Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Cleaning out Woodduck Boxes

On February 10, 2012, 5 KFN members met at the Helen Quilliam Sanctuary to clear out some woodduck nesting boxes that had been installed in February 2010, and to replace some "no trespassing" signs along the road.  Anne and Barry Robertson, Rose-Marie Burke, Erwin Batalla, and Gaye Beckwith carried a ladder,  tools and supplies about a kilometer or so to the pond where the boxes were located, taking advantage of the thick ice and using a route along the ponds that was shorter than the trail through the woods.  The day was cloudy and relatively mild for February.  Each took turns holding the ladder while someone else opened the box and removed the old shavings.  Contents were examined in each of the four boxes, using guides that describe the egg shells and down that are usually found it was determined which type of duck had used the box, if it had been occupied during summer. Results for the numbered boxes were recorded.  3 of the 4 boxes had signs of occupation, the fourth had been empty.  Fresh wood shavings were placed in the boxes and any repairs  necessary were made to the predator guards.  In June of 2011 storms and high winds had toppled many trees in the area, evidence of this past bad weather was seen in several pines  that were blown down in the woods next to the ponds.  One of the predator guards was splayed open and cracked.  Having finished with the nest boxes the crew headed back out along the ponds, startling  a roughed grouse along the way.  Deer tracks and fisher tracks were frozen into the ice, showing the passage of these animals during an earlier warm spell.  The next task was to replace some 'no trespassing' signs along the roadway that had deteriorated over the years.  Some of this work will be completed during the annual Sanctuary cleanup in spring.

Ramble February 7, 2102

Here it is mid-February already, some of us, in spite of the mild winter, have been hibernating.  Time to come and post some reports!

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The February 7th Ramble took place along the Rideau Trail, starting at Jackson's Mill.  About 9 people carpooled to a gathering area and headed out along the old railway bed which is now part of the Rideau Trail.  Most of the Trail that has been exposed to sunshine was good walking with no snow, but some areas that had been packed down were covered with ice, due to the snow/thaw/freeze/rain/thaw conditions that have prevailed since the beginning of January, so there was some fancy footwork and detouring performed by the Ramblers.  Anne Robertson led the walk, and pointed out various features of nature along the way, like the differences between male and female sumac, parts of aspen leaves, etc.  Some cocoons were spotted in bushes along the trail.  The group headed off on a side loop of the trail and went up in the woods. Deer tracks and hair were found, rabbit tracks, and some  cedar/apple rust on cedars.  Chickadees sang to us in a couple locations.  The clouds parted a couple of times, giving us a brief bit of sunshine, making it feel more like a spring day than being in what is normally one of the coldest months of winter.