Friday, 18 September 2015

Upcoming Nest Box Build Event in St. John's

Our partners over at Ducks Unlimited Canada are hosting a Build Your Own Duck Nest Box event in Pippy Park, St. John's on October 3rd. There is plenty of space still available, and a free lunch is provided. Email Danielle to reserve your spot:

Attendees will have the option of signing up to become a nest box steward. Stewards commit to installing a nest box in suitable habitat for nesting ducks, maintaining the box and reporting any bird activity for a five year period. 

High quality nesting sites are important for maintaining waterfowl populations, and nest boxes can create artificial nesting habitat for several species of birds. The data that nest box stewards collect provides valuable insight into breeding bird populations across the province. 

Check out the flyer below for all of the event details.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Know Your Wetland Classes, Part 1: "Fentastic" Fens

A few weeks ago I helped out my colleagues over at Ducks Unlimited Canada with wetland classification surveys near Deer Lake (a wetland stewardship community!). The field work was part of a large project to map the wetlands of Newfoundland and Labrador using remote sensing techniques. It was challenging, and fun, to classify over 30 wetlands in a three day period!

Did you know that there are 5 classes of wetland in Canada? Learn to recognize them and get acquainted with the wetlands near you. You can learn about all 5 classes of wetland in greater detail by reading the Canadian Wetland Classification System. This post is Part 1 of a 5 Part series entitled Know Your Wetland Classes. This week, I'll start with Fens.

Wetlands with a build-up of organic soil, or peat, are called peatlands. They are found in cool, wet environments where decomposition is slow, allowing for this build-up of organic material. Most of the natural wetlands in Newfoundland and Labrador are peatland, so chances are, you've seen one before! There are two types of peatland: Fen and Bog. 


Fens are peatlands that receive at least some of their water input from groundwater inflow. Water table fluctuates throughout the year, and is usually close to or above the ground surface. 

Fen Plants
Because groundwater is rich in dissolved nutrients and is less acidic than precipitation, fens have a higher diversity of plant life than their peatland compatriots, bogs. You'll find all sorts of neat plants here, including sedges, moss, Scheuchzeria (left) and Grass of Parnassus (right).

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Birding Workshop in Spaniard's Bay

Last Friday, 20 local residents and visitors from St. John's gathered in the Spaniard's Bay Legion to learn about local environmental issues and bird watching basics. The event was organized by Cathy Kleinwort, the Chair of the Joint Management Committee. The JMC is composed of members from the Town of Bay Roberts and Spaniard's Bay, and oversees the stewardship of the Shearstown Estuary, which forms a boundary between the two communities. 
The Shearstown Estuary

Suzanne Dooley of CPAWS

Birders gathering for a photo
Our guest speaker was Suzanne Dooley from CPAWS. Her talk on the Newfoundland and Labrador Shorebird Survey piqued the interest of several attendees, many of which are already avid observers of shorebirds on the local beaches. 

The bird watching hike was very successful, and we were fortunate to have the company of two experienced birders from Nature NL. The highlights were close-up shots of two bald eagles, a short-billed dowitcher (uncommon for the area) and a great show of an osprey diving for its dinner. You can check out the eBird checklist for the day here

A new culvert at work

A key feature of the birding hike was the newly placed culverts under the berm in the estuary. This project, orchestrated by the JMC, allows for greater flow of water and exchange of nutrients between the Bay and the wetland. Water that was stagnant before the culvert placement is now receiving an influx of oxygen. Long-time residents can already see a drastic improvement in water quality.