Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Nature photographer Bill Pratt captivates audience

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
Submitted by Tine Kuiper
June 9, 2005

Nature photographer Bill Pratt captivates audience

Tine Kuiper and Bill PrattAt its recent Annual General Meeting held in May at the Union Hall the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) were fortunate to have renowned local nature photographer Bill Pratt present two series of photographs. In the first slide-show “Ontario Wild” Bill took us to several “secret places” in Algonquin Park where he photographed a variety of wild life such as the interactions of a family of Moose in their natural habitat.

In the second series Bill’s photographs showed the mystery of the landscape of the Northern tundra, which he explored while visiting the headwaters of the Thelon river in the Yukon. He showed that not only is this area great for experiencing wolves, caribou, muskox and other wildlife, but it is also wonderful to experience the vastness and fabulous scenery of this unspoiled area as well as the Northern lights.

Bills photographs were an excellent way of completing the current MVFN lecture series of talks on biodiversity, as he focused on the total landscape such as we can still find it in its pristine condition in many of the Northern regions. Underlying Bill’s work is a strong sense of the beauty of Canada and the need to keep this country together. He indicated that he also finds spiritual peace and emotional relevance while capturing images such as these, and he was able to share and evoke these same emotions in his audience who were truly captivated by the experience.

Bill is an engineer at Parks Canada who devotes most of his spare time to photography. He is an active member of the local photography group “Photography Matters.” Bill is currently featured on the Culture Canada web site, together with several other outstanding individuals such as outstanding architect Douglas Cardinal.

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New Field Naturalists Theme: Gaining a Better Understanding of Biodiversity

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
Submitted by Tine Kuiper, Program Chair, MVFN
Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2004

New Field Naturalists Theme: Gaining a Better Understanding of Biodiversity  

GeeseBiodiversity will be the theme of the upcoming Fall and Winter program of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN). Biodiversity is a relatively new term, which refers to the variability among living organisms from all sources, including land based and aquatic ecosystems, and the ecosystems or communities in which they occur.

The concept of biodiversity represents the ways that life is organized and interacts on our planet. These interactions can take place on scales ranging from the smallest, at the level of genes, to organisms, ecosystems, and even to entire landscapes. Biodiversity is the key to ensuring the continuance of life on earth. It is also a fundamental requirement for adaptation and survival and continued evolution of species. As each of us gain a better understanding of biodiversity, we will be able to make better decisions, starting in our own backyards.

The first speaker in the series, on September 16, 2004, is Dr Charles M. Francis, Chief Migratory Birds, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada. In his talk “Biodiversity and Conservation”, Dr Francis will introduce the topic of biodiversity, considering its meaning and patterns at all scales, from local to global, from individuals within species to populations. He will then explore the implications of biodiversity from a conservation perspective, as well as the challenges related to protecting biodiversity in a world of increasing human populations and human activities. The talk will focus particularly on the speaker’s experience in working with birds in Canada and throughout the world, as well as with mammals in south-east Asia. The talk will be liberally illustrated with photographs, many drawn from the speaker’s own field work in Canada and south-east Asia.

Later in the series, on October 21, Mike Yee of the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority will speak on Biodiversity of the Mississippi Watershed., and on November 18, Dr Brian Naylor, Ministery of Natural Resources, will talk about the Biodiversity of the Ontario Forest. The topic of biodiversity will be further explored in the new year, where we hope to discuss the role of factors, such as climate change, that may have an impact on biodiversity. Andrea Howard, of the Eastern Ontario Museum of Biodiversity will speak on Communicating the Issues of Biodiversity, and Dr. Bruce Falls, University of Toronto, will speak on Bird Song and Biodiversity. The last speaker in the series, Linda Pim of the Federation of Ontario Naturalists, will speak on Planning for Biodiversity.

Mark your calendars for the third Thursday of each month, except December. If you are not yet a member of the MVFN, this may be a good time to join. Meetings take place at the Almonte United Church, at 7:30 pm. Non-members’ will be charged a $5.00 fee. For further information, please contact Cliff Bennett at 256-5013, or consult our web site: mvfn.ca

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Wild turkeys observed in the Almonte area

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Photograph by:  Tine Kuiper
Taken:  Saturday March 29, 2003

Last weekend, Tine Kuiper was fortunate to notice a flock of about 10 wild turkeys that had come to her bird feeder to clean up a few scraps of seeds that had fallen to the ground. One Tom was in full display, strutting with tail fanned to attract and hold his harem; he did not have much time for feeding, but nudged the others on. After becoming concerned about some geese overhead, the birds marched single file back into the woods.

The National Audubon Society writes ” Although the Wild Turkey was well known to American Indians and widely used by them as food, certain tribes considered them stupid, and did not eat them for fear of acquiring these characteristics.” By the end of the 19th century, the wild turkey had largely disappeared from Ontario, generally attributed to the destruction of their natural hardwood breeding grounds and to over-hunting. From 1984 to 1986, 253 wild-caught turkeys from the US were introduced into the local areas and seem to be expanding slowly.

Their preferred habitat is a pine-oak forest near water. They forage on seeds, nuts, acorns, but in the Summer also enjoy grass hoppers and other insects, frogs, toads,salamanders, lizards and snakes. The gobbling sound of the male turkey is similar to that of the domestic turkey.

The toms have a one inch-wide “beard” that increases in length with age; the beard visible in the photograph indicates that this tom is fairly young.

Wild turkeys nest on the ground, near the edge of wooded areas. The nest is shallow, sparsely lined with dead vegetation or leaves. The males are polygamous and take no part in nesting activities.

Single brooded, the hen lays from eight to twenty eggs. Incubation takes twenty-eight days and after the chicks hatch, they can fly into trees within two weeks. Broods stay together until wintertime, at which time they are fully grown and move off singly to mate in the Spring.

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An Evening with Field Naturalist Tony Beck

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
October 26, 2002
Written by: Tine Kuiper

An Evening with Field Naturalist Tony Beck  

Barred Owl (c) Tony BeckThe recent meeting of the Missisippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) kicked off with a short presentation by Mississippi Mills resident Hannah Larkin, an 11 yr. old student in R.Tait McKenzie Public School in Almonte. She told of her adventures at the United Nations sponsored International Children’s’ Conference on the Environment, held in June in Victoria, British Columbia. Hannah, who was chosen when she entered an essay on the environment, was partially funded by the MVFN through its Environmental Education Projects Programme. She was one of over four thousand children from sixty-five different countries around the world, who met to plan strategies and policies to present a challenge to the World Conference on the Environment held in Johannesburg, South Africa, last August. Hannah enjoyed the interaction with other the children, learning much about their cultures and dreams of a safer, cleaner environment. Her message to the audience was an appeal to take care of our environment through active and pro-active activities.

The main program of the evening, featured field naturalist and birder Tony Beck of Nepean, introduced by Tine Kuiper. For about one and a half hour he had the audience spellbound as he presented more than 100 of his beautiful photographs of birds found throughout the Ottawa Valley. These birds were either permanent residents or migratory species. Each photo showed great detail and colour, was subtly lighted, and the eyes were always perfectly in focus. Tony explained that the eyes provide a window to the soul, and without this focus, the bird would appear lifeless. Throughout the talk he provided many interesting details on bird behaviour, bird songs, conservation issues, and which birds were increasing or decreasing in number in our area. The photograph taken by Tony is of a barred owl, which commonly nests in this region. The next indoor meeting of the MVFN takes place on Thursday November 21 at 7:30 pm at the United Church, featuring Jane Buckley on Loon Lake studies.

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