Piping Plover Sighting!

18685377_10155056724781253_2094445734_n.jpg

As any birders out there may already know, the bay that the Harrison Lewis Centre resides in is home to an endangered bird species, the piping plover; The Nature Conservancy of Canada's Sandy Bay Nature Reserve is an area specifically made to protect their habitat. These birds usually end up in Thomas Raddall Provincial Park area, but occasionally hop over to our side of the beach, just to change things up. A sighting of any endangered species in the wilderness is a cause for celebration, but piping plovers are especially exciting. Or, at least that was the vibe I got from the 20-something ornithology students that were in the vicinity at the time of the sighting, all of which immediately sprinted down to the beach in the hopes of catching a glimpse. If you want to witness a stampede, come down to the centre during high bird migration and hang out with birders. In all actuality, the students of the ornithology class were clearly blessed by the "Great Raven" (birding joke), because the sighting took place just as they were packing up to ship out. There were two plovers spotted, hanging out on the beach, that stuck around until the students had got their fill of pictures and scope looks. A particularly steady-handed student was smart enough to take these pictures through the scope.These two plovers may have taken a liking to our side of the beach, as they were still in the vicinity early this morning, spotted again by our summer intern, Jake Hubner, during his morning bird walk. Let's hope they stick around! As always, if going into an endangered species habitat, you have to be careful. Plovers make their nests on the dry shore just above high tide, and by nest I mean they lay a couple eggs in a small divet in the ground. If walking along the beach on the ocean, try to stay in the "wet sand" if possible. These birds have taken a massive decline in population from a larger presence of feral cats and increased human expansion. Young plovers are hard to spot for the untrained eye; they blend in with the sand from far away and are quite small. Watch your feet! Especially in areas thought to contain nests.  With a little knowledge and respect towards these adorable little puffballs, we might just be able to bring the plovers back! 

-Alex 

 

 

Summer 2017 Begins: Dalhousie Ornithology Class!

The Harrison Lewis Centre has kicked off the Summer 2017 season with the completion of the annual Ornithology field trip! Students from Dalhousie, as well as some awesome TA's, and Sarah Gutowsky as the instructor, arrived last Friday. The class spent the last 6 days using the HLC as a base of operations while working in Sandy Bay Nature Reserve, as well as Thomas Raddall Provincial Park, and Kejimkujik Seaside National park. These areas are perfect for the avid birder, as this area of South Shore Port Joli, is home to a Canadian Wildlife Service migratory water fowl sanctuary, natural ecosystems, an endangered Piping Plover population, and many different bird species. South-west Nova Scotia is one of the best birding destinations in Canada; with the mixed woodlands, coastal salt marshes, & open ocean, there is a great diversity of species year around. Which is why students come back year after year!  We'd like to think that the HLC makes the experience even more enjoyable, providing camping areas, communal living space, and learning resources (as well as the company of a resident Labradoodle named Tank..).

This year's class was an amazing group of truly phenomenal people; the energy throughout the week was constantly upbeat and full of companionship. Nothing brings people together like a passion for Class Aves! (Aka, birds)         ...Or maybe it was having to share sleeping spaces, fight off bugs 24 hours a day, and the collective fear of running into a black bear in the middle of the night. Whatever it is that brings people together, it finds opportunity here. The staff at HLC are super grateful that such an awesome experience is made available to students, and that we can help provide it. More so, we're also thankful for the wonderful attitude of the students/instructors and the inclusiveness you showed; to each other as well as the interns here.  We wish we had more time to hang out with such a rad group of people!  Birders are the Best :D   -Alex

This year's class was an amazing group of truly phenomenal people; the energy throughout the week was constantly upbeat and full of companionship. Nothing brings people together like a passion for Class Aves! (Aka, birds)         ...Or maybe it was having to share sleeping spaces, fight off bugs 24 hours a day, and the collective fear of running into a black bear in the middle of the night. Whatever it is that brings people together, it finds opportunity here. The staff at HLC are super grateful that such an awesome experience is made available to students, and that we can help provide it. More so, we're also thankful for the wonderful attitude of the students/instructors and the inclusiveness you showed; to each other as well as the interns here.  We wish we had more time to hang out with such a rad group of people!  Birders are the Best :D

 

-Alex

March Newsletter - Announcing 2017 Calendar!

march newsletter.png

Hello Friends of the Harrison Lewis Centre!

We’re excited to announce the first of our 2017 weekend workshops. These include Birding by EarChainsaw Use and Safety (including one for women only), Edible WildBackyard Forestry, and Nature Photography.

For program descriptions, dates, and details, check our workshop page. There's more to come, so check back often. We’re offering early bird prices on all our workshops until May 1.

Join us at Thomas Raddall Provincial Park every Wednesday 1-3 pm in July and August for an afternoon of guided nature walks. Now in its second year, the popular Wild Wednesday program brings together visitors of all ages to experience the natural history of this beautiful coastal park. Free!

The N2O: Never-2-Old program is a monthly day-trip to the Harrison Lewis Centre for those 55 and older, their friends and family for short presentations and to take part in guided nature walks, hands-on activities, led discussions, and a lunch. Free!

This initiative is made possible by the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th, a collaboration between the Harrison Lewis Coastal Discovery Centre, the Government of Canada, and extraordinary leaders from coast to coast to coast.

Whether it’s an afternoon, a week, or a whole month, we’re looking for passionate and reliable people to help make this year spectacular! Do you have a skill or craft you’d like to share? Are you interested in connecting with an older crowd? Love working with children? Know your way around a kitchen? Landscaping or maintenance - there's always much to do. Fill out a volunteer information form or email thea@harrisonlewiscentre.org to find out more.

Volunteers Needed

In exchange for quality time on a beautiful South Shore beach, we are looking for two to four volunteers to help with workshops and other events at the Harrison Lewis Centre (harrisonlewiscentre.org) August 24-29, August 31-Sept. 4 (Labour Day Weekend), Sept. 8-12, and Sept. 22-25. Duties are primarily of a house-keeping nature as the Centre prepares for hosting students or researchers, looking after up to 24 people in-residence, and restoring the Centre to order after each of the groups leaves. Pick one weekend or all.

Give us four hours of help each day and the rest of the time is yours to read a book, walk on the beach, appreciate the natural surroundings, or perhaps simply “cool out.” Your cabin in the woods promises restful nights. For board we offer groceries and a pick of the garden, along with access to a fully equipped kitchen in which to prepare your own meals.

Phone 902-646-1554 or email HLC@eastlink.ca

Planning a Retreat?

Be it for yoga, birding, music, or any other natural environment-related venture, the Harrison Lewis Centre offers the perfect locale for a retreat. Consider the Centre for a get-away this summer or fall on the beautiful South Shore. Sandy Bay is a remote, peaceful, forested location, on the ocean with sand beach frontage. We are across Port Joli bay from Keji Seaside Park.

We have a main building for cooking, meeting, activities, etc., and a field laboratory. Individual cabins can accommodate four to five each for a total of up to 20 (more room for tenters). Check out the Harrison Lewis Centre website for lots of photos. Contact us for details. Special mid-week rates. Email hlc@eastlink.ca or phone 902-646-1554.

Go Wild!

Wednesdays at Thomas Raddall Park

Beginning July 6 and every Wednesday afternoon through the rest of July and all of August come to Thomas Raddall Park in Queens County for “Wild Wednesday” guided nature walks sponsored by the Harrison Lewis Coastal Discovery Centre.

Lead instructor Leah Strople, a fourth year honours biology student at Dalhousie University, will be joined by Abbie Hudson, third year honours environmental science student at the University of Ottawa, offering overnight campers and day-use guests of all ages a chance to get close and personal with the natural history of this beautiful coastal park.

Sand beaches, lakes, upland barrens, bogs, and forests are magical places to explore. Access is easy over groomed trails linking coast-line habitats; home to wild wonders like plants that eat insects, birds that seldom fly, mice that can jump three meters in a single bound, and fish with arms.

Come share the fun, rain or shine. These two hour walks (1 to 3 pm} are free, just stop by the administration building at the park entrance to sign up and find out where each walk begins. All ages welcomed. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

For further information please contact the Harrison Lewis Centre by email (HLC@eastlink.ca) or phone 902-646-1554,

HLC News, 5.31.16

Please welcome Leah Strople and Abbie Hudson to the Harrison Lewis Centre where they are taking a break from studies (at Dalhousie and the University of Ottawa respectively) to take on running operations on the hill. Leah is majoring in marine biology, and Abbie in environmental sciences.

In a short time they have made their mark, for in addition to working like slaves to bring facilities up to snuff for the coming season (including washing down the kitchen top-to-bottom) they have revamped our website (HarrisonLewisCentre.org), beefed up the facebook account, established our presence on Instagram, and created a slide show of old and new photos that will be used to promote the Centre, created and distributed posters for upcoming workshops, and looked after the needs of our first Dalhousie field class (ornithology).

Now that we are up and running Leah and Abbie can delve into activities that require more reliance on brain over brawn. While they will be working together (and what luck that the two do work so well together) Abbie’s focus will be the creation of a document summarizing research that has been carried out in the immediate area over many years into habitats and inhabitants of our wild coastal lands. Two summers ago Dalhousie student Spencer Quimby built a database of these studies going back many years. This needs to be edited, updated, and most of all be accompanied by a well-written summary report.

Our newest cabin

Our newest cabin

Leah is taking the lead on our Wild Wednesdays program taking place at Raddall Park through July and August. That entails arranging a two-hour nature walk each Wednesday afternoon, finding resources for each (lead instructor when it is not either Leah or Abbie, literature such as brochures published by the Port Joli Basin Conservation Society, aids such as nets, lenses, etc.) And in addition promoting Wild Wednesdays through posters, social media, and local providers like tourist bureaus of news about what is taking place in the area.

Other projects are being discussed.

In other news from the Centre, we have a new cabin that can sleep six (soon as we have another set of bunk beds. Please keep an eye out for same. Leah and Abbie have taken over the loft in this new cabin and two can pile in there to the one double bunk already available. With this new cabin (five in total) we can easily put twenty under a roof. The boat house when needed can take another three.

On the wildlife side, in addition to scores of warblers and other song birds passing through and some stopping, we have lots of Snowshoe hares about this year, Ruffed grouse too, and black bear (a few seen, and much bear scat around). Piping plovers are on the beach (must be nesting although I do not think a nest has been located). Plenty of ticks and Red squirrels; a pair of scourges. It has been a cool spring thus far ­– not much fun for Abbie and Leah although they have not been complaining. That does not seem to be in their nature, to complain.

Lucky us.

That’s all for now. Best regards, Dirk

News, views, and plans for 2016 The Harrison Lewis Coastal Discovery Centre

While much of the Maritimes is getting hammered by snow it is a dark and dismal day on the Harrison Lewis hill. Such is frequently the case on this western end of the South Shore. Cold, wind, and rain. But we are dry, and warm by a fire in the kitchen range, and it is a perfect afternoon to at last put digits to keyboard in an effort to bring everyone up to date on what has been happening and what the Harrison Lewis Coastal Discovery Centre Society has planned for the coming season that gets underway in May.

    First of all, a long overdue message of thanks to long-standing members of the board who stepped aside as of our annual meeting in August. Jane Cook, whose summer home is across the bay in Port Joli, has been with us from the beginning, providing support and encouragement, as was the case with Peter Carver, past chair and as well, a summer resident with a home three doors over from the Centre. Ian Dingwall, great grandson of Harrison Lewis, stepped up filling the seat prematurely left vacant when his father, founding director and chair Lewis (Lew) Dingwall suffered a fatal heart attack. 

    New additions to the board are Doug van Hemessen, Atlantic stewardship coordinator with the Nature Conservancy of Canada; Sarah Gutowsky, a PhD candidate at Dalhousie University; and Michael Greenlaw, summer neighbour and student at Kings. Sarah, a biologist, has participated as student, teaching assistant, and lead instructor with the University’s Seaside Summer program bringing ornithology students to the Harrison Lewis Centre. 

    As far as activities this past year, in addition to four Seaside Summer programs, Anne Gray serving as manager brought together weekend workshops. There was Roger Savage (plein air painting); mushroom culture with David Boyle assisted by John Crabtree; scything with instructor Peter Redden; chainsaw workshops with Patrick Allan; and nature writing with Soren Bondrup Nielsen. 

    Plein air students and instructor alike made the most of views from the back deck of the main building. An example is Roger’s painting reproduced here that the artist has generously donated to the Society. As soon as we’ve permission in place we will be offering chances on the painting for a draw sometime this summer. Board member Susan Hoover has fond memories of Soren’s nature writing workshop in which she took part. "There were four of us, all with different interests and levels of skill. Soren was a good facilitator. We spent a great deal of time looking at moss and other tiny plants. A real eye opener. I really enjoyed this workshop."

    What now? Plans for the coming year. Dalhousie Seaside has booked four programs, we expect the Biology Grad students to return for a social weekend in September, and a committee headed by Doug van Hemessen is charged with scheduling a variety of workshops and programs, including new to us bird-by-ear courses. We welcome suggestions for ways to put this Centre to work with workshops, retreats, or events of various sorts with the desired focus being natural history and skills relating to home and farmstead life.

We look forward to hearing from anyone and everyone with a history with or interest in the future of the Harrison Lewis Coastal Discovery Centre.

Best regards, Dirk van Loon

On behalf of the HLC Society Board of Directors
Peter Rogers, chair
Stephanie Carver, secretary
Susan Hoover, treasurer
Willem van Loon
Michael Greenlaw
Richard McBride
Sarah Gutowsky
Doug van Hemessen
Christine Curry

The Harrison Lewis Coastal Discovery Centre
is a registered charity (#859077810) 
and can issue tax receipts for donations. 

Harrison Lewis Coastal Discovery Centre
339 Sandy Bay Road
RR 1 Port Joli NS B0T 1S0