Newton Pond Park Stewardship Series - August
Updated: Sep 28
In a park, or any green space, a variety of features allows for more diverse creatures. At Newton Pond Park, there are Cottonwood forests, a meadow, plenty of woody debris, and riparian vegetation surrounding the ponds. All of these different habitats allow for a multitude of animals and plants to survive and thrive there.
To learn which specific species are in Newton Pond Park, SNAP worked alongside local biologists in a ‘bioblitz’ - a communal citizen-science effort to record as many species within a designated location and time period as possible. Using iNaturalist, we observed species such as birds, plants, invertebrates, and other critters. We checked out all the different habitats in the park to see what we could find!
The Pond and Beyond
At the pond’s edge, we observed a Pacific willow among the tall grasses and cattails - a native tree that is commonly found in wetland habitats. Coming from the tall grasses and cattails, we heard the song sparrow’s three-part call. Did you know physical appearance is just one way to tell our local birds apart? One of the biologists at the bioblitz is a bird expert and she showed us how to listen for song sparrows around the ponds. These birds are named for the songs they sing which are learned from other adult birds, also known as song tutors. And of course, we stopped to look at and record the many mallard ducks that frequent the ponds.
Dead or Alive, Trees Always Provide
In the forest, we spotted a perched red-tailed hawk in one of the towering cottonwood trees. These raptors love areas like Newton Pond Park with open areas surrounded by tall trees because it gives them a clear view of potential prey. Within the vegetation covering the forest’s floor, we found salmonberry - a native shrub that is often outcompeted by the invasive Himalayan blackberry. Plenty of dead and downed wood can also be found in the forest with much smaller creatures hidden within the micro habitats they create. We uncovered rollie pollies (aka woodlice) and millipedes working their way around and through pieces of decaying wood. After uploading our observations to iNaturalist, we put back the decaying wood where it was found.
Hidden Amongst the Grass
Strolling through the meadow, we found bumble bees buzzing about and cottontail rabbits munching on and hiding in the long timothy grass. As prey animals, rabbits can be very skittish. You’ll often see them scurrying from open areas to hide in long grass or bushes at the slightest sound or movement. One of their greatest defense mechanisms is using their large ears to listen for predators on the ground or overhead. The timothy grass in the meadow is actually not native to BC or Canada, yet it seems to play an important role in this park. In a seemingly simple meadow, there are lots of species to find and observe. Recording data about grass may not seem that important but it’s valuable information for conservation efforts.
The Value of Community Science
By taking photos of the species found at Newton Pond Park and uploading them to iNaturalist, we practiced our species identification skills, and contributed valuable information to community science efforts. Whether a common or rare species, native or invasive, it is important to record all species’ data! Knowing where we can find certain species in our area helps us better understand how populations are doing over time. iNaturalist allows scientists, conservation organizations, and governments to access huge amounts of data so that they can make better informed decisions when it comes to species conservation. Community involvement through apps like iNaturalist is vital to understanding Surrey’s biodiversity. If you’re looking to get involved in conservation, iNaturalist is a great way to contribute.