|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.
Saturday, 30 April, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
This event is an opportunity for the general public to see what visiting students from the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board do at the Bill Mason Centre. Visitors are invited to walk the trails and explore the forest, with outdoor education instructors stationed along the trails as guides. In the past, hands-on stations have included ephemeral pond life, forest exploration, and more.
Sunday, 1 May, 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 viewing will be distant. There is $6 fee to visit the park, payable on entry. 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!
Saturday, 7 May, 8 a.m. to noon
Observe the bird banding and censusing activities of the Spring Migration Monitoring Program at Innis Point Bird Observatory. Dress for the weather and bring snacks and water.
Sunday, 8 May, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Soon after the snow melts and before the trees leaf out, something magical happens in Ontario's woodlands. Spring ephemerals are as fleeting as the season they grow in, gently unfurling from cool, moist soil, carpeting the forest floor, and then quickly going to bloom before vanishing again until the next year. Join Bryarly McEachern and Amber Westfall for a walk at MacSkimming Forest to seek, admire, and learn about spring ephemerals. Bring a wildflower guide (e.g., Newcomb's), notebook and hand lens, if you like. We 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 cancelled in the event of heavy rain.
Please note: this trip is now fully booked. You may still put your name on a waiting list by contacting Martha.
Thursday, 12 May to Sunday, 15 May
Our club is planning another fantastic birding trip to Point Pelee and Rondeau Provincial Parks with several stops in interesting birding places along the route down and back. We have booked rooms in the newly renovated Leamington Comfort Inn with buffet breakfast service. We shall charter an air conditioned bus with toilet facilities. We expect the cost to be about $500/person. Look for more details on the OFNC site. Meantime, to secure your place on this trip, call Martha Farkas at 613 729-4619 or send an e-mail to martha_farkas[at]rogers.com
Saturday May 14, 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 canceled 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. the day of the trip.
Sunday, 22 May, 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.
Thursday, 26 May, 7-8:30 p.m.
Come for a springtime walk through our own Backyard Garden at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden. From the earliest of spring flowers - Coltsfoot, White Trillium, Hepatica, and Marsh Marigold, to later blooming Wild Columbine, Wild Ginger, and Jack-in-the-pulpit, there are many interesting facts to learn about these colourful spring blooms - the reasons for their colourful common names, their pollinators, growth patterns, care, and each plant's own unique qualities. We will also stroll through the greater parts of the Fletcher Wildlife Garden and visit our beautiful Butterfly Meadow. Ever popular with photographers and visitors, the Fletcher Wildlife Garden has often been referred to as a "hidden gem in the midst of the city." Come and spend an evening among our native wildflowers and the garden's other wild denizens - birds, squirrels, butterflies, and frogs.
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.
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.
Saturday, 20 August, 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.