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The ides-ish of August last year, I left for Elgin. I was among the 12 students from various universities in Ontario who enrolled in a OUPFB (Ontario University Program Field Biology) course (among many) for 2 weeks. What does the course revolve around? The title. I mean, read the title. QUBS stands for Queen’s University Biological Station and was bought by a professor at the said university for research and conservation purposes. Enough with the background information.

That Sunday, I met and got warmed up to the students that I would see regularly for the next 12 days. It ended with a campfire and not so awkward silences. The next few days, the group of 14 or 15 (with two to three instructors) went for water snakes (+ serendipitous Black Rat Snake, Green Snake and Garter Snakes), fishes,Stinkpot Turtles (Musk Turtles. The other name is so much cuter) and salamanders, to learn about Mark & Recapture, the use of Fyke and Seine nets, measurements, among other wildlife sampling techniques.

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Northern Ribbon Snake 

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Water Snake

Musk Turtle

Musk Turtle. Note that the bucket is full of them!

Fyke/Hoop net

Fyke/Hoop net


Thursday evening, we went for a walk to a beaver habitat. We were all warned to shush, but I accidentally let out a yelp as I tried to pull the person in front of me who looked like she was slipping. As guessed, no beaver showed itself that night. I’m so sorry!! I felt really bad even though I may not have been the cause. If anyone thought of revenge…I got stung by many flies during that time. The next day, we woke up early to go on a birding walk and set up mist nets (what? Myst nets? Nets that make everything look blurry? I thought of that, and it didn’t make any sense).

Black-capped Chickadee    Courtesy of Nancy (student). No, that's not my hand. When I did have it in mine, I realized I wasn't breathing.

Black-capped Chickadee. Courtesy of Nancy (student). No, that’s not my hand. When I did have it in mine, I realized I wasn’t breathing.

Then came insect day. We took insect nets out and started swinging them around in a field. The insects were brought back to the lab, frozen, and then ID-ed.

We also went for a tree walk at some point, but my brain shut down just like every other time someone talks about trees. Fortunately a year has passed and I’ve successfully made my subconscious side more open to them.

Sunday was break day; a break means ice cream! And of course, parties, or beds and pillows if you like that more. The following week was spent wrapping up last week’s activities and working on our own mini-research project by sampling Ambush bugs in the field and bringing the individuals back to the lab for analysis. The last morning before departure morning, we hiked up Rock Dunder. I’ll let you judge the view yourself. This picture doesn’t do it justice. WENH13_ 289 The last evening before departure, we campfired, played, drunk, danced and slept. Well yeah, nothing too out of the ordinary. We had a campfire the day before (no, we didn’t have campfires every day; the only ones are all mentioned) and during then, the TA (teaching assistant) said that she started pole dancing. When invited to dance during that last evening, she said “I can’t dance without a pole!”. That’s the last and funniest joke during the course for ya…unless you don’t find that very funny.

I’ll be back for the beaver. Or search for a beaver location closer to home?

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Jumping Spider of some sort. Courtesy of Dr. Bulté

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A mushroom in the Suillus or Amanita family (?). That’s as far as I got to ID-ing it. Courtesy of Julie (TA)

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I don’t know anything about flies. Courtesy of Michael (student)

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Another breathtaking picture. Short of breath, even today. I’ll just pretend that was my hand. Courtesy of Zara (student)

Gray Tree Frog.  Courtesy of Zara (student)

Gray Tree Frog.
Courtesy of Zara (student)