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Updates for Volunteers re Training and Field Work

As you know, we have made the decision to open Couchiching Conservancy Nature Reserves to the public. Monitoring and maintenance is still happening on a case-by-vase basis by volunteers who live in the same household. As of May 21st, 2020 here’s our decision regarding volunteer training and volunteer field work this spring:  

D. Homer - Wilson's Snipe

Wilson’s Snipe by David A. Homer

Spring Field Monitoring & Maintenance: 

As things slowly begin to open up in Ontario, we have received a couple of emails from some of you asking when it is safe to venture out in the field with your assigned partner, who is not in the same household. Although things are progressing in Ontario, we feel that it is best to wait longer to deploy teams for the safety of you, your partner, and other volunteers. Depending on how the situation moves forward, we are looking at June 1st as the tentative day to resume regular monitoring and maintenance, with some exceptions and protocols to follow. Until then, we ask that if you are monitoring nature reserves you continue to do so with someone from your household. We are monitoring the situation closely and will continue to keep you informed on any updates related to volunteering and monitoring visits.

When the time comes to be able to monitor with your assigned partner, we will provide masks and sanitizer for you to use when in the field, if you don’t have them already. We will also provide a list of protocols that we would like you to follow to ensure the safety of you and your partner when monitoring.

Don’t forget tick checks: For those of you who are currently monitoring nature reserves, we wanted to send along a reminder to thoroughly check yourself for ticks after each site visit. Ticks have been found at the nature reserves this spring. Before your next field visit, we ask that you read this document, courtesy of The Land Between, that outlines important information on ticks and how to identify them.         

If you are a new volunteer or have signed up for a new activity, please proceed with your training program, but understand: We will not be able to provide your field orientation until after the need to practice physical distancing has passed.


Spring Training Courses:

Ambassador Training:  Registrants will be sent a video presentation via email, and a follow-up session will be scheduled for Q&A and discussion via Zoom videoconferencing.

Avenza Mapping Courses:  Since instruction for this course is hands-on, all courses are cancelled for the spring.  A pdf instruction manual will be sent to everyone who signed up.  

Bat Monitoring:  Materials such as the new protocol manual will be sent to all registrants by email, along with a link to a pre-recorded presentation you can watch from home. There will be a follow-up Zoom videoconference for Q&A and Discussion for anyone who wants to join in.  

Frog Calls:  One course has already taken place, and the remaining four registrants have received their protocol manuals.  They will next receive a link to a pre-recorded presentation, and there will be a follow-up session for Q&A and a Quiz via Zoom videoconferencing. 

GPS Handheld Devices:  Since instruction for this course is hands-on and does not lend itself to a pre-recorded presentation or videoconference, this course is postponed.

Reptile and Amphibian Identification: Will proceed as a pre-recorded presentation that each registrant will receive as a link in an email, along with the Conservancy’s Regional Reptile & Amphibian I.D. Guide.   We do not think there will be a need for a follow-up Zoom videoconference.  

Species-at-Risk Identification:  This course has been postponed until it can be offered in a classroom setting.  Registrants will be notified. 

Turtle Nesting Workshop in the Field:  This course is scheduled to happen in June, once turtle nesting is active.  We will be monitoring the advice from government and health officials to determine if it will be safe to offer this course.  

Vernal Pool Workshop in the Field:  Since this workshop was scheduled to take place the first week of May, we will not be able to offer it this year .  We hope to offer a fun alternative to the field workshop – stay tuned!

Water Quality Monitoring:  Two courses are scheduled for June, and we can only hope it will be safe to offer them by then.  

Whip-poor-will surveying:  A brief pre-recorded refresher course will be offered to the whip poor will monitoring teams.  No new volunteers will be accepted into the program for 2020.   New routes for existing volunteers will be emailed to you.  Remember:   The optimal survey window for Whip poor will monitoring in 2020 is the first week of June (the full moon is on the 5th of June).  Time will tell if it will be realistic for this activity to take place.  

Everyone be good and honour staying home so we can plank the curve as quickly as possible!  


-The staff Stewardship Team,

Dorthea Hangaard – 

Dave Hawke –  

Toby Rowland –