The mission: Reach every nest island and record its state and usage
- kayak or poke boat
- waders, gloves and boots
- map, radio, data sheets, compass and GPS
- lunch and water bottle
Terrain – lily ponds, sphagnum, tree lines, beaver dams
- Aquatic – leeches
- Terrestrial – horseflies, mosquitos, noseeums, bears, moose, mew gulls
Monitoring nest islands begin like this, with a laminated map of a unit and the islands that need to be reached. The first step is to figure out what’s the best route to reach each of the islands, keeping in mind that the goal is to avoid, at least as much as possible, the bogs, the dense tree lines and beaver dams. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip: getting to read the map and navigate a course of action. It felt a lot like a scavenger hunt.
In the example map pictured above, the goal would’ve been for one group to try to reach f081, f274a, p070, f250, f251, f054, f280a, f091, f281a, f031, f037, f034, f035, f045, f252, f046, r094, r093, f252, f048, r104, f258a. I’m not sure who decided how to identify these islands. For a while nest island 007 was missing from the cluster of single numbered islands, but it was found a couple days later with the 200s series.
Anyways, the scenario would’ve been to head southwest from f081. So my plan would’ve been to reach f081, f274a, jump in a slough and paddle out to p070, haul the poke boat out towards f250 and also get f251 in the same lake, then jump a couple ponds, get into the slough and paddle to f054. That’s just the first part of the unit and doesn’t take into account that sometimes it wouldn’t have been that easy to jump into a slough and paddle down to another nest island. There might be beaver dams that would force you to have to jump out of the poke boat, the slough might be dried up or inundated with vegetation. Then there’s the occasional mis-navigation where you end up a couple hundred meters from where you need to be.
It was still the most fun week ever though, despite the challenges or maybe because of them. Getting to paddle as hard as you can so that you can jump over a beaver dam is pretty cool. Learning about all the different vegetated terrain was new and exciting. And the scenery and wildlife really can’t be beat.
That’s how nest island monitoring goes, though I didn’t mention the tons of snack breaks in between. Nest Island maintenance is next!