Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Exploring nature from the water on Clayton Lake & Indian River

Exploring nature from the water on Clayton Lake & Indian River

By Cliff Bennett

On an excellent Sunday morning, June 14, 2015, twenty members of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) took to the waters of Clayton Lake and the upper section of the Indian River in canoes and kayaks to explore nature on MVFN’s annual Spring Paddle.  Led by MVFN President Cliff Bennett, the flotilla of thirteen craft, seven canoes and six kayaks, meandered along the west side of the lake to Command Bridge on Galbraith Road in Lanark Highlands. Squeezing under the bridge, the group paddled easily up the Indian River, almost to the bridge at Halls Mills, but was stopped by a beaver dam.

Spring Paddle 1

Val Wilkinson and Cliff Bennett lead the way on Clayton Lake/Indian River MVFN paddle. Photo by Howard Robinson

Spring Paddle 2

The  flotilla winds its way along the Indian River. Photo Howard Robinson

After exploring the beaver dam and its construction, the paddlers returned to Clayton Lake, where they discovered a mature bald eagle, perched on a low bit of scrub on a minute island. The eagle watched cautiously as the flotilla passed by at a respectful distance and decided it wasn’t worth the bother to take off. Other birds of interest recorded by compiler Mary Robinson included two American bitterns in flight, an osprey scanning the surface looking for a fish, an Eastern wood-pewee and a winter wren in melodious rhapsody. In the distance a loon called mournfully, probably looking for its partner. Thirty-four species were counted in all. The list of birds seen is posted on MVFN’s website.

Spring Paddle 3
On Clayton Lake paddlers spot a mature bald eagle, perched in the distance on a low bit of scrub on a tiny island. Photo Howard Robinson

A brace of four painted turtles were found sunning on a log and a few dragonflies were picking off mosquitoes along the marsh plants. Freshly emerging wild rice was plentiful and several clumps of Northern blue flags were spotted along the marshy shore. Yellow pond lilies and fragrant white lilies were just beginning to burst forth.

After a lengthy paddle across Clayton Lake, all craft were beached at Howard and Mary Robinson’s lake front home for enjoyment of lunch and refreshments.

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists have organized canoe/kayak trips throughout the County and area for many years, with the theme being “Seeing Nature from the Water’s Edge”. The program consists of a series of day trips such as this spring paddle, as well as a four-day canoe camp in September.  The next day trip is scheduled for Sunday, July 12. For more information, please contact trip leader Sheldon Scrivens at ) or visit for program and membership details.

Spring Paddle 4

Turtles sunning on a log, dragonflies picking off mosquitoes, freshly emerging wild rice, clumps of Northern blue flags and yellow pond lilies all seen from the water. Photo Howard Robinson.

Continue reading...