flora and fauna

Written by Denise Deby.

Ottawa and the River from Gatineau Park - D. Deby

Two events this weekend are a reminder of how we are a part of nature and how much we need to be a part of protecting the environment on which we depend.

On Saturday, Aug. 16, the Ottawa Riverkeeper hosts Ottawa’s first Interprovincial Swim between Parc des Cèdres, Aylmer/Gatineau and the Lac Deschenes Sailing Club in Ottawa.

Ottawa Riverkeeper, in partnership with Swim Ottawa, organized the 4 km, 2-hour swim to highlight the need for governments and agencies on both sides of the Ottawa River to collaborate in keeping the river healthy. (The Ottawa River falls under the jurisdiction of two provinces, four conservation authorities, several provincial and federal agencies and over a hundred municipalities over its 1,271 km length.)

The swim supports Riverkeeper initiatives, particularly the purchase of water quality test kits for its Riverwatch Program. Donations are accepted at giveeffect.org or at 613-321-1120.

On Sunday, Aug. 17, CPAWS-Ottawa Valley and MEC Ottawa are holding the MEC Big Wild Challenge. It’s a run/walk along several trail loop options in Gatineau Park. Organizers promise an active day with “plenty of fun streams to cross, rocks to climb, natural obstacles to maneuver around, and amazing views over the Outaouais region” as well as entertainment, snacks and prizes. Funds raised go towards CPAWS’ campaigns across Canada to protect at-risk wilderness.

For more information and registration go to http://action.cpaws.org/site/TR/Events/BigWildChallenge?sid=1002&type=fr_informational&pg=informational&fr_id=1070, or contact Amy at CPAWS. The run starts at Gatineau Park parking lot P7B at 9:00 a.m., with pre-run sign-up at 8:30 a.m., and costs $20.

Written by Denise Deby.

Leafcutter Bee (Megachile sp.) by Bob Peterson on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/pondapple/5190457579/in/photostream/ Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

Leafcutter Bee (Megachile sp.) by Bob Peterson on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/pondapple/5190457579/in/photostream/ Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

In an earlier post, I mentioned some local sources of information on how to turn a yard, garden or balcony into an inviting area for butterflies, bees and other pollinators.

This week, Just Food is holding a talk on Creating Native Pollinator Habitat. The speaker is Susan Chan, a pollination biologist, advocate for native bees in Ontario and manager of the Native Pollinator Program at Farms at Work in Peterborough. She’ll be talking about the importance of native pollinators for food production and conservation, and how to create habitat for them.

The talk is on Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014 at the Ottawa Public Library Main Branch at 7 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.). $10 admission.



Thanks to Katherine Forster at Friends of Petrie Island for the River Day information.

Petrie Island River Day Poster

River Day is from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Check the Friends of Petrie Island’s Facebook page for updates.

Written by Denise Deby.

Great spangled fritillary on common milkweed butterfly speyeria cybele. Credit: Dr. Thomas G. Barnes/USFWS http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Great_spangled_fritillary_on_common_milkweed_butterfly_speyeria_cybele.jpg

Great spangled fritillary on common milkweed butterfly speyeria cybele. Credit: Dr Thomas G Barnes/USFWS. Via Wikimedia Commons. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Great_spangled_fritillary_on_common_milkweed_butterfly_speyeria_cybele.jpg

If you have a garden, you can create a space that nurtures pollinators and other earth-friendly insects. If you don’t have a garden but have a bit of outdoor space, you can still offer habitat to butterflies, bees, birds and other important species.

Where to start? Well, the Fletcher Wildlife Garden is a great resource. Located just south of the Arboretum off Prince of Wales Drive (across from the Experimental Farm), the Fletcher Wildlife Garden is a wonderful place to walk around. With several habitats including a meadow, wooded areas, fields and a ravine, the six-hectare site also has an interpretive centre and a demonstration backyard garden where you can learn about native plants and find out which will suit your garden. (It’s open Sunday afternoons from May through October.) There’s also lots of information, and inspiring photos, on FWG’s website.

Even better, this Saturday, June 7, 2014, Fletcher is holding its Annual Native Plant Sale from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. They’ll be selling a variety of wildflowers and offering information on gardening for butterflies, building a backyard pond and other neat stuff. (Among the plants for sale is milkweed, a hard-to-source native plant that’s an essential food for the caterpillars of monarch butterflies, whose numbers were in decline last year.)

For inspiration, people are also welcome at the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s demonstration garden in Kanata. Various sections of the garden–a Bird Bed, a Pond Bed, Shade Beds, a Pollinator Bed and a Bog Bed, for example–are home to specific trees, shrubs, perennials and other plant species. You can pop by for a visit, call in advance or check out the garden maps and plant lists on CWF’s website, which has other great resources for wildlife-friendly gardening (e.g. planting tips, a database of native species, a native plants suppliers’ list and links to other gardeners).

It’s important that we preserve large areas of natural habitat in the city, but planting even a few native plants can make a difference to local wildlife and ecosystems, too.

Written by Denise Deby. Thanks to Nature Canada for the post idea and information.

Poster courtesy Nature Canada

Poster courtesy Nature Canada

The open window beside me brings in warm air, a few traffic sounds and an exquisite layering of bird songs. That’s spring in Ottawa, especially where there’s a few trees or a bit of green space nearby.

Many of those birds have come quite a distance. According to Nature Canada, some species travel up to 25,000 miles round trip from their breeding grounds as far north as the Canadian Arctic to their wintering grounds as far south as parts of South America.

Nature Canada is raising awareness about migratory bird species and celebrating their journeys with a Bird Day Fair on May 31, 2014. The event, which is free, runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Andrew Haydon Park.

Bird Day Fair activities include nature walks guided by local naturalists, a falcon demonstration and arts activities (you can help create a giant “bird nest” or get yourself “bird-banded,” for example). Several organizations, including the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club and Master Gardeners of Ottawa Carleton, will be there to provide information about their work.

The Fair happens within the Lac Deschênes–Ottawa River Important Bird Area, part of an international network of sites considered significant to bird species and biodiversity. (Lac Deschênes is a fluvial lake—a lake within a river—located within the Ottawa River, and it’s home to many migratory waterbird species.)

Check Nature Canada’s event page for updates. They also have a birders’ guide, tips for making your backyard bird-friendly and other Bird Day resources on their website.

The Bird Day Fair coincides with International Migratory Bird Day, celebrated on the second Saturday of May each year to promote an understanding of birds and why they’re important.

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