Happy World Wildlife Day!

Today is the day we officially celebrate wildlife around the world. Even though March 3rd is officially set aside as World Wildlife Day, I encourage any readers to seek out nature and wildlife any day of the year. Spending time in and with the wild is a constant reminder to me that we need to conserve our wilderness and protect our wildlife. Below, I’ve shared five wildlife experiences that I hope inspire you to spend some time outside.

Red Fox by Claire Elliott

I took this photo of the fox shortly after it had chased a wolverine out of its territory. I know it sounds like I’ve got it backwards, but this is one impressive fox! During that summer, he and his mate raised 5 beautiful fox kits. Daring Lake, NWT.

Blue-spotted Salamander2

I was at Mud Lake flipping logs when some hikers passed me. I got the impression they thought my behaviour a little odd. Luckily I found this salamander just after they left and I was able to call them back. It was the first time any of the hikers had seen a salamander and they seemed quite captivated by it. I was glad I could share a wildlife moment with them. Ottawa, ON

CommonTernJuvenile

This summer I was lucky enough to take part in a Common Tern census of a breeding colony off the coast of NB. The day we arrived many of the chicks had just hatched or were in the process of hatching. Later going back to the region, I was able to see older tern chicks, like the one above (who is begging for food). It was great to see them at many stages of development. Tabusintac, NB

American Snout 1

If you’re looking for a wildlife experience but don’t have great access to the wilderness, don’t forget nature in the city. I love participating in citizen science initiatives, such as eBird and eButterfly, and many of my observations, like this American Snout Butterfly, come from in-city parks. Spartanburg, SC.

Flounder

Having grown up inland, I have very little ocean experience. I was thrilled this past summer, when I spent some time in a tidal flat and saw so many interesting creatures. This particular fish is a flounder.As flounders age, they transition from swimming upright to swimming in a flat position, like it’s being held in the above photo. During this this transition, the eye that is now on the bottom of their body migrates to the top of the face with the other eye! Charlottetown, PEI.

The Great Backyard Bird Count

I don’t really need more excuses to go out birding, but I’ll take them as they come regardless. Last weekend, from Feb 12 to 15, was the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), a worldwide citizen science project that tries to capture an ‘annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds’. Contrary to it’s name, the GBBC does not require one to bird in a backyard (great news for us apartment dwellers).

I focused my efforts on Wellington county, my new home turf, and was able to find some new birding spots. For the second GBBC in a row the temperature was frigid, but that didn’t keep the birds at bay. Over the course of the count, I found 28 species including some highlights; Snow Buntings, Purple Finches, and a Merlin!

Weekend Algonquin Rendezvous – Mammals

In addition to seeing many great birds at Algonquin Provincial Park last weekend, my group was treated to a handful of fantastic mammal sightings. This was the first Pine Marten I’ve ever seen and it gave us quite the display. Within seconds of us spotting it, it nearly nabbed a Red Squirrel. After the squirrel got away, the marten treated us to a display of tree climbing gymnasts.

I think it should be noted however, that all of the mammals in my photos came out into the open because of previous incidents where park visitors have fed them (note: no one in my group fed any of the animals below). While it may be tempting to leave out some food in order to see these fabulous creatures, being fed is often to their detriment (and yours, as you will be fined). Feeding can cause human/wildlife conflicts, increase the chances of the animal being hit by a car, and can harm the health of the creature. I’m grateful that I got to see fox, marten, deer, and squirrels last weekend, but I really do prefer spotting my wildlife far from the influence of humans where I know that the animals’ safety is not at risk.

Weekend Algonquin Rendezvous – Birds

This past weekend I went to Algonquin Provincial Park with some good friends. It was both my first time at Algonquin and my first time seeing a few of the boreal birds we came across. Though it took me awhile to get to Algonquin the first time, I don’t think it will be long before I’m back. It is a beautiful park!

Playing the New Brunswick Tourist

Searching for Butterflies in Fundy National Park.

Searching for Butterflies, Fundy National Park.

A few weeks back, my partner Michael and I took a weekend to explore the Bay of Fundy.  Normally I am travelling New Brunswick for work, so it was great to get to travel as a tourist. However, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and the places we chose to visit look a lot like the sites where I work. I’m a sucker for nature! The two highlights of the trip were our visits to Hopewell Rocks and Fundy National Park. Both are fantastic examples of Canada’s stunning landscapes, and I am very glad they will be protected for generations to come. All of the beautiful photos in this post were taken by Michael. He has been the inspiration for me to take a camera into the field to capture some of the animals and plants I come across.

Playing in a Tidal Flat

Tidal Flats

Being from Ontario, I have almost no experience with oceans and their wonderful creatures. Working in the Maritimes this summer has been a new adventure, and I’m slowly piling up ocean experiences.  One evening during a work trip to Prince Edward Island, my colleague and decided to investigate beaches near Charlottetown. While we never found the beach we were looking for, we ended up at an even better place, the Tea Hill Park tidal flats. Between the flounder trying to hide under our feet, or the shrimps hitching rides on our ankles, it was a magical place. Before we knew it, the sun was going down and the evening had flown away.

Last Summer for the Maritimes Butterfly Atlas

Great Spangled Fritillary

Great Spangled Fritillary – Fredericton, NB

When I moved to New Brunswick, I was aware of the Maritimes Butterfly Atlas, a project of the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre, but I was disappointed to find out that 2014 was the last season for participation. I don’t really need an official purpose to go out an look for butterflies, but it’s nice to know that your data is useful. So, much to my delight, it was announced just over a month ago that the data collection period for the atlas was being extended to cover 2015 as well. The extension was made to match the end date of the Maine Butterlfly Survey, so that the results could be published jointly. For those already keeping track of the butterflies they see, participating in the atlas is as simple as submitting your records (with a photo) to eButterfly. So, if anyone reading this blog happens to be from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, or Maine for that matter, next time you see a butterfly this summer, think about snapping a picture and contributing to this great citizen science project.

Here are just a few of the butterflies I’ve seen this summer that are now submitted to atlas: