Category: OFNC event

Gatineau park outing

by Sophie Roy

On May 20, 21 birders enjoyed the bird life of Gatineau Park, with leaders Justin Peter and yours truly.

Photo by Norbert Haché

The group started the day off well with two Black-Billed Cuckoos calling at the meeting point, at P8. After birding the parking lot we headed to the nearby “P8 pond” and observed Pied-billed Grebes, Northern Rough-winged Swallows and a male Black-throated Blue Warbler. On the walk back to the parking lot the group had incredible views of three American Bitterns in flight.

One of three American Bitterns seen near parking lot P8. Photo by Sandra Dashney

We then headed to two other parking lots by car (Camp Fortune and P9) and found Blackburnian Warblers, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Northern Flickers, Bay-breasted Warblers, and a Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

Belvédère Huron was the next stop, a lookout along the Champlain parkway, where the group heard the first Blue-headed Vireos of the day. Scarlet Tanager, Red-eyed Vireo, Black-throated Green Warbler and Veery were also heard and seen at this location.

The next stop was Étienne Brulé Lookout. Here, we had stunning views of an adult Broad-winged Hawk coasting along the Eardley Escarpment. The outing concluded with a short hike on Western Lodge and Pioneer Road trails. At the end of the Western Lodge Trail the group stopped at the lookout and were surprised to see a Peregrine Falcon harassing a Turkey Vulture. Along the trillium-covered trails, we observed a Least Flycatcher, Scarlet Tanager, and Blackburnian Warbler and heard Northern Waterthrush, Tennessee Warblers, and Ovenbirds. During the outing we also enjoyed seeing an Ovenbird nest, a first for many members.

Plant life and trees were also looked at, many members smelling the Red Trillium for the first time.

Scarlet Tanager photographed by Sandra Dashney

Ovenbird photographed by Norbert Haché

Ovenbird nest photographed by Derek Dunnett

Blackburnian Warbler photographed by Sandra Dashney


Mudpuppy night for the OFNC

photos by Bill Bowman

According to Fred Schueler, Kemptville Creek, just below the dam at Oxford Mills, is the only place in Ontario where our giant aquatic Salamanders can be easily viewed during their winter activity.

According to Fred Schueler, Kemptville Creek, just below the dam at Oxford Mills, is the only place in Ontario where our giant aquatic Salamanders can be easily viewed during their winter activity.

Searching for salamanders at this site has become a regular weekly event for Fred.

Searching for salamanders at this site is a regular weekly event for Fred, and he has records dating back to 1984.

On Saturday, 18 February, OFNC members joined Fred and Aleta from 7 to 10.

On Saturday, 18 February, OFNC members joined Fred and Aleta from 7 to 10, wading in the cold water with flashlights and headlamps.





From Bill and Barbara Bowman: "Many thanks Fred and Aleta for sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm for mudpuppies last night. Our family really enjoyed your presentation and the hands on learning experience."

From Bill and Barbara Bowman: “Many thanks Fred and Aleta for sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm for mudpuppies last night. Our family really enjoyed your presentation and the hands on learning experience.”

More about Mudpuppy Night in Oxford Mills on Fred and Aleta’s web site


By Barry Cottam

Once again OFNC members got together to share their passion for nature and nature photography. And once again, we discovered the amazing range of interests and experiences Club members explore. We could have used even more time than the three hours scheduled for this event. Each presentation by the ten participants was interesting and informative and the photography was excellent. Organizers Hume Douglas and I never really know until the evening starts just how many presenters we’ll have and what they are presenting, but we’ve been more than happy with results every time.


Doug Luoma – hummingbird clearwing moth

In a way, this event is like a pot luck that always works out. Some club members love to travel while others find a world closer to home, sometimes right in their own backyard. And while birding is the most popular activity, our event reminds us of the many other aspects of nature we explore. Keith Wickens started the evening off at home and far away, sharing photos of shore birds from Mud Lake and New Zealand. He has a special interest in hard-to-identify juveniles. Bev McBride took us on a whirlwind world tour, from home here in Ottawa to the French Pyrenees, the Tibetan Plateau in the Qinghai province of China, returning via Alaska and the NWT. Bev is passionate about small plants that grow in cracks in rocks, many rare and difficult to identify: she would appreciate hearing any information about the plants shown here. Eden Bromfield is also interested in rare plants and fungi too. His presentation travelled through time and space, a seasonal trip through natural landscapes, with wildlife, such as

Eden Bromfield – eastern purple bladderwort

a grizzly in northern BC. We visited another north with Gordon Robertson, who explored birding spots around Edinburgh, Scotland; good thing he had a map! Jakob Mueller warmed us up in Cayo Coco, Cuba. His specialty is reptiles, but he started off with several fascinating Cuban endemic birds, including the Bee Hummingbird aka the world’s smallest bird, pictured here, a very difficult subject to photograph. He explained that birds are reptiles, too, before getting down to the lizards and snakes. Justin Peter’s video account of Demoiselle cranes took us to India, a highlight of a tour he had guided there last year. He told us the story of a field, famous for attracting these large birds in their thousands. Would they turn up or not – the tension mounted!

We criss-crossed Canada as well. In addition to mentions above, Doug Luoma captured memorable wildlife at Mud Lake in his 10-minute video. In addition to his photo grabs here, he showed rare footage of several species of nesting woodpeckers, including their various calls. Barry took us to his family home-away-from-home in rural eastern Prince Edward Island, focusing on the rich variety of arachnids there, including several species of crab, jumping and orbweaving spiders. He was surprised how many people admitted liking these critters… Owen Clarkin continued his explorations of the trees of eastern Ontario; showing the largest elms of the region and the rarer species. Lorne Peterson brought us back to his Ottawa backyard, filled with flowering plants from the FWG plant sales. These attract numerous pollinators, proof of the effectiveness of providing microhabitats for these threatened species.

As in previous blogs, participants share their favourite photos. They provide a taste of the evening’s images and stories. We look forward to more next year. Thanks, everyone!

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Mushrooms of MacSkimming

By Julia Cipriani

Mushrooms collected in the forest, photographed by the MacSkimming Centre team

Mushrooms collected in the forest, photographed by the MacSkimming Centre team

On Saturday, October 1, well over 110 people met at MacSkimming Outdoor Education Centre to participate in the MacSkimming open trails event. There were members of the general public, of OFNC, and of les Mycologues amateurs de l’Outaouais (MAO). The enthusiasm was palpable.

Participants lay out their mushrooms at MacSkimming. Photo by Andrée Juneau

Participants lay out their mushrooms at MacSkimming. Photo by Andrée Juneau

Yolande Dalpé and Brett Stevens led the foray. After exploring the woods of MacSkimming for a couple of hours, participants returned with baskets overflowing with mushrooms. It was a stunning harvest. The MAO group placed laminated images of mushrooms on the tables which facilitated grouping and the initial identification of the harvest. Yolande and Brett worked with the participants to identify mushrooms that were puzzling.

It was great to see such a large range of ages interested in fungi and engaged with the outdoors. The OFNC would like to thank the MacSkimming Centre team for welcoming us to their site.

The Harvest

compiled by Yolande Dalpé, Research Scientist (AAFC) & Director (Mycologues amateurs de l’Outaouais)



Amanita amerifulva
Amanita citrina
Amanita flavoconia
Amanita muscaria var guessowii
Amanita vaginata
Amanita virosa
Lycoperdon perlatum
Lycoperdon pyriforme
Lycoperdon subincarnatum
Melanophyllum haematospermum
Plicaturopsis crispa

Coprinopsis atramentaria

Cortinarius alboviolaceus
Cortinarius armillatus
Cortinarius caperatus
Cortinarius chrysolitus
Cortinarius claricolor
Cortinarius delibutus
Cortinarius semisanguineus
Cortinarius traganus
Crepidotus applanatus
Gymnopilus luteus
Gymnopilus penetrans

Fibropilus abortivum

Laccaria laccata s.l.
Hebeloma mesophaeum

Ampulloclitocybe clavipes
Cuphophyllus borealis
Cuphophyllus pratensis
Hygrocybe chlorophana
Hygrocybe coccinea
Hygrocybe conica
Hygrocybe marginata
Hygrocybe parvula
Hygrocybe punicea
Hygrocybe squamulosa
Hygrophorus pudorinus
Hygrophorus purpurascens
Porpolomopsis calyptriformis

Hypsizygus tessulatus
Lyophyllum connatum
Lyophyllum decastes

Clitocybula familia

Mycena leaiana
Panellus stypticus

Gymnopus dryophilus
Rhodocollybia maculata

Cyptotrama chrisopepla
Hymenopellis furfuracea

Pleurotus pulmonarius

Pluteus cervinus

Hypholoma lateritium
Pholiota lenta
Pholiota limonella
Pholiota spumosa
Pholiota squarrosoides
Stropharia hardii

Clitocybe coniferophila
Clitocybe phleophthalma
Lepista nuda
Pseudoarmillariella ectypoides
Tricholoma aurantium
Incertae sedis: Cotylidia pannosa


Harrya chromapes
Leccinum atrostipitatum
Leccinum holopus
Leccinum scabrum
Leccinum snellii

Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca

Scleroderma citrinum, photographed by the MacSkimming Centre team

Scleroderma citrinum, photographed by the MacSkimming Centre team

Scleroderma citrinum


Cantharellus cinnabarinus

Clavulinopsis corniculata
Clavulinopsis fusiformis
Ramaria gracilis


Calocera cornea
Coltricia cinnamomea

Ramariopsis kunzei


Inonotus obliquus

Piptoporus betulinus

Ganoderma applanatum
Ganoderma tsugae

Ischnoderma resinosa

Irpex lacteus

Daedaleopsis confragosa
Fomes fomentarius
Lentinus levis
Polyporus badius
Polyporus squammosus
Postia stiptica
Trametes ochracea
Trametes versicolor
Trichaptum biforme
Tyromyces chioneus


Lentinellus cochleatus

Hericium americanum

Lactarius affinis
Lactarius cinereus
Lactarius deceptivus (Lactifluus)
Lactarius deterrimus
Lactarius glyciosmus
Lactarius helvus
Lactarius pyrogalus
Lactarius rufus
Lactarius subpurpureus
Lactarius thyinos
Lactarius torminosus
Lactarius vinaceorufescens
Russula adusta
Russula aeruginea
Russula compacta
Russula emetica
Russula fragilis
Russula mariae
Russula variata

Gyromitra infula


Hypomyces chrysospermus



Lycogala epidendron


Fuligo septica

Early fall birding along the Ottawa River

Northern Flicker, photographed by Sarma Vishnubhatla.

Northern Flicker, photographed by Sarma Vishnubhatla.

On Sunday, 11 September, Jeff Skevington led an outing to Britannia and points west along the Ottawa River. At least 28 participants spent the day visiting the best birding spots along the river, looking for migrants and, especially, shorebirds.

As Jeff reports, “We had many groups of warblers and ended up with 20 species of warblers for the day. My personal highlight was a group of warblers at Shirleys Bay that were coming to a puddle to drink. We had 6 Northern Parulas, 1 Tennessee Warbler, 1 Magnolia Warbler and 1 Black-throated Blue Warbler all attending the puddle at one time.

“We also saw 11 species of shorebirds, with the highlights being Sanderling and Short-billed Dowitcher. The species total for the day was 85.”

Sarma Vishnubhatla was kind enough to share her photos with us, and Jeff uploaded the list of species seen to eBird – if you have an eBird account, click here for the day’s checklist

Some of the participants in Sunday's birding excursion, led by Jeff Skevington (at right with scope).

Some of the participants in Sunday’s birding excursion, led by Jeff Skevington (at right with scope).

OFNC’s 16th annual butterfly count


The butterfly count is an annual OFNC event organized this year by Jeff Skevington. Working in groups or alone, participants patrol the same location – a 24-km diameter circle centred on Manion Corners – each year from about 9 a.m. to about 4 or 5 p.m. Data are submitted to the North American Butterfly Association.

Ideal habitat for a large number of butterflies, the count site includes both alvar and swamp.

Ideal habitat for a large number of butterflies, the count site includes both alvar and swamp.

This year, the count got off to a delayed start when high winds on Saturday caused the organizers to postpone the event hoping for better conditions on Sunday, 3 July. They were rewarded with a sunny morning, with wind speeds of 7-25 kph, although it became windier later in the day. By 3 p.m., light rain was falling, ending the count early. A potluck dinner followed.

Many of our veteran area leaders were away this year, so coverage was below normal. The largest group included both experts and enthusiastic newbies: Jeff Skevington, Angela Skevington, Alexander Skevington, Rob Ellis, Li-Shien Lee, Derek Ellis, Julia Ellis, Celeste Cassidy, Elizabeth Gammell, Reni Barlow, Juliet McMurren, Gabriel McMurren, Sarma Vishnubhatla, and Lakshmi Vishnubhatla. Well know local butterfly expert Rick Cavasin covered two other areas with help from Ian Whyte.

The results were very good for the two groups that were out. Wetlands were dry as a result of the drought conditions in our area, so Sedge Skippers and related fauna were absent or not detected.

According to Jeff, “The Delaware Skipper is increasing its range and moving north. They were rare in our area a few years ago and are now regular on counts (you can see the change over time on the summary count sheet). The others are all regularly observed species.”

Thanks to Sarma Vishnubhatla for the photos of the participants above and to Reni Barlow for the gallery of butterfly photos below (be sure to click on them for a better view)!

Summary of this year’s count
Inventory of species for 1998-2017

Ducks and gulls along the river

by Roy John

Report of an Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club excursion on Sunday, 22 May 2016.

A dozen people went to Mud Lake to take advantage of the recent change from cold windy weather to lovely warm sunshine. This had brought in numerous, much delayed, migrants over the last few days.

Wood Duck photographed by Roy John

Wood Duck photographed by Roy John

As soon as we arrived at Mud Lake we were told that a rare Yellow-throated Vireo had been found in the woods. We plunged in and soon could hear it singing. It took a bit more effort to actually see it jumping around the tree tops, but we all eventually did. A little further in, the resident Screech Owl sat rigidly still for all to see. Dave Moore did his turkey call and pulled a Wild Turkey out of the woods.

We continued around Mud Lake, finding many new species. At the east fence we saw a Raccoon’s nose poking out the hole of a garbage skip, obviously trapped (the city were informed). So we had a beautiful morning with many good birds.

A number of species were strangely missing. Although we heard a Great Crested Flycatcher many times, we never could see it. We saw only a few Tree Swallows (a pair at a nest), but no others – very odd for Mud Lake. There were no Green Herons and only one Great Blue – yet Great Egrets were easy to find.

All in all, a warm, sunny day with 43 bird species seen (plus 4 heard).

Canada Goose
Wood Duck (photo above)

Wild Turkey

Double-crested Cormorant

Great Egret
Great Blue Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron

Ring-billed Gull

Eastern Screech Owl photographed by Roy John

Eastern Screech Owl photographed by Roy John

Eastern Screech-Owl (photo at right)

Belted Kingfisher

Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker

Eastern Phoebe (heard only)
Great Crested Flycatcher (heard only)

Yellow-throated Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo

Blue Jay
American Crow
Common Raven

Tree Swallow

Black-capped Chickadee

White-breasted Nuthatch

American Robin

Gray Catbird photographed by Roy John

Gray Catbird photographed by Roy John

Gray Catbird (photo at right)

European Starling

Cedar Waxwing (photo below right)

NEW WORLD WARBLERS (11 species + 2 not seen or confirmed)
Tennessee Warbler
Common Yellowthroat (heard only)
American Redstart
Northern Parula
(Magnolia Warbler – not confirmed)
Bay-breasted Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Pine Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler

Cedar Waxwing photographed by Roy John

Cedar Waxwing photographed by Roy John

Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow

Northern Cardinal

Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle

Pine Siskin (very late)
American Goldfinch

Non-bird species
Midland Painted Turtle
Water Snake
Spiny Baskettail (photo below)

Spiny Baskettail dragonfly photographed by Gillian Mastromatteo

Spiny Baskettail dragonfly photographed by Gillian Mastromatteo

Third Annual OFNC Members Photo Night

By Barry Cottam

Nine presenters turned out on a messy winter’s night, with about a dozen more folks in the audience, for our 3rd annual members photo night event. Organizers Hume Douglas and Barry Cottam had some initial concern about the low numbers, but then were kept on their toes finding time for everyone to present as much as they wished.

The room at the Neatby Building had already been set up with tables and chairs, an arrangement we decided to run with. It worked well, giving people more opportunity to meet each other and share comments on the presentations. The evening began with new member Mary Ann Perron’s presentation on her research on dragonflies, supported by the OFNC under its new science research grant program. She produced some fascinating photos of dragonflies emerging, with various degrees of success, from their exuviae, and explained the value of dragonflies as monitors of water-way health. Owen Clarkin, OFNC’s resident expert on trees, shared his enthusiasm for the capabilities of his new point and shoot camera that enabled him to take identification-confirming photos on land that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Barry Cottam continued with the entomology theme, presenting on biodiversity in small spaces. He described a happy afternoon photographing insects on and around a single stump found behind his room at Wildsumaco Bird Lodge in Napo Province, Ecuador.

Cottam - Semiotus superbus

Semiotus superbus, by Barry Cottam

Jeewa Mendis brought us back to Canada with a series of short videos of local wildlife, including a family of four friendly skunks denning in her backyard. She ended with a video teaser, shot in Sri Lanka, for her presentation on March 19 at the FWG. Eden Bromfield took us on rambles from the Ottawa River to a Yukon national park to the Gaspe; his work emphasizes the play of light on ice and flowing waters and his keen interest in local flora.

Bromfield - Ram's Head Lady's Slipper Orchid (Cypripedium arietinum)

Ram’s Head Lady Slipper Orchid, by Eden Bromfield

We returned to the north, this time to James Bay with Rick Cavasin on his search for northern species of butterflies; his trip included a walk to Nunavut. (You had to be there!) Gordon Robertson gave us an entertaining overview of the fauna of the Galapagos Islands, seen on a boat tour that included all the islands. Gord Belyea had stories about bird encounters in Florida and Texas. He has a special interest in finding banded birds then reporting his findings to the sometimes elusive scientists who banded them, an important contribution to citizen science. The evening closed with several photos presented by Lorne Peterson, who introduced us to the concept of ‘equinoxing.’ Lorne explained that he saw the spring and fall equinoxes as processes by which light is shared locally and globally, from his backyard to the world itself.

And so another members photo night was filled with the varied interests and ideas of OFNC members, expressed through their combined love of nature and photography. It was after 10 by the time the organizers had finished up, worries about low numbers forgotten, happily looking forward to 2017.


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Fossil hunting at Macoun Marsh

by Richard Singhroy

Richard Singhroy is a student at the University of Ottawa. As part of the university’s Community Service Learning program, he has volunteered to report on several OFNC outings and meetings. On November 7, he joined the Geology Interest Group to look for fossils.

Coral fossils spotted at Macoun Marsh

Coral fossils spotted at Macoun Marsh (click for larger image)

Now, it wasn’t digging for dinosaurs, but something equally interesting.

First a bit about Macoun Marsh. It is a small patch of trees near a tiny stream next to Beechwood Cemetery – a truly a beautiful place. The rocks that were brought to the marsh were quarried at Labreton flats next to the Ottawa River.

These limestone rocks are 458 million years old. They were formed during the upper Ordovician period. To give you some context, during this period, our area was almost entirely ocean, and most of the world’s land was a supercontinent known as Gondwana. Throughout the Ordovician period, Gondwana shifted toward the South Pole and much of it was submerged underwater. The Ordovician is best known for its diverse marine invertebrates, including graptolites, trilobites, brachiopods, and the conodonts.

Now for the good part. What did we find? Well, brachiopods were the first thing. Brachiopods are a phylum of small marine shellfish, sometimes called lampshells. They are not common today, but in the Palaeozoic period they were one of the most common types. They lived near the shore (littoral zone), but now they have been pushed into deeper water by competition from bivalve molluscs. Like mussels they have shells, but the shells do differ.

Sponge fossil found at Macoun Marsh

Sponge fossil found at Macoun Marsh (click for larger image)

We also found sponges and coral fossils (see photos). These are more widely known than brachiopods.

Next we found an orthocone. An orthocone is a long straight shell of a nautiloid cephalopod. During the 18th and 19th centuries, all shells of this type were named Orthoceras, but it is now known that many groups of nautiloids developed or retained this type of shell. An orthocone is like a nautilus shell, but straight and uncoiled. It was previously believed that these represented the most primitive form of nautiloid, but it is now known that the earliest nautiloids had shells that were slightly curved.

I found the last to be the most interesting. Trace fossils are literally what you think they might be, a fossil that an animal left behind, like a footprint. I’m amazed how a path left behind millions of years ago can still be seen today.

I really enjoyed my morning and learning the geology of the distant past. The setting was nice and the fossils were very intresting. I would definitely recommend that you visit Macoun Marsh if you get a chance.

Late fall birding


by Richard Singhroy

Richard Singhroy is a student at the University of Ottawa. As part of the university’s Community Service Learning program, he has volunteered to report on several OFNC outings and meetings.

On Sunday, November 1 at 8 am, a group of Ottawa Field-Naturalist Club members met at Andrew Haydon Park to do some birding. Birding is the act of cataloguing local birds. It is great for getting fresh air and learning about the different types of birds. Mark Gawn, who was leading the outing, has vast knowledge of birds and their migrating patterns. I learned a lot about birds and how to identify them.

A few tips on birding, it is a good idea to bring along a field guide to help you identify the birds and know ahead of time what birds you might find in an area. Because many birds migrate through our area, fall is a great time to find a large variety. It is also a good idea to bring a pair of binoculars.

DSCN0735We saw a number of migratory fall birds, probably the best known being the Canada Geese. We also saw Common Goldeneyes, which can be identified by their protruding forehead and the white spots under their eyes; they also have black and white feathers. We also spotted Red-necked Grebes, which can be identified by their red neck and needle-like beak. Depending on time of year the colour of the feathers can change.

At Ottawa Beach, we saw a few other birds, including a Bonaparte’s Gull. This bird lives in the boreal forest and can be identified by the white edges on its wings. Surf Scoters were also seen – a beautiful black and white bird.

After a hike in the forest and a stop to listen to the singing of American Tree Sparrows and other birds, we arrived at another site where we were hoping to see a King Eider. Unfortunately, we did not find one, although we DID spot a Black-bellied Plover, a Bald Eagle and its nest, a Northern Shoveler, and a Northern Pintail, just to name a few. There were large flocks of maybe 70 or more individuals. Most were White-winged Scoters and Black Scoters, but there where also Redheads, American Wigeons, Long-tailed Ducks, Gadwalls, and Barrow’s Goldeneyes.

In the end, I learned a lot about birds and how to recognize them. It was lots of fun; I would definitely recommend birding and will be doing it whenever I get the chance. All of the results were posted to eBird, a popular database that you can report your own results to.