Monday 22 February 2021

SAM Newsletter #29 - Winter 2021

What has SAM been up to?

Hello SAM members and friends! 
We won't pretend that it has not been challenging to connect with you due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, but the work to identify and conserve the province's important habitats continues. Read on to see some of the things what we have been up to lately.
Eelgrass monitoring and Green Crab trapping in the Codroy Valley

In the early fall, SAM turned its sights to the Codroy Valley Ramsar site. Due to possible concerns about invasive Green Crab in Newfoundland waters, we once again set out to monitor the waters of the Codroy Valley Estuary. We are happy to report that there were no new crabs captured, although continued monitoring in the estuary will be required in the coming years to determine whether or not further intervention may be required in the future. 
The view of the Ramsar site from the Wetland Centre in the Codroy Valley. 
While in the Codroy Valley, SAM staff also began an eelgrass monitoring program. The rich estuarine habitat protected in the Ramsar site is crucial nesting, staging, and foraging habitat for thousands of migratory birds every year. The richness of the ecosystem and its ability to host such large volumes of migratory waterfowl is believed to be due to prominent eelgrass beds that exist throughout the estuary.
SAM Conservation Biologist Liz Belanzaran sets up a green crab trap in a newly established eelgrass plot. 
Invasive green crab are a threat to eelgrass beds due to their aggressive foraging, which destroys the plants at the root. Establishing a baseline understanding for the eelgrass population in the estuary allows managers to better track what is happening with it and quickly identify and address any problems that might arise. 
A trip to the Birchy Basin....

A highlight of the late summer for SAM staff was a trip to the Upper Humber wetlands complex. Conservation of the area is impacted by a corporate stewardship agreement between Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Ltd. and the provincial government, which was signed in order to help preserve the natural integrity of this beautiful and ecologically diverse area. 
Wildlife Division biologist Jonathan Sharpe shows off the newly updated sign detailing the history of conservation in the area. 
In September staff from SAM joined Wildlife Division biologist Jonathan Sharpe for a visit up to the beautiful Birchy Basin to look at the newly renovated water control structure (more on that below) and to replace the sign detailing Corner Brook Pulp and Paper's history of conservation in the area. 
Christmas Bird Counts in Corner Brook

The fun doesn't end when the snow starts falling! This year, SAM Conservation Biologist Liz Belanzaran was able to participate in two different Christmas Bird Counts in Corner Brook - the adult version on December 28th, and the Christmas Bird Count for Kids on January 2nd. 
What is the Christmas Bird Count? Started in 1900, it is the longest running international citizen science project, and provides invaluable efforts towards the continued tracking of bird populations. To find out more about Christmas Bird Counts check out this info page from our friends at Birds Canada.
The Corner Brook Christmas Bird Count is organized by the Humber Natural History Society and has been running annually since the early 1980s. The Corner Brook count occurs within a 24km diameter circle centered on Ballam Bridge at the mouth of the Humber River. This year, on an unseasonably warm December day, 37 volunteers diligently drove, walked, and hiked roads and trails, while 19 more recorded the visitors they had at their bird feeders. Despite the warm weather, 41 species were reported - including the first record of a Northern Cardinal in a Corner Brook Christmas Bird Count!
Did you know? Though they are common feeder birds in parts of Canada and much of the United States, Northern Cardinals are rare visitors to Newfoundland. Learn more about this beautiful species here
Our heartfelt thanks to the Humber Natural History Society for organizing the Christmas Bird Count year after year!

Christmas Bird Count for Kids

The Christmas Bird Count for Kids is inspired by the popularity of the adult count. It aims to engage a new generation of birders by getting them excited about citizen science and exploring the great outdoors. This year, our SAM Conservation Biologist partnered with the Humber Natural History Society to plan a COVID-safe event 20 local youth aged 6-11. Along with their parents, the children learned about the importance of conserving migratory habitat, went over the basics of how to identify birds, started their very own field notebooks, and even built a bird blind out of snow. Seven different species were reported, including a flock of 75 American Black Duck.
Local youth aged 6-11 participated in the annual Christmas Bird Count for Kids, seen here leaning how to identify and count flocks of ducks in Margaret Bowater Park in Corner Brook. Special thanks to Judy May of the Humber Natural History Society for the use of this photo.
A note from our partners 
From our friends at Ducks Unlimited Canada...
The Birchy Basin along the Upper Humber is a stunning swath of habitat used by dozens of species of waterfowl, migratory fish, and the Humber caribou herd.

Thank you to Ducks Unlimited Canada for the use of this photo. 
Ducks Unlimited Canada is excited to announce recently completed restoration work at the Birchy Basin Wetland Complex—a critical swath of wildlife habitat in Newfoundland’s Humber River Watershed.
In mid-August, conservation staff repaired a small maintenance bridge, and rebuilt part of the wetland’s fishway, ensuring that species of migratory fish, including Atlantic salmon, are better able to travel through the wetland system to breed and spawn.
The Upper Humber River and Birchy Basin boast some of the highest densities of wildlife in Newfoundland and Labrador. In addition to waterfowl species including American black duck and common goldeneye, and an estimated 40,000 Atlantic salmon, the wetland is important for other provincially iconic species including moose and the Humber Caribou herd.
The newly renovated Birchy Basin water control structure will help ensure safe passage for migratory fish, including Atlantic salmon. 
This work was undertaken with financial support from the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation as well as the North American Wetland Conservation Act. Their commitment helps ensure the health of this beautiful and important freshwater ecosystem for decades to come.
Since you last saw us...

The 2020 SAM Fall Meeting
COVID-19 restrictions have put our biannual in-person SAM meetings on hold, but the virtual meetings have continued! On October 3rd, 2020 SAM members as well as representatives from several EHJV partners joined us for the Fall business meeting. 
SAM meetings look a little different these days, but the passion and commitment to preserving the special places we have in this province remains the same.
Are you looking forward to the spring AGM? Attendance is by invitation only and registration information will be sent out soon - so keep an eye on your inboxes!

Wondering what these meetings are all about? Check out our "SAM Meeting FAQs" page for more information. 
SAM Scholarship Call for Applications!

The 2021 SAM Scholarship is currently accepting applications.

Every year SAM awards a $1000 scholarship to a post-secondary education student whose interests, activities and post-secondary goals are focused on conservation of habitat in this province. 

Who is eligible?

  1. Applicant must be a resident of Newfoundland and Labrador;

  2. Is (or will be) enrolled in a post-secondary program in the 2020-2021 academic year;

  3. Have demonstrated an active commitment to conservation in Newfoundland and Labrador

To apply:

  1. Download and fill out the application form.

  2. Update your resume/C.V.

  3. Get most recent copy of your transcript (unofficial is fine)

  4. Email the completed form with your resume/C.V. AND transcript to

    Applications are due on May 1, 2021. 

​Want to know more? Check out the conservation scholarship section of our website here.

Want to see your community featured in a future SAM newsletter? Have a conservation success story that you want to share? Email Liz at to discuss the possibilities!