2 volunteers measure stream depth at Taylor NR on Black River

Summer 2022 Notes from the Field

In 2 - Summer, Community Science, Frogs, News, Water by couchiching

Check in throughout the season to see what volunteers and staff have been up to! You never know who, or what, we’ll cross paths with…

Left: Volunteer Susan Crowe and Summer Field Technician Alysha Henry.   Right: A Monarch caterpillar feeding on a Milkweed plant.   Photos: Aiesha Aggarwal

In summer we take to the meadows where Monarch caterpillars hunt for their only source of food:  The Milkweed plant. 

The caterpillars will eventually cocoon and emerge as butterflies, migrate south for winter and mate, fly north again, and lay their eggs which hatch as baby caterpillars to begin their four-stage life cycle all over again.    

Now in it’s second year, our Monarch monitoring program aims to document the abundance of this Species of Special Concern on our nature reserves.   

Left: Summer Field Technician Alysha Henry and volunteer Victoria Phillips with a baby Painted Turtle who didn’t make it across the road.   Right: A dessicated Northern Leopard Frog.   Photos: Aiesha Aggarwal

On June 27th, Alysha, Victoria, and Aiesha monitored the road adjacent to Whitney Wetland (the Monck Road) to catalogue wildlife both alive and dead.
This is part of a new Wildlife on Roads monitoring program we are gradually introducing to all nature reserves beside high traffic roads,  thanks to the support of Road Ecologist Kari Gunson from Peterborough.
This part of Monck Road is where a large wetland area is dissected by the Road with a box culvert allowing water to flow through. Animals moving through the wetland get funnelled to this “Pinch Point” at the road, making it a hotspot for wildlife crossings and mortalities.

Left: Meagan Edwards & Thomas Kaethler    Right: The grumpy Toad.  Photos: Aiesha Aggarwal

On June 24th,  Meagan Edwards and Thomas Kaethler braved the swarming horseflies to make their first water monitoring visit at Taylor Nature Reserve. 
No nitrates or phosphates we’re detected in the water and the stream had healthy dissolved oxygen and turbidity levels, making it suitable to support aquatic life.  Nature reserves with streams are monitored monthly by teams of dedicated volunteers.  

Left: Melanie & Alan Tuck have been patiently waiting for our water supplies to come in so they could take this training. Right: Kevin Burnett & Kate Crawford are a new team who will be monitoring at Scout Valley. Photos: Aiesha Aggarwal

Thanks to all of the new water monitoring volunteers who signed on for training courses offered on May 30th and June 10th at Grant’s Woods and Scout Valley. 
Water monitors test for a variety of water quality indicators such as dissolved oxygen, nitrates, phosphates, alkalinity, temperature, depth, and pH.
The Couchiching Conservancy partners with Copeland Forest friends and the Orillia Fish and Game Conservation Club to monitor the health of significant streams and creeks throughout our region.

Left: Amina Mohammed & Meaghan Coughlin at Prospect Marsh. Centre: Ryan & Cassy Lamoureux at Ling Easement. Right: Aiesha Aggarwal, Courtney Thompson & Lorelie Cornish at Carthew Bay.

Frog call monitoring is a going concern from late March to early July, and the program has grown to 50 volunteers since we began the program in 2017.  

Volunteers are trained to identify the 9 species of frogs and one toad found in our region by their mating call.   They then rate the abundance of each species at their site using a calling code system developed by Birds Canada for their Marsh Monitoring program.  

Over the years, this gives us the ability to identify  the types of frogs we have at each nature reserve and monitor their population levels for signs of increase or decline.  

The season has now wrapped up for another year.  

See more frog monitoring teams and other photos from our adventures in the field here

Click here to read the Spring 2022 Notes from the Field