Tuesday, April 27, 2010

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Last Post!

Hello Boys and Girls!

Today was our last day in the field, and in fact, we were only out in the field for half a day because they wanted to give us some time to Skype with our classrooms. We went out this morning to check our traps for the final time and to collect them and clean them out for the next Earthwatch group to use them. Caroline and I didn't catch anything today except for a lot of slugs and a few earthworms! However, other groups caught 5 red-backed voles. We were expecting to catch more mammals here but because the weather was so poor, that didn't happen.

This will be my last posting to you as my journey is coming to an end and I will be home on Saturday. I hope you all learned a lot from my experience through this blog and via Skype. I learned so much by being here and can't wait to share more of my learning with you when I return. This has truly been a once in a lifetime experience and I am so glad that I got to share it with you.

One thing that I have learned and really want to you to remember is that it is our responsibility to take care of our earth. By studying small mammals over the past two weeks, I have been able to see how much these mammals are effected by the actions of people. Each person can make a difference whether it's turning off a light when you leave a room, using reusable bags when you go to the grocery store, picking up litter off the ground, or recycling at home. All of those small things truly add up and it is your job to do these things for our earth and encourage others to do the same. Just think about every time we turn the lights out when we walk out of our classroom or throw recyclable items in to the recycle bin. By doing that, we are doing one small thing to help our earth.

I have also learned that in order to do good things for our earth, we have to manage and conserve our resources. I got a lot of comments from people on Wednesday commenting that we were cutting down trees on Earth Day and how that seemed like the opposite of what we should be doing. However, in order to be responsible with our resources, we need to maintain them. We were cutting down trees in order to make a trail through the forest that others could enjoy. Our scientists want others to use this land and enjoy its wildlife, however, no one would want to do that if there weren't trails to follow.

Finally, I have learned that climate change not only effects small mammals, but it also effects humans as well. Although you may believe that having a warmer climate would be enjoyable to live in, the truth is that it greatly effects the way that animal populations survive and greatly effects their way of life and their survival. What are some small things that you could do at home or at school that would help our earth?

I also want to extend many thanks to Wells Fargo for their support of Earthwatch and their missions. Without their generous financial contribution, my trip would not have been possible and I wouldn't have been able to bring all of my great learning back to you. I also want to thank Dr. Newman and Dr. Bueshing for running this Earthwatch Expedition. They are so kind and so very knowledgeable about the ways that climate change is effecting mammal species and they are doing some great work and great research that benefits mammals all over the world.

Finally, you all have been asking me to post pictures of where I have been staying. I have included some of them for your enjoyment. The first picture is of the green house. The green house is where the women live. The second picture is of the yellow house where they guys live. I then have a picture of the kitchen, living room, and dining room of the green house. The last picture is of my bedroom that I share with Miss Beeman.

I can't wait to see all of you on Monday!!! Have a great weekend and I will see you all very soon! Also, Mrs. Hamilton, thank you so much for being with my class over the last two weeks. I haven't had to worry about a thing while you have been there and I know my kids were in great hands! Thank you for taking the time to share my blog with them everyday, even though you had a hundred other things to do each day!

Love,
Mrs. Quam :)

Chipmunks: 3
Red-Backed Voles: 16
Deer Mice: 3
Garter Snakes: 4
Mystery Snake: 1
Porcupine: 2
Muskrat: 1
Beaver: 2
Deer: 7
Toad: 1
Bald Eagle: 1
Grouse: 1
Red Squirrel: 2
Partridge: 1
Osprey: 2
Turkey: 1
Guinea Fowl: 7
Mallard Duck: 1
Slugs and Earthworms: Too many to count!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Another Soggy Day!

Hello Boys and Girls!

Today was another very wet and miserable day in Nova Scotia. It rained on us all day long and I was soaking wet by the end of the day. The good news is that Caroline and I caught a chipmunk in one of our traps today. It was so wet that we didn't catch much today.

We were disappointed today because our article was not published in the newspaper today. We are hoping that it makes the paper tomorrow and I will keep you posted.

We went back out to Cook's Lake today and in the morning we checked our traps and then did field sign transects. A field sign transect is when you follow trails through the forest and mark down all of the field signs you see like nests, tracks, droppings, porcupine damage, etc. Because it was so wet, we didn't see much today. After lunch, we built a new trail that actually leads from the main entrance down to Cook's Lake. I looked at all of your name suggestions and I was very impressed. I will keep you posted on the name we choose.

As for the skulls, some of your guesses were correct, others were way off! :) The first skull is a picture of a cow. The second skull is from a deer, and the last skull is from a porcupine. You are also correct that an animal that eats only meat is a carnivore.

I don't have much to add today because the weather was so poor so I have included two maps of Nova Scotia to show you all of the places that I have been since being here. I am also looking forward to Skyping with you for the last time this afternoon.

http://www.earthwatch2.org/lff/beeman/uploaded_images/map-753670.jpg


Places that I have visited include:

Halifax
Lunenburg
Liverpool
Bridgewater
Cherry Hill (Between Liverpool and Bridgewater)
Kejimkujik National Park (The map below shows where this is in Nova Scotia)

http://www.earthwatch2.org/lff/beeman/uploaded_images/keji-726038.jpg

I hope this helps you in understanding where I am in the world. :) I'm giving you a break from questions today since we are Skyping this afternoon but I would like for you to have some good questions ready if possible. Also, you will be meeting my trapping partner, Caroline tomorrow so be thinking of some questions to ask her as well.

Tomorrow (Friday) will be my last blog entry and I will post photos of the house I am staying in. Sometime next week I will try and have a slide show ready for you where I can show you some more pictures and video that I took that I was unable to post on my blog. Can't wait to see you on Skype!

Miss you lots!
Love,
Mrs. Quam :)

Chipmunks: 3
Red-Backed Voles: 11
Deer Mice: 3
Garter Snakes: 4
Mystery Snake: 1
Porcupine: 2
Muskrat: 1
Beaver: 2
Deer: 7
Toad: 1
Bald Eagle: 1
Grouse: 1
Red Squirrel: 2
Partridge: 1
Osprey: 2
Turkey: 1
Guinea Fowl: 4
Mallard Duck: 1

Labels:

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Soggy Day!


Hello Boys and Girls!

Today we were back out at Cook's Lake. The first thing we did this morning was to open the doors of our grassland traps so we could catch some small mammals and then we checked our woodland traps for mammals. Today was a very cold and rainy day in Nova Scotia. Because of this, we only caught two voles in our traps today! Luckily, Caroline and I caught one in our trap. We were very excited that we caught this vole because the reporter from the Nova Scotian newspaper was there when we caught it. She took a picture of me holding our vole and also of us releasing the vole in our maze. It took our vole 50 seconds to get out of the maze. It didn't really want to go out because it didn't want to get wet! The reporter also interviewed me and took my name so I am hoping to be in the paper. The article is supposed to be printed in Wednesday's paper so on our way home from the field, we plan to stop in town and pick up copies of the newspaper to bring home.

After releasing our voles, my group went and did 20 deer transects, 10 in the woodlands and 10 in the grasslands. Deer transects are when we set up a 10 meter by 10 meter square. We then walk the square looking for deer droppings. We count the droppings in order to estimate the number of deer in a particular area. Today we found a ton of droppings in the grassland but very few droppings in the woodlands.

Because it was so cold and wet today, we only saw two voles all day, however, while doing transects we discovered three different animal skulls in the woodlands. I have posted a picture of each of the skulls and I would like to you guess what kind of animal the skull belongs to.

After completing the transects we ate lunch and then began cutting a trail through the woodlands. Our scientists want these trails in place so that it is easier for them to get through the forest and easier for the Earthwatch volunteers to set traps. We cut down several trees today and got very dirty. It was very hard work and we were exhausted when we got home. Because we were able to complete a whole trail today, our scientists want us to name the trail. We are kind of stuck and were hoping you could brainstorm some ideas about what we could name our trail. Please post any of your suggestions in the comments section. Each of us are asking our students for suggestions. There will be a prize for the person we choose to name the trail. Put your thinking caps on and be creative! :)

As for my questions yesterday, biodiversity means the different species of plants and animals that can coexist in a habitat. The more biodiverse an area is, the more plant and animal species it will contain and the healthier it is.

A herbivore is an animal that only eats plants while an omnivore is an animal that eats both plants and animals. What is an animal called that only eats meat?

Finally, I have included a couple of other animal pictures for your enjoyment. The first picture is of a turkey that we saw in the road. We actually had to stop our van in order for it to cross the road! Do you think this turkey is a male or a female? How can you tell?

I have also included a picture of a mallard duck. The mallard is one of the most beautiful ducks I have ever seen because of the brillant green coloring on its head. I hope you enjoy both of these pictures.

I hope you are having a great time with Mrs. Hamilton! Remember to continue to share my blog with your parents! Happy Earth Day! Please take the time today to do something good for the earth! Tomorrow (Thursday) I will be asking you to share with me in the comment section some examples of things you did either at home or at school for our earth to celebrate Earth Day.

Miss you lots!
Love,
Mrs. Quam :)

Chipmunks: 2
Red-Backed Voles: 9
Deer Mice: 3
Garter Snakes: 4
Mystery Snake: 1
Porcupine: 2
Muskrat: 1
Beaver: 2
Deer: 7
Toad: 1
Bald Eagle: 1
Grouse: 1
Red Squirrel: 2
Partridge: 1
Osprey: 2
Turkey: 1
Guinea Fowl: 4
Mallard Duck: 1

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cook's Lake

Hello Boys and Girls!

Today we went to our new research site that we are going to be at this week and it's called, Cook's Lake. Cook's Lake and the land around it actually belongs to the scientists in charge of our expedition. They have owned it for about 22 years now and are doing a lot of different things in order to preserve the land and conserve the wildlife that is present in this area.

We started off this morning by taking a hike around the grounds so we could get a feel for the land and the wild life that inhabits this area. There is a small pond on land that was made by the government in order to prevent forest fires from spreading. There is also a larger lake near the back of the property that is actually called, Cook's Lake. We didn't get down there today but we will later on in the week. The land is made up both deep forest as well as grasslands. Because of the biodiversity of this area, this land makes the perfect habitat for all sorts of animals. Several reptiles and amphibians like salamanders, snakes, and frogs can be found on the land because it is so wet. We also saw a beautiful mallard duck today that I will post tomorrow. What do you think the word, "biodiversity" means? Why is biodiversity important for wildlife?

After our hike, we refilled our traps with grass and seeds and set them back out in order to catch more small mammals. We put 50 traps in the forest and 50 traps on the grasslands. Why do you think we did this? We left the doors on the forest traps open hoping to catch some mammals but we closed the doors on the traps in the grasslands because here, there are mammals called short tailed shrews that live in the grasslands, however, they can't survive in our traps for very long because they would get too cold. So, instead of leaving our grassland traps open at night, we open the doors in the morning when we get there, and then we check our traps at lunch and right before we leave each night so we don't kill one of the shrews. We also might be able to catch something called a jumping mouse and a meadow vole. I'm hoping I have new pictures of some of these animals later in the week if we are lucky and catch some of them. While we were setting our traps today, we also saw two garter snakes, so we have seen lots of snakes so far on our expedition.

Tomorrow we will have a very busy day because a journalist from a local newspaper here in Nova Scotia is coming out to interview us and learn about the research we have been doing. She is then going to be writing a column for the paper so I'll be sure to bring a copy of the newspaper back with me so you can see it. Also, if it is online, I will send the link so you can check it out.

Now, on to the questions that I asked you yesterday. The first picture is of a beaver and the second picture is of the muskrat. You can tell that it is a beaver because when it is swimming, you can't see it's tail. Beavers swim with their legs and arms while muskrats swim with their tails. Other characteristics of beavers are that they can be up to 30 pounds, build dams and live in lodges, and are herbivores. What are herbivores? Muskrats usually weigh about 3 pounds, they normally live on the shore and burrow into the side of the lake or river, and muskrats are omnivores. What are omnivores?

As for the trap that had a closed door, but we didn't find anything in it, that could have happened for a couple of reasons. The first possibility is that it was a shrew that escaped. In each trap there is a small hole called a shrew hole. This is because we don't want to catch small shrews because they can freeze to death in our traps so there is a hole in the back of the traps so the shrews can escape from the traps, but nothing else can. A shrew might have gotten into our trap which made the door close, but then he escaped out the back of the trap. Another possibility is that a snake may have slithered through our trap and made the door close and then it too, could have escaped out of the shrew hole.

Finally, a hemlock forest is a very old forest, usually 300-400 years old that contains mostly hemlock trees. Hemlock trees grow in very acidic soil and can grow to be very large. I have posted a picture of my friends, Mr. Wolf and Mr. Wignall hugging one of the hemlocks. They could barely touch hands around the tree. Hemlock forests have very little undergrowth because they are so tall, they let very little light down to the forest floor. The forest floor is usually covered in different types of mosses and makes a good habitat for reptiles and larger mammals. Hemlock trees are also so old, you can see most of their roots because the soil around them has been eroded from weather. I have also posted a picture of a hemlock tree growing on top of a rock. When it first started growing, there was soil underneath it, but as it grew older, the soil was eroded away and started growing on the rock that was below it.

Finally, I have included a picture that I took on Sunday from Kejimkujik National Park. It is of a deer we saw walking next to the road as we were on our way to our hike. Several of you have been asking for a picture of a deer so here you finally have it! :)

We still do not have any new information about the snake that we found. We are very curious and hope we get an answer soon. You also asked me about an oprey and a grouse. Go to this web address to find a definition and a picture of an osprey: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osprey

As for the grouse, visit this web address for a picture and more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grouse

I hope you guys are learning a lot! Please keep posting questions if you have them and comments. I miss you all very much! I can't wait to get back!

Love,
Mrs. Quam :)

Chipmunks: 2
Red-Backed Voles: 7
Deer Mice: 3
Garter Snakes: 4
Mystery Snake: 1
Porcupine: 2
Muskrat: 1
Beaver: 2
Deer: 7
Toad: 1
Bald Eagle: 1
Grouse: 1
Red Squirrel: 2
Partridge: 1
Osprey: 2
Turkey: 1
Guinea Fowl: 4
Mallard Duck: 1

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The End to a Busy Week!


On Thursday night we went beaver watching at a pond near where we are staying. While we were there, we saw two types of animals, a beaver and a muskrat. Can you tell which picture is a beaver and which picture is a muskrat? What is the difference between a beaver and a muskrat? The third picture is of a beaver splashing in the water. He was splashing at us because he saw us and he was telling us that he had seen us and wanted us to leave. The last picture shows a beaver lodge. This is a very active lodge. According to our scientists, beavers mate for life and usually two to four beavers live in a lodge at one time, the mom, dad, and their babies.
On Friday morning, we went back to the field and checked our trap for the very last time at the East Port research site. Caroline and I had two traps that had closed doors but when we brought them back to check them, we only had one trap with something in it. We had trapped another red-backed vole. However, our other trap had nothing in it. Why do you think the door on the trap was closed but we didn't find anything in it?

I also have an update on the huge snake we found last Thursday. We sent pictures off to several scientists and university professors who specialized in snakes, and it is not a rat snake like we first thought. Some of the experts emailed us back and they thought it was a species of garter snake that was unusually large. We still don't know for sure but I will keep you posted as we get more information about it. I also was able to add the picture on Friday's post that I was unable to load then of the snake so you need to take a look at my last post and check out the new picture that I posted of that snake.

Saturday was our only research-free day and we spent all day in Halifax, which is the capital of Nova Scotia. Please find this on a map if you haven't already. We went to several different places in the city and ate some really good food. A lot of the people that are with me like seafood so they were able to eat really good seafood since we are very close to the ocean. In fact, we ate dinner at a restaurant that overlooked the ocean. I also bought something to bring back to our classroom that represents Nova Scotia and I will share that with you when I return.

Finally today, we visited Nova Scotia's National Park called Kejimkujik National Park. We went on a 7 mile hike through the park and saw two deer while we were there. I got a great picture for you and I will share it with you on my post tomorrow. We were very tired when we returned. We hiked through a hemlock forest. What do you think a hemlock forest is? We also saw another porcupine and tried to get a few good pictures we had some camera issues and couldn't get one taken. Hopefully we see another one this week that I can share with you. I have updated my "Animals Seen" list at the bottom of the page. I have added a turkey, guinea foul, grouse, an osprey, and a partridge. If you do not know what these animals are, look them up if you get a chance. We are going out to a new research site tomorrow (Monday) and will be setting new traps so hopefully I'll have some new animals to share with you on Tuesday, if Caroline and I are lucky enough to catch anything in our traps. Hope you all had a great weekend! If you have any questions, please let me know. I hope to Skype with you again on Thursday afternoon!

Love,
Mrs. Quam :)

Chipmunks: 2
Voles: 7
Mice: 3
Garter Snakes: 2
Mystery Snake: 1
Porcupine: 2
Muskrat: 1
Beaver: 2
Deer: 7
Toad: 1
Bald Eagle: 1
Grouse: 1
Red Squirrel: 2
Partridge: 1
Osprey: 2
Turkey: 1
Guinea Fowl: 4

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Another busy day!



Today was yet another exciting day! I was so happy to see all of you today! I miss you all very much and I was very happy to read your comments! I told you all about most of it when I was skyping with you this morning but I have some very exciting pictures to share. Before I post my pictures though, I wanted explain a few things to you. The first question I asked you was about clipping the mammals fur when we capture one in our trap. We cut a small part of the mammals hair because it takes off a small bit of the animals lighter top fur and shows us a strip of its darker underfur. We want to see the darker underfur because if we trap the same mammal again, we can automatically tell if we have already captured it by looking for the clip mark.

I also asked you about why we collect hare droppings. We collect the droppings because by counting the number of pellets we find in an area, we can estimate the population of hares (rabbits) living in the area. This is important because knowing the population of a species and keeping track of the numbers of rabbits can help us see how climate change is effecting the hare population, either good or bad. I will explain more about this when we Skype again.

Finally I asked you about adaptation. Animals make adaptations over several decades or centuries in order to better live in their environment. An example of an adaptation is the snowshoe hare. In the spring, summer and fall, the hare is brown so that it blends in with its environment. In the winter, its fur turns white so that it can blend into the snow. It is important that animals make adaptations because if they didn't, not all species would survive.

This afternoon after I talked with you, we went back out to our research site and checked our traps. Caroline and I didn't catch anything this afternoon. Team A has caught 2 mammals, Team B has caught 0 mammals (we feel really bad for them), Team C has caught 3, Caroline and I (Team D) have caught 3, and Team E has caught 4 mammals. Tomorrow morning will be the last time that we check the traps at this research site and then next week, we will set them out in a new site.

We also went beaver watching tonight. We were able to see two beaver and one muskrat. I have a great picture of a muskrat and will post it over the weekend. On our way home from beaver watching we saw a porcupine in the front yard of someones house but it waddled away before any of us get a picture of it. It was a lot bigger than I thought. We hope to see another one this weekend. We also saw three white-tailed deer in a field, but again, they ran away before we could get pictures. Some of you have asked me to post a picture of a deer, but I don't have any yet. If I get some, I will definitely put them up.

I do not have time tonight to answer all of the comments you posted today but I will try and take a look at them and answer them over the weekend. A lot of you asked me where I was staying and what it looked like. I will take some pictures this weekend of the house I am staying at so you can see it.

Now, time for your homework! :) This weekend we are going on a hike through Kejimkujik National Park. I would like you to predict what animals I might see while I am there. Also, if you have time, I would like you to look online or at a map of Nova Scotia and find the following places: Kejimkujik National Park, Bridgewater, Liverpool, Halifax, Cooks Lake and Cherry Hill. I will be spending time in all of these places while I am here and I would like for you to know where those places are located. I will also be showing you these places when I return.

Finally I will post some pictures that I took today. The first picture is of the garter snake that I found. The other two pictures are of the big snake we found today. (I actually only posted one because the other one wouldn't upload. I'll try and add it tomorrow. Our scientists think that it is a rat snake but aren't for sure. My friend, Mr. Wignall is holding the snake...I didn't even touch it! :) Can't wait to see you all when we skype today!

By the way, I have included a count of all of the animals that I have seen so far. I'll try and remember to update it each day.

Chipmunks: 2
Voles: 7
Mice: 3
Garter Snakes: 1
Rat Snake: 1
Porcupine: 1
Muskrat: 1
Beaver: 2
Deer: 4
Toad: 1
Bald Eagle: 1
Grouse: 1
Red Squirrel: 1

Love,
Mrs. Quam :)