Hamilton Harbour Fish and Wildlife Restoration Project
Wednesday December 28 2011
As Site Coordinator the next post will be a year in review at Elements Photoblog.
I wish everyone a great New Year with the Optimism we need to keeps Nature reviving.
Many new images of people, places and a few older images.
All the best
In 1997 the operation of a carp barrier/fishway began at the Cootes Paradise marsh, blocking the passage of carp into the marsh during spawning season but allowing the migration of all other spawning fish. As a result, aquatic vegetation has made a dramatic recovery throughout Cootes Paradise and the harbour. Fisheries monitoring has indicated a positive change in the composition of the fish community, including an increase in numbers of top predators and in species diversity. Recently, over 200 spawning pike were counted at the Cootes Paradise fishway. Prior to restoration, only 19 pike were recorded at the fishway. Similarly, waterfowl numbers in Cootes Paradise have increased dramatically due to the increased distribution and abundance of aquatic plants. Birds have been staying longer in the marsh and gaining strength for their migratory flight south.
The Grindstone Creek pike spawning marsh has been a 20-year restoration effort. The Grindstone Trail, connecting Cherry Hill Gate to Sunfish Pond is open to the public and provides educational interpretation and protects the flood plain by directing the large number of visitors to the boardwalk. Tours are open to groups and can be arranged by contacting Royal Botanical Gardens.
To date, habitat restoration efforts and improvements to public access have laid a strong foundation for continuing enhancement. Research and monitoring provide essential feedback for the design and construction of the next phases of habitat and public access projects.
Scientists with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Canadian Wildlife Service, McMaster and Brock Universities and the Royal Botanical Gardens are co-ordinating monitoring and research to advance fish and wildlife habitat restoration throughout the Great Lakes. The Fish and Wildlife Habitat Restoration Project in Hamilton Harbour and Cootes Paradise proposes to create 372 ha of fish habitat, 299 ha of wildlife habitat, 16 km of shore habitat for fish and wildlife and 9 km of trails. Substantial progress has already been made:
Shoreline rehabilitation and a new trail at Chedoke Creek
Development of a carp barrier/fishway, aquatic plant nursery and breeding and nursery ponds for amphibians and reptiles in the Cootes Paradise marsh
Pike spawning habitat, rehabilitated flood plain habitat and a new boardwalk at Grindstone Creek
Restoration of the lower Grindstone Creek, employing recycled Christmas tree
Shoreline naturalization and development of underwater reefs at Bayfront Park
Shoreline naturalization, beach restoration, development of reefs and a new trail at LaSalle Park
Shoreline naturalization, and the development of colonial nesting bird islands, underwater reefs, trail and lookout at the Northeastern Shoreline
Sand dune rehabilitation and a new trail at Burlington Beach
Decline and Recovery of Cootes Paradise
Once nearly 100% covered by emergent and submergent
aquatic plants, the extent of marsh vegetation has declined to
85% cover in the 1930s, and to only 15% in 1985. A variety
of stresses were responsible for this decline. Human development
and farming in the watershed contaminated the marsh’s
tributary streams with sewage effluent, eroded soil, and chemical
runoff. Within the marsh, carp activity physically damaged
and destroyed the marsh plants. Carp activity and eroded soil
from the watershed also muddy the marsh water, limiting light
penetration and plant growth. Controlled lake water levels,
and the introduction of non-native plant species have also
disrupted marsh ecology. For the restoration of Cootes Paradise
to be successful, RBG and other partners in the HH-RAP
agreed that an effective carp control program and pollution
abatement programs in the watershed were necessary.
Winds rush through pine boughs, flowers scent on the breeze permeate the air, a pungent smell wafts from the pavement of a vacant lot after a rain – these and more are waiting to be experienced in nature’s neighbourhood. There’s adventure in the unknown, and even the familiar looks different when it is visited with the intent of discovering what has been looked at and not yet seen, heard yet never listened to. Whether its your backyard or neighbourhood, a nature-centre lands, a wilderness area or a park in the city, there are always discoveries awaiting.
A trip into natural surroundings or the local community is a chance to study the environment firsthand. Consider David Suzuki who is celebrating 30 years with the Nature Of Things program where he tackles issues on environment, wildlife, technology and medicine. David Suzuki was a professor and geneticist. He has written 40 books. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a Companion of the Order of Canada. He points out climate change and its time to visit plants and animals in their homes, to learn wilderness survival skills.This experience will be filled with wonder and aesthetic beauty of nature in the neighbourhood. Watch for unexpected pleasures, like a dew-covered Spider’s web is gossamer work of art. A Frog (frawg) jumped out of the pond just ahead of you saying “ribbit.” But, there are so many kinds of frogs, to identify its sound, you would be correct to bark, grunt, honk, peep, or twang, too. You could also give a deep jug-o-rum sound – the call of a bull-frog.
Frogs are amphibians and as this little girl found out their are built for fast swimming and giant leaps. In fact, the leopard frog can jump 1.5 meters which is twelve times its length. Now look at the wetlands as marsh adapted birds are using them for nesting, like the red-wing blackbirds, and mallard ducks and swans.
Within your neighbourhood you spot a Robin (rahb-in) known for its cheerful songs. Robins are closely related to bluebirds, wood thrushes and hermit thrushes – all known for their musical calls. You observe the robin hopping on a city lawn. It stops now and then , tips its head to one side, and sometimes grabs an earthworm and pulls it from the soil.
People once thought that a Robin tilts its head to one side to listen for the sound of a worm near the surface.
However, a robin sees best to either side, not straight ahead, so by tilting its head, it can spot a worm or other animals hidden in the grass, such as, caterpillars and spiders. You look at the Earthworm (wuhrm) in the Robin’s beak and sometimes the earthworm is called “the night crawler.”” What worms do is mix and move soil plus these quiet, crawling earthworms are good for the soil and the plants growing in the soil. You take out your magnifying glass and inspect the worm at closer range. Then on the pavement you notice a Pigeon (pij-uhn) walking with a jerky motion. These birds are descendants of “rock doves”. As the Pigeon flies with about 20 others to a rooftop you notice these places are like the cliffs where rock doves lived long ago. Then you look up the Pigeon up in the Hamilton Naturalist Club’s Head-of-the-Lake Pocked Nature Guide , a seasonal guide to nature describing plants and animals in the Hamilton/Burlington area. It this Nature Guide they describe common and rare mammal species, birds, wildflowers and trees. As a budding naturalist a new interest is created in looking for the physical aspects of the places you find plants and animals.
Down the hill is a nature trail in Princess Point, off Cootes Paradise. Along this trail you decide to do a Deer Walk. Here, it is imperative to listen carefully and compare the” intensity of sounds” heard with and without “deer ears” which are very sensitive to any sound. And, a White-Tail Deer will signal danger by raising their tails to show a white patch underneath. Pulling out a Notebook to make field notes of what your experience felt like on the Deer Walk, is a good idea. Then out jumps a Rabbit (rab-it) on your path. As they only eat plants , rabbits are found where there are plenty of low-growing plants. A lop-eared rabbit has ears that may be two feet long or 0.6 meter, like in the story of “The Rabbit With The Air-Conditioned Ears ” – they needed to be large. A Red Squirrel also called “the chickaree” climbs up an Oak tree trunk for acorns and hangs almost upside down. High overhead you spot a Turkey Vulture (vuhl-chuhr) gliding in the air. Although it flies closer to the ground than other vultures because odours in the air can guide it to a decaying carcass. Therefore, the Turkey Vulture has an unusually good sense of smell. In Louise Unitt’s article The Bird Detective she says ” I thought of my friends who never take walks…for there was nothing to see. I was amazed and grieved at their blindness. I longed to open their eyes to the wonders around them; to persuade people to love and cherish nature.”
Source: Scholastic Encyclopedia of Animals, The Wood Duck, Keepers of the Earth, Hamilton Naturalist Club
Sailing A Meditative Connect With Mother Nature Hamilton
A State of Mind Meditation
Monday March 7 2011
Come Sail Away
“Meditation to connect with Mother Nature at the Hamilton Harbourfront”
Most boaters choose a life on the water because they feel a kinship with the marine world and some tend to use it as a form of Meditation to connect with Mother Nature at the Hamilton Harbourfront. Here, the sailor in his or her meditation touch base with their inner self using the calming effect of the waterfront where the environment is the atmosphere of Lake Ontario. And, the sailors must develop an awareness of their damaging footprints on the landscape ! Therefore, Dieter Loibner, an Australian yachting journalist in the U.S. book title says it all: “Sustainable Sailing.” This book addresses the increasing impact of sailing on the environment and explains how sailors can be a positive force for change. Sustainable use of our coastal inland Lake Ontario can be assisted by (1) removing any plant, fish, animal matter and mud by draining water from the craft and equipment; (2) be aware when cleaning their craft detergents many contain phosphates which are pollutants and cause oxygen depletion’s that leads to suffocation of aquatic life; (3) boat exhaust emissions – carbon monoxid , hydracarbons (such as motoring yachts) , nitrogen oxides – are harmful to both marine life and the planet; (5 ) by being respectful of waterfowl and slowing down upon approach, (6) Waste and sewage are a problem and rule of thumb is to dump them at marine facilities. Furthermore, cruise ships impact our sailing environment as they dump 210,000 gallons of sewage weekly, which is not sustainable sailing. Enjoyment of sailing depends on HIGH QUALITY WATER ENVIRONMENT which can only be maintained and protected by the collective effort of sailors and the marine industry to avoid the environmental impacts of sailing by using “Sustainable Sailing” procedures.
On a lovely sunny morning, the north-east wind was already strongly blowing white horses (whitecaps) on the waves in Hamilton Harbour that seemed refreshing. I was watching my friends in a Harbour race boat, a Mahogany Hull Boat, a nice teak wood chestnut-colour that almost reminds you of horses. The secret of these race boats is the Bow being V-shaped rather than U-shaped which made them lift out of the water and ‘plane’ along the top of the water, whenever the wind was strongly blowing. Sail boats have ‘planed’ for many years, like a ‘lift and go.’ Archaeologists tell us the first sign of ‘Sailing Ships’ appeared in Egypt or Mesopotamia around 3,500 B.C. The Egyptians also used “sailing ships”( or, Padao – a type of Indian sail boat ) to transport people and their goods around the Nile River. The Vikings took their place in the Atlantic Ocean with 80 ft. wide and 70 m. long :Long Boats. The sailor’s ‘playing field’ of wind and water is constantly changing, which is unlike other sports. Sailing is harnessing the power of Mother Nature ! And, sailors need a healthy respect for her power ! The wind changes strength and direction while waves or currents change the water. The wind rules a sailboat sailor’s universe; it is the alpha and omega of sailing. Sailing then is using the windpower to move the sails. Any sailboat can hit the Eye of the Wind at a point where the wind blows directly to the observer, sometimes it is called Eyebolt. The Bow of the boat can be turned away from the Eye of the Wind, termed “Bearing Away.” You may have heard Movie Stars use that term on a ship. Or, by use of the “Jibe” the Stern can be turned so the sailboat (or yacht) crosses through the Eye of the Wind. By Jibing, it changes the side of the sailboat that the sails are carried (this is opposite of Tacking). In Jibing the sailboat goes into and across the flow of the wind. Here, the sail empties of wind on one side and the Boom swings gently across the boat and the sail fills up with wind on the other side.
Historically First Nations Canadian Indians who lived in villages around Hamilton Harbour on the west-end of Lake Ontario named it “Macassa Bay” meaning ‘beautiful water.’ The Sailing Clubs historically and currently are basically available to people with lavish lifestyles, not the average working person ! Membership to exclusive yacht clubs including their lounges and bars have been viewed extravagant packages during a time of economic challenge in our country today. Yet, people do sail, and Hamilton Harbour provides unique geography providing shelter for the beginner and interesting winds for the seasoned sailor of RHYC, Macassa Bay Yacht Club, Leander Boat Club and Sailing School. The first Royal Hamilton Yacht Club (RHYC) was built in the 1860s and the current clubhouse was built in 1915, after the WW1 fire in 1915. The name “Royal” was not attached to this Hamilton Yacht Club until it was granted by Queen Victoria of England and the Commonwealth. Today, Prince Charles is RHYC’s patron. Following Prince Charles naval pursuits are his brother Prince Andrew and his son Prince William ( who has served Navy, Air Force and Army). The coveted Prince of Wales Cup Race is termed a Championship and the winning team members are Champions winning the Water-Jug Trophy. In Hamilton, in 1896, the boat Zelina captured the coveted Prince of Wales Cup. In small boat sailing circles this Prince Of Wales Cup is raced for in other countries. For example, Sir Peter Scott and his crew in 1937 entered the race at Lowestoft, England. Until that time, the wooden masts of sail boats were varnished, then they changed to aluminum. Their boat was called Thunder, a 14 foot thoroughbred built with precision and artistry of a violin. They narrowly on this 4th attempt won the Prince of Wales Cup just 16 seconds ahead of the 46 competitors. And, in 1952, one of this crew went on to win the Olympic Silver Medal in a single-handed class in Helsinki. Today, yacht clubs also run various Regattas in sailboat races. It is interesting that a book entitled – In The Eye Of The Wind – the forward is written by Prince Charles. This book is about the experiences of two young sailors and explorers during the Operation Drake 1979 – 1980. This book is not about the flagship Eye of the Wind ! But, the Eye of the Wind flagship is a beautiful Brigantine (tall ships) boat which is still in service after 99 years at sea. Today, the customers pay for its fuel and maintenance, and the stories have changed from adventurous to sightseeing and historical voyages. There is today The Toronto Brigantine: Tall Ship Adventures for youth run in Summer Training Programs. The name Brigantine comes from the Italian word Brigantino meaning Pirate Ships. As Long John Silver aptly said: “Shiver Me Timbers ! ” Brigantine is a two-masted sailing ship with square rigging, sometimes called hermaphrodite brigs , or, brig-schooners. The term Brigantine originated with two masted ships powered by oars on which pirates, or sea brigards, terrorized the Mediterranean in the 16th Century. But, in Northern Europe Brigantines became purely a sailing ship. At Port Dover on Lake Erie just one hour south of Hamilton, there was a Brigantine (Tall Ship) on display in 2,009. Hamilton Public Library’s Archives has many photos and postcards of Schooners and Brigantines in the early years of Hamilton Harbour which are well worth taking the time to look at their unique sails..
In Wetlands the water can be very shallow, depending on drainage and rainfall. Here a different boat is utilized sometimes called a Dinghy Boat with two oars on the side. In the mid twentieth century especially in England sailors and hunters used Black Boats. Their name came from the tar and pitch material used to make them watertight. A favourite boat was called a Jolly Boat for racing because of its speed and fun. In Hamilton Harbour sailing occurs all year round as in winter Ice-Boating is very popular. The Ice-Boat is powered by wheels and the wind of the sail. This year is a bumper crop of ice, so ice-boaters are enjoying a long season. Down the road is Peterborough famous for their Peterborough Canoes. We are fortunate to have beautiful water (Hamilton Harbour) at the northern end of our city on the western-tip of Lake Ontario. As Sir Peter Scott said when he came to Canada to race in the Prince Of Wales Race: ” There were new problems and new skills to be acquired; as Lake Ontario is thirty miles wide at Toronto, and being freshwater it can provide a shorter, steeper, nastier sea than you will find anywhere on salt water.” Therefore, you do not have to travel the world to encounter a challenge while sailboating or yachting. No matter what ‘sailing ship’ you plan to use in Hamilton Harbour this Spring to Fall season you can be sure you will be – Slip, Sliding Away – by using “Sustainable Sailing ” procedures over Hamilton Harbour’s “Macassa Bay , or, beautiful waters.
Source: One Hundred Years and Still Sailing; In The Eye of the Wind, young explorers; Eye of the Wind, Peter Scott; Sustainable Sailing