AGM Report - Bob Bancroft

NS AGM Sherbrooke, NS May 28, 29& 30 2010

The 2010 Annual General Meeting of Nature Nova Scotia was hosted by the St. Mary’s River Association (SMRA) at their Education Centre near Sherbrooke. The Meet and Greet on Friday night (with wine & cheese) was a chance to meet local folks. Thanks to some good publicity, locals came from as far away as Bayfield, Antigonish County to meet us.

Saturday and Sunday early risers had a choice of two bird walks, one behind the Centre and near the river in Stonewall Park, and the other along the St. Mary’s River estuary’s eastern shore. Ken McKenna led two of these walks and amazed folks with his song identification abilities. Records of the walks were collected and the data passed along to Dr. Sean Mitchell, Executive Director of the SMRA after the weekend.

Approximately 50 people had registered with NNS by Saturday morning, including a number of new and student members. We joined the Nova Scotia Nature Trust (NSNT) staff, St. Mary’s River Association, and a large number of local folks for a NSNT property announcement and barbeque at Hardy and Barbara Eshbaugh’s property on the river at Waternish. After lunch NNS participants had a choice of an afternoon wood turtle walk with Mark Pulsifer, a salmon/river walk with Eddie Halfyard and Sean Mitchell, or a floodplain walk with Bob Bancroft. The floodplain walk transmogrified into a big tree search with Larry Bogan later in the afternoon.

For Saturday’s supper, we had quite a gathering of 25-30 conference participants in the restaurant of the Sherbrooke Village Inn. After that we drove back to the St. Mary’s River Centre for a great presentation by Dr. Hugh Broders of St. Mary’s University on the Bats of the World and Nova Scotia.. Hugh had just been to China, and showed some photos of his Chinese collaborators and their bats.

After Hugh’s talk, Travis White, a graduate student at Acadia, showed us two adult female wood turtles that he had located and caught on one of the St. Mary’s River nesting beaches. He also told us that he could tell by feeling along their front legs and shoulder areas that they still had not laid their eggs. At 6:30 pm that evening Travis had seen 6 or 7 different wood turtles that were digging on a beach and may have been about to lay eggs.

Randy Lauff (with earlier scouting by Ken McKenna) took some folks out for three or four stops along secondary roads. Randy produced calls of northern saw-whet owl, barred owl, great horned owl, and boreal owl. We heard trilling American toads, and several distant barred owls. Ken had located a saw-whet on the previous night. Hugh used his bat-detector but heard no bats on the first stop.

During Sunday morning breakfast Sean Mitchell gave a talk about the social and technical challenges the SMRA is assuming in attempting to restore the river’s ecological underpinnings. The NNS AGM began at 10:00 am at the SMRA Education Centre. Two afternoon field trips were scheduled for the afternoon, one to Taylor Head on the Eastern Shore with Joan Czapalay and Jim Cameron, and the other to Pomquet Beach and an Acadian forest/ aquatic habitat restoration site with Bob Bancroft.

I believe folks had a fine, informative weekend. A hearty thanks to the many NNS members who helped with logistics and registration, to the NSNT staff, Eddie Halfyard, Mark Pulsifer and Sean Mitchell. And much gratitude to Joanne Mailman and Florence Duffy of the SMRA. They provided the essential behind-the-scenes support, and sure made us all feel welcome.

Bob Bancroft