Sciensational Sssnakes!!

Conservation Through Education

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Green Iguana enclosure is operational!

Finally, our first public display enclosure is operational! Eggo, an adult male green iguana we took in last year, has now moved into his permanent home, and so far he seems to like it. This enclosure is quite large (you can walk into it) and features a waterfall and pond as well as environmental controls. I put a photo of the enclosure up earlier today, check out our photo gallery on the right side of the site!

Posted by Jeff Hathaway at 11:33 PM | Comments (1)  

Monday, June 27, 2005

Staff Profile: Christa Maitland

Christa is a University of Guelph zoology student (and Wildlife Club member) who has just completed her 3rd year of studies. Reptiles are a special interest of hers, so she was happy to get a job with us for the summer of 2005! She has toured the province extensively with her family in the past, and is looking forward to spending time on the road exploring some new places while teaching people about snakes. A photo of Christa at one of our displays in June is in the Flickr photo gallery. Christa's position is supported by the Government of Canada's Summer Career Placement program.

Posted by Jeff Hathaway at 10:33 PM | Comments (3)  

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Summer plans, etc.

A few things I wanted to mention briefly:

The Eastern Canada Tour for summer 2005 has now officially been cancelled as our funding did not come through. We are still planning our joint effort with CARCNET to do a cross-Canada tour and look forward to getting back into writing funding and sponsorship proposals in the fall after the busy summer season is behind us. And it is going to be a busy summer! Check out the Upcoming Events page for details of where we'll be, and that's just the events that are open to the public- most of our events are private! Our northeastern Ontario tour in July looks like it will now be 18 days long, with ~35 shows from North Bay and Sudbury to Timmins, and new for this year- Pukaskwa National Park.

Good thing we've got three full-time staff this summer to help out- Christa, Crystal, and Dan (yes, he's back for another year!). Watch for their staff profiles to be posted this week.

Volunteer weekend pictures are now up on our Flickr gallery; currently they're in the most recent shots shown on the right side of our home page, but soon they'll be bumped out. Click on the More of Jeff's Photos link if you want to see them- they are titled Spring '05 Volunteer Weekend...

I was in a competitive birdathon event last weekend, the Carden Challenge. Our team didn't win, but we had a lot of fun, and combined the eight teams raised $10000 for the Couchiching Conservancy's campaign to purchase the 1600 acre Windmill Ranch property on the Carden Alvar. They are now only $5000 away from the $110K target, and we're hoping to get them closer on Canada Day. At our display in Orillia on Friday, July 1st, we'll be taking pictures of people with a snake for a donation, with the proceeds going to the Windmill Ranch campaign. We've done this a few times in the past with this amazing conservation organization, and so far we have raised nearly $2000 for this campaign through these photos. So come out to the Canada Day display and get your picture done!

Posted by Jeff Hathaway at 10:43 AM | Comments (3)  

Monday, June 13, 2005

A hot and sweaty volunteer weekend!

Despite the heat and humidity, another successful volunteer weekend is done! A huge thank you to all of the volunteers who came out, and to our food and drink sponsors (Quizno's, Subway, A&W, Burger King, Weber's Downtowner, Orillia Bakery and Deli, King's Buffet, and No Frills) as well!

Projects included digging the trench for the fence around the outdoor red-eared slider enclosure (now if we can just find a sponsor for the fence!), backfilling and grading of the outdoor wood turtle enclosure, sanding the drywall compound in 8 of the custom enclosures in the main exhibit area (eastern fox snake, blue racer, eastern indigo, bull snake, western hognose snake, eastern hognose snake, black roughneck monitor and prehensile-tailed skink), siliconing the viewing windows in the green iguana, burmese python, and boa constrictor enclosures, concrete patching, firewood stacking, moving bricks and timbers, planting trees, shrubs, and a few tomatoes, and sorting bark slabs for use in some of the enclosures and an upcoming fence project. We were busy! I'll try to get some pictures up soon.

Attendance was a little lower than in previous years, but we still had a solid group of regulars along with some new faces which is great to see! After dinner on Saturday, everyone was eager to cool off in the pool, and a vigorous game of basketball ensued which we think was won by the guys this time. Since we quit working a little early due to the heat, we still had time for a movie after getting out of the pool. Sunday afternoon saw us back in the pool again to cool off before things wrapped up!

I'll try to announce the date for the fall volunteer weekend a little bit farther ahead so that more people can plan for it. It should be sometime in October. I hope we'll see you then!

Posted by Jeff Hathaway at 12:35 PM | Comments (2)  

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Volunteer Weekend is here!

The spring volunteer weekend gets underway in about an hour! A full report will follow afterwards, but I just wanted to put up a reminder- the more the merrier, so if you want to do something fun and constructive this weekend, come on out!

We've got lots of great food, thanks to the wonderful support of local businesses. This time around, food has been provided by Quizno's, Subway, A&W, Weber's Downtowner, Orilla Bakery & Deli, Burger King and King's Buffet. Drinks have been provided for the second time by No Frills. A huge thank you to these sponsors for helping to make the event a success!

The weather looks great; almost too hot- I'm sure everyone will be looking forward to the pool party tonight!

Posted by Jeff Hathaway at 7:22 AM | Comments (2)  

Monday, June 06, 2005

Pelee Island Trip Report

Thanks to everyone who went on the Pelee Island trip in May for your contributions to another successful trip!

Thanks for your hard work on the various projects we undertook: tree cutting/brush removal for the red cedar savannah restoration at the Pelee Island Winery, red cedar planting, bicycle repair at the Wilds, garlic mustard pulling (no Pelee trip is complete without it!), and assorted efforts at the Meadowlark Organic Farm. Especially, thanks for planting so many extra trees in the rain- not many groups would decide that since the weather wasn't great they might as well keep planting! We got lots done and impressed everyone we worked with. A further note about the Pelee Island Winery- they have been very supportive of conservation efforts on the island over the last few years, sponsoring the Endangered Species Festival each September, and now donating land for this Alvar-Savannah Restoration project, as well as money to fund the work! They also make fabulous wine- we enjoyed some of it on the trip:-) So if you're considering a buying a bottle of wine in the future, please have a look at the ones from the Pelee Island Winery!

It was great to see the high water levels at Fish Point and Lighthouse Point Nature Reserves, after so many years of low lake levels. It should help out the turtles. Unfortunately the whether wasn't terribly co-operative, so we only saw a few things while we were there. And since I accidentally took my camera for a swim at Fish Point, I didn't get very many pictures of the weekend, but I am happy to report that it is working again now that it has dried out!

In case anyone wants the numbers, the Wilds of Pelee herp survey results for this year were: 6 fox snakes, 1 water snake, 70 brown snakes, 103 normal garter snakes and 29 melanistic garter snakes, plus 1 painted turtle. These numbers are in line with previous years, except for last year when the numbers were astoundingly high. The turtle was a first, though with the addition of the new ponds it isn't surprising.
In total, we probably saw about 240 snakes over the weekend, a little lower than average due to the weather, and possibly our smaller group size. Or, perhaps it was just that Dave Smith wasn't with us this year:-). However, that is still a lot of snakes to see in a weekend. Painted turtles, american toads, green frogs, bullfrogs and smallmouth salamanders rounded out our herp sightings to 9 species.

We were also interviewed by CBC radio show about the trip and our activities, and a short piece about us aired the following week. Nice to get some additional publicity for our conservation efforts!

Posted by Jeff Hathaway at 9:03 AM | Comments (1)