Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Voices for the Watershed

The Great Lakes conference may be over, but our lakes, our fish and our fresh water supply are still under threat. So the work must continue, and part of that work involves raising awareness. We must share our love for the Great Lakes with others, and here is a very special book I can recommend.
It was first published in 2000, but its messages are even more relevant and urgent today. Asian Carp is now a very real threat. Climate change, warming lake water temperatures, the proliferation of wind farms near key migratory routes - there are many threats now to the ecological health and well-being of the largest inland source of fresh water on the planet. In fact, what makes this book so unique among books about the Great Lakes is that it does not exclude the surrounding drainage basin of the Great Lakes. And if you take a look at a map of the scope of the St. Lawrence Watershed and what land that includes - the entire state of Michigan, all of southwestern Ontario and southern Quebec, for example - then you realize just how vast this area really is and how many people live on the watershed, people who may not even consider themselves Great Lakers!
We have a treasure in our big backyard, so let's protect it. This book's thoughtful essays and evocative photos will stir your soul and awaken your resolve to protect and preserve  this most precious region.
Together, we can raise our voices for the watershed...
To order a copy of this book:

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Frog Blog Will Continue!

The pond was really quiet today. The weather was too cold for any decent amphibian spotting. Unseasonably cool here for late April. A bit disappointing after those warm days in March when the frogs were out and the spring peepers singing.

Today the water was still, dark and brown. Little movement. Only one nosy Mallard flew in. A Great Blue Heron patiently hunted in the creek. The only sounds today...the trills of the ubiquitous red-winged blackbirds.

Never fear, pond watching will not stop at White's Wetland. We'll be blogging more about frogs as the weather warms up. It would have been nice to capture some frog sounds today, because a chorus of spring peepers is really something to hear!

Enjoy this autumn shot of the pond instead!

There were 181 events held all over the world today in 37 countries to Save The Frogs. That's inspiring. After today, I am sure, more people than ever are aware of the plight of the world's amphibians. That's good, because awareness and knowledge are critical if we are to save frogs from extinction.

Keep learning about amphibians and keep spreading the word: Save The Frogs!

Save The Frogs Here!

For a wetland blogger, this is probably THE most important day of the year! Loss of habitat is one of the main reasons why frogs and other amphibians are rapidly disappearing everywhere. It is one of the most insidious mass extinctions in progress. Which is why we desperately need to raise awareness. Frogs need habitat in order to survive, and that means protecting our precious wetlands, swamps, bogs, fens and ponds from being drained for development. Frogs have lived on this planet for 350 million years. Let's not be the cause for their extinction. So let's begin by protecting their habitat. To learn more about the worldwide amphibian crisis, please visit Dr. Kerry Kriger's site: Save the Frogs. Today, there are over 181 events being held across the planet in 37 countries! Astonishing! Amazing! Encouraging! Check out the map and find an event near you!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Every Day is Earth Day at White's Wetland!

We're wishing everyone a "mindful" Earth Day. Once we understand, accept and embrace the reality that all living things are connected to one another and that we humans are part of this wondrous, intricate web of life on earth too, then perhaps we can begin to make amends with the Earth. We need to preserve not destroy. Protect not endanger. Conserve not waste. This planet is the only home we have. We must be mindful of this fact 365 days a year, not just on Earth Day.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Welcome, Wood Ducks!

So thrilled to welcome Wood Ducks to White’s Wetland! Now as strange as that may sound, because Wood Ducks are native to North America and we are definitely in their breeding range, the fact is that we have never been honoured with their presence before. So to have three Wood Duck pairs as “regulars” on the White’s Wetland pond is indeed a privilege. I tend to agree with many North American naturalists who say that the Wood Duck has to be North America’s most beautiful waterfowl species. The male Wood Duck is so ornately and highly coloured that it is hard to lower the binoculars and look elsewhere.

Our ducks, like so many others, arrived here in April from their wintering grounds in the southern United States. But their presence here, on our pond, tells us something very important about the health of the White’s Wetland ecosystem. Their choice of this wetland tells us that they are finding the habitat they need to live, nest and survive. That means a freshwater wetland, a riparian habitat and plenty of the vegetative material they love. Aquatic plants such as algae, duckweeds, sedges, grasses and pondweeds make up the adult diet along with aquatic insects, while ducklings (come June!) will require a high protein diet; they’ll eat dragonflies, bugs, beetles, and spiders during the first few weeks of life. According to the Hinterland Who’s Who site, “High populations of these small creatures are essential in habitats where the young will hatch and develop.”

Wood ducks feed primarily in shallow water areas, but they’ll also forage on the forest floor for seeds, acorns and nuts. Some ducks, it has been noted, will field forage for corn. Like their name suggests, Wood Ducks are just as much at home in the woods as they are on the water. Wood Ducks are perching ducks; they nest in trees. Left to their own devices, they’ll choose holes in hollow trunks or similar cavities. However, nesting boxes can be created for them, and they have proven to be beneficial for duckling survival rates, if constructed properly and placed in well-chosen locations.

Wood Ducks were hunted to the brink. (What else is new?) But Wood Duck populations have recovered and continue to recover. Thank goodness, because to lose this beautiful, colourful, peaceable bird would be tragic.

However, the largest threat to their future continues to be…yes, you guessed it, the continued loss of habitat. Landowners everywhere, both sides of the border, can encourage Wood Duck populations by protecting and restoring floodplains, wetlands, rivers, streams and woods on their property.

Acorns and other forest mast are important fall and winter foods. So plant oaks if you are reforesting, or choose hickory and black gum.

Native wild grass mixes are available at seed stores (check out the Ontario Seed Catalogue – they have the best seeds!).

Other plant species suggestions can be found in this leaflet:

And if you want to learn how to build nesting boxes for them, visit The Wood Duck Society.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Saving The World's Disappearing Amphibians

Saving amphibians means saving their habitat, and that means saving wetlands from development and destruction.

Visit Dr. Kerry Kriger's Save The Frogs organization to learn why amphibians are so vitally important to many other species on this planet and how we can help them to survive.

These extraordinary creatures have evolved and diversified over millions of years, but now amphibian populations are on the decline everywhere. Already 200 amphibian species have gone extinct worldwide since 1979. As sensitive bio-indicators of planetary health, this should be telling us something. Amphibians in peril means we are all in peril.

Time to change our destructive ways. Time to raise awareness and time to act.

International Save The Frogs Day is April 28, 2012. We'll be blogging about frogs and tweeting from a real pond all day long! So come back and visit us on April 28th. Ask questions or post comments on White's Wetland "Frog Blog" on April 28th!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Recommended Winter Reading

Snow days or no-snow days, winter does tend to keep us inside more, so here's a worthwhile read. If you enjoyed David Suzuki's Nature of Things episode on the animal mind recently, you will definitely want to delve into biologist Marc Bekoff's book. The Suzuki episode was just a teaser on this profoundly important topic.
And here's an intriguing passage that tickled my "tiny green" fancy:
In my musings about animal emotions I also can't help wondering, What about the insects? Do even mosquitos have emotional lives? Of course, mosquitos have tiny brains and lack the neural apparatus necessary for the evolution of emotions, so it's doubtful they do. But in truth, we just don't know. One day, perhaps we'll figure out a way to determine this. More important, however, would it make a difference to us if they did? It should, just as it should make a difference to us that other animals have emotions. Knowing that animals feel - and being able to understand them when they express joy, grief, jealousy, and anger - allows us to connect with them and also to consider their points of view when we interact with them. Knowledge about animal passions should make a difference in how we view, represent, and treat our fellow beings.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Nature Near Home...

A lone wild turkey walks through the field near the house.

“After long experience, I am convinced that the best place to study nature is at one’s own home, — on the farm, in the mountains, on the plains, by the sea, no matter where that may be. One has it all about him then….The wild creatures about you become known to you as they cannot be known to a passer-by.”

John Burroughs,"Nature Near Home"
Field and Study (1919)