Sunday, July 23, 2006

Touring the Wye Marsh

The Wye Marsh is a sort of nature conservatory and open-walled zoo in one. It's an interesting place to visit anytime, although, because my mother volunteers there and I can visit at no charge, I probably visit more than most.

Here I am with KwandongAlex. He is watching the Blandings Turtle or maybe the stuffed beaver while I am recovering from rollerblading to the Marsh.

The turtle has an interesting and sad back-story. I asked the curator about it's asymmetrical shell- it was more like a cresting wave than a smooth semi-circle- and he told me it had started as a pet and suffered from malnutrition. The lack of vitamin D gave it a weak shell that deformed when it was young. It seems comfortable enough now.

These days, the Marsh is known for it's work to re-introduce Trumpeter Swans into the region. Here is one - the white thing behind it is in fact a rock.

On Sunday evening, I joined a guided canoe tour through some of the marsh. Sara (below) and Adrian, the curator, sterned two large canoes and took twelve clients deep into the unknown. If you click on the picture, it will expand. At the top, one-third from the left, is the Martyr's Shrine, approximately where we started. Although it seems like open field, between us and that hill are nothing but cattails and bullrushes.

The Marsh is used for a variety of research purposes and is home to at least a few endangered species. We saw one, the black tern, during our paddle.

The Marsh, as with every other public space, has bureaucratic challenges to overcome. The part of the marsh that most visitors see is a National Wildlife area that the volunteer organization, "Friends of the Wye Marsh" run. The greater marsh is a Provincial Wildlife Area that the organization has stewardship over. The provincially controlled area is more open to the public and hunting and fishing are permitted while the Nationally controlled area is limited access and hunting or fishing are controlled my the Friends of the Wye Marsh. To help support the programs and care of the Marsh, Ducks Unlimited is involved. They or their money has made berms and dams in the marsh to maintain water levels. I suspect that they require hunting be allowed in the PWA to keep the Ducks Unlimited funding.

The canoe trip ran from seven to ten at night. Here we are paddling back to our cars. All right, here I am, the others weren't exactly eager to have their photos pasted on a stranger's blog.

Near the end of the trip, a flock of small birds raced, jinked and zigzagged just overhead. I took this picture hoping that something would be in the field. (click to enlarge). I think all the white specks are insects while on the left, just at the height of the bullrushes, is a nightbird of some sort.

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