFN, the 2014/15 year was a very busy one. With one of the club’s original founding members, Cliff Bennett, once again leading the club, and Brenda Boyd serving as Vice President, the club saw significant growth in membership and interest. Highlights of the year include: a very successful speaker series, led by Programme Committee chair  Gretta Bradley;  the launch of a vigorous fund-raising campaign to support protection of the Burnt Lands Alvar, led by the chair of the Environmental Issues Committee Theresa Peluso;  the publishing of a significant research document by MVFN’s Appleton Wetlands Research Committee on the cause of death of the Appleton Wetland;  and the continuing success of the very popular MVFN Young Naturalists programme. The Young Naturalists programme is part of the Environmental Education Program Committee chaired by Bob Smith. The sessions are designed and led by biologist Patty McLaughlin and the program coordinator is MVFN’s Ron Williamson.

Also of significance this year was the redevelopment of the MVFN website. This project was led by former Publicity and Public Relations chair Iain Wilkes and resulted in an updated more user-friendly and interesting format. Current chair of Publicity and Public Relations, Pauline Donaldson also led the website reorganization and continues to manage ongoing improvements to information provided on the site.

The MVFN Environmental Issues Committee continues to deal with a range of subjects of concern to the environment and protection of nature. For example, led by Tineke Kuiper, MVFN continues to work with the Town of Mississippi Mills to ensure recognition of Natural Heritage System policies to protect natural features and vital connective ‘corridors’ between them. A new Membership Committee was formed this year, chaired by Noel Noyes-Brown.

Very many nature-related outings were held over the past year, including outings of the ever-popular canoe/kayak programme led by Sheldon Scrivens and birding activities organized by the new MVFN Birding Committee, chaired by Tim Pullen. The AGM will feature reports on all of the above activities plus a complete financial report and election of officers for the coming year. Refreshments will be available. For further information contact Cliff Bennett at / 613-256-5013 or visit

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Travels and triumphs— the stories unfold

by Cheryl Morris for Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists

On Thursday, April 16, 2015, the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) will host a Members’ Night. This will consist of three unique presentations given by members of MVFN. The event will be held in the Social Hall of Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin St., Almonte at 7:30 pm. The clubs’ AGM will follow these Members’ Night presentations.

photo by Howard Robinson

photo by Howard Robinson

‘A Photo Journey of the High Arctic’ will be presented by Howard Robinson, who, along with wife Mary travelled to this wild and remote part of Canada in August and September of 2014. Howard and Mary, of Clayton, have been members of MVFN for over 20 years. Howard has served as MVFN Vice-President and Treasurer, and is photographer and researcher for many MVFN projects. The Robinsons are also frequent participants in MVFN canoeing, camping, and bird outings as well as MVFN’s international trips. The Arctic ‘expedition’ had been their dream for many years.  Howard has always had an interest in nature, beginning with his early scouting and hiking days in Northern England, prior to his move to Canada as a young adult. Here he pursued a career in telecommunications but stayed in touch with nature through his hobby farm in British Columbia and later in Ontario through Lake Stewardship and other activities.

Yellow Warbler. Photo Susan Wilkes

Yellow Warbler. Photo Susan Wilkes

We also look forward to a presentation by Iain Wilkes entitled ‘A Lanark County ‘Big Year’—How Many Birds Are There?’  Also a former MVFN board member and long-time member, Iain became interested in nature during the 1950’s when he joined the Ingersoll Nature Club. Field trips to Long Point and Point Pelee established his interest in the environment and especially birds. Iain became involved in a local Christmas Bird Count in the 1990’s and as a result became an MVFN member. ‘Big Year’ stories are written by people who endeavor to identify as many species of birds as possible within a given year in a defined location. In 2012 he completed a ‘Big Year’ for Ontario during which he identified 290 species!  It was late in 2013 when Iain realized no one had established a bird list for Lanark County. In 2014 he set out to do just that and was successful in completing a Lanark County Big Year which has provided a baseline list of county bird species (available on the MVFN website). We will hear his story of triumph, of being in ‘the field’ every day, and of having to be prepared to race to a new location at any time in order to make an identification.

Young Naturalists. Photo Brenda Boyd

Young Naturalists. Photo Brenda Boyd

We will also be privileged to hear a presentation entitled ‘MVFN’s Budding Young Naturalists in Action’. Now in its fourth year MVFN’s Young Naturalists (YN) Program offers highly interactive ‘nature-based’ experiences for children ages 6 – 11. These 90-minute YN sessions take place at the ecologically-rich Mill of Kintail Conservation area under the experienced leadership of Patty McLaughlin and 3 adult volunteers. Participants are engaged in activities based on a wide variety of themes such as ‘Animal Tracks and Snowshoeing’ and ‘Signs of Spring’. Information on this valuable program can be found on MVFN’s website. Biologist Patty McLaughlin who designs and conducts the program for MVFN, obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from Laurentian University and focused her Carleton University Master’s research work on the effects of roads and traffic noise on bird populations in the Ottawa area. Her current employment at the Wild Bird Care Centre involves implementation of educational outreach for sick, injured and orphaned wild birds. For the April 16th presentation, three current ‘Young Naturalists’, Julia Code, and Isaac and Owen Flieler, will utilize images and personal anecdotes to highlight activities they’ve enjoyed within the program. They will be joined in their presentation by Patty McLaughlin and program coordinator Ron Williamson.

Please join MVFN for this interesting evening of presentations. Our Members’ Night presentations will be followed by the Annual General Meeting. Refreshments will be available. For further information, contact Program Chair, Gretta Bradley at . For MVFN events, membership and other club information visit



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Notice of Annual General Meeting

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists Annual General Meeting will be held prior to a ‘members night’ at our regular meeting, to be held Thursday, April 16, 2015  at 7:30 pm at the Almonte United Church Social Hall, 106 Elgin St., Almonte, Ontario.

For further information, please contact Cliff Bennett 613-256-5013; .

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MVFN celebrates another successful year

Press Release

Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists

June 2, 2014

MVFN celebrated another successful year at its Spring Gathering and AGM

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) held their Annual General Meeting at the Almonte Civitan Community Hall on May 15th followed by their ‘Spring Gathering’ event which had record-setting attendance. The AGM was conducted by Ken Allison, President of MVFN with attendance by the Board and club members.  Ken provided the membership with an overview of the organizations activities and finances over the last year.  This is the Club’s 26th year as an organization and throughout this time it has been very active promoting the understanding and awareness of the natural world in our community, with its popular natural history lectures series, canoe, hiking and birding outings, environmental programs for children and youth, and strong support for local conservation issues.  The Treasurer, Robert McCook presented the finances which show a well-managed club which can continue to be very active.  Ken introduced each of the board members for the coming year, and of special note is that Cliff Bennett, one of the founding members, will once again be President.  The 2014/15 board members can found on MVFN’s new website ( under the ABOUT MVFN menu.

Ken Allison (980x1024)


















Ken Allison presents the highlights of the year to kick-off MVFN’s annual Spring Gathering event. Photo Pauline Donaldson

The AGM was followed by the ‘Spring Gathering’ event which started with a reception, where old friends and acquaintances shared drinks and chatted; many visited the Young Naturalists exhibit and purchased raffle tickets in support of the MVFN Bursary fund, which supports young people going into the environment education field.  Presentation of the 2014 MVFN Champion for Nature also took place. Botanist David White was presented with the award for his work in establishing a Lanark Flora which is available on-line for public use and furthers plant and habitat conservation in our region.

David White 2014






















Cathy Keddy presented the 2014 MVFN Champion for Nature award to David White. Photo Pauline Donaldson

The Almonte Civitan Club did an excellent job of providing top notch service and a very tasty meal.  A special thanks to all the volunteers, especially Cliff Bennett who organized the team and co-ordinated the event.

The Master of Ceremonies, Iain Wilkes, MVFN’s Publicity Chair and well-known leader of the Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count, enthusiastically guided the group through the evening culminating in a talk by Dr. Jayne Yack.  Jayne provided a fascinating talk on the secret world of insect communications with a focus on butterflies and caterpillars, many of them native to eastern Ontario.  Jayne played recordings of sounds caterpillars make and demonstrated that some butterflies can actually hear sounds made by birds, insects and even people.

Jayne Yack and Iain (1024x785)

















Dr. Jayne Yack is presented with a thank you gift by MVFN’s Publicity Chair Iain Wilkes following presentation of her ground-breaking research and intriguing details of butterfly and caterpillar communication. Photo Pauline Donaldson

It was a very successful and enjoyable evening, and everyone is reminded to put May 15th 2015 on their calendars for next years’ gathering. This summer MVFN will be running its regular canoe/kayak program and annual summer walks, and the clubs’ monthly natural history lectures will resume with a new series in September. Please see our new website, , for details of these upcoming activities and for membership information.   The new site took roughly one year and hundreds of hours to define, design and have implemented by MVFN’s web team along with Chris Bruce, a local naturalist and web designer.  The new site makes it much easier to see what activities MVFN is involved in and to find information in a user friendly manner.


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