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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.

Sunday, August 2, 16, and 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)

On July 19, we're going to do something a little different. You'll have the option of staying with the main group for a stroll through the garden highlighting the Amphibian Pond, Butterfly Meadow, Old Woodlot, and Backyard Garden. Mid-summer is a great time for insects especially, and we're hoping to see Monarch butterflies (and possibly caterpillars) by the date of this walk. So come and see what's blooming, who's visiting the garden, and who is making a home there. Learn more about our insect hotel and see for yourself which plants attract the most pollinators.

Alternatively, Ted is going to lead a group of volunteers and potential volunteers around the garden to identify "nodes" - small areas of special interest or importance. The plan is to recruit a volunteer for each node - to take care of the area, maybe suggest a sign to share its significance with visitors, and get help from the Management Committee if the node needs more attention.

If you've been thinking about becoming a volunteer or helping out in a casual way, this is a chance to take on a small undemanding task that will make a big difference at the FWG.

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

Sunday, 2 August, 9 a.m. to noon
Leader: Gillian Mastromatteo (sedge DOT sprite AT gmail DOT com)
Meet: 9 a.m. at the Petrie Island parking lot near the entrance to the William Holland Trail. Note that parking costs $2.

This outing is limited to 10 participants only. Contact Gillian via email to register and to arrange carpooling prior to the outing.

Petrie Island is a great spot to find interesting odonates not typically found at places like Mud Lake or Stony Swamp. With luck we will see Slaty Skimmers, Blue Dashers, Swamp Spreadwings, and some of the more colourful bluets local to Petrie Island. Bring a snack and water, and if you have them, a field guide, insect net and magnifying lens. This outing will be cancelled in the event of rain.

Thursday, 13 August, 8 a.m. to early afternoon
Leader: Henri Goulet
Meet: 8 a.m. at Lincoln Fields Shopping Centre, northeast corner of the parking lot near Pizza Pizza, Richmond Road at Assaly
9 a.m. at the Y parking lot on Forsythe Road in Limerick Forest. Contact Stew Hamill at 613-269-3415 or shamill@ripnet.com for more information.

Limerick Forest is a 5782-hectare community forest located in eastern Ontario, owned and managed by the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville. Conifer plantations account for approximately one third of the total area of Limerick Forest. This is a result of the reforestation of abandoned farmland and sand dunes by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) via the Agreement Forest Program started in the early 1940s. The remainder of Limerick is comprised of wetlands and second growth mixed forest, in roughly equal proportions of one-third each. The Friends of Limerick Forest invite you to join Henri Goulet and Pete Dang of the Biodiversity Conservancy for a hike to look for insects on a sand dune in Limerick Forest. This hike will be followed by lunch and a visit to the Interpretive Centre. After lunch we can view the historic bird egg collection, containing 743 sets of eggs, some still in their original nests. Wear hiking gear, and bring lunch, water, field guides, and binoculars. This is part of a year-long series of events celebrating the 75th anniversary of Limerick Forest in 2015. Visit the website limerickforest.ca for a complete list of activities.

Saturday, 15 August, 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.

Sunday, 16 August, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Leader: Allan Donaldson, Ottawa-Gatineau Geoheritage Project
Meet: At 9:00 am, southeast end of the public parking area within Kanata Centrum Shopping Centre, south of the Landmak Theatre Complex and west of the OTC bus loop. Lots of parking slots are free in this area on Sundays. We will gather at the outcrop of sandstone that borders the north side of Highway 417.

This is a chance to learn about the great variety of geological features within the National Capital area. We will see a variety of igneous and metamorphic rocks typical of the Canadian Shield, several types of stromatolities (records of the only life on Earth for more that 90% of geological time), and a range of fossils typical of the limestone-dolostone cover representative of the southern part of "The Land Between." All sites are for viewing and learning, so bring cameras instead of hammers. Pack a lunch, bring water, and wear reasonable walking shoes. This trip will go ahead regardless of weather.

Saturday, 22 August, 7:30 a.m. to noon
Leader: Ken Allison, (613) 256-4283
Meet: 7:30 a.m. Lincoln Fields Shopping Centre, at the northeast corner of the parking lot, near Pizza Pizza
8:15 a.m. at home of Ken and Ruth Allison, just west of Almonte at 561 Wolf Grove Rd. Off-street parking at the Allison property is somewhat limited, so carpooling is encouraged.

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 kilometres are encouraged to come. Wear good walking footwear, bring water, a snack, binoculars and spotting scope. This walk may be cancelled in the event of continuous rain. If in doubt, check with Ken.

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.

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.

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 13 July 2015
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