We had a great weekend during our annual youth programming at Nature Nova Scotia’s Celebration of Nature this spring. With 17 youth from ages 6 to 13 we had an interesting mix of activities to satisfy all interests. On Saturday we started the morning talking about migrating birds and had a warm up playing the Migration Game. We then tackled a bird geocaching course where we used our GPS units to find 8 hidden stations that had bird related activities at them. It was a big hit. Later that morning Jill Francis from Parks Canada came and talked about Mi’kmaw hunting and everyone got to try their hands using an Atatl, a spear throwing tool that helped native hunters achieve greater distances.
That afternoon everyone joined a field trip in the local area and rejoined us at the lodge for a musical performance by Little Miss Moffat! Nobody forgets the lyrics to “Raven or Crow?”. Even some of the adults joined in with their owl hoots. After dinner we had a very moving bonfire chat with Frank Meuse and shalan joudry from Bear River First Nation. Everyone slept well that night, even it was a little chilly!
The next day brought us a visit from Katie McLean from Clean Annapolis River Partnership who taught us about some of the different turtles they monitor and let us try our hands at trying to find the GPS units they attach to the turtles. Then we had Jeffie McNeil and some interns from the Mersey Tobeatic River Institute come and help the kids build some turtle nesting cages that they will use to protect newly laid turtle eggs from predators. Charlie from Milford House took some time to have some of the older kids help him make a new wood duck nesting box as well!
We are so fortunate to have been at such a beautiful location this year. Great kids and families and we are looking forward to doing it all again next May!
The Nature Guardians Program of the Halifax Chapter worked at the Common Roots Urban Farm in Halifax to make a pollinator hotel for solitary bees. Solitary bees are amazing pollinators and they do not live together like honey bees. They include Mason Bees, Leafcutter Bees, Sweat Bees, Bumble Bees and Digger Bees.
Mason and Leafcutter Bees are who we primarily designed our pollinator hotel and they need the following things for their homes:
- Access to mud
- Need protection from wind, moisture and direct summer sunlight
- Holes at least 8 inches long
- Larger sized shelter
- Shelter should face east or southeast to get early day sun
- Good nest materials are reeds or bamboo sections, holes drilled in wooden blocks, cardboard tubes, grooved boards
- Slightly overhanging roof to deflect rain
- A variety of tunnel hole sizes, ranging from 2-10mm. Leafcutter bees like smaller holes. Mason bees like 5/16 inch holes
- Woody stem materials with holes
We had help from Don and Doug of Halifax Builders Cooperative to make the hotel structure out of donated apple crates. We drilled holes in wood beams and logs cut to length and placed them in the crates. We also used bricks with holes and bamboo and japanese knotweed segments to create more tubes for bee habitat. Next time you visit the Common Roots Urban Farm go look for our pollinator hotel and learn about solitary bees!
Anne Marie and Bob Ryan were our great geologist guides on our field trip to Crystal Crescent Beach.
The weather was spectacular this Sunday, making our field trip to Crystal Crescent Beach that much more wonderful. Anne Marie Ryan and her husband Bob, both geologists, shared their knowlege of rocks, rivers, and more enthusiastically with the group. We explored river dynamics by testing the pH of several little streams as they flowed to the oceans. They each had different values – one of them was 1400 ppm. The units on the pH meter are in ppm – that means “parts per million.” That’s a hard amount to imagine! Anne Marie gaves us some ways to try to imagine it. One comparison I found online is that one ppm is like one drop of water in a 50 litre tank (like a car’s gas tank), or is like 32 seconds out of year.
We also explored stream flow rate by sending some sticks flowing down a stream and timing their voyage (18 seconds to flow 1 meter for one stream), and saw stream features like mini point bars.
As we got to a rockier part of the beach, Anne Marie challenged us to see the difference between two types of rock. The different rocks formed at different times in the beach’s past, and from them the soil was partly formed, and from that lichens and vegetation could start colonizing. Some of the rocks had scratches on them from the last retreat of the glaciers… about 10,000 years ago!
As we wandered back to our cars, some familes stayed longer to soak up some rays and play in the sand. Thank you to Anne Marie and Bob for their execellent interpretation of the geology of Crystal Crescent Beach, and to all the families who joined us on our walk.
Please take a look at the photo gallery that goes with this field trip report!