Crafting, exploring, appreciating & more!

Hi Folks!

It’s Kaitlyn here, back for another edition of Friday Field Notes. I has been an exciting week at the HLC, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

This week we said farewell to the one-and-only Nick Hawkins as he continues to travel around the province documenting why Nova Scotia’s marine and ocean environments are so special. It was great to have him here- I think we all learned a lot about marine ecosystems, photo journalism & what we have right at our back door! Before Nick left, HLC staff joined him for a field trip  to Cape Sable Island to visit the Hawk Beach and explore the Drowned Forest.

 

 One of the many tree stumps we found in the drowned forest

One of the many tree stumps we found in the drowned forest

The Hawk Beach is home to the tallest and most southerly lighthouse in all of Nova Scotia and is also home to an eerie and mystical coastal environment- the drowned forest.

The Drowned Forest is made up of preserved tree stumps, some of which experts have dated back 1500 years. The walk along the beach almost feels apocalyptic- but despite this, is something not to be missed!

 Jamiel & Jessica exploring the drowned forest

Jamiel & Jessica exploring the drowned forest

This week we hosted our second instalment of the Never-2-Old workshop. We were joined by a group of folks eager to get crafting and make some nature-focused jewellery pendants. The workshop was led by HLC Manager Jessica Bradford, who picked up the craft as a hobby, and is now preserving some of her most treasured finds in beautiful necklace pendants. The group at the workshop turned on their creative juices and made some diverse and beautiful pieces of jewellery! Join us for our next Never-2-Old happening on August 14th where we’ll be turning discarded fishing rope into mats, coasters, plant hangers & more!

 A few of the lovely pendants crafted at our latest Never-2-Old workshop!

A few of the lovely pendants crafted at our latest Never-2-Old workshop!

Unfortunately, a foul weather forecast led us to cancel our Wild Wednesday program for this past week- but that just means we’ll be back next week better than ever! Speaking of next week- we’re planning a low tide scavenger hunt at Thomas Raddall Provincial Park AND there will be PRIZES. Come on out and explore with us!

Finally, you’ll soon have a much easier time finding the HLC as we’re getting new signage! Here’s a quick preview of what to expect as you approach. Hope to see you soon!

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Jamiel here with another edition of our Friday Field Notes


First, with an exciting wildlife sighting just outside our main building. On Thursday, a mother bear and her young cub dropped by to say hello. Thankfully, we had wildlife photographer Nick Hawkins on site to capture some excellent photos of the encounter. 

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We have been hosting Nick Hawkins for just over a week now. Here on assignment for SeaBlue Canada, Nick is shining a light on some of the most important marine areas of Atlantic Canada. SeaBlue is a movement of Canadians holding government accountable for protecting our oceans and fragile sea life that lives here. He has given us the opportunity to see many of the impressive photographs he has taken of the surrounding local wildlife and landscape as he documents the coastal and marine beauty of our region. Getting to see what's above and below the water reminds us of the interconnectivity of it all and that our actions on land can have impacts on the sea. 

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A successful first Wild Wednesday of the summer was held at the HLC this week, the topic was DIY Forest Terrariums. We took a short walk around the centre and down to the beach, collecting many small plants, fungi, soil and some gravel to create miniature take home ecosystems. Some participants even included small insects, such as ants or snails in their jars.  It was a fun learning experience for the children and their parents, big thanks to everyone who came out.

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This past week, we also got to be involved with Kejimkujik National Park’s BioBlitz. This is an event held every year across Canadian Nation Parks and is intended to bring people of all ages outside to experience the beautiful wildlife that surrounds us. At Kejimkujik Seaside National Park, we had to chance to participate in the Tidal Pool Tour and Estuary Encounter. With the help of an expert in marine life, we identified some species that get left behind by the receding tides. We also had a second opportunity to familiarize ourselves with the invasive European Green Crab, to learn more about the destructive crab check out last weeks post where we attended the Gone Crabbin’ adventure. 

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On Tuesday, we attended a meeting hosted by the Friends of Port Mouton Bay for the reveal of the findings in a local research paper which investigated the possible impacts open-pen fish farms have on lobster catch rates. The results came from an 11-year study that brought to light the decline in market lobster catches when fish farms were actively raising fish. The study suggested that odour plumes and fecal waste produced by fish farms contributed to this issue. I currently reside in Ontario, so this was a great moment to learn about a topic that would normally never cross my mind.

Next Tuesday, Jessica will be leading the Never-2-Old Resin Jewellery Art workshop where you can learn to embed and preserve tiny pieces of nature into beautiful necklace pendants. All materials will be provided but feel free to bring anything unique you want to embed into your jewellery. A lunch will also be prepared for all participants. Click here to view registration and scheduling details.  

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Our second Wild Wednesday, Where the Seas Meet the Trees, will be held at Thomas Raddall Provincial Park. Attendees will learn about coastal forest ecology and much more. Click here for more information. Another great week ahead. Make sure to get in touch and join us for an event! 

Gone Crabbin' at Kejimkujik and more:

This past week our team travelled to Kejimkujik Seaside National Park to learn more about their Gone Crabbin’ program. The exciting activity allows participants to experience how the park is working to restore ecosystems impacted by the invasive European Green Crab (Carcinus maenas). We began our trip with a guided walk led by  Colleen Anderson, Interpretation Officer/Coordinator with the Park. She pointed out many interesting flowers and the unique coastal barrens landscape that surrounded the trail, which isn’t actually ‘barren’ at all. One nifty flower seen throughout the day was the Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea), a carnivorous plant found primarily in bogs. As the name implies, at the bottom of the leafless stalk, it has a pitcher filled with nutrient rich water that attracts soon to be eaten insects. The flower may be familiar to you as it is the floral emblem of the province of Newfoundland. 

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The initial crab invasion occurred across Atlantic Canada in the 1950’s. It was followed by a more cold-water tolerant and aggressive Green Crab invasion in the 1980’s, which was attributed to the collapse of several shellfish fisheries across North America’s eastern seaboard. Green Crabs are now known to out compete native species for food resource, high reproductive capacity, their unending appetite for shellfish and destruction of eelgrass beds. They are often referred to as the cockroaches of the sea. 

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By 2010, the eelgrass coverage in Little Port Joli Estuary had been diminished to less than 2% of its historical expanse. Through the efforts made by the Conservation and Restoration Program, the estuary has returned to 38% overall eelgrass coverage. One key to success was an efficient trap design developed with the help of local fishing expertise. The trap was so efficient, it once caught 1000 crabs overnight.

Much about the molting cycles of the green crab is still unknown and a large part of the effort being made at Kejimkujik is in studying the crabs.  The pictures below show some of the holding pens they currently use to study molting and how factors such as water temperature play a role in the process. If crab molting can be correctly predicted it may increase the marketability of the crab, which in turn increases the efforts to lower populations.

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The Gone Crabbin’ program was a fantastic opportunity to experience first hand a strategy that has shown itself successful in reducing an invasive species population, while also returning Little Port Joli Estuary to its previous glory. We would like to thank Kejimkujik Seaside Nation Park and encourage anyone in the area to attend this seacoast adventure. Click here for more information on the program. 

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Earlier this week, we welcomed Nick Hawkins, a wildlife and conservation photographer, to the centre. He will be staying with us for close to two weeks as he documents different coastal and marine areas while showing what makes this region special. Nick has produced feature articles for Canadian Geographic, BBC Wildlife Magazine and Canadian Wildlife Magazine. We are very excited to have one of the world’s top wildlife, nature and culture photographers spend some time with us this summer! The next edition of our Friday Field Notes will highlight his work and the amazing photographs he has already taken. Here is a sneak peek of what’s to come.

On Wednesday, we visited the Lillian Benham Library in Lockeport, where we set up a small display to promote the Centre and our summer Wild Wednesday program. We will be returning in September for a presentation on our action-packed summer. On behalf of the Harrison Lewis Centre, I’d like to thank the very kind and accommodating library staff.

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Come join us for our first Wild Wednesday of the summer! Every week we will be hosting free educational activities, for all ages, on various nature topics.  This week is the DIY Forest Terrarium where you will learn about our local ecosystem by creating your very own take-home terrarium. 

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Finally, here are the interns enjoying a much-deserved break after a tough day at work!  

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Until next time,

Jamiel

Schools out! Jamiel here with week one of a super exciting summer at HLC:

On Saturday, the crew, along with our very knowledgeable board member Soren Bondrup-Nielsen, collaborated with White Point in hosting a guided nature walk along a beautiful coastal forest trail. Participants learnt new tricks to identify local plant species, the geological history of Nova Scotia and much more. Along the walk, we saw a little redbelly snake on the path, Soren kindly held it for a quick photo. He also explained the interesting fact that due to Nova Scotia and Morocco being connected in the pre-existing supper continent, Pangea, they share similar geology today. It was a very informative walk!

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Monday afternoon we said goodbye to the last of the Dalhousie Seaside students for the summer. While here, they enjoyed the open space and natural lighting that the main HLC building had to offer. After a successful week of ecology-based GIS work, the students returned home for the summer. GIS stands for Geographic Information System and can be used to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage and present many types of geographical data. Throughout their week, they spent time hiking, paddling and occasionally driving to data collection sites to complete engaging projects.

Currently, I am enrolled in an Environmental Technician program and I’m very excited to expand my knowledge at HLC this summer as Field Station Assistant. To read more about my role here and a short biography click the blue lettering. This is also my first prolonged stay in Nova Scotia and the beauty surrounding our Centre is mesmerizing. I’ve been working on taking more pictures to remember this adventure by. Here are some fun ones shot by yours truly.

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Always breathtaking views to capture at the Harrison Lewis Centre. The second photo is a Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) snacking on a Leopard Frog (Lithobates pipiens). Yum!

As a fun side project, I’ve been setting up and testing different locations and techniques to capture some of the abundant wildlife around our location.  On the first night we caught a feisty raccoon taking an early morning stroll to the beach. The following day our friendly neighborhood bear stopped by for a short video. The trail camera gives us the perfect opportunity to continuously monitor local wildlife and see what they are up to when no one is looking.

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On Wednesday, Jessica, Kaitlyn, Dirk and I transformed two mounds of upturned roots by the main building into beautiful garden beds. One garden received lavender, coneflower, butterfly bush and bee balm - all fantastic for pollinators. You have all most likely heard that pollinators are critical to maintaining a healthy ecosystem. The second garden bed will be transformed into our permanent natural dye garden – a partnership with Shelburne-based artist Cindy Hagen who will use the plants for natural dying of textiles! . It was the perfect day to do some gardening! 

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On Thursday we partook in a lovely guided walk at Kejimkujik Seaside National Park to learn more about their invasive species program, local wildlife, and some interesting plant species. We will be sharing more about this in next weeks blog!

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We are excited to be kicking off our Wild Wednesday event this July, so make sure to check out our calendar for more information on these upcoming events. 
 

… and here is the weekly intern update

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they quickly outgrew their old home!

 

Until next the edition of our Friday Field Notes,

– Jamiel

Workshops, Seaside Classes, and Wildlife!

Jessica here for another edition of Friday Field notes. First of all, Happy Summer Solstice! It has been non-stop here at the HLC since my last post. We saw our second installment of the Never-2-Old (N2O) program, which was a workshop focused on Nordic Pole Walking – a quickly growing low impact physical fitness activity that helps to get people moving more muscles and burn more calories, while also taking pressure of ankles and knees. We had a wonderful group of 15 in for this workshop, including our two lovely instructors James Boyer and Heather Leslie. The group got lots of instruction, had the opportunity to explore some trails around the HLC, and enjoyed a home-cooked lunch. We kindly thank Nordic Pole Walking Nova Scotia and the Keshen Goodman Public Library for supplying the poles for this workshop.

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During this same week, we also had four researchers under Dr. Karen Harper, a plant ecologist and adjunct professor, staying here while they were studying/surveying forested wetlands in the region. Their project will help to gain a better understanding of forested wetland ecology in an effort to help in the development of strategies to mitigate anthropogenic impacts and to preserve the ecosystem services provided by forested wetlands in Atlantic Canada. Some members of her team will be back to stay later in the season as well. We hope to see lots more researchers coming in to use our space while they conduct their field work in the region!

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Later that week, the HLC got 13 adorable new interns.

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We have also had our largest group yet (30 + people) come through the doors, with the Field Aquaculture course (MARI 3604) through Dalhousie University Seaside Summer program. This class was using the HLC as a home base, while visiting many different types of land and ocean-based aquaculture farms, research institutes, government offices, etc. along the South Shore. With this many people, a few tents had to be pitched on the property as well.

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In the downtime between all these groups coming through, I have also had the opportunity to appreciate some of the abundant wildlife around me, including our resident black bear! In the evenings, I have even gotten to see glimpses of a Northern flying squirrel who likes to hang around the main building.

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Next up, the GIS in Ecology course will be coming to the HLC for a few days and this will be our last Seaside course of the season. Today, we will be welcoming a new staff member in the Field Station Assistant position who will likely be writing our blog for next week. On Saturday, we will also be collaborating with White Point and hosting a guided nature walk on coastal forest ecology there with our board member Soren Bondrup-Neilson. Stay tuned for reports on those events!

Until my next Field Notes,

Jessica

Carters Beach & More

Welcome to the second instalment of the HLC’s 2018 Friday Field Notes, this time coming at you from Kaitlyn- the HLC’s Summer Public Outreach & Project Coordinator. I’ve been with the HLC for just over a month, and lots has happened over that time. Since Jessica’s last post we have had even more people pass through the HLC doors, including a weekend Birding-by-Ear workshop led by Dr. Sarah Gutowsky. This workshop included birdsong-filled days, with dawn chorus walks, afternoon field trips, memory retention tips & tricks, dusk walks & evening seminars. Coming up next week we have two Dalhousie Seaside courses coming through; Field Aquaculture and GIS in Ecology.s

 Birding-by-Ear workshop participants on one of their dawn chorus walks

Birding-by-Ear workshop participants on one of their dawn chorus walks

Although I’m involved with many things here at the HLC, my primary role is in overseeing the Carters Beach public outreach and stewardship project, which is jointly funded by the Clean Foundation and Nova Scotia Environment Protected Areas Branch. The Carters Beach project entails lots of pubic outreach, education and interpretation, and aims to cultivate a sense of stewardship amongst local people, and visitors alike. The folks in Queens County take great pride in Carters Beach, the area holds much social, cultural and ecological value, and this project aims to help protect such a special place. 

 An example of some of the interpretive and educational material I'm working on for Carters Beach. This  Project Update  will be circulated to the community so that everyone can be kept in the loop! 

An example of some of the interpretive and educational material I'm working on for Carters Beach. This Project Update will be circulated to the community so that everyone can be kept in the loop! 

The Carters Beach Project also ties in nicely with my Masters research where I’m looking at tools for engaging youth and young people in natural resource management. There is a growing body of literature that highlights the tendency for natural resource management to be ‘inter-generationally blind’; meaning that the role of youth as users and stakeholders in natural systems is traditionally overlooked, and thus youth voices are not meaningfully included nor impacts on youth populations monitored. My research aims to combat this type of resource management by using Carters Beach as a case study for including youth perceptions in the management of coastal resources. Throughout the summer I’ll be exploring youth perceptions of Carters Beach, how local youth envision the future of the area, as well as their role in cultivating that future. 

I’m currently in the recruitment phase of this project, and am seeking youth aged 14-19 who have an interest in sharing their voice on the state and future of Carters Beach and our coastal environments in general.

If you or someone you know is interested in getting involved contact me at Kaitlyn.harris@dal.ca

 Stewardship initiatives at Carters Beach

Stewardship initiatives at Carters Beach

Until next time, 

Kaitlyn

Starting up Friday Field Notes

It has been quite some time since the last HLC blog post, so here we are with our first post of 2018! We’ve decided that we will take turns blogging weekly, with posts happening every Friday. 

Who’s ‘we’, you ask? The people behind the HLC blog for this year are Jessica, Kaitlyn, and, perhaps, a lucky new staff member who is hired for the position of Field Station Assistant that is currently open. If you would like to learn more about us, then please feel free to check out our bios on the staff page.

It is Jessica here first taking a stab at bringing you up to speed on all things HLC-related.  This past month was a very busy month, which included organizing, seasonal planning, having our first workshop of the year, and hosting two Dalhousie University Seaside courses and a retreat. Between all these events, we have already seen over 80 people come through the doors. 

This started off with top-to-bottom cleaning reorganization of the main building or “The Cookhouse” to get things ready for the season. 

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We also hosted a Spring Cleaning/Prep Day with staff, board members and volunteers to get the bunkhouses and surrounding property ready. Our youngest volunteer, Carmel, the daughter of one of our board members, Grant McNeil, agreed that it really was the best day ever! 

 "Best day ever!" according to Carmel's shirt :)

"Best day ever!" according to Carmel's shirt :)

Our first workshop of the season was a day workshop through the Never-2-Old Program called a “A Garden to Dye For,” which taught participants about plants that can be used as natural dyes and also gave people the opportunity to plant their own dye garden. We graciously thank Cindy Hagen, owner of Studio 138 in Shelburne, for leading this workshop. We also thank the Shelburne County Arts Council for their support of Cindy’s involvement with us! Cindy will be leading part 2 of this workshop in September during which we will actually be harvesting the dye plants and learning to dye textiles with them. Please also stay tuned for establishment of a permanent dye garden at the HLC! 

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Next up, we had two Dal Seaside courses in – medical entomology (BIOL 3328) and ornithology (BIOL 3622). For the field component of their course, the medical entomology students were here for just one day and night to identify and collect various insects of medical significance. It is no secret that the South Shore of Nova Scotia is a hotspot for ticks, so the students were able to collect a number of ticks (mostly dog tick [Dermacentor variabilis] and just one deer tick [Ixodes scapularis]) to bring back to the lab. 

 Vials of ticks with your morning coffee, anyone?

Vials of ticks with your morning coffee, anyone?

Ornithology students had a longer stay of six days at the HLC, allowing them to learn all about a variety of bird species in an immersive field setting. This included a packed itinerary of dawn chorus walks, surveys at nearby Keji Seaside and Thomas Raddall Provincial Park, and work on their field projects. 

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This past weekend, we had a group in for a get-back-to-nature wilderness/wellness retreat. This was co-hosted by the Halifax Social Network and A for Adventure. Let me tell you, this crew had quite the impressive itinerary and packed A LOT in over the course of two days.  This included a smudging ceremony thanks to Kinsey Francis and her dad Andrew Francis of the Acadia First Nation, workouts and yoga on the beach, a hike at Keji Seaside Adjunct, bonfires, music, spoken word poetry, a brewery tour at Boxing Rock in Shelburne, and, what as a first for the HLC, a podcast taping right from our main lodge! They certainly made the most of their time here in beautiful Queens County.

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If this is any indication for what the rest of the summer and fall will be like, then we are in for a real treat! For those interested in getting involved or learning more about what we do here at the HLC, please do not hesitate to get in touch at info@harrisonlewiscentre.org. Until next week!

Farewell

Our last week has come so soon! Last week after a few very hot days on the protected land we finished our survey and collection, next stop the Herbarium at Acadia! Our tidal pool Wild Wednesday was a hit! We once again found lots of neat sea creatures in the tidal pools at Thomas Raddall.

 Starfish in hand - Tidal pool Wild Wednesday 

Starfish in hand - Tidal pool Wild Wednesday 

Last weekend I participated in Roger Savage’s Plein Air Workshop. It was a blast! I learned lots of new painting techniques from Roger. My favourite painting would be one I did of sunflowers. Anne brought us a huge collection of fresh cut flowers to paint while we were stuck inside due to the rain. We have started raffling off tickets to win a Roger Savage painting that was donated to the centre last year.

 Trying to save my paints from the rain during the Roger Savage workshop 

Trying to save my paints from the rain during the Roger Savage workshop 

This week we are getting ready for our last Dalhousie field school group to arrive and finishing up all of our projects. Our last Wild Wednesday today was a lot of fun. We had two families join for the nature scavenger hunt, we spent the afternoon catching insects, hunting for treasures on the beach, and watching frogs as they jumped away from us into a murky pond.

 Watching the frogs - Nature Scavenger hunt Wild Wednesday 

Watching the frogs - Nature Scavenger hunt Wild Wednesday 

Out of interest, I started working on a quick snorkel survey of the beaches around the centre. I spent a couple of hours’ yesterday observing rock crabs, green crabs and other ocean life as they scurried about in the rockweed and sandy bottom. I am hoping to get out once more before I leave to see what other sea creatures I may find. I’m taking advantage of this rare warm water that I don’t need a wetsuit to explore. 

Since Abbie and I are heading back to school, we are on the hunt for volunteers! any help would be greatly appreciated and also a chance to getaway from the city and enjoy the wonderful scenery the centre has to offer.

 Abbie and I - Farewell dinner 

Abbie and I - Farewell dinner 

Well it has been a blast of a summer, I’ll miss the wonderful views and people.

Leah  

Do A Rain Dance!

Well, we are officially at a standstill! With the incredibly dry weather bringing on forest fires throughout the province, any and all activity in publicly owned forests without a permit has been banned. This means both our Wild Wednesdays program at Thomas Raddall Provincial Park and our surveying of the protected lands are postponed until the government of Nova Scotia can reassess. For the time being, we’re waiting for word on our request for a permit which would allow us to continue the plant surveying while taking necessary precautions.

 Wild Wednesdays are postponed until the forest travel ban is lifted.

Wild Wednesdays are postponed until the forest travel ban is lifted.

Fortunately, the forest ban did not interfere with our women’s only chainsaw workshop a couple weekends ago that I happily participated in! Patrick Allen shared valuable knowledge and safety skills with our tight knit group. Before the ban as well, Dalhousie’s Marine Life course was visiting last weekend. It was a full house in addition to a couple tenters and all field work went off without a hitch.

 Action shot of me cutting "cookies"  Photo credits Leah Strople

Action shot of me cutting "cookies"

Photo credits Leah Strople

This coming weekend we are looking forward to hosting the very talented Roger Savage and his Plein Air Watercolour painting workshop. With the summer quickly coming to a close, this is one of the centre’s last workshops of the season. In fact, the next workshop, Milling and Building on August 20th-22nd, is the last program that Leah and I will be here for! Luckily, it’s one of our most unique workshops allowing an optional third day stay, which should be fun for everyone.

 Watercolour paints

Watercolour paints

In regards to mine and Leah’s departure back to university in the fall… the centre is in need of some eager volunteers to host Dalhousie at the end of August and for Harry Thurston’s “Write From Nature” workshop in September. We would be incredibly grateful for any volunteers and for you to spread the word to family and friends! A few hours help in exchange for time to cool out on the shore (cabin and fare provided). Not too shabby! If you’re interested in lending a hand, please e-mail HLC@eastlink.ca for more details.

As for now, we’re at the centre crossing our fingers that rain will come our way soon. Hopefully this time next week we’ll be completing our plant collection to send off to Acadia’s herbarium and enjoying another Wild Wednesday with the kids.

Cheers,

Abbie

Discovering the Interesting World of Algae

This week is off to a fun start! Dr. David Garbary from St FX and Rob Cameron from Environment Canada came to the centre for a few days to help us collect and identify the algal species found on the protected land. We spent a day and a half learning how to identify the different algal species and press a collection. David also taught us a neat technique to monitor beach erosion over time. All it requires is a GPS and a notebook! Hopefully, future students can use this technique and continue to monitor the Sandy Bay beach erosion.

 Abbie Hudson laying a transect line, necessary to determine the percent cover of an epiphytic algae growing on ascophyllum. 

Abbie Hudson laying a transect line, necessary to determine the percent cover of an epiphytic algae growing on ascophyllum. 

Last week we continued our work collecting and pressing a collection of land plants found on the protected land. We have over 26 species from the beach alone. It will likely take a few more full days to complete our collection. Our jellyfish surveying has also been going well, there are lots of washed up lion’s mane jellyfish on the beach. We will continue this survey until the end of the summer.

 Sundew prepared to be pressed

Sundew prepared to be pressed

Poppy Balser’s workshop at the centre last weekend was a blast! We had a great time with the participants who were all so keen and talented. We are looking forward to our next workshop this weekend – Chainsaw skills and safety – women only.

 Group photo from the Plein air watercolour workshop with Poppy Balser

Group photo from the Plein air watercolour workshop with Poppy Balser

Wild Wednesday’s have been going very well, Abbie and I are pleased with the enthusiasm of all our participants so far. Last week the theme was tidal pools. We had several participants join, all with different backgrounds, from a retired marine biologist to a six-year-old. We found all kinds of neat animals in the tidal pools. Some of the big hits included: a crab carrying eggs, and a couple of sea anemones. 

 Wild Wednesday (Tidal pool) group walking to the tidal pools.

Wild Wednesday (Tidal pool) group walking to the tidal pools.

Best wishes and until next time,

Leah

 

Berries, Insects and Plants, oh my!

Another busy couple of weeks at the Harrison Lewis Centre have come and gone. Leah and I have been out in the field quite a bit working on the Port L’Hebert Nature Reserve. We are so fortunate to have Sarah Adams and Adele Bunbury-Blanchette’s guidance and eagerness for this project, they’ve been incredibly knowledgeable.

 Photo credits: Adele Bunbury-Blanchette

Photo credits: Adele Bunbury-Blanchette

Last week we learned how to properly collect samples, including the necessary data to be gathered with the sample as well, and then were shown how to properly press them. We’re truly starting from scratch since neither of us have botany backgrounds, but we’re learning so much as we go along and really enjoying this unique opportunity. My favourite discovery thus far has been the beautiful orchids, such as Dragon’s mouth and White Fringed, as well as crowberry plants. Luckily, no one else seems to be fond of the crowberry which is found in abundance throughout the site...more for me!

We also completed our first Wild Wednesday last week, Insect Discovery. The highlight was when our participants caught not only one but, TWO tiger beetles on the beach! Although it was a small turnout, it was enjoyed by all and we’re very excited for the coming weeks to watch as the groups grow.

As for this weekend, we’re delighted to be hosting Poppy Balser’s Plein Air Watercolour Painting workshop. With a sold out program, it’s going to be a full house! In fact, every weekend from here on out there will be different workshops taking place at the Centre. We hope to see your friendly faces soon!

Cheers,

Abbie

 Photo credits: Ben Sadeh Enjoying a snack while doing PR work

Photo credits: Ben Sadeh
Enjoying a snack while doing PR work

Science is Brewing

This past weekend, the Harrison Lewis Centre hosted Jamie Simpson’s Backyard Forestry workshop. We had a blast and beautiful weather! Our special guest Donna Crossland also stopped by to give a talk Saturday night. Thank you to all those who participated and joined us for the fantastic weekend. 

 Photo credits: Ben Sadeh 

Photo credits: Ben Sadeh 

On Friday, we had a planning meeting for an Environment Canada survey that Abbie and I will be conducting on protected land near the centre. Our main goals are to identify the plant species on the land, as well as, dry and catalogue plant specimens. The survey will indicate habitat types and the diversity of species that may coexist in this environment. This is important for the protection of the Port Joli wilderness and the species that inhabit it. 

 Photo credits: Ben Sadeh

Photo credits: Ben Sadeh

The group of us, including: Rob Cameron from Environment Canada, two students from Acadia, Sarah Adams and Adele Bunbury-Blanchette, Jamie Simpson, Dirk, Abbie and I took the coastal walk along the shore to the protected area. We learned a lot about the different plants inhabiting the area and even got to taste a few (Labrador tea for example)! We had a wonderful time and would like to sincerely thank everyone for taking the time to help us out with this project. 

 Photo credits: Ben Sadeh

Photo credits: Ben Sadeh

We also will be starting jellyfish monitoring for Bethany Nordstrom, a master’s student at Dalhousie University. Bethany is monitoring the whereabouts of jellyfish in order to better understand the endangered leatherback turtle. In addition to us, Bethany has enlisted the help of citizen scientists across the province to monitor sections of the coast for jellyfish throughout the summer. In addition, she is asking anyone who spots a jellyfish in the province to email her and to include a photo or ID of the jellyfish and where it was found. So keep your eyes peeled for those Jellies! And Email jellyfishmonitoring@dal.ca if you see anything. 

A lot of scientific work is brewing at the centre. To top it off, a banded male plover was spotted nearby the centre this week by students from Bird Studies Canada! 

Hope everyone is having a great summer so far and taking advantage of the beautiful weather!

Until next time, 
Best wishes, 

Leah 

Off to a Good Start

After lots of preparation, cleaning and organizing and thanks to the help of many, the centre is officially set to host its first workshops of the 2016 season! We’re so excited to get the ball rolling and to be offering so many unique programs this summer.

The centre was ready in time for the first Dalhousie class, Dr. Sarah Gutowsky’s Ornithology field course, which was fortunate to have spotted 65 bird species (and many ticks, of course). Next up, we welcomed Dr. Sarah Gutowsky’s Birding-by-ear workshop which had an amazing discovery…a pair of breeding Field sparrows (Spizella pusilla)! The sparrows were seen with beaks full of insects, swooping into a small conifer where, evidently, a nest with fledglings awaited. However, with no official sightings of the fledglings during the workshop, Leah and I spent the rest of the following week observing the sparrows in the hopes of getting a glimpse. Finally, we were overjoyed to find a fledgling outside of its nest accompanied by an adult sparrow in the grass. We learned that according to the Maritime Breeding Bird Atlas, this breeding event is the first for Nova Scotia, adding to everyone’s excitement!

In the coming weeks, we’re looking forward to having some more Dalhousie classes and both our Backyard Forestry and Milling and Building workshops. Taking place later in the summer, our Chainsaw Skills and Safety courses are quickly filling up and Poppy Balser’s Plein Air workshop is already sold out! We’re also very happy to announce that we’re in the works of setting up surveying of the protected lands surrounding HLC with Environment Canada. In the meantime, I’m on the hunt for research that’s been done around the area and adding to a database previously put together by another student. By the end of the summer, my plan is to have a grand report including all published research that was completed in the immediate area for future researchers or interested individuals. 

As you can see, it’s been a busy first month and we’re eager to keep the momentum growing!

Cheers,

Abbie