Posted by: jwhiff | February 4, 2011

Friday Adventures Continued!

I am always a bit apprehensive about taking students out to the Inlet every Friday.  I don’t want my students to ever be disappointed that they didn’t see anything interesting.  And yet, every single time I have taken a group out, I have come home feeling so glad that I did it.

Today was no exception.  I had a very eager group of kids, equipped with their new bird-watching note books that I had purchased for the class ($1.00 each from the local dollar store), cameras and gum boots.  We saw quite a selection of birds and had the chance to watch several of them up close.  My favourite of the day was a big pileated woodpecker who worked steadily on an old dead tree.  It was so focused on its task that it didn’t seem to be bothered by my students, squealing and collecting bits of wood that the bird pecked loose in its attempt to gather lunch.  We also saw a lovely pair of downy woodpeckers, as well as a stately great blue heron, goldeneye males and females, an American dipper and buffleheads.  In all, we saw approximately 16 different kinds of birds.  It was a great day for bird watching.  Ah yes…no geese today either.  We saw a line fly overhead (13 in the group), but saw none around the actual salt marsh.

Speaking of the salt marsh, I was eager to make some observations of the erosion we had noticed last time, especially at the mouth of Noons Creek.  I have been casually observing the level of the creek water all winter, noticing off-handedly that the water seems to rise after heavy rain fall.  The first time that it struck me that the water was unusually high was back at the beginning of January when I took my first Friday group out.

Yesterday, I observed that the creek waters were normal-looking.  I don’t know specifically how high “normal” is, but I can usually see more rocks than creek.  Well, last night, we had another heavy rainfall.  When I drove over the Noons Creek bridge to take my son to skating lessons this morning, I quickly checked the creek and definitely saw more creek than rocks.  The water usually takes on a deep brown-red colour that is quite noticeable when the water is high as well.

So, when I visited the Inlet with my students, we walked to the little bridge that crosses over the creek near the
hatchery.  Close to the bridge is a measuring stick that has been placed in the water to keep track of water levels.  Specifically, the water was 59 cm high.  We’ll check this every time we visit and note the weather the night before and day of the trip.  I’m curious to see if water level fluctuations have anything to do with the disappearing salt marsh.


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