Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Bell Bushlot Bioblitz 2009 Report





The results are in, large or small we listed them all!

The Bell Bushlot Bioblitz 2009 Report with complete species lists and photographs as pdf

There was intrigue during the February lecture of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) which began with a contest to correctly identify the total number of species found on their first ever 24-h bioblitz carried out in a special local woodland. As Tineke Kuiper progressed through her presentation, A September to Remember: Bioblitz Secrets of the Bell Woodland Preserve, the audience listened attentively as the tally kept rising with additions from each group of species. Where would it stop? Just how many species had been found?

As Dr. Kuiper, ‘tally master extraordinaire’ for the Bioblitz and former MVFN board member explained, a bioblitz is a 24-h survey of the biodiversity of a property. It is part challenge, part social gathering and most importantly, an educational citizen science event. MVFN’s bioblitz started at 3 pm Saturday, Sept 19 and ended at 3 pm Sunday, Sept 20, 2009 at the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Bell Woodland Preserve near Clayton. The property is deciduous forest on Canadian Shield dominated by Sugar Maple forest, with small areas of mixed hardwoods. While the stream crossing the north end of the property was flowing during the bioblitz, wetlands through which the property drains to the east had no standing water. The weather both days was sunny and cool.

100 participants took part in over 20 one-hour expert-led guided walks. During these walks, experienced and novice naturalists poured over the 95 acre property looking and listening for every living thing. On each walk a photographer was present to record the finds. Experts also searched on their own adding to the species seen. Once sightings were verified, sometimes after further examination, they were added to the tally board and bioblitz database. The final species tally and complete species list have just been published in a report posted on MVFN’s website. As Tineke illustrated in her virtual tour, you don’t need to go any farther than your own forested backyard in Lanark County to see spectacular natural beauty and diversity: the vivid greens of the snakeskin liverwort, the impressively large larvae of the imperial moth, incredible floral diversity, wild and wonderful fungi such as the chocolate tube slime and artists’ conk, the elusive but seemingly numerous red eft, and large mammals ever-present but seldom seen face-on.

As Dr. Kuiper guided us through what the experts uncovered during the bioblitz, the species count on the ‘bioblitzometer’ continued to rise. Among the 30 birds, an early one recorded was the barred owl hooting in answer to Joel Byrne during his ‘Calling Creatures of the Night’ guided walk on Saturday night. Then the next day as walks led by Jeff Mills, Mike Runtz and Cliff Bennett began, the first bird to be seen was the hairy woodpecker, spotted by young bioblitz-naturalist Gillian Larkin. The bird population was much reduced except for a few stragglers which had yet to migrate. Some species such as the owls, woodpeckers, chickadees, blue jays, ravens and crows would remain during the winter, and it was too early for the winter finches to move in. Surprises for the fall were the scarlet tanager, three warbler species, vireos and flycatchers.

The greatest number of species tallied for a single group was 261 for vascular plants (bringing the blitzometer to 291), but this represented just a fraction of the year-round floral biodiversity. Fall species such as asters, goldenrods, daisies, and ferns were well-represented, while spring ephemerals (e.g. trout lily, dutchman’s breeches, spring beauty) which flower before the trees leaf out and shade them, were not seen. Eight of the species observed are considered rare in Lanark County.

Although fungi were very limited due to the bioblitz being held at the end of a warm dry period, there was no shortage. Where but in the fungal kingdom could you find such interesting names as dead man’s fingers, brick tops, witch’s hat, or chicken of the woods? The 58 fantastic fungi included basidomycetes, ascomycetes, a slime mold, and some fungi imperfecti.

Then there were the 50 marvelous mosses and 16 lovely liverworts which overall were indicative of a woodland in good ecological condition. Along with the fungi the count now soared to 415!

Insects were most abundant in the more open areas with asters and goldenrods. 63 species from 8 orders including beetles, bugs, grasshoppers & crickets, dragonflies & damselflies, butterflies & moths, scorpionflies, flies and bees were found. Due to the cold weather moth traps were not set up at night, so any moths recorded were from larval observations. With considerable adeptness, Chris Schmidt shook saplings and caught the ‘rain’ of Lepidopteran larvae (caterpillars) in a large four-cornered umbrella net for later identification.

Seventeen species of invertebrates without 6 legs, (i.e. excluding insects), were found including 4 millipedes, a clam, 4 snails, 2 slugs, an earthworm, a sowbug, 3 spiders and a mite.

Nine amphibian species were seen or heard including the blue-spotted salamander, northern two-lined salamander, red-spotted newt, American toad, gray treefrog, spring peeper, green frog, northern leopard frog and wood frog. Due to the lack of much permanent water, conditions were not suited to turtles and none was found. The two reptiles found were both snakes—a gorgeous smooth greensnake and an eastern gartersnake.

The mammals enumerated were seen, heard or identified by tracks and/or droppings. Combined with the insects, invertebrates, amphibians and reptiles, the addition of 19 mammals brought the bioblitzometer to 525. One of the first mammals recorded was a coyote which called back in answer to the howls from participants on the Saturday night walk. To inventory small mammals such as mice, voles and shrews, two lines of live traps, bait and track tunnels (containing tracking paper smeared with black stove polish and oil to ‘capture’ foot prints) were set up the day before the bioblitz. The number of footprints showed that small mammals were present at a relatively high density.

Interestingly, despite the majority of the area being upland Sugar Maple forest, one fish species was found in the stream on the property—the Bluntnose Minnow.

At this point the tally reached 526—the total number of all species seen in the 24-hr period and it was time to identify the contest winner. Howard Robinson, who guessed 518 (just 8 species short) was closest to this number and won a copy of Earth, Water, Fire: An ecological profile of Lanark County by Paul Keddy.

The bioblitz was an ambitious undertaking and Tineke Kuiper thanked all those involved for their enthusiasm as well as the experts for their vital role in the event. To view a copy of the entire bioblitz report prepared by MVFN, listing all species identified and filled with gorgeous photographs, please visit MVFN’s website at

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A September to Remember: Bioblitz Secrets of the Bell Woodland Preserve

Press Release

Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists

February 4, 2010

by Cathy Keddy

A September to Remember: Bioblitz Secrets of the Bell Woodland Preserve

Do you like magical mosses, lovely liverworts, vascular plant variety, phenomenal fungi, intriguing insects, amazing amphibians, writhing reptiles, fabulous fish, big birds, or marvelous mammals?

During the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists’ (MVFN) 24-hour Bioblitz of the Bell Woodland Preserve near Clayton this fall, the 100 participants and 23 experts looked for them all, counting the organisms whether large or small. Not only was the biodiversity of the area enumerated, but the site was ideal for investigating our more than a billion-year-old foundation. Lanark County rocks! If you missed this September spectacular, here is your opportunity to participate—and from the comfort of a warm chair at MVFN’s February lecture!

The fungi found on the Bioblitz were fantastic! What other group of organisms could include novelties such as dead man’s fingers, chocolate tube slime, eyelash cup, bear’s head tooth and chicken of the woods… follow the trail of our mushroom experts for more of these delights. The turkey tail—bird or bracket? Detective Jim and the bot fly. A minnow in the woods? Henri’s wriggling raccoons. Voices of the evening with Joel. Giant caterpillars and moths befitting a king. Martha and the children. A liverwort in snake-skin with nodding ladies’ tresses? So many stories to delight! All will be illustrated by the images captured by the professional photographers who recorded this magnificent event.

Before the lecture begins, put in your guess for the total number of species recorded during MVFN’s Bioblitz 2009 and you could win a copy of Earth, Water, Fire: An Ecological Profile of Lanark County. Listen as the species tally climbs from the results of every guided walk to see how close your guess might be to the final number!

Follow the experts’ trails to uncover what they discovered on this 95-acre wooded preserve. Join MVFN’s Tineke Kuiper as your intrepid guide and interpreter as she leads you through her presentation “A September to Remember: Secrets of the Bell Woodland Preserve,” Thursday February 18, at 7:30p.m., Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin St., Almonte. For further details, please contact Cathy Keddy at 613-257-3089, or visit

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MVFN Winter Outing 2010


MVFN Winter Outing 2010

Explore nature on the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s newest preserve—in Wolf Grove near Union Hall

Sunday, February 7, 2010 —— 10:30 a.m.

 Sharpen your winter twig identification skills—did you know that the first secret to sorting them out is the phrase “MAD Cap Horse”? Remember this and join us in Wolf Grove to explore the land, get to know some common trees by twig, and have lunch on the shore of Bowley Lake.

Location: Meet at the end of Ramsay Concession 4B which extends south off Wolf Grove Rd., about 3km east of Union Hall (the hall is at the intersection of Wolf Gove Rd. and Tatlock Rd.); Ramsay Con. 4B is only about 100m long

Parking: Park either along Ramsay Con. 4B or along the road that extends north on the opposite side of Wolf Grove Rd.

Equipment: Snowshoes are recommended as the snow will be deep in the woods. If you don’t have them, you can follow those who do. The trail is fairly gentle and suitable for cross-country skis, but consider snow conditions the day of the walk and that the property is densely wooded. Dress warmly in layers. Bring food to warm over the campfire. Bring binoculars and a hand lens.

More information: Contact Cathy Keddy at 613-257-3089 or .

MAD Cap Horse

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Nature Conservancy of Canada helps local conservation-minded landowner protect her land legacy in Wolf Grove Wetlands Complex

The following released a few days ago by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) announces the exciting news that a property in the Wolf Grove Wetlands Complex area of Mississippi Mills has been protected for conservation.

Nature Conservancy of Canada helps local conservation-minded landowner protect her land legacy in Wolf Grove Wetlands Complex

July 9, 2009

Nature Conservancy of Canada

Mississippi Mills, ON – The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has protected a 225-acre (91-hectare) property in Mississippi Mills, eastern Lanark County thanks in part to the determination of Martha Webber to see her land protected. Mrs. Webber’s hopes were realized following successful fundraising for both the purchase and essential long-term management of the land.

“Martha Webber is a locally known and respected botanist and naturalist,” said NCC’s Eastern Ontario Program Manager, Gary Bell. “She had received offers from others wishing to buy her property but, quite admirably, preferred to see it protected for conservation.”

The property is the largest single landholding within the provincially significant Wolf Grove Wetlands Complex and contains some of the best examples of diverse hardwood forest and wetlands. The largest open body of water within the natural area, Bowley Lake, is completely contained within this newly protected property.

“That property has meant a lot to us over the years for camping and exploring,” remarked Mrs. Webber. “The more I learn about the variety of habitat, the more I am impressed with our luck in acquiring it and the need to preserve it. Now it provides for the future. Best investment we ever made.”

Existing inventory data revealed that a high number of regionally rare species were located on the property including endangered Butternut and globally-rare Rugulose Grapefern. Also supported on the property is the most easterly example of a rare Poison Sumac Swamp community and the Red-shouldered Hawk, a bird recently removed from the Species at Risk list. The protection of areas like this will help ensure the hawk stays off the list.

Significant funding for this project was obtained through the Nature Conservancy of Canada-Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Greenlands Program under which NCC must match provincial funds. Matching private funds for this project were raised through dedicated efforts by the Ottawa Field Naturalists, the local community, and a generous donation from Mr. Leonard Lee, founder of Lee Valley Tools and Canica Designs.

This property will be owned and managed by NCC. A complete biological inventory of the property is currently being carried out, which will lead to a better understanding of the natural values of the property and how to best manage it for future generations. Mrs. Webber has used the property as a place to lead nature groups in the past and it is anticipated that this type of educational use will be continued.

The Wolf Grove Wetlands Complex is part of the larger Middle Mississippi River Wetlands Natural Area, a large series of interconnecting and isolated wetlands extending from Lanark to Pakenham. The natural area includes wooded swamps and marshes, fens, and associated aquatic systems and the terrestrial habitats that support them.


Gary Bell
Eastern Ontario Program Manager

Hugh Bennett
Eastern Ontario Major Gifts Officer



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MVFN BioBlitz 2009

nature walkKeddy Walk frog (photo Mike McPhail)Alvar walk 2009

MVFN BioBlitz 2009

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists in partnership with the Nature Conservancy of Canada and with assistance from the Community Stewardship Council of Lanark County invite you to participate in the 2009 MVFN BioBlitz taking place on the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Bell Property.

 NOTE: click here for a printable version of this MVFN BioBlitz 2009 Information

Please see our full colour mvfn-bioblitz-2009-poster as a pdf file.

Our tentative schedule for the expert-led biological surveys is now also available. Follow the links from the home page or click on  mvfn-bioblitz-tentative-schedule1 for a printable pdf.

A BioBlitz is part contest, social gathering, educational event and citizen-science endeavour. The BioBlitz will bring together scientists, and expert and novice nature enthusiasts to see how many species they can find in a 24 hour biological survey.

The BioBlitz provides an opportunity for all participants to learn from experts how to identify the many plants, animals and birds that will be found during this 24 hour period. Specialists and experts from a diverse set of disciplines will be grouped with interested participants to explore the area under investigation.

The inventory and interaction of specialists with the public are integral goals of this event.

The event is both educational and fun. Individuals of all ages including children are welcome to attend. There is no charge for this event.

The BioBlitz takes place from:

3:00 pm on Saturday, 19 September
3:00 pm on Sunday, 20 September

The event will run, rain or shine.

The Bioblitz will take place on the Bell Property, owned and managed by the Nature Conservancy of Canada. We are delighted to be able to hold this BioBlitz on this approximately 85 acre conservation property which has a variety of habitats including, hardwood and mixed wood forest, seasonal wetlands, and streams.

The property is located at the intersection of Clayton Road and Ramsay Concession 3B. Mississippi Mills, Ont. K0A 1A0 in Lanark County -near the town of Almonte (just west of Ottawa).

Coming from the town of Almonte
1) Turn right (north) onto County Rd. 29/Christian St
Continue to follow County Rd. 29 for 3.1 km
2) Turn left (west) onto Clayton Rd. and continue for 8.1 km
BioBlitz is on the left (south side) at 1633/1631 Clayton Rd.
Please park where indicated (not on the Clayton Road) and follow signs to the Base to register.

There will be limited free overnight camping near the Bell Property on Cliff & Lynda Bennett’s property 1772 Clayton Rd. (north side) just west of Ramsay Concession 3B and 1 km before County Rd. 9 (Tatlock Rd.). Please let us know if you are planning to camp.

Information on commercial accommodations in Mississippi Mills area can be found at

Participants must register at the BioBlitz Base site between 2:00 and 9:00 PM on Saturday, Sept. 19 or between 6:30 AM and 2:00 PM on Sunday, Sept. 20.

Upon registration, you will be provided with instructions, directions and a map of the property as well as tally sheets on which to list species observed.

Please return your final tally sheets and field notes to the Base site before departure. These will be copied and returned to you if you wish.

Please bring your own meals and snacks, but note the Sunday BBQ social (see below).

Please also bring sunscreen, insect repellant, hat, and a flashlight for night activities.
Good walking boots are advised and appropriate clothing including long pants.
You may like to bring your own binoculars, hand lens, clipboard, checklist and field guides.

Cameras and GPS units will be useful (but not required) to record rare species, and for recording species needing identification.

Potable water and a washroom will be available at the Base site and camp site. Please bring your own water bottle and travel mug and camping equipment if camping overnight.

A free barbeque will be held at the post count wrap up after 3:00pm.

PLEASE . . .
NO dogs at this event.
Please be sensitive to the fact that this is conservation property and we are there only at the invitation of the Nature Conservancy of Canada. Try to keep the impact to a minimum and attempt to leave things as they were found.

We look forward to this event and hope you do too. Please share this information with anyone you know who might be interested.

Volunteers are needed to run the BioBlitz. Please contact Cliff Bennett if you are willing to help (phone 613 256-5013 or email )

Contact me if you plan to participate or wish to have any questions answered
(phone 613-256-7211 or e-mail ).

Yours truly,
Mike McPhail

MVFN BioBlitz – Communication Lead


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