By CVC’s Adrienne Ockenden, Specialist, Watershed Monitoring
This year we’re celebrating 20 years of ecological monitoring in the Credit River Watershed. Since 1999, we’ve tracked conditions and trends in groundwater, stream, forest and wetland ecosystems through our Integrated Watershed Monitoring Program (IWMP).
Monitoring ecosystems means spending a good deal of time outside collecting data. While field work isn’t always glamorous – think extreme heat days, leaky chest waders and relentless mosquitos – our field staff are often rewarded with special finds.
As we move back indoors for the winter (our own form of hibernation), we thought we’d share a few special finds from 2019.
Endangered Acadian Flycatcher
Peet suh!… Peet-suh! That’s the song of the endangered Acadian Flycatcher. This summer, we were fortunate to hear that sound during a breeding bird survey in Mississauga. It was a remarkable find. This bird is a species at risk and was the first record of the species that we’ve captured in IWMP. The Acadian Flycatcher relies on large undisturbed forests for breeding. It’s rare in the watershed and its numbers are declining throughout its range.
Longest Brook Trout
The Credit River is home to a diverse coldwater fish community including species like Brook Trout. We’re always happy see Brook Trout during our fish surveys. Their numbers are declining in the watershed and across Ontario. We’re really happy when we catch a big one! During an electrofishing event this summer, one of our volunteers netted the longest Brook Trout in our monitoring program’s history at an impressive 41.3 cm.
During stream monitoring this summer, we found four of the eight species of crayfish native to Ontario. Once in a while we come across some really tiny ones like this one that nearly went unnoticed.
Flowering Fen Orchid
Remember the cold start to spring this year? The colder-than-average temperatures delayed the emergence of flowering plants. As a result, we were able to capture the flowering period of a number of plants that we normally don’t see, like the beautiful Fen Orchid. Our watershed is home to 40 per cent of Ontario’s native orchid species. Like many orchids, the Fen Orchid is very particular about where it grows, relying on high quality habitat.
While we don’t specifically monitor butterflies and moths in IWMP, when we spot them in the field we can’t help but be amazed by their beauty and fascinating habits. This Hummingbird Moth was seen pollinating Wild Bergamot. Its wings move so fast, they appear to be not moving at all!
We hope you’ve enjoyed this short glimpse into a few of our special field finds from 2019. Here’s to a successful field season!
Learn more about IWMP at cvc.ca/iwmp.
Cover photo by Jon Clayton
Acadian Flycatcher by Andie Reago and Chrissy Mclaren