Calling all Citizen Scientists - Check your boards and roads!

Spring is here: the wildflower meadows are getting ready to burst, and the songbirds are trilling with all their might. This is when the Sharp-tailed Snake is most active, seeking out meals of molluscs when the ground is wet, but warming.  Western Painted Turtles are waking too.  Young turtles, which have been resting in their nest over the winter, are emerging to travel to nearby lakes and wetlands where they will grow.

For Habitat & Snake Stewards now is the most important time of year to check your boards.  The Sharp-tailed Snake is famously elusive, but early spring is your best hope of finding one these small, harmless, and critically endangered snakes. While checking your boards, please bring a camera if you can, and remember not to disturb natural cover.  If you are fortunate enough to find a snake, take some pictures and send them to HAT!

Sharp-tailed Snake, photo by Moralea Milne

For everyone on the roads, please watch for Western Painted Turtles – young and old.  The young turtles are especially difficult to see. Slow moving (they are turtles), and only about the size of a quarter, it’s extremely easy to accidently squish the young turtles.

Photo by Christian Engelstoft

It is even more important to watch for adults, which can be roads this time of year.  They are easier to see, at about the size of a dinner plate, but not whole lot faster.  Turtles take a long time to mature, and if a lake population loses just one breeding female a year, even a healthy population of turtles can be quickly decimated.   If you see any turtles on the road, please take pictures and let the HAT office know.

Which brings us to slugs.  Lots of slugs are active this time of year, as my garden can attest (no Sharp-tailed Snakes in my garden unfortunately), but what about the Blue-grey Taildropper?  Little is known about the spring habits of this small, endangered, blue-grey slug that lives in the leaf-litter on the forest floor.  When the Blue-grey Taildropper is spotted (a rare occurrence at the best of times), it is usually in the late fall or early winter.  However, this may be because that’s when biologists are looking for the slug.  If you have slug boards out, please check them, and send us photos of any small, blue-ish slugs you find.

Blue-grey Taildropper, photo by Kristiina Ovaska

While these endangered species are difficult to find, citizen scientists have, and continue, to contribute important knowledge that can help us save these species.  Even if you don’t find an endangered species in your yard or park, it’s a great excuse to get outside and enjoy the spring air.

-Adam Taylor


HAT is volunteers like Gord

About two years ago, Gord Warrenchuk figured he’d earned enough money in his life. Instead of ending his career as a computer database specialist, however, he just started doing it for free. “I really like my job,” he said at his home office in James Bay. Doing it as a volunteer lets him do what he loves without the bureaucracy that came with much of his paid work. Gord has created a database for HAT's landowner contacts throughout the region so that we can keep in touch with our Habitat Stewards. Other regional land trusts are working with Gord to use the same database for their outreach efforts. Thanks Gord!



Employment Opportunity at HAT

Update:  Applications for this position is now closed.  Thank you everyone who applied.  Those shortlisted for interviews will be contacted shortly.

HAT has an opening for a part-time Community & Development Coordinator for a 1 year term, with the possiblity of renewal.  If you are passionate about the environment, want to help protect nature in the Capital region, and have an interest in fund development and building community support, then please consider submitting an application.  More details about the job can be found on the Volunteer and Job Opportunities page. 


Gala Dinner sold out & map

We pleased to announce that the Gala Dinner is sold ou, though we wish more of you could join us for the evening.

For those who have reserved seats for the evening, we look forward to seeing at 6:00pm at the Fireside Grill at 4509 West Saanich Rd tomorrow (March 10th).  See below for a map to the Fireside, and look for the large Garry oaks as you drive up West Saanich.

Thank you once again to our sponsors, The Pinch Group at Raymond James, and BMO Harris Private Banking, and to the local businesses that have donated items for the silent auction.


Kids give Carr's lily field a makeover

Students at South Park Elementary have been doing more than planting trees in a corner of their Douglas Street schoolyard -they've been digging into the history of their James Bay community.

Makayla Kew, 9, right, holds up a worm to show her fellow South Park Elementary student Aurora Ralph, 7, while Aurora's sister Asha, 4, examines the soil.

Photograph by: Debra Brash, Times Colonist. Article by Jeff Bell

Students at South Park Elementary have been doing more than planting trees in a corner of their Douglas Street schoolyard -they've been digging into the history of their James Bay community.

With the help of workers from the City of Victoria and the Greater Victoria school district, and guidance from the Habitat Acquisition Trust, the students are creating a nativespecies garden in an area known to have been favoured by one of James Bay's most famous residents -Emily Carr.

One of the inspirations for the South Park students, staff and parents is a Carr essay she wrote in The Book of Small (first published in 1942), which describes the environs of the site they are improving at Douglas and Niagara streets, just across the roadway from Beacon Hill Park.

"Nothing, not even fairyland, could have been so lovely as our lily field," Carr wrote. "The field was roofed by tall, thin pine trees. The lilies were sprinkled everywhere."

The school project is part of the Habitat Acquisition Trust's Green Spots Program, which aims to help children from kindergarten to Grade 7 get closer to nature.

South Park vice-principal Anne Nilsen said the effort is the first part of a plan to reclaim an overgrown area full of invasive species and often fouled with garbage by passersby.

It will be returned to its natural state as a Garry oak meadow. "Eventually we'll have more trees planted in there and all sorts of things to make it really like a lovely garden," Nilsen said.

The assistance of city gardeners from Beacon Hill Park and school district personnel has made a big difference, Nilsen said.

"We've had co-operation from everybody."

Additional plantings will be done over the next several years.


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