Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

Ocean Hour Canada by Amanda Lounsbury

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In the fall of last year, I had just moved to the Okanagan and was looking for a unique way to meet new people. I wanted to do my part. I wanted to participate in something that would fill my heart- something that was important. Something that would make a difference. My friend Bob Purdy had been in touch with Justin Riney of Florida, who out of his foundation “Mother Ocean” had just started a satellite project called “Ocean Hour”. He’d been out training for his paddle around the entire state of Florida (!!!) and having encountered enormous amounts of trash, he decided to do something about it, so he started “Ocean Hour”. “Ocean Hour” is every saturday between 9 and 10 am, on your own local waterway, wherever you are on this beautiful planet.

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We remove trash from the beaches and from the water and we have a great time doing it! There are a number of groups participating around the world regularly, including in Taiwan, Florida, New Jersey, Hawaii and now Canada. Our chapter of “Ocean Hour” began in Kelowna at Bob’s urging and has seen interest growing in the surrounding communities of West Kelowna, Peachland, Penticton, and a bit further away, to Vancouver and the East Kootenays. The idea is to eventually have groups participating all across this great country, cleaning up their own local beach, stream, river or lakeshore and then passing the pictures along to us at https://www.facebook.com/oceanhourcanada Social media is powerful and we utilize it to share what we find, to recognize people for their efforts, and of course, to spread the word.

When I tell people about “Ocean Hour”, aside from the fact that we’re doing something important, one of the things I like to underscore is that it’s really fun! It truly is! We get out in the wild. We explore. We see places that other people don’t. We get fresh air. We get to enjoy the sun. We get exercise. There’s a sense of satisfaction in cleaning up a beach. It betters you.

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Once you start focusing on finding trash, it becomes sort of meditative and when the birds are singing and the waves are lapping at the shore, there is no more relaxing way to start the day! This one good deed feels great and it becomes a spring board that catapults you to a new awareness.

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It starts to shape your life and the things you care about. When you really notice how much garbage is out there, you find yourself looking at things differently. You become more aware of how much garbage you yourself generate. You will likely be more conscientious when you go shopping, perhaps thinking twice about buying tomatoes with plastic wrapping on them. You might reject the plastic bags offered to carry your goodies home. You might just go out and get yourself a recycling bin. You’ll feel good about all of this!

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“Ocean Hour” will inevitably be about more than picking up garbage for one hour a week. I encourage everyone to come out, lead by example and see where it in turn leads you! It’s especially important to educate our children about trash as well. They’re the future stewards of the environment and they deserve to grow up on a safe, clean planet earth. Their children deserve it too. If we all work together, that one hour a week makes a huge difference. One hour in which you set an example for future generations. One hour in which to share in something that’s good for the planet. One hour in which to give back a little of your own energy to this planet that gives us so much.

Please send any photos from your cleanups or direct any questions to https://www.facebook.com/oceanhourcanada You can follow Justin Riney’s adventures at https://www.facebook.com/XF500

Thank you for your interest! We hope to see you out at a cleanup soon!

Amanda Lounsbury Ambassador Ocean Hour: Canada

Earth Rhythms by Heather Hinam

I seem to feel the rhythms of the earth most acutely this time of year, when the skies are alive with the relentlessly flapping wings of millions of birds embarking on their twice-yearly migration.  In Canada, about 80% of all of our bird species migrate, in many cases covering thousands of kilometres back and forth every year between their summer breeding grounds and a warm place to spend the winter.

They may be the most noticeable migrants for us residents of the ‘Great White North’; but birds are not the only animals on the move this time of year.  In the Yukon and Northwest Territories, herds of barren ground caribou are thundering down out of the arctic tundra to wintering grounds within the treeline.  A number of whale species on both sides of the continent are cruising south to lower latitudes to enjoy warmer waters and breed. Even delicate Monarch butterflies are floating over thousands of kilometres to spend their winter in dazzling clusters of fluttering wings tucked away in a remarkably small portion of Mexico.

The autumn migration season is a perfect time of year for anyone to reconnect with nature. It’s a time when even the most urbanized of us can’t help but notice the wild world as it breezes through our backyards, parks and past our windows.  The insistent honking of geese stops just about anyone in their tracks, drawing their eyes upwards in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the passing birds.

It’s especially magical for children. I still have vivid memories of riding my bike over to the neighbourhood retention pond to feed the hordes of geese that were resting there before the next leg of their journey.  For kids who might not see animals every day, it’s a chance to make a fleeting connection with something that is truly wild.

It’s also the perfect opportunity to learn. What do geese eat? What shouldn’t you be feeding them? Where did they come from? Where do they go? How to they find their way?

All of these questions and more can be borne out of one simple encounter.  I could answer all them for you here, but that would defeat the purpose. Thankfully, there are lots of places to find answers to those questions. Oak Hammock Marsh (http://www.oakhammockmarsh.ca/nature/wildlife/index.html ), a wildlife management area in Manitoba, maintained by Ducks Unlimited has a number of wildlife information sheets you can read up on. All About Birds (http://www.allaboutbirds.org) is a great resource for anything you’ve ever wanted to know about birds and migration and even my own blog (http://naturalistsmiscellany.wordpress.com/) is full of information on all sorts of natural phenomena.

One thing I will tell you is not to feed the geese bread or crackers. These refined products offer little nutritional value to the birds and they get full on this junk food and neglect eating what they really need, which is whole grains. They really aren’t that different from humans in that way.

Regardless of where you go for information, I encourage you to begin your explorations outside, stretch your senses, listen for the honking and watch the skies for fluttering wings or just take a moment to sit still and take it all in. If you give yourself a chance, you too will feel the rhythms of the earth all around you.

Heather Hinam

A highly-trained naturalist and experienced educator, Heather Hinam’s endless curiosity fuelled her studies through three university degrees, culminating a doctorate in Conservation Biology. Now, she has taken her love for the wilderness and over 20 years artistic experience and devoted herself to helping people reconnect with the natural world around them through workshops, tourism experiences and the development of interpretive tools though her business, Second Nature, Adventures in Discovery (www.discoversecondnature.ca).

Canadian Living’s Let’s G.O. Canada program

Guest blog post from Canadian Living’s online health editor, Daniela Payne

Almost all of my fondest childhood memories take place outdoors. I remember walks in High Park with my family, canoe trips on Ontario’s breathtaking Lake Temagami, or backyard play for endless hours with my sister.

I have current fond ones too – like when I was biking through the Humber River trail with my dad just the other year and almost fell over my handlebars at the sight of two deer grazing along the river. Can you believe it? Nature is present anywhere you go – even in a big city. I carry this image of beauty with me everywhere I go.

I’m thankful my parents encouraged me to play out of the house, as it’s given me a value for nature and outdoor activity I wouldn’t trade for a million bucks. I can confidently identify poison ivy, paddle a canoe, cook up a mean s’more and maintain a hefty vegetable garden. Can you? I also understand the importance of nature and the environment, making most decisions only after I assess the impact it will have on Mother Nature.

Why I heart nature
Nature is so powerful that it can give anyone a sense of wonder, but we you won’t experience this inside. I read on Let’s Go Outside Revolution’s website that many children spend 90 per cent of their time indoors. It’s no wonder the childhood obesity epidemic is on the rise.

One way to ensure your child doesn’t suffer from this frightening condition is to get them to spend time outside. A local park, your backyard or a community garden can provide endless amounts of entertainment and education for both you and your kids.

We were so excited to hear about the Let’s Go Outside Revolution. It’s a great program to encourage folks to get back to nature and reap its many benefits and learn how to value it in return. We especially like it because it echoes exactly what we’re working on with Canadian Living’s Let’s G.O. Canada program.

What’s Let’s G.O. Canada?
The goal is to build a national movement in Canada to reconnect people with nature and battle nature deficit disorder. We hope to inspire you to spend more time outside and share photos and stories of your favourite outdoor places and activities.

In order to help you get outside we’ve compiled a bunch of articles with exciting ideas on how you and your family can enjoy the great outdoors. We’re also running a fabulous contest where you can share photos or videos of you or your family enjoying the nature Canada has to offer – its parks, lakes, trails, gardens, yards, or whatever! One lucky winner will win a fabulous camping getaway prize pack.

What’s your favourite thing about the outdoors? Show us at http://letsgetoutside.canadianliving.com/