Nature Log 2010
Hello! Welcome to the 2010 Nature log! The writers of this blog are Sharoni, Charlotte and Lia and we are the Waterfowl Park guides this summer. We are very excited to tell you all about the going ons and fantastic things we have been seeing in the park.
This year has been a good year for sightings of the Sora. The Sora, normally a rare sighting and an extremely shy bird, has been seen in the park very often. Charlotte and Lia have even seen some Sora young! Read further about all the things we have been seeing.
August 18th, 2010
Lately, we have not been getting lots of time in the park because we have been working on a masterpiece: our fantastic puppet show! We have been writing scripts, making puppets, rehearsing and finally had our premiere this Monday at the Spotted Toad Daycare. The puppet show is a really great project for the park guides and gives us a valuable opportunity to teach kids about the wonders of the wetlands. This year the birds of the park are preparing for the arrival of the shorebirds, a baby goose is making a new friend and together they will discover the role of plants in the Waterfowl Park ecosystem!
Won’t get the chance to see it live? Check it out on youtube and be a part of the adventure! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffqArHkCgwI
Valere the grebe, Rhodora the mother goose, and Elomire the goose
August 11th, 2010
The majestic Belted Kingfisher
This time of the summer offers prime opportunities to see the Belted Kingfisher in the Waterfowl Park. It is quite the sight to witness these guys (or girls) hover and then plunge directly into the water in hopes of catching some prey. Often they can be seen on top of the green nest boxes posted throughout the park. The Belted Kingfisher has a distinct mohawk on the top of its blue-gray coloured head. Females possess a rusty brown band across the chest. If you don’t have the chance to spot them, you will no doubt hear their loud, dry, rattling call. Keep your eyes and ears open and hopefully you will all be able to see this majestic bird.
August 3rd, 2010
The most exciting event that happened today was our two scheduled tours for the Parks and Recreation Department’s Summerquest camp kids. Lia took a group of approximately 20 young kids in the morning and Charlotte took the older group around noon. The younger kids really appreciated the “critter dipping” activity where they actually got to go fishing in the marsh with nets, to find small fish and insects. The slightly older kids were enthralled with the ducks and asked Charlotte to identify every single duck they saw, even though they were on a tight time schedule! It’s nice to see kids showing enthusiasm and admiration for things like plants and animals.
August 2nd, 2010
And now, a Grebe Story:
Usually events in the waterfowl park are highly pleasant and peaceful so the solemnity of our first post is not meant to be representative of everyday events. However, today a couple of good-hearted visitors who were taking a walk through the park came into the Visitor Information Centre with some disturbing news. They had taken a picture of a Pied-billed Grebe that they had noticed was in distress. Littering is a problem in the park because not only do people occasionally drop their garbage in the park itself, the strong Tantramar winds also blow any garbage they may have been littered downtown or in the surrounding area, into the park. The park is home to over 180 species of birds and countless other forms of wildlife and when these animals are exposed to human waste the results can be disastrous. The picture was of a grebe who had a green garbage bag wrapped around his or her body and had partially swallowed what looked like a large portion of the bag. It looked like it was having significant difficulty breathing because its eyes were bulging. We asked where the visitor had seen the grebe and once we ascertained the location all three of us set out to see if we could find the grebe. We were hoping to find the grebe quickly and call an organization like the Atlantic Wildlife Institute for advice but we never found it. We think the bird might have dived for its food and caught a bag instead of a fish which is why it was partially swallowed. There has been at least three separate grebe families in the park and it would be unfortunate if the grebe was a mother diving to look for fish for her young, an activity we usually watch with mirth, when she caught the plastic bag. Today’s events were definitely a reminder of the sinister effects littering has on otherwise healthy and blithe beings.
Month of July Summary:
In the Park:
Well what a month it was! In July we were joined by Sharoni Mitra as our third Waterfowl Park tour guide. We begun the month with plant training with Sara and John from the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre. They were extremely knowledgeable about both birds and plants; we found the training very interesting. Learning about the plants of the waterfowl park greatly improved the tour we usually give, adding a whole other dimension. A particularly interesting plant that Lia discovered is called “bladderwort” which is a carnivorous plant that traps small insects and digests them! Some highlights of July regarding bird sightings were the Belted King fishers, the geese families, and the Pied-billed grebe young. We’ll post some pictures of these beautiful birds!
A lovely Raccoon "Tail":
Unfortunately, from time to time our park staff encounter animals which have been harmed by coming into contact with the human environment of the park. We were presented with a perplexing challenge one humid afternoon when we guides were walking through the park observing birds, and we noticed three baby raccoons sitting on the boardwalk. They were located on the boardwalk by the Anglican church entrance and they appeared to be alone. We immediately thought that their mother must have died if they were alone. They were alive but barely moving while lying on top of one another. As we watched and deliberated about what to do, they eventually moved from the hot boardwalk to a small island close to the boardwalk with more shade. We decided to call the Atlantic Wildlife Institute but quickly realized that because of a lack of funding they were no longer accepting any animals! We then looked into calling the Department of Natural Resources all the while frantically contacting people for the phone number with our cell phones while watching the babies. From talking to the people at the DNR we came to realize that all they could do was remove the animals to euthanise them and were not able to keep them or deliver them to a place that would raise them. Not being satisfied with that course of action, we called some local community members associated with the Canadian Wildlife Service and they suggested putting out some proper food and water so that the babies might last the day. Someone suggested that we should simply wait to see if the mother was still alive and waiting to pick up the babies during the nocturnal hours. Charlotte’s friend Laura, who had had spent many summers working for the Atlantic Wildlife Institute called to give us the recipe for what the babies would eat which was a ratio of condensed milk, water, and eggs. We successfully put out the water and food and hoped that the babies would survive until the morning. When we arrived to work in the morning the babies were gone and a little of the milk was gone! There didn’t seem to be any sign of a struggle so we were hoping, and still hope to this day, that the babies were indeed picked up by their mother! It was a highly educational and difficult experience where we were forced to explore issues of ethics, quick problem solving, and how to take responsibility for the challenges we humans pose for members of the animal kingdom.