|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.
Sunday, 29 May, 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.
Friday, 3 June, 8:30 p.m. to midnight
Come to Larose Forest to discover the nightlife of moths. Black lights will be set-up, and then we will wait as the various moths come to the white sheet set up to attract them. We should see silkworm moths. Bring a flashlight, bug repellent, good footwear and a camera (camera is optional). This trip depends on the weather. Should the temperature drop below 16 °C or in the event of rain, the outing will be cancelled.
Saturday, 11 June, 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, 12 June, 1-4 p.m.
In forested areas, extreme windstorms cause mass tree uprootings. Once tree roots and trunks decay and the soil settles down, displaced soil will form pit-and-mound topography of the forest floor. Thanks to such "wind imprints", we can read traces of past hurricanes by looking at the soil surface. The pit-and-mound complexes contain information about the size and age of uprooted trees, distance between them, depth of root systems, and even the direction of wind during the storm. Join us for learning how to see the traces and measure the direction of past hurricanes along trail 15 in the Gatineau Park! Wear sturdy footwear, bring a snack, some water, bug spray if you use it, a hat and have your compass ready. Elena is a soil scientist with PhD in biology, working as a part-time professor at Ottawa U (Geography Dept), and as a consulting soil scientist at Ecosystem Archaeology Services.
Saturday, 2 July, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Similar to Christmas Bird Counts, this event is an all-day survey of in 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.
Call Jeff Skevington Friday evening at 613-720-2862 if in doubt about the weather or for specific questions regarding this event. Use OFNC Facebook or Twitter to arrange car pooling. 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.
Saturday, July 9, 8:30 a.m. to noon
Stony Swamp and the western Greenbelt can be great places to find butterflies in Ottawa. We will search in some of the fields and along some of the trails in the area. Many species (20 to 30), including native breeding species and migrants such as Great Spangled Fritillary, Aphrodite Fritillary, Mourning Cloak, Eastern Tailed Blue, Summer Azure, Northern Pearly-Eye, Eyed Brown, Peck's Skipper, have been found there. Bring insect repellent, lunch and water. The outing will be cancelled in the event of rain.
Saturday, 16 July, 9 a.m. to noon
Help is needed to pull rosettes of invasive European Water Chestnut from an area at Black Rapids (see article in this issue of Trail & Landscape). The number of volunteers is limited, so please register at the number above. Participants should be comfortable in a canoe; it's especially helpful if you can bring one along with its required safety gear. Also bring clothes that can get wet and dirty, a snack, drinking water, and a sense of humour.
Sunday, 17 July, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
From the trailhead at Parent Beach, we hike along the Cave Trail. The trail can be muddy in places. Once at the caves, we take turns going through in small groups. There are two sections to the caves. Passing through the thigh-deep water of the first cave will satisfy many adventurers; the second - and skippable - cave requires spelunkers to immerse themselves in water. More info on the caves and some maps.
We return via Trail 50, along the shore of Lac Phillipe. Highlights include birding song, odonates (we usually see the beautiful Ebony Jewelwing, but no guarantees), and some surprisingly large Yellow Birch. The hike will run rain or shine. Bring water, a snack, sunscreen and insect repellent, closed-toed footwear you can get wet, and a change of footwear for the trip back. Water-proof flashlights, headlamps, helmets, and towels are all good ideas. The kind of children who enjoy long hikes and who bring their guardians will enjoy the adventure.
Ontario Nature maintains a system of 24 conservation reserves across the province. One of these, the Lost Bay Nature Reserve, was expanded in 2014, thanks to donations from Ontario Nature members, concerned citizens, and member organisations including the OFNC. Lost Bay currently protects 238 hectares of forest, wetland, and shoreline in the Frontenac Arch, which is home to a very diverse assemblage of plants and animals, including 24 species at risk. Ontario Nature staff will give OFNC members a guided tour. The usual packing list is recommended: you lunch, water, sturdy footwear, long pants, more water, weather-appropriate clothing, sunscreen, binoculars, etc.
Please note: It will take approximately 2 hours to drive to Lost Bay, and the tour will last about two hours. A 2:00 p.m. return to Ottawa is only an estimate. This trip is strictly limited to members only. For information, contact Jakob Mueller at jm890_7 AT hotmail.com or (613) 314-1495.
Step outside of your usual patch and explore the edge of the Canadian Shield in Lanark County. This will be a general interest walk, including botany and birds, but also anything else that we come across. This will be a half-day outing, with a fair bit of walking on good trails with some hills. We will see beaver ponds and typical Lanark County forests at various successional stages. If water levels are suitable we will probably finish up at the Almonte lagoons to check for shorebirds and waterfowl. Children who can walk a few kilometers are very welcome. Wear good walking footwear, bring water, a snack, binoculars and spotting scope.
Bug Day is coordinated by the Entomological Society of Ontario in partnership with AAFC and OFNC. Visitors are invited to learn all about the fascinating world of insects, from expert scientists on hand. Activities will include: a live insect zoo, guided insect nature walks, cockroach races, kid's insect crafts, ask a bug expert, building insect collections, insect eating and more. This event will happen rain or shine.
Sunday, 11 September, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Experience the diversity of Ottawa's avifauna during the peak of Fall migration. Expect to see warblers, sparrows, waterfowl, shorebirds, gulls and others. Study the subtle differences between similar species as we explore the Ottawa River from different vantage points. We start at Britannia, and will move slowly west (unless other opportunities present themselves), visiting some of Eastern Ontario's best migratory staging areas. Bring a lunch. This is a rain or shine walk.
Saturday, 17 September, 8:15 a.m. to noon
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. Bring binoculars if you have them. 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 walk a short side-trail that is considered moderate in difficulty.
Sunday, 18 September, 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Come explore the 450 million-year-old Ottawa Group limestones, deposited in the Ottawa Embayment during the Ordovician Period. This was possibly the most interesting period of all in earth's history, marking the time when our current marine ecosystems evolved. Prior to this, the Cambrian "explosion" of multi-cellular life was a set of random evolutionary experiments, many of which were evolutionary dead ends. The two field sites will show fossil groups and arrangements that demonstrate this Ordovician revolution. Our first stop is reminiscent of the earlier simple ecosystems, as we visit Ottawa's famous stromatolites, accretions formed in shallow waters by micro-organisms (usually blue-green algae). Our second stop demonstrates the ways in which fossil diversity increased during the later Ordovician period. This is also a great spot for a picnic lunch. Bring a lunch, a drink, and a hand lens if you have one. Rain will cancel this trip, as it is difficult to observe features on wet limestones. Kids with an interest in fossils are encouraged to come along, as long as they are supervised.
Sunday, 23 October, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
This site is a wonderful exposure to Precambrian shield metamorphic paragneiss with various generations of both mafic and felsic igneous intrusions. After examining this "basement rock" the participants will visit other sites representative of different layers of sedimentary rock which accumulated in the various paleoenvironments that existed in Ottawa during the Cambrian to Ordovician. Participants will get introduced to, discuss and apply various Earth Sciences topics including paleontology, sedimentology and stratigraphy, mineralogy, as well as basic metamorphic and igneous petrology. All sites go ahead regardless of weather. Bring a lunch, something to drink, dress for the weather and wear comfortable walking shoes/boots.