Al Potvin Observation Tower a view of migration masterpiece

ALMONTE – Head to the observation tower Wednesdays in September and get ready to witness thousands of water birds on break during their annual migration.

“Each late summer and autumn, tens of thousands of shorebirds and waterfowl migrate through our area from their breeding grounds down in the sunny south,” the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) released in a statement. “Hundreds stop off to rest and feed at the Almonte lagoons.”

The MVFN built and maintain the Al Potvin Observation Tower and the Mike McPhail Bird Viewing Shelter overlooking the lagoon, along with a trail for easy access. For many years, birders from all over Ontario have used this prime shorebird location and stopover as an important viewing spot. The short, looped trail to the tower and shelter may also feature many fall warblers, sparrows, grassland birds and other species.

On four Wednesdays in September, the MVFN invites you to walk in between 3 and 5 p.m. and view the multitude of waterfowl and other birds from the observation tower and the new MVFN Mike McPhail Bird Viewing Shelter. MVFN expert birders Michel Gauthier and/or Ken Allison will be present with a spotting scope and birding books and will talk about the birds and how to identify them.

These MVFN birding open houses will take place on Sept. 4, Sept. 11, Sept. 18 and Sept. 25.

Be sure to bring binoculars and a spotting scope if you have one.

Directions to the trail and tower: from Almonte, take Wolf Grove Road (County Rd. 16) towards Middleville for about two kilometres. Turn north (right) onto Ramsay Concession 8 at the Auld Kirk Church and Cemetery, and travel approximately 100 metres. Park on the shoulder on either side of the road, other than in front of the gate. The trail entrance is across the road from, and just past, the Auld Kirk cemetery. A small yellow sign marks the entrance.

You are also welcome to use the trail, tower and shelter at any time on your own.  Please respect the rules of etiquette posted at the trail entrance, and sign the visitor sheet inside the shelter.