Manitoba Conservation Update

What we’re thankful for this season

By Graham Peters, Manitoba Conservation Science Coordinator

Oct 3, 2023

Birding at CMU

Well, here we are in fall. The leaves are showing the full range of colours they can be, the migrant birds are making their way south, and families are gathering for Thanksgiving. In my family we have a tradition. Everyone has to sit in the living room and share one thing they were thankful for in the past year.

This year I’m thankful for the people I got to work with this summer. Now, we could leave it there, but this is an A Rocha blog post, so I’ll elaborate.

I’m thankful for the people I got to bird watch with. I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, an expert birder, but many in our community are. It was an incredible summer walking the trails of the Boreal Ecology Centre, and doing laps around Canadian Mennonite University, where our office in the city is located. I’ve learned the familiar shapes of warblers and the calls of various songbirds thanks to the amazing people I got to walk with on those early mornings.

River Survey

I’m thankful for the people who joined us for our forest monitoring project. There’s a certain joy I find in kneeling over a small patch of ground plants and discerning together what types of plants cover the forest floor! Working with people to assemble this understanding of the biodiversity at the centre is always so much fun.

And the river too! I hope I never forget the excitement in the group as we pull up our net to see what kind of fish we found swimming in the river! The laughter over the endless invertebrates we sort through.

One of the biggest joys of the summer was the time I got to spend exploring with Josh; this summer’s conservation science assistant! To set up bird monitoring points or forest monitoring plots we wandered through the forest. If I could make one recommendation, always do that with a friend! For all the navigation blunders it is so much more fun to laugh with someone, and for all the vibrant flowers and incredible spider webs, marveling together is so much better shared! When you’re with a friend you can be amazed at the biggest tree you’ve ever seen, even take a moment so see if you can reach around it! You can pause to count toads along the forest floor, see if you can find where they’re going. And you can make countless pit stops to pick blueberries while Josh shakes his head and laughs!

Graham and Josh

And still, some joy comes in hindsight. I couldn’t tell you the number of separate times we tried to finish a project in the forest only to get rained out (I could tell you, it was 3). Or how often we’d pack up in defeat, only to be greeted by sunshine on the drive home. All we could do was laugh.

When I was in school we had a saying, Shared joy is doubled, and shared misery is halved.”

The successes of the season as well as the hilarious missteps along the way all made this summer season one of the best! I’m so thankful for everyone I got to work with this summer!

So explore the world with a friend! On top of getting to experience all the wonders that you could possibly notice outdoors, you’ll get to experience all the wonders that your friend will notice!

Survey of the Boggy River

Photos thanks to: Jami Cameron, Walker Giesbrecht, Zoe Matties, and Marnie Klassen

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