N2O prep, a final #WildWednesday, and Awesome Foundation win!

Then there was one...Both Jamiel and Kaitlyn have departed for the summer to return to their school endeavours and, so, it is Jessica here with Friday Field Without Jamiel and Kaitlyn, it has been very busy holding down the fort! That being said, after completing my Master’s degree last year at Dalhousie University, I am pretty content to not be returning to school this year and, instead, gearing up for a beautiful fall working at the HLC.

This past week, Cindy Hagen of Studio 138 in Shelburne came to the HLC for a visit to start planning our next Never-2-Old workshop on learning to dye with natural materials, taking place on Tuesday, Sept. 11. For more details, please see the poster below and plan to join us!

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That day, we also started to harvest some of the flowers from our dye garden in preparation for this event and even spotted a Monarch butterfly on our zinnias. Not all flowers were harvested of course, leaving some nectar flowers behind for the pollinators.

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We hosted our final Wild Wednesday of the season this week, which was focused on “Shorebird Migration Appreciation” at Thomas Raddall Provincial Park. We had originally lined up Sue Abbott with Bird Studies Canada to lead this walk, but when something came up for her and she was no longer able to attend, one of our knowledgeable board members, Dr. Soren Bondrup-Nielsen, Professor Emeritus/Ecologist, stepped in to help.

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We had a fantastic crew join us for the walk and over the two-hour period, we observed four different species of shorebird (greater yellowlegs, semipalmated plovers, semipalmated sandpipers, and sanderling), as well as some other waterfowl such as loons, surf scoter, and double-crested cormorant. We sincerely thank all of those who joined up with us for our Wild Wednesday environmental education series this year and those who supported this initiative, including the Blomidon Naturalist Society, Leanne Children’s Foundation, and NS Department of Community, Culture and Heritage.

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Wednesday turned out to be a very exciting day because we also had a successful pitch to the Awesome Foundation South Shore! Kaitlyn joined up with us at the HLC again and helped me pitch a project we dreamed up this past summer while snorkeling one day.

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That is, a long-term research, monitoring and engagement project to study a charismatic ocean bottom dweller—the sand dollar! This work would be conducted at the nearby Carters Beach, which, in recent years, has seen increased visitation that has put growing pressure on its ecosystems, including dune erosion, disturbance to wildlife, and improper garbage disposal. Kaitlyn’s position this past summer was formulated through a collaborative project with Nova Scotia Environment’s Protected Areas Branch to oversee stewardship and outreach for the area and help address some of these issues. What we have noted is that so many beachgoers are interested in these marine animals and there have been issues with collection of them—both those dead and alive. Despite how popular sand dollars are with people, we know little about them here and how increased beach visitation may be impacting their populations. After doing a little research about starting up a possible sand dollar study, we came across a similar initiative at Sanibel Sea School in Florida who we have met with via Skype and have agreed to provide the HLC with scientific guidance.

 Common sand dollars ( Echinarachnius parma ) when alive are covered in maroon-coloured felt-like, moveable spines. They become bleached white when washed ashore.

Common sand dollars (Echinarachnius parma) when alive are covered in maroon-coloured felt-like, moveable spines. They become bleached white when washed ashore.

 Photo from sand dollar research and education project out of the  Sanibel Sea School  in Florida. A sample of what is to come!

Photo from sand dollar research and education project out of the Sanibel Sea School in Florida. A sample of what is to come!

Now, with some start-up funds from Awesome Foundation South Shore, we will work to build this project and formulate some partnerships to make it happen. This project will not only help contribute to knowledge about sand dollar populations at Carters Beach, but also educate and engage people in the process through a citizen science component that will be designed into it. If you are interested in being involved or supporting this project, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Over the long weekend, we have a private corporate retreat booked for employees and families of The Nurtured Store located in Halifax, which specializes in carefully curated gifts for babies, kids and families.

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In fact, every weekend in September we have private retreats booked. Exciting times indeed! Until next week friends!