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PLEASE NOTE: This web page contains the most up-to-date information on events. Please check it regularly for changes or additions to events. The Club's Facebook group and Twitter account (@OttawaFieldNat) will also be used to announce last-minute changes to events.

We expect to hold several weather- and year-dependent events that are not included in Trail & Landscape and will only be announced at the last minute via our website, Facebook and Twitter. These include seasonal events such as Snowy Owl viewing, the spring Snow Goose spectacle, Eardley Eagles and Mudpuppy Night.

Please read
Guidelines for participants on field trips

Check out the web site of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists for more local events.

The OFNC's Events Committee plans an extensive program of monthly meetings, workshops, day trips, and longer excursions for the education and interest of our members.

Almost every weekend all year round, you can join a knowledgeable nature buff on an excursion to one of the many conservation areas in our region. Learn to identify some of the hundreds of birds that frequent our lakes, fields, and forests; wade through a marsh searching for amphibians; or take a leisurely stroll with fellow nature lovers.

Complete details of all the activities can be found in our quarterly newsletter Trail & Landscape, which is free to members.

All outings

Field trips to natural areas in our region and beyond take place all year round. These events are for OFNC members and prospective members. Prospective members are welcome unless the notice indicates that participation is limited, or that bus travel is involved. Times stated for events are departure times. Please arrive earlier; leaders start promptly. If you need a ride, please contact the leader.

Please bring a lunch on full-day trips and dress according to the weather forecast and activity. Binoculars and/or spotting scopes are essential on all birding trips. Unless otherwise stated, transportation will be by car pool.

Trip waiver

There can be risks associated with any recreational pursuit. Before you participate in nature walks and similar outdoor activities, we will ask you to read and sign a statement in which you assume the risk of the activity and release the OFNC from liability for any loss, damage or injury, however caused and whether or not contributed to by the OFNC’s negligence. This assumption of risk and release includes any minors accompanying you.

Monthly meetings

Our monthly meetings are be held on the second Tuesday of every month except July and August in the K.W. Neatby Building, Salon B, at 960 Carling Avenue. There is ample free parking in the lot on the west side of Maple Drive by Carling Ave., immediately to the east of the main entrance to the Neatby Building. Details below.

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Events oriented to all ages

Kids are welcome on all of our trips. We have highlighted particular hikes as "oriented to all ages" as these are most likely to be enjoyed by typical children. Depending on your child(ren)'s interests and stamina, please feel free to bring them along on any events. For events tailored to kids, check out the Macoun Field Club.

Thursday, 27 August, 8:30 p.m.
Leader: Jeff Skevington
Meet: 146 Monty Drive in Constance Bay at or before 8:30 pm. To find our house from Ottawa, take the March Road exit in Kanata. Follow March Road out of town to Dunrobin Road. Turn right on Dunrobin Road and follow well past Dunrobin to Constance Bay Drive. Turn right on Constance Bay Drive. Take the 2nd right onto Monty Drive. We are on the right (the house with the unruly prairie garden).

If you are interested in trying to see Southern Flying Squirrels, Jeff will be leading this impromptu OFNC event at his house in Constance Bay. These squirrels are nocturnal and are coming to a feeder in the yard. If they don't show up, we can walk around the neighbourhood and try to find others. We will start at 8:30 pm but if anyone is interested in coming earlier we will be happy to host visitors from 7:30 pm onward. There have been Common Nighthawks migrating through most evenings and Red Bats and Hoary Bats are also on the move and appearing near dusk some evenings. We will also try to see our local Barred Owls after watching for the squirrels. Photographers are welcome but we will (hopefully) watch the squirrels for a while before taking any photos.

Saturday, 29 August, 1-4 p.m.
*Especially Kid Friendly*
Leaders: Macoun Club members and Rob Lee
Meet: Parking lot P6 on Old Richmond Road

Come learn about what most users of Stony Swamp don't see with the Macoun Field Club. The children and youth of the Macoun Club have been conducting in-depth studies in Stony Swamp for decades (see www.magma.ca/~rel/mfc/msa.html). Possible areas of focus are mound-building subterranean ants opening their nests to release queens and drones, the dramatic effects of invasive earthworms on the forest floor, and geological features (sedimentary and glacial) on several acres of bare sandstone. Bring water, a snack, a hat, long pants, closed shoes, binoculars, sun and bug repellent.

Sunday, 30, September 14 and 28, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
*Kid friendly*
Leader: Laurie Wilson and other FWG volunteers
Meet: Fletcher Wildlife Garden Resource Centre (How to find the FWG)

Take a leisurely guided walk through the garden with some of our volunteers. We'll follow the Bill Holland Trail around the Amphibian Pond, through the Butterfly Meadow, past the Old Field, through the Old Woodlot after a stop at the insect hotel, and end in the Backyard Garden behind our resource centre. Come and see what's blooming, who's visiting the garden, and who is making a home there. Pick up a brochure on how to attract birds and butteflies to your yard.

For a preview of what you might see, have a look at what was happening last year at this time - FWG 2014 photo blog

Tuesday, September 1, 7 p.m.
Leader: Cynthia Paquin
Meet: Fletcher Wildlife Garden Resource Centre (How to find the FWG)

Help FLAP Canada - Ottawa Wing rescue birds and document fatalities by becoming a volunteer. The orientation session will cover all you need to know to get started.

Volunteer Roles

  • FLAP Patroller: Patrol the streets to rescue injured birds and collect birds killed by window strikes. Keep detailed records of when and where you find each bird.
    • Must be willing to commit to at least 1 early morning patrol per week (minimum 2 hours) during the migration season. Patrols usually start at sunrise, although they can continue throughout the day.
    • Must be comfortable picking up dead birds and handling stunned and potentially injured birds safely. Training for live bird handling can be provided.
    • Must keep detailed notes, including when and where each bird is found. The data that we collect through patrols will be vital to determining the problem areas in Ottawa and will help us direct our future efforts.
  • Ambulance driver: Be on call to help transport injured birds to the Wild Bird Care Centre for medical attention.
    • Must have a driver’s licence and access to a car at short notice.
    • Must be willing to transport the birds safely. This means moving them as little as possible, keeping them level, and providing a cool, quiet environment.
  • Event and Outreach Assistant: Share the message of how to prevent window strikes at local events. Help us plan and deliver educational and fundraising events during the migration season. Or use your social media savvy to help us share the message on Facebook and Twitter.
    Must be comfortable communicating with the public at various technical levels (generally basic) and staying consistent with FLAP messaging. Preference will be given to volunteers who also volunteer on patrols, as this are the best way to become comfortable with and knowledgeable about the program.

After attending an orientation session we will encourage volunteers interested in patrolling to join a guided patrol where you will follow a seasoned patroller and put your theoretical knowledge into practice (see below).

Wednesday, September 2, 6:30 a.m.
Leader: Sarah Kirkpatrick-Wahl
Meet: Outside Starbucks at the corner of Albert and Kent St

Follow an experienced FLAP patroller to put the theoretical knowledge you learned at the orientation session into practice.

Can't make this date? No problem, we will be holding multiple guided patrols with more dates coming soon. Still having trouble fitting in one of these sessions? Email us at Ottawa@flap.org and we can arrange another date.

Tuesday, September 8, 7 p.m. social; 7:30 p.m. presentation
OFNC monthly meeting
Speaker: Robert Alvo
Location: Salon B, K.W. Neatby Building, Central Experimental Farm, 960 Carling Avenue

Rob's presentation will be based on his forthcoming book which treats each of the 700 species that breed in North America, as defined by the American Birding Association, in three volumes. One page per species, focusing on interesting aspects of each species in a "best of each species" approach. Each species page has a cartoon (18 artists have contributed), a global range map, NatureServe conservation status ranks, global and national for the U.S. and Canada, at least one photo, and the written account. Spanish bird names for use in Mexico will be presented using the list recently adopted by the government of Mexico. Taxonomy, nomenclature, and species ordering follow the American Ornithologists' Union. An appendix treats the other 300 species that occur, but do not breed regularly, in North America. www.babina.ca

Monthly meetings are open to the general public.

Thursday, 10 September, 8 a.m. to noon
Leaders: Rick Collins and Heather Pickard
Meet: P1 parking lot at Shirley's Bay Boat Launch located at the north end of Rifle Rd.

Photo (right): Magnolia Warbler by Heather Pickard.

This event is a guided birding hike for those new to birding who want to learn bird identification skills. Your leaders will discuss the four keys to bird identification used by Cornell:

  1. size and shape
  2. colour pattern
  3. habitat and
  4. behaviour

We will practice applying this ID system to the birds we find. We will begin at the boat launch shoreline with a search of the Ottawa River for waterfowl, raptors, waders and gulls. Following this we will hike the nearby trails in search of the birds that inhabit the various local habitats. At this time of year we expect to encounter a wide variety of species and many opportunities to work at improving our ID skills.

Bring binoculars, dress in layers, wear sturdy footwear and long pants. You might want a snack and water. There is an outhouse at the boat launch area. Depending on the weather you might need rain gear, sun screen or bug repellant. This event will run rain or shine, but may be cut short if the weather conditions are extreme.

Sunday, 20 September, 9 a.m. to noon (or later if turtles are present)
Leader: Ian Whyte
Meet: The parking lot at the filtration plant at Mud Lake at the east end of Cassels Street and proceed to the front of the filtration plant.

Snapping turtles hatch out during September and perhaps into October. Last year, mid-September was the peak time for hatchlings. Come and watch them on their exciting trek to the water. Rescue those that fall on to the road or are born on the wrong side of the curb - a death trap for hatchling turtles.

This will be different from most field trips in that there will be little walking. Participants may arrive at any time between 9 and noon, or any other time for that matter. The area of hatchling activity is around the parking lots and central garden. While at Mud Lake, participants are free to engage in other viewing opportunities.

Saturday, 26 September, 8:15-11:30 a.m.
Leader: Justin Peter (jbpetr (AT) yahoo.ca)
Meet: 8:15 a.m. Lincoln Fields Shopping Centre, at the northeast corner of the parking lot, near Pizza Pizza
9 a.m. at the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre parking lot on Scott, off Old Chelsea Road, Gatineau Park

The Ottawa area has over 50 native tree species, each of which has adaptations that allow it to exploit certain conditions successfully. We will walk the Sugarbush Trail, identifying various trees along the way while looking at how their presence as species and their individual forms can inform us about local environmental conditions, both present and historic.

Besides the abundant Sugar Maple and other common species, we expect to see some locally sporadic to uncommon trees, including Butternut, Rock Elm, Slippery Elm and Bitternut Hickory. We will draw heavily on tree lore and on our own field observations. This excursion should appeal to those who are interested in how various trees fit into our local forested environments as well as those who would like a better grasp of tree identification. If time, energy and interest allows, we may "branch out" and explore surrounding areas.

A drink and a snack for the return to the car are recommended. Sturdy footwear for walking is recommended as well. Binoculars may be helpful. This excursion will be cancelled in the event of stormy weather or heavy, sustained winds/rain.

Difficulty: the Sugarbush Trail is universally accessible and is rated as easy by the NCC. We may also use a short side trail that is considered moderate in difficulty.

Saturday, 3 October, 9:30 am to 3 pm
Leader: Dr. Myron Smith
Meet: Pioneer Village (Trails End) Field Centre's Inn, 3685 Wilhaven Drive, Ottawa. Prepare for 3 minute walk to the Village.

MacSkimming Outdoor Education Centre, on the way to Montreal via Hwy. 17 in Cumberland, is having its annual "Open Trails" open house event. It is the only day when the site is open for the public to explore these Ottawa-Carleton District School Board lands. OFNC members and the public are invited. We will begin with a 30-min presentation on mushrooms, split into groups to collect samples in the field, then regroup to identify them. If you have them, useful items to bring include: mushroom field guide, hand lens, field knife, small basket (like fruit basket), pencil and paper, brown paper sandwich bags. Bring a lunch, your curiosity and dress appropriately for the weather. This activity will occur rain or shine.

The Centre is a diverse site, including a marsh by the Ottawa River, agricultural fields in series of successional stages, red maple swamps and mature mixed-forest. You are also welcome to explore the Centre. For more information, visit the MacSkimming website.

Photo by Ariel Root

Tuesday, October 13, 7 p.m. social; 7:30 p.m. presentation
OFNC monthly meeting
Speaker: Rick Cavasin
Location: Salon B, K.W. Neatby Building, Central Experimental Farm, 960 Carling Avenue

Blessed with a wide diversity of habitats, the Ottawa-Gatineau area boasts a corresponding wide diversity of butterfly species. However, when searching for some of our rarities, the 'where' and the 'when' can be critical. This talk will discuss butterfly hotspots in Eastern Ontario and South-Western Quebec, what's special about them, their noteworthy species, and when to visit them. Rick will also cover how to use resources like the Ontario Butterfly Atlas, the butterfly observation email list, and eButterfly. He will also touch on his use of photographic equipment.

Monthly meetings are open to the general public.

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This page was revised on 25 August 2015
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