Friday, 30 October 2015

All About Eiders: Eider shelter installation near Musgrave Harbour

A volunteer carries an eider shelter on South Penguin Island
This is South Penguin Island, a small uninhabited island located north of Musgrave Harbour and northeast of CarmanvilleIn addition to being incredibly scenic, it is also important nesting habitat for several species of seabirds, including the largest duck in the Northern hemisphere: the common eider. Of the three sub populations that breed and winter in Canada, two are found in Newfoundland and Labrador: Northern and American.
SAM President Linda Bailet checks old eider shelters for signs of nesting.

On a calm afternoon in late September, Carmanville Councillor and new SAM President Linda Bailet accompanied local fishermen and residents of Musgrave Harbour and surrounding area on a mission to install 20 new eider shelters. Nest shelters, which were built locally with funding provided by Ducks Unlimited Canada NL, have been installed by volunteers and DUC NL staff for several years, and both North and South Penguin Island are now host to dozens of nest boxes. Common eiders nest on the ground under low, shrubby trees called tuckamore or in thick grass near the shore. Constructed shelters protect nesting eiders from predation when this natural shelter is not available. 
Eider shelters old and new, South Penguin Island
In addition to installing new shelters, old shelters were checked for signs of use by nesting eiders and other seabirds. Eiders line their nests with a distinctive soft grey down that is one of the most effective natural insulators in the world. 

A peek inside an old eider shelter reveals eider egg shell fragments. 
Organizations like Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Sea Duck Joint Venture support research programs to study these birds, but there is still a lot to learn about their migration routes, characteristics of the best breeding spots and how population trends are changing over time.

Volunteers carry eider nest shelters on South Penguin Island


Sea Duck Joint Venture
Ducks Unlimited Canada
Carmanville Wetlands Nature Trail

Monday, 5 October 2015

SAM Fall Meeting: October 2-3 in Deer Lake

SAM Members, October 3 2015, Deer Lake
Last weekend, SAM representatives from 18 municipalities across Newfoundland and Labrador, and several partner organizations of the Eastern Habitat Joint Venture, gathered in Deer Lake to share recent stewardship and conservation initiatives from their communities. In the past year, several municipalities have constructed community gardens, expanded trail systems, installed interpretive signage, added stewardship zones and hosted engagement events such as birding workshops. Overall, it was an excellent year for SAM, with two new members (Bauline and Portugal Cove-St. Phillip's), and several more in the works. Dr. Kelly Vodden, of the Environmental Policy Institute, presented her research on source water protection in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.
New (and returning ) Executive Officers
Geoff Gallant (Torbay) stepped down as President, after dedicating five years to the role. His hard work on behalf of SAM and the Town of Torbay is much appreicated, and the SAM community wishes him all the best in his future endeavours. He was replaced by Linda Bailet (Carmanville), the former Vice-President, with Tony Chubbs (Happy Valley - Goose Bay) stepping up to fill her position. Cathy Kleinwort (Spaniard's Bay) and John Norman (Bonavista) remain in their positions of Treasurer and Secretary, respectively. 

SAM Executive 2014-2015, L-R: Vice-President Linda Bailet, President Geoff Gallant,
Treasurer Cathy Kleinwort, Secretary John Norman
SAM Executive 2015-2016, L-R: Secretary John Norman, President Linda Bailet,
Treasurer Cathy Kleinwort, Vice-President Tony Chubbs
Thank you to the town of Deer Lake for all of your hospitality. Many participants enjoyed the organized evening walk in the sunshine that showcased Deer Lake's beautiful beach and stewardship areas. Christopher Mitchelmore (MHA - The Straits-White Bay North and Environment critic with the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador) generously offered his time to give a guest presentation about the importance of wetland conservation in this province.
Thank you to everyone who participated, we look forward to seeing you at the next Annual General Meeting in spring 2016!
SAM Members enjoying the sunshine on the hike to the
Deer Lake stewardship areas.
Deer Lake