Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
Submitted by Cliff Bennett
Feb. 23 2003

Growing Food Naturally

SeedlingIn keeping with its broad mandate of concern for our natural world, members and guests of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists were treated to a dynamic presentation on organic farming, at its Feb. meeting, held in Almonte. Bruce and Janet Duncan, who operated a certified organic farm on County Road 17 in Ramsay Ward of Mississippi Mills, enthralled their audience with a slide show of their farm and its operations, complimented by a vivid description of the history of their farm, how they got into organic growing and finally, a description of the current state of organic growing in Canada. They noted that most of their products from their 150 acre farm, are sold locally.

Key to the Duncans’ presentation was the fact that, through maintaining rigid values in organic farming, they are not only enhancing the health of all citizens who consume organic products, they help protect the environment from continual contamination by chemical and artificial agricultural practices. On their organic farm, the Duncans grow a diversity of crops, using low and no till operations, all without the use of pesticides and herbicides. As a result, critters on and in the ground are not poisoned nor are the birds which eat them.

Introduced by MVFN Chair of Environmental Issues Susan Fisher, Janet and Bruce entertained questions from the audience which lasted well over one half hour. In thanking them, Susan presented the Duncans with a gift of an environmental book. Refreshments were served after the meeting.

The next MVFN event will be a meeting on Thursday March 20, at which noted birder and naturalist Paul Jones, will present documentation and slides on the current on-going Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas.

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
Submitted by Tine Kuiper, Programme Director 2003
February 4th, 2003

Field Naturalists Take to the Woods of Wolf Grove

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On Sunday February 4, some of the hardiest MVFN members enjoyed a wonderful winter outdoor event, which started at 10 am with an exploration of several ponds on the interior of the Wolf Grove area by ski or snow shoe. The group then proceeded along the Mississippi Ski Cub to the Rae Rd and back.

The trail was varied, winding through snow covered trees and open fields and across frozen ponds. The weather was typically winter-like but mild. The snow was fresh and somewhat sticky, but all had fun anyway.

As expected, there were many deer tracks, as well as a Fisher. The snowshoers observed, for the first time this winter, snow fleas, which apparently are an indication that Spring will not be long away. The event concluded with lunch was around an open fire which also included some well appreciated mulled apple cider and apple pie.

This event was open to members only. Members of the public who wish to be included in similar events, should consider joining the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists. The next event for MVFN is a rescheduled talk by Bruce and Janet Duncan on Organic Farming, to be held at the United Church in Almonte, Feb. 20, 7:30 P.M.

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
January 4, 2003
Written by: Cliff Bennett

OwlThe 58th Annual Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count took place on Friday, Dec. 27. The count area, centred on the bridge in Carleton Place, includes areas almost to Innisville, Ferguson Falls and Union Hall, Almonte, east to Dwyer Hill Road, South to Ashton and Franktown. Twenty-nine field observers took to the rural roads, trails and woodlots and, during the course of the day, counted 5600 individual birds of thirty-nine different species. In addition, thirty-seven residents with feeders at home, counted a further 1012 birds bringing the total for the day to 6612.

The results of this count, which can be viewed on, were slightly lower in species but higher in numbers from previous years. Record high numbers of mourning doves, northern flicker, blue jays, robins, starlings and cedar waxwings were tallied. All finches were very low and, for the first year since 1970, there were no evening grosbeaks around.

The Carleton Place count is sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists. MVFN Past-President Cliff Bennett organized the teams and areas of the count. MVFN member Georgina Doe coordinated the feeder counts, assisted by MVFN member Libby Goddard. MVFN member Mike Jaques was the official compiler.

Taking part as counters in the field were Al Potvin, Chris Hume, Tine Kuiper, Mike McPhail, Paul Frigon, Pip Winters, Mary and Howard Robinson, Allan and Peter Goddard, Lynda Bennett, all from Mississippi Mills; Don Brown, Rick Muise, Ken and Eileen Ross, all from Ottawa; Bruce Legallais, Bobby and John Clarke, Lanark Highlands; Mike and Joyce Jaques, Arnie Simpson, Joel Byrne, from Beckwith; Brenda Carter, Ed LeBlanc and Rick Carter, Merrickville and Ian and Susan Wilkes, Carleton Place.

Results of the count are as follows:

Canada Goose (8), Mallards (4), Common Goldeneye (16), Common Merganser (24), Sharp-shinned hawk (1), Red-tailed Hawk (6), Rough-legged Hawk (5), Ruffed Grouse (10), Rock Dove (656), Mourning Doves (376), Snowy Owl (1), Downy Woodpecker (71), Hairy Woodpecker (59), Northern Flicker (2), Pileated Woodpecker (9), Northern Shrike (3), Blue Jay (642), Crow (249), Ravens (8), Black-capped Chickadee (866), Red-breasted Nuthatch (4), White-breasted Nuthatch (101), Brown Creeper (5), Golden-crowned Kinglet (4), Robins (338), Starlings (1290), Bohemian Waxwing (21), Cedar Waxwing (432), Tree Sparrows (325), Song Sparrow (1), White-crowned Sparrow (1), Junco (123), Snow Bunting (352), Cardinal (61), Purple Finch (80), House Finch (112), Common Redpoll (30), Goldfinch (146), House Sparrow (170).

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
November 5, 2002
Submitted by: Cliff Bennett

Field Naturalists Focus On Community Forest Plan  

TreeWhen the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources downloaded management of County forests to County governments last year, the County of Lanark decided to appoint a team of three experts (The Management Team) to set up a Business Plan to manage the lands. Part of the team’s mandate was to involve the public in consultations throughout the process. Recently, the management team, produced a draft of the plan and sent it out to various groups for comments. Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) was one of those groups.

MVFN has been involved with the process since the beginning. They attended public meetings and responded to survey questionnaires. MVFN member and Chair of the MVFN Natural Resources Issues Committee Dr. Jim Bendell, participated on the plan’s advisory committee. Recently, a small group of interested MVFN members met to pour over the Draft Plan and submit it’s comments on behalf of MVFN.

Key to the response to the Draft Plan was an appeal for inventory of all of the natural aspects of the community forested lands, recognizing that good management of these resources cannot proceed in an orderly way without knowing what is there. In a call for a broadening of the vision for our community lands, MVFN also appealed to the County for more public input into the final document before it goes to County Council on Nov. 13, for approval.

Recognizing that our community forested lands contain more values that just timber production, values such as tourism, recreation, social and spiritual attributes, MVFN recommends that these lands always remain within the public domain on behalf of the people of Lanark County.

MVFN welcomed the opportunity to participate in this important challenge and offers to help to advance the cause in anyway it can. Overall, MVFN congratulates the Management Team of Jim McCready, David Oliver and Chair and chief facilitator Gord Harrison for championing this project. Through their efforts and the process, the public is now aware that these lands exist.