Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Cleaning out Woodduck Boxes

On February 10, 2012, 5 KFN members met at the Helen Quilliam Sanctuary to clear out some woodduck nesting boxes that had been installed in February 2010, and to replace some "no trespassing" signs along the road.  Anne and Barry Robertson, Rose-Marie Burke, Erwin Batalla, and Gaye Beckwith carried a ladder,  tools and supplies about a kilometer or so to the pond where the boxes were located, taking advantage of the thick ice and using a route along the ponds that was shorter than the trail through the woods.  The day was cloudy and relatively mild for February.  Each took turns holding the ladder while someone else opened the box and removed the old shavings.  Contents were examined in each of the four boxes, using guides that describe the egg shells and down that are usually found it was determined which type of duck had used the box, if it had been occupied during summer. Results for the numbered boxes were recorded.  3 of the 4 boxes had signs of occupation, the fourth had been empty.  Fresh wood shavings were placed in the boxes and any repairs  necessary were made to the predator guards.  In June of 2011 storms and high winds had toppled many trees in the area, evidence of this past bad weather was seen in several pines  that were blown down in the woods next to the ponds.  One of the predator guards was splayed open and cracked.  Having finished with the nest boxes the crew headed back out along the ponds, startling  a roughed grouse along the way.  Deer tracks and fisher tracks were frozen into the ice, showing the passage of these animals during an earlier warm spell.  The next task was to replace some 'no trespassing' signs along the roadway that had deteriorated over the years.  Some of this work will be completed during the annual Sanctuary cleanup in spring.

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