Paul Lefort (1 September 2022)

(Le français suit l’anglais)

Dispatch #2 – July-August 2022

As the summer comes to an end our students are leaving; we would like to thank Mason, Catherine, Anita, Meghan, and Alicia for all of their hard work. Many of you will have noticed the new signs with paintings of local species and the bright red brick path in the dogwood maze.  Check out the new signs of animal tracks along Bill Holland Trail; you can use the QR code link to our new YouTube Channel to learn more about the animal. In addition to continued work on the wildflower gardens, we have converted the old bridge into an additional display area next to our nature center. Our two co-op students Cole and Ten made excellent contributions: Ten painted numerous things in our display area, and Cole helped us with our naturalist programs as well as added displays to our nature centre. It has been a busy summer with picnic table and tent rentals as groups enjoy all that Petrie Island offers. 

Unfortunately we will not be able to have any Turtle Release Days later this fall.  The protected nests at the Island were predated, although the snapper and map hatchlings from the Petrie eggs incubated at the Canadian Wildlife Federation were returned to Petrie ponds in August.  We look forward to the report on the turtle research from this summer by our colleagues at University of Ottawa. 

As previously mentioned, this year is the 25th Anniversary for the Friends of Petrie Island.  We have been celebrating by documenting some of the more than 650 species that can be found at Petrie Island with weekly posts by volunteers on Facebook. You can catch up on the Biodiversity Campaign on the website  https://www.petrieisland.org/biodiversity.  It will run until October and will be featured in October at the Cumberland Branch of the Ottawa Library.  

The library also hosted a display of the history of the Friends of Petrie Island in August.  As well, the history was a major part of our Open House that ran from August 18-21 at the Interpretive Centre.  We are so fortunate to have a volunteer diligently curating our historical materials so that they can be archived. (Thanks Marion!)  We hope to complete the volunteer memorial grove and bench this season, and to mark the anniversary by dedicating them to dedicated volunteers René Cloutier, Bill Bower and Helen Tweddle, who are no longer with us.  

And finally, the Friends of Petrie Island submitted comments to the City of Ottawa on the proposed Orleans Corridor Secondary Plan.  The comments reflected feedback that we gathered from social media, face to face interactions and email such as concerns about infrastructure, high buildings, at risk species and how valuable this “small wilderness” is to the community.  

Fall is a great time to visit Petrie.  We will continue our Wednesday work days ’til Thanksgiving and hopefully will be able to have displays available on weekends.  The lifeguards are finished for the season but the portapotties remain ’til October. Fall migration is beginning, fall flowers are blooming and the colours will start soon.  See you at the Island.  

As always we welcome your comments and feedback.  


Bulletin no 2 – Juillet-août 2022

L’été tire à sa fin, de sorte que nos étudiants nous quittent; nous remercions Mason, Catherine, Anita, Meghan et Alicia pour leur excellent travail. Plusieurs d’entre vous auront remarqué les nouvelles enseignes illustrant diverses espèces locales et le sentier de brique rouge vif dans le labyrinthe de cornouillers. Vous trouverez également des panneaux portant sur la faune le long du sentier Bill Holland; vous pouvez utiliser le lien du code QR pour accéder notre nouvelle chaîne YouTube pour en savoir plus sur ces animaux. En plus de la poursuite des travaux sur les jardins de fleurs sauvages, nous avons converti l’ancien pont en une zone d’exposition supplémentaire à côté de notre centre d’interprétation. Nos deux étudiants coopératifs, Cole et Ten, ont apporté d’excellentes contributions : Ten a peint de nombreuses illustrations dans notre zone d’exposition, et Cole nous a aidé avec nos programmes pour naturalistes ainsi qu’en ajoutant des expositions à notre centre. Nous avons eu un été actif: location de tables de pique-nique et de la tente, divers groupes profitant de tout ce que l’île Petrie nous offre.

Malheureusement, nous ne pourrons pas organiser des journées pour voir des tortues quittant leur nid plus tard cet automne: . les nids protégés de l’île ont été envahis par divers prédateurs. D’autre part, les petites tortues chéloniennes et géographiques de Petrie incubés à la Fédération canadienne de la faune ont regagné la rivière en août. Nous attendons avec impatience le rapport sur la recherche sur les tortues de cet été par nos collègues de l’Université d’Ottawa.

Tel que mentionné, cette année marque le 25e anniversaire des Amis de l’île Petrie. Nous avons célébré en documentant certaines des plus de 650 espèces que l’on peut trouver sur l’île Petrie avec des publications hebdomadaires de bénévoles sur Facebook. Vous pouvez vous tenir au courant de la campagne sur la biodiversité sur le site Web https://www.petrieisland.org/biodiversity. Il se déroulera jusqu’en octobre et sera présenté en à la succursale Cumberland de la Bibliothèque d’Ottawa.

La bibliothèque a également accueilli une exposition sur l’histoire des Amis de l’île Petrie en août. De plus, l’histoire était une partie importante de notre journée portes ouvertes qui s’est déroulée du 18 au 21 août au Centre d’interprétation. Nous sommes chanceux d’avoir un bénévole qui s’occupe avec diligence de nos documents historiques afin qu’ils puissent être archivés. (Merci Marion !)  Nous espérons terminer le bosquet et le banc commémoratifs des bénévoles cette saison, et marquer cet anniversaire en les dédiant aux bénévoles dévoués René Cloutier, Bill Bower et Helen Tweddle, qui ne sont plus parmi nous.

Enfin, les Amis de l’île Petrie ont soumis des commentaires à la Ville d’Ottawa sur le projet de plan secondaire du corridor d’Orléans. Les commentaires reflétaient ceux recueillis sur les réseaux sociaux, les interactions directes et les courriels. Le principales préoccupations: les infrastructures, les bâtiments en hauteur, les espèces en péril et la valeur de ce petit coin de nature pour la communauté.

L’automne est le temps idéal pour visiter l’île Petrie. Nous continuerons nos journées de travail du mercredi jusqu’au milieu d’octobre et nous espérons maintenir nos expositions en fin de semaine. Les sauveteurs sont partis pour la saison,  mais les toilettes portatives restent jusqu’en octobre. La migration automnale commence, les fleurs d’automne font leur apparition et les couleurs saisonnières commenceront bientôt. Venez faire un visite à l’île.Comme toujours, nous apprécions vos commentaires et vos réactions

Paul Lefort (21 July 2022)

(Le français suit l’anglais)

June was unusual this year as the river was so high that most of the trails were flooded. They are now walkable; however, there is still some debris on portions of the trails from the derecho storm in May. The City will be addressing the larger trees in the future. Our workdays are continuing on Wednesdays from 9-12 and all are welcome. We have several high school volunteers collecting their 40 hours by doing various projects.  As well, have 2 new co-op students working with us, Cole and Ted. 

On the beach side, the beaches are open with lifeguards on duty from 12 – 7 pm.  After a pause caused by the pandemic, there was a successful Canada day held here. The new canteen is officially open serving various kinds of food and drink. 

Our programming resumed once we got our summer staff hired.  Our coordinators, Mason and Catherine,as well as our park monitors, Anita, Alicia, and Meghan, are now working full time.  We are running our children’s naturalist programs every Tuesday and Thursday.  We have a day camp from Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health at Petrie four days a week for July, and they have enjoyed a few naturalist sessions.

Potential developments near Petrie continue to be a concern. The Splashifax proposal to put an inflatable water park was not well received by our local community with concerns ranging from parking and traffic, a change in the nature experience, and potential impacts on wildlife. While it looks like the proposal is not proceeding we monitor for other developments including various high rises which may affect our wetland areas. We have discussed refreshing a Petrie Island Management Plan with the City during the next term of council with our Councillor and with our City liaisons.

There are a number of interesting environmental projects happening at Petrie. Malcolm Fenech of the University of Ottawa is continuing his research on turtle basking habits with David Seaburn of the CWF.  As well, we have partnered with them on turtle egg conservation.  Sadly many of the nests this year have been predated, even those with protectors.  However, we anticipate having some hatchlings return from incubation at the CWF offices so that they can be released this fall. There is also additional research turtles and bumblebees happening.  The Friends continue with the wildflower garden, shoreline erosion, invasive species mitigation and trail maintenance.  

As well, the Friends work to improve signage and refresh displays.  Thanks to the local Councillor we have a new bulletin board at the entrance to the beach area.  We have also been doing a weekly biodiversity campaign on social media to profile the breadth and depth of the flora and fauna at Petrie.  Be sure to drop into the office and give us feedback next time you are out at Petrie.  


Juin a été inhabituel cette année car la rivière était si haute que la plupart des sentiers ont été inondés. Ils sont maintenant praticables, mais il y a encore quelques débris sur certaines parties des sentiers, suite à la tempête derecho en mai. La minicipalité s’attaquera aux plus grands arbres tombés. Nos journées de travail se poursuivent les mercredis de 9 h à 12 h et tous sont bienvenus. Nous avons plusieurs bénévoles du secondaire qui collectent leurs 40 heures en réalisant divers projets. De plus, 2 nouveaux étudiants coopératifs travaillent avec nous, Cole et Ted.

Les plages sont ouvertes avec des sauveteurs de service de 12 à 19 heures. Après une pause causée par la pandémie, une fête du Canada a eu lieu ici à l’île, un succès. La nouvelle cantine est officiellement ouverte et sert divers types d’aliments et de boissons.

Notre programme a repris une fois que nous avons embauché notre personnel d’été. Nos coordinateurs, Mason et Catherine, ainsi que nos moniteurs, Anita, Alicia et Meghan, travaillent maintenant à temps plein. Nous organisons nos programmes naturalistes pour enfants tous les mardis et jeudis. Nous avons un camp de jour du Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health à Petrie quatre jours par semaine pour juillet, et ils ont apprécié quelques séances de naturalistes.

Les développements potentiels à proximité continuent d’être préoccupants. La proposition de Splashifax de mettre en place un parc aquatique gonflable n’a pas été bien accueillie par notre communauté, les préoccupations: stationnement et circulation, effets sur l’expérience de la nature et impacts potentiels sur la faune. Bien qu’il semble que la proposition ne soit plus active, nous surveillons d’autres développements, y compris divers édifices en hauteur qui pourraient affecter nos zones humides. Nous avons discuté de l’actualisation d’un plan de gestion de l’île Petrie avec la municipalité au cours du prochain mandat du conseil avec notre conseiller et avec nos agents de liaison.

Il y a un certain nombre de projets environnementaux intéressants en cours à Petrie. Malcolm Fenech, de l’Université d’Ottawa, poursuit ses recherches sur les habitudes des tirtues qui jouissent du soleil dans les eaux de Petrie, avec David Seaburn de la FCF. De plus, nous nous sommes associés à eux pour la conservation des œufs de tortue. Malheureusement, de nombreux nids de ont été attaqués par les prédateurs, même ceux qui avaient été protégés. Cependant, nous prévoyons que certains nouveau-nés reviennent de l’incubation dans les bureaux de la FCF afin qu’ils puissent être relâchés cet automne. Il y a aussi des recherches supplémentaires sur les tortues et les bourdons. Les Amis cultivent le jardin de fleurs sauvages, font des remblais sur les rives pour ralentir l’érosion, éliminent certaines espèces envahissantes et font l’entretien des sentiers.

De plus, les Amis travaillent à améliorer la signalisation et à rafraîchir les affichages. Grâce au conseiller local, nous avons un nouveau tableau d’affichage à l’entrée de la plage. Nous avons également mené une campagne hebdomadaire sur la biodiversité sur les médias sociaux pour dresser le profil de l’étendue et de la profondeur de la flore et de la faune à Petrie. Assurez-vous de passer au bureau et de nous faire part de vos commentaires la prochaine fois que vous serez à Petrie.

Malcolm Fenech (6 April 2022)

Turtle research study at Petrie Island

The turtle season is right around the corner and turtles should start basking in the next few weeks at Petrie Island! As many of you know, we will be continuing to research the turtles at Petrie Island in 2022 and here are the projects that we will be running:

1) Continuing my thesis research about why freshwater turtles (painted and northern map turtles) aggregate at basking sites. I will be collecting data for the second half of my project by conducting controlled disturbance trials of basking turtles by canoe and testing the “many-eyes” hypothesis. Fortunately, the turtles at Petrie Island quickly return to basking sites once displacing themselves into the water after being disturbed.

2) Continuing the mark-recapture of northern map turtles and assessing turtles for injuries from motorboats. We had success last year catching over 30 northern map turtles and look to build on this number. However, we will not be capturing painted turtles this summer. Additionally, we will not be painting numbers on the carapace of captured individuals (as seen below from last year). We will be catching the turtles using basking traps as pictured below and will have appropriate signage on them.

3) We plan on conducting nesting surveys every morning during the nesting season to get a better idea of where turtles nest throughout Petrie Island and how this has changed over the years. We will also collect some nests to incubate at the Canadian Wildlife Federation. This conservation work will be coordinated with the Friends of Petrie Island and more details will be released closer to the nesting season. All of our research is conducted with the appropriate permits and approved animal care protocols and we will once again be collaborating with the Canadian Wildlife Federation. If you have any questions, I would love to answer them!

May be an image of body of water and nature
No photo description available.

FOPI Dispatch (April 2022)

Happy Spring to all our members!

As the Island emerges from hibernation, conversations turn to the 2022 season. And it will be a special one. The Friends of Petrie Island are celebrating 25 years! A small group of passionate people came together in 1997 to protect Petrie’s unique ecology and educate visitors about the importance of conservation and preservation.

To celebrate, we will be launching our Memorial Walk, to acknowledge our volunteers who are no longer with us. As well, stay tuned for a Biodiversity campaign to profile the unique life forms at Petrie Island. We are looking for volunteers to help create an archive of our historical materials for a local library. (Please email us if interested). And we look forward to the next 25 years, working with our three levels of government to find a way to rebuild a Nature Centre. MP Marie-France Lalonde (L – Orleans) has identified this as a local priority. At the municipal level, a refreshed Petrie Island Management Plan will be part of the agenda for the next term of Council. 

Pending funding for summer staff we plan to again offer our Young Naturalist Program for children and youth as well as the Friends and Family tours. Tent and picnic table rentals (which include a barbecue permit) are available through the website. Our trail team will be diligently maintaining the seven kilometers of walking paths. We will continue to build on our educational signage and displays to add to the Petrie Island experience. 

Conservation work is a high priority as well and we will be actively engaging volunteers and partners. Turtle conservation will continue with leadership from our colleagues at the University of Ottawa and the Canadian Wildlife Federation. We also hope to continue the wildflower garden, shoreline erosion remediation, invasive species removal and the tree inventory. Pretty ambitious so if anyone would like to take a lead role with these please send us a message. We had a suggestion to organize a blitz to remove the LLD moth egg masses that are on the trees. If anyone is interested in helping organize one in April please let us know. Several of you have identified an interest in volunteering so if you don’t hear from us in the next month or two please reconnect with us. 

We were delighted to see the success of online registration and payments through our website. We will relaunch a membership drive later this spring but you may do it anytime online. Our FaceBook page, and Group (Petrie Island: Our Small Wilderness) and our Instagram account continue to see high participation. We have some pretty amazing photographers and some strong champions for nature on our platforms! Thank you. 

It looks like spring flooding may pass quickly, which would allow us to restart our Wednesday morning (9-12) workdays. Whether you are at the Island to volunteer, to take in the sights or get some fresh air, do drop into the visitor area and say hi!

Thought for the day –  “The wild places are where we began. Where they end, so do we.” (David Brower)

FOPI Staff (August-September 2021)

As we close out summer, it is a great time to reflect on the progress to date and think about what comes next for the Friends of Petrie Island.  It has been a very busy summer and we are delighted with the increased interest in our beloved Island as evidenced by almost 600,000 visitors to date in 2021.  Memberships, volunteer hours, picnic table rentals and social media participation are all up significantly. Memberships have more than doubled from last year and over 1400 people are members of the Friends of Petrie Island Facebook Group.  Visitors continue to enjoy our educational programming such as our displays and Naturalist sessions.  A number of species are getting established in our expanded wildflower garden. 

We have made some real progress on the conservation side as well.  Our activities this summer have included: remediation of shore line erosion, continued work on our tree inventory, tracking beaver activity and removal of invasive species.  Thank you to Ottawa Riverkeeper and local guides and scouts for continued clean up events.  With our dedicated volunteers and staff we were able to protect over 200 turtle eggs from predation.  There is another turtle release planned on September 26 at 2 pm.  Please register through the email: inquiries@petrieisland.org.  The University of Ottawa and the Canadian Wildlife Federation have also been conducting research on our turtle population so this all bodes well for the future of Petrie Island turtles. 

We invite you to check out these new points of interest in the Petrie Island landscape.

  • Our giant squid and other driftwood sculptures
  • Displays and signage in our interpretive area, for example on freshwater mussels, tree inventory, history of Petrie Island
  • More whimsy in the dogwood fairy maze.  Many thanks to Carol, one of our volunteers for the log castles and amazing bird paintings
  •  The Volunteer Memorial Trail and Bench.  Tucked under some trees and facing Petrie’s incredible sunsets, this place is a tribute to volunteers like René Cloutier, Bill Bowers and Helen Tweddle, who contributed to the Friends of Petrie Island but are no longer with us.  

While our summer programming has closed, we know that fall is one of the best times to visit Petrie Island.  Wednesday workdays (9-12) will continue while the weather permits.  Staff will be present at the office on weekends til early October.  The beach pavilion is closed for the season but the portapotties stay until after Thanksgiving. The City has removed the parking machines.  There are several fall events at Petrie Island such as a Vendor’s Market, a corporate service event and a general meeting of an environmental agency. You are all cordially invited to the Friends of Petrie Island Annual Meeting on Tuesday Oct. 5 at 5:30 pm at the Event Tent near the office. (Rain date- Oct. 19 at 7:30 at the Queenswood Heights Community Centre). 

The Friends welcome your comments and ideas for future activities. Your feedback is useful to improve programming, set priorities and stimulate creativity. Feel free to send an email (inquiries@petrieisland.org), stop by the office, or message us on Facebook.  A couple projects currently being scoped include a project to enhance our interpretive materials and a project by Carleton University students to examine bird populations at Petrie. 

In closing, we would like to thank you for your support.  Donations, memberships, volunteering, participating in events and social media, and being the eyes and ears of the Island, all contribute to our mandate of protecting the ecology of Petrie and engaging the community in the preservation of our small wilderness. Hope to see you out there. 

FOPI Staff (June-July 2021)

For all of our new members since May, we would like to extend a big thank you for supporting the Friends of Petrie Island! Your membership helps fund our conservation projects, maintenance of the picnic area and trails, and educational displays.

In June, the rest of our summer staff joined the team (Kyra, Catherine, Mason, and Clare), and in July, our new co-op student, Anita started! We have been very busy the last couple of months, with increased attendance in May and June compared to last year, and July at slightly lower attendance (this may be due to the frequency of poor weather). We have hosted lots of Naturalist programs and we are happy to see increased numbers of groups are reserving picnic areas. There have been a number of camps and children’s groups that we have hosted, including a Girl Guides group which helped us with our Gypsy moth caterpillar removal! Our staff and volunteers have been removing a number of invasive species, including dog-strangling vine, garlic mustard, buckthorn, and burdock, in order to protect the native biodiversity at Petrie.

We have had an influx of new volunteers and high school students helping us with our many projects, including our wildflower gardens, trail maintenance, and upgrading our Nature Centre area. The owner of BANANAS (the old restaurant on the beach), donated several thousand dollars worth of patio stone to us, which our volunteers helped turn into a new patio for the Nature Centre. Leftover stone will be used at the Memorial Bench and near our sheds. Our volunteers also helped us with our soil erosion project, burying the base of a tree along the shore with an exposed root system, in hopes to prevent the soil from further eroding. The Petrie Island tree inventory has started back up with three volunteers, who will be exploring the furthest parts of the island and noting the different species and their approximate age. Lastly, we had eight turtle watch volunteers this season who helped us find and protect 14 nests, including 6 snapping nests, 5 painted nests, and 3 map nests, for a total of 285 eggs protected! This is nearly three times the number of eggs we protected last year, which will hopefully increase the populations of these at-risk species. Turtle researchers from the University of Ottawa have also been active at Petrie this summer, observing basking patterns of map and painted turtles. They have seen ___ adults so far, and lots of last year’s hatchlings in Crappie Bay!

As we mentioned earlier, lots has been happening at Petrie! We’ve had several special events, including our successful Member’s Days, a garbage cleanup organized by our co-op student, and a video that The Friends filmed with the Orleans councilor, Matt Luloff, about the rules of the island. We have been working hard to increase awareness of the rules, promoting them on our social media, website, signage, and by producing this video. It will be in English and French, and it covers why it is important to follow the rules. There will be more updates to come on that, so please keep your eyes on your emails and social media! Additionally, the Friends of Petrie Island was also briefly featured in a CTV interview about the tree inventory, which you can check out here: https://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/mobile/what-type-of-trees-are-on-your-street-there-s-a-map-for-that-1.5453517

The summer staff have been working hard on our displays to make a fun and educational Nature Centre that we are glad to say has been enjoyed by many! We have updated some of our old signs and we have been adding French text to all of our signs that lacked it previously. The staff are working on new signs which will each highlight a FOPI project, including the tree inventory, invasive species removal, turtle conservation, and more. We have some new displays in our Nature Centre container, including a snowy owl figure (taxidermy), wildflower and tree specimens, a pond life aquarium, a mussel section, and a garter snake snakeskin, donated by one of our members! You may also have noticed that the river-side of our Nature Centre container has been painted! Our staff worked hard this week to create a scene of Petrie on the side of the container, which will be completed by the end of the summer. We also have a brand-new display area near this mural- we have repurposed an old wooden bridge to showcase some more educational signs, our dioramas, and a new display in the works, which will show Petrie throughout the ages.

All in all, it has been a very active summer so far, and we look forward to the rest of the 2021 season. We have a number of events planned for late summer and early fall, including our turtle releases which will likely be in September. We will update our members on as soon as the turtles hatch. Petrie will also be hosting a vendors’ market, which will take place at our Event Tent on September 11th and 12th. You can find more information about this on the Instagram page @petrieislandvendorsmarket. Lastly, there will be an event hosted by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) on October 10th, which focuses on appreciating nature and the exploring the health benefits nature has. More information to come on that in our August dispatch.

Thank you all for supporting and respecting the conservation of Petrie Island. We are working hard to preserve the biodiversity of this important ecosystem and create a space for people to enjoy nature. We greatly appreciate you following all of the island’s rules, including keeping your dogs at home, fishing in designated areas only, and only using gas barbeques (with a permit). All of the information about the rules can be found here: https://www.petrieisland.org/before-you-visit.

We hope you enjoy Petrie as much as we do, and we look forward to seeing you on the island!

Signed,

Cassara

FOPI Staff

Norman Hooper (14 September 2021)

Quiet Morning on the Water

Norman Hooper

It has been 3 weeks since last paddling down at Petrie Island, and yesterday there was a dire need to refresh myself with an outing amongst the conservation area of the isle.

By 7:30 am, I was on the water and Crappie Bay was like a mirror, ideal for skipping stones. The dip and swish of the paddle had me soon entering Snake Channel where I found the plant growth under and on top of the water almost too much for any gliding. In the 22 years I have been paddling in this area, I have never seen such density, more than likely due to the lowness in the water level, with more sunlight entering the water resulting in more growth and cleaner water. My first Blue Heron was standing on a water laden tree log and quite docile as it scanned the water’s surface. I gave him a wide birth……knowing that he was a regular and quite use to passing canoeists and kaykers. Before leaving, I was surprised not to see the beaver in the water or near its abode.

Entering Muskrat Bay, I headed toward the slit in the embankment to enter Middle Channel, but only to find that a beaver had commenced creating a dam. I sure as heck didn’t want to return through the tangle again and around, so I decided, since I was already here, why not paddle within the bay first. At the far end next to the trail, I met up with Michael Rocco and had a short chat…….he was on a mission with his zoom lens camera in hand.

I made a second attempt through the slit by ramming my canoe upon the dam, crawled up toward the bow and disembarked. What a putrid smell from the clayish mud the beavers were using; however, I did manage to haul my canoe up and over this obstacle. On my way again and onto Second Passage, I soon spotted a Blue Heron in the grassy reeds, hunting of course. Again, before reaching the end of the island, there was another Blue Heron hunting for his breakfast, too. It was that time of day when the sun’s light was at its best.

Scanning the shoreline, I noticed a beautiful pink Hibiscus in full bloom partially hidden among the bulrushes. Again, I rammed my canoe in among the reeds towards shore, crawled up and over the bow and hauled in the canoe further. Not only was there this flower, but other species as well not seen from the waterway. I made a good choice to investigate and was rewarded.

Across the entrance of the channel with the Ottawa River, there was another huge Blue Heron along the shallow shoreline. I couldn’t believe I was seeing so many. And as I entered rounded the westerly point of Petrie, there was but a Blue Heron hunting in knee-deep water. Swinging out into the river, I drifted with the current to take in the marvelous techniques used by the Heron to hunt and capture its prey. It is an art! This was the first time this year paddling alongside the isle on the Ottawa River and it brought back a lot of fine sights from years ago, but now I noticed more erosion and missing trees because of the Spring ice break-ups and flooding. Before reaching the end of this stretch of shoreline, I informed an elderly gentleman on the path to backtrack and he would be able to view a beautiful Blue Heron grooming itself in some short reeds. As I passed, he waved and gave a thanks for the heads up.

By this time, I was numb-bummed and decided to rest at the beach where I met up with Al Tweddle and got caught up with the “happenings” on the isle over the summer, especially the scientific research counting, etc with the turtles. Appears that this research with continue on into next year.

After passing through the culvert, I noticed a light breeze and maple leaves were falling upon the water. Fall is getting closer as each day passed. Suddenly, I saw a slight movement out of the corner of my eye, and there, next to the reedy shoreline was another Blue Heron (7th). I think this bird had to be the same one I had encountered along Snake Channel……docile, even when two kayakers approached, although he tried to hide himself within the reeds and not move one iota,

Sitting in Second Passage in front of the entrance to Crappie Bay, I suddenly saw two ducks leave the reeds and swim towards me, their V-shapes behind them growing wider and wider. I wondered what was going on; I had always noticed ducks to be skittish and fly away. Next to my canoe, they gazed up at me quaking as if expecting a hand-out. I hope people are NOT feeding them because ducks are creatures of the wild. Soon, they became bored with me and swam towards the nearby kayakers, much to their delight.

I now decided to call it a day after being on the water for 4 hours. Other than the Blue Heron and the pass-over and honking of skeins of Geese, I didn’t see much other wildlife, but just being on the water, looking and listening, that was worthwhile indeed.

Norman Hooper (15 May 2021)

Canoe Paddle at Petrie Island

This morning was my first opportunity to go canoe paddling within the inlets and bays of Petrie Island. I was not only surprised to see the low water level, but also that the ramp and dock were not install. This did not deter me and I was on the water paddling by 7 am under a light, cool breeze with overhead scattered clouds and blue skies. The sun was trying desperately to show itself and when it did, the warmth was rewarding.

It felt so good to be on the water again listening to a variety of birds sounding out the morning……the Covid tensions had soon disappeared. My favourite paddle is by far through the twisting channel from Crappie Bay to Muskrat Bay……and the scenery was picturesque as always with fallen trees and limbs along the shoreline. I must have been early because the usual number of turtles were not out on the fallen trees sunning themselves as yet; however, I was not to be disappointed upon my return later in the morning.

During my trek, I had a chance to meet Mike, who was out photographing birds along the shoreline path, and later, Sharon in her kayak……..resulting in two great conversations on a variety of topics…….and one in particular, learning about the turtle traps and the research being conducted by students from the nearby university. Hopefully, we will hear about their findings on the turtle habitat at Petrie Island.

One area that really fascinated me was the dam the beavers had built at an entrance off Second Passage to a marsh leading to the causeway. With the raised water level, it certainly would be of a benefit for other habitat. I was aware of its existence, but was surprised in its length and size…….a job well done!

As usual, there were a variety of wildlife to be seen, muskrats, the splash of a beaver, ducks, geese and their goslings, Blue Heron, and scores of turtles and birds.

By the time I put out at 10 am, there were hoards of kayakers already on the waterways and more arriving in the parking lot. It is going to be a very busy day on the isle.

FOPI Dispatch #1 (26 May 2021)

Thank you for supporting the Friends of Petrie Island. While programming ended last fall after the Turtle Release, our volunteers remain active over the winter; there was a letter of concern about future development of a 25-story high-rise building at Trim Road submitted, social media continued, and onsite monitoring was done regularly. Attendance at the Island continued at record highs all winter, which may have been influenced by the lovely weather, low snow fall, increasing east end population and the increased COVID-driven interest in nature. 2020 attendance was almost double previous records. All signs are that 2021 will surpass last year’s numbers. During a spectacular April, 43,000 people visited Petrie Island, with a one day high of 6,040 as people enjoyed the 24 degree weather on April 10. While May has started off cool, forecasts show sunshine ahead.

Our first summer student, Cassara, has started and we are busy making plans for this summer and recruiting new staff. The Friends of Petrie Island has been approved for 5 positions funded by Canada Summer Jobs.

Students will have 10-11 week contracts and will be undertaking conservation activities, delivering Naturalist sessions and tours, managing reservations and permits and doing outreach to visitors.

The increased attendance has put more strain on the environment so we are working with the City to better inform visitors of proper conduct to preserve the integrity of the Island. The most common problems we face are dogs, which disrupt the local ecology (e.g. nesting birds and mammals); shoreline fishing, which harms protected marine animals and is increasingly eroding the shoreline; picking plants and foraging; and littering. There is a 9:00 pm curfew on the Island that we will better enforce this year.

We are hoping to engage more visitors as members and volunteers.

Memberships are an important funding source, and demonstrate appreciation of the work that Friends does and support for our goals. If you are interested in supporting our projects, feel free to reach out.

We would be delighted to see individuals that would like to lead or participate in projects, and we would also welcome small groups to focus on specific projects. Please note that activities will be accordance with COVID-19 safety practices. If you are interested in starting or joining a group, please let us know at inquiries@petrieisland.org.

Here are our current projects:

– Turtle conservation- basking turtle counts, egg gathering, (this is separate from research being done by the University of Ottawa and the Canadian Wildlife Federation).

– Wildflower garden- preparing, planting, weeding, signage, gathering specimens (we would love to restart our Plant Group)

– Dogwood Maze/Fairy Garden- expand and add twig fences to protect the dogwood underpass

– Trail/Nature Centre amenities- benches, driftwood sculptures, sign painting, picnic table staining

– Art display- a semi permanent display of local artwork/artists

– Invasive species monitoring and removal

– Beaver monitoring- ideally a volunteer with a water craft to monitor numbers and locations and activity

– Tree inventory on west end of island and surrounding islands, ID special trees

– Tree wrapping

– Biodiversity plan- to be scoped

– Newspaper articles for Orleans Star- Petrie Island through the eyes of a child, an artist, a naturalist

– Events- clean up (Rotary Club is hosting on in June, date TBD), Turtle Day (date TBD, hopefully June)

– Leave no trace – handout and video on rules at Petrie

– Grant applications- funding for pavilion

– Shoreline- protecting shoreline/ erosion control with RVCA

If any of these speak to you, please let us know what you are interests are.

Of course, our members are always welcome to help out at Wednesday Workdays, and for now, people will be given independent activities until COVID protocols are relaxed. We will be hosting a Members Open House where we will discuss and demonstrate our projects, and a Members’

Guided Tour, both planned for June. Please watch your email, the website, or social media for specifics. We also welcome your comments and suggestions.

Hope to see you at the Island!

Too Big, too Tall, too close

By Paul Le Fort

The Friends of Petrie Island have submitted comments on the proposed development at Trim Road & Jeanne d’Arc Blvd.

An application has been submitted to City of Ottawa Planning, Development and Construction, on September 17, 2020, regarding a change to the zoning of 1009 Trim Road in Ward 1 (ref: D01-01-20-0016). 

It calls for amending the Official Plan, Schedule 2 (Urban Land Use) for the area of the site designated “Urban Employment Area” to “General Urban Area or Mixed use” in order to allow a major, potentially high-rise mixed residential and commercial development west of Trim Road, off Jeanne-d’Arc Boulevard. The Friends of Petrie Island have serious objections to this development as it presents at this point, and have made comments to City Planning as part of the consultation process. Here is a summary of the points made. You can make your opinions known to MP Marie-France Lalonde, MLA Stephen Blais, and Councillor Matt Luloff, as well as to the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority. Online reference: (https://app01.ottawa.ca/postingplans/appDetails.jsf?lang=en&appId=__B026NT)

– There has been a significant increase in visitor traffic at Petrie I. since 2015, along with bicycle traffic and dogs.

– We are aware that Ottawa’s Master Plan includes urban development in that sector, and understand that proximity to a major highway and transit station make the area desirable for expansion; the concern is with the scale and exact location.

– A large increase in population and traffic will put additional pressure on Petrie Island and Trim Road, which cannot safely accommodate the current pedestrian, vehicle and bicycle mix. 

– Development of a public beach at Petrie Island has already destroyed habitat and negatively impacted the island environment.

– Petrie Island includes a nature preserve with a variety of plant and animal species, some at risk, some fairly rare in our area, and is a provincially significant wetland. 

– Setting aside a nature preserve requires continuing protection, including the critical buffer zones that surround it, to prevent habitat fragmentation. – – – Towers with extensive glass surfaces would be a death trap for the thousands of migratory birds that stop over twice a year.• We are concerned with the aesthetics of high-rise buildings so close to the river, and the proposed development appears to be on the 100-year flood plain.