Get Batty with HAT

bat

 Efforts to help support bats in BC have never been as important as right now. Three (of the 10) bat species in the region are currently listed as a species at risk or a candidate for endangered status.

To the left is a picture of one of our very own BC bats - a Penderite in fact. Sylvia Pincott, a supporter of both HAT and bats, has reported that Batty has returned to his roost on Pender Island through her carport rafters for the 8th year! Batty is a Townsend Big-eared Bat (Corynorhinus townsendii). This species of bat has been found to have an average lifespan of 16 years. I wonder how old batty is? While the male Corynorhinus townsendii is typically solitary during summer roosting, females gather in groups referred to as maternity colonies to raise young.  

"He certainly has his own special ways, dear little chap!" remarked Sylvia.

Habitat loss is a significant contributor to these imperiled mammals. Townsend Big-eared Bats like Batty are provincially blue-listed as an at risk species. To enhance habitat on Southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, HAT has been installing bat boxes. Since 2014, we have installed 78 boxes on private properties. Additionally, with the help of hard-working volunteers 50 more boxes have been built and are ready to be installed!

 

maternity      on house

(HAT Biologist, Christian Engelstoft installing bat boxes: a free-standing maternity box, LEFT; and, a mountable box, RIGHT)

Futhermore, we are sorry to inform you that the White-nose Syndrome has been found just across the border, in Washington. This fungal disease is fatal to bats and has casued upwards of 90% mortality rates in infected bat colonies of Eastern North America. Therefore, it is paramount that we put effort towards supporting our healthy bats. 

If you have any questions, or want to help out please shoot us an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Also, we are recruiting volunteers to help us with this summer's bat count. If you would like to spend a few evening hours of your summer contributing to citizen science by counting bats, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Also, if you would like to donate to the bats through our Habitat Stewardship program please click here. You can also support BC bats and habitat stewardship by calling in your donation to 250-995-2428 or by cheque in the mail to PO Box 8552, Victoria, BC, V8W 3S2.

 

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HAT Summer Student Job - Land Protection Intern

Job Posting: Land Protection Intern

Duration: 16 weeks, starting mid May, 2016

Wage: $14 per hour, 37.5 hours per week

Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT) is a Victoria-based land trust working with our community to protect habitat from Sooke to Galiano Island. Our mission is to conserve natural spaces on southern Vancouver Island and the southern Gulf Islands through land acquisition, legal protection of private land, education, and stewardship programs. We work closely with community groups, government, individual landowners, and conservation organisations to coordinate effective habitat protection projects.

HAT is looking for a dynamic, self-motivated person to help deliver our habitat and covenant stewardship projects this summer. Duties will involve monitoring and reporting on protected lands, engaging landowners in stewardship actions, community engagement, landowner contact, writing, editing, and record keeping.  The Intern will work closely with HAT’s Land Acquisition Coordinator and Stewardship Coordinator. This position also includes assessing and mapping threats to protected natural areas, such as invasive species, and may include organizing volunteer work crews to assist in removing invasive plants and working with staff to design and implement a plan to revegetate disturbed areas with native vegetation.

Preferred Skills:

  • excellent verbal and written communication skills;
  • keen interest and knowledge of regional conservation issues;
  • awareness of stewardship options for oak woodland, CDF forest, and riparian/littoral zones;
  • understanding of threats, and habitats of species-at-risk of interest to HAT;
  • able to multi-task, manage time effectively and co-ordinate projects;
  • event planning and media relations experience an asset;
  • can work flexible hours, including evenings and weekends;
  • computer competence necessary (email, internet, MS Office, Access)
  • GPS and GIS competence an asset
  • sense of humour, team player, creative problem-solver; and
  • capable of physical labour and hiking outdoors.

Requirements:

     Eligible applicants must satisfy all of the following criteria:

  • be legally entitled to work in Canada;
  • be between 15 and 30 years of age;
  • have been a registered full-time student in the preceding academic year;
  • intend to return to school on a full-time basis during the next academic year;
  • willing to complete a criminal record check (upon hiring) for work with children.

Please include three references. Ensure that your application addresses all skills and criteria listed above.  

Visit our website at www.hat.bc.ca and facebook page for information on HAT’s projects, history, and successes.

Application deadline: May 12th at noon, 2016. 

Only candidates selected for an interview will be contacted. Email your application with cover letter to Jill Robinson, Executive Director with the subject line “HAT summer job” to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Western Painted Turtles

Western painted turtles - an endangered species local to our community - play a huge role in our Species at Risk program here at HAT. 

These turtles are distributed across North America, many of which have made wetlands in BC their home. They require a specific habitat of warm sands and wetland, making them difficult to protect. HAT is working to enhance their habitat through collaborating with the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific, biologists, and community members by introducing basking logs to Viaduct Flats (a Saanich wetland). 

"This has been successfully implemented by HAT at a number of lakes and ponds, as basking sites are not available in many wetlands. This type of habitat allows them to crawl out of the water and warm up in the sun. Turtles need to bask to raise their body temperature to promote digestion and other vital processes such as synthesizing vitamin D." - Jill Robinson, Executive Director - Habitat Acquisition Trust

 basking site installment HCP

HAT biologists Kristiina Ovaska and Christian Engelstoft installing basking boards at the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific. Photo by Kristiina Ovaska.

The installment created a great basking site for many animals including Sliders, Double-crested Cormorants, Common Mergansers, and Western Painted turtles.

If this isn't exciting enough, there has been even more Western Painted Turtle activity going on in our community! There have been lots of sightings of the turtles this spring, all over the region. 

A pair of these painted turtles were found soaking up the sun at Langford Lake this April:

western painted turtles photo by Ken Groat

 

One of our HAT supporters also found a Western Painted Turtle on her doorstep. Believing it was injured, she brought it inside and later found it hiding behind her desk. Clearly the turtle was healthy and was returned to its natural habitat outside. 

Additionally, one of our HAT Stewards found a Western Painted Turtle nesting site on their property near Thetis lake! This photo shows one of the baby Western Painted Turtle fom this site emerging from its nest.

 It has been an exciting season so far for our endangered friends! It is important that we continue to keep up our efforts in conserving and enhancing their habitat in order to give them the space they need to thrive!

WPTHatclingReducedFilesize

 

 

"Turtles found on land are not lost - they are coming to or from their ground-based nests up to 300 metres from water. Watch for nesting turtles on south-facing open slopes near ponds and wetlands in the following watersheds: Hagan, Tetayut, Bilston, Craigflower, and Colquitz" - Jill Robinson, Executive Director - Habitat Acquisition Trust

Blog post by Emily Truman

If you find a Western Painted Turtle, report your observation (and any photographs) to HAT at 250-995-2428 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We also provide free land care visits. If you feel that your land is suitable turtle habitat, let us know!

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Two Western Screech Owls and a Dark-eyed Junco Nest!

The HAT Team has successfully located two Western Screech Owls!

The owls were sighted in the Westshore and the Highlands, expanding our knowledge of the Megascops Kennicottii population in our community! 

JuncoNest

These small owls are generally found in open forested areas on the Westcoast, but can be found in various other habitats such as suburban or coastal areas. Western Screech Owls are carnivorous, preying largely on small mammals and birds. However, they have also been known to eat fish, amphibians, and invertebrates. It's not uncommon for a Western Screech Owl to catch flying insects out of midair! Western Screech Owls nest in tree cavities excavated by woodpeckers, or cavities in the sides of cliffs or banks. They do not build nests, and prefer cavities just big enough for their own body to avoid predators entering their homes.

WesternScreechOwl face detail credit Ann Nightengale smallerWestern Screech Owl populations have been declining, so it is extremely promising to have found a couple more residents in Victoria. Only 6% of the Western Screech Owl population is in Canada (Partners in Flight, 2012). They are in danger of becoming threatened, and predators such as the Barred Owl (Strix Varia) are making it even more difficult for the species to thrive.  Luckily, HAT is always on the lookout for more owls and habitat we can protect for them!

While listening for Western Screech Owls, HAT's Executive Director, Jill Robinson, located a Dark-eyed Junco nest filled with eggs! These beautiful nests take females 3 to 7 days to build, using materials such as grasses, pine needles, twigs, leaves, mosses, ferns, small roots, and even hair!                                              

 Dark-eyed Juncos are small birds that can be found in Victoria and Western Canada year-round, and spread to the rest of North America during winter. They are important to many ecosystems as they spread and disperse seeds while feeding!  

 Sources:
  • Partners in Flight. 2012. Species assessment database.
  • https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Western_Screech-Owl/lifehistory
  • https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Dark-eyed_Junco/id

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Sowing the Seeds of a Green Future: Royal Bay Secondary’s First Grad Class Partners with HAT to Plant Commemorative Trees

On Thursday, April 14th at 3:45 PM, 12 students from Colwood’s new Royal Bay Secondary School’s first Graduating Class began planting a little piece of history. Teaming up with local non-profit Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT) and volunteer park stewards, the Friends of Havenwood Park, the soon-to-be graduates planted 14 Douglas fir and Western Red Cedar trees. The tree-planting happened at Havenwood Park in a space dubbed “Grad Corner” as part of ongoing efforts to restore and maintain the natural integrity of the area. The Royal Bay Students independently raised funds to purchase the trees and the City of Colwood has offered to place a commemorative plaque for the school.

RoyalBayGradClass2016TreePlantHavenwood

This project was spurred on by the community involvement of Friends of Havenwood Park member, and former school teacher, Carol Brown.

“I do believe it will be a special place that grads can bring their parents and friends in the future to watch the trees grow in recognition of the first class of Royal Bay. Possibly, future classes may wish a spot of their own near the plantings of the 2015-2016 class,” says Carol.

propertiusduskywingonoakbyGaryNeilson

Havenwood Park can be reached from the Veteran’s Memorial Park Way in Colwood. A popular place for recreation, and a haven for wildlife in an otherwise urban area. Provincially listed as a vulnerable species, the Propertius Duskywing butterfly, Red-legged Frog, and a rare plant called Nuttall’s Quillwort rely on this important pocket of green space, along with hundreds of other species. Havenwood also protects rare Garry Oak plant communities, mossy rock outcrops, and Douglas-fir forest.

The park is legally protected by a conservation covenant between Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT), The Land Conservancy of BC (TLC), and two municipalities: the cities of Colwood and Langford. Since 2008, HAT has been restoring the park by removing invasive weedy plants, redirecting trails from sensitive habitat, and planting species native to this area. This planting on Thursday afternoon will be revegetating and naturalizing the degraded area called Granrose Terrace where HAT volunteers previously removed invasive plant species. This event will be followed up with an understory planting as well, featuring native plant species for ground cover.

TreePlantingAlfGordBCarolBIf you are interested in staying in the loop about volunteer events in the park please join our monthly Volunteers Enewsletter. You can also get updates by connecting with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The Friends of Havenwood Park, is a community group of local volunteers formed in 2015 that are collaborating with HAT to steward the park. These dedicated volunteers spend their free time tending to the park and making it a better place for the community and wildlife to enjoy. HAT welcomes those interested in helping steward Havenwood Park to contact us at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 250-996-2428. You can also contact the Friends of Havenwood Park.

As the students set their commemorative 2016 graduation trees in a bed of soft soil, patting it down gently with the back of their shovels, they are creating a green legacy that will benefit the community and local wildlife for many years to come.

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