Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Bird Sleuth

I teach ecology programs in a rural village in central Haiti, and at an elementary school.  This week we used the BirdSleuth scavenger hunt and Bird Spy Bingo produced by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  The games are printed on slick cards on which dry erase markers can be erased.  I only have the English version of the games since I am waiting for the French to be reprinted.  The scavenger hunt has basic and more advanced levels of finding objects in natures such as a spider web, rock, leaf, etc., and is mostly text, so I had the kids find the objects that were pictured on the cards.  Bird bingo has birds doing various things, such as sitting on a branch or singing, and the kids were able to follow the illustrations.  The 6th graders were able to read some of the English descriptions of the birds.  There aren’t many trees in the village and the kids are noisy, but a kestrel did pose on a tree for us, and the kids found a feather and bird droppings.  We saw a few more birds near the elementary school.  Binoculars aren’t needed for the scavenger hunt, but make the bingo more fun.  Both games draw attention to animals and objects found in nature.  My assistant Louiders wants me to thank everyone who donates binoculars and funds for this!  He says you are helping Haiti!

Searching for birds along the village path.
Bird Bingo in the village.

Louiders helping the 6th graders.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Stream Survey – Bohoc Haiti

Tilapia pond in UCCC gardens
On 14 Nov. 2016 we performed a brief survey of two rivers and a spring in Bohoc Haiti, near the market along National Route 3.  Bohoc is 8 miles east of Pignon.  We collected water samples to measure nitrate, phosphate, DO, and pH with LaMotte® Water TesTab® Kits and determine fecal coliform counts with 3M petrifilm.  We also used a 500 micron D net to sweep the substrate and overhanging vegetation for macroinvertebrates that we identified to lowest taxon possible in the field.  In the Université de la Communauté Chrétienne de Caïman (UCCC) gardens to the south of Rt. 3 we sampled two hand-dug tilapia ponds, the Bohoc River which is downhill of the ponds and gardens, and an irrigation canal that flows through the gardens and feeds the tilapia pond.  We also sampled the Sous Chaude (hot spring) and receiving river located downhill behind the Bohoc Market, to the north of Rt. 3.  We returned to the spring 17 Nov. to measure water temperature.  All sites were high in phosphate (4 mg/l), and fecal coliform (>7 colonies) except for the Sous Chaude which had no coliform bacteria and had lower phosphate (1 -2 mg/l).  At all sites dissolved oxygen was <4 mg/l, nitrate-N was 1.03 mg/l (5 mg/l nitrate-NO3), and pH was 7 to 8.

The Lamotte kits measure water chemistry parameters in discrete categories determined by color change.  All coordinates were taken with handheld GPS except for sites 2 and 6 which were estimated from Google Earth.

Bohoc River downhill from UCCC tilapia pond, looking up from Site 3 pool

Bohoc River downhill from UCCC tilapia pond, Site 3 pool

Chara? from site 4 irrigation canal in UCCC garden.

Site 4 irrigation canal in UCCC garden.

Bohoc River fall in site 5 (upstream of path that crosses)

Crab found on fall at site 5 Bohoc River

Site 6 Sous Chaude behind Bohoc Market

Site 7 Sous Chaude outflow on left, site 8 river upstream on right.

3M petrifilm plates, with E. coli colonies in blue.

Haitian Studies Association Conference – Cap Haitien

Dr. Huggins and I presented our 2015 lake study (KBS Report181) at the 28th Annual Haitian Studies Association Conference (10 – 12 Nov. 2016) in Cap Haitien on the north coast of Haiti.  The theme of this year’s conference was Haiti’s Ecosystems: Focus on Environmental Realities and Hopes.  A plenary session was about water quality and a related book of aquatic research was provided.  Other topics ranged from the portrayal of the environment in Haitian literature, to citizen perception of environmental issues, to caves and archeology.  The conference began Thursday with an emerging scholars session at Université Publique du Nord au Cap Haitien south of Cap.  Most of the presentations and activities were at the hotel Auberge Villa Cana on National Rt. 1.  Saturday’s talks were presented at the Campus Henri Christophe de l'UEH a Limonade, about 40 minutes east of Cap.  Cap was flooded from a heavy rain that fell four days before the conference, and every evening it rained, flooding parts of Rt. 1.  We stayed in the Hotel Imperial which sat far enough back from the road to avoid flooding. Two of my ecology students from UCCC joined us.