World Wetlands Day

In honour of World Wetlands Day, I thought I would contribute a collage of my experiences in various wetlands. Wetlands (bogs, fens, marshes, swamps, and shallow open water) filter our water, prevent flooding, provide habitat for various wildlife, and add to the beauty of our natural world, amongst other ecological services. I am glad that spending time in wetlands is a part of my life.

New Brunswick Explorations: Photo Update




Exploring the Natural World of South Carolina

From April 23rd to 29th I was fortunate to visit my father who is now living in the Greenville and Spartanburg region of South Carolina. It was great to be back in the state.  When I was a young child, my paternal grandparents lived in Aiken, South Carolina, and I have very fond memories of visiting them each March break.  A lot of features were immediately familiar to me; the pine forests, the red clay soils, and the intense spring sunshine.

During the day while my father was at work, my partner and I spent our time exploring natural areas in the locality. My favourite spot was easily the Edwin M. Griffin Nature Preserve located in Spartanburg, SC.  This is a small urban nature preserve chock-full of trails and boardwalks.  The central wetland in the preserve was a super bird hotspot. It was a pleasure to just sit on the boardwalk and see what would fly by. Many of the trees in the preserve were labelled, which was a great learning tool for this northerner.

The second excellent natural area that we visited was the Lake Conestee Nature Park, just minutes from downtown Greenville, SC. This park had it all; lakes, wetland, hardwood and evergreen forests, and an extensive trail system. The park is listed by the Audubon Society as an Important Bird Area, so it was a shoe-in for a visit.

Over the next week or so I will be posting reports on all of the amazing wildlife I came across during my trip, so stay tuned for some birds, butterflies, and other interesting creatures!

2014 in Review

Daring Lake

Enjoying a hike to the “forests” of Daring Lake.


2014 has been a fantastic year for all things outdoors.  I’m very grateful for all of the learning opportunities that have come my way. Here is to a great 2015!


Here are the links to some of the organizations I’ve worked with this year.

Tundra Blooms: Part 2

I have officially returned to school in Ontario after my long stay in the Arctic.  The final few weeks of my stay at Daring Lake were rather hectic and I was not able to find time to complete a final set of blog posts.  As such I will continue to post about Daring for another week or two until I have exhausted all of my photos.  To start with, here is the second instalment of the Tundra Blooms series.


COMPOSITAE: The aster/daisy/sunflower family

Alpine Arnica – This wildflower was restricted to a single south facing slope on the south shores of Daring Lake.  The blooms I photographed were present in the first week of July, but the start of blooming probably took place a week or two earlier.

Pussytoes – This unfortunately named flower began to bloom in the third week of June.  Typically Pussytoes was found on dry, bare esker tops.


LENTIBULARIACEAE: The bladderwort family

Hairy Butterwort – Butterwort blooms appeared in the third week of June in wet areas dominated by Sphagnum mosses.  This particular plant is carnivorous.  The small basal leaves are covered with a sticky liquid on their upper surfaces that is used to trap insects.


ROSACEAE: The rose family

Snow Cinquefoil – One of the earliest flowers to bloom, I captured these pictures of Snow Cinquefoil in the second week of June. Snow Cinquefoil was located on dry, bare esker tops, often growing in clusters with Pussytoes pictured above.

Swamp Cinquefoil – Swamp Cinquefoil was found blooming in wet riparian areas in the third week of June.  However, like the Arnica, I found these flowers late and guess that blooming began one or two weeks earlier.

Cloudberry – One of the many delicious berries present on the tundra, Cloudberry flowers first appeared in the third week of June.  Cloudberry could be found across most tundra types, from heath tundra to shrub tundra.


LEGUMINOSAE: The  pea family

Locoweed – Locoweed blooms were found in the third week of June.  These wildflowers were located on the tops of dry, bare eskers, often growing intermixed with Alpine Bilberry.

Tundra Blooms: Part 1

Last summer I didn’t start my field season until early July.  The tundra was lovely and green when I arrived, but unfortunately I missed seeing most of the wildflowers bloom. This year I was lucky enough to start my adventure in late May and I got to enjoy the bulk of the flowering season.

I thought I’d put together a recap of all the flowers I’ve seen.  Here is part one.

ERICACEAE: The heath family

Alpine Azalea – The first blooms appeared in the first week of June.  Alpine Azalea grows in large patches on rocky, south-facing esker slopes and heath tundra.

Alpine Bear Berry – Alpine Bear Berry blooms are quite subtle and easy to mistake for new leaves.  These flowers appeared in the first week of June.  Bear Berry coats the esker tops and also occurs in heath tundra.

Alpine Bilberry – Bilberry blooms first appeared in the second week of June.  Alpine Bilberry can be found growing tall in shrub tundra or crawling along the ground on exposed esker faces.


Lapland Rosebay – I found Lapland Rosebay flowers in the second week of June.  These plants cultivate  bare, rocky esker faces.

Labrador Tea – Labrador Tea began to bloom in the third week of June.  It is a widely distributed plant, occurring prominently in most vegetation communities with the exception of the fens and gravel-faced esker tops.

Bog Laurel – I found Bog Laurel blooms in the third week of June.  One group was found in a wet area that was once the location of a small pond.  The second group was found in a riparian area near our stream research site.

Bog Rosemary – Bog Rosemary began to bloom in the second week of June.  It most abundantly occurs in wet areas dominated by Sphagnum mosses but can also be found in dry tundra communities.

Arctic White Heather – I found a patch of blooming Arctic White Heather on the last day of June.  This plant can be found on steep north-facing esker slopes.

Dry Ground Cranberry – Dry Ground Cranberry began to bloom around the last week of June.  This plant is probably the most widely distributed plant at Daring Lake (in competition with Betula glandulosa).  It occurs in wet and dry conditions, on the eskers and throughout the valleys.

Bog Cranberry – I found the first blooms in the first week of July.  Bog cranberry is not as widely distributed as Dry Ground Cranberry. It occurs in patches of Sphagnum mosses in wet areas.

Mountain Heather – Mountain Heather blooms were found in the first week of July.  This plant was found in the riparian area near our stream research site.