|The Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tuesday, 21 April, 7:30 p.m.
Michel Picard, who is responsible for the mineral collection at the Canadian Museum of Nature and member of our group, will show photos he took at the Tuscon Gem and Mineral Show, held this February. You will be amazed at some of the minerals and some of the prices!
After this, we will have a slide presentation on basic rock identification to prepare us for the field trips.
Sunday, 26 April, 8 a.m. to early afternoon
The park holds the largest wetlands in the Ottawa area, and the trip is timed to coincide with the tail end of the spring waterfowl migration. Expect to see many ducks along with early passerine migrants. The trip will proceed rain or shine, waterproof footwear are recommended. Bring binoculars and a spotting scope if you have one as some birds will be distant. There is $8.50 gate fee to visit the park (please bring exact amount). The trip will end in the early afternoon, final stop will be a casse-croûte with some of the region's best poutine (but bring a snack to tide you over until then!)
Sunday, May 3, 10 a.m.
Come and explore Sheila McKee Park, a little-known jewel of west Ottawa. The park has diverse wildlife, including abundant salamanders, snakes, and birds. Some unusual plant life is also present, and an interesting escarpment can be seen along the Ottawa River's shore. Directions: Take the 417 to the March Road exit in Kanata. Take March Road north all the way through Kanata North. When the road curves to the left, turn right onto Dunrobin Road. Turn right again almost immediately onto Riddell Drive. Follow Riddell Drive east; when it curves sharply to the left, it becomes Sixth Line Road. There is a park entrance near this curve, but continue past it. A short distance later, turn right into the park driveway - a sign will be there with the park name and address (1730 Sixth Line Road).
After months of snowy white landscape, our colour-starved spirits are treated to the Spring ephemeral flowers in the woods. For them, the race is on to soak up as much sunlight as possible before the tree canopy throws the forest floor into shade. Now we can hope to see Dutchman's Britches, Squirrel Corn, Wild Bleeding Heart, Bloodroot, Spring Beauty, Hepaticas, Adder's Tongue, Foam Flower, Bellwort, Wild Ginger, White Trilliums and Red Trilliums. The trails are flat. Sometimes the paths have mud holes that need to be circumvented. The mosquitoes haven't hatched yet, so we can hope for a calm, leisurely stroll. This trip will be cancelled if it is raining in the morning.
Saturday, 9 May, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Join David and Carolyn to learn more about our native amphibians and reptiles. We will search for frogs, salamanders, snakes, and turtles around wetlands and in the woods as well as looking for other wildlife. Kids are definitely welcome. Bring binoculars if you have them and pack a lunch. There are washrooms near the parking area of the conservation area. The trip will be cancelled if it is a rainy day. If you are uncertain if the trip will go ahead, call David and Carolyn at 820-9125 between 9 and 9:30 a.m. on the day of the trip.
Sunday, May 17, 8:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Join Bryarly and Amber for a walk in Gatineau Park to seek, admire, and learn about spring ephemerals. What are spring ephemerals? They are those lovely short-lived wildflowers that emerge in spring and disappear by early summer. Bring a wildflower guide (e.g. Newcomb's), notebook and hand lens, if you like. We will plan to have lunch in the forest, so feel free to bring your lunch along. Dress appropriately for the weather. This jaunt will run sun or sprinkle, but will be canceled in the event of heavy rain. If you have any questions about the trip, please email bryarly at gmail.com or call 613-858-8822. Hope to see you there!
Tuesday, May 19, 7:30 p.m.
We have two guest speakers for our May meeting: Quintin and Willow Wight. Both are specialists in micro-minerals and micro-mounting and will give a 45-minute presentation on this subject followed by Q&A and a show of micro-minerals.
Colonel (Ret.) Quintin Wight, CD, MA
Willow Wight, BA, FGA, FCGmA
Willow graduated from the University of Toronto as an organic chemist, and then took up the study of gemstones in 1967. Her first practical work in gemstones was in association with Paul Desautels, then curator of minerals at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. At the Smithsonian, she examined, verified, and catalogued the gemstones in the US National Collection, gaining a wealth of experience. On her return to Canada in 1975, she was sought out by the National Museum of Natural Sciences (now the Canadian Museum of Nature) in Ottawa, and has remained there ever since. She is now a research associate in gemmology at the museum. Willow’s research has led to many articles, with particular emphasis on new Canadian gemstones, e.g. ammolite from Alberta, hornblende from Baffin Island, and scallop pearls from Nova Scotia. The series "Rare Gemstones Check-list" in The Canadian Gemmologist has earned her international praise. Her latest work is in the history of gemmological exploration in Canada.
Willow is the Canadian delegate and a member of the executive of the International Gemmological Conference, an organization created by the late Dr. Edouard Gübelin and others in 1952 to promote advanced research in gemmology.
Saturday, May 23, 8 a.m. to noon
We will likely check Mud Lake, Shirley's Bay and the wetlands behind Nortel (depending the latest bird reports). At this date there should be several species of warbler, flycatchers, ducks, and gulls. If we are very lucky Arctic Tern, Marsh and Sedge Wren are possible. Snakes and turtles (three species) are usually visible. This is a rain or shine walk, so dress for the weather. Bring binoculars, a scope if you have one, a drink and a snack.
Sunday, May 24, 8 a.m. sharp
We will go to the area immediately south of the Ottawa Interational Airport for a 3-km walk around the Leitrim and Bowesville Road area, also known as "the sparrow fields." Aiming for 30+ species - seven species of sparrows, including Grasshopper, Clay-coloured, Field, Savannah, Vesper, Song, and White-throated, plus Bobolink, Eastern Bluebirds, and an outside chance of Indigo Buntings.
This is an all-weather outing - rain or shine. There is little shade, the path is uneven and slightly undulating, without any steep hill-climbing. Please bring a sun hat, sun block, insect repellent, long pants, strong walking/hiking boots, rain gear, drinking water, sharp eyes and ears.
Richard very kindly provided these photos of some of the sparrows we are likely to see - a chance to memorize identifying features in advance! Try your skill, then hold your cursor over the photo to see the species name.
Wednesday, 27 May, 8 a.m. to noon
The fields to the south of the airport offer one of the most diverse populations of sparrows in the area. We can expect to see Song, Savannah, Field, Chipping, Grasshopper, Vesper, Clay-colored, and possibly White-throated and Swamp Sparrows on this walk. Other possibilities include Indigo Bunting, Nashville Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler, Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark, Tree Swallow, and Black-billed Cuckoo. There is also an important Eastern Bluebird trail in this area. Please note: there are no bathroom facilities on this walk.
Sunday, May 31, 6-11:30 a.m.
We likely will spend about four hours in the Larose Forest, listening to and observing songbirds. Bring binoculars, a snack, a drink, and plenty of mosquito repellent. There will be a variety of biting critters in the forest at this time of year. This trip will be cancelled in the event of continuous rain.
Saturday, June 6, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Go native to support pollinators and other wildlife! Hundreds of beautiful, local wildflowers grow in the Ottawa area. These native plants attract and support local wildlife, including pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects. Loss of natural spaces has resulted in the decline of many species. We encourage you to grow native plants so that pollinators and other wildlife can find shelter and food. We can advise you about which plants suit your garden. A wide variety of native plants creates a garden that flowers throughout the summer and whose ecological balance makes herbicides, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers unnecessary. Come and visit our demonstration backyard garden, pick up free plant lists and "how-to" info on gardening, and talk to our experts.
Summer wildflowers are bright and new and the air is filled with birdsong. At the same time, invasive species are fighting for dominance. In the woods, removal of diseased ash trees last year changed the landscape dramatically; how will the native-invasive conflict play out there? In the meadow, will the hundreds of wildflowers continue to attract butterflies and birds, or will dog-strangling vine win out? Come and explore the battleground, and let's see how wildlife fares in the city.
Saturday, June 13,
7 a.m. to noon
Gatineau Park is host to a great variety of habitats and consequently a great diversity of breeding birds. We will explore a number of areas by foot, traveling between each by vehicle as we gradually make our way up towards the Eardley Escarpment overlooking the Ottawa Valley. Along the way, we'll look and listen for birds in a variety of habitats, including beaver ponds, meadows, alder and willow thickets, and hardwood forest. We should expect a variety of warblers, vireos, sparrows, flycatchers and more. There is a possibility of observing Indigo Bunting and Scarlet Tanager, as well as both cuckoo species. And we will also look at anything else of interest! Binoculars, a drink and a mid-morning snack are recommended. There will likely be some elevation change so wear sturdy footwear. You may also need a hat and bug spray.
Sunday, June 14, 9:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Willows (Salix spp.) can be a confusing group to sort out, unless George Argus is your guide. This trip will involve driving to a variety of sites in the morning, to learn the characters of several local species of willow. We will begin in the Merrickville area and will work our way back to Ottawa, carpooling to the extent possible. This trip will be cancelled if it's raining heavily. If in doubt, call Holly Bickerton at 613-730-7725.
Tuesday, June 25, 7-8:30 p.m.
The Backyard Garden and Butterfly Meadow are truly beautiful areas in late June. Known for many native wildflowers, some of the late spring flowers should still be in bloom, and summer ones blooming, or coming into bloom. Our beautiful Prickly Pear Cactus should be sporting some of its golden blooms - a photographer's delight. Last year we were enthralled with close to twenty blooms adding a delightful display to the Rockery. There should be many birds around, as well as squirrels, chipmunks, frogs and insects. We will learn about many of the interactions between insects and flowers and among the other denizens that prowl the Backyard Garden and Butterfly Meadow. You will get to visit our new Fern Garden and pass by our greater pond as we leave the Interpretation Centre to walk towards the Butterfly Meadow. One of our more interesting nesting birds is the Green Heron. We may be fortunate to see one or two at the pond. We will also learn about some of the invasive species that are taking over this lovely area and what we are trying to do to eliminate the spread of some of these plants. We look forward to your joining us for a pleasant evening stroll at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden that is well-known for its delightful paths and scenery.
Saturday, July 4, 8:30 a.m.
(rain date Sunday 5 July)
Similar to Christmas Bird Counts, this event is an all-day survey of a 24-km diameter circle. There is a $4 charge to participants to support the publication of the results. The count area is centred on Manion Corners (SW of Ottawa) and includes several important butterfly areas such as the Long Swamp and the Burnt Lands alvar. No experience is necessary - we will put teams together on site and match up people so that everyone has a chance to learn from the experts. If you have binoculars and a butterfly net, please bring them along. Butterflies may be captured for identification and release. Rubber boots are recommended, as some of the sites have a lot of poison ivy. It is an all-day event so bring your lunch.
We plan to meet at 6 p.m. after the count for a compilation and pot luck dinner (location to be announced). Please bring along some food to share plus your own drinks. We hope that everyone can make it to the compilation, as it will be a lot of fun; however, if you can't, we will get your data in the afternoon before you leave.