News & Informative updates about the MPFN, the Environment and Local Nature Stories

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Our Mission

To study and
appreciate nature.
To protect and preserve wildlife
and the environment.
To stimulate public interest in,
and promote protection
and preservation of nature.

Who we are

The Midland Penetanguishene Field Naturalists Club (MPFNC) is one of the oldest affiliates of the Federation of Ontario Naturalists. The objective of the Club is to promote public awareness of natural history, conservation and the environment. We feature lectures by expert naturalists on a range of fascinating topics at our monthly meetings. We also schedule  outings (field trips) and nature study.

We meet on the 3rd Thursday of the month, 7:30 PM at the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre No meeting in December, July or August.  Our June meeting is held at Tiny Marsh.

For a printable shedule of meetings & events click: MPFN 2019 2020 Season Brochure

The MPFNC is involved in many projects in the area including the Christmas Bird Count as well as environmental and wildlife surveys, the Tiny Marsh BioBlitz and the Sweet Water Harvest at the Wye Marsh. The club also supports the Owl Foundation at the Christmas Bird Count Potluck Wrap-up at the Wye Marsh. This year we raised $300 for the Owl Foundation of Vineland through our famous Mystery Gift Not-So-Silent Auction.

On Monday May 23rd the Midland-Penetanguishene Field Naturalists had an outing to the Carden Plains east of Orillia. Thanks to our club photographers Bob Codd, Deepthie Rajapakse, Clare Holden, Anthony Taliana, Peter Hough, and Ken MacDonald.Here's MPFN VP Bob Codd's trip report:I'm staring at a gargantuan task. Describing the Carden Plains that is. It's such a spectacular place that I know my efforts are doomed to fail before I even begin. With David Hawke's lecture still fresh in our minds, Carden lived up to his words. Driving in to the rendezvous you could see the landscape change as we neared the plains. It awakened a kind of excitement in me that would sustain me through the day's marathon of nature sightings. I'm sure there are those who see the Carden Plains as featureless fields of weeds. I'm equally certain those unfortunate few are not naturalists! The first sightings were easy. The fields of pink Prairie Smoke are obvious even through the car window. Most hadn't opened so they weren't very smoky yet, but the few that were offered a tantalizing glimpse of what was to come. In my humble opinion, this alone is worth the drive to Wylie Rd and I found these Alvar specialists an irresistible subject for photos. Too many really, as is usually the case with me. The challenge of picking a handful to share is almost as daunting as trying to describe Carden itself. As a musical backdrop we were serenaded by Wilson's Snipe, the first of many that sang and even posed for us. A variety of warblers provided the chorus, with sparrows singing counterpoint. We couldn't linger here though. We had lots of ground to cover. As it turns out we barely made a dent in the thousands of hectares that make up the alvar, but we gave it our best shot.Off to our first stop at bluebird box number 10 and the hopes of finding another real prize, the Loggerhead Shrike. This ultra rare bird would elude us today, but that shouldn't surprise us. We were looking for two birds in the immense haystack of the Carden Plains. Orioles, warblers, sparrows, Thrashers, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and others made for some lively viewing. A gorgeous male Eastern Meadowlark sang in the spotting scopes as though it was right in front of us. We couldn't linger here either with our ultimate goal beckoning us. Ken and Susan M had secured the keys for the gate at Windmill Ranch. A rare and awesome privilege, we got to traverse the fields and enjoy sightings that only a handful of people have the opportunity to experience. We're all indebted to Ken and Susan, as is so often the case. One of the first sightings here were cow patties. I bet no one has that on their checklist! It was a reminder that we'd entered a working cattle ranch though. We never did see any cattle, but evidence of their recent presence was easy to find. Probably just as well. From here the sightings came fast and frequently. It was difficult at times to keep up. We were soon spread out over the fields, with groups of three and four people each pursuing their particular interests. Calls would ring out about this sighting or another and we scurried from one great find to the next. Prairie Smoke was everywhere, some of it in full bloom and a magnet for photographers. Painted Cup, one of our personal target species, was in bloom and we all inhaled its beauty. Eastern Towhees were quite abundant, as well as the delightful Golden-winged Warbler, and even one of its hybrid forms, the Brewster's. Numerous sparrow species were a welcome ID challenge. The absolute highlight for me wasn't a bird or a flower at all. It was a snake! A Smooth Green Snake. The first one I'd ever seen. Ken's powerful voice exhorted us all to hurry up or risk missing it. The reptile was patient though and continued basking in the sun. What a delightful find! This emerald green beauty tolerantly posed for innumerable photos, no doubt wondering who had invited the riff-raff into its home. By then we were just a few paces from the cars and a very welcome chance to take a load off and refuel. I would have enjoyed a longer lunch break and more opportunity to socialize. Deepthie had brought photo albums from her previous visits to Carden, but regrettably we didn't have much time to peruse them. Sorry Deepthie! Sedge Wren Marsh was calling us and we had lots more ground and a new habitat to cover. Sedge Wren Marsh Trail, unlike Windmill Ranch is open to the public and we met an assortment of nature lovers. In fact almost everyone you meet in Carden can be described this way. You don't just stumble on the Alvar. You have to choose to visit.More warblers, more Orioles, Thrashers and Grosbeaks, more butterflies, dragonflies and wildflowers. The most unique find was a wildflower I'd never seen before, Appalachian Barren-strawberry. I confess that I would have missed it if it hadn't been pointed out to me. That's the beauty of our club outings. The depth and breadth of knowledge is phenomenal. Nobody knows everything but everybody knows something and that shared wisdom makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts. I look back on previous early spring outings where we struggled to document a dozen species. This was a bonanza and we sometimes didn't know where to look next. This seems to be a good opportunity to thank everyone for joining us and sharing your enthusiasm for nature and the knowledge of your special interests. One last stop. We returned to Bluebird box number ten and one last chance for the Loggerhead Shrike. We didn't spot any but as a marvelous consolation prize a Wilson's Snipe posed and sang on a fence post seemingly unaware of the gaggle of naturalists jockeying for the best pics. From here we dispersed, some headed home while others went for yet another field of weeds. My ramblings have to end here but not before I thank everyone again for joining us. As always we need to thank my wife Sue for being our ink stained scribe. She managed to juggle bird sightings and all the other flora and fauna and somehow keep everything straight. Thanks Sue! I'm always somewhat heartened by the fondness for nature that our group demonstrates. It gives me hope that the fight to preserve and protect nature is not hopeless. I think sharing our collective love of nature is the best way we can inspire others to love and protect it too. Cheers Bob In addition to all the birds we also observed: PlantsElegant Sunburst LichenBalsam RagwortAppalachian Barren-StrawberryPin CherryChoke CherryField PussytoesLong-leaved BluetsRed ColumbineField ChickweedStarry Solomon’s SealGermander SpeedwellMeadow ButtercupEyebrightMeadow HawkweedField PeppergrassPrickly GooseberryBloodrootCanada AnemoneWhite BaneberryVirgin’s Bower ClematisMeadowsweetSarsaparillaHerpetologyNorthern Leopard FrogGreen FrogNorthern WatersnakeSmooth Green Snake OdonataFour-spotted SkimmerBeaverpond BaskettailAurora DamselDot-tailed WhitefaceLepidopteraSilvery BlueNorthern AzureEastern Tailed BlueTiger SwallowtailMourning CloakJuvenal's DuskywingClouded Sulphur Cabbage WhiteInsectsDark Paper WaspRunning Crab SpiderGreater Bee Fly Myrmicine AntsMammals ChipmunkRed squirrel.* Addition to Bob's trip report from Ken MacDonald: One of the other naturalists we stumbled on was Algonquin Park Chief Naturalist and recent MPFN guest speaker on herpetology, David Legros with his wife Cortney. Some men take their wives for long walks on the beach. Naturalists take them for a walk up Wylie Road!David was practicing his herpetology skills catching water snakes in Sedge Wren Marsh. “We live in Huntsville” David said, “and there are no water snakes there. In Algonquin, they are only found in the east end of the park. So if we want to see water snakes it requires a 3 hour return trip. We get excited when we find them here in Carden.”David held up a rather small water snake for our perusal. After releasing it and reaching down into the marsh water to wash off the snake musk, his hand fell right on top of a much larger specimen. You can see the photo in the Facebook album. ... See MoreSee Less
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Here are some videos taken by MPFN member Deepthie Rajapakse on the club's recent May 23rd outing to the Carden Plain. ... See MoreSee Less
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A very royal introduction to "Elizabeth", better known as C70. 🦢👑While not everyone who would like to attend Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee in England next month will be able to do so, visitors to the Wye Marsh might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of our very own “Elizabeth”. The Friends of Wye Marsh have adopted Swan C70, and named her Elizabeth after Her Majesty’s 70 years as Queen. ... See MoreSee Less
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Marsh Wren, Lawson Line, Coldwater, Ontario, Canada, May 22, 2022. THE DREAM OF THE MARSH WREN: RECIPROCAL CREATION by Pattiann RogersThe marsh wren, furtive and tail-tipped, by the rapid brown Blurs of his movements makes sense of the complexities Of sticks and rushes. He makes slashes and complicated linesOf his own in mid-air above the marsh by his flightAnd the rattles of his incessant calling. He exists exactly As if he were a product of the pond and the sky and the bladesOf light among the reeds and grasses, as if he were deliberatelyWilled into being by the empty spaces he eventually inhabits. And at night, inside each three-second shudder of his sporadicSleep, understand how he creates the vision of the sunBlanched and barred by the diagonal juttings of the weeds, And then the sun as heavy cattail crossed and tangled And rooted deep in the rocking of its own gold water, And then the sun as suns in flat explosions at the bases Of the tule. Inside the blink of his eyelids, understand How he composes the tule dripping sun slowly in gold rain Off its black edges, and how he composes gold circles widening On the blue surface of the sun's pond, and the sharp black Slicing of his wing rising against the sun, and that same black edge Skimming the thin corridor of gold between sky and pond. And between each dream, as the marsh wren wakes, think How he must see and incorporate the single still starThat fastens the black circle of the night as it turnsAnd composes and turns the black, star-filled surface of the waterCompletely around and upside down and into itself again.Imagine the marsh wren making himself inside his own dream.Imagine the wren, created by the marsh, inside the marshOf his own creation, unaware of his being inside this dream of mineWhere I imagine he dreams within the boundaries of his own fixedBlack eye around which this particular network of glistening weedsAnd knotted grasses and slow-dripping gold mist and seeded windsShifting in waves of sun turns and tangles and turns itselfCompletely inside out again here composing meIn the stationary silence of its only existence. ... See MoreSee Less
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