NB Naturalist Feature: Maritime Marsh Monitoring Program
By: Adam Cheeseman
Greeted by mosquitoes and the rising sun, Nature NB’s Adam Cheeseman starts his walk along a dyke in the Tintamarre National Wildlife Area near Sackville, his focus trained on the marsh — listening and watching for wetland birds as part of Birds Canada’s Maritime March Monitoring Program. The marsh comes to life with the sun’s arrival as warblers hop between trees lining the dyke, new Mallard parents paddle with their ducklings checking over their shoulder often to make sure everyone is accounted for, and a Sora calls from a hidden location surrounded by cattails.
The Maritime Marsh Monitoring Program works with a network of volunteers to survey dozens of marsh sites across the Maritime provinces each year. As a volunteer bird monitor, Adam visits the marsh twice each summer to complete bird surveys. “One of the more memorable moments this season was watching a pied-billed grebe and its little ones glide through the marsh and hearing a branch snap behind me. Quickly turning, I exchanged glances with a confused young deer. A minute or so later it was joined by three others and the group of them watched me for the entire fifteen minute point count before darting off once I started to pack up. For me, this is what makes these experiences so rewarding — witnessing awe-inspiring moments in nature, while helping to protect the animals and plants we all care about.”
“Other highlights included sightings of an elusive American Bittern and foraging Tree Swallows. While it took some time in the first year of volunteering to learn the protocol, it has been a great way to continue honing my ID skills, particularly birding by sound — a skill that I am still learning a bit more about every day.”
Marshes not only provide habitat for birds and other animals, but provide vital services to our communities. Healthy marshes provide areas for recreation and tourism, protect against flooding by storing rainwater, and pull carbon form the atmosphere, reducing the impacts of climate change.
To learn more and to inquire about volunteering yourself, check out our friends at Birds Canada here: https://www.birdscanada.org/maritimes-mmp/