Kejimkujik National Park is looking for volunteers to count loons on Aug. 28.
©ERIC LE BEL
KEJIMKUJIK – Organizers are looking for volunteers for the upcoming Loon Watch at Kejimkujik National Park.
Volunteers do two big surveys every year, one in May and one in August.
With the backcountry closures in the park due to fire hazard in early August this year, organizers have rescheduled the August Loon Watch for Sunday Aug. 28.
“Anyone who likes to paddle and to observe nature is welcome,” says the park’s conservation resource manager Chris McCarthy. “Volunteers should be comfortable paddling a canoe and they should bring their own canoe, paddles, PFDs and binoculars.”
McCarthy says they need about 30 or 40 volunteers to carry out a simultaneous survey on 16 lakes within the park.
“We try to be at every lake with volunteers between 12 noon and 3 p.m. to do a simultaneous count because these birds could move from lake to lake,” he said.
Loon Watch began on Keji Lakes in 1996 and was expanded through a separate program to include lakes outside the park in 2006.
“Loons are apex species right at the top of the food chain and they are an iconic symbol – people love loons,” said McCarthy. “But there was some concern about high levels of mercury in loons here and what effects that might have on the population. So in that regard the loon is an important freshwater indicator.”
During the first survey in May volunteers count the adult loons on the Keji lakes. This second count takes in the adults too but is intended to gather information about the number of juveniles who have survived the summer.
The day starts with a bit of a social, says McCarthy.
“We have some food and refreshments and we talk about our research projects, how they’re going and about the results we’ve been getting,” he says. “Then we get organized and head out on the lakes.”
Norm and Sue Green have been helping with the Loon Watch for years.
“It’s a great way to see lakes you wouldn’t normally get to,” says Norm. “It’s always special to go into some of those isolated lakes in the southern end of the park. They’ll open some gates and allow you to drive your canoe in so everyone is at the lakes for noon. We’ve stayed overnight at Liberty Lake before to do the count. It’s a fun way to spend the day if you like paddling and exploring the backcountry.”
Norm says he and Sue have been to most of the lakes and because they know Kejimkujik Lake and its rocks quite well, they now do part of the main lake by motorboat.
“We let other people have a chance at some of those backcountry lakes,” he said.
Green says they have a good core of volunteers but more are always welcome.
“Some years we don’t have enough to do all the lakes and if that happens some lakes just don’t get counted,” he said.
Norm says some volunteers like to reserve special lakes they haven’t been to before and others are just happy to be out on the water.
Loon Watch 2016 details:
SUNDAY, AUG. 28, 9 a.m. at the Mill Falls shelter
Sign up by emailing or phoning Donna Crossland (Donna.Crossland@pc.gc.ca / 902-682-2293).
What to bring?
- Canoe, paddles, life jackets, safety gear
- Bird field guide (if you have one)
Canoes are also available at Jake’s Landing canoe rental (682-2282).