The Macoun Field Club’s weekly activities in past years2022-11-30T14:22:03-05:00

We have done so much!

If there’s something or someone you remember, here’s where to find it.

The Macoun Club program is content-rich, and even the weekly write-ups can be informative. Many of our invited speakers are research scientists who tell us what they’re learning in their fields, and how they go about carrying out fieldwork. Our field trips are full of discovery and follow-up, especially in our Nature Study Area. Presentations can cover any topic in nature, from rocks-and-minerals to ecology, and microbiology to cosmology. Sometimes the leaders bring forward a subject of pressing interest, like how we navigate off-trail without ever getting lost. We hold nature-art workshops, and encourage members to share their nature photos by projecting them on a roll-down screen for all to see.

Some Macoun Club projects have their own web pages. Most Macoun members have been involved in our Study Tree and Lasius Ant Mound Projects. Find more studies listed on the Study Area introduction page.

To get a good feel for what we do in the Macoun Field Club, it would be best to browse several months worth of activities.

The initial COVID-19 shutdown period. The OFNC Board of Directors cancelled all formal activities from the end of March until the beginning of September, 2020. Although Ontario went into Stage 2 of its economic and social reopening plan on June 12th (outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people permitted), and entered Stage 3 on July 17th (gatherings of up to 50), the Board did not convene to reconsider whether to resume field trips until September 1st, 2020.  Leaders Rob, Barbara and Peggy made themselves available every weekend for private outings on a friends-calling-friends basis during each of those six months. Trips to the Macoun Club Study Area predominated, checking up on Study Trees and the progress of the seasons.


The 2021-2022 year.


Photo of Macoun Club boy holding up skeletal Snapping Turtle shell

Lemuel with the back half of a Snapping Turtle’s carapace

The 2020-2021 year.

The Macoun year began with the approval of a resumption of activities, at a special meeting of the OFNC Board of Directors on Sept. 1st, 2020. We held only field trips during the year, interrupted by several province-wide shutdowns legislated by the Ontario government. We also carried on through the summer, when normally the leaders would be taking a break.

We ran field trips in our Nature Study Area in Ottawa’s western Greenbelt, and in several locations in Lanark County.




Photo of Macoun Club members examining jar with preserved fish specimen

After the talk, browsing “Marine Fishes of Arctic Canada” and checking out the scientific labels inside the specimen jars

The 2019-2020 year.


This year was truncated by the cancellation of all official activities by the OFNC Board of Directors in March. Up until then, we had presentations by Alex Stone (disturbances in the Greenbelt), Jakob Mueller (iNaturalist mapping), Jen Line (food botany, map-reading skills), Margaret Currie (fauna of the Ice Age), Noel Alfonso (fishes of Canada), Priya Morbia (edible plants), Rob Lee (a reading of John Muir’s “Stickeen,” map-making workshop), Roy John (the Southern Ocean), and Willow English of Safe Wings (birds hitting windows),





Photo of Macoun Club member inspecting a tray of insect specimens

The 2018-2019 year. In the course of the year, we had presentations by Carter Brooking (atmosphere and biosphere), Dave Seburn (helping endangered Blanding’s Turtles), Gabriel McMurren (birds of New Zealand), Genevieve Leroux (Monarch butterflies), Jeff Skevington (Flower Flies as important pollinators), Jen Line (plants that produce flowers and fruits), Jennifer Doubt (mosses), Jessica Hsiang (scientific illustration), Rob Lee (mammal bones, trilobites), Melanie Farquhar (Chimney Swift conservation), Morgan McAteer (collecting bones), Robbie Stewart (survival and evolution after a mass-extinction event), Roy John (the wildlife of Indonesia), and Sheldon Jordan (the international trade in endangered wildlife).



Photo of Robbie Stewart with illustration of Devonian period Placoderm fish

The 2017-2018 year. This year we had presentations by Alec Todd (sharks), Annie Bélair (bioblitzes across Canada), Dave Seburn (frogs of Ottawa; Red-backed Salamanders in southern Ontario), Mary Ann Perron (dragonflies and their nymphs), Mike Anissimoff (bats), Peggy Leger (making acorn flour; apple workshop), Rick Scholes (astronomy tour), Rob Alvo (habitat classification), Rob Lee (study-tree workshop, topographic maps, microscope workshop), Robbie Stewart (the evolution of fishes), and Roy John (the Mexican state of Oaxaca).

We held a number of field trips to the Macoun Club’s nature-study area, approaching from every side and seldom crossing our own tracks, and to “Pakenham.” There was a special field trip to the Royal Astronomical Society’s observatory, hosted by Rick Scholes, and our annual joint field trip with the OFNC, to Brewer Park Pond. We also camped on an island at Pakenham.

The 2016-17 year.

Photo of Rob Lee showing Macoun Club members image of Snowy Egret

Rob Lee explaining how plume-hunters killed egrets 100 years ago

A year when we had presentations by David Campbell and Jim Montgomery (the skull collection Jim donated), Gordon Robertson (Ottawa-area mammals), Mary Beth Pongrac (wildlife on the James Bay Road), Nick Lapointe (eels of the Ottawa River, Chinook Salmon of the Yukon River), Rob Alvo (birds of southern Africa), Rob Lee (how the birds were saved in 1917; the element silicon; how the ancient Greeks measured the earth; the earth’s atmosphere; global warming and Gaia), and Robbie Stewart (Ice-Age mammals), Roy John (wildlife of Mongolia). We had a nature-art workshop, and watched the inspirational video “The Story of Stuff.” In addition to our regular field-trip destinations (the Study Area and Pakenham), we had special trips to Brewer Park and the Museum of Nature (a travelling reptile exhibit).

The 2015-16 year.

Photo of Macoun Club members converging on hidden feature of interest

The moment of discovery of the long-sought aphids in an ant mound

This year our speakers included Allison Patrick (identifying birds’ nests in winter, Ottawa-area ferns), Bill Halliday (snakes of the Ottawa area, and others of the Great Lakes),  Kathryn Peiman (wildlife research in Alaska, Puerto Rico, Hawaii’s Tern Island Sanctuary, northern Ontario, Denmark, and Iceland),  Rob Lee (Ottawa-area fossils; Mark Twain and the brain’s GPS; global warming; the Macoun Club website), and Roy John (wildlife of the Kalahari). We went on more field trips than usual, the highlight being the discovery, after a seven-year search, of winged ant-mound aphids.



The 2014-15 year .

Photo of Rob Lee giving talk on Passenger Pigeons

Rob Lee describing Passenger Pigeon flocks

In the course of this year we heard from Gabriel McMurren (birds of New Zealand), James Patterson (saving turtles from becoming roadkill), Jeff Saarela (Arctic plants), Lauren Stoot (the American Eel), Nick Wong (invasive Swimming Crabs in New Zealand), Rachel Vallender (Polar Bears),  Rob Lee (the Passenger Pigeon, the Champlain Sea, mammal skins and skulls, the Eastern Bluebird, bird intelligence), Robbie Stewart (evolution of salamanders, snakes and porcupines), and Vinko Mathieu (insects). Also indoors, we held a drawing and writing workshop for The Little Bear. Our bus trip to the Montreal Ecomuseum  was a special event among our many field outings.



The 2013-14 year.

Photo of Macoun Club members in a burned-out forest the year after a forest fire in Ottawa's greenbelt

Macoun Club members in a burned out greenbelt forest

This year we had presentations by Annie Bélair and Diane Kitching (macrofungi), Dave Seburn (Ottawa-area frogs), Laura Cowie (wildlife of Madagascar), Michelle Caputo (marine research in Newfoundland and South Africa), Natalie Sopinka (Sockeye Salmon), Rachel Vallender (the Golden-winged Warbler), Richard McAteer (owl-pellet workshop), Rob Lee (annual rings and sediment layers; iron ore and the elements cobalt and molybdenum; the elements graphite, silver and asbestos; invasive earthworms), Robbie Stewart (Ottawa palaeontology), and Wayne Knee (mites). In addition to our usual field trips, Carlos Barbery led us on a winter bird count around the Fletcher Wildlife Garden, and we had an outdoor nature-art workshop. We also took part in a joint field trip with the OFNC at Brewer Park Pond, and a bioblitz at the Keddy Nature Reserve near Carelton Place.


The 2012-13 year. 

Photo of Rob Lee pointing to first sign of Emerald Ash Borer in Study Area

Rob Lee showing Macoun Club members the first sign of Emerald Ash Borer in the Study Area

This year’s speakers were Alaine Camfield (why animals form groups), David Seburn (research on Blanding’s Turtles, frogs of springtime), Fenja Brodo (insects under the dissecting microscope), Matt Ellerbeck (salamanders), Nick Lapointe (fish research in Toronto Harbour), Rachel Hamilton (introduction to bats), Rob Lee (presenting The 42-year Little Bear Book on the Study Area, topographic maps, Macromites’ Blog, earthworm invasion vs. leaf-litter invertebrates), Roy John (colours in nature), and Tony Gaston (Arctic seabird research). We also held two workshops in which, with Carlos Barbery‘s help, we collectively mined Rob Lee’s study-area Nature Journals for bird records. Unusual field trip destinations took us to the site of a recent forest fire at the Old Quarry Trail, Brewer Park Pond, and the Pinhey Sand Dunes beside Slack Road, where entomologists Henri Goulet and Pete Dang guided us to sights.



The 2011-12 year. 

Photo of Mary Beth Pongrac holding the spine of a seal, and girl resting her hand on a skull

Mary Beth Pongrac holding spine of seal; Morgan with hand on a skull

This year saw presentations by Adamo Young (an insect-biocontrol experiments), Alaine Camfield (research on Horned Larks), Bruce Gill (the story on the Emerald Ash Borer), David Chong (competitive fishing and fishes of Ontario), David Seburn (the phenomenon of endemism in Cuba), Jay Fitzsimmons (butterflies in a changing climate), Katherine Kitching (the Canadian Beaver, and working as a park naturalist), Mary Beth Pongrac (she brought in her bone collection), Paul Sokoloff (Arctic botany), Rob Alvo (research on Common Loons and acid rain), Rob Lee (reading The Story of a Thousand-year Pine, leaders’ Study Trees), Roy John (the Red Knot of the New World), Shane Gero (Sperm Whales off Dominica), Tim Straka (the Students On Ice program in Antarctica), and Tom Sherratt (research into flies mimicking wasps). In addition to our regular field trips, we had a nightttime Mudpuppy trip led by Fred Schueler, a joint trip with the OFNC at Brewer Park Pond, and an early morning trip to the Innes Point bird-banding station.

The 2010-11 year. 

Photo of Alec Todd holding Lemon Shark

Alec Todd holding Lemon Shark

As the year proceeded, we had presentations from Adam Smith (regional bird populations), Alaine Camfield (Broad-tailed Hummingbirds in Colorado), Alec Todd (Lemon Sharks in the Florida Keys), Dave Seburn (decline of the Chorus Frog), Don Faber (pioneering research into fish larvae), Heather Coffee (lichens), Ian MacKay (making maple syrup), Kate McNeil (living with urban wildlife), Matt Tomlinson (satellite imaging), Peter Hall (butterflies in the modern world), Rob Lee (mosquitoes; winter animal tracks; the development of field guides), Roy John (wildlife photography around Ottawa), and Shane Gero (Sperm Whale research). In addition to all our regular field trips, we had a special nighttime outing led by Fred Schueler to see Mudpuppies on a winter night, and another, led by Hume Douglas, searching for beetles around the Fletcher Wildlife Garden.


The 2009-10 year. 

Photo of Ulrich Schneppat examining living slug specimen

Ulrich Schneppat examining living slug specimen

This year, we learned from Alaine Camfield (what puts birds at risk in migration), Amanda Goth (insect basics), Annie Bélair and Diane Kitching (workshop on seeds), Carolyn Seburn (endangered endemics of Canada), David Browne (Yellow Perch vs Brook Trout in Algonquin Park), Eric Snyder (fire-starting workshop), Gabriel Levac (pythons and boas of the world), Isaac Finkelstein (kayaking in the Gulf of St. Lawrence), Nick Lapointe (natural history of the Indian Snakehead fish), Rob Lee (naturalist William Beebe, ice-melt channels, Margaret Nice and her Song Sparrow studies), and Ulrich Schneppat (a Swiss expert on slugs). We also held a nature-art workshop. In addition to our regular field trip destinations, we held a joint field trip to the Perth Wildlife Reserve with the Kingston Field Naturalists Club, a Macoun-Club only trip to see Mudpuppies at night, led by Fred Schueler, and went camping at Pakenham.

The 2008-09 year. 

Photo of Jen Lento showing Macoun Club member Robbie Stewart aquatic invertebrate in a vial in the field

Robbie Stewart looking at aquatic invertebrates in vial held by Jen Lento

We had presentations by Carolyn and David Seburn (the Black Rat Snake), David Seburn (Ontario turtles), Ian MacKay (parasitic wasps), Jake Miail (searching for potential biocontrol insects), Jen Lento and Liza Hamilton (stream life and pollution monitoring), Ken Storey (freeze-tolerant animals), Max Finkelstein (the Thelon Game Sanctuary), and Rob Lee (swamp-mound-ants; invasive earthworms; the Ungava Peninsula; a workshop on critical observation). Susan Laurie-Bourke led a nature-art workshop. Speaker Jen Lento also took part in one of our Study Area trips. In addition to  our regular destinations, we surveyed the flora and fauna of two urban parks (Frank Ryan and Elmhurst Parks).

The 2007-08 year. 

Photo of Macoun Club members eagerly examining a live Leatherwood shrub indoors

Macoun Club members examining a live Leatherwood shrub indoors

This year our speakers were Alec Todd (sharks), Andreia Couto (subnivian life), Briar Howe (endangered species in National Parks, especially Five-lined Skinks), Diane Kitching (PEI seashore life), Don Smith (bats), Emily Choy (Arctic food webs), Gabriel Levac (global warming), Gerry Lee (furbearers and trapping), Holly Stephens and Krystal Lapierre (saving sea turtles), Pat Whitridge (global warming), and Rob Lee (examining a sample Study Tree; the Study Area from the air; telling human bones from deer). Diane Lepage gave one of our regular field trips to our Nature Study Area a focus on Lepidoptera. Annie Bélair led an autumn tour of Fletcher Wildlife Garden, and Rob Lee one in the spring for birds.

The 2006-07 year. 

Photo of Mike Leveillé taking Macoun Club group into the Macoun Marsh

Mike Leveillé taking Macoun Club group into the Macoun Marsh

During the course of the year, we had presentations by Aaron Phillips and Dave Mans (identifying rocks and minerals), AJ Fedoruk (bats), Fuad Tanha (plants and plant pests), Gina Schroeder (invasive species), Martha Camfield (the life and works of Frere Marie Victorin), Pat Whitridge (birdwatching), Richard Pither (Woodland Caribou research), and Rob Lee (reading the story of the 1000-year pine; introducing the 2006 Nature Journal). Susan Laurie-Bourke led a nature-art workshop, and Mike Leveillé guided us around his study area, the Macoun Marsh at Beechwood Cemetery.

The 2005-06 year. 

Photo of child's hand drawing a beetle during nature-art workshop

Child drawing a beetle

This year, our speakers were Ed Becker (extreme insects), Ian MacKay (adaptation in evolutionary theory and life-history studies), Jon Hickman (the White-tailed Deer), Martha Camfield (seeds and seed embryos; John Macoun), Matthew Jessulat (chemical defences of cells and plants), Max Finkelstein (the Thelon Game Sanctuary), Nick Lapointe (endangered and threatened fish of the Detroit River), Phil Belley (rocks and minerals), Rob Lee (history of Macouners’ research in our Study Area; making your own maps), and Steve Wendt (wildlife adaptations to winter). Susan Laurie-Bourke conducted a nature-art workshop, and Otto Loesel led a mushroom-identification trip in our Nature Study Area.

Created June 23-26, 2016, and extended Dec. 12-23, 2017.