Weeding for wildlife with EALT

This weekend I went out for my first field day of the summer with the Edmonton Area Land Trust (EALT). We headed out to the Glory Hills property to weed invasive species (specifically Canadian Thistle and Common Tansy). This is the first property I visited last year and it was a mess. There was a lot that had to be weeded and large sections of the pond’s shoreline was weed-whacked (seems extreme, I know, but anything to stunt the invasive species is helpful). Later in the year, they ended up doing a controlled spray because there was so much tansy.

It seemed a lot better this year, which was really gratifying to see. It helps drive home the fact that our hard work helps. By cutting down (or, better yet, pulling out) the tansy and thistle now, we’re either reducing the amount of individual plants in the area or reducing the likelihood of them growing to maturity and spreading more seed.

It’s a beautiful area and it was full of life. There was bird song from every direction, including various song birds, red-winged black birds, and loons. I even saw some ducklings swimming to their mother (and then saw seagulls diving at them and carrying off one of the ducklings – circle of life and all, but still sad to see). In one area on the the little peninsula, the trees were thick with at least 2-3 species of bees buzzing  overhead in the willows. We saw plenty of evidence (read: poo) of rabbits and deer, and I even found a deer skull.

There were big spiders scurrying in the dried grasses and at least 3 species of recently hatched spiders. A multitude of beetles were crawling all over the plants, including one that was clearly feeling the effects of spring (we saw dozens of couples mating). And, I found what I thought were very new ladybugs, but in retrospect I was just being dumb (bugs don’t grow the same way that people do) and when I got home and was able to zoom in, they clearly weren’t ladybugs. They appear to be some sort of beetle, but I haven’t figured out what they are, yet.

And, stinging nettle. OMG, that damned stinging nettle. It was so uncomfortable, but it appears that washing the affected area (my forearms) and treating them with our friend Solarcain will appease the stinging nettle gods. If you’re never suffered through stinging nettle, it’s like being constantly stung by tiny invisible jellyfish over and over again. It does not go away until you treat it.

Irregular leaves
Deer skull
Mystery beetle
Mating season

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