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Meditation and macroinvertebrates

The wind has changed and the end of the season is upon us. The SSWA crew put in 4 months of hard work and it’s now safe to say they are ready for hibernation!

The final week was busy as we cleaned gear, finished up surveys and processed data. Ashton just couldn’t stay away and came out of his brief retirement to help us wrap up some loose ends. Monday through Wednesday the crew split into two teams. Half went to check on bird boxes and prepare them for next year’s tenants while the other half donned their waders for our yearly macroinvertebrate surveys.

These macroinvertebrate surveys are important as macroinvertebrates act as bioindicators, these small critters are some of the first things affected by poor or polluted water. Macroinvertebrates not only give us an insight into the health of our streams but they also provide food for the hungry fish! Some of the bugs were cuter than others and some of the crew had to learn to be brave when sorting through the specimens. Thursday was park maintenance and it seems the little frogs have moved right in and made themselves at home in several of our nature parks. Friday the crew suited up for a paddling adventure down a stream and into the DeSable estuary.

We closed out the season with lots of good food. We wish all of our students well in the coming semesters and we hope to see them again next year. Until next time, stop and say hello to the frogs.

Love, SSWA

Pushing Forwards

It’s the last two weeks of the field season and there is no lack of things to be done! We said goodbye to Ian last Friday and today to Ashton; they will be missed and we wish them the best of luck in the upcoming school year! We were lucky enough to have special guest Teo from the watershed alliance join us this week to help us check things off our list!

Stream restoration was the name of the game this week, putting in several hard productive days. With the exception of the lucky few that got to go out on water quality on Wednesday our crew has had no shortage of sweat everyday this week!!

We want to say a BIG thank you to all of our participants and sponsors that came out to support us at our Swim for the South Shore event this past weekend. Although the water may have been rougher than expected, each and every participant brought their energy and it was a fantastic day. 100% of the funds raised goes towards us here at SSWA and helps us to keep caring for our watersheds and everything that lives in it. We could not do it without your support and we hope to see you again at next years event!

Keep calm and carry on.



Who You Gonna Call?

This week we were all excited for one of the most fun weeks of the season.  The electrofishing equipment was available from the Watershed Alliance, and we hit the streams to catch some fish!  

The science-fishton-esque backpack uses electricity to briefly shock the fish.  This knocks them out for a few seconds and makes it possible for us to net them. This causes no harm to the fish and they completely recover within seconds. We then place them in buckets to measure them, evaluate their health, and track what species are present in which areas of the streams.  After information has been gathered, we release them downstream from where we are electrofishing so as to not catch the same fish twice. All fish are carefully monitored and there are many protocols in place to ensure the health and safety of our aquatic friends!

Catching fish brought out the childish joy in all of us, as well as the competition.  Cooing over the brightest coloured ones and exclaiming over the largest fish contrasted with diving for big fish in the deeper pools (only two of us fell in).  We caught more fish than some of us had ever seen before in our lives, and enjoyed every minute of it.

The rain on Friday meant we couldn’t go out for one last day of fishing, so we spent the day preparing for our Swim for the South Shore event which is happening tomorrow August 19!  We can’t believe that the day is finally here, and we hope to see you at Victoria By-The-Sea at 11am tomorrow morning! We have quite a few amazing sponsors and cannot wait to distribute all the amazing prizes that were donated. Registration will remain open until about half hour before the race starts so if you’ve been on the fence about swimming there is still time to join!

Be kind to the fish and see you tomorrow!



Slightly Soggy

Hello everyone! Another day, another week full of stream restoration with the crew! The weather hasn’t been the best, but that’s never stopped us before and we enjoyed the cooler temperatures after the humidity of July. Nearing the end of stream restoration for the summer means that we are able to clearly see the changes we have made to the stream flow and habitat.  The water is moving faster, there is less silt built up, passage for fish is easier and we are seeing larger fish further upstream.  It is nice to be able to see the positive outcomes of the hard work we’ve done, and it eases the walk back from the stream at the end of the day.

On rainy Wednesday the crew split up.  It was water quality week, so Mel, Romy, and Catherine took the YSI and drove to each of the 17 sites around our five watersheds.  Because it was raining, it was a good time to see which streams were ‘running red,’ meaning there is a large amount of sediment running through the streams. This gives us a picture of the land use in the watershed.  Keiran, Ian, and Ashton did the trail camera circuit, collecting the SD cards from several different locations and analyzing them for animal species in the different areas.

Before the downpours on Friday, we got park maintenance done at the Westmoreland River Nature Park, sharpened the chainsaws, and completed our office work.  We had our annual SSWA picnic at Catherine’s house for lunch, and are feeling like the end of the season is creeping up on us!  

Only one week left until our Swim for the South Shore event, happening August 19th at 11AM in Victoria by the Sea. There is still plenty of time to register (https://raceroster.com/events/2023/77389/swim-for-the-south-shore-2023) In preparation, we have one more beach cleanup that will be happening Friday the 18th at the Provincial Park in Victoria going towards DeSable at 9:00 AM. Keep an eye on our social media for more information.  We hope to see you and your friends there!

Stay dry!



Great Day For Hay

This week’s blog may be short and sweet but there is still plenty left to do this season. The sunny days keep coming and the crew at the South Shore Watershed is taking full advantage. Another week packed full of stream restoration and hard work. The stream may have claimed several pairs of glasses this week but our crew has their vision still clearly set on the weeks ahead.

Nicole enjoyed some time speaking with the youth at Wild Child’s Young Ecologists Camp, speaking about forest health, stream health and the roles of a watershed group. There is no better way to spend an afternoon than walking through the woods with fellow nature lovers.

Friday’s beach cleanup was more exciting than usual as the crew wasn’t paying attention to the tides and had to get a little wet in order to get back to their cars! Some of our crew was also excited to discover the skeletal remains of a seal. If you haven’t joined us for a beach cleanup yet don’t panic, we will be holding two more before our swim event! The farm fields are almost empty but our crew was still able to quickly capture our annual hay bale (er, straw bale) family photos.

Keep an eye on the tides!



Sunscreen and Elbow Grease

The days of summer are flying by and July is nearing its end but our crew isn’t slowing down yet! This week was once again filled with bug spray and sunscreen as our crew continued their stream restoration efforts. The pressure is on to get as much done as we can before the season draws to a close. Although it’s tough work there is no better work environment than out in nature!

Some of the staff here at SSWA got to take a break from wearing their waders this week as they spoke to kids at camp Abegweit and Merry Pop-Ins summer camps on separate occasions. Our staff are always excited to speak with others and share their knowledge and love of nature.

Wednesday brought water quality and more preparations for our swim event (https://raceroster.com/events/2023/77389/swim-for-the-south-shore-2023). Speaking of our swim, our first beach clean up will be held on Friday July 28 at 1pm. The location is Beach Road, Borden-Carleton. Bring your own gloves and come join us! If you don’t have time to spare this Friday don’t fret, we will be holding a total of four beach cleanups before our swim. If the beach isn’t your thing (we know how annoying sandy shoes can be) but you still want to learn about all the cool ways you can be a friend to nature, come find us at our booth during the Crapaud exhibition on July 29th!

Practice sun safety!



Stream Truckin’

Welcome back to another week at SSWA! This week, we continued our battle with the fallen logs, even bringing our lunches with us in the field one day to tackle as much work as we could. Thankfully that wasn’t all we did, we do need a break from stream restoration from time to time! Along with stream enhancement, we built bat boxes, bird boxes, checked out what furry friends we caught living around the watershed on our trail cameras, walked our final bank swallow survey on the beach and so much more! Two of our trail cameras were actually brought down from their trees by some sneaky racoons, only catching their feet once the deed was done! 

A big part of our week was also spent spreading the news about our upcoming Swim for the South Shore. A few members of the crew went around to various local businesses putting up flyers and asking for a small donation. This swim helps support our organization and the work we do to protect and maintain the pristine waters on and near the south shore of PEI. This year’s swim will once again be held in Victoria By-The-Sea on August 19. Registration is open and we hope to see you there! https://raceroster.com/events/2023/77389/swim-for-the-south-shore-2023

Speaking of events, the annual Crapaud Exhibition is happening next weekend and we will be there on July 29th. Come say hi!

Be kind to the bees!



Whoa We’re Halfway There

Greetings to all our readers out there! We don’t have too many fun and wild updates for y’all this week, as our efforts are continuing to focus on stream restoration. Though the same old routine can make your eyes cross (we call that double stream-ision), we know that every little bit that we’re doing for the water flow contributes to something much bigger than we can see right in front of us. 

It’s easy in environmental sciences sometimes to see how much our planet is being affected and feel blue. It’s also easy to think “I’m just one person, what can I do?”, but one person can do so much! By working together and sharing the load we have accomplished so much this season despite only being halfway finished! Every bit of stream we restore, every sapling we plant, down to even every snail we move out of harm’s way makes a difference. Our supporters are also contributing to this difference by supporting our organization through donations or staying up to date so we can continue doing what we love for the betterment of our waterways and planet as a whole. Good job team and good job readers! 

Along with stream restoration, we completed our bank swallow surveys for the season. Sadly no more walks on the beach looking through the binoculars for these little birds but we savored each time we could, especially in this heat! Finally, Matt and Ashton went on a mission to perfect our bat houses. These boxes help increase the amount of safe available habitat for the bats!

Until next week, continue recycling, reducing plastic waste, and believe that your individual action makes a whole lot of difference. 



Baby It’s Hot Outside

Happy belated Canada Day! We hope you folks took some time to relax like we did on Monday. After our restful Monday, the weather was not so kind to us for our first workday of the week. It was raining cats and dogs! Since the conditions outside were not ideal, the crew decided to split in two for the day. Nicole, Romi and Mel traveled around the watershed area to promote our Swim for the South Shore event (coming up August 19th!) While on their stroll they also noted the GPS locations of the Japanese Knotweed that has colonized around Victoria. Unfortunately this invasive species is very good at dispersing and overtaking areas, choking out other native vegetation. By marking these locations and transmitting this information to the city, we can start taking the steps to control its spread! Meanwhile, Matt, Ashton, Keiran and Ian found shelter from the rain and built some bird boxes to hopefully be hung in our watersheds at the end of the season or to be purchased by the public.

Wednesday and Thursday, Matt and Nicole attended a training program on eelgrass monitoring taught in partnership with Nova Scotia Ecology Action Centre, Miramichi River Environmental Assessment Committee and Shediac Bay Watershed Association. The event, hosted by BBMA, trained watershed workers in how to identify eelgrass and monitor it for long term health. The rest of the crew were hard at work in the stream, continuing our season-long project to clean up the streams in the DeSable area!

Finally Friday, and a hot one at that! Mel, Nick, Catherine and Romy started bank swallow surveys down the coast of Victoria. The goal of these surveys is to get an idea of bank swallow population density and how many burrows are currently active and occupied by bank swallow fledglings. These sweet birds are recognizable by their forked tail and white belly, and their erratic flying pattern as they dive through the air for insects. With the effort of all the watersheds on the island in collaboration with the PEI Island Nature Trust we will be able to have a picture of bank swallow health and occupation island wide! Despite the heat, Keiran, Ashton and Ian were hard at work on land mowing our local parks for public access. The hot weather this weekend makes it an opportune time for a park stroll, so get on out there and let us know what you think!

This weekend SSWA will have a booth for the Summerside Lobster Carnival! The carnival is located on the Credit Union grounds and is open from 12pm to 11pm, and our booth will be up from 12pm to 5pm. If you can come out, pop on over and say hi! 

Have a safe and happy weekend, make sure to stay hydrated!



Getting in the Groove

Well hey there!

Stream restoration season is underway and we hit the ground running this week! Each morning and afternoon was devoted to stream restoration, which is likely to continue for the rest of the season. As we all know, hurricane Fiona did a number on our streams causing some major blockages within our watersheds. While the weather is right and the crew spots are filled, now is prime time to help mitigate this damage and restore stream habitat for local fauna. 

The newbies on the chainsaws, Nicole and Keiran, are doing a fantastic job sawing the fallen debris for the rest of the group to collect and remove from the stream. Plunging your arms into the cool stream water during debris clearing does the body good on these hot and humid afternoons!

In addition to stream restoration, we did our 2023 bat surveys this week. Each year we survey local populations to keep track of population numbers and species abundance, submitting this data to an external group for analysis. These “bat boxes” have a high frequency microphone that picks up bat echolocation. The SD cards inside the bat boxes are retrieved after a minimum of 4 days and played back to identify the different species present in the area. 

Get ready to make waves Victoria, because our annual Swim For The South Shore is coming up and August will be here before you know it! This year’s clean water campaign is focusing on plastic. More details and information will be coming soon, so watch out on our social media and the blog for more announcements. 

Have a safe and fun weekend, folks!



An Ex-Stream-ly Busy Week

G’day everyone!

Summer and hot weather are officially here but the SSWA crew shows no signs of slowing down! This week the crew began stream restoration in the DeSable watershed. The last of the stream assessments were finished and wrapped up last week and now it’s time to get down to business. Stream restoration is a large undertaking that requires lots of hard work and hours spent in the streams, it can include actions such as removing fallen trees to allow for fish passage, constructing brush mats to catch sediment, placing deflector logs to help direct water flow and much more!

On Tuesday, SSWA and the Crapaud community were very excited to officially open a new outdoor classroom! This outdoor classroom was constructed in honor of Daryl Guignion who was a valued professor at UPEI and often worked with many of the watersheds on PEI. This park is open for everyone to use and will be managed by the Crapaud municipality going forwards.

Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning were spent gathering information in the DeSable estuary. First the crew put on their sailing hats and took to the ships (well, ballcaps and kayaks that is) on a mission to scout the area for eelgrass, a native seagrass that provides many benefits to its surrounding environment. The next day the crew was back, and with a little help from Dave at BBEMA they carried out a fish population survey. Several kinds of sea life were found including, mummichogs, silversides, flounders, crabs and shrimp! No need to worry, after being identified and recorded each and every sea creature was safely released back where they were found.

On Friday the crew put in a good morning’s work at the Westmorland nature park, mowing, fixing signs, trimming bushes and planting trees. The afternoon brought us back to our regularly scheduled programming with preparations made for next week, maintenance done on the chainsaws and a thorough cleaning of our equipment shed.

Make sure your safety equipment is up to date and in good repair!



Rock, Tree, Chainsaws

Howdy Folks!

The team was split up this week, with Julianna away in B.C., Catherine gone to New York, and Nicole and Keiran away in Charlottetown getting their chainsaw certifications. Left behind was Matt, Mel and Ashton, faced with a list of tasks while the others were away. Item 1: dig two holes for the new Daryl Guignion Memorial Park sign. Now, this may not sound like a large feat, but in 26 degree weather on extremely rocky terrain this turned into a 2 day process. The efforts were well worth it, and the sign is now standing tall at the park, complemented by some yellow and orange marigolds. Come by for our grand opening this upcoming Tuesday morning to see it for yourself!

Just when the group was reunited, Matt and Keiran were off to Kensington for a day of learning with the 6th grade students from several island schools. The kids were taught how to identify trees based on their key characteristics and then had their own worksheet to try their hand at tree ID. The students were very engaged and had many questions. Though there were some distractions, including the insane amount of snails making guest appearances following the rainy Tuesday we had! Overall the kids loved it and Matt and Keiran had a great time interacting with the next generation of environmentalists. 

Finally on Friday everyone was reunited. We banded together to plant trees at a local coastal property to try and fight quickening erosion. The owner of the property is taking action to protect her cottage that has been in her family for generations since it was built by her grandparents. Working alongside Helping Nature Heal while they installed their living shoreline, we planted salt-tolerant plants including wild rose and bayberry to strengthen the integrity of the soil at the knick point. These efforts contribute to preventing the cliff from receding any further. The owner was very pleased with our work and we had the opportunity to sample some of her delicious shortbread for our hard work!

Next week marks the start of stream restoration, so we’ll be sure to get lots of rest this weekend! Have a fun and safe weekend folks, until next time!



Rain, Rain, Go Away, We’ve Got Stream Restoration to Do!

This rainy week was filled with activities that can be done while wet.  We started off the week with two stream assessments and both teams got a little soggy, but managed to get back before the worst of the rain.  That afternoon the team kicked off a few days of tree planting by putting in 24 trees at Linden Hill Pond.  Then, Nicole and Matt spent the evening with some froggy friends-maybe you’ve heard the spring peepers around? While no spring peepers were spotted they were certainly heard and a lovely leopard frog came out to visit!

Tuesday the team spent hauling benches, platforms, and woodchips to the outdoor classroom at the Daryl Guignion Memorial Park.  It is looking wonderful for the opening on June 20th! Many thanks to (NAMES) for building the platform and benches–we were all blown away by how nice they looked.  An order of trees arrived that morning as well, and Nicole, Romy, and Catherine split off to unload the truck.  A veritable sea of trees was established in Brenda’s driveway.  

On Wednesday we continued this week’s pattern of planting trees after sorting them all out for those people who ordered trees this round.  We grabbed the flood-tolerant species and conveyed them to Linden Hill Pond where we planted them in the upper part of the floodplain.  We also spent a few minutes weeding the pollinator garden in the drizzle and listening to the spring peepers. The afternoon was spent checking the estuary and moving more trees to their planting spot in preparation for Thursday. 

Thursday we continued the week’s theme of planting trees and shrubs with 97 more planted in the DeSable riparian zone.  The afternoon was spent preparing the office for the next week as Friday was set aside for the last stream assessments of the season!

With the clearing up of the weather, it was nice to get out again.

Salut from all of our trees and us!



Days In The Sun

Hi everyone, what a week!

Monday morning Mel, Romy and Catherine headed off to do a stream assessment down in DeSable while Keiran and Ashton prepped the location for our outdoor classroom down in the Daryl Guignion Memorial Park. The afternoon was spent following headwaters and setting up a trail camera down in Tryon. We are hoping to capture some beaver pictures! On Tuesday Matt, Mel, and Nicole attended bank swallow survey training in Charlottetown. While they were busy learning, the rest of the gang went to the Westmorland River Nature Park to do some maintenance. In the afternoon the crew equipped our waders and split into two groups to assess more streams and headwaters. 

Wednesday brought an activity that is a favorite amongst our watershed crew, water quality! Keiran, Mel and Ashton were the lucky crew members that got to partake in our biweekly water quality testing while Nicole, Romy and Catherine finished up yet another stream assessment. In the afternoon we returned to the streams, but this time in Westmorland; making sure things looked alright for when we do our REDD surveys in the fall. Thursday…… you guessed it, more stream assessments! We planted some milkweed in our pollinator gardens and spent some time down in Crapaud removing bittersweet nightshade from the stream. It was a scorching hot day, so we made sure to drink lots of water and rest when needed. On Friday, we continued our nightshade removal, this time at Westmorland Park. It seemed like the pesky invasive vine was taking advantage of every crack and crevice! The afternoon was spent working on our plant identification sheets and building connections with more landowners! SSWA is so grateful for the wonderful communities of people who make our work possible. 

Stay dry this weekend and make sure to drink plenty of water!



Stream Assessments, Headwater Checks and Landowner Permissions, Oh My!

We are hitting the ground running this 2023 season, and we have the muscle aches to prove it! To prepare for stream clearing this season we have had our hands full assessing our streams and headwaters in the DeSable area. By getting an idea of what the streams look like early in the season, especially post-Fiona, we have a better picture of the work ahead of us and how to plan our stream-clearing and restoration efforts.

We also welcomed Ashton and Keiran to the team this summer, jumping right into the streams and familiarizing themselves with the areas we’ll be focusing our efforts on this season. Ashton is a seasoned SSWA summer teammate coming back for his 5th year, and Kieran is a fresh face to the crew (pictured to the right looking snazzy in his camo waders).

While the rest of the folks were wading in the streams, Mel and Catherine were hard at work on the roads speaking to local landowners. By partnering with landowners we have more opportunities to work on larger parts of streams in privatized areas, which means better stream flow and composition! Huge thanks to all the landowners we had a chance to speak with and we look forward to working with you for the the 2023 summer season!

Thursday afternoon the big bosses Julianna and Matt were away at a workshop hosted by the PEI Watershed Alliance in Charlottetown about post-Fiona stream restoration. Meanwhile the newbies held down the fort back at headquarters, being busy beavers organizing GPS coordinates, landowner permission maps and making notes on stream reach statuses. Suffice to say the bosses were pleased with the progress made while they were away!

Enjoy your weekend folks, until our next check in!



Watershed Workers or Amateur Acrobats?

Wow, this week has been busy! We are so happy to welcome two of our new crew members, Mel and Romy! Mel is an environmental biology major at UPEI and Romy is going into their third year at UPEI’s applied climate change and adaptation program.

This week got our crew moving right away as they hit the streams to do some assessing in the DeSable river system all day Monday. On Tuesday, Mel, Romy and Matt tidied up the pollinator gardens.They are now looking fresh and are ready to greet the birds, bees, and all types of bugs! We here at SSWA created and maintain five pollinator gardens across the South Shore and we highly recommend you go spend some time among the flowers.

Wednesday brought the return of everyone’s favorite activity, water quality! Matt used this time as an opportunity to show our new crew members around the watershed while Nicole attended a course to touch up on her first aid skills. Thursday and Friday flew by quickly as the crew practiced their acrobatic skills while they carefully navigated the large amount of trees that have fallen into the DeSable rivers. Friday afternoon the team prepped for the week ahead and got to spend some time doing an activity with the kids at Merry-Pop Ins daycare. 

Don’t forget to do some stretches!



Fish, Friends, and
Fabulously clean waders

Welcome stream goers! It has been a week of sunshine and good temperatures which made it the perfect time to finish preparing for our summer students and the season! 

Monday brought the newest mail order and the crew was very excited to receive a new office computer and to assemble some new and updated first-aid kits! The crew put up the first bat boxes and bird houses of the season, just in time for some new tenants to move in! Tuesday was finally the day to dip our toes in the water with the first stream assessment of the season. The crew got to practice their gymnastic skills as they navigated their way through a tough section of stream land. Fiona has certainly caused some damage and will make things difficult for the team this year but the crew is determined and we will press on! 

On Wednesday we were very lucky to have Kirsten from CBWES come and visit our DeSable estuary. She provided some very valuable insight into the current status of the area and steps that could be taken to help improve the estuary’s health. In the afternoon the crew went scouting for tree planting locations and prepped for our Thursday event. Everyone was at work bright and early on Thursday to welcome the Englewood elementary students and teach them all about rainbow smelts! Thank you so much to Rosie from PEI Fish and Wildlife in assisting us with this fantastic event. Friday was the perfect weather to take care of some spring cleaning. Every pair of waders got scrubbed, cleaned, and patched. Maintenance was done on the chainsaws and everything was organized and readied to welcome our new crew members on Monday. We can’t wait for them to join us!

Time to stock up on sunscreen!



Duck Envy!

Welcome back to the 2023 season of SSWA! This year, we are happy to welcome back Nicole Lawlor as our Habitat Enhancement Technician, and from two years ago, Catherine Viger who is returning for her fifth season as our Watershed Technician! 

To start off the season, Matt and the girls went down to the Crapaud Trail behind the library and cleaned up some logs that had fallen and blocked access to the trail. This was in preparation for Kiss a Fish which will be happening soon! Tuesday, we organized our letters for our landowners in Desable, where we will be doing most of our work this summer. We are still looking to speak with landowners so if you have property along the river please send us a message, we’ll be happy to talk with you! In the afternoon Matt and Nicole headed to Borden to find a Killdeer that had nested there and put up a sign warning others where it had made its home. Its natural camouflage kept it well hidden and they wouldn’t have found it if it hadn’t let out a warning call when they got too close!

Wednesday, we planned some of our surveys for the season and brushed up on our stream knowledge, then headed out to Westmoreland to fix some signs that had been blown over. Later, Nicole and Catherine set out to speak with landowners around Desable, meeting some new and familiar faces. Thursday, Nicole and Catherine headed out to the shed and did a little spring cleaning then set off again to speak with some more landowners. That afternoon, we put up a new swallow box in Tryon before continuing on our adventures around the neighbourhood. Friday was used to catch up on office work. We are excited for the weeks ahead and can’t wait to share them with you!

Stay dry and Welcome back!

Love, SSWA