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:

As for the grouse, visit this web address for a picture and more information:

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!

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


At April 21, 2009 at 2:30 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Mrs. Quam!
We think an herbivore is an animal that eats herbs. Is that no meat? We think an omnivore is an animal that eats both plants and animals.
We want you to tell us what biodiversity means?
We are always anxious to hear what you have to teach and tell us! We are learning about air in science. It is fun!
We miss you and are waiting for you to come back to school. But, have all the fun you can while you're there!
Love you.....your class.

At April 21, 2009 at 3:54 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Mrs.Quam Did you meet eny new freinds. do you like the food you get

At April 21, 2009 at 8:54 PM , Blogger Mrs. Quam said...

Hi Josie-

I have met many new friends since I have been here. There are 11 of us here and we are all teachers. We all get along great and have been having a really good time. My new friends are so funny that we spend most of our days laughing while we are working in the field.

As for the food, I have LOVED the food we have eaten here, except for Monday night. The scientists made us fish pie which was a whole bunch of vegetables, pieces of fish, and cheese stirred into a big pan of mashed potatoes. It looked delicious but I didn't eat any because I don't really like fish. Other than that, the food has been great! We work up quite an appetite after working outside all day long.

Thanks for your question! Can't wait to see you soon!

Mrs. Quam :)


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