There was a great deal of hand wringing, waiting to see if the marsh was going to have a summer crew this year. Fortunately, the marsh was extremely lucky, and we are feeling very grateful to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and to Ducks Unlimited Canada for funding our summer crew once again.
The crew is responsible for taking care of a lot of different details at the marsh, which includes trail maintenance and expansion, as well as making sure all the net lanes have been maintained and the mist nets installed prior to our August 1st fall banding start. The crew is also engaged in work for Ducks Unlimited, which includes inspections and maintenance of their local projects at Casey Marsh and Haileybury, as well as doing inspections at our marsh and making sure the berm is safe, and the water controls between cells, including the beaver baffles are cleared of any debris or mud deposited by the beavers. When beavers hear the sound of running water, they want to dam the flow; the baffles were constructed to discourage the beavers from creating dams. The baffles sometimes are very effective and other times require a great deal of work to clear. The crew also does some wetland inspections as far away as Cochrane, so they are kept busy; they enjoy the work they do for Ducks Unlimited.
The crew is also kept busy with conservation projects, which include bird banding in August, and they also maintain our educational milkweed garden, which is helping struggling Monarch populations and shows the public that Milkweed can be a beautiful option in the garden. The crew has also been conducting a survey on spruce budworm caterpillars by participating in the Project Budworm work that is going on in Ontario and throughout eastern Canada.
The crew started their conservation work by helping to band tree swallows and bluebirds in nest boxes. This work, while it sounds invasive, helps yield interesting data on the movement of these birds. This past spring, students at Kerns Public caught an adult tree swallow that had been banded at the marsh 2 years earlier as a nestling, which shows that birds at the marsh are dispersing to use other boxes in the area. Still on the topic of nest boxes, the crew has been installing more nest boxes for ducks at the marsh. While many people may know that wood ducks will nest in a box, it may come a surprise that common golden eyes and hooded mergansers also need to nest in a cavity. After all the duck boxes are installed, the crew is poised to put up some nest boxes for American Kestrels.
The crew is excited to be hosting a visit from a crew from Nipissing First Nation, who are coming to see our banding research and to help in our tree swallow and bluebird research by cleaning out the nest boxes, which is a big job, as we have over 300 boxes in the area, and is the most significant part of maintaining nest boxes. Boxes will quickly fill with nest material if they are not cleaned out every year. Meeting another crew is always fun and I find
that our crews always beam with pride when showcasing all the great work they do for us at the marsh and beyond.