Yuki’s Canadian Adventure – Part 1
Last week, we visited some of our nature reserves on the Bruce Peninsula to do species at risk surveys with help from the Ontario Land Trust Alliance (OLTA). There are a lot of species at risk found in that area and the Massasauga Rattlesnake is one of them. We surveyed the forest to look for them, because they like cooler temperatures we concentrated on shady areas and looked for them under rocks. However, it was too hot – above 29°C – and we didn’t find any that day.
On the last day, it was cooler because it had rained the previous night and morning. We walked around one of our nature reserves and finally found two Massasaugas. One of them was so small that its tail didn’t make any sound when it rattled. This makes young rattlesnakes more dangerous because they are unable to warn you if you get too close. This one was found in a clearing in the forest. The clearing provides an area for basking but it is also close to the forest edge. Staying close to the forest allows them to go back into a safer place quickly if they are threatened.
The other snake was bigger than the first one and its pattern and sound told us more clearly that it was the Massasauga. This snake was found at the lakeshore hiding between the rocks and behind shrubs. There were no tall trees in the area however; rocks provide a place to escape the heat and shrubs allow them to escape and hide from threats.
At night, we conducted bat surveys. During the first survey, we could only hear one bat however; the detector recorded several that we were unable to hear at the time. During the second bat survey, we heard many different kinds of bat. The echolocation of each species of bat has a slightly different pattern so we could distinguish them based on their sounds. Because we were away from major city centers, there was very little light pollution during the bat surveys. We were able to see the sky filled with beautiful stars, which was really nice.
In addition to animals, we were also looking for plant species
at risk including Hill’s Thistle and Dwarf Lake Iris. Both were found in similar habitats, which were surrounded by trees but the plants only occurred in gaps in the forest. After we found one plant, we searched the surrounding area and found many more individuals. We found large numbers of Dwarf Lake Iris and Hill’s Thistle on two other nature reserves during the survey.
Above all, we succeeded in identifying habitat of species at risk on our nature reserves. This is really important because it allows us to better protect these species and the habitats they need. Being away from a big city and being exposed to nature was very refreshing. Trips up north always remind me of the importance of spending time in nature.
EBC volunteer – visiting from Japan