October 15, 2010
Saving the best for last on enjoyable MVFN Fall Colours Paddle
by Cliff Bennett
Record numbers participated in the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) Annual Fall Colours canoe/kayak trip on Sunday, October 3, the last paddle of the season. Thirty enthusiast MVFN members and guests in eleven canoes and eight kayaks assembled at the north arm of Crotch Lake to launch their craft and explore along the shorelines of bays and islands. The group enjoyed the awe inspiring beauty of the colours of Laurentian Shield rock outcrops backed by magnificent multi-coloured maples, poplars, oak and sumac, shouldered by the rich greens of many pines.
The cool north winds kept the flotilla close to shore, allowing for good viewing of fall asters and goldenrod. In the small wetland bays, a few ducks, mainly female and juvenile common mergansers plus one small flock of Canada geese, took to the air as the group approached. Also noted were one woodduck and one hooded merganser. A five lined skink, Ontario’s only lizard, dashed across a rock ledge and a Northern water snake was found in the gravel by the edge. Birds listed, in addition to the ducks, were a sharp-shinned hawk, two merlins, a blue jay, a small flock of pine siskins, a pair of kingfishers, crows and ravens and a few ring-billed gulls.
Organized and led by MVFN member Doug Younger-Lewis of Almonte, the group proceeded onto the Mississippi River and settled at the King Lake dam for lunch. After the group retraced their route and packed up, they re-assembled at the Dalhousie Lake Restaurant for afternoon refreshments and farewells to another great year of seeing nature from the water’s edge.
The outing concluded the MVFN canoe/kayak outings for this year. These outings all operate as part of MVFN’s Programme Committee and the theme is always ‘Seeing Nature from the Water’s Edge.’ Sixty-six different members and invited guests took part in the outings this year, setting a record for the number of participants in the programme, best yet since it began in 2002. In addition to the Crotch Lake trip, other trips this year included Mississippi River from Dalhousie Lake; Mississippi River from Appleton to Almonte; Mississippi River from Pakenham to Blakeney and Clayton-Taylor Lake. The programme will resume next year.