I just had a great weekend, meeting and hanging out with some local East Kootenay enviro peeps at the BC Wildlife Federation Wetlandkeepers course in Golden. I’m fairly new to the area and I don’t know many people, but my neighbour and friend Mo (from Columbia Wetland Adventures) talked me into going with her. In no particular order (and with random photos from the weekend that pretty much have nothing to do with what I’m writing about) here are a few of the gems I picked up…

Group shot

Dragonfly nymphs breathe through their butt. Yes, it’s true. “The dragonfly nymph will pull water into its anus, where gas exchange occurs. When the dragonfly expels the water from its rear, it propels the nymph forward, providing the added benefit of locomotion.” Man, with info like that I am going to be a hit at parties this summer!

The Cornell Lab has excellent resources for identifying waterfowl. The most helpful piece of advice I got this weekend was to look at the location of white patches on duck bodies as opposed to other markings. Each type of bird (mallard, teal, pintail) has a unique pattern of white. Very cool. I will definitely use this!

Predaceous diving beetle larva have little pincers by their mouth, and they are super aggressive! We watched one take down dragonfly nymphs and water boatmen that were much, much bigger. (There were about 20 of us taking the course, and there was universal agreement that the aquatic insect “module” was the most fascinating.) I look at pond bugs all the time, but I now have rudimentary identification skills and a burning desire to test them out. Luckily I have a pond about 50 feet from my back door. If I don’t answer the phone tonight, it’s because I’ve grabbed a little net and I’m down in the cattails. Don’t wait up.

Frog

Fens are cushy places to have a nap. I’ve known the basics of wetland ID for awhile, but I learned a new appreciation for the subtle differences between fens, bogs, and marshes. I’m not a touchy-feely nature lover – more of a “science behind the love” person, but we were encouraged to lie down on a meadow-like bed of sedge and buckbean. It was softer and drier than I thought, but get up gently if you decide to test this out. The water is often not far below the surface; there were lots of wet butts in the group after we had to shift our weight to get back to standing.

Dipper2

I’ve used a handheld GPS for awhile, but I am largely self-taught. Who knew about averaging waypoints? Not me! That would have been very useful a few years ago when I was mapping male versus female cottonwoods on Red Deer River point bars. Anybody need me to survey something? Anything? Please?

The Columbia Valley has dodged a bullet so far regarding invasive species. There are, of course, some here, but the bad, bad ones have yet to be discovered in the region (Some anecdotal reports but no scientific confirmation.) People are watching, though, and watching closely!

Reflection Lake

I hadn’t stopped at Reflection Lake before. From the photo above it’s pretty obvious how it got its name!

-m-

P.S. We are STILL waiting for the ducklings to be born at Parson Pond. WTH? This is taking forever! New parents-to-be, Curly and Baby Girl, are doing well though 🙂