Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Beginning of May

The night of May 4th we again dropped below freezing but this still hasn’t stopped the forward progression of spring. Flowers are blooming, the trees are budding, the frogs have emerged and have begun to spawn.

Migrant birds are still arriving on schedule such as this pipit.

Waterfowl are beginning to appear on all the lakes which have just recently thawed. Periodically flocks of geese fly overhead.

The delay in the melting of the ice has left many of the waterfowl to find other bodies of water. Many ducks could be seen in ephemeral pools in farm fields. Two pairs of Mandarine Ducks have even been spotted in these pools, close to the road.

The pair of Storks have nearly completed their nest which they began constructing two weeks ago.

With the good that spring brings we have also noted our future demise. Millions of mosquito larvae have been seen twitching and writhing in all puddles.

At the beginning of the month we had our annual art contest to promote awareness of the problems wildfires have in the regions ecosystems.

Unfortunately, the message of wildfire prevention has not yet sunk in. At approximately 3:oo pm May 2nd smoke appeared on the horizon driven by strong winds.

The fire was heading in a north-eastern direction and had blazed across the majority of the west end of the Park. Then a shift in the winds caused the fire to change direction towards the Park headquarters. In a matter of minutes the fire had spread several kilometers and was literally at our doorstep. (Park headquarters marked in blue.)

We all struggled to control the fire and managed to subdue it within meters of the buildings.

By 6:30 pm the fire had been extinguished but left a devastating and grave aftermath.

From our best estimates 80-90% of the Park was severely burned.

Some of the heaviest tolls were two occupied stork nests, which were burned to the ground.

Although locations and numbers of crane nests were not available before the fire, we no doubt lost both White-naped and Red-crowned Crane nests. Given the severity of the burn it is unlikely that some, if any, pairs will be able to re-nest.

The fire not only affected the nests of the charismatic cranes and storks but also destroyed Magpie nests, Japanese Quail nests, and Pheasant nests.

Other animals lost more than just their nests.

Those animals that did survive are now left exposed to both predators, poachers, and the elements. Like the fox, badger, and deer.