Twelve volunteers armed with spreadsheets and cameras traipsed through the Grand Codroy Estuary on Sunday, Sept. 23, in search of birds.
They goal was to records sightings of various bird species, and their locations and habitats, for an inventory for the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC).
Julia Lawler, Newfoundland and Labrador’s Stewardship Assistant, says the information volunteers collected is vital to the NCC.
“Collecting that info really gives us an idea of how important those habitats are to a wide range of species,” Lawler said in an interview. “It also allows us to keep track of how populations may change over time, or if there’s a sighting of a new bird. It’s really important for record keeping and it demonstrates that the habitat supports not just wetland birds or water fowl but all different species of birds.”
A total of 35 species were sighted throughout the day including great blue heron, belted-kingfisher, northern goshawk, and over 350 Canada geese. The findings will be shared through E-bird and with other interested wildlife partners.
Lawler believes the event benefits the volunteers as well.
“I think the volunteers had a wonderful morning,” she said. “There was such passion among the people who were there. People get excited over any kind of bird species they see, and you can see them really taking joy, whether it’s a flock sparrow or an American goldfinch or a northern goshawk.”
The activity also gave volunteers a chance to learn about plant species native to the area.
“There were some beautiful teaching moments,” says Lawler. “One of our longtime volunteers and a member of our Atlantic regional board, Judith May, found a wild mushroom that she . . . identified for us.
“Another woman, Lois Bateman, is quite good at plant ID so while she was out there she was collecting Golden Rod and Asters and was identifying those types of species as well.”
The survey is the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s last event for the year. Lawler says while she is sad to see this phase end, she is looking forward to the programs her team will build for next year.
“It’s always a bit bittersweet when our volunteer season comes to an end,” Lawler said, “but we had such a great year that it’s given us new ideas and a lot of inspiration for planning our events next year.”
Volunteer opportunities with the NCC for 2019 will be announced next spring.