Spring dance of hardwoods and wildflowers begins

Spring Beauty in Cape Split hardwoods, mid-May

Spring Beauty in Cape Split hardwoods, mid-May

“May is a special month for wildflowers in hardwood and mixed forests in Nova Scotia. Longer days and brightening sun melt remaining snow under the hardwoods, thaw and then warm the soil and bring seeds and buds of herbaceous (soft-tissued) wildflowers out of dormancy. Then, a suite of these wildflowers race to take advantage of a window of sunlight before the deciduous hardwood fully leaf out, shading the forest floor.” Read more in our May article by David Patriquin.
& Take a Wildflower Quiz

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Amphibians spring into action as temperatures rise

Blue-spotted Salamander Photo by Alain Belliveau

Blue-spotted Salamander
Photo by Alain Belliveau

Alain Belliveau writes: “Even before most songbirds fill the air with their multifarious melodies and chirps, an altogether different group of critters signals the start of spring.

You’ll know that most lakes are ice-free and that, surely, there’s a warm breeze on the way when amphibians, including frogs and toads, start peeping, ribbiting and croaking. Salamanders also quietly signal the start of spring, in a surprisingly remarkable way.

One of these quiet critters — a yellow-spotted salamander — migrated its way across my doorstep one evening last April. Although I was surprised to see it there, the conditions were indeed ripe for a big migration of hundreds if not thousands of amphibians from overwintering areas to breeding sites.

Read more in the Chronicle Herald

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Endangered mainland moose survival depends on better forest management

moose“Mainland moose populations were sufficiently high to support legal hunting until 1981. As a biologist in the eastern mainland counties, I conducted annual winter counts by fixed-wing aircraft and helicopter to monitor their population levels. Declared endangered in October 2003, moose numbers are now estimated to be about 1,000. There are many causes for moose decline…” Read more in this informative article by Bob Bancroft

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Winter is perfect for perusing old tales of game wardens

wardensI have been wading through old documents from the 1920s and 1930s, some of which describe the life of game sanctuary wardens, a fairly rugged occupation that doesnʼt really exist today. They were responsible for ensuring the healthy population of fish and game animals by regularly patrolling the Tobeatic and Liscomb game sanctuaries — by canoe, by foot, by any means possible — to ensure hunting and trapping were not taking place within boundaries. The wardens kept an eye out for forest fires, assisted with firefighting when and where necessary, and promoted Smokeyʼs message. Read more

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Why deer roam close to home

deer on front lawn in Halifax SuburbWhat factors are driving deer into increasing contact with humans in urban areas? In this article, Bob Bancroft expresses a few thoughts that may help to explain this changing deer behaviour. View article

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NOVA SCOTIA NATURALLY: Sharing Halifax space with wildlife

Unlike most Canadian cities, the urban core of Halifax is surrounded not by farms or endless burbs but by forested and coastal landscapes. Even within 30 kilometres of downtown Halifax, where approximately three-quarters of the population resides, developed areas are interspersed with substantive wild spaces. In this article, David Patriquin highlights Halifax’s wild spaces and discusses some of what has to be done to preserve their wildness. See Article in Chronicle Herald. As well, you can view an unabridged version with additional maps and photos and more about threats to species conservation and measures needed to counter them and a page with Useful Links.

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Healthy N.S. beech trees spell hope

beech “While walking in the Lambs Lake Nature Reserve, near Annapolis Royal, I spied a large, old-growth beech tree. Its massive girth caught my eye first (I could reach only about halfway around it), but its smooth bark is what made me look twice. In that tree’s genetic makeup, I knew, there lay a rare and special genetic trait.” Read more of Jamie Simpson’s article about our once common beech.

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Bob Bancroft: Wealth of fauna call N.S. forests home

This young sharp-shinned hawk and two other nestlings had their nest tree cut down. Rescued and reared, they eventually returned to the wild. Photo: Bob Bancroft

This young sharp-shinned hawk and two other nestlings had their nest tree cut down. Rescued and reared, they eventually returned to the wild.

But harvesting methods can pose risks to the province’s many birds and animals
In this article, wildlife biologist Bob Bancroft describes some of wildlife habitats that are being lost as we continue massive clearcutting in Nova Scotia. “…ovenbirds skilfully weave a nest on the ground within large forested areas. It’s important for them to locate it far away from woodland edges that attract prowling skunks, raccoons, foxes, crows, bobcats, house cats and blue jays. Barred owls, conversely, are large birds tending eggs and nestlings in old trees with trunks that offer fist-sized openings to enter a substantial hollow space. Goshawks are another sizable, fierce, forest-hunting species that prefers to nest in deep woods.” Bob asks, “Do sanctioned clearcuts and the new “partial” cuts maintain habitats for wildlife in ecologically healthy forests?” Bob comments that current partial cut and clearcut harvest methods cause too drastic a change for nature and forest wildlife.
View complete article.

Scattered, low-quality, chest-height trees and the wildlife clump remaining on this site allow the harvest to cleverly fall outside the designation of a 'clearcut', as per the new, provincial clearcut definition.

Scattered, low-quality, chest-height trees and the wildlife clump remaining on this site allow the harvest to cleverly fall outside the designation of a ‘clearcut’, as per the new, provincial clearcut definition.

This 'partial cut' shows the archaic technique of 'high grading' (whereby the best trees are removed and only low quality trees remain on the site), a method long since reputed, but now heavily in use under the new, provincial clearcut definition. A regulatory change is required to stop this type of forestry.

This ‘partial cut’ shows the archaic technique of ‘high grading’ (whereby the best trees are removed and only low quality trees remain on the site), a method long since reputed, but now heavily in use under the new, provincial clearcut definition. A regulatory change is required to stop this type of forestry.Photo: Donna Crossland

Yellow-spotted salamanders require a moist, shaded forest floor.

Yellow-spotted salamanders require a moist, shaded forest floor.

Trout depend upon clean, cold streams flowing from healthy forests.

Trout depend upon clean, cold streams flowing from healthy forests. Photo: Bob Bancroft

Forests provide warmth, shelter, and food for deer in winter. Photo: Bob Bancroft

Forests provide warmth, shelter, and food for deer in winter. Photo: Bob Bancroft

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NATURALLY: All in a day’s work for the Owl Man

Saw-Whet Owl, photo by Mark Elderkin The rare presence of a nesting saw-whet provided plenty of reason for Bernard Forsythe, the Owl Man of Kings County, to pay a visit. Though he has been tending nest boxes for decades, none had attracted a pair of nesting saw-whets… Read more in our August, 2014 article.
For more about Nest Boxes, see The Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Attracting Birds With Nest Boxes

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NATURALLY: Native species grow on gardeners

garden Our June article, published on the summer solstice, is about the growing penchant for growing native species in our domestic habitats. Some seek a bit of the wild into their yards; others want to support native pollinators, and sometimes the best landscaping and the most nature-friendly sometimes requires no effort at all. View online version of article.

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