NCC Creative Conservation Challenge: Mud Inspired 2015

My 2015 year in nature (Collage by Cameron Curran)

My 2015 year in nature (Collage by Cameron Curran)

February 15, 2016 | by Cameron Curran | 0 Comments

There’s no question that I had a "wild" 2015. My experiences in nature encapsulated discovery, wilderness, adventure, learning and community building. Through these experiences, I learned an abundance of natural heritage and ecological information about the Carden Alvar and other areas in Ontario.

Close encounters in globally rare environments have been ingrained into my memory thanks to countless days spent roaming the transitional southern boundary of the Canadian Shield in Central Ontario. I also became acquainted with several new species, some of which I heard, but never actually had the opportunity to see!

I believe my conservation efforts contributed to the greater health of the natural environment. In return, nature was there for me in times of need — especially when I had to say goodbye to a couple of influential people in my life during the summer of 2015.

As part of the Nature Conservancy of Canada's Creative Conservation Challenge, I was able to reflect on the many unique encounters I had in 2015.

Part A: Look back on your year

What species did you learn about for the first time this year?

This summer I learned about several new species, most of which were, but not limited to, birds:

blue-winged teal, northern harrier, Virginia rail, whimbrel, ovenbird, gray catbird, semipalmated plover and various sparrows. Fortunately, I was living near an Important Bird Area known as the Carden Alvar just east of Orillia. Here, I repeatedly experienced the sounds and sights of these (and many other) birds which helped me learn about their unique attributes.

What is your most memorable close encounter with nature from 2015?

I have quite a few memorable encounters from 2015. However I would have to say the one that stands out most occurred at the Carden Alvar Provincial Park on June 25th. A coyote was predating on two adult sandhill cranes. Quickly, the coyote caught sight of my group and headed off in the other direction. This occurred mid-morning and was just like a moment straight out of a National Geographic documentary.

Blue sky, beautiful alvar landscape, slight breeze – pure silence – broken by the rattling call of the sandhill cranes being chased by the beautiful coyote; truly an unforgettable moment. Also equivalent in the "most memorable" category were my first-ever moose and bald eagle sightings in the Township of Carden! These sightings were greatly overwhelming.

What fact did you learn about the natural world in 2015 that most surprised you?

One of the most surprising facts I learned about the natural world was that adult beavers are very territorial. They will attack any beaver that enters their territory if they are not related. This is mostly due to the limited resources that a beaver may have access to in its given territory. Overall, I resonate with the beaver in that family is important. Haha.

What three things did you do that helped the natural world in the last year?

1. Supported the Couchiching Conservancy

This was my second year as a volunteer with the organization. I also had the privilege of working for the Couchiching Conservancy as a conservation assistant. Efforts of the conservancy and its volunteers help protect nature for current and future generations.

2. Saved turtles from becoming road kill

Specifically, I assisted one snapping turtle, one Blanding’s turtle and three painted turtles off of the road throughout the summer. Fortunately, no significant damage was done to any of the animals.

3. Participated in a stewardship activity at Point Pelee National Park

I collected big bluestem grass seeds for park-wide ecological restoration initiatives. Learning about the natural history of Point Pelee definitely put the rest of southern Ontario into perspective regarding topics such as habitat protection.

What natural areas did you explore for the first time?

Natural areas that I explored for the first time include Carden Alvar Natural Area: Sedge Wren Marsh Walking Trail, and Prospect Marsh.

What species did you learn to identify, by sight or sound?

I had the opportunity to practice identifying several species of birds while living in Carden, Ontario in 2015. Some neat birds by sound include: wilson’s snipe, white-throated sparrow, grasshopper sparrow, field sparrow, eastern meadowlark, common nighthawk, whip-poor-will, and indigo bunting. By sight, I learned to identify species such as broad-winged hawk, northern harrier, red-eyed vireo and brown thrasher.

Part B: Your 2015 year in nature — Collage

My 2015 year in nature (Collage by Cameron Curran)

Click to enlarge photos in the slideshow.

  • Carden sunset (Photo by Cameron Curran)
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Carden sunset (Photo by Cameron Curran)
  • Beaver dam in Sebright, Ontario (Photo by Cameron Curran)
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Beaver dam in Sebright, Ontario (Photo by Cameron Curran)
  • My first-ever bald eagle sighting in the Township of Carden (Photo by Cameron Curran)
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Bald eagle (Photo by Cameron Curran)
  • Bobolink chicks (Photo by Cameron Curran)
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Bobolink chicks (Photo by Cameron Curran)
  • Yellow warbler (Photo by Cameron Curran)
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Yellow warbler (Photo by Cameron Curran)
  • Noisy killdeer chick (Photo by Cameron Curran)
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Noisy killdeer chick (Photo by Cameron Curran)
  • Balsam ragwort and painted cup: alvar wildflowers of Carden (Photo by Cameron Curran)
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Wildflowers of Carden Alvar (Photo by Cameron Curran)
  • Snapping turtle (Photo by Cameron Curran)
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Snapping turtle (Photo by Cameron Curran)
  • Blanding's turtle (Photo by Cameron Curran)
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Blanding's turtle (Photo by Cameron Curran)

 

This article originally appeared in Mud Inspired Nature Blog and is reposted with permission on Land Lines.

About the Author

Cameron Curran is an active volunteer at the Couchiching Conservancy in Orillia, Ontario. He is an avid outdoor photographer and enjoys exploring the "Land Between" ecotone in Sebright, Ontario.

Read more about Cameron Curran.

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