Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

MVFN Canoe Outing: A fine day for a paddle

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
July 11, 2007
by Sheila Edwards

“MVFN canoe outing: A fine day for a paddle”

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Most who witnessed the procession of canoe/kayak laden vehicles heading into the Lanark Highlands were probably questioning our sanity given the rainy weather. In fact the weather proved fine for the paddle organized by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) on Sunday, July 8. Fourteen of us took the risk and reaped the benefits of a great day spent on the water.

Our group, led by MVFN’s Cliff Bennett, was greeted by a family of loons as it left the shore to explore Park Lake. Another family was seen on Horne Lake, and there was much calling from unseen birds, indicating more in the area. Although these lakes are quite small, Park can reach a depth of over 13 meters, which is likely where the loons are feeding.

Other bird species recorded by the group included spotted sandpipers, Swainson’s thrush, Veery, ovenbird, rose-breasted grosbeaks, great blue heron, and a great crested flycatcher.

These lakes appeared quite pristine, with no signs of zebra mussels eradicating our local eastern elliptio mussel population*. This may also explain the muskrat population, as they use mussels as a source of protein. On two occasions, muskrats were watched swimming and diving down for food.

An island in the middle of Horn Lake was perfect for lunch, allowing for swimming, birding (small ones in the trees and loons flying overhead) and it’s resident snake. The

Northern Water Snake, which is often confused with the more southern venomous water moccasin, remained undisturbed by our visit Numerous marsh milkweeds dotted the shoreline, just out from the shore was the beautiful pink water smartweed, pickerel weed was spotted in shallow areas, and many other plants were photographed for later identification.

For details on our bi-weekly canoe trips and other MVFN activities, visit the MVFN website www.mvfn.ca . All members and friends are welcome. The next canoe trip planned is Sunday July 22, Mississippi River, Appleton-Almonte, site 15 on Lanark County Canoe & Kayak Journeys.

Contrary to popular belief, the mussels in Park Lake were eastern elliptio, not eastern pondmussel. According to Andr√© Martel “when most of us see mussels in rivers and lakes, we’re likely looking at the more common eastern elliptio, eastern lampmussel, the plain pocketbook or perhaps the fatmucket, which is especially adept at that minnow disguise.” The eastern pondmussel is apparently a rather rare species, thus in the Mississippi Valley mussels seen would most likely be eastern elliptio.