By Bailey Cooke
Every year, the Ottawa Field-Naturalist’s Club hosts an awards night to take the time to say thank you to those who have made major contributions to the club over the previous year. This year, the event will take place Saturday April 18th in the basement of St. Basil’s Church, at 940 Rex Avenue.
All members of the club are welcome to come out and support the many important members who help keep Canada’s oldest natural history club alive. Starting at 7:00 pm sharp, you can come down to socialize and munch on some refreshments to kick off what is sure to be a splendid evening. Browse the Macoun Field Club natural history exhibits, bid on items at the silent auction, and don’t forget to take the time to admire the beautiful art and photography displays that will be competing for the winning title.
At 8:15 pm, OFNC host Rob Alvo and President Fenja Brodo will say a few welcoming words, quickly followed by a brief chat about the Macoun Field Club Projects. Shortly after, the OFNC awards for 2014 will be presented.
The night will wrap up around 10:00 pm but not before the Despotic Natural History Trivia Quiz, remarks from the Ottawa Riverkeeper, as well as the announcement of the winners of the silent auction and the art/photography contest.
Come out and enjoy the night while celebrating this year’s award recipients:
Honorary Member: Ross Layberry
George McGee Service Award: Elizabeth Morton
Member of the Year: Natalie Sopinka
Mary Stuart Education Award: Tom Spears
Conservation – Member: Anouk Hoedeman
Conservation – Non-Member: Paul and Cathy Keddy
President’s Prize: Lis Allison, Bob Cermak
by Sandy Garland
Today (1 June 2014), OFNC members were treated to a tour of an Ottawa gem: the Pinhey sand dunes. According to Biodiversity Conservancy International’s (BCI) web site, the complex “has survived over 10,000 years since the last ice age. This unique ecosystem is home to a number of plant and animal species which can only live in well-drained, open areas with exposed fine white sand.”
It’s quite a surprise to drive down a treed suburban street, then walk a few steps into a hot, desert-like scene. But that’s what you find if you explore the trails at the corner of Pineland and Vaan.
BCI president, Dr. Peter Dang, showed us the extent of the “original” dunes back in the 1920s. In the 1960s, plantations were in vogue and the NCC planted 1000s of trees in the area, reducing the dune to a tiny fraction of its former size.
But in 2011, a dedicated group of volunteers saw the value of this rare habitat and its unique creatures and set about reversing the trend that was turning it into forest. They convinced the NCC that the dunes were worth saving and obtained funding from the Trillium Foundation and the City of Ottawa.
Since then, they’ve been spending weekends sifting sand, making an inventory of species they find, and removing weeds and other debris. Luckily they have help. Today, a scout troop from Orleans was on site working busily in one corner of the sandy area.
We DID see lady’s slippers, by the way. A band of forest surrounding the dune helps stabilize the sand and provides a nice shaded trail for circumnavigating the area. Pink lady’s slippers were in full bloom. Pipsissewa was also abundant, but not yet flowering. We also saw Christmas fern, Canada Mayflower, clintonia, and poison ivy.
Back on the sand, we saw tiger beetles scurrying across the now-hot surface. I remembered that last summer, OFNC member Jon Ruddy organized a trip to this area to look for robber flies, and that group was not disappointed. Check the project web site to see other strange creatures, including antlions, sand mushrooms, and the ghost tiger beetle.
The Pinhey Dunes Watch group meets every Sunday and can use help. In exchange for your effort, you’ll discover an amazing habitat unlike any other in the city. Well worth the visit!