Hello! My name is Mrs. McNulty.

Please travel with me to Nova Scotia to study climate change and mammals!

Friday, April 23, 2010

What an Adventure!

The adventure is coming to an end and what an adventure it has been. I have learned much more than I could ever post on a blog and I look forward to using this experience to enhance my teaching as well as my every day life. Thank You Earthwatch for the opportunity!

Here is a list of all the different animals we have seen during our two week expedition:
  • Porcupine
  • Eastern Chipmunk
  • Redback Vole
  • Meadow Vole
  • Deer Mouse
  • Mink
  • White Tailed Deer
  • Beaver
  • Muskrat
  • Red Fox
  • Show Shoe Hare
  • Raccoon
  • Harbor Seal
  • Also many birds, but I was especially excited to see a Bald Eagle!

I've shown you some video footage of the beavers we saw and mentioned a similar animal we also saw that evening called a muskrat. Some of you took on the challenge to find similarities and differences between the two. Here are a couple videos of the muskrat to help you compare and contrast the two.
I look forward to hearing more people's answers!


Yesterday I had a Skype session with the entire 3rd through 6th grades! That was a very exciting surprise. I talked about camera traps we set last week and how we would be checking them today to see which animals we "caught" on the camera.

My partner and I placed one in an area where we saw porcupine damage to the birch trees. This field sign helped us decide where to place our trap.

Red Fox in our compost pile! (Ignore the date stamps ;)

Porcupine nocturnal activity at Eastport Medway

We also saw three porcupines today on our hike at the Keji Seaside Adjunct! I have some video and more pictures to show you when I get back. And of course, we can talk about any other questions you may have that I haven't had a chance to answer. As I said, this trip was so full of learning opportunities that I couldn't possibly have put them all on here. This means we'll have a lot to talk about when I get back :) See you Soon, kiddos!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

From Worst to Best...

Wow, yesterday was quite a day! We continued to work hard at our new site, Cook's Lake, and during that work we encountered many, many ticks!

In fact, our lead scientist said she had never seen so many in one day. It was by far the worst day for them. We must have pulled off around 200! Ticks are 8 legged arachnids who live off of the blood of mammals. They like to find a nice, warm nook and then they will burrow into your skin and begin to eat. Yikes!

Thankfully, we went from the worst tick day to the best evening for beaver watching!

We sat down at the edge of this lake and waited very patiently and very quietly for the beavers to emerge. How can we tell this lake has beavers living in it? Beavers build a shelter called a lodge. Can you find the lodge in this picture of the lake?

A beaver lodge is a pretty amazing shelter.
We saw three different beavers swim out from the lodge! Sometimes they would come up onto this small patch of land to gather more sticks and other times they would swim really close to us and patrol to make sure we weren't a danger to them. A couple times one of the younger beavers got nervous and it would slap the water really hard with its tail, then dive under the surface. Apparently this is a warning signal for the others.


We also saw a different aquatic rodent called a muskrat swimming around during our beaver watching.

Today's Challenge:

How are muskrats and bea
vers similar and how are they different?

Answers to the Last Challenge:

GREAT job on the last challenge! I was so impressed with those of you who really made an effort to find out about voles, mice, and shrews.

Many of you found out a lot of the answers. Voles have smaller eyes and ears then mice. This is because mice need bigger eyes and ears to hunt for insects. Mice are
omnivores. Voles are herbivores, so they do not need those adaptations. Shrews, on the other hand are insectivorous which means they eat insects. Shrews are carnivores. They also look very different from both mice and voles.

And Whose Scat WAS That? Again, many of you did very well. That scat belonged to a...fox!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


This is an ecosystem called a grassland. It is very different from the thick, brambled woodland we set traps in last week. It may look empty, but there are many small mammals hiding there. We also saw a lot of insects. Including spiders and...


We set our traps in the grassland hoping to catch some shrews. The number we catch can help us determine the total population. Last night, we learned about some very complicated math formulas that the scientists use to do this.

We also did some surveyinng of the grassland area today for field signs of mammal species. One of the most interesting things we came across was part of a deer hide! We believe this was leftover from a coyote meal. Yikes!

A coyote is a member of the canine family just like our pet dogs. There is another canine roaming the grassland and woodland here and today we found evidence that one has been around. That's right, more scat! Let's play the game one more time, kids...

Whose Scat is That?
Remember, think about what makes sense in this ecosystem. I've already given you a big hint: It is in the same family as dogs and coyotes....

Yesterday's Challenge:

Great job on the last challenge, everybody! I asked you to try to find out how voles are different from mice and shrews. You are definitely on the right track. I'd like to see a few more people get a chance to try the challenge before I reveal the answer. Hopefully tomorrow we will catch a few and I'll have some pictures for you. In the meantime, keep up the good work!

Looks like the weather is perfect for beaver watching tonight; yippee! This means it will be a very late night and I may not have a chance to blog, but hopefully I'll have a lot of wonderful stories to share about today's adventures when I blog tomorrow!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Cook's Lake~~Brrrrr!

37 degrees+rain+30 mile an hour winds=Brrrrrrr!

It was a tough day today, but also exciting because we went to a brand new work site. It is a place called Cook's Lake and it looks very different from the last place we worked. Cook's Lake has grassland & wetland areas as well as woodland.

We set small mammal traps again, but this time in a different environment which means we expect to catch some different types of animals!

Previously, we mostly caught Voles. We also caught one chipmunk and one other furry friend I haven't told you about yet...
a Deer Mouse! We named him "Mighty" :)

We should be catching more mice at our new site. Some Deer mice, but also a different species called the Woodland Jumping Mouse. We also expect to collect another very interesting animal called the Short-tailed Shrew!

Today's Challenge: How are mice and shrews different from voles (the rodent we have mostly been catching so far)?
Hint: Look closely at the blog pictures to help you get started.

Yesterday's Answers: The area we marked out for our dropping survey is called a quadrat because it has four sides, like a quadrangle. QUAD=4 Congratulations to those of you who figured it out!

Now, whose droppings did we see? Whose Scat WAS That? It belonged to a
White-tailed Deer!

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Pronounced, "Ke-jee-mi-ku-jik", it means place of the spirits
according to the Mi'kmaw, the indigenous people (Native Americans) of the area.

Kejimkujik is now a National Park & Historic Site of Canada. It is very different from the other landscape we have been working in so far. "Keji" is home to the biggest old-growth forest in Nova Scotia. A very special thing to see here are the groves of Hemlock trees.

From rushing rapids to the stillest lake I think I've ever seen, there is also a beautiful variety of water within the park.

Of course, it wouldn't be a proper day in the forest if we didn't see some scat =) I have a new type of scat to show you.
Can you guess which animal it came from?

In order to do a "Dropping Survey" we have to mark out a 10meter by 10 meter square called a quadrat. We use four tall poles to mark the area, then we all line up next to each other and move forward from one end to the other, looking for & counting any animal droppings that we see.

We marked out and surveyed a total of ten quadrats today and found about 50 piles of scat!

Today's challenge has TWO parts

1. What animal do you think left the droppings above?
Hint: It is larger than any of the other mammals I have talked about so far!

2. Why do you think it is called a "quadrat"?
Hint: Look for something inside the word that you have seen during Math!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

"Flashy" Droppings

We checked our traps this morning and again in the early evening. Most of you predicted we would find around 10 animals today. The total number of furry friends captured today was...

We were revisited by all of our friends from yesterday except Fiesty McFiesterson.

We also met someone new today who was not a Redbacked Vole but a chipmunk! No, we did not name him Alvin, Simon, or Theodore.

Meet: "Flash" =)

Flash was even fiestier than Fiesty!

Next, it was on to a new type of work. We had to get on our hands and knees, crawl through the sharp brambles and underbrush, and look for evidence of an animal called the Snowshoe Hare. What evidence were we looking for? Scat, of course ;)

Here we are working hard on our "Dropping Survey"

This is Ms. Blemker; another teacher on my team. She teaches kindergarten in Seattle. Ms. B. is holding only a small pile of the droppings we counted today. Altogether the team found about 5,ooo Snowshoe Hare droppings! This data will help the scientists determine how the population of hares is doing and how healthy the forest is.

We were supposed to do some beaver watching today, but we had to postpone it due to weather. It started to rain and the temperature dropped a lot tonight. These are unfriendly conditions for beaver watching but we will try again soon!

Last Chance for SCAT predictions! Everyone should get at least one correct answer (thanks to today's blog :)
I will reveal all the answers when we talk tomorrow, kiddos.
Skype you soon!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Found Some Furry Friends!

Hiding in these thick forest brambles are 100 gentle, cozy traps for our small mammal friends =)

The number of 'friends' we find will help the scientists determine how many survived the winter and what the different population sizes are.

We found 5 furry friends today! They were all Redbacked Voles. Four males and one female. We named them:
Burt, Brit, Babe, Gimpy, & Fiesty McFiesterson!

If there is someone inside when we check the trap, we gently empty out the trap, remove the animal, clip a tiny bit of hair off (so we know if we recapture the same animal), and weigh it. Next we record the species, its gender, and its weight all on a data sheet. Finally, we return our friend right back to where we found them from.

Please don't worry; it doesn't harm the voles at all to be held by their scruff. Apparently, they don't have any nerves in their neck area which means they cannot feel pain there. A very clever adaptation! Also, the hair that is clipped is just a top layer called the guard hair. We do not clip the black under hair which is what the animal uses as insulation to stay warm.

Today we also did a porcupine damage survey and set a different kind of trap called a camera trap. I'll tell you more about that soon. Wow, what a day!

Tomorrow we will check the traps again and do some deer and hare surveys. In the evening, if it doesn't snow, we will be doing some beaver watching. Very exciting!!

"GUESStimate" Challenge:

Today, out of 100 traps, we found 5 individuals.
How many do you think we'll find tomorrow??