Saturday, July 22, 2006

Tobermory 2006: Wigwassi jiiman

I spent a morning with some of the Fathom Five National Marine Park researchers monitoring fish abundance in some of the bays. With waders up to my chest, I helped collect nets in shallow water that had been set up the day before. These were large square nets with forty-five degree angle ‘wings’ to guide the fish into the traps. We dumped the contents into a bucket and the researcher counted how many of each species were present in each of the traps. One of the nets had a huge pike fish, nearly a metre long. Most of them had some lost turtles, which we tossed back into the water.

Outside of the Bruce: I went home for one weekend for a change. Mom had me busy on Saturday, playing in a golf tournament for her ski club. It was a good thing that we played best shot, where all players put their ball beside the best ball shot in the group or else we probably would have been out there for quite a bit longer. That evening, one of the ski club (and sailing club) members had a barbeque…I played lots of volleyball, jumped on the trampoline, and had a Cockatiel on my shoulder. A nice finish to the barbeque was when a wooden figure with skis, paper face and a shirt that said ‘Pot bellied stallion’ on it was put on a piece of wood jutting out from a ladder that went over the fence line of Terry’s property. He lit it on fire, and it slid along the piece of wood to drop onto a pile of wood, and among all the drunken cheering of everyone present, it immediately erupted into flames… goodbye potbellied stallion. That Sunday was pretty much catching up on shopping and driving back to the Bruce to see Melody before the sun went down.

Friday was a busy day despite the fact that I had the day off. In the morning I went on a long hike to Cave Point, which has this huge cave on the shoreline – really neat! Afterwards, I headed over to the Visitor’s Centre where the month-long birchbark canoe project was finished. This was a large birchbark canoe (Wigwassi Jiiman) that was made from scratch by Aboriginals who were hired for the project. The canoe was portaged from the Visitor’s Centre to the shoreline (by the Grandview restaurant). A large crowd, including the man who named the Chi-cheemaun on the shoreline, and the Fathom Five boats were watching in the water as the canoe was launched… and the Chi-cheemaun itself came in and blew its horn as they paddled the birchbark canoe around the harbour – it was awesome!

Saturday, July 8, 2006

Tobermory 2006: Bruce Peninsula and Fathom Five

My mom visited me for a bit a couple of weekends ago. I took her on a tour of Bruce Peninsula National Park. Fathom Five National Marine Parks consists mostly of islands and shipwrecks, so we didn’t see much of Fathom Five aside from the Big Tub lighthouse and view of the islands from the Visitor’s Centre viewing tower. We visited the famous cave, the Grotto on the Georgian Bay; hiked the Singing Sands shoreline of Lake Huron; and went to Emmett Lake. The brand new visitor’s centre had their ‘soft’ opening, with construction still continuing, now open to the public. Mom got to see the fabulous video called “Life on the Edge” on the big screen with surround sound. By the way mom: closed captioning is on its way to being implemented in the movie. Always the advocate… hehe.

Amber and I have gotten well into our routine amphibian and reptile roadkill monitoring. Three times a week we patrol four roads with the van, but now we have started to monitor everyday for better estimates. We are doing this to get an estimate of the number of reptiles and amphibians killed on certain roads during the summer. Let’s just say, there will be lots. As the EMR team, we have been exploring potential new gestation sites for the Massasaugas. A gestation site is where a female rattler stays when she is gravid (pregnant), until after she gives birth. It’s like a den/area, where she can protect her young before they venture off on their own. As the warmer weather approaches, we will be starting earlier (probably 6am on some days).

One Wednesday, I spent the day hiking with other colleagues, setting up bear bait stations. Essentially, these are timber sticks that have been nailed onto trees 1km apart (we did 16 that day), just out of reach of a human since a black bear is about the same height as a human. At each station we drizzled sardine juice (that’s smelly stuff!) from half opened sardine cans onto the trees for the scent to waft in the breeze (to attract the bears), and hung the containers on a string from the stick. The following week, the bear crew went to those stations and observed if a bear had visited (you can tell by claw marks on the trees, and the chewed up sardine cans). It was a different experience and fun to spend the day hiking too!

Jenny and I went on a ride called “Canter for the Cure” on Sunday, which was done in support of breast cancer research. However, it was not Melody whom I rode. She managed to throw a shoe the night before, so I ended up taking a little 14.2h Appaloosa gelding named Tom - he was a good boy, yet it felt strange to be riding something so different than Melody. It was a beautiful day for our 6hr ride around Hope Bay (near Wiarton, 30 min drive from the barn). Part of the ride was on the Bruce Trail. The scenery changed from farmland to alvars, Niagara escarpment, Glacier Potholes, open fields. One of those huge fields had cows, not to mention the huge bull who nearly charged at some of the horses! There were about twenty horses on the ride and it turns out that the woman who started it is Amber’s aunt! That’s the thing about small towns… people are connected one way or another.