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