Ontario Nature Blog

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Category: Citizen science (Page 1 of 2)

A Mud-WHAT?: Searching for the Elusive Mudpuppy

ORAA Crowley Mudpuppy

“A Mud-WHAT?!”…This slightly confused inquiry is one that I often get when I talk about Ontario’s largest salamander, the mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus).

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Top 4 reasons why vernal pools merit our attention on World Wetlands Day

Vernal Pool; Credit: Scott Gillingwater

Vernal pool; Credit: Scott Gillingwater

In honour of World Wetlands Day on February 2, let’s pay tribute to vernal pools. Due to their small size and transient nature, vernal pools are a type of wetland that is easily overlooked. While brimming with water in spring, they may be nothing more than a dry, isolated, depression on the forest floor by summer.

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Birds galore at the St. Catharines Christmas Bird Count


Peninsula Field Naturalists and this wordsmith volunteering at the 2016 St. Catharines Area Christmas Bird Count.

There are more than 100 Christmas Bird Counts in Ontario planned, of which more than 65 are affiliated with our Nature Network groups. This year, because of its diverse overwintering species and diverse habitat, I chose to volunteer and participate in the St. Catharines Area Christmas Bird Count, coordinated by members of the Peninsula Field Naturalists.

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A rare experience

Lea Grie points out a common tern flying over the Grand River, CREDIT: David Coulson

Leanne Grieves points out a common tern flying over the Grand River, CREDIT: David Coulson

“Look!” Someone says, pointing to the sky.

Standing in an open field, camera in hand, I peer up wondering what has been spotted. Suddenly, a large brown bird swoops down, disappears into the trees, and reappears with a fish in its talons.

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Searching for Salamanders

RBNR_Nature Day_July23_Child looking for toadlets amongst blueberry plants_Espy Salas

A participant takes a closer look at an American toadlet, Photo credit: Esperanza Salas

Last Saturday, twenty-nine people, ranging from long-time field naturalists to an eight-year-old amphibian enthusiast, gathered at Reilly Bird Nature Reserve near Deep River, Ontario in the hopes of spotting eastern red-backed or spotted salamanders.

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Documenting Life at George G. Newton Nature Reserve

Volunteers learn how to catch and identify butterflies, Photo credit: Lynn Miller

Volunteers learn how to catch and identify butterflies, Photo credit: Lynn Miller

Late last month, Ontario Nature’s conservation staff hosted a bioblitz at George G. Newton Nature Reserve, near Goderich. The day kicked off with two sessions, one focused on reptiles and amphibians and the other focused on plants. Jory Mullen of the Huron Stewardship Council led the amphibians and reptiles group. They found six green frogs, one leopard frog and four wood frogs in the stream running through the reserve. They also found nine red-backed salamanders in the forest.

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An Exciting Time for Citizen Science

Thunder Bay bioblitz, Credit: Julee Boan

Thunder Bay bioblitz, Credit: Julee Boan

Are you an aspiring citizen scientist? All over the world, members of the public contribute to scientific research by reporting species sightings, surveying water quality and more. You can join these citizen scientists with the help of Ontario Nature’s new Directory of Ontario Citizen Science (DOCS).

DOCS is an online, searchable tool that can link you with citizen science projects in your area. It can also help groups coordinating citizen science activities to publicize their projects and attract volunteers. DOCS is aimed at projects with biological, environmental, or conservation goals, and there are lots of them available.

Citizen science has been around for more than 100 years.

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Sleuthing for Salamanders

Vernal pool at Altberg Nature Reserve, CREDIT: Noah Cole

Vernal pool at Altberg Nature Reserve, CREDIT: Noah Cole

After a warm winter and chilly start to spring, I joined my Ontario Nature co-workers at Altberg Wildlife Sanctuary Nature Reserve for a good old-fashioned salamander sleuthing event, our first of the season. The Altberg reserve is a tranquil property that has great trails and several vernal pools that are home to a variety of species, including fairy shrimp. Throughout the day we heard lots of woodpeckers and saw evidence of moose on the reserve.

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