Full Moon Rising

Full Moon Rising
Silent Cove. Chance Harbour NB - My back yard.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


The Piping Plover (Charadrius Melodus) -

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

Several weeks ago an old childhood friend, Mark, was home to New Brunswick on holidays and had paid us a visit.  We soon found ourselves walking up our beach headed to the 275 year old graveyard that sat hidden in a stand of evergreens at the end of the beach.  As we strolled along the waters edge with our dogs, Bear, my big black lab and Mikey, Marks’ 11 week old German Shepard, I recounted the history of Chance Harbour and the graveyard.  I had to speak at a loud register as Mark is partially hearing impaired. 

We walked along, me chatting, Mark nodding and asking questions when suddenly I heard a near by cheeping of a bird.  My eyes scanned the beach stretched out in front of us when I noticed a Piping Plover running across the sand, then flying and landing while he cheeped away.  Excitedly I said, “Oh look Mark! It’s a Plover!” Mark turned to look at me and said, “What? A blover?” “No”, I said.  Turning to face him I formed my words as best I could to articulate the word. I said, “A Puuuloooverrr.” Mark blinked and shook his head.”  Giggling I slowly spelled it out, “P—L—O—V—E—R”. “Ohhh!” said Mark, finally understanding. He continued, “What’s a Plover??”.  

As I tried to point the bird out he was now in full flight moving away from us.  I explained that the Piping Plovers’ existence is threatened and are a protected species of bird. This poor little bird not standing more than 6 inches high and weighing about 6-8 grams has proven it’s resilience before during the turn of the century when they were all but wiped out by us humans by way of the destruction to coastal areas due to industrial progress. Long ago they were also desired for their feathers by the millinery trade.  Thanks to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in 1918 the numbers had recovered during the 1940’s. Today they are endangered once again from beaches being used for recreation and development.  Can we not learn from the past? Apparently not.

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

The Little Brown Bat-(Myotis lucifugus)

The Little Brown Bat is a mamal that I rather like.  To me they look like cute little mice with gossamer wings.  The little brown bat is found throughout much of North America, as well, right here in my backyard in Chance Harbour NB.  Northern populations of bats enter hibernation in early September and end in mid-May, and in March of this year we could hear the cries of several bats one evening.  They sounded sick, weak and suffering. They sounded sad. They were starving. White Nose Syndrome had awakened them too early from their hibernation.  There would be nothing to feed on as it was still very winter-like. There are no mosquitos, no spiders, no flies, no food in early spring. White Nose Syndromes’ early awakening of the bats seems to be the bats’ more serious undoing.

White Nose Syndrome is responsible for the deaths of  between 5.7 million and 6.7 million bats.  The disease is named for a fungal growth around the muzzles and on the wings of the bats when they are hibernating.  The disease was first indentified in a cave in Schoharie County, New York in February 2006.  Its spread has been rapid.  As of  this year, 2013, White Nose Syndrome has been found in over 115 caves and mines ranging mostly throught the Northeastern U.S. and as far south as Alabama and west to Missouri and into four of the Canadian provinces.
The fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans can only grow in low temperatures, in the 4 to 15 °C range (39–59°F). The fungus will not tolerate temperatures above 20 °C (68 °F) and appears to be adapted to attacking hibernating bats. Infection causes bats to rouse too frequently from torpor (temporary hibernation) and starve to death through excessive activity. The symptoms associated with WNS include loss of body fat, unusual winter behavior (including flying), damage and scarring of the wing membranes, and death.

Bats are a valuable asset in the agricluture industry because they control a lot of pests that can harm crops and farmers fields. One insect that the bats feed off of  that directly affects us is the mosquitoes. Living with a marsh beside us we expect to have more of them than say those living in landlocked areas.  Last year was a great summer for the mosquitoes and this year even better … for them. Not for us.  Sitting out on warm nights is out of the question.  Even putting up a smudge of smoke doesn’t seem to bother them much.  I have never in my life seen my window screens peppered with so many mosquitoes. Forest Service estimates that the die-off from white-nose syndrome means that at least 2.4 million pounds of bugs (1.1 million kg) will go uneaten and become a financial burden to farmers.

We spend a lot of time out on our deck which over-looks the cove and the marshland, so we’ve become accoustomed to hearing the squeak of the bats and seeing them swoop through the air just after sunset. From our personal observations there are no bats in Chance Harbour this summer.  We’ve not heard nor seen a single one.

No obvious treatment or means of preventing transmission is known. The mortality rate of some species has been observed at 95%.

A Honey Bee from my back yard.
The Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) - 

Honey Bees pollinate 1 out of every 3 bites of food that we eat.  That’s pretty profound.  It doesn’t take much of a stretch of the imagination to see how if the Honey Bee became extinct how that would affect us humans. It paints a very dismal picture indeed.  Currently there are still billions of Honey Bees left on the planet so you wouldn’t find the Honey Bee on any endangered lists … yet.  They are classified as being under threat from CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder).  There isn’t any hard, definite answer as to why this is happening.  Some reports or better yet, theories, being blamed for CCD are quite questionable to say the least such as an Al-Quida plot to destroy American farming.  Another is cell phone radiation and more fanciful is the Honey Bee Rapture when Bees become captivated by celestial bodies.  Seriously??? The last one gives me a visual of a long trail of a million Honey Bees silhouetted against the Moon on their way to Mars.
More believable reasons would be things like pesticides that throws off their navigation skills thus making it difficult for them to find their way back to their home hives. Pesticides used in farming could be having an affect.  Or maybe fungal infections that contaminate their environment.  Even weather extremes are being looked at like Climate Change and what roll if any that might have on the Honey Bee.  

The following link is the latest data that I could find on the health of the Honey Bee.


Last evening we had a Blue Moon. The Moons’ appearance was timed perfectly with the twilight of night rising up out of the East and riding on the edge of the blue hour.  It was a warm and slightly humid evening. There was a slight breeze so we thought we’d try sitting out to watch the Moonrise.  We watched as the Moon climbed higher and higher in the sky and the tide responded in kind by slowly and silently sliding in across the flats. The higher the Moon climbed, like a magnet,  it drew the tide in, slowly filling the cove.  A perfect silver Moon lit up the landscape and shone a silver beam of light against the tide illuninating the gentle breaking of  a soft surf.  With every gentle push of the tide it gave the appearance of long lacey white fingers spreading out before it, reaching for the beach.    Even the cricketts were singing in full chorous providing background music to a most beautiful summer evening.   We managed to sit outside for about an hour when the breeze died off and we were assailed  by the mosquitoes.

As I sat watching the tide flow closer I looked up at the Moon and somehow it seemed as if it was looking back at me.  It made me wonder about us as a species and why it is that it’s almost a given that when we try to  grow and move forward that in that process that we destroy something in nature.  What does that say about us? A lot I think, and not in a good way.  I think too many people on this planet don’t give a hoot about nature and the fact that it is the heartbeat of life in a manner of speaking.  Give a hoot or not it will and does directly affects us.  Dare I think of what would happen if we messed with the Moon or the tides of the Atlantic Ocean and for us,  The Bay of Fundy.  I pray that man never finds a way to do that.  I hope that man learns from mistakes despite our arrogance and yes, ignorance.  I believe also that some forms of life are meant to die out, that some things run their full course. 

With the Honey Bee, the Little Brown Bat and the Plover, these things are necessary  to sustain life for us.  Take them away and we will starve to death, much like the Little Brown Bat.
To you dear reader maybe some concious changes or choices can make the world of difference.  Be mindful of Plovers’ nests while walking the beaches.  The coastline and beaches are their habitat, not ours.  For our flying mamals, maybe install a few bat houses on your property or encourage someone else to do it, and stay away from caves and underground mines. If you enter an infected cave you are carrying the WNS out of the cave on your person essentially spreading the disease.  For the Honey Bee, maybe familiarize yourself with the identity of the bee so that when you see one flitting from flower to flower you will know enough to just walk away and let him do what he needs to do.

How I miss our Little Brown Bats …

You can always find me at the next high tide …