Sciensational Sssnakes!!

Conservation Through Education

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Pelee Island Trip, May 20-22

Yes, it's almost that time of year again! This will be the sixth edition of the ever-popular Pelee Island trip! There has been a fair bit of interest over the winter, so hopefully we'll get lots of people out. In the past, we've usually had 15-25 volunteers attending from throughout Ontario, Quebec, and Michigan. We'll be doing various habitat restoration projects related to herps, and spending time in the field observing them and exploring the island's unique ecological communities! In previous years, we've built hibernation sites, basking & nesting sites, ponds, firebreaks, removed exotic vegetation, collected seeds, planted trees/shrubs/wildflowers, counted/measured/weighed/PIT-tagged snakes, modified buildings, and various other projects. We've also toured nature reserves such as Stone Road Alvar, Fish Point, and Lighthouse Point. Perhaps one of the biggest advantages to going with us- we have access to some private properties which are excellent habitat for some great herps! In the past, we've seen virtually every species to be found on the island; usually most of them in a single trip. We've never failed to find four of the five snake species (garters (including melanistics), browns, Lake Erie waters, eastern fox snakes) and three out of the last five years, at least some of the group has seen a Blue Racer or two. Smallmouth salamanders and various other herps are quite common. It wouldn't be unreasonable to see 100+ herps (even 100+ snakes) over the weekend of 10 or 11 species. We get lots of work done, but I think anyone who has gone can attest that we spend lots of time herping! Be prepared to work hard and get dirty, though.

This year's trip will be a little different, as we will not be able to camp at the Wilds of Pelee Outdoor Centre for Conservation since the Nature Conservancy of Canada has now purchased the property and public use has been suspended pending the resolution of some issues with the township. So we'll be camping at a nearby campground instead. I have some extra camping gear available if anyone needs it; just let me know. All meals are provided, so that everything can be reasonably co-ordinated. If you have dietary restrictions, allergies, or serious dislikes, we'll find a way to accommodate you. However, we tend to frown on simple 'pickiness'. Trip reports from the last few years can be found at http://www.ontarioherpers.org/pelee/. If you haven't come on the trip before, I encourage you to check them out and see what you'd be getting yourself in for. I've put up a couple photos as well- a blue racer (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scisnake/10656120/) and a group shot from 2001 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scisnake/10654856/.

This year's cost will be determined once we know exactly how many people are coming, etc. I expect the cost to be in the neighbourhood of $100 per person. The trip is done on a cost-sharing basis, and is a pretty incredible deal compared to other guided trips to the island. I have some space in the van for people who need a ride. Please let me know ASAP if you would like a seat. Other car pooling possibilities are likely as well. We discourage people from bringing their cars to the island- it is generally unnecessary and more expensive. If you feel the need to do so, be prepared to explain why.

Please let me know if you are planning to come, and if you know of anyone else who might be interested, feel free to let them know. If possible, please do all communications by email so that it is easier for me to manage.

Posted by Jeff Hathaway at 9:11 AM | Comments (1)