Saturday, February 7th was a perfect winter day for a large group of members from the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) enjoying the club’s annual winter outing. With medium-cold temperatures and softly falling snow, the group wandered a trail in a deeply wooded area of the Pakenham uplands, enjoying the solitude, searching for animal tracks and listening for bird sounds.
The trek ended at the camp of noted conservationist Gerry Lee, who graciously hosted the group and provided a warm interior around a wood fire and also a pot of delicious mulled cider. Lee then gave a learned dissertation on the trapping industry and how traps are studied and constructed to have the minimum negative effect on the welfare of the animals sought. In addressing a question about the trapper as a conservationist, Gerry pointed out that it is always in the trappers’ economic interest not to rid the area of entire populations. Trapping is regulated and controlled by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and all trappers must be licensed.
Outside, the group watched the bird activity at one of Gerry’s bird feeders and sought out eagles at a carcass feeding area on a rock across a stream from the cabin. Only one bald eagle was sighted but other birds at the feeders included over a dozen chickadees, both hairy and downy woodpeckers, white breasted nuthatches and blue jays. A ruffed grouse was seen earlier, budding in a tree along the trail.
Warm thanks were presented to the host Gerry Lee, noting especially his great humour and generous hospitality. Leader of the group was MVFN President Cliff Bennett, who announced that the next MVFN outing will be April 25 and the theme will be nature photography. For more information on MVFN membership and programming, go to the website at mvfn.ca. MVFN is a local naturalist group and member of the Ontario Nature Network.