A few early spring nature notes from Sandy Lake & Environs 23Apr2021

Loon on Sandy Lake at dusk

On Monday April 19th, Ed G and I lowered a probe to the deepest part of Sandy Lake and found that the lake had “turned over” and was well oxygenated from top to bottom. View the limnological limnological profile.

That was normal for a “dimictic” lake, but I had some concern that rising salt inputs could at some point inhibit spring turnover.  So this was good news, at least for 2021.

It was approaching dusk as I prepared to leave and the call of a loon provided some further good news. Continue reading

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Good News, 10 year synoptic survey of Halifax Area Lakes to continue, sampling on Mar 31, 2021

An example of the data: Historical Electrical Conductivity (salt) values for selected Halifax-area lakes including Sandy Lake (enlarged in inset).  From Clement, P.M. and D.C. Gordon. 2019, Fig. 5 (Conductivity readings as measured by Environmental Services Laboratory) in Synoptic water quality survey of selected Halifax-area lakes: 2011 results and comparison with previous surveys. Can. Manuscr. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 3170: xi + 98 p.

From HRM:

Helicopter to collect water quality samples at municipal lakes
Posted: March 26, 2021 – 12:00 pm

52 lakes within the Halifax Regional Municipality will be tested for water quality on Wednesday, March 31 weather pending. These water quality samples will be collected by helicopter and by boat. Residents should be advised that the helicopter will be travelling at low altitude to obtain these samples.

Testing in this method is conducted every 10 years to test for nutrients, chlorophyll a and heavy metals. This work is separate from the supervised beach water quality testing program, which is completed weekly in July and August at all municipally-supervised beaches.

For more information on water testing locations, view the list.

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On bathing in the water and in the forest at Sandy Lake – in March! 26Mar2021

Christmas ferns on a mound – the resting place of a very big tree that fell about 150 years ago –  in old forest by Sandy Lake, Mar 23, 2021
Click on images for larger versions

A couple of days ago, I had to “get away from it all” so I went to walk and just relax in my favourite hardwoods on the big drumlin on the east side of Sandy Lake.

I had expected that the lake would be ice-free, but it was still mostly covered over (although mushy) viewed from Sandy Lake Beach Park. No one will be bathing in Sandy Lake for a while, I thought.

Within minutes of climbing the drumlin, I was in a different world, free of all of the distractions of our complicated lives in Covid times. There was lots to celebrate about the natural world there. In the damp woods by the lake, hobble bush was getting ready to flower. As I walked through the hemlocks I looked for any signs of hemlock wooly adelgid (the “hemlock vampire”) and could see none, only healthy hemlocks. The ground below the hardwoods was well-lit, with leaf-out still many weeks away; evergreen Christmas ferns lay prostrate on the big mounds in this bit of Old Growth forest. Continue reading

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SRA’s Fish Friends first online lesson launched 26Feb2021

UPDATE  Mar 29, 2021: 4 lessons now available: Introduction, Watersheds, Habitat & Egg Observation, Shelter and Alevin Observation



Original post
I just checked out the first video lesson the SRA  (Sackville Rivers Association) has posted in its new online Fish Friend Series series, launched because of  limitations on their hands-on programs in Covid times. It is incredibly well done.

The lessons are geared for elementary school children, but I still enjoyed and learned from this first video – especially about First Nations’ Perspectives.

In the first video (LESSON 1: INTRODUCTION)

  • Students are introduced to the SRA and the work they do
  • Students are introduced to the concepts of “Watershed” and “Habitat”
  • Students are introduced to scientific and traditional (Mi’kmaq) approaches to ecological knowledge

Continue reading

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On the State of Sandy Lake in early 2021

Swimmers left the beach at Sandy Lake Beach Park after an unpleasant algal bloom appeared suddenly in the morning of Aug 6, 2019.    The bloom dissipated within a few days. It was as  an ‘early warning sign’ that the lake is in a precarious state.

Since I began conducting observations on “Sandy Lake & Environs” in June 0f 2017, I have  compiled a variety of observations related to Sandy Lake itself and associated streams and wetlands.

The observations included descriptions of wetland communities, some ‘limnological profiles” at deep spots in Sandy Lake, and many measurements of  temperature, electrical conductivity ( a measure of the salt content) and  pH of lake and stream waters. Derek Sarty, Bruce Sarty and Ed Glover have assisted with many of these observations. Continue reading

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Webinar on Sandy Lake area Feb 23, 2021 7-8pm

Go to Nova Scotia Environmental Network Facebook Page

View Archived Webinar on YouTube

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Did the deer follow the hare or the hare follow the deer to Marsh Lake?

Hare and deer tracks together. Who was following who? Click on image for larger version

On a few-degrees-below-zero day in early February, I set out from Sandy Lake Beach Park  to go to  Marsh Lake. I especially  wanted to see the hemlock-lined Upper Peverill’s Brook in winter, where it flows into Marsh Lake.

Sandy Lake was frozen sufficiently that I could walk on it – but I stayed over shallow water just in case. I headed north and took a right turn at the point I figured was closest to Marsh Lake.  I headed up the drumlin; the ground was frozen with a few inches of snow on top, perfect for walking (I had cleats on) and for walking with minimal impact on the environment. Such days are my favourites for hiking into areas when you have to cross water and wetlands and the like to get to them. Continue reading

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Accelerated erosion not helping our treasured lakes 17Jan2021

On a lengthy winter outing in the area of Sandy Lake on a slightly above zero day this past week I noted several sites where sediment is flowing into streams that flow into Sandy Lake or Marsh Lake, or that lie directly on Sandy Lake.

Puddling on Jackie’s Brook

The first site was on a power line where a significant stream flows out of the forest on one side and into the forest on the other and there is extensive puddling from OHVs crossing the stream. I think the stream is known informally as “Jackie’s Brook”. It goes into the woods, falls down over the edge of ridged bedrock outcrop and then crosses the powerline again on its route to Marsh Lake; there is also extensive puddling at that second crossing of a powerline.

OHV (Off-Highway Vehicles) use on publicly accessed lands can be very controversial, and is banned in HRM Parks unless specifically permitted (By-law P-600).  Personally, I am OK with OHVs accessing power lines  but…not without significant responsibilities and accountability. One solution: OHV organizations take responsibility for managing ATV routes in such areas, e.g. see this document describing how OHV use was/is managed in the Five Bridge Lakes Wilderness Area; their involvement this way was a big factor in gaining community and political support for establishment of the Five Bridge Lakes Protected Wilderness Area in 2011.

Continue reading

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I am revising the Lake, Streams & Wetland Pages 5Jan 2021

Just in case anyone is looking at these pages… I am reorganizing and revising them.
I expect it will be completed circa mid-February, 2o21

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New Year Wishes

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