Almonte Lagoons. Image: MVFN

This time of year can be bittersweet for many of us birders.  As our favourite backyard birds prepare for their long southward journey, we too prepare to say goodbye.

As we are busy keeping our feeders and bird baths full, aiding our favourite species in their preparation for migration, this time of year is also a unique one in which we are delighted to both the sights and sounds of birds not so common to our area here in Ottawa and the valley.

As species that spend their summer months in a more northern geographical range, they too are heading south, either passing through our region or setting up shop here for the next few months.

One such group of birds are the tens of thousands of shorebirds that migrate through the greater Ottawa region from their barren nesting grounds in the Arctic.  It is this unique opportunity to catch a glimpse of these shorebirds that has attracted birders from across the province of Ontario to the Almonte Lagoons for over 15 years now.

Earlier in the month, the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) kicked off their annual birding open houses at the lagoons and once again are inviting the public to take part in one of four events being held at the sight through the month of September.

Located just behind the wastewater treatment plant on the outskirts of Almonte, a 200-meter trail will lead avid birders to the MVFN’s observation tower overlooking the lagoon.  There, birders can catch a glimpse using their own optics or will be granted the use of a spotting scope accompanied by an expert birder, familiar with the region.

The remaining open houses fall on the next three consecutive Wednesday evenings, September 14, 21, and 28 between 3pm and 5pm.  Birding experts will include Mike Jaques, Sept. 7; Ken Allison, Sept. 14 and 21; and Ray Holland, Sept. 28.

Directions to the trail and tower: from Almonte, take Wolf Grove Road (County Rd. 16) towards Middleville, 2 km. Turn north onto Ramsay Concession 8 at the Auld Kirk church and cemetery, and travel approximately 100 m to the trailhead. The trail entrance is on Ramsay Concession  8, across the road from, and just past, the cemetery. A small yellow sign marks the entrance.

For further information contact Cliff Bennett at 613-256-5013 or


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