From the Archives

Berwick Field Report from the 2nd Annual Xmas Bird Count for Kids (& Families)

Submitted by: Judy Lipp

It was a mild and foggy January morning when 10 kids and 11 moms, dads and grandmas gathered for the 2nd annual Berwick Christmas Bird Count for Kids, organized by Young Naturalist Club, Berwick Chapter and led by George Forsyth.  We met on the last weekend of the count window – Saturday January 5, 2019.

We started the session indoors at the Berwick Legion (a big thanks to Maurice for opening the space for us) to get acquainted and prepared for the count.   We got to know each other through name games and bird theatrics – our group was pretty knowledgeable with some great bird calls and impressions.

The indoor time was fun and informative, but it meant we didn’t get out and start counting until 10:45 am.  Most of the birds didn’t wait for us, except…. quack.   We started in the Legion parking lot and saw a few Chickadees, Sparrows and signs of Blue Jays and a Pheasant.  We walked along Main Street heading east to the Berwick Sewage Lagoons.  On route we saw two Crows, a Rock Dove and a few Blue Jays.  It wasn’t until the sewage lagoons that we saw birds in any numbers and there they all were: quack.  Hundreds of ducks! We counted 420 Mallard Ducks and 36 Black Ducks.  We also spotted a Red-tailed Hawk and a few more Blue Jays.  The walk back was uneventful but the promise of hot cider and popcorn kept everyone going.

Our species list is below and here’s the link to our e-Bird submission made by George.

The Xmas Bird Count is a great way to introduce young people to the important contributions made by citizen science as well as introducing them to birds in our region. I’m very grateful to George Forsyth for sharing his knowledge, passion and skill at working with young people to make this a super fun event.   And thanks to the families for coming out.   See you next year if not sooner!

Species list: 10 total

420 Mallard 5 Blue Jay
36 American Black Duck 2 American Crow
1 Ring-necked Pheasant 2 Black-capped Chickadee
1 Rock Dove 2 American Tree Sparrow
1 Red-tailed Hawk 1 Song Sparrow


Nova Scotia Celebration of Nature Weekend – Visit to Wallace Bay NWA

Nova Scotia Celebration of Nature Weekend – Youth Program

Another great youth program at the Nova Scotia Celebration of Nature weekend in Debert. The youth had an amazing day on Saturday with LIza Barney from Bird Studies Canada and Becky Parker from Ducks Unlimited at the Wallace Bay National Wildlife Area.

We arrived at the site around 10am and played some games but the kids were super eager to get on the trail looking for birds. Liza had a great handout she made of common birds in that area and Becky went over using binoculars. We set out on the dyke trail and walked for about 2 hours. The don’t call it a National Wildlife Area for nothing –  we were treated to a huge array of birds that many of us hadn’t seen before.  After a quick lunch we played a couple more games including then we went for a walk down the forest trail in search of a Raven’s nest.  We did another hour walk on a pretty wet and boggy trail and found three Ravens – we were close but couldn’t find the nest in the end. This walk was very good for seeing other things such as some ferns, lichens and a great display of woodpecker holes in trees.

LIza Barney from Bird Studies Canada kept track of our sightings and told us we gathered a grand total of 30 bird species! Highlights included 9 species of Warblers, observing 50ish foraging Tree Swallows and a glimpse at an elusive Pileated Woodpecker! The eBird checklist is here:

Other weekend happenings included a campfire talk by Dave Chapman and Cathy LeBlanc on Saturday night about Mi’kmaw moons and on Sunday we heard a talk about a man raising monarchs and growing a field of milkweed in the Annapolis Valley. We also played more games including species at risk bingo where we used our SAR cards. You can see more photos of the weekend at:

Everyone was nice and tired and satisfied :)  Rumour is next year the weekend will be held in Cape Breton. Keep an eye on our website for details.

2nd Youth Nature Art and Writing Contest Winners….

Berwick’s First Annual Xmas Bird Count for Kids

On a mild(er) day during the holidays, nine winter hearty Young Naturalist Club (YNC) members helped contribute to an important continent-wide citizen science project, counting birds for the long-standing, annual, continent-wide Christmas Bird Count. Our group was coached by George Forsythe, retired teacher, avid birder and member of the Blomidon Naturalists Society (BNS) –   We want to thank the BNS for helping make this event possible and for their own 30+ year dedication to various bird counts – they organise annual migration counts, raptor counts, nest counts and swift counts, to name just some of the counting they do.

The Christmas Bird Count, started in 1900, is North America’s longest-running Citizen Science project and arguably the most wide-spread, with counts taking place in over 2000 locations throughout the continent.  According to Bird Studies Canada ( ), “results are used daily by conservation biologists and naturalists to assess the population trends and distribution of birds.”  This year the YNC put Berwick on the map.

It was a good morning to be out – not so frigidly cold as it had been the days before and after and very little wind.  We met at the Berwick Legion on Main Street and received a backgrounder from George on the Bird Count and its importance for tracking the state of bird populations over more than a century.  We were excited to be able to play our part in this critical work.  George also gave us an essential tutorial on how to use binoculars and several of us not-so-young naturalists learned about our dominant eye and how to account for it in setting the field glasses.

We then ventured outside where we practised some pssshing and were soon rewarded with our first sighting: a few Chick-a-dees.  The first 10 minutes in the parking lot, despite a few Chick-a-dees and some chips in the bushes, seemed to be rather quiet (and boring for some) but we all learned that good things come to those who wait….  soon we had spotted a number of Song Sparrows, more Chick-a-dees, a few American Goldfinches and heard a Cardinal.  A good start for a group with limited to no birding experience.  No doubt George’s keen eyes, ears and years of experience helped us hone in on many of the birds.

We walked from the Legion east along Main Street to the sewage ponds where we had permission to walk around.  On route, we saw a number of Crows, Mourning Doves and Blue Jays and a single Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker as well as a White-breasted Nuthatch.  At the ponds, we spotted Mallard and Black Ducks, several Rock Doves (pigeons), saw more Song Sparrows and watched in anticipation as a Bald Eagle and two Crows flew past.  Watching that scene, which ended with the eagle flying off with something the Crows had had (a chicken foot perhaps), we heard a Pheasant in the bushes but were unable to spot it.

As we turned to leave we saw a Sharp-shinned Hawk pestering some Pigeons.  On the way back we saw most of the same birds and ended our outing with a tally of all we had seen back at the Legion hall.   In all we saw 21 different species and counted 95 individual birds.  As first-timers, we all felt really good about the diversity we had encountered and the things we learned along the way.   And then we enjoyed hot chocolate and cookies!!  I’m already looking forward to next year and establishing an annual counting tradition amongst the young naturalists and their families in Berwick.

2017 Youth Nature Art and Writing Contest Results!

Well the results are finally in! We have our 2017 Youth Nature Writing and Art Contest winners. Thank you to all the youth who entered the contest, once again the judges had a hard time choosing just a few to acknowledge. We are always thrilled to see the knowledge and skill Nova Scotia’s young Naturalists show during this contest. Keep an eye out for shows in New Glasgow, Berwick and Halifax in the new year that will showcase these great young artists!


Writing Winners 2018

First Place – Robson Rievaj, Lewis Lake
First Place – AinsIle Gale, Head of St. Margarets Bay
Second Place – Laura Worth
Third Place – Harper Brett, Bedford

First Place – Michael Delong, Kentville
First Place – Ashalen McCulloch, Weymouth
Second Place – Kaitlyn Kemp Cheevers
Third Place – Siena Hammermeister, Tatamagouche

Honorable Mentions:
Caitlin Bowman, Dartmouth



Art Winners

First Place – Natalie Pegg, Middleton
Second Place – Lauren Hill, Dartmouth
Third Place – Hannah Michels, Dartmouth

Honourable Mentions:
Mia Best
Erinn Bowman, Dartmouth
Freja Cambell, Sydney
Yewon Chung, Pictou
Maetia Aleses Contant, Woodville
Alexander Hazelwood, Aylesford
Johnathan Michels, Dartmouth

First Place – Mary Elliott, Middleton
Second Place – Isabella Young, Truro
Third Place – Iris Gamble, Shad Bay

Honorable Mentions:
Gabby Carter, Wedgeport
Lauren Doucette, Bell Neck
Skyla Gidge, Margretsville
Varya Kuznetsova, Halifax
Larissa Lemoine, Iona
Andrew Michels, Dartmouth
Keanna Pierre, Wagmatcook
Macy Shand, Charlesville

Thanks to Nature Nova Scotia, Wildland Writers and the Nova Scotia Government for their support on this project

Species at Risk Trading Cards

10th Anniversary Nature Blitz Celebration!

Nova Scotia Celebration of Nature 2017, Milford House

We had a great weekend during our annual youth programming at Nature Nova Scotia’s Celebration of Nature this spring.  With 17 youth from ages 6 to 13 we had an interesting mix of activities to satisfy all interests.  On Saturday we started the morning talking about migrating birds and had a warm up playing the Migration Game. We then tackled a bird geocaching course where we used our GPS units to find 8 hidden stations that had bird related activities at them.  It was a big hit.  Later that morning Jill Francis from Parks Canada came and talked about Mi’kmaw hunting and everyone got to try their hands using an Atatl, a spear throwing tool that helped native hunters achieve greater distances.

Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 3.41.28 PMThat afternoon everyone joined a field trip in the local area and rejoined us at the lodge for a musical performance by Little Miss Moffat!  Nobody forgets the lyrics to “Raven or Crow?”.  Even some of the adults joined in with their owl hoots.  After dinner we had a very moving bonfire chat with Frank Meuse and shalan joudry from Bear River First Nation.  Everyone slept well that night, even it was a little chilly!

IMG_1079.JPGThe next day brought us a visit from Katie McLean from Clean Annapolis River Partnership who taught us about some of the different turtles they monitor and let us try our hands at trying to find the GPS units they attach to the turtles. Then we had Jeffie McNeil and some interns from the Mersey Tobeatic River Institute come and help the kids build some turtle nesting cages that they will use to protect newly laid turtle eggs from predators.  Charlie from Milford House took some time to have some of the older kids help him make a new wood duck nesting box as well!

We are so fortunate to have been at such a beautiful location this year. Great kids and families and we are looking forward to doing it all again next May!

Mushroom ID

The Berwick Young Naturalists went mushrooming in the Kentville Ravine on a beautiful Saturday morning with Ken Harrison Jr. and Bill Shaw. We had 30 people at this event – our largest group yet! This was a joint event with the Annapolis Valley Chapter. Even though it had been a very dry summer, we did find many mushroom species that kept Ken and Bill hopping. The Young Naturalists were excited to look for mushrooms and the older kids ran up ahead to search with Bill and Nick Hill (local botanist and ecologist) while Ken and I staying back with the younger and more thorough investigators. Here are a few photos from our fun morning: