Alvar explorations of a wandering biologist (part two)

Esme on the alvar in Malham Cove, U.K. (Photo by Esme Batten/NCC staff)

Esme on the alvar in Malham Cove, U.K. (Photo by Esme Batten/NCC staff)

In part one, I explained what alvars are, where they occur and their importance. Now, I talk about my alvar explorations in the U.K. On Boxing Day in 2018, I set off early in the morning from Cornwall, in the southwest end of the U.K., to drive...

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Alvar explorations of a wandering biologist (part one)

Esme on the alvar in Malham Cove, U.K. (Photo by Esme Batten/NCC staff)

Esme on the alvar in Malham Cove, U.K. (Photo by Esme Batten/NCC staff)

“You are going to drive seven hours away to go walk around on flat rocks?” my Grandad asked when I told him about my planned trip to Malham Cove in the U.K. at the end of 2018. To most people, alvars, or limestone plains, as they are...

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Adventures in the night: My foray into astrophotography

Located on Plymouth's doorstep, Dartmoor National Park is a vast moorland known for its forests, rivers, wetlands and tors (rock formations). This photo is of Great Staple Tor with me in the foreground. (Photo by Esme Batten/NCC staff)

Located on Plymouth's doorstep, Dartmoor National Park is a vast moorland known for its forests, rivers, wetlands and tors (rock formations). This photo is of Great Staple Tor with me in the foreground. (Photo by Esme Batten/NCC staff)

“Are we almost there?” I ask my new friend Matt as we wander along a sea cliff on the north coast of Cornwall, U.K., shivering, in search of our shooting location for the evening. Although by Canadian standards the evening was balmy at...

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Treasure hunting: The quest for queen snakes

Queen snake found on the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula in 2017. When these snakes are observed, not only do we look for signs of snake fungal disease, we also examine them for signs of injury and measure them so we can better understand the number of young versus adults in the population. (Photo by NCC)

Queen snake found on the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula in 2017. When these snakes are observed, not only do we look for signs of snake fungal disease, we also examine them for signs of injury and measure them so we can better understand the number of young versus adults in the population. (Photo by NCC)

Paddling across the lake, fellow staff from the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and I couldn’t contain our excitement. It was the first day of our annual queen snake surveys, and we were all curious about what we might find. I often...

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Lakeside daisy: The yellow jewel of spring

Lakeside daisy (Photo by Charles Peirce)

Lakeside daisy (Photo by Charles Peirce)

There is nothing quite like witnessing the beauty of flowering lakeside daisies across an alvar in early June. This brilliant yellow member of the aster family is found almost exclusively on the alvars of the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula and southern...

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A whoosh in the night

Common nighthawk resting on its nest (Photo by NCC)

Common nighthawk resting on its nest (Photo by NCC)

Wandering through the forests, grasslands, and alvars of the Bruce Peninsula at dusk brings a certain calm to the soul; a type of peace that is seldom found in the bustle of a city at night. The forests are abuzz with the sounds of nocturnal...

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