Monday, August 2, 2010

Finally a day that felt like we were in the subarctic!

Today was a cooler day . Cloudy skies and a light mist made work a bit chilly out on the fen this morning; but lower temperatures mean markedly fewer mosquitoes and bulldogs . So no one really minded putting on an extra layer. Max and Dan worked with me, collecting the water quality data. Max illustrated to Amy and Abby why we have given him the nick-name "New-legs" by stumbling .... many times. But he usually manages to stay upright (getting a nick-name here at the Centre is quite an honour ;) ). Abby was very helpful when she showed us all just how deep the organic substrate was - by sinking into it up to her hips. Luckily however, it wasn't nearly as sticky as the mud that Dan sank in earlier in the week, so the extraction process wasn't nearly as involved.

By now, all of the volunteers know their jobs and can do the work well, and quite quickly. We were done with the field work before schedule. This gave us a little extra time to 'shoot some footage' for the incredibly awesome (!) music video that is now coming together nicely. We're trying not to let Ben and LeeAnn see too much because we want to surprise them with it. But they were really good sports when we asked them do their cameo roles.

After another great lunch, we headed to the lab to get the samples and data processed for the day, while Harish and New-legs headed off to Sticky Creek to lay out the last set of traps for tomorrow. There's a slight sadness in the air. We're all starting to notice that we're doing some jobs for the 'last' time, and no one wants to leave here. Churchill (and the Study Centre) has a magic about it that 'catches' you pretty quickly. It's hard to think that this great adventure is almost at an end.

After the lab work was done we headed up to the classroom to work on our video before dinner. After which, the rest evening was filled with two very interesting talks: Amanda (one of the researchers here) gave a great zoology presentation and LeeAnn taught the kids all about the science behind the aurora we saw the other night. Late in the evening we all got into our comfy clothes and curled up on the couches for movies and junk food.


Inadvertent dips

Sunday 1st August 2010

This morning most woke up dreary eyed, exhausted by the previous nights of games, films and laughter. We are now well into our usual routines of rolling out of bed, having breakfast and going into the field followed by lab work and lectures. Today, we visited the boreal forest – a magnificent landscape awaited us, teaming full of wildlife, trees and shrubs. After taking in the sights we set off to work; me and Amy were collecting the fish/frog traps, Abby and Max were the Physical team and Zack and Harish were in charge of water quality data.... Harish was thrilled to be given such an honour! In the field I fell in love with the site and so decided to go for a splash with Max, well we got soaked, but it was all worth it !

Later on in the day, we were taken up to the coastal region of Hudson Bay where we were all able to go for a splash in the bay –much fun followed with people being pushed in and chased (see photos posted yesterday). Moreover, unfortunately we had to leave and go back to start the arduous lab work.

Tonight, we started to create and put together our new song of ‘Lets Get Physical.....DATA!’, we were able to finally sing in tune after hundreds of attempts. We had great fun and this is sure to be the next number 1 hit. Tomorrow we have to start putting together the music video and recording the rest of the song.

Off to bed now I think.....or maybe not


Northern Lights

On the evening of July 29, we witnessed an impressive display of the northern lights. Here is a photo courtesy of Zack.

Just another day on the tundra

July 31, 2010

We woke up this morning still amazed by the mind-blowing experiences of the previous day. After a quick breakfast we put on our waders and set out for more data gathering. The ponds we were assigned to today were quite deep and a few of us became wet pretty quick. This was a good thing though, as it helped us to stand the heat. As usual, the area was gorgeous and we were well provided in magnificent sceneries. A few bug bites later, we were in the car on our way to get a well-deserved lunch. After lunch I started working on the water data with Harish, Zack and Abby started classifying the (pleintyful) fish we had gathered and Dan went to set more traps acompanied by Amy. Dan and Amy had a few misadventures while setting the traps; they had to push the car that got stuck. After work Dr. Cash gave us an interesting talk about evolution, giving us a fresh outlook on the subject. After a game of bananagram and a few adventures with Daniel we went to sleep weary of yet another exilhiarating day.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

August 1, 2010

Today was a day for dips. We had a few inadvertent tip-overs in on of the larger wetlands and this afternoon we went down to the beach to have a look and wade in the frigid water of the Arctic Ocean on a beautiful sunny day. Here's how it looked.....

Our Day Off Adventure

July 30 2010

This was probably the best day of the trip; most people would agree. It was our day off, where we slept in a bit … and some missed breakfast, but toast was good enough. We then got ready and set off for the Bay to see the Beluga whales in a boat called a zodiac. It didn’t take too long to get there, which was quite nice. Soon after, we arrived at the Prince of Wales Fort, which was rather fascinating. When the French invaded the Fort they did this stealthily as the English did not hear a word about the attack until it occurred.

There was a swarm of mosquitoes that invaded us as we approached the Fort, which was a terror. However, this changed as when we came back to the Zodiac and back onto the water we were surrounded by many many beautiful whales, where we have countless pictures.

We then visited Parks Canada Museum which was fantastic where we were approached by a French Guide and unfortunately Dan understood nothing of what he said. We also drove to the Eskimo Museum and found that really interesting and really informative. Towards the end of the day we went shopping great but there weren’t many shops and that was a shame as we still had time to spare. However, it was a fantastic day overall.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Today is Polar Bear Day!

July 29, 2010.

Everyday in the arctic is an adventure. Today began with a 7 am breakfast as usual and then we all proceeded with our normal morning schedule, leaving for Polar Bear Alley (the site of testing for the day) at around 8:40 am. After collecting samples and data from the first 3 ponds, we were suddenly interupted by a thought to be distant polar bear off the shore.

Discussion about the white dot led to confirmation that it was indeed moving and that it had a black nose; it was definatly a polar bear! The bear was far enough away for us to have time to pack up our supplies at the 3rd pond site, but the last few data points were not taken. We had time to stand outside the van and take a look at the polar bear through binoculars and take some pictures with our cameras. While some people tried to take pictures through the binoculars, the bear was too far away to get a good clear picture of it.

After driving back to the research center and eating a delicious lunch (of the selection,grilled cheese sandwiches which are my favorite) we set back out the collect data from 4 more ponds in Polar Bear Alley. The bear was not spotted again and the rest of the data was collected without any interference.

Most of us are getting the hang of walking in the ponds and luckly no one was sucked down to their hips. Although, I had a nice little fall that filled my waders with water and a few people had some stumbles.

I am looking forward to the lecture on polar bears tonight after dinner as I know my fellow earthwatchers are too. I'm glad we had a glimpse of a polar bear before the talk and I hope that we have the chance to see another one at a closer (and safe) distance. We are also hoping to see the aurora borealis later tonight if it isn't too cloudy!

Dinner calls!


"The Fen" Wetland adventure

28 July 2010

Another day, another adventure on the wetland habitats of Churchill, Manitoba. We ventured to The Fen, a beautiful and vast place that seemed to stretch on forever in all directions. There was flat land with rich vegetation everywhere. The first pond set the tone for the rest of the day. The water was clear and shallow, so it appeared to be an ideal place for anyone looking for a cool place to wet their feet. But, the powers of this pond were underestimated. One of our fellow teammates, Daniel, became a victim of the pond bottom; sinking in up to his waist only to be pulled out later. This situation was not unusual though. Many more of the teammates had trouble keeping their feet above the ground for most of the day. We went to 5 other ponds that day to collect samples. The rest of the ponds weren't as troublesome to walk through, but they offered their own share of wildlife and plant life. There were an abundance of wood frogs and beetles in the wetlands.

Here's also a video from our first day along the coast in the fog.

We arrived back at the CNSC and started our lab work as usual. Harish and Dan set off to the next wetland site to plant fish traps, while the rest of us processed the data we had received from The Fen. After having a delicious dinner, we finished the day off with a Climate Change discussion and lecture in the classroom.

- Amy

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day One activities

July 27, 2010

After waking up and enjoying breakfast we all met in the classroom for a check on the weather and the day's plan. We were told that we were to be divided into three groups; the physical team that takes physical measurements of the wetland, the fish/ frog team that sets and collects fish and tadpoles, and the water quality team that collects water samples and process them. After learning all of these things we took a short break to let some remaining fog clear and then went out to the wetlands by the coast to collect traps and take measurements. Right when we got to the first wetland the fog returned but not for long. The conditions were just right with a cool breeze to keep the bugs away.

After visiting 5 wetlands we headed back just in time for the lunch that kept us satiated during the first bout of lab work. After lunch we met in the classroom again to get the run down of the lab procedures. We were all given instructions on how to complete the tasks of each group except the fish group, Abby and Amy, who left with Ben to set traps up for tommorrow. We were then set off to do our jobs. Harish and Dan processed water samples that were collected at each wetland and Zack and Max counted fish spines and weighed fish. Once we were all done with the lab work we decided to watch "Shaun of the dead," make strange drawings, and eat cookies.


Monday, July 26, 2010

And so we begin for another year of great wetland adventures

July 26, 2010.

Yesterday we had six teens arrive from around the world to assist with our Earthwatch Institute funded research project called Tundra Wetland Ecology. This project is part of the Climate Change at Arctic's Edge research project where EW teams investigate various aspects of the subarctic treeline environment to determine the impacts of climate change in all seasons of the year.

We are happy to say that everyone arrived last night safe and sound (although one piece of luggage is lagging behind and might be arriving here today.

The first wader walk of the team brought on a few damp clothes but some great fun and smiles along the way. The rest of the day has involved training for the myriad of tasks to perform each day in the field.

As we speak, the fish/tadpole traps are being constructed of recycled material for the first catches of the season.

Welcome everyone! Keep in touch for more of the wetland adventures.

- by LeeAnn