Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Broad Cove Campground, Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Our day at Cape Breton Highlands National Park was all about birds! It began with a Birding BioBlitz and ended with our presentation on birding and Citizen Science.

We woke up around 6:30 am and headed down to the group fire pit to make coffee. The campground was quiet, except for the songs of a Red-breasted Nuthatch, an American Robin, and several Dark-eyed Juncos.

Around 8 am we were picked up at our campsite by the amazing staff at Parks Canada, who even let us stop for a delicious breakfast of coffee and oat cakes at the locally owned and operated Bean Barn Cafe on the way to the Bird Bioblitz.

When we arrived at the Ingonish Campground we first got an opportunity to accompany Parka, the Parks Canada mascot on her daily round of the campground. Parka the beaver greeted the campers, offered high fours and hugs to the smaller ones, and helped promote today's park programs. It isn't every day that you get to take a walk with a giant beaver!

After our walk we joined William, Jared and two other staff on a Birding BioBlitz. About 30 campers attended, including quite a few families with very engaged children. The walk began with a bang as a Bald Eagle swooped low ever the group right before we set out! We walked through the campground and around a lake, seeing eleven bird species in all. The campers really seemed to enjoy it, and we managed to see quite a few species for such a large group.

After the BioBlitz Will drove us back to the campground, and along the way shared his story of biking across Canada. He had some great advice and interesting stories.

We spent much of the afternoon working on our presentation. It seemed like a shame to spend yet another day in a National Park hunkered down on the computer instead of exploring, but we are out here to deliver a message and we still need to work on improving how we do that. Hopefully each time we give a presentation it gets a little bit better.

Around 7 PM we accompanied two staff members as they went campsite to campsite inviting people to attend our talk. It was a pretty good system, and a lot of campers expressed an interest.

Our talk started at 9 PM in the Broad Cove campground amphitheatre. There was a crowd of over 40 campers there, including lots of children. They were very engaged, and seemed to enjoy the presentation. Afterwards a couple families came and talked to us about the birds they have been seeing, and said they didn't know they could keep track of or submit their observations to Citizen Science initiatives, but would try doing that from now on. It was wonderful to think that what we are doing might make a difference.

Things wound up around 10 PM. It was a long but wonderful day. Tomorrow we head to Cheticamp, where we will give the same presentation a second time. Hopefully it goes as well.

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