July 27, 2012
MVFN July Canoe Trips Yield Many Bird Species
by Cliff Bennett
In spite of the extremely hot weather in July, Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) embarked on two very successful canoe/kayak journeys to enjoy the water and to see nature from the water. Slathered with plenty of sunscreen and accompanied always by a gentle breeze over the waters, the paddlers skirted the shorelines, creeks and wetlands in search of nature’s wonderments.
The first trip, organized by MVFN member Terry MacIver of Arnprior, was held on Stump Lake north of Elphin on Sunday, July 8. Twenty-six members in ten canoes and six kayaks put in at the public dock on County Rd 36 and circumnavigated the lake east to the High Falls Dam. Of interest were the many wetland plants in bloom along the wetland edges of the water at this time including beautiful blue pickerel weed, blue flags, one clump of jewel weed and good examples of flowering swamp milkweed. One highland cranberry bush was found along with red-osier dogwood.
The lake lived up to its name as ring-billed gulls occupied every stump showing above the water right across the lake. One hunting osprey was watched by the group but no catch was evident. Other birds listed were kingbird, kingfisher, swamp sparrow and song sparrow. A few boaters paddled up-river from the lake into the Mississippi River as far as the mouth to McLaren’s Snye but found only a tree swallow swooping serenely under the bridge.
Later in the month, on July 22, twenty-five members put in at the new Drummond/North Elmsley boat dock and launch site at Ferguson’s Falls. In nine canoes and seven kayaks, the group paddled up-river on the Mississippi along beautiful and lush soft maple wetland shores to a lunch break half way between County Rd. 15 and highway 511.
Organized and led by MVFN members Howard and Mary Robinson of Clayton, this trip concentrated on birds seen and heard in the wetland trees. Twenty-five species of birds were listed including woodducks and blue-winged teal, a pair of loons with one baby, pileated woodpecker, warbling and red-eyed vireos, one pied-billed grebe, great blue herons and a huge flock of young red-winged blackbirds. Many painted turtles were spotted sunning themselves on protruding logs and one rare Blandings turtle was seen.
The MVFN canoe/kayak program which is themed “Seeing Nature from the Water’s Edge”, continues in August, with trips planned for Sunday August 12th and Sunday August 26th. The overall canoe/kayak program is organized by MVFN Board member Bob Volks. For information call Bob at 613-256-7333 or e-mail .