WRN Teens – Ecology Lab at UofW

WRN Teens at UW

Tuesday March 12, 2019

WRN Teens's outing to the Ecology Lab at UW was a success. The members and guests of WRN Teens received a tour of the UW Environment buildings and learned some environmentally-focused possibilities for our futures along the way.
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We looked at tooth and beak adaptations and used the information we learned to practise identifying the lab's collections of skulls and stuffed birds, then relocated to Tim Hortons to discuss some options for future WRN activities.

Thanks to the UW Ecology Lab and to the students and workers who hosted us!
Megan

We went to the Ecology Lab to learn about the day's activities.

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We took water samples from two places in the nearby Laurel Creek (before and after the reservoir) and snow samples from two different locations on-campus (an empty field and a salted stairway) before analysing them to find the differences in quality.
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Some criteria involved: turbidity (murkiness), conductivity (to measure ions like salt in the water) and pH. Surprising fact: the snow from the salted surface had the most salt. We discussed what our findings meant in practice, including the effects of the reservoir on the water quality of the creek.

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P.S.  THANKS to Megan Sloka, one of our awesome Teens and a grade 10 student, who was our reporter this time.  Thanks also to Bev Raimbault, coordinator of the Ecology Lab who organized our visit; to Marco, coop student who led our tour of the faculty; to Michelle Yu and Sarah Cui, lab assistants who led our experiment and data review; to Linda Dutka, WRN Teens volunteer; and to the Teens parents who provided transportation.  And finally, a shout-out to "Dean Jean" Andrey, dean of the faculty whom we met in the hall!  UW Environment Faculty looks like a fun place to be!
Marg Paré, WRN Teens coordinator

WRN Teens – Chickadee Banding

Chickadee Banding at Wrigley Corners Outdoor Ed Centre with Levi Moore
Feb 23 2019
WRN Teens were down south of Cambridge again, this time to visit Wrigley Corners Outdoor Ed Centre. We met Levi Moore, the outdoor educator who teaches there, working mostly with high school students. He is a certified bird bander and does on-going studies of Black-capped Chickadees.
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To demonstrate how it works, Levi has a mist net (for catching the birds to be banded) set up inside.  He used a stuffed Northern Cardinal to demonstrate how birds get caught and how he removes them from the net.
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It was a bit windy but seemed like a fine day to band Black-capped Chickadees. However, we saw only a couple briefly and there were none at the feeders and, more importantly, none at all got caught in the mist nets. So, no bird banding for us!

Instead, we wrapped up our visit by examining and trying to identify Levi's impressive skull collection.

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Just checking out the amazing nature stuff in Levi's classroom kept us occupied for a while! Then Levi did a really inspiring presentation. First he explained how he ended up in outdoor and environmental education then he showed us a super informative slide show about bird banding. We got to handle all the tools necessary for the job.

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We hope to get back to Wrigley Corners sometime and maybe the chickadees will be more cooperative!

Thanks as usual to the Teens who were able to make it out, to their fearless parents for driving, to Linda who helped out and took photos, to Paul and Cathi who put our reports on-line, and of course, to Levi for spending part of his weekend sharing his knowledge and love of nature with us!

WRN Teens – Owl Prowl

Screech Owl surprised when cleaning out Wood Duck box.

We arrived at Huron natural area just as it became dark. We then spent about half an hour learning about the different kinds of owls that can be found in Ontario and more specifically the KW area. We learned about their shapes and sizes and some of their behavioural habits as well as listened to some of their calls. We then began our hike in the forest. We would walk for a couple of minutes, then stop and play either the call of the Eastern Screech Owl, or the Great Horned Owl. We would listen for a response and then continue walking. About halfway through the evening during one of our stops something small and grey flew over our heads. We turned on a light and scanned the trees around us until we spotted an eastern screech owl perched on a branch close to the group. We admired it for a few minutes until it grew bored of us and flew away.

Linden Imeson Jorna

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Photo ops were scarce in the dark -- in spite of it being a beautiful moonlit evening, so here's a daylight photo of another screech owl.

 

Thanks to Josh Shea, WRN president, WRN Teens planning committee member, and City of Kitchener Natural Areas Coordinator who led WRN Teens -- and their specially invited parents! -- for this activity in Huron Natural Area.

Screech Owl

WRN Teens – Tracking at Bechtel Park

Saturday, January 26, 2019

WRN Teens has turned out to be a combination of work-projects, learning opportunities, and enjoying nature. We were really fortunate that for our January activity, Anita Smith (WRN Teens planning committee member and WRN conservation director) gave us a workshop on tracking. Anita describes herself as a tracking apprentice and we were impressed by her dedication to her apprenticeship and the depth of her knowledge.

We met at Anita's house for an overview of tracking, what can be observed and the many ways we can get information. We had a look at her amazing skull collection.

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Big thanks to Anita for sharing her passion with us! We learned lots and will all want to work on our tracking skills in the future.

Then, we headed outside through Anita's backyard and into Bechtel Park where she spends lots of time -- along with lots of creatures! We saw branches chewed by deer, lots of small mammal tunnels, opossum tracks, fresh coyote tracks, and we did our best at identifying many others. We also found several raptor pellets. We checked out various holes and looked for evidence of recent activity. We learned that Anita sometimes catches nighttime photos of animals with a trail camera.

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WRN Kids and WRN Teens – Christmas Bird Count for Kids 2018

CBC4Kids 2018
CBC4Kids 2018

Christmas Bird Count for Kids
at rare Charitable Research Reserve on January 12, 2019

WRN Kids and WRN Teens had a special opportunity recently: rare Charitable Research Reserve hosted their third annual "Christmas Bird Count for Kids" on January 12 and we were all invited!

There was a large group this year, including a few of our WRN Kids families.  First, we all learned about birdwatching basics from Adam in the Slit Barn then everyone headed out in small groups, each led by an expert birder (including Adam and WRN members David Gascoigne, Fraser Gibson and Josh Shea as well as rare staff Emily Leslie) to count all the birds they could find.  The Kids were enthusiastic in spite of the cold, managed their binoculars like pros, understood why we walked to several different habitats, and saw an impressive number of birds!  They enjoyed warming up afterwards with a hot chocolate in the ECO Centre next door.

As well, four of our dedicated WRN Teens volunteered to help out at the event, filling feeders, assisting group leaders, moving furniture, and washing dishes.  While doing jobs that needed to be done, they were also super role models for the Kids.

Huge thanks to rare for hosting, the volunteer birders for continuing to inspire us all, the parents for getting their families outside, the Teens for volunteering early on a cold Saturday morning, and especially the Kids for wanting to learn about and protect nature!

Jenna Quinn, rare Program Scientist summarizes:
"Together, we identified 23 species and made over 900 individual observations, of (accounting for duplicate observations) approximately 275 birds.  Canada Geese were the most abundant species we observed, and every group was able to spot a juvenile Bald Eagle perched in a tree.  Two groups were lucky to see three Eastern Bluebirds, a rarity at this time of year."

See the full results below.  We're all pretty proud to be contributing to Citizen Science with our Bird Count!  Can't wait to do it again next year!

WRN Kids & Teens coordinator
Marg Paré

CBC4Kids 2018 Results

WRN Teens – November 2018

WRN Teens November 2018
WRN Teens have been busy during November. For our first bonus outing, we had a fun hike at FWR Dickson Wilderness Area. This was a new place for everybody and it was great to explore all the different habitats. Highlights of our afternoon were having packing snow (therefore snowballs!), figuring out that Wild Turkeys had been active by one of the lesser-used trails, and having a chance to wear our WRN tuques again!
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The snow was not so helpful for the invasive plant removal we had planned to do in a Kitchener natural area for our monthly project on the last Saturday afternoon of the month. Josh Shea turned that project into another -- we learned about bird identification basics from Josh and Teen-ornithologist Linden and had a short hike at Huron Natural Area. Although the birds weren't plentiful, it was good practice for us as we've been invited to help at the Christmas Bird Count for Kids at 'rare' on January 12.

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The beaver dam
The beaver dam

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And some recent activity
And some recent activity

A new-found friend.
A new-found friend.

Thanks to the enthusiastic Teens for coming out, to their parents for getting them there, and to Josh and Linden for sharing their know-how. We're not meeting in December but are looking forward to more volunteer work and learning in the new year.

WRN Teens – Non-Native and Invasive Plant Removal at rare

Waterloo Region Nature Teens — Project 2 — October 27 2018
Non-Native and Invasive Plant Removal at ‘rare’ Charitable Research Reserve

WRN Teens have been at it again!  Our second project happened on October 27 when we showed up at “rare” Charitable Research Reserve in Cambridge — along with cold, wet, windy weather!

To help us brave the elements, we put on our new and very cool WRN tuques!  We met Alissa Fraser, a conservation technician at ‘rare.’  She explained what this huge nature reserve is all about and how staff, volunteers and community groups are helping ‘rare’ become more and more natural.

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Our project was to continue an on-going job that Alissa oversees, removing some non-native and invasive plant species from the forest behind the ‘rare’ offices in the old Lamb’s Inn. We had a crash course in identifying Day Lilies, Lily of the Valley and Periwinkle in their late fall condition.

Day Lillies
Day Lillies

Lily of the Valley (berries), Periwinkle (leaves)
Lily of the Valley (berries), Periwinkle (leaves)

Periwinkle
Periwinkle

Then, we started in digging, trying not to leave a trace of these intruders. The space we covered was a tiny drop in the bucket of the large area ‘rare’ hopes to free of invasives and replant with native plants. It was slow, muddy work and the highlight of the afternoon may have been the cookie break we took!

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While munching cookies, we took advantage of having expert Alissa with us to hear about her other work, retrieving threatened turtle eggs, incubating them, and re-introducing the baby turtles to the wild. A nice follow-up to our September project!

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Many thanks to Alissa for hosting and teaching us, to volunteers Linda, Zack and Josh for coming out, to the Teens parents for driving and picking up — and of course, to the awesome team of WRN Teens for their hard work and stick-to-it-iveness! I hope you managed to get the mud off everything you wore — including your new tuque!

Our November project will involve habitat restoration in a Kitchener natural area. If you’ve just heard about us, there’s still room for more interested Teens! Check us out at waterlooregionnature.ca/teens or get in touch at teens@waterlooregionnature.ca

Marg Paré
WRN Teens coordinator

 

WRN Teens – Turtle Nesting Area

WRN Teens is up and running! We have ten nature-loving Teens signed up for 2018-19. We'll be doing monthly work projects and learning projects and, at the same time, earning volunteer hours. Our first ever project was helping the turtles at Laurel Creek Nature Centre.

Chris, an LCNC naturalist, gave us a close-up introduction to a Painted Turtle and a Red-eared Slider that live in the centre. We learned that outdoor turtles at LCNC have made some unfortunate choices of nesting areas. They like the area by the storage shed and parking lot but it's very exposed and most of the eggs were eaten by predators. As well, turtle eggs were discovered in the nearby mulch pile where they had rotted.

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Before our project, a sandbox was installed to encourage nesting there and a turtle nest protection cover had been put over the very few remaining (weighed down with pallettes). Our jobs were to plant native grass and wildflower species around the sandbox for protection and to move the mulch pile away from the area the turtles like, 20 or so metres away to the chickadee-feeding area.

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Our team of awesome Teens got right to work and got all the planting done and moved a lot of mulch!

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A highlight was when we disturbed an enormous colony of ants that quickly spread everywhere, including on us!

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Thanks to Chris and to volunteers Josh and Linda for making our first project a great success -- even with the ants!

We're looking forward to our October project, dealing with some invasive species at "rare" Charitable Research Reserve in Cambridge. There's still space for more Teens to join us. Sign up at waterlooregionnature.ca/teens or contact us at teens@waterlooregionnature.ca