[June 27th, 2015] – first day at QUBS
TEAM Redbelly Dace
Group members：Zhang Xinyuan 张馨元
Feng Jingyi 冯静毅
Zhong Manna 钟曼娜
Temperature: 15-30 ℃，
This is the very first day at Queen’s University Biological Station! At six in the morning, a pack of “early birds” went watching the real early birds. There were two types of migration birds that pass Ontario. The short distance migration covers the distance from the Arctic to the south coast of the United States. Birds such as Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerine); The long distance migration covers a much longer distance, typically between the Arctic and regions south to Latin America. Red-eyed vireo (Vireo divacews) comes to this category. Also there are many species that breed here. Steve is really a great biologist. He can identify all the song bird as we walk around QUBS: red-eyed vireo, chipping sparrow, American robin (Turdus migratorius), tree swallow, blue jay (Cyanocitta cristata), rose-breasted grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus), etc. It takes you a lot to be a good biologist, but this is actually the basic requirement for a good ecologist. With the help of the caller, we enjoyed quite a variety of song birds although this is not the breeding season. Along the road we had a close look at the man-made bird nest for tree swallow (Passer montanus). The umbrella-shape metal cover below the wooden nest served as a barrier against predators such as snakes.
In the morning, Steve briefly introduced the biodiversity, cultural and natural history of eastern Ontario. Then we went on another adventure in the woods. Maples, pines, birches and white cedar dominate the forest here. This secondary forest withhold a huge diversity. We were lucky to closely examine a millipede, an American toad (Anaxyrus americanus), a green frog (Rana clamitans), a spring peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) and a grey ratsnake (Elaphe obsolete).
After lunch, a lecture on birds was launched to give us a better understanding on their morphology and phylogeny. There were several tips that worth special attention. All birds have only one bone in the middle ear; Birds have scleral ring in the eye; The red blood cell in birds have nucleus. Recently some researches show that birds may evolve from a small kind of dinosaurian acestor like Compsognathus. The fossil of theropod dinosaurs with feather discovered in Yixian, China could prove this hypothesis. About 60% of birds are passerine and most of them are oscines. Birds play a lot of roles in eco-systems., such as pollinators, seed dispersers, predators, preys, and decomposers. Also birds can do much to affect human beings, including offering food, spreading disease, entertaining, helping people to hunt and so on. Nowadays the number and categories of bird have been declining very quickly, mainly due to habitat loss, alien species, over-hunting, pet trade, pollution, etc. Besides, we studied several half-done specimens. The turkey watcher can have a wingspread of about 5 meters, which was really impressive.
Late in the afternoon, a pack of students went swimming or canoeing in Lake Opinicon. In China you don’t usually get chances to swim in a real lake, so we were surprised and excited. Comparing to swimming pools, the water is deep enough, wide enough and the scenery around us is extremely beautiful. All of us enjoy this experience gifted by nature. But one of us couldn’t swim well and was whirled away by the wave and wind. Fortunately we helped him back. We should take care in the powerful hand of nature.
When dark fell, we headed out for the nocturne creatures. Toads and frogs sang in the marsh. We tried to call a barn owl. Since the males are far less reactive than in breeding season, we thought at first we couldn’t get any. But three owls get mad at the never lasting sound. They sang the alarming call. We finally saw them. Hurray!
激动人心的野外课程开始了！清晨6点，我们开始在树林里观鸟，辨认各种鸟的叫声。首先Steve给我们介绍了两种鸟类迁徙的方式，一种是长距离迁徙，另一种是短距离迁徙，红眼绿鹃Red-eyed vireo (Vireo divacews) 属于长距离迁徙的鸟类，这种鸟有着又长又细的喙，会用昆虫来养育雏鸟。棕顶雀鹀 Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerine) 则属于短距离迁徙的鸟类。我们在观鸟的过程，看到了一个人工鸟巢，下面还有个圆锥形的罩子，十分特别。这个装置是用来做什么的呢？原来是用来防蛇的。上面的人工巢箱是为树麻雀tree swallow (Passer montanus) 准备的，因为它不会筑巢。鸟儿们隐匿于树林中，很难观察到，只能根据他们的叫声来辨认，对于初出茅庐的我们，这是一件很困难的事情。
上完课后，我们又继续探索QUBS周边的生物多样性。这里有许多枫树、松树、以及白桦树，Steve还特意向我们展示了桦树剥落的树皮。在行走的过程中，Mark抓了一只美国蟾蜍还有一只green frog，并且教我们辨认的方法。 Green frog (Rana clamitans) 的背上有两条脊，眼下有一个圆斑点，我们可以根据这个斑点辨认雌雄，如果这个圆斑比眼睛要大的话，那么通常是雄性的蛙。在返程的路上，Mark还抓了一条灰鼠蛇grey ratsnake (Elaphe obsolete)，许多同学尝试与蛇亲密接触。总之，这是个十分充实的早晨。