Thursday, August 30, 2012

Local Level Biodiversity

From their website: ICLEI's biodiversity graphics will address the importance of cities and biodiversity action at the local level. From the need for dynamic conservation projects to the value of ecosystems in Canada, they will offer the need-to-know facts about biodiversity practices in Canada and internationally.

Download the first in the series today: Biodiversity: Conservation Starts at the Local Level

"Cities now occupy 3% of the earth’s land surface, hold 50% of our population, and consume 75% of all natural resources. All of these pressures put the world’s biodiversity at risk. But cities large and small are both the problem and the solution. Local leaders are recognizing biodiversity’s vital role in sustainable development and its contribution to human wellbeing. Check out Biodiversity: Conservation Starts at the Local Level and find out more about why cities must drive action from the bottom up."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

hedgerows in cities?

Hedgerows may conjure up thoughts of the U.K. countryside or even parts of rural Canada but perhaps there could work in urban settings also?  It would be an opportunity to add beauty and biodiversity to parts of the city.  They could be used to line edges of a public park or they could be considered for infill development defining the border between neighbours.  Hedgerows could also be used along some parkways or as a transition from fields to forests.  In urban areas lighting would be key to address concerns of safety and a balance between busy corridors and quieter spaces would help create some access for wildlife.

Hedgerows provide plenty of benefits including aesthetics, buffers for noise and barriers for privacy.  Softscaping  can be less demanding on your pocketbook and it can help attract birds and other wildlife - forget bird feeders and bags of seeds - you can choose attractive plants that produce fruits!

Here are two articles that provide more info:

Hedgerows: Bringing the Countryside to the City by Maria MacRae (I Can Garden)

 Hedgerows offer variety and shelter to urban gardens by Valerie Easton (Seattle Times)

"The classic English hedgerow can be adapted to modern urban and suburban gardens just fine, helping add color and texture to smaller gardens while also giving shelter to birds, bees, butterflies and more... 

I started thinking about the value of city hedgerows when a designer friend told me how an urban client had nixed her suggestion of a huckleberry hedge. The designer was hankering to see a pruned huckleberry hedge that flowered in spring, burst with berries in summer, then flamed red in autumn. You can imagine the designer's disappointment when her client chose to plant boxwood instead. 

Just think if the client had taken a chance with the huckleberries, and perhaps mixed in oakleaf hydrangeas for bold leaf and summer bloom. And maybe added mahonia for fragrant winter flowers, and evergreen huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum) for yet more berries and year-round foliage. The effect would be lovely, productive and practical in all seasons, and so much more noteworthy and wildlife-friendly than boxwood."

Hoping that the image of huckleberries, hydrangeas and mahonia gets you inspired... check with a local nursery for local indigenous plants that would create the best habitat for native species.  Here's two resources to get you started:

Creating a Hedgerow for Wildlife - Fletcher Wildlife Garden

Plant a Fruit Bearing Hedgerow - Canadian Wildlife Federation

Picture Credit: Mike Siegal / The Seattle Times

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Urban Bat Visitors

Interesting information on the urban population of bats:

- Bats can slip through openings the size of a dime, so identifying their entry points is tricky. They usually find their way in through chimney tops, vents, open doors or windows, broken screens, eaves and loose roof shingles.

- Warm weather drives bats from colonies within upper walls and attics to lower areas in houses.  During the daytime, bats sleepwalk down the spaces behind interior walls, later finding openings leading into houses’ living spaces where they fly about in confusion.

- Urban bat colonies tend to be quite small while buildings in rural areas can have populations that number in the hundreds. Rural populations are higher because of access to insects.

- A single bat can eat three times its weight in insects every night.

- This summer animal wilflife control companies in the area say calls for help soared in the recent heat wave  (more than 100 calls a day).

- The explosion of calls is also likely related to worries over a recent warning from the city’s health department that a dead bat in the Ottawa area was found to have rabies.

- Most of the bats are non-migratory big brown bats whose urban populations seem not to have been decimated by white-nose syndrome (WNS), a deadly fungal disease that has killed millions of mostly smaller bats in Canada and the U.S.

Information from Ottawa Citizen Article:

Image from: EKU Working Group


For more information there is also a great post on a Big Brown Bat visitor on Seabrooke Leckie's Blog - The Marvelous in Nature.

The Royal Ontario Museum has a "Listen to the Night: Bats of Ontario" exhibition that can be rented which covers the following topics:   Diversity, Health, Hibernation,  Summer Roosts, Cave Roosts,  Attic Roosts, Tree Roosting, Flight, Senses,  Echolocation,  Conservation and Current Research.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Urban Wild in Boston

Two "wild" places to go in Boston:

Condor Street Urban Wild

This former marine industrial site, which borders Chelsea Creek has been redeveloped into an urban wild. The restored site features salt marshes, meadow grasses, and other coastal habitat elements as well as walking paths, a boardwalk, sculptures, and a viewing platform overlooking the creek.

Arnold Arboretum

The 265-acre arboretum is a “link” in the city’s Emerald Necklace, a collection of six parks designed by legendary landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead. Nestled in nearby Jamaica Plain, the arboretum is the nation’s oldest, and a leading center for plant study.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My Street Has No Trees (Toronto)

"My Street Has No Trees (MSHNT) is a public and participatory installation that utilizes the vestigial design of Toronto’s Post and Ring bike stands as armatures for micro-gardens. The intent of the project is to raise awareness about the imbalance between the hardscapes and softscapes of our streets, to encourage people to think critically about the transformative possibilities of our everyday environments, and to increase the beauty and joy of our neighbourhoods."

(From the website MSHNT)

Monday, August 13, 2012

learn about butterflies

I love receiving Jacquie Lawson cards - which works well because my mother loves sending them.  They are beautifully drawn cards which are animated.  They depict quaint little villages, idyllic winter holiday scenes and lovely nature vistas and up-close details of flowers, trees, etc.

I just received one that was titled Butterfly Bouquet - here's the link to the card on Jacquie Lawson's site.

What I really loved about this one is that if features five British Butterflies and I know this because at the end the website provides you with the option of printing the butterfly images and they provide the common names and the scientific names for all five butterflies!  (Check it out here.)

What a great way to share knowledge and increase people's interest in nature!

Congrats to the company for this brilliant idea!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Manor Park - Wildlife Sightings

I've been trying to determine what makes good Bobolink habitat. When I attended Mathis Natvik's presentation "Bringing Ontario’s Ecosystems To The Built Environment - Ecological landscaping for gardens large and small" at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden a couple of years ago, he was proposing urban meadows that would make good habitat for many open-field/rural birds.

 I'd ask people if they had seen bobolinks close to Ottawa - perhaps in the Agriculture Farm? - and discuss the habitat - why specifically hay? would any meadow do? - with others. I wondered if the open areas along the Parkways in Ottawa - especially around Manor Park, the Aviation Museum and the Robert O. Pickard Environmental Centre - would make good habitat. And today I have my answer by doing a bit of google searching. I tell you the internet is an amazing tool! 

Bird Sightings for July 1/06 to July 20/06 

Welcome nature lovers. Its been an extremely hot and humid two weeks. reports of sightings have been sent in. Favourite locations, eastern and rockliffe parkways have resulted in the following species of birds, been seen. Many yellow warblers, american redstarts, common yellowthroat, blue jays, killdeers, eastern meadowlark, kingbirds, bobolinks, savannah sparrows and cardinals. The pair of indigo buntings have not been seen for over a week but we are hopeful that they are still in the area. A Great Creasted Flycatcher was the highlite for this report. Also there are many wildflowers in full bloom and they are a delight to see. Butterflies are in abundance, notibles being the Monarch and Swallowtails. Watch for them they are amazing and extremely colourful. Further reports will follow. Bye for now.

From Manor Park Online 
by Dave Collyer (naturesencounters at rogers dot com)

Image from: Lees Birds dot com (©ramendan)

More about Urban Bobolink Habitat:
Ontario Bobolink Legislation (2012)
The Quest to Find an Urban Bobolink

Friday, August 3, 2012

Wetlands area in Greenbelt (Ottawa)

Found this during a google search today:

Just 15 minutes south of Parliament Hill, in the nation's capital you can find the Ottawa Greenbelt.  A place where the federal and municipal governments have managed to preserve local biodiversity and habitat integrity, their contribution to the future.

- Medeola Woods (Ottawa’s largest, stand of old growth trees)
- Monarch Waystation (City of Ottawa, owned)
- SAR Turtles found in wetland areas (Map, Painted and now Snapping)

Eight species of turtles live in the Province of Ontario. Four of these species live in the Leitrim  wetlands. This habitat contains: Blanding’s Turtles (THR), Northern Map Turtles (SC), Painted Turtles and Snapping Turtles. While all four of these species are special, 2 of them are on the Province and Federal Species at Risk list. 

With the help of the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority, the Blanding’s Turtle wetlands (Sawmill creek Tributaries 8, 9, 10) was added as part of the overall Sawmill Creek clean up crusade.

(Above map of area in between Hunt Club and Leitrim - Uplands to Bank - shows turtle sightings, etc. )

Taken from Ottawa Urban Turtle Sanctuary Presentation: Finding and fighting for road-free refuges in the National Capital Region (2008 or 2009 presentation?)

This is part of the larger Leitrim Wetland south of Ottawa - where they are building the Findlay Creek development.