Molly Morrissey Receives 2021 Leslie Tuck Avian Ecology Award

The recipient of Memorial University's Leslie Tuck Avian Ecology Award, an endowed scholarship started by friends of the Natural History Society (now Nature NL) has their winning essay published by Nature NL. This year's winner, Molly M. Morrissey (MSc Candidate, Dept. Biology, Memorial University of Newfoundland) contributed the following essay, which discusses innovative efforts to understand seabird population and survival in Newfoundland and Labrador. by Molly M. Morrissey The world’s oceans have undergone significant, rapid changes since the onset of the industrial revolution. Human activities, directly and indirectly, are nearly universally recognized as a major contributor to these changes. One consequence has been massive food-web shifts, from which Newfoundland has not been spared. Overfishing, poor data collection, and weakly enforced quotas led to the near loss of the Atlantic cod, a fish synonymous with Newfoundland. The Newfoundland cod population collapsed in the early 1990s and is not even at half…

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We’re hiring an Executive Director!

Our all-volunteer Board of Directors is excited to be hiring for one part time Executive Director position. The position will run this summer and fall. There is a possibility of renewal and/or eventual full time work, depending on funding. We want to offer our members, supporters, and donors more ways to connect with nature, get outdoors, learn, play, and participate in conservation, while we grow our organization and help it run smoothly. Competition closes May 16th 2021, position is expected to start in June. Please feel free to share with anyone who might be interested! https://naturenl.ca/about/opportunities/

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The Snow Bunting Project – Labrador

Snow buntings taking flight. (Photo: V. Buckle) By Cheryl Davis, with Megan Boucher Cheryl Davis (Dartmouth, NS) got excited about the snow buntings she saw while living in western Labrador. She has been collecting data since 1998, and recently expanded the count with the help of the Canadian Wildlife Service in Goose Bay and local birders across Labrador. Each year, people come together to report their sightings of snow buntings on her project's Facebook page, "The Snow Bunting Project". The snow bunting, also known as the snowbird, is the most northerly recorded passerine in the world and an indicator of spring in Labrador. This migratory black and white bird is a tough survivor that breeds on frozen tundra in sub-zero temperatures. In recent years, climate change has made the snow bunting a species of concern, as it is unclear yet how warming arctic climates may affect the bird's breeding success.…

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Armchair Hiking – Gros Morne Mountain

Gros Morne Mountain looms large with its vast, steep, rocky slopes and expose summit. The top of the mountain feels far away as you start walking on the trail, winding through coniferous forest. The shady trail slowly climbs as you pass rivers and fallen logs .  The trees open up to reveal the top of Gros Morne. It’s much closer than when you started and it looks beautiful in the morning light. But the mountaintop is still a ways above you and this is where the trail starts to get more difficult. With the forest behind you, you follow the trail up a rocky, gully. It’s very steep and full of loose rocks. You climb carefully and take breaks under the shade of some small shrubs. As you rest, you look back at the view behind you, full of mountains, oceans bays and the bright orange rock of the Tablelands…

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#TrailTrekNL

You work your way up a beaten path laden with blueberry bushes and lichen. Your breathing mirrors the ebb and flow of the distant ocean as you faintly hear the tide collide with the coastline. Moss covers the ground in a blanket as you walk through a section of tall birch and spruce. The shadowy canopy breaks to illuminate a rocky outcrop where the ocean extends beyond the horizon and the salty sea air welcomes you home. This is Armchair Hiking. With over 330 documented trails here in Newfoundland and Labrador, there is a pretty good chance you are close to at least one (AllTrails.com, 2020). However, this doesn't always mean that you're comfortable on them.  This September we are celebrating our trails and encouraging intersectional environmentalism by sharing our trail experiences through blog posts, pictures and videos! Nature NL believes that enjoying nature should be an accessible activity for…

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A Tour of Successful Local Protected Areas

At our August talk we went on a tour of some successful local protected areas to highlight some of big benefits they can bring to the surrounding areas. We toured the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve and Gros Morne National Park where we learned what defines success and what makes these unique areas successful in their own ways. Why do we need protected areas? To reiterate, protected areas are more than protecting nature. There is a common misconception that protected areas do this by banning all human activities and interactions within the area. This is not true. It is about keeping land public forever and preventing large industry threats like forestry and mining from buying the land that could prevent some activities that we all enjoy doing within the areas. They can also help create more provincial parks for people to enjoy in all sorts of capacities. Read more about the…

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Attu east: what makes us unique in the ABA?

By Lancy Cheng and Megan Boucher The post Attu East: what makes us unique in the ABA? has been shared by naturalist Lancy Cheng who leads events with Nature NL including our Gull workshop and our Bird Learning Nights. Or you may have seen him when birding around town, especially at Quidi Vidi Lake where he would be identifying gulls during all seasons, especially winter! This was done in collaboration with Megan Boucher prior to her relocation to New Brunswick but will not be the last shared project. We hope you will enjoy this interesting post about the unique ABA area. First of all, please accept our sincere apology. This article is heavily digitized, so is birding. ABA, short for American Birding Association, is the rule maker for birding in North America, whose boxing ring includes the United States, Canada, St. Pierre et Miquelon, the recently added Hawaii, plus some…

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Why we need protected areas

Nature NL recently hosted a panel discussion about the new Protected Areas Plan for the Island of Newfoundland. The consultations on this plan are open now, so it's a great time to learn more about these proposed areas. The consultations are a way for WERAC and our provincial government to hear everyone's opinions, and listen, and then refine the plan. The plan will be changed as needed as we go ahead, and each proposed protected area will go through local consultations as well. You can read more about the stories to date on this plan as well. Here we will take a look at some of the reasons that we at Nature NL support protected areas. This post covers the same ideas as in the introduction at our Protected Areas Panel, with some changes to the phrasing for clarity. Why do we even need protected areas? A lot of the…

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Join Us on the Trail to Environmental Justice

The ability to safely enjoy nature is a privilege and not everyone has the means or opportunity to actively participate in conservation and environmentalism. Those of us who are fortunate enough to engage in these activities need to remember that they are not equally available to everyone. All aspects of a person’s identity, such as class, race, gender, sexuality, age and body type, can impact a person’s access to and sense of welcome in natural spaces. Each of these aspects also influences how, when and where a person may be adversely affected by environmental issues. Worldwide, air and water quality, the preservation of wild spaces and wildlife conservation challenges are often linked to socioeconomic status and power structures built by modern and historical oppression. We cannot find solutions to these conservation and environmental challenges without also finding solutions to associated social injustices. This is why environmentalism must be intersectional. Leah…

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A Home for Nature

 Nature NL wants to see the special lands of the Island of Newfoundland conserved, so that we can enjoy them forever. A planned system of reserves, protected by legislation is the best way to ensure natural habitats, systems, and resources are maintained for future generations. The new Protected Areas Plan for the Island of Newfoundland is a chance to implement a strategy for designating protected areas, and use land use planning to conserve places that are important to us. We understand that this plan is not perfect, and there are many valid concerns. These concerns can be shared during the public consultation process, and they will be used to help refine the plan and make it better. Site-by-site consultations will then take into account local opinions, land use activities, and challenges, so that reserves will be designed and moved forward with local considerations in mind. Catch up with some of…

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