Our Nature Study Area

What do you do

in a 'Study Area'?

We go there a lot all year round and poke into every corner we can think of.

Photo of a Macoun member observing nature

We observe closely,

and make a record of our findings

Sometimes we have a purpose — a "study" — but mostly

we just explore the possibilities until something really grabs our attention

Where is it?

The Macoun Field Club has had a series of study areas over the past 50 years. This one, which we have been studying since 1970, is within the western greenbelt of Canada's capital, Ottawa, between the former village of Bells Corners on the northeast, and the new Bridlewood development in the west.

Local people will recognize it as being part of Stony Swamp. Everything you can see from the Sarsaparilla Trail observation dock is well within our study area. The land is owned by the National Capital Commission.

What is it like?

It is about a square mile of second growth forest and wetlands, with a limited number of public access points and trails. In 1970 it was still part of a rural landscape on the fringes of a growing city; now it is practically embedded within a larger urban environment.

Who is doing the studying?

The members of the Macoun Field Club are school-aged children (up to age 18) who are so keen on nature that they are out in the woods together every second Saturday. Some go on into careers in the natural sciences. The leaders of the Macoun Club are naturalists with varying degrees of scientific background.

What have we learned in 45 years?

Our map -- we have traced the pattern of vegetation from aerial photographs and gone out in the field to determine what was there. There have been several versions made to keep pace with changes: 1972, 1986, 1992, 2000, 2005 and 2008. The colour version was created especially for the web site.

We have listed:

We are currently studying:

We have studied:

We have mapped the distribution of:

We also all have our own study trees -- a single, unique tree deep in the forest that is our own.

All of the observations on which our studies are based, are recorded in our Nature Journal, a group effort that we keep updated and indexed.


All photos donated or provided by members and leaders, past and present. Created April 2002; most recently modified June 5, 2015. Section updates: Ant mounds (Jan. 18/ 2010); Amphibians (Dec. 2009); Map (Aug. 11/ 08); Scale insects (Mar. 23/ 07); Tree list (Dec. 5/ 10 -- Butternuts, Dec. 29/10, White Poplar, Feb. 9, 2010); Lichens (Nov. 2010); Study Trees (May 1/05); Porcupines (March 9/ 03); Deer (July 22/ 06); Mammals (June 12/ 02), Leatherwood Treehoppers (Aug. 6/ 15).