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Dispatches from Petrie Island

 

If you'd care to put down a few words about your experiences at Petrie Island, in English or in French, don't hesitate to send them here and they may be included in a future dispatch, as appropriate. We are always glad to hear about people's experiences at Petrie Island.

 

Si vous voulez écrire quelques mots à propos de vos expériences aux îles Petrie, en anglais ou en français, n'hésitez pas à les adresser ici, et cela fera peut-être partie d'un parution future. Nous sommes toujours heureux de connaître vos expériences des îles Petrie.

Read previous dispatches:

2005 / 2004 / Second half of 2003 / First half of 2003 / Second half of 2002 / First half of 2002 / 2001

 

 

25 December 2006 (David Villeneuve)

Petrie Island 25 December 2006Who would expect Petrie Island to look like this on Christmas day?  Ottawa had its first Green Christmas in many years.  I even played golf on December 20.

The island was completely deserted.  Not surprising since it was only 10 am on Christmas day.  There was no sign of life on the main beach.  A lone police car passed through the parking lot.

 

24 December 2006 (Bill Bower)

Tis the season?  Tis the "non-typical" Season if you ask me.

No snow as far as you can see, motorcycles on the road, people out and about in their convertibles doing their last minute Xmas shopping. Not enough ice to hold up a skinny ice fisherman. Petrie Island was no exception today. Lots of folks down and enjoying the sunshine. Some people were fishing off the dock in front of the house-boat. One family was out with a couple young kids with nets trying their luck along the shore. One group had sandwiches and pop with them. One guy got wet.

The birdwatchers were out but I never saw a single bird. I guess we can forget about putting up a bird feeder down there. Those people who live up along the North Service Road seem to do a good job at keeping the birds fed during the winter (if you can call this winter).

The temperature must have been nearly +10 degrees down there by 2:00 p.m. It was warm with winter clothes on.

Oh yes, the guy that got wet was me (Should be no surprise to anyone). Of course it could have been Paul (?) Anyway, I was after turtles and did manage to find one not far from the house. So, I caught it and got some photos of it. Probably a dozen or so others got some pictures also before I let it go. It was a young female Slider about six inches long and appeared to be in good health. I had found a painted turtle at Shirley's Bay on Friday so I wasn't that surprised to find something today, although I expected to find only painted turtles. This is the first year I have found any turtles in December. How many years before I find one in January?

Bring on the snow and ice so we (who don't go south) have something to look forwad to come spring.

Merry Xmas!!

 

9 October 2006 (Isabelle B.)

We went for a beautiful walk on Petrie Island on Monday morning. We saw many wildlife on the island or wetland and one animal in the river. It looks like a otter but we are not sure if there are otters in the Ottawa river. Is it possible?


Reply by Jim Robertson:

Yes it is very possible that you saw a river otter. I used to see them occasionally when I was at Petrie more regularly. They used to “hang out” along the Beaver Trail and across the bay from there.

In the winter, it was not uncommon to find evidence in fresh snow of their coming up on shore and gleefully sliding down the river bank. You could also see where they would run along the snow on the ice and then do a “belly-flop” and slide along the flat surface.

There are also lots of beaver and muskrat at Petrie too, they would be active at this time of year gathering material to make/improve their homes for the winter.

You can see the pictures of the otters' sliding marks (Feb 11/05 at http://www.fototime.com/inv/E1201F1C027E77C )

 

26 September 2006 (Richard Burnford)

Although a few hardy souls were windsurfing off the shores of Petrie Island just a few weeks ago, summer has all but left the Island to be replaced by the colours of autumn. Few turtles are to be seen, even the traces of their abandoned and depredated nests having been erased by the City's mechanical grooming of the trails. Indeed, even the turtles' sunning platform had been taken over by one very plump duck on this cool fall morning, perhaps taking refuge from the hunters one can hear across the river, or maybe just thinking back on summer prior to leaving for the winter. The beavers are also preparing for winter, with many trails leading into the river. And everywhere there seem to be chipmunks and squirrels, especially chipmunks, more than have been seen all summer.

There are signs of new developments on the Island as well. City surveyors have been down at the Island most of the past week, probably preparing for the construction of the beach pavilion, which is scheduled to begin this autumn, with completion forecast for end-June 2007. Not to be outdone, the Friends of Petrie Island are also in the construction business, with a new storage shed well underway.

Construction notwithstanding, this is surely one of the nicer times of year to visit the Island. Even cool rainy days have their charm, and one can be certain there will be no crowds. One need not be a naturalist to admire the wildlife, though I must confess to being envious of my colleagues who - unlike me - seem to be able to identify almost every bird, animal, and plant they see. As for me, well, I'm OK when it comes to telling the difference between a heron and duck!!

But when it comes right down to it, the most important thing is simply appreciating our good fortune in having a place like Petrie Island so accessible and close to home. And as Mark Leahy suggests in his article on "Petrie Island: Nature Reserve or Coney Island North," in recognizing the need for vigilance by the community in order to ensure that these treasures remain for future generations to enjoy.

Photos at: http://www.fototime.com/inv/AFC6E4B05C7FBE7

 

Petrie Island: Nature Reserve or Coney Island North (Mark Leahy)

(The following article was originally published in the Summer 2006 ecOrléans Newsletter and is reproduced with permission of ecOrléans. ecOrléans is the Team Ottawa-Orléans Environment work group. Mark Leahy is co-chair of ecOrléans and was also recently elected as the co-chair of the Petrie Island Advisory Committee. The Friends of Petrie Island have two voting representatives on the Petrie Island Advisory Committee)

Petrie Island has arrived. For many, it's been their little riverside hideaway for years. A place you could picnic in peace. But now, Petrie Island is attracting city-wide attention. Just what the East-end needs right? Right, if we can maintain Petrie’s delicate balance and give our area a proud ‘claim to fame’. But wrong if the pressure of building a tourist attraction threatens our nature reserve – and makes our locals want to stay home to avoid the crowds. Increasingly, Petrie Island is called upon to accommodate new uses. Powerboats will face off against sailboats. Canoes could be caught in the wake of bass-boats. Through the summer, if we’re not careful, beach volleyball could scramble turtle eggs in the sand. We need to choose our steps wisely while under tremendous pressure to move quickly.

Petrie Island Advisory Committee

In February of this year, the newly created Petrie Island Advisory Committee held its first meeting. The committee includes members from community associations and various groups from the East end including Team Ottawa- Orléans. Its goal is to offer the City of Ottawa input and recommendations on how Orléans wants its prize asset managed and protected. Local city councillors participate in the meetings but don’t vote on motions submitted to the City of Ottawa – which does, however, retain the last word on how Petrie is managed. The committee has its work cut out to try to manage the various interests pulling at the island.

Friends of Petrie Island

Last fall, the Friends of Petrie Island (FOPI) submitted its annual report on the summer season to the City of Ottawa. FOPI promotes conservation and passive recreation on the West side of the Island, away from the greatly expanded beach. FOPI found that the crowds on Petrie more than doubled in the summer of 2005 over the previous year. The parking lots and causeway were very often jammed. Many days several thousand people packed the beach and lined their cars all the way up to North Service Road. FOPI is watching the traffic situation closely. It supports improved pedestrian and cyclist access to Petrie including a bike lane along the access to the causeway. It is also seeking regular bus service to the Island in the summer.

Crowded Beaches = Stomped Nature?

FOPI recently addressed concerns about fears of decreasing wildlife. Members of the group report no significant changes to the area so far. The number of people using the sensitive nature trails was quite low on the hot summer days when the beach area was packed – so busy beaches don’t necessarily translate into stomped plants and trees like the rare Hackberry found on the Island. Other uncommon flora on Petrie include the charmingly-named Mossy Love Grass and Gattinger's Panic Grass. FOPI also reports that the greatest amount of damage done to the environment here – so far – is from beavers cutting down mature trees.

The Verdict?

So, will Petrie Island’s nature reserve resist turning into a carnival? Very likely – but too soon to tell. Many people are on the case to maintain the balance. The Advisory Committee is in place. FOPI remains vigilant. The Team Ottawa-Orléans Environment workgroup has Petrie squarely on its radar. It’s not likely roller coasters will befoul the Island anytime soon. But that’s not to say the jewel of Orléans won’t remain under considerable pressure to develop further.

 

30 August 2006 (Bill Bower)

The days are getting shorter and the temperatures are dropping, not to mention a sizeable drop in the number of people visiting the islands. The beaches have been cleared of all the lifesaving equipment and the lifeguards are returning to university (in most cases).

I was down one morning and only met three people on the trails (Al, Richard and Steve) all Friends of PI.

Actually I have been down quite frequently as the birdwatching has been exceptional. The wood warblers have been passing through in great numbers. I just wish I could identify all those females and juveniles in fall colours. I usually tally about nine or ten species a day but find four or five more species I can't positively identify. Makes it frustrating to say the least. I saw Tony Beck down there last Saturday morning with a group of birders and I imagine they did quite well. Always nice to travel with an expert birder who can identify birds by sound, something I can't do.

The most frequently observed warblers are the Black and White, Redstart, Magnolia, Yellow, Black-Throated Green, Chestnut Sided, Yellow Rumped, and Common Yellowthroat. Others like the Blackburnian, Northern Parula and the Canada can quite often be seen. A Wilson's showed up one morning.

The flycatchers are also passing through but they are also difficult to identify, except for the Great Crested.

Some Wood Ducks are around but their numbers, as well as many other species of ducks, will build up over the next couple months. The ponds near the back are always popular with the Wood Ducks in the fall.

Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Kingfishers and Osprey are daily visitors. The best sighting I have had was on Monday when a Great Egret was observed down along the Turtle Pond. I had a great view when it flew over me as it headed down river towards the east. Very easy to see the black legs and yellow bill. I have seen them in the west end of the city before but not at Petrie Island.

This is about the time when the turtle hatchlings begin to make an appearance as they leave their nest and head to water. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find any. September will probably be a better month. The beach area was popular for the nesting females back in June but the hatchlings will have a difficult time making it from their nest and then across the sand to the water. The raccoons patrol it at night and the seagulls take over once daylight comes. Any hatchling that makes it to the water must then avoid the Great Blue Heron, bass, pike and many other predators. Fortunately some do make it and as a result Petrie Island is a great place for viewing turtles. Probably the best concentration of turtles around Ottawa. This morning in the Turtle Pond I saw over thirty turtles including two small northern map turtles and one large red-eared slider basking along with the painted turtles. On days when the temperature is high enough they will continue to bask, even into late October and early November. I haven't found one in December yet but expect to one of these years.

We recently had a Ranger crew (associated with the MNR Stewardship Council in Manotick) on site for a couple days. The first day the crew (4 plus one leader) constructed and painted ten Wood Duck nesting boxes. The second morning was spent wrapping chicken wire around some of the larger hackberry, nut and other hardwood trees to try and prevent any beaver damage to these healthy trees. Their final afternoon was spent cutting out some of the buckthorn that is trying to gain a foothold on the island. All in all a good experience for these young people and a little exposure to life on Petrie Island.

I have been keeping my eyes open for the Hackberry Emperor Butterfly that was spotted by a visitor back in late July, but, again, no luck. I believe two individual butterflies were seen on two different occasions. Perhaps it is too late in the year now and they are no longer flying. Maybe next year.

Take a trip down some sunny morning. If you get cold you walk along the Beaver Trail to the south side of the island and get into the warm sun. If you get too warm you take a short walk to the north side of the island, walk along the beach area and get a nice cool breeze off the river.

 

10 July 2006 (Bill Bower)

It was a beautiful morning at Petrie Island today. Hardly a ripple on the river and not a boat in sight.

No sign of the deer this morning but no shortage of rabbits, squirrels and muskrats. Out on the Turtle Pond there was a small bunch of green grass swimming across (all I could see) but it was just a muskrat heading back to its den with fresh grass for food or bedding.

The bird numbers are building up. Some of the island berries are ripening and attracting the Robins. Even the Cedar Waxwings and Kingbirds were getting in on the action. I've never seen so many Yellow-Shafted Flickers and Downy Woodpeckers. The Orioles were being quiet but once you found them in the trees they could be seen feeding their families. On the Beaver Trail a pair of House Wrens were busy feeding three young ones.

Female Wood Ducks and their young are hard to find but a female with a brood numbering thirteen was seen just past the bench at the far end of the trail. The young are nearly the size of the female now. I have seen families before in this area and one brood was too large to count. Just a clump of ducklings on a log being closely watched by the mother. Getting close enough to get a photo is nearly impossible. The slightest movement and the whole family disappears into the tall grass.

The Phoebe nest at the Interpretation Centre seems to be successful. A couple eggs have hatched.

One Black Tern was fishing on the north side and an American Bittern was seen flying over. The Great Blue Heron numbers seem to be down but there were two around the Turtle Pond this morning.

My best sighting was back on the Beaver Trail. I was able to get a good look at an adult Black-Billed Cuckoo. It was easy to see the black bill and the red eye ring. This is the first one I have ever seen at Petrie Island and I don't believe it is on our list of Petrie Island birds. Hopefully others will have a chance to see it also.

A few butterflies were observed but the warm sun kept them active and very difficult to photograph, as in, Butterflies 7 and Bill 0.

The City is still trying to get one-up on the raccoons but the newly installed green garbage containers aren't doing it. They are supposed to prevent the raccoons from getting into the garbage bins and making a mess. However, a small drainage slot at the back is just large enough for the raccoons to gets their paws in and remove anything they can reach. Back to the drawing board on this one. You would be amazed at how much garbage can be pulled through that one small slot by a hungry raccoon.

 

25 June 2006 (Richard Burnford)

The Friends of Petrie Island, with the support of the Ottawa Stewardship Council (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources) recently conducted a survey of turtle nesting on Petrie Island. The survey concentrated on areas generally thought to be main nesting sites, including the beach and the nature trails. Over a period of more than two weeks, more than 120 observations were recorded, both of nesting turtles and of nesting sites (most involving more than one nest) that had been raided by predators, usually raccoons. On several mornings, more than 10 snapping turtles were observed in “nesting mode,” and while not so frequently observed nesting, there was also evidence of map and painted turtle nests (unfortunately all too often as the aftermath of predation). The data will now be compiled and mapped by the Ottawa Stewardship Council.

This is the first time such a survey has been attempted by FOPI and it represents an important element of FOPI plans to measure environmental changes on the Island. Ideally the survey will be repeated in following years. The information gained will help us better understand the health of the turtle population of the Island and contribute to our understanding of the impacts of recreational use and development on the turtle population as a potential indicator of the environmental integrity of the Island as a whole.

Racoon eating turtle eggs, Richard Burnford 2006The experience was also personally enriching for the volunteers who participated in the survey. We learned a lot about the turtles on Petrie Island and their nesting. The survey also gave us many opportunities to appreciate the natural aspects of the Island. From a momentary nose to nose encounter with a deer on the River Loop, to watching a very audacious raccoon scoop the eggs from a snapping turtle nest as they were being laid – these are but two of the special experiences that participating in the survey provided. Not to mention the thrill of seeing more than 15 snapping turtles in the space of one hour as we did one morning.

Deer on River Loop, Richard Burnford 2006All in all, even before the number crunching and map plotting has been completed, it is safe to conclude that the turtle nesting survey will provide us with valuable information in our ongoing efforts to monitor and protect the natural environment of Petrie Island.

More photos at http://www.fototime.com/inv/6AE724309F74EF9

 

17 June 2006 (Jim Robertson)

We visited Petrie this morning with 8-10 photographers in tow. The sunrise was washed out by a significant rainfall, but there were a number of snappers to greet us while performing their egg laying duties. There were signs of other nests as well, along with the tell tale marks of raccoons having dined on the eggs. One of the well-fed raccoons was just off the main trail, not working very hard at hiding itself.

A few map and painted turtles were basking in the humid overcast.

The Canada geese family is still around, mainly on the Ottawa River shoreline, but they did cross over the path into Turtle Pond. A loon was out in the Ottawa River. A Baltimore oriole flew by us a few times while we were on the Muskrat Trail. The usual red winged blackbirds, downy woodpeckers, various LBJs (Little Brown Jobs to those of us who can not name all the birds). One heron reported in as well as one black tern.

Eastern Kingbird by Jim RobertsonThere were also three different birds with nests in close proximity to each other. A yellow-bellied sap sucker has a nest, with young in it, in a hollowed out tree about 6 feet from a second hollowed out tree nest with a flycatcher raising its young. While they seemed to tolerate each other, we did see the flycatcher purposely fly into the sapsucker and try to knock it off a branch. Meanwhile, just around the corner a kingbird sat on the same branch we saw it on last week, but this time its mate was sitting on the nest about 5 feet away on the same tree.

There are a good number of blue irises blooming, while the yellow ones are beginning to fade. The flowering rush has starting to bloom in the marsh, bird’s foot trefoil are blooming, the goat’s rue is starting to show colour, some jack-in-the-pulpit are still in bloom. The Ninebark bush seems to be recovering after it seemed to have died last year. There were lots of blooms on it this year, but it is not as robust as it used to be.

There were more than the average number of bull frogs around; their croaking could be heard most of the morning. The bull frogs were in several places including the new amphibian pond.

More photos at http://www.fototime.com/inv/20CBFBCB3F5506C

 

6 June 2006 (Jim Robertson)

After a prolonged absence we finally got back down to Petrie this morning. The flowers are certainly coming into bloom right in step with FOPI’s Wildflower “walks” June 3-17. Al Tweddle has done a good job, as usual, of labeling many of the plants and flowers along the Turtle and Bill Holland Trails.

This morning’s blossoms that we noted were: - fleabane - anemone - yellow iris - winter cress - dames rocket - wild rose - yellow waterlilies - highbush cranberries - jack-in-the-pulpit

The carrion plants are growing very quickly, aside from the 3-4 plants on the Bill Holland Trail in the grass north-west of the end of the Turtle Trail, there are a few good specimens on the Basswood trail. The poison ivy is still in a few small areas, but it is right out to the edge of the trail in places.

The carp were in a frenzied spawning mood along the edge of the marsh on the west side as you come down the hill from the Queensway. One person, half jokingly said he though they were alligators. They are very large fish and have large course scales.

We found a map turtle crossing the road in the parking lot area and had quite a way to go still to get to the water so we helped it along to the canoe launch. A snapping turtle was well down the Bill Holland Trail still laying eggs at 9AM. There were signs of several other nests nearby. A painted turtle was up on the river shoreline of the main trail by the eastern end of the Muskrat Trail. Normally painted turtles don’t come up on the sand, so we assumed it was coming from a nest it had just made.

Despite it being a very hot morning there were lots of painted and map turtles basking on various logs all along the trails. Several chipmunks were checking out the trails for a mid-morning snack. A large noisy bullfrog was making use of the newly dedicated Educational Amphibian Pond.

There were a good number of yellow warblers flitting about, along with many grackles, a few flickers, a good number of robins, several tree swallows, lots of red-winged blackbirds, one Baltimore oriole that we spotted and an eastern kingbird sat for a long time on a branch on the way to the new amphibian pond. There was not one heron, which was a first for me in the summer, but the water levels are up a little still and some were reported the other day. Also a first for me at Petrie was a Canada goose family. They did not stay in a photogenic spot so I have no photo, but apparently they have been around for a while. There have always been geese flying by, but this was the first geese, let alone a family, that I have seen adopting Petrie as a home.

One garter snake was slithering through the grass at the end of the main trail.

Several people were out in canoes and kayaks.

Oh yes, the mosquitoes are out in full force. The tree swallows and dragon flies were doing their best to reduce their numbers, but not with great success.

More photos at http://www.fototime.com/inv/C566F91BA7CF20E

 

3 June 2006 (Richard Burnford)

Neither grey rainy skies nor hungry mosquitoes were enough to deter a few hardy souls from joining City Councilor Bob Monette in the final stage of construction of the Petrie Island Educational Amphibian Pond Project on Saturday, 3 June.

Under the guidance of Joffre Coté from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, volunteers from the Ottawa Stewardship Council, the Team Ottawa-Orleans ecOrléans environmental workgroup, and the Friends of Petrie Island planted native shoreline aquatic vegetation on the banks of the pond and the surrounding area. Family members enthusiastically joined in and the work was quickly completed. There was even time for Joffre to give an impromptu presentation on bull frogs before we trekked back to the parking lot for some well-deserved donuts.

The pond is now essentially complete and the area provides a nice spot, away from the crowds at the beach, to sit quietly and observe the wildlife. A cool rainy day on the Island can be a wonderful time to visit, and last Saturday was no exception. Surprisingly enough, several families were even enjoying a picnic later in the day, and the small picnic shelter proved its worth. The turtles seemed less inclined to get out in the cooler weather, however, and while several Painted Turtles were seen wandering close to the parking lot on Friday (perhaps beginning to look for nesting sites), none were seen to stray from the shoreline on Saturday. They should soon be on the move again, however, and the Friends of Petrie Island will be participating in a turtle nesting survey, with the support of the Ottawa Stewardship Council.

 

29 May 2006 (Bill Bower)

Pretty nice weekend down at the islands, although there wasn't much of a crowd when I was there on Saturday morning. Just the usual activities. A couple photographers were out, a few sunbathers, a couple paddlers and there was a volleyball game going on out on the sand.

If you haven't been down for a few days, there have been some interesting changes. The cottage at 727 Trim Road is no more. It was removed by order of the City last Wednesday. No sign of its existence is left except for a very nice lot with a view. Apparently the old structure was unsafe, un-repairable, un-renovatable and unsightly. If you are really interested in island living, the house is for sale (again). Just think, swimming, boating and fishing right at your back door. Of course in the spring you could have swimming and boating pretty much all the way around the house.

Not a lot of birds observed but some interesting sightings. I found the Black and White Warbler, a Cedar Waxwing and the best sighting of all was a family of Golden Eagles. The Eagles (two adults and a juvenile) were soaring quite low at first but quickly gained altitude as they got out over the river. The juvenile had a few feathers missing from some misfortune.

Deer are not often seen on the islands but they are frequent visitors. I have only seen one and that was a buck which swam across from the Quebec side. There were tracks in the southeastern corner indicating that a couple deer had been over from the mainland for a visit. There are a number of deer that spend the summer and fall in the wooded area along the south side of Orleans Marsh. Actually, there are well used deer trails fairly close to the North Service Road. If you happen to be a deer living in Eastern Ontario then you will be getting ready to celebrate your birthday. Does will now be seeking out secluded areas to have their young, and for a bit of trivia, there are more fawns born around these parts on June 7th than on any other day. Figure that one out.

There was still no sign on any turtle nesting taking place, or at least not in the usual areas. Quite a number were out basking on the logs. Unfortunately one painted turtle was run over in front of the bait shop around mid-day. However, three hatchlings were seen headed for the Turtle Pond after spending the winter in their nest. Anyway, we seem to have a good population of Painted, Map and Snapping Turtles at Petrie Island so let’s hope it continues that way.

I took time to check out the Wood Duck nesting box next to the Interpretation Centre. It now has 13 Wood Duck eggs in it, all nicely covered with down. The female wasn't there and the eggs were cold so I'm thinking that maybe she hasn't started incubating them yet. We shall see.

 

22 May 2006 (Bill Bower)

It was cold, windy and lots of white-caps out on the river. The wind blowing from the north across the river didn't help any.

Some folks were out in the sand area flying kites. Conditions were perfect. They were neat to watch as one looked like a sailing schooner and the other like a bi-plane.

Lots of fishermen around but they are usually a hearty lot. Frozen fingers mean nothing to them.

One family was having a well attended picnic right behind the Interpretation Centre. They were protected from the wind but the smell from the barbecues was following me around and I had difficulty staying away. Something really good was being served.

There were actually some turtles out on the logs basking. In what I'm just not sure. I saw six painted and six maps.

The dogwood bushes near the parking lot turned out to be a hotbed of bird activity. When I went past in the morning along the turtle trail I don't recall seeing anything. I saw little during my hike around the islands. However, when I returned later I ended up stopping as a chipmunk caught my attention. While watching it I became aware of more activity in the bush. In the twenty minutes or so that I stood around looking with my field glasses I recorded the following: Song Sparrow, White-Crowned Sparrow, Goldfinch, Robin, Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Black-Throated Blue Warbler and finally a male Wilson's Warbler. This marks the fifth spring in six years that I have found a Wilson's Warbler in that particular bush. I may have missed one other warbler that I couldn't get a clear view of. This bush usually attracts a pair of Gray Catbirds but I guess they haven't returned yet.

All in all, I'm glad I made the effort to get out on what was otherwise a miserable day. I climbed in my car just as a heavy rain began to fall.

 

16 May 2006 (Michael Lukyniuk)

The Petrie Islands are a sort of oasis on the Ottawa River in the community of Orleans. Besides public beaches, the islands contain walking paths which wind through marshes and small forests. It's enchanting in all seasons. This painting captures a leisurely walk in the early fall. Watercolor, 12 x 15 inches.

Les îles Pétrie forment un oasis sur la rivière des Outaouais dans la communauté d'Orléans. À part de sa plage publique, les îles contiennent des sentiers qui traversent les marais et quelques petites forêts. Ces îles sont charmantes à travers toutes les saison. Cette peinture décrit une randonnée paisible en début d'automne. Aquarelle, 12 x 15 pouces.

See more of Michael's paintings.

 

16 May 2006 (Bill Bower)

Not a bad morning out on the islands. The rain threatened but stayed away and the mosquito situation wasn't all that bad.

Lots of birds around but I'm sure half the birds I saw were Yellow Rumped Warblers. They were everywhere. I ended up with thirty birds on my list with the best sightings being the Black Tern, a House Wren, a Spotted Sandpiper and lots of Northern Orioles. There were even two Bittern around. I saw a number of Robin egg shells along the trail which means young Robins somewhere. The only nest I found was occupied by a Mourning Dove. I did see a Warbling Vireo collecting spider webs (complete with spider) so they must be nesting already. I didn't know they used webs in their nest construction.

Great day for turtles. At "high noon" there were forty-three turtles on the two platforms in front of the observation stand. Thirteen of those were Map Turtles and I found another ten Maps along the south side of the Turtle Pond. And that's just one pond! Most of the Maps were large females but there were a few males resting on the logs with smiles on their faces. Hope I captured that on film. Other Painted Turtles were seen on the east side of the islands and on the "inside ponds", which are not the cleanest looking ponds in the world. Those ponds also have a good number of green frogs in them and also a number of unknown fish, which are now trapped. I guess the water is cleaner than it looks as there have been painted turtles in those ponds for as long as I can remember.

A few fishermen were out after gosh knows what. I didn't see anything being landed. The only successful catch a saw was one man after "fiddle-heads". He had a good bag full. I guess it beats $4.00 a pound at Farm Boy. He must have New Brunswick roots. [Editor's note - it is illegal to pick plants on Petrie Island, and is strongly discouraged by the Friends of Petrie Island.  The plants are there for everyone to share.]

Should be more birds arriving in the days ahead.

 

5 May 2006 (Bill Bower)

Not a bad morning out at Petrie. The island is still a bit soggy but no problem navigating the trails with boots on. The leaves aren't as far advanced as they are in other areas such, as at Mer Bleue, which makes the bird identification process somewhat easier. There were a number of species around but my best sightings were the White Crowned Sparrow, a Palm Warbler, a Loon (out on the river) and an eagle which stayed in the area for 15 - 20 minutes. It was an adult Golden Eagle which is the first one I have seen while visiting the islands. It soared over the islands, back channel and Orleans Marsh. If you aren't paying attention you might just assume it is a Turkey Vulture flying over. Once you see it with field glasses you can easily note the differences.

The turtles put in an appearance around 9:00 a.m. and I counted about thirty Painted Turtles and five Map Turtles. There were three Maps just in front and the other two were on the south side of the Turtle Pond. Always take a close look at any turtle basking. It could be a Painted, a Map or a Blanding's. Someone had reported that they had seen a "very flat" turtle with a long snout basking (?) Was it an Eastern Spiny Softshell or just another Map turtle? It would be great if someone could get a picture of a softshell turtle basking at Petrie Island. There are those who think there may still be the odd softshell somewhere in the lower Ottawa. Every year there are reports of sightings. The aquatic equivalent of the Eastern Cougar.

There seem to be lots of green frogs this spring which is good to see. May they go forth and multiply. Some of the photos I have taken seem to indicate that that is what they are up to.

There seems to be a good population of breeding Wood Ducks around the islands this spring. I counted fifteen pair one morning and noted quite a number on Friday. At the far end of the Turtle Pond there were four males together. I did check the nesting box next to the Interpretation Centre a few days back. I removed a dead grey squirrel and there was one Wood Duck egg under it. I'll check it again to see if the female has returned. Smell isn't a strong point with ducks. They have been found nesting (quite content) alongside or on top of a another dead duck or a dead animal.

Amongst all the flotsam and jetsam that arrives on the islands each spring there are often some nice timbers that drift in. Such is the case this spring, but man-power alone won't be sufficient to complete a salvage operation. I little heavier equipment is needed. They can be well used for something. (bench, floats, etc.)

A contractor was in delivering the City "hot houses" for summer use. Al was making sure they were strategically located.

If you are a birdwatcher the next two or three weeks should be perfect at Petrie Island. A little wet weather may make the trip even more worth while.

If you are a fisherman and looking for some supplies, parts for your broken rod, a used boat or something else, then you are too late because the first annual garage sale/swap meet was this morning (Saturday) at the bait shop.

 

25 April 2006 (Al Tweddle) FOPI Report

The trails at Petrie Island have been flooded and the only access to the picnic area was by the wooden bridge, however the water has peaked and been stable for the last several days. It is expected to decline over the next few days unless we get more rain. There are some advantages:

  • Monday a muskrat was seen swimming in the picnic area pond and a beaver has been spotted in the flooded areas around the canoe launch

  • you can also hear it gnawing at around 7:00p.m

  • a pair of Canada geese have been resident in the area for the last week.

  • the first basking turtles were spotted by Bill Bower on April 14. Some can be spotted on logs next to the parking lot on sunny days.

Our regular events start:

  • May 6 and 7 with a Saturday clean up, 9:00 a.m. to noon and opening of the info centre on Sunday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Please bring work gloves and a rake if possible

  • June 3 to 17th, wild flowers and plants will be labeled along the trail and picnic area

  • June 3 - Dedication and opening of amphibian pond

  • Ottawa Riverkeepers is planning a canoe/kayak event starting at Victoria island and paddling to Petrie Island in early June (probably the 11th)

  • Turtle Day will be held June 25th

  • Canada Day events, Sat, July 1st, will be similar to last year

  • The info centre will be open weekends in May and June and daily in July and August.

Friends of Petrie Island are initiating 2 projects:

  • A project to try to measure environmental changes at Petrie Island which will include frog and turtle counts

  • Long range development plans and uses of Petrie Island documents will also be posted for comment at the info centre.

Summer operation of the beach and park will be similar to last year with portable toilets, as the final planning and construction of the beach house should be completed this year.

FOPI depends on grants, fundraising and memberships to operate our interpretive programs and the info centre. The City pays for the picnic area and trail operation. We encourage everyone to become a member or renew your membership at the info centre or send $10 to our Treasurer, Steve McPhee, 386 Vince St., Orleans, Ontario, K1E 2E3.  

 

21 January 2006 (Petrie Island Outdoors Club Newsletter)

The city has re-graded the east beach, where we have been putting-in for our Thursday Evening and Sunday paddles, to provide a safer slope into the water.  Another parking area has been added which is closer to the east beach. This will mean a shorter carry of our boats from car top to put-in. They have also upgraded the parking meters.  The city will begin construction of a canteen building with 8 men’s & 8 women’s washrooms this summer.  The building will be heated for year round use.  Construction of a storage building near the east beach will also commence this spring. It is to be used by the lifeguards. 

A Petrie Island Advisory Committee is being formed to work with the City on governance issues concerning Petrie Island.

The Grandmaitre’s have renamed their enterprise Oziles’ -- check out their website at www.oziles.com.  Yves Grandmaitre has told me that he is upgrading his rental fleet of canoes and kayaks in time for paddling season.

Page updated 2015-01-17    © Friends of Petrie Island