Autumn 2023 Newsletter
As the holiday season approaches, MTRI’s staff have been reflecting on the wild year of weather and our work to sustain, promote and conserve biodiversity in Southwest Nova Scotia, Kespukwitk. We extend our heartfelt appreciation to each one of our staff, volunteers and partners who have been an integral part of our non-profit family and made our work possible. Your unwavering support has fueled our efforts to conserve wildlife and protect species at risk, getting us even closer to our goals of living in a sustainable world. We hope you enjoy reading the latest updates from our ever-growing list of projects and events.
Our Latest Project News
A Decade of Bat Research
We are celebrating 10 years of bat reporting in Nova Scotia and over 5,000 reports! Bat reporting was started in 2013 in response to the unprecedented disappearance of NS bat populations between 2011 and 2013. The Bat Conservation website and the NS Species at Risk Hotline (1-866-727-3447) have become crucial to the conservation work documenting where these now-endangered animals are. Given we have 10 years of data, MTRI is sharing the highlights from this collection of bat observations:
- A total of 5,750 bat reports were collected between 2013 and 2023.
- The battiest towns in Nova Scotia were Halifax, Canning, Kentville, Dartmouth, Antigonish, Sydney, and Baddeck. The top five counties with the highest number of reports were Halifax, Kings, Cape Breton, Annapolis, and Lunenburg.
- The highest number of reports from a single person was 24 reports and the second was 8.
- There were 165 bat boxes reported to be used by bats over the past 10 years.
We sincerely thank all Nova Scotians for their help in bat conservation!Report A Bat
Atlantic Coastal Plain Flora
Atlantic Coastal Plain Flora (ACPF) is a unique group of wetland and lakeshore plants found along the eastern coast of North America. In Kespukwitk (Southwest NS) there are over 90 species that add rich biodiversity value, important ecosystem functions and beauty to our native ecosystems. Sadly, many ACPF species are impacted by human activities, including several that are at risk of extinction. The need for ACPF stewardship is high and this year MTRI staff have been busy talking to local landowners in high-priority lakes in Kespukwitk. We are looking for land stewards and opportunities to restore impacted ACPF shorelines.
The highest priority areas to restore are lakes that have Endangered and Threatened ACPF such as Plymouth Gentian, Pink Coreopsis, Tall Beakrush, and Sweet Pepperbush, and where the natural vegetation or the shoreline below the high-water mark has been impacted by development such as wharf construction, use of heavy machinery and landscaping.
If you suspect your property has these species, is in a high-priority area, and are interested in learning more please contact Brad.Toms@merseytobeatic.ca
Reptile Check In
It has been a successful summer scouting out Eastern Ribbonsnakes, and we successfully detected Ribbonsnakes in seven of the sites we surveyed this year, roughly half of the sites we were able to visit. And with fall over, we have wrapped up a rocky year of Blanding’s turtle emergence. Sadly, many nests were impacted by the extreme weather this year. Thank you to all the volunteers for watching over the nests and welcoming the young turtles.
As the weather cools, many animals will be moved into their overwintering sites, including turtles and snakes. When temperatures drop, reptiles will enter a winter sleep called brumation to survive the long winter months. While we patiently wait for warmer weather, make sure to check out the Nova Scotia Herp Atlas project on iNaturalist. If you are interested in volunteering for one of our programs, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.NS Herp Atlas
Getting Wild with Wetlands
This year we saw firsthand the ability of wetlands to help prevent flooding. In some areas, within a week we saw the water levels in wetlands change from 15 cm below ground to 1 m above, demonstrating their awesome absorption ability. Sadly, despite these systems’ resiliency, they can’t absorb it all and floods still damaged many communities across the province. Without healthy wetlands, flooding would be more frequent, severe, and damaging to many communities. With long-term planning in mind and anticipating the impacts of climate change, it is often cheaper and safer to leave wetlands intact.
We are happy to announce that this summer we received funding from the NS Department of Environment and Climate Change to help verify their new wet areas mapping. This fall and winter our team will continue collecting data from wetlands to train computer mapping models to better predict wet areas across the province. We are hopeful this map will be finalized and shared publicly soon.
Making a Splash: Understanding Your Thoughts on WetlandsWetland Survey
Monarch Butterfly and Milkweed plant surveys have wrapped up for the season and sadly our findings were poor. There were almost 95% fewer Monarchs found in 2023 compared to 2022. Many wild patches of milkweed, a plant that Monarchs rely on, were damaged, likely by flooding. We want to thank all the volunteers who helped us by monitoringtheir Milkweed for Monarchs. You can join the Milkweed Monitoring next year, by visiting the link below!Get Involved!
Woodlands for Wildlife
We have recently launched the Woodlands for Wildlife pilot program to help protect the habitat of species at risk on private woodlands in Kespukwitk. The program targets a group of at-risk birds, turtles, lichens, and tree species and works with woodland owners to establish effective no-harvest buffers around habitat on their property in addition to species-specific beneficial management practices. Woodland owners are rewarded for their conservation efforts through an annual incentive payment based on the area of forest timber they are now leaving be. You can learn more via the button below or contact Laura.Carter@merseytobeatic.ca.
Barn Swallow – Reminder Alert
The 2023 Barn swallow nesting season has ended, and we want to extend our appreciation and gratitude for your invaluable contributions to our research! If you have completed a 2023 Barn Swallow questionnaire, please return it at your earliest convenience to Colin.Gray@merseytobeatic.ca or Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute, 9 Mt Merritt Rd, Caledonia, NS, B0T 1B0.
Welcome to the Team!
We are very happy to welcome Rachel Aske to the MTRI team as our newest Field Technician! Rachel recently graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Forestry at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. She has always been grateful to spend time with her family in the woods of Southwestern Nova Scotia (Kespukwitk) and is now thrilled that she gets to work in and explore the area further in her new role. Rachel is interested in forest ecology, climate change, and the impacts of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid. In her free time, Rachel enjoys canoeing, biking, carpentry, and cooking.
Out in the Community
Caledonia Christmas Bird Count
With the start of December comes everyone’s favourite time of year, the annual Christmas Bird Counts! Every year, MTRI hosts the Caledonia Christmas Bird Count and this year it will be on Sunday, Dec. 17. Anyone can join the count and help us record the birds they see in the Caledonia area. If you would like to get involved you can sign up via the link below.
New to the count? All you have to do is find a Christmas bird count near you, sign up, and record the birds you see along a walking/ driving route or at your bird feeder. Please don’t forget to reach out to the group managing your local count, they will give you important information and help you find a route.Learn More Sign Up
Kespukwitk Seasonal Municipal iNaturalist Competition
We have had three great seasons of our Kespukwitk Municipal iNaturalist Competition. So far, over the spring, summer and fall we have gathered over 7,500 observations of over 1,500 species! These incredible results are only possible thanks to the amazing support of community scientists and oh boy do we have a lot of people to thank! Close to 300 people have dedicated their free time to helping us and other organizations better understand Kespukwitk’s wildlife. Thank you, everyone for your amazing work and thank you to Mhari Lamarque, Heather Haughn, Lisa Proulx and iNaturalist users rvandommelen, southshore18 and skeereweer, for the photos.
Stay tuned for our winter competition, happening February 12-25. Want to have more fun with iNaturalist before the next competition? You can always log in and help others ID their observations, building the quality of data and supporting the naturalist community. Thank you to the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation for their support and making this project possible!
Autumn Competition Results
MTRI’s Lending Library is Open!
MTRI’s Lending Library, the Curiosity Cupboard, is open for borrowing! Courtesy of funding from the NS Health Authority we have been able to fill the book box with all sorts of amazing youth books on nature, gardening, preserving, field guidebooks, Indigenous authors, seed packets, games and more! Please note, that this is a lending library, we would love for you to borrow any materials available and hope they are returned (except for the seeds, you can keep the seeds!) for all to enjoy.
Just in time for winter’s hibernation, the Lending Library has moved into our office until the spring. You can still come in and borrow, it just must be during our normal office hours, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. If this time doesn’t work for you reach out to email@example.com.
Wild Roots – Growing for Another Year
Wild Roots Youth Nature Club, proudly sponsored by TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, finished our last session on Sept. 23rd with an exploration of Fantastic Fungi! Throughout the journey, Wild Roots has blossomed into a tight-knit youth club, driven by their continuous curiosity. Together, we’ve created cozy bug hotels, delved into fascinating discussions about bird adaptations, wandered wetlands, cultivated fungi, unleashed our creativity in a nature-inspired art maker space, and embarked on many other nature adventures.
Now guess what? We can hardly contain our excitement as we gear up for year two. This time around, we’re moving to a monthly format that will unfold over 12 months. If you’re eager to join in, or for more information, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Wild Roots will remain free and geared towards ages 5-12.
On the Lookout for Bookshelves!
With all of our projects comes a lot of stuff! We are on the lookout for gently used wooden bookshelves for our office. If you would like to fully donate, partially donate or sell your bookshelves please contact Chad.Simmons@merseytobeatic.ca. Our office is in Caledonia, but we can plan for pickup in most of Southwest Nova Scotia.
Thank You for Your Support
MTRI is lucky to be supported by such passionate and knowledgeable volunteers and followers. Without you, we would not have the achievements we have today, thank you all for your continued dedication. If you would like to donate to MTRI, a registered charity, and help us continue our work you can send an e-transfer to email@example.com, visit our Canada Helps page or hit the Donate Now button on our website.Donate (via Canada Helps)
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Our mailing address is:
The Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute 9 Mount Merritt Road Kempt, Nova Scotia B0T 1B0 Canada