Fungi Blitz

Like most autumn mornings, the appointed day of the 2009 Fungi Blitz on Oct. 3 started out wet and foggy but soon dissolved into a clear fall day. More than 30 saprophyte enthusiasts sprang up like, well, mushrooms, at the Five-Span Bridge in Pakenham and headed off to the nearby Continue reading

Carp Ridge Hike

P1060193The Carp Ridge, a fault-bounded slice of Canadian Shield sprawling along the Ottawa Valley, is a picturesque venue for Sunday drives today, but it must have been a tough row to hoe literally for the first farmers who tried to pull a plough through its thin soil. Probably of more use as a source of lumber, maple syrup, and wood ash for soap-making, it was nevertheless well-treed enough to sustain the catastrophic wildfire that burned from Arnprior to Ottawa in the droughty summer of 1870. Set up by a rainless summer and fanned by freakish 100-mile-an-hour winds, an 11-mile wide wall of flame consumed trees, farms, livestock and a few unfortunate souls, not stopping until it had erased Stittsville and Bell’s Corners. Updrafts over the Ridge must have served like a blacksmith's bellows.

Today, the towns and trees have grown back – the former more so than the latter – but the swath that just missed Almonte is still justly called the Burnt Lands. Today the Ridge is mostly second and third-growth timber with pockets of boggy soil in small depressions in the granite gneiss, and the odd forest giant that has survived fires, storms, axes and chainsaws to reign over the spindly pretenders below. Relics of farms past lie scattered across the hills, mouldering in the leaf litter.

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Dochart Creek Paddle

Given the blustery October weather today, we did have a very enjoyable canoe outing. We missed having Mary Marsh with us, as there were many plants and flowers that we saw and could only guess at. The canoe group included three canoes with Doug, Earle, Maryann, Norm and Barb.

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Macnamara Trail BioBlitz

Yellow_ladyslipperDespite a cool breeze and cloudy skies that threatened but never delivered rain showers, 36 Macnamara Field Naturalists and members of the public tramped the trails of the Nopiming Reserve early on May 30. The earliest were the birders, alert for tell-tale bird songs at dawn. Mike Runtz and Roger Bird identified 66 avian species, including a somewhat rare Yellow Warbler. It seemed to be singing on its territory, so we could have a nesting pair--a first for Arnprior. There was a good selection of other warblers: Tennessee, Nashville, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Black-and white, etc. See the complete list for them all. In fact, the diverse habitats of the Trail--deciduous woodland, old field, marsh, and coniferous patches--gave a corresponding variety of sightings, from American Woodcocks to Wood Ducks, and Common Loons to Merlins.

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Spotluck Birding

Mom always warned me about hanging around the mall with strangers and nowhere to go. Other Macnamara Field Naturalists in the Canadian Tire parking lot watching the sun rise over their cup of Timmy's probably had similar warnings in their youth--we were all ignoring them. Still, when Ryan Zimmerling pulled up and said, "Hey gang, let's go hang out down by the river." I did feel a frisson of déja vu. It was the "spot luck" birding trip, and like going to a potluck dinner we didn't know what we'd get until we got it. Sometimes unplanned is the way to go.


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