Friends of Mashkinonje Provincial Park
The Wetlands Observer
99 Lang's Landing, Site 8, Box 1, Monetville, ON, P0M 2K0

Volume 3, Issue 1                                                                                            January 2003

Home of the Snow Bunting, Gray Jay, and numerous other fascinating species.

Mashkinonje Provincial Park
Lapin's Beach north to the Elbow

"Wonderful Park, Step in the Right Direction"

 I would like to thank all those who took the time to read and reflect so thoughtfully on the Mashkinonje Preliminary Park Plan. The great awareness of the park and the strong local involvement with the plan was clearly evident in the high quality of the public comment. The efforts of the Friends of Mashkinonje and the Sudbury East Board of Trade to make people aware of the park over the last few years are to be commended.

Approximately 1000 plans were circulated in the community, to area business, provincial interest groups and other government agencies in both French and English. The most frequent comments were “wonderful development”, “step in the right direction” and “favour the proposal – ecotourism”.

The goal of the park, “To protect the natural and cultural heritage of the park while offering low-intensity recreation and ecotourism-based opportunities to complement existing local and regional tourism”, was strongly endorsed by the comments.

Suggestions to improve the plan included: increase local cultural heritage, provide greater protection to heron rookeries and some adjustments to trail and access locations. Several comments were received related to hunting, trapping and wildlife viewing.

These comments will be used to prepare the Final Plan due for release early in the new year.

Chuck Miller,
Park Superintendent,
Mashkinonje Provincial Park

Friends Fun
by Angela Martin

Friends of Mashkinonje have had a lot of fun since our last newsletter. In August we had our picnic. October, we had a boat ride around the park and hike from the Secret Passage to the Sawmill Site. Then in January, we conducted our first Christmas Bird Count in conjunction with Bird Studies Canada.

We were fortunate to have a nice sunny day for our picnic. Harley Lang had to postpone his Beaver plane flights due to the wind, but everyone enjoyed Capt.Rick Lemieux's luxurious pontoon boat rides around the park. Dr.Chris Blomme from Laurentian University as well as some of our Friends lent us mounted birds for our display and bird identification contest. The birds on display were the Great Gray Owl, Gray Jay (Canada Jay or Whiskey Jack), Scarlet Tananger, Northern Flicker, Ruddy Ducks, Black Duck, Green-winged Teal, Blue-winged Teal, Redhead Duck and Wood Duck. Winners of the contest were Ashley Imhoff, Elsie Bertrand (not available for the photo) and Michel Dalaire. Chuck Labelle entertained and acted as MC to the enjoyment of everyone. Thanks to all of the volunteers that made the picnic a success. You may want to put August 17th on your calendar for next years' event. Further information will follow in our July newsletter.

In early October, the FOM hosted the Nipissing Naturalists Club and Dr. K O’Grady on a trip into the park. Daniele and Rick Lemieux took us on their pontoon boat. We boarded at Saenchiur flechey on the West Bay of Lake Nipissing and traveled under Hwy 64 to the West Arm and around the park to the Secret Passage. The weather was rainy at the beginning of the trip. Harley Lang, our local historian, was relating the interesting history of the area and joking with us. Before we knew it, the rain had stopped. When we reached the Secret Passage, Captain Rick pulled out the gang plank and we carefully disembarked. There were no casualties! We climbed over the rock ridge to a hidden wonderland. The calm beaver pond was surrounded by stately pines, with pretty mosses growing down to the edge of the water. Gray Jays, Hairy Woodpeckers, White-throated Sparrows and Blue Jays flew around as if we were not there.

Some of the more adventurous folks continued to look for the Sawmill Site. Dr. Peter Beckett discovered some interesting plants, mosses and lichens. Then, in front of us was a flock of Rusty Blackbirds foraging on the ground, scarcely affected by our presence. We were intently watching the Rusty Blackbirds, when Captain Rick returned, having found the Sawmill Site. On we went to explore the remains of yesteryear.

We were so engrossed with our adventure that we forgot all about the time. Much later, Gary and I had hot drinks and snacks at our house before everyone left for home. We all learned, had fun, and all the participants were happy to become Friends of Mashkinonje.

Our Christmas Bird Count was a spur of the moment event. I was taking part in the North Bay Christmas Bird Count conducted by the Nipissing Naturalists Club when Cal Osborne and Dick Tafel encouraged me to do the same in my area. The Nipissing Naturalists Club are known throughout the world for the last four years for having the most participants in the CBC approximately 800! It didn’t take much thought before Dick had me in contact with Bird Studies Canada and Cal had our area precisely drafted out. Seventeen feeder-watchers were enthusiastic about taking part and sharing their bird sightings. Fourteen field observers and three guides traveled the icy roads and tramped through the bush. We counted 29 species and 1268 individual birds. Details can be found on the website:  (see Christmas Bird Count). Gary and I had dinner for the field observers and, if the roar in the house was any indication, everyone had a great time.

Liz Lang had a great idea to have a Summer Bird Watching Day. There will be more birds and more of our Friends of Mashkinonje will be in the north to enjoy the event. We have not worked out the details yet, but mid-June might be a good time. Let us know what you think and we will keep you informed.

We expect to start work in Mashkinonje Provincial Park this summer. We cannot complete this task without your help.  Our thanks go to our 2002 sponsors:

Cottongrass Fen
$250.00 - $500.00

Harley and Liz Lang
Saenchiur flechey
Thomas Allen & Son Publishing
Welcome Lodge

Tamarac Swamp
$50.00 - $250.00

Peter Gregersen
Dan Busch and Cendrine Gemberling
Columbia Sports Products
Lakair Lodge
Tasco Binoculars
The Country Store
Muskrat Marsh
David and Beth Schnurr  - Nancy Scott
Chuck Miller -  Car Quest
Daoust Lumber - la grosse carotte
Carol Mackenzie - Mayer Esso
Memquisit Lodge -  Nadon Lumber
Noelville Foodland -  Noelville Rental
Pro Hardware -  RDH Ltd.
Samoset Lodge -  The Sports Centre
Bob Wilson - Bob Wood
Ted and Izettia Zeitz
Vibrant Beaver Pond awarded to volunteers

Chuck & Helene LaBelle
T.J. & Monique Quesnel
Rusty & Brenda VanExan
Claude, Joyce & Martin Bouffard
Angela, Gary & David Martin
Harley & Liz Lang
Ted & Izettia Zietz
Rick & Daniele Lemieux
Dr. Peter Beckett
Jocelyn Lemieux
Kevin Cameron
Chuck Miller
Dr. Joe Hamr
Dick Tafel
Cal Osbourne

Did You Know??

“Snow Bunting” comes from an Old English word "buntyle" which describes their plump shape, and “snow” - you can figure that one out!

Gray Jay, also known as Canada Jay or Whiskey Jack, probably got it’s name for being a little foolish and sometimes silly, hence “jay”. Whiskey Jack comes from Algonquin meaning roguish or stealing.

Here Goes Astronomy

Dates you might want to be watching the Night Sky:

  • January 27 - One hour before sunrise, Mars will be beside the waning crescent Moon and Venus won't be far of to the southeast.
  • February 3 - 40 minutes before sunrise, Mercury, Venus and Mars will be in a line in the southeast sky.
  • February 11 - One hour after sunset, Saturn will be below the waxing Moon.
  • February 15 - One hour after sunset Jupiter will be to the left of the Moon.
  • April 2 - 30 minutes after sunset, Mercury will pass to the left of the waxing crescent Moon. Look closely, it will still be light.
  • May 4 - Two hours after sunset Saturn will be to the right of the Moon in the west sky.
  • May 15 - A total lunar eclipse will occur commencing at 10:02pm

Welcome New Friends

Dan Busch and Cendrine Gemberling, Richard Blaszczyk and Brenda Holbein, Russell and Brenda Van Exan, Nicole Wilson, Bill and Claire Merrick, Paul and Jocelyne Lemieux, Cal Osborne and Sandra Arseneau, Greg and Pat Boxwell, Ray and Bev Kingdon, Sue Pilling and Stephen Romaniuk, Lori and Janis Reed, Roy Summers, Dick and Elsa Tafel, and Dr. Kevin O'Grady.

2002-3 Board of Directors
Pres. Angela Martin
Vice. Pres. Daniele Lemieux
Sec. Treas. Liz Lang
Member Ted Zeitz
Member Izettia Zeitz
Park Liaison Chuck Miller
Thank you being a Friend of Mashkinonje. There is so much to enjoy and to learn in our wilderness and we wish you were all here to enjoy it all year long.