FOPI Dispatch #3 (August 1, 2020)

July is nearing its end and our last summer month, August, is finally here! We have been seeing the attendance on the island steadily increasing due to the warm weather, with the number of individuals peaking in July. The majority of our summer staff will be here until the end of August; therefore, all programs will continue running until August 30, 2020. In this update we will cover new policies, events, and how all our programs are running despite the pandemic.

To begin, it was brought to our attention that many of those that visit Petrie Island have been confused about the barbecue policy installed by the By-law versus that of the Friends of Petrie Island. In order to clear the confusion, By-law and FOPI have agreed that FOPI may grant a permit to allow gas barbecues and not charcoal. However, FOPI will require a picnic table rental in the Al Tweddle Picnic Area to obtain a barbeque permit. The rental is only valid within our picnic area and nowhere else throughout the park. If you would like a barbecue in the Stuemer Park area, you must contact the City of Ottawa for a permit. This policy has been in effect since July 10, 2020.

Our new Family and Friends Naturalist program has been going swimmingly! Thus far, we had several inquiries about the program and many tours. The themes remain turtles, insects, and amphibians. However, we may add another theme, such as fossils and dinosaurs, as a “summer special” based on the interest of the public. In terms of social distancing, since it is families and close groups there has not been a problem. Many take precautions in distancing, such as the use of masks. However, we do want to emphasize that parents urge their kids to social distance for their own safety and that of the staff.

Rentals have been occurring at a steady pace. There have been less inquiries about rentals since last year; however, as the count for individuals in a public or enclosed space increases, we can increase our ability to rent picnic areas. Based on the statement released by the Government of Ontario, public gatherings have increased to 50 individuals in an indoor setting; while, public gatherings have increased to 100 individuals in an outdoor setting. Of course, both will still require social distancing. Presently, we have changed our rental fees to include both the new rental fees made this year and the original from last year. Now, the tent rental will revert to last year’s fee which is $100.00 for a half-day (less than 5 hours) and $125.00 for a full day (more than 5 hours). The Area 2 and 3 rentals will remain $10.00 per picnic table.

Our display area has been in progress throughout the summer. As of right now, we have finished the layout of our display area, grouping all our boards into specific topics and regions. These regions include mammals, general information, history, children’s programming, and amphibians and reptiles. We also have live animals on display which are rotated every 2-3 days. The animals reside in filtered tanks or in regulated environments in which the bedding can be easily replaced. It should also be known that the shelter that houses the animals and other displays can only hold three individuals or a singular family at a time to maintain social distancing. Other boards that will be up soon are themed salamanders and snakes, biodiversity, and a history board that encompasses the history of Petrie Island and the history of FOPI in time for our 25 anniversary. We also have flower boards up on our information board next to the Wildflower Garden which shows the different plant species that can be found on Petrie Island. It includes medicinal and ecological purposes for each.

In other news, our Ecology Ottawa tour on July 18, 2020 went great! We did a basic tour of Petrie Island that included our Interpretation Centre, the Turtle Trail, and the Bill Holland trail. We included a bit about our Turtle Study, the history of Petrie Island, and facts about various plants and wildlife. The response has been positive, and it was a wonderful experience. We would like to thank all of those who tuned in to Facebook Live and watched the tour!

The pilot for the FOPI Guided Meditation on July 25, 2020, ran by our fellow staff member Bree, went very well! We have had many inquiries about registering for the session, even on the day it was first announced. Though the day of the event was on the warmer side, there was still a great turn-out and it had a very positive feedback. The Guided Meditation theme for that day was focused on surrendering yourself to nature. The class was entirely non-denominational, meaning no religious aspects were covered. If you are interested in this program, please contact inquiries@petrieisland.org.

FOPI is holding its annual Art Showcase from July 31, 2020 to August 3, 2020. The event will occur during this time period from 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM at our Event Tent in the Al Tweddle Picnic Area. We will have artists displaying various art mediums and some will be selling their artwork.  The event will be socially distanced, meaning only 10 individuals at a time, including the artists. We will have a staff member onsite to ensure this rule is being followed for the safety of the artists and the visitors. Moreover, we have a new way to donate and to help support the Friends of Petrie Island debuting at the showcase: A Turtle Sponsorship! It will be $2.00 per turtle egg (from the eggs that have been protected by the Friends of Petrie Island this year) and all the sponsorship proceeds will help the Friends of Petrie Island continue their conservation and educational efforts. If you would like to know more information, please visit us at our Interpretation Centre in the Al Tweddle Picnic area or send an E-mail to inquiries@petrieisland.org.

To close, we would like to thank our devoted fellow FOPI staff member Kyra for all her time and dedication spent working with the Friends of Petrie Island and on our Tree Inventory. It was a pleasure to have her work with us throughout the summer, and we wish her all the best in her future endeavors!

As a reminder, social distancing between different groups must still be implemented for your own protection. It is always highly recommended to bring a mask and hand sanitizer with you when visiting public areas.  

Thank you for reading! You can stay up to date by following the Friends of Petrie Island on Facebook and Instagram and joining our Facebook group where participation is encouraged.  If you have not purchased your 2020 membership, please stop by the office at our Interpretation Centre in the Al Tweddle Picnic Area.

FOPI Staff

Norman Hooper (5 July 2020)

Paddle before the heat of the day…….While putting my canoe atop my car and tying down the last strap at 5:30 am, I became drenched with a sudden cloud burst of rain that didn’t last long. This didn’t stop me in my quest to go for a leisurely paddle around Petrie Island though.

I left the dock at Crappie Bay at 6 am with dark clouds blocking the rising sun and a cool chill was in the air. By the time I reached Muskrat Bay, the sun was beckoning its appearance within a blue sky. It was going to be a beautiful morning as I continued my paddle.

At Muskrat Bay, I noticed a huge white fish fly right out of the water and fall forward at a slant with a splash in the water. Putting my canoe in glide mode, I waited and soon saw swirls of water upon the water’s surface going in a loop pattern……and then it happened again. The third and fourth times, the fish was now in the middle of Muskrat Bay. And then it stopped…..this fish put on a spectacular show for me as it went “fly fishing” in its own way.

Rounding the westerly tip of the island, I was gliding about 10 feet from shore when I suddenly came upon a pair of geese with 5 goslings resting in the grassy sand. I was more startled than they. They must be used to canoeists and kayakers passing by constantly every day.

Between this point and the beaches, a lone sailboat, the Caroline, was anchored in the river’s current. People on board were still asleep, but I hope they had their boat lights on during the night.With little effort, a sculler passed by for his morning workout.

Passing the beach, crews could be seen emptying the garbage bins and readying the place for the hordes of people soon to arrive for the day.

Passing through the culvert and back into Crappie Bay, it was time to get off the water as an increase in temperature and humidity could be felt. Although, I didn’t see much wildlife, I sure heard them…….and that made for a great outing…..

Norman Hooper at Petrie Island 2020/07/05

FOPI Dispatch #2 (1 July 2020)

As the summer goes forward, many new developments have been made. Provincial laws have now allowed groups to maintain a limit of 10 individuals. With this in mind, FOPI has decided to re-open the Picnic Area Rentals and modify the Children’s Naturalist Program. The Picnic Area Rentals will include the Event Tent, Picnic Area 2a/b, and Picnic Area 3a/b. The rentals will consist of renting a specific number of picnic tables in a certain picnic area at a cost of $10.00 per table; however, if you are a member, picnic tables will cost $5.00 per table. In terms of the new Naturalist Program, we are now targeting individual families for a Family and Friends Naturalist Program. A family or group can book a tour that consists of an information session on a Naturalist subject such as turtles or insects, followed by a small guided tour. Crafts and games will be omitted this year due to concerns of COVID-19. The tour will also be socially distant and follow provincial guidelines in terms of group etiquette (i.e. masks, if social distancing is not available). It will be $15.00 for groups of less than 5 individuals, $20.00 for groups of more than 5 individuals, and $10.00 for members for either 5 or more individuals. Please check the website or visit our Nature Centre for bookings or more information.

On June 17, 2020, we had a great turnout for the Wednesday Workday! On this workday, we were able to put up the main tent and hold an executive meeting to discuss future projects. It was discussed that FOPI would officially hire five students for the summer, as such, we have recently closed our Park Monitor job application for the summer. We would like to introduce our new summer staff! We have Atirah, a returning summer student who is our new Staff, Membership, and Volunteer Coordinator. She will also be focusing on completing a Turtle Report which compiles turtle basking and nesting data from 2006-2020. Another returning student is Laura. She is our new Children and Family Program Manager who will be focusing on wildflowers’ and other plant species’ data collection. Our new additions to our summer staff are Kyra, Bree, and Cassara. Kyra is a recent graduate from Trent University, she earned a BSc in Environmental Resource Science. Due to her experience in an arboretum, she will be completing a report on the Tree Inventory from 2019. Bree is a senior high school student at St. Peters High School. She has experience as a landscaper, and she has a devout passion for the environment and conservation. Her goal is to become a park ranger in the future and to study archeology due to her fascination with history. Lastly, Cassara is currently enrolled at Carleton University studying for a BSc in Environmental Science. She is interested in biodiversity and sustainable architecture. She is very passionate about the environment and conservation and would like to pursue a career in those fields.

There have been many inquiries about the status of the beach and park, this mainly includes the rules and regulations. To begin, the lifeguards will begin their operations on the East Beach, Stuemer Park, and in the Picnic Area on June 27th, 2020. Buoys have already been set in place and as of now, swimming is at your own risk. E-coli counts are still being maintained. The flag on the Main Beach will indicate the swimming conditions. If the flag is red, the E-coli count is too high and swimming is not permitted; whereas, if the flag is green the river conditions are favourable, and swimming is permitted. In either case, lifeguards will be on duty from 12:00 PM – 7:00 PM everyday of the week starting on June 27th, 2020.  

Finally, despite the pandemic there is still a public event in the works for FOPI. FOPI and Ecology Ottawa have decided to host a virtual tour of the island on July 18, 2020 from 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM. The platform will be Facebook Live and will be run from the Ecology Ottawa Facebook page. Be sure to register for the event on Ecology Ottawa’s webpage! We will see you then!

In other news, we received our container and office on June 23, 2020. We are officially operating in our Nature Centre area.Come by and inquire about our programs and rentals!  If you have not renewed your membership for this year there will be a staff member present at the Nature Centre between the hours of 10:00 AM-7:00 PM, Mon-Sun.

FInally, public gatherings are still limited to 10 individuals and social distancing between different groups must still be implemented for your own protection. It is always highly recommended to bring a mask and hand sanitizer with you when visiting public areas. 

Thank you for reading!

FOPI Staff

Dispatch #4 – December 11, 2019

Our last dispatch of 2019 looks back at what a productive year it
has been.  The big theme is the power of Mother Nature as record
flooding, a tornado and extreme heat all served to remind us of who is really in charge! Notably access to the Island was delayed by
construction on the causeway in the winter.  Once spring arrived the
Islands were pretty much entirely under water with the exception of
the beach house and parts of the marina.  This lasted into June which
severely impacted clean up efforts and school tours.

Repairing and re-building took alot of the physical effort this summer as volunteers and summer staff worked on trails, displays, picnic areas, benches with much of it was washed away, damaged or covered in mud by the flooding.  Particular attention has been made to the anchoring of all our assets to better withstand future floods.  Our top purchase this fall was a new pump to help with clean up
activities.

That said it was a productive year from the education and awareness
side of things.  A grant from Canada Summer Jobs secured five summer staff who worked on interpretative signage, delivered nature programing ( including a new Youth Naturalist session), and helped with FOPI administration.  Youth Naturalists did more advanced activities including building insect hotels and bat houses and removal of invasive species.  A regular Plant Group was run on Tuesday evenings to work on a wildflower garden and encourage visitors to learn about the uses of native plants.  We ramped up social media and now have almost 1200 followers on the Facebook page, an active Facebook group with over 300 members and Instagram.  Other activities included articles in the community newspaper, a VIP Walk and Talk and an Art Day.

FOPI also continues to work to protect the flora and fauna of Petrie
Island.  One way is by monitoring and reinforcing the rules- no dogs
on the Island, no foraging, lower speeds where the turtles cross.
Turtle Day was very popular with over 400 attendees.  We also
harvested some vulnerable turtle eggs and put them in protected nests.  We were pleased with the interest in the release of the hatchlings in September with over 130 attendees over two days.  Another conservation activity was the Tree Inventory that we did with our partners and volunteers in August.  The central part of the Island was the focus this year and the work provided a solid baseline to track the overall health of the tree populations into the future.  Silver maples are the most common tree in this zone with the largest ones being over 100 cm in diameter.

Unfortunately the short season resulted in less revenue from tours and rentals.  As well, attendance at the Naturalist programs was down a bit.  On the plus side membership revenue was up, there are a couple new volunteers attending work days, and social media is going strong.
And another bright spot is interest from the Forest School and a local elementary school, Orleans Wood, in looking for ways to engage their students with Petrie Island.  One group of students even saved mussels that were stranded when the river’s water levels dropped.  Some students participated in guided walks on the Island learning about nature and how it changes with the seasons.

Overall, it was a very productive season with new and exciting
opportunities on the horizon for 2020.  We anticipate more ways for
people to get involved, perhaps in helping with guided walks or
improving interpretative materials.  Thank you very much for your
support through your memberships and participation.  We hope that you and yours have a wonderful holiday season and that we see you soon out on Petrie Island.

Dispatch #3 – August 28, 2019

By Teyana Aviles Molina

Things are starting to wind down at Petrie Island as summer is coming to an end. We would like to recognize and give a special thank you to our summer students; Emma, Emie, Atirah, Laura and Teyana, as well as part time summer student Justin, for their dedication and hard work. We would also like to thank our summer volunteers; Loriann, Anthony, and Christopher for all their help. Another important acknowledgment goes to our Wednesday Workday staff; Al, Paul, Mike, Steve, Gil, Martin, and Bill, who continuously contribute to the upkeep and restoration of the island.
For our three months here on Petrie Island there were many different projects that were completed following the flood damage. The cleanup and restoration of the area was a major ongoing project throughout the summer. Information boards and other displays were greatly affected by the floods, therefore restoring and improving the boards for the general public was a priority and a continuing task. We also misplaced many of our picnic tables and benches along our trails which were then graciously recovered by our Wednesday Workday staff. Despite many setbacks from the flood, such as starting our season late, we were still able to successfully run tours, our Naturalist Program, turtle conservation efforts, and the Tree Inventory. 
This summer we had great success with our Naturalist Program for Preschool, Junior and Youth. Our Naturalist program this year featured talks about a specific topic, such as Turtles, Frogs etc., with a toured walk around our trails, games related to the subject, and a nature based craft to finish the program. This year our Naturalist program topics were all translated into french allowing our programs to be fully bilingual. Our Youth Naturalist programs were also quite successful with our Youth Naturalists contributing to Petrie Island through the construction and decorating of our new bug hotel, bee houses and bat houses. Thank you to all our Naturalists for a great summer and we hope to see you next year! 
From August 17-18, FOPI held a Tree Inventory! The purpose of this event was to assess the biodiversity and the number of trees on Petrie Island, specifically in the Grand maitre Ecological Reserve. There were many trees affected by flooding, disease, and beavers, therefore, it was important to obtain this data. Sherry, our Head of Communications, meticulously organized the event to ensure it went as smoothly as possible. We had many volunteers able to attend both days to measure and identify trees and we were lucky enough to have two experts, Janet from the Ottawa Stewardship Council and Owen from the Ottawa Field Naturalists to help with the identification. Overall, the Tree Inventory was a success, and we would like to thank our volunteers and experts for helping us make this event possible.

Although we experienced some setbacks this year, through the hard work of our summer staff and volunteers, the generous donations, rentals, tours and programs, we were still able to have a great summer. FOPI hopes to see you all next year for another amazing summer!


Émie Gaboury 2019/07/28

Thank you everyone for another month of support! This month the Friends of Petrie Island staff, along with the help of our Wednesday workday volunteers, have accomplished multiple tasks that have contributed to creating a more welcoming and informative area for all of Petrie’s Islands visitors. The construction and painting of our new display structure, a new table for our container, the ongoing creation and upkeep of our new wildflower garden are just a few examples of the many tasks that have been completed throughout this past month! This upcoming month of August boasts exciting opportunities that we would like to share with you, our dedicated members!

In partnership with the Ottawa Stewardship Council (OSC) and the Ottawa Field Naturalist Club (OFNC), Friends of Petrie Island will be conducting a tree inventory on Saturday August 17th and Sunday August 18th from 8:45am to 3:00pm, and we are looking for volunteers! Volunteers would help to measure and record information about the trees on Petrie Island. No previous experience is needed and tree experts will be on site to instruct volunteers on how to take measurements and help with tree identification. This is a great opportunity to learn about the trees and the natural history of Petrie Island! Please visit our webpage, https://www.petrieisland.org/tree-inventory-2019-2021, for more details about the event.  If this is of interest to you, we ask that you please register ahead of time at inquiries@petrieisland.org, with the subject line ‘Attention Sherry – Tree inventory Volunteer’. We are looking for approximately 20 volunteers, so do not hesitate to share this information with your friends and family! 

In other news, our children naturalist program is still accepting registrations for our Pre-school, Junior and Youth naturalist sessions. Children learn about a variety of different topics such as turtles, invasive species, fossils and dinosaurs and many more exciting subject matter! The staff is having a great time running the program and getting to interact with the youth about the wildlife and biodiversity at Petrie Island. If you or someone you know may be interested in joining us, you can email us at inquiries@petrieisland.org and we will answer all your questions!

Are you looking to host the perfect picnic, family gatherings or work event in one of Ottawa’s most beautiful locations? Petrie Island’s various picnic areas offers multiple options that will fit  your every need. For smaller groups, up to 25 people, picnic area 2 and 3 offers 4 picnic tables with shade, that can be rented for 20$ and can be yours for the day. For bigger gatherings, the event tent can accommodate up to 100 people and can be rented for 100$ for half the day or 125$ for the full day. There are a lot of dates available for the rental of the picnic areas in August. As always, inquire at inquiries@petrieisland.org to reserve your picnic today.

In relation to the area rentals available at Petrie, FOPI staff are also available to host birthday parties as well as tours for any age group. This past month we have hosted successful kids and adult tours! If you are apart of or know any club or group that might be interested do not hesitate to contact us at our inquiries email for more information!

Finally, we wanted to emphasize that we are in the process of rebuilding multiple structures after the impact of this years flood. Each Wednesday dedicated volunteers arrive for our Wednesday work days that are especially busy with building and repairing displays and other areas that need reconstruction. This includes manual and carpenting work. If you would like to participate in our rebuilding efforts, you are welcome to join us on Wednesday mornings. We ask that you please notify us in advance which date you would like to come out and help. 

As always, thank you for supporting Friends of Petrie Island, and we hope to see you soon at the island!

Émie Gaboury 2019/07/07

We would like to thank you for all of your support in 2018! With your help, we were able to work on many projects last year, such as launching our Naturalist programs and building our display area. We also received much support during our Wednesday Workdays. Let us all work together, new members and old, and make 2019 an extraordinary year for Friends of Petrie Island! 

Petrie Island is officially open after much reconstruction courtesy of the City of Ottawa. As you may know, this year the flooding at Petrie Island was the longest to recede even compared to 2017. It delayed our reopening for a couple of months. The water was almost a meter above the ground, and the water line can be seen among the trees and buildings in the area. In the meantime, we were working out of Queenswood Heights Community Centre getting things ready for our grand return. Of course, when we were able to safely enter the Island, there was much work to be done. Displays were faded and covered with mud, the tool shed and craft shed were still flooded inside, and almost all of our benches were displaced or lost. With the help of our staff on Wednesday Workdays, much of our benches and our displays were recovered. At the moment, most things are done and we are able to operate our programs; however, there is still more to do. Our staff is still hard at work getting things back to the way they were. We are rebuilding our lost display area and doing our best to clean up our picnic area. Luckily, we do have our picnic rentals up and running and our container and office have been delivered. Overall, we are excited to say that the Nature Center is open and we have staff on duty daily. Feel free to ask them about our programs and memberships for the summer!

In terms of programs and events, we recently held our annual Turtle Day on June 23, 2019. It was a great turnout! We had the Canadian Wildlife Federation come in and do a presentation on turtles in Ontario, and we had various games and activities for kids. Moreover, our Children’s Naturalist Program officially started on July 2, 2019. This year we have preschool (ages 2-5), junior (ages 6-8), and youth (ages 9-12) naturalist groups. Preschool and junior being every Tuesday and Thursday, and youth every Wednesday and Thursday.  Our themes this week were turtles and fossils. Both the younger and older groups have a variation in teaching and activities by increasing or decreasing the complexity of the subject. For example, the youth group focused on turtle nesting on Petrie Island; whereas our junior groups focused on the identification of turtles on Petrie Island. Finally, the Plant Group has returned! They will have their sessions on Tuesday evenings at 6:30 PM.  

The trails around Petrie Island are starting to dry. Bill Holland and the Turtle trail are not flooded; yet, the Basswood, Muskrat, and Sunrise trails are still partially flooded. Given the warm weather ahead, the trails should clear soon! Our staff has been going down the Bill Holland trail everyday to look for signs of turtle activity. We have recovered six nests consisting of snapping, painted, and map turtle eggs which are protected on our Turtle Trail. 

Last, but not least, we do have new additions to our student summer staff! Teyana, Laura, and Atirah are our new Park Monitors this summer! Emma and Émie are returning for their second year as the Children’s Program Manager, and Coordinator of Staff, Volunteers, and Memberships respectively. Let us all wish our team good luck for the summer!

We do hope 2019 will be a great year for Friends of Petrie Island! There will be many new projects to work on, such as, a new turtle pond, programs, and more species conservation efforts. Without your help, none of this would have been possible. This is why we give our utmost thanks for your support. Let us help preserve Friends of Petrie Island for many generations to come!

Paul Le Fort 2018/09/05

I saw twin bolts of lightning during the first storm, obviously hitting somewhere near Jean D’Arc (North Service). It caught our little dog as he was looking out the patio door. He has been sleeping sheepishly since.

Al Tweddle just confirmed serious damage, many trees down, one hitting the Morin house, another missing the trail shed. Others fell on Turtle Trail, across the road between our location and Morin house. Al reports no other damage, unless you include the wet floor in the container, he having left the end open. So all is OK, we trust the City will clean up. The power pole to the pavilion was split by lightning, it appears, and there are trees down along the access road past the causeway. Hydro was on site, and their report on the outage app showed two sites on Petrie, undefined (when I looked it up before we lost power ourselves.)

Bill Bower 2018/08/11

Found the Blanding’s Turtle this morning. It was just in front of the “Turtle Viewing Platform” and only had its head sticking up. First one I have ever found in August. Usually see females in June and males in October.

Jim Robertson 2018/06/21

Its been a long time since we’d been down to Petrie and even longer since I sent in a “Dispatch”. We found ourselves at Petrie at 1:30pm on June 21st, not the best time to see things, but we headed out for what was a 4.5km walk to renew old acquaintances. We checked out all the trails but the Sunrise Trail.

Lots of people fishing, didn’t see anyone catching anything, but then fishing isn’t always about catching fish. There were a few heron around in the bay to the west of the access road, but no ducks.

It wasn’t the best time of the day to see turtles – too many people and sun too hot – but we did see a few good sized map turtles as well as the usual painted turtles. There were a few destroyed snapping turtle nests, but nothing like the number I used to see. Fewer turtles? Fewer predators? Better protection?

The yellow iris and blue iris (blue flag) were out in many places as well as lots of anemones and one fern still in fiddlehead stage.

Canada Geese I know have been at Petrie for a while, but they were never there when I frequented the Island 10-15 years ago. There were 6 geese in the bay by the Beaver Trail. One family with 3 goslings at “causeway” on the Bill Holland Trail and another family with 5-6 younger goslings were crossing the road at the start of the Bill Holland Trail.

A few mallards were swimming in various spots included a pair, the male of which was blue, almost purple, headed. There was no green sheen. I checked for blue/purple headed mallards on the web and it seems they are not unheard of. The reason for the odd colour is not certain, but some think it is a sign of low testosterone – either for genetic reasons, or younger duck. Given this was the first one I have noticed, I suspect the testosterone rational might be a better story.

A good number of leopard frogs were along the trails and a few bull frogs were heard and seen.

Of course beaver aren’t in evidence at that time of the day, but there were signs of beavers at work last fall and several beaver lodges, included one on top of one that was deserted many years ago.

We’ll have to make a point of coming down much earlier sometime in the future to get a feel of the “real” Petrie.

Pictures at: http://www.fototime.com/inv/745D76F5A54955D