Hi! My name is Ms. Woodward. Please travel with me to Nova Scotia to study Climate Change and Mammals!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Keji Seaside Adjunct


I can't believe it is our last full day here. Although I will be happy to see friends, family, students, and of course my Dolly, I will really miss Nova Scotia and the people I have met. After learning about the formation of Nova Scotia (Chris did his undergraduate work in geology) we headed out to Kejimikujik Seaside Adjunct. We took a long hike through the park. We saw harbor seals, porcupine, several seabirds, and a heron in flight. In fact, Lycos the Wonder Dog found us three porcupines! One of them didn't stay around too long and disappeared into the brush, but I actually got some great shots of the other two. The harbor seals were too fast and too far away to get shots. We also tried to do some bat detecting, but it was too cold still. We're still picking ticks off of ourselves at a steady rate. I think that will be ONLY thing I won't miss from this trip. It has been amazing! This won't be my last post either. I still have pictures to share from our trip to Halifax, and I'll also share my follow up projects.

I'd like to wholeheartedly thank HSBC in the Community for sponsoring me. I've not only learned an incredible amount about many different things, but I feel very recharged as an educator. These are important experiences that I will want to share.

Thanks to Earthwatch for creating these types of opportunities for laymen to learn more about our world. The Live from the Field program is invaluable!

I'd also like to thank Dr. Christina Buesching and Dr. Chris Newman for the patience and care they show toward their volunteer teams. They made the information interesting and understandable. Their stories were immensely entertaining and they are also good cooks!

Thanks to my school for allowing me the time out of my classroom, the tech department for setting up the Skype sessions, and my substitute for taking care of my class and doing the extra work with the Skype sessions.

I couldn't have done it without everyone who supported me. This was an experience I will use in my teaching throughout my career.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

We started our day hoping to catch something in our traps. Unfortunately, there was nothing. Trapping here wasn't as successful as at East Port Medway. Our trapping in the grasslands is part of a long term study that Chris and Christina are doing on the small mammal populations. The seasons seem to be arriving later, so the hibernating animals are taking longer to come out of torpor (hibernation). Did you know that it takes a lot of energy for animals to do that? I didn't. If there are some nice warm days the animals may use their energy to come out of hibernation, but then if it turns really cold again they will go back into hibernation. That uses up more energy and will make it difficult for the animal to survive. After we collected all the traps, we cut down a few more trees to open up the edges of the grassland. The last one we worked on was too hard, so our handsaw just wasn't doing it. They will have to come back with power saws. It was looking really good by the time we were finished, but I of course forgot to take a picture! Later on we learned some forest survival skills. So now in theory I can start a fire and trap animals! It was pretty interesting. We finished a bit early so I was able to Skype with both Mrs. Vieau's and my class this afternoon. Thanks to both classes for the great questions. I was so busy answering questions that I forgot to mention that it is Earth Day! Well really everyday is Earth Day. You don't even have to do big things to be more conscious of helping our earth. Even little things like buying food locally, turning the heat down a bit and wearing a sweater, or just making sure that you respect living things is a way to do your part in taking care of our natural resources. Last week we set camera traps. Camera traps are a way to monitor animal activity without live trapping. The cameras are activated by motion and takes pictures in bursts of three. Chris set one by the compost pile. Although we got many pictures of crows and seagulls there were also several of raccoon and there were even two of a fox. I'm posting the fox and one raccoon. We had a talk this evening with Chris about the geology of Nova Scotia. As the glaciers of the ice age advanced, Nova Scotia was stripped of much of its topsoil. Then as the glaciers retreated, large glacial erratics were dropped onto the province and glacial rivers formed carrying large amounts of sediment and depositing them off the coast of Nova Scotia. As a result, Nova Scotia has a very thin layer of top soil, no subsoil, and then bedrock. I think one of glacial erratics is what got me in East Port Medway! What is a glacial erratic? We were supposed to go bat detecting, but it is too cool. Although the days have been very warm, the evenings are getting into the low to mid 30s. That is still a bit cool for hibernating animals. So, it's too cold and wet for bats to be out. Why don't you think they would bother to go out? Here's a hint, think about why I said bats are beneficial to have in your woods. However, I do have a great video of Dr. Chris Newman explaining how the bat detector works. I was fascinated! I did it in two part, because I thought the file might be too long. In fact, it's taking forever to upload. I'll try again tomorrow. I'll also post some beaver video tomorrow. We'll be looking at our data that we gathered this week, and then we'll see what's on the camera traps that we set. Hopefully we'll have some good photos! The afternoon will be spent at Keji Seaside Adjunct. We're hoping for decent weather. Not many animals are active at this time of year, so we hope to get a glimpse of the few that are.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What a day!


I started the day watching the sunrise over the harbor. I actually had my camera with the memory card and it was a beautiful sunrise! Then we headed out to Cook's Lake to check the traps. We only caught one meadow vole and it was the same one we caught yesterday. The sad part is that it was dead. Christina said that there was plenty of hay and food in the trap. She said yesterday that it was possible that a bird of prey had gotten it and that is why the hairs were gone on the back of the neck. It may have been dropped into an area that it was not familiar with, so that is why it kept going in our traps. It needed shelter. That's why it's important to leave wild animals in the environment that they know. It is also possible that it could have had a parasite that doesn't allow the animal to eat. It was just that animal's time to die. Still we all felt badly. Our shrew traps were empty. Christina said that she knows that is boring for us, but that scientifically it is interesting. Remember, we're not really here so that we can just see animals. We're here to gather data about mammals and climate change. After lunch we went to the grassland area to cut trees. videoYes, CUT trees. The land is being restored to the grassland ecosystem that it had been 20 years before. Why is it important to maintain the grassland/meadow ecosystem? Some of us took down several trees along the edge of the grassland, and others pulled up the little saplings that were just growing in the field. Tomorrow we'll finish the area we started. The trees were getting larger and less cooperative, and we were getting tired. Poor Christina, we're not as skilled at using the saw as she is, so she did a lot more work than she should have. When we left Cook's Lake we headed to Cherry Hill Beach. There are sometimes seal, coyote, or piping plovers found there. The piping plovers are an endangered bird here in Nova Scotia, and there are only 61 found in the area. When they begin nesting part of the beach will be blocked off so they are undisturbed. They only breed in rocky/sandy coastline. The best part of the day was the evening! We headed out to a small lake to watch the beavers. As soon as we got there we saw a muskrat swimming around. We saw another muskrat later on, too. The beaver lodge was pretty large and impressive. We had to sit very still and quiet. When we moved we had to move slowly. Beaver do not have good eyesight but they can detect motion. We watched them for about an hour and they didn't disappoint us. In all there were three beaver and two muskrat. There was an older beaver which was very big and then there was a smaller beaver that kept checking us out. That one did a warning slap twice, but Christina said that because it is young the older beavers didn't pay much attention. I was glad because I didn't want them to hide. We could even actually hear the beaver chewing the wood. It kept coming up on this little piece of land where you see it, and it chewed off a piece of wood from a fallen tree. Then it would head back into the lodge. I have a video, but it isn't clear enough for the blog. We stayed until it got too dark to see anything. OK, I'll be talking to you tomorrow. I hope you have some good questions for me!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Trapping at Cook's Lake

I'll try to answer some of the questions from comments that I received first. The eagle was just flying away, Lorlei, but it was pretty spectacular. Shrews will eat any insects that they can find, and one field sign that a shrew is in the area is insect parts left over. They like to eat the meaty bits as Christina puts it. The tadpole eggs that are exposed will probably not make it. Either they won't hatch, or the tadpoles will die because they don't have enough water. That a good example of how climate change can effect living things. Now, the difference between horns and antlers is that horns are made of hair tightly packed together. Antlers are bone. In fact, when deer shed their antlers they will sometimes turns around and nibble on them for the calcium and other nutrients. Other animals will also do that if they come across shed antlers in the forest. That's also why antlers can have more than one point. The older the animal the more the antler will branch each time it grows back. Since a horn is just tightly packed hair it grows out like our hair does, but it stays in one bunch. Now, why DO deer shed their antlers every fall? Today turned out to be pretty nice. It was windy but dry. Guess what pest likes drier weather? TICKS! Yuck! We are finding them all over us, and lucky me had two dug in. Anyway, out at Cook's Lake we only caught one meadow vole today, and we caught that one twice. That vole did have a big black mark on its back so we thought it had been clipped by another team. Christina thought that it had probably escaped a predator which either pulled or cut the guard hairs on the back of its neck. No shrews were trapped, so we were disappointed. Hopefully we'll trap some tomorrow! As we checked the shrew traps we closed them if they weren't already closed. We had one closed trap, but it was a false alarm. We also did several quadrats for deer and snowshoe hare droppings. Chris thought we would find a lot of evidence of deer and little evidence of snowshoe hare. videoIt turned out just the opposite. When we did the quadrats we only found a couple of deer droppings. When we did field sign transects later on we found more. We also found the remains of a deer which had probably been killed within the last couple of weeks by a coyote. We also saw bobcat scat, fox scat, porcupine scat, and of course deer, coyote, and snowshoe hare scat. So we know those animals are around. We'd just like to see them! We also saw raccoon tracks in the mud. This evening we had a talk about the different mammals that are found in Nova Scotia. As Chris listed each animal and talked about gestation periods (Do you remember what that is?) I marked them in my mammals of Wisconsin book. We have many of the same mammals! Tomorrow we hope to spend the evening beaver watching and bat detecting. It may still be too cold for some of those animals, but we're going to give it a try. Since we're doing much of the same things tomorrow that we did today, I'll back track a bit and talk about our trip to Halifax. I didn't forget...Happy birthday Ashley and Jake! I hope you both had a wonderful day!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Cook's Lake

The responses to my questions yesterday were pretty much right on. A quadrat is a 10m x 10m area. The deer don't like the old growth forests because the greens they want are too far up, and the trees are so tall and dense that there is no understory for them to eat. Well done! Today we set out for Cook's Lake. The area we are in is a plot of Crown Land. That is land that was given to settlers by the Crown of England to homestead much like we had in the US. The Cooks settled in 1720 and the lake although shared by several families was named for them. Christina's parents purchased the land several years ago, and now she and Chris manage it and do their data gathering on it. We set our first fifty traps in the grassland, but we left them closed. We are hoping to trap short tailed shrews. Shrews are insectivores and need to eat almost constantly to keep their bodies warm. We will only trap them during
video the day when we can check them in an hour or two. These shrews are larger than the shrews we would have seen in East Port Medway, so the shrew escape hole wouldn't do them any good. The other traps were placed in the hardwood brush. We hope to trap voles, jumping mice, and maybe a flying squirrel! We wore our Wellies today and it was a good thing. Yesterday it rained and there was a lot of flooding on parts of the path. We even got some rain while we were out working, so I slipped on my waterproof pants as well. I stayed nice and toasty while we were out. You can hear the wind blowing on the video I posted. Christina told us that when the paths are flooded it creates little ponds that are needed for amphibians to lay their eggs. So, eventually they hope to build little boardwalks over those areas like the one we are walking on. The other picture is of frog eggs. She said that there hasn't been as much rain this year, so these eggs will probably not make it. The jelly like substance around them will protect them from some dry days, but the water is almost gone. We also had the chance to look at the skull of a cow and a deer. I didn't know the difference between antlers and horns do you? See if you can find out and I'll post the answer. Christina thinks that the cow skull has been on the property for at least 50 years. Even she was surprised at how it had not decomposed. The deer was another story. There was plenty of deer hair and other parts of the skull to show that this deer had probably been killed recently by a coyote or a pack of coyotes. On our walk through a small part of the property we saw a few different areas with evidence of beavers, and we saw a pair of loons in the lake. On our trip back we saw a bald eagle flying. Hopefully we'll have a good day of trapping tomorrow. Thanks everyone for your concern about my leg. It is doing fine. I hardly even notice that something is wrong. Everyone on the team was very helpful and concerned when it happened so I am well taken care of!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Keji

Our day started out with a walk in the light rain at Keji. Kejimkujik is a Mi'kmaq word meaning "place of the spirits". The Mi'kmaq are the native people in this area. It cleared up and we had a beautiful cool day. We walked for a total of about 4 miles through the forest, and then we checked for deer droppings. Our first little hike took us by these rapids. Chris said that just 3 weeks ago there was snow on the ground and the lakes were frozen. As you can see the river is moving quickly because of all the snow melt. After lunch we took a longer hike through the forest to the old growth hemlocks. This picture is of what they feel is the oldest tree in the forest at 500+ years. They took a core sample to count the rings. You'll also see that we are walking on a wooden boardwalk. That is to protect the fragile roots of the hemlock and preserve the trees. We talked about lichen and mosses in science so I took some great pictures of nurse logs, moss, and different lichen. We saw a couple of red squirrels, and we heard what we think was a pileated woodpecker. It was VERY loud! I love walking in the woods, because it's so peaceful. At one point we passed an area where there had been a controlled burn. Remember we had talked about this in class. The forest needs to do a little housekeeping to keep it healthy. Forest fires are needed to do that. The burnt material also adds nutrients to the soil. This one was controlled so that things that are in the park like buildings, signs, and benches were not destroyed.
It was a really nice hike, but then we had to get back to business. We drove to a place where Chris was fairly certain the deer would gather. Why don't you think the deer liked the old growth forest? Hint: think about what they need, and what is missing. When then used our surveying poles to mark of a quadrat. Do you remember what a quadrat is? We stood in a line and looked for deer droppings. Chris and Christina have a mathematical equation that can help them figure out how many deer are in an area. We lined up at one end and checked the ground for droppings. This was way easier than looking for hare droppings. Here is a picture so you can look in the woods by your house. We each chose a place to survey, and I apparently am no good at thinking like a deer. I even got two tries because I was the only one with zero droppings in my quadrat! The second try only had one. Sigh. After checking for deer droppings we headed home. On our way out to Keji we saw two road kill porcupines (Chris asked me to record where and when we saw the dead porcupines). That is part of the data they are keeping.We also say an osprey nest, so I asked if we could take a picture on the way back home. Lucky us! There was a bird in it on the way. I took a picture, and of course after I closed my lens it opened its wings and flew away. I would have liked to have gotten a picture with its wings open. Chris found out that it rained and sometimes hailed in Cherry Hill all day. I guess we had the right idea going to Keji today! Paige, I saw your comment about finding a squirrel skull. Great job being aware of field signs where you live! Tomorrow we head to Cook's Lake. It is supposed to be a more level area that is more attractive to deer. However, after the rain today we were told that our Wellies will probably be needed!

Kejimkujik National Park

Today we are heading to Kejimikujik National Park (kedji-muh-KOO-jik) also known as Keji. We'll be looking at the old growth hemlock forests. Old growth means that the trees have not been taken down by any natural or unnatural forces since they began to grow. We'll also be counting deer droppings. It's supposed to rain, but it's been holding of when we're out working. We all hope that holds true today. I'm bringing my binoculars so I hope we can see some wildlife that we haven't seen yet. This week we'll go beaver watching and we'll go out and use a bat detector in the evening to detect the ultrasonic waves (sounds that we can't hear) that bat use for echolocation. It should be an interesting week!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Halifax

Today is a research free day. We're going in to Halifax to look around and visit a museum or two. It's still too early in the season for Lunenberg which is where I thought we would be going. Everyone is a bit bummed about that, but it's apparently more for the tourists now, so it doesn't really start hopping until late May. Back to the porcupines. If you look at the picture of the Christmas trees growing the bottom branches are cut so there is a longer bare trunk. That is for ease of shaping and maintaining the trees. They are all balsam fir. As we do our porcupine damage surveys, we are only finding damage on spruce and birch. Part of that may be because the balsam grow too densely toward the ground and the porcupines can't get to the trunk very easily. When the tree farmers cut the lower branches off, they make it very easy to get to the trunk to cause damage. The scientists are hypothesizing that if birch and spruce were planted around the balsam, and/or if the lower branches were not cut off the balsam it would be
an inexpensive fix to the porcupine problem. There are many Christmas tree farms in the province. The scientists feel that porcupine could become endangered in Nova Scotia if a solution is not discovered. It is important to have a lot of solid data about your theory before presenting it to people who feel that their solution is fine. That's some of the data that Earthwatch volunteers are collecting. They only do porcupine damage surveys again when there is no green grass for the porcupine to eat. I've also posted a photos of what the forest looks like that we rode through. There is a lot of dead wood, but that is left to decompose and fertilize the forest. They selectively cut trees to open up the understory and provide more space for trees and better habitat for the animals. The trees are cut one by one and hauled out of the forest by horse. Just like the old days! The horse with the mane works pulling logs, and Travis our host said that pulling the wagon was more work than the logs. Although the logs probably weigh more, it is a burst of energy out of the forest with the logs and then a rest going back in empty. We were a steady load over a period of time. Well it's time for breakfast and then into Halifax.

Friday, April 16, 2010

It's always something isn't it?

Today we went out early to check traps because some of us had a Skype session scheduled with our class. As we were checking our traps we found several that had been torn apart! In all 30 out of 100 traps were pulled apart. Either chipmunks got in them and shook them until they popped apart, or raccoons opened them to get the food. The scientists said raccoons are very good at that. We did have 3 closed traps. Of course they were all before the huge rock field we had to cross. I got over most of it, but at the last part I had two traps in my hand and my foot slipped. I hit the rock hard on my shin, and I could tell I was cut. It got pretty bad, so my partner sent me back to the meeting point with the traps while she checked the rest. I spent the rest of the morning in the hospital. It felt like a rug burn, but it required 11 stitches! I'm up and moving no problem now although I'm sure I'll be sore. I'll be out counting dropping with everyone the next time we go out. I was disappointed to miss the Skype session with my class, but one of my teammates took over and did a great job. Thanks Miss Blemker! Today the caught 1 new vole, 2 recaptures, and a deer mouse. Next week we will trap at Cook's Lake which is a different type of ecosystem. I made it out of the hospital in time to join the group at an organic Christmas tree farm. They do responsible forestry rather than clear cutting, they organically raise sheep, chickens, and beef as well. We took a very nice horse and wagon ride through part of the forest and farm. Remember that I was going to talk to you more about the porcupines? While we think they are really neat, people in Nova Scotia regard them as a pest species. During this time of year there isn't enough grass for the porcupines so they strip the bark off of trees. If they strip enough it will kill the tree. Even though it's blurry, you can see the teeth marks on this spruce tree. They seem to love the spruce and birch the most. They are after the sweet sap under the bark. Many people shoot the porcupines to control them. However, the scientists believe that there are fewer porcupines left in the area than people think. The impression is that there are many because they are visible eating the green grass on the side of the road. They are very slow and know that they can protect themselves from predators with their quills, but that doesn't work with a car or truck. So, porcupines have a high road kill rate. Chris and Christina are gathering data on porcupine habits. They are hoping to propose better practices of farming to discourage the killing of porcupines. We're headed to the laundry mat tonight so I need to sign off, but I'll post more about this tomorrow.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Today was fun but hard work!

Wow! What great questions from my awesome class today! First I want to say great job to John H., Jason, and Paige for correctly answering the catch question. We had 7 total animals caught yesterday. Also, Paige correctly answered why monitoring the small animal population is important. If the small mammal population drops too much it will affect the larger mammals that eat them. Today we had eight captures. They were all recaptures, and some were already recaptures! I think those voles figure that they get a safe night's sleep, food, water, and we let them go so why not go back for more. The exciting news is that we caught two animals in the E traps! I promised that I would handle the animal if it was in one of our traps, so here I am. You have to take off your jacket, push up your sleeves and put the trap in the bag with the hand that you use the most. Then you take the trap apart and pull out all of the hay and seed. To do that the animal has to be kept in a corner of the bag. Then you have to use to fingers and scruff the animal. It is really important to get a lot of skin, because one rodent adaptation is very loose skin. How do you think that helps the rodent? Christina looked to see if I had taken enough and then I pulled it out. Right now Christina said we will only catch adults. It is just a bit early in the season for juveniles (which are young and cannot reproduce). Juveniles will be all gray and adults have their red guard hair. However, we don't measure the size of the vole, but the weights we have had were from 19 g to 26.5 g. What does the g stand for? When we checked our traps the second time in the late afternoon, my trapping partner commented that it felt heavy and wondered if it was a chipmunk. We had just picked up a trap that has been shaken apart, and we were told that if chipmunks get in the trap they might do that. Sure enough, we had a male chipmunk weighing 100 g and because he was so feisty we named him Flash. Flash had a mark on him from last year. Between our trap checking sessions we checked for porcupine damage in the trees again. I'll talk more about why that is important tomorrow. Then we had to mark off 10m x 10m quadrats to count... snowshoe hare droppings! Every country has to monitor their small mammal populations, and Chris and Christina are try to develop a protocol for doing that. They are collecting data to help them determine how many snowshoe hare are in an area. We'll do the same thing at Cook's Lake next week which is a different type of ecosystem. Today we went into the forest, and on our hands and knees crashed through the thick brambles and over and around big rocks, and picked up every snowshoe hare dropping we could find! Yes I washed my hands very well after this task! It was very difficult work because the terrain was so hard to maneuver. However, the hare must love it, because we found MANY droppings! Each of us had a 1m x 10m line and in one quadrat Christina found over 400 droppings in her line! We had to do that four times! I was pretty scratched up by the time we were done. We were supposed to go beaver watching tonight, but it's too cold so they won't be out. Instead we are going to learn about climate change. We'll see the beavers one of these days. I can't wait to talk to you on Skype tomorrow, and I'm so proud to hear you are being a great class for Mrs. Straukas!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Checking the Traps


Today I slept in! Although it is very fun, the work we are doing is still a lot of work and I'm getting tired! So, we set off to check our traps and Christina showed us how to take them apart inside of a bag, so that we keep the animal safe. Today we caught 5 different animals and two of them came back a second time! So how many total catches did we have? My transect partner and I thought we had a catch, but when we got back to check it was empty. :( Sometimes they can be jostled so the door closes. The lines that caught the most were in the center of the hectare. My traps are on the outer edge. Even if the animals are not caught in your trap, you are given the opportunity to scruff it as it is clipped. I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I'm the only one who hasn't done this. My goal is to do it before the end of the trip. If my trap gets one tomorrow, I'm determined to do it! All of the animals we caught today were red backed voles. There were four males and one female. After we determine if they are male or female, we look to see if they are juvenile or adult. We record where and when they were trapped, their weight and if there was any unusual weather the night before. Our animals are being clip marked on their left hip. To clip mark the animal, a small bit is clipped off of the tip of the guard hairs. That leaves the insulating black fur showing. A couple of the voles that we caught today had markings from last year. That means it hasn't molted yet. The rest of the day was spent looking for and recording porcupine damage, and then we did a mile long field sign transect. We were looking for any signs of wildlife. We saw several types of scat, bones, and even some evidence of beavers.
Tomorrow it may snow! However, we still have to check the traps so no animals are in danger. We'll do that twice tomorrow. We are also scheduled to view the beavers. If the water is too wavy because of the weather, they won't be very active.

You asked some great questions about my last post. We use bird seed in the traps. The apple is for moisture. Remember we learned that most small animals get the moisture they need from the food they eat. Setting the traps is hard because there are huge boulders that we have to climb over and very dense undergrowth that we have to travel through to get to the traps. So it is really just tiring. We don't really see tracks by the traps because the mammals are so small and there is a lot of leaf litter on the ground. We are hoping to catch voles, mice, and flying squirrels. Thanks for the great questions! I hope you are preparing some good ones for Friday!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Setting Traps


Today we learned how to set Longworth traps. They are a special type of small mammal trap. Christina is shown here explaining how to assemble the trap. Don't worry, they are live traps. I'll post a video on how we prepare them, but I wanted to be a good listener today so I could get it right. The trap has two parts. The narrow part is the tunnel. The animals that we are trapping are burrowing animals so the opening is appealing to them. When they walk through they trip a lever and the door closes behind it. The larger part is called the nesting box. We fill it about half full with hay, about a tablespoon of seed, and a bit of apple. The animals should never be in there more than a few hours, but while they are there they have a warm nest and food. If they have seed to eat, why do you think they need a piece of apple, too? We'll check the traps twice a day, because small mammals need food to help them keep warm. If they can't eat they will die of hypothermia. Christina is marking sets of twenty traps. We'll set these traps, check them twice a day, and they will be set in the same place for three days in a row. If the door is closed we know something is inside, so we'll take that trap back to be marked and recorded. They get clip marked. That is a little haircut that cuts away a layer of fur leaving a different color top fur. We set traps in one hectare. A hectare is a 100 x 100 meter area. There were five teams, so we spread out about 20m apart. Each team had 20 traps, so they were set 5 m apart on our line. It was very rough going! I'm posting pictures, because we were climbing over huge boulders and through thick briars! The trap with the white foam on it is to help insulate the nesting box. Hopefully after all that, some of our traps will have animals. They told us not to expect too much the first day because the traps will smell of human and it is something new and mysterious in the environment. When we were done we went to the home of the scientists Chris and Christina, ate lunch, and then had another project. Each team they meet with in the next several months will be helping to build a field site cabin for Cook's Lake (we'll be there next week). Then volunteers will have a place to work out of the weather. We made wall frames today. Yes, that is me hammering nails into the frame!

What again?

So, we got up early today to see the sunrise again. Guess what? This time I left the memory card in the computer!! Maybe I'm only meant to appreciate and not photograph the sunrise. However we did get to see a couple of seals, and I did have my binoculars. That made it all good! They were too far away to photograph anyway, but at one time one of the seals came in much closer and we were able to clearly see it without the binoculars. What a great start. It's a bit colder today, and I heard our schedule may change a bit, so I won't publish the schedule until later. I'm headed downstairs right now to put the memory card in the camera!

Monday, April 12, 2010

After the Walk




We had a really interesting talk with Christina today about the work they do in England studying badgers. She did a Powerpoint presentation about what we will be doing and how the data we will collect is used. She also did a lesson on identifying scat (poop) of different animals. While it may sound gross, it was very interesting, and we were obviously good students. On the walk we took along the coast, we were able to identify several types of scat. We also saw tracks of deer, mink, and raccoon. The picture shows the raccoon. The best part was the sighting of a porcupine in a tree. Lycos let us know it was there. He is kept on a leash, but he is good at letting us know if anything interesting is in the area. Christina told us that if Lycos goes behind her and make quiet barking sounds there is a bear in the area. Lycos doesn't like bears! On the walk, which by the way was 9 km long (how long is that in miles?) Christina found some raccoon scat. We were able to see that it had grass and seeds and sand in it. Apparently the raccoons like to eat worms, which eat sand. Then one of the team members spotted some porcupine scat. You can identify that two ways. One type of scat is held together with bark and looks like a string of pearls. The other type looks like cheese doodles! If you look closely, you can see the porcupine in the tree. Remember, if you click on the picture you can enlarge it. Porcupines will sleep in trees. At this time of year they can't find enough grass, so they are stripping trees of their bark. This can be fatal for the tree if the bark is stripped all the way around. We're all tired from the walk and the fresh air. Much of the walk was on VERY rocky coast as you can see in the picture, so our legs had a real workout! However, the walk was beautiful, and the day was nice and sunny. What a great start to our adventure! We came home, had a nice supper, and there was ice cream for desert. Now everyone is busy communicating with their families or updating blogs. Tomorrow we will learn how to prepare and set our small mammal traps. Here's another question boys and girls. Why is it so important to know how well small mammals are doing in an ecosystem? HINT: Think about what we studied in chapter 4. Great job on the time answer Lorlei and Jefferson. We were scheduled to eat at 6:00! It turned out to be more like 7:30, because our walk was long. I hope you are all enjoying the blog!
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