Friday, February 29, 2008

What was the total rainfall here last year? Q21 of The Big Here Quiz

Environment Canada is missing rainfall data during some months of 2007 and 2006 for Windsor, Ontario, but in 2005 there was 562.4 mm of rain.

Name five birds that live here. Which are migratory and which stay put? Q20 of The Big Here Quiz

Easy-peasy. First, I will choose 5 birds from the Bird Checklist of the Ojibway Prairie Complex.

  1. Ring-necked Pheasant
  2. Blue Jay*
  3. Red-tailed Hawk (only northern populations migrate)
  4. Ring-billed Gull**
  5. White-breasted Nuthatch

Then after referring to the The Birds of North America (my library has an online subscription), I will add an astrerix to those who are migratory.

*All aspects of Blue Jay migration poorly understood, although two general patterns clear: (1) some individuals usually present year-round throughout range; (2) at least some individuals depart during spring throughout range, except from peninsular Florida and Gulf Coast. Individuals that depart an area in autumn may be replaced by those migrating from farther north

**Aug and Sep dispersal widespread, congregating along lower Great Lakes. In Oct, southward migration apparent with southern portions of range showing increase in numbers. Extensive changes in north-south distribution by Nov and Dec. In Jan mean distance from northern banding and southern recovery sites greatest (about 1,600 km; Southern 1980). Northward migration begins in late Feb, increases in Mar and Apr when most adults have left southern extremes of range. First and second year birds depart later and some remain south over summer period. In s. Great Lakes, birds arrive at colonies mid to late Mar.

How many days is the growing season here (from frost to frost)? Q19 of The Big Here Quiz

According to this gardening website, first frost in Windsor Ontario is October 22nd and last frost is April 25th which would make the season 180 days.

Windsor, Ontario has the most growing degree-days in Canada. (definition of GGD)

Which (if any) geological features in your watershed are, or were, especially respected by your community, or considered sacred, now or in the past?

Geological features? They are few and far between in these parts.

Evidently, Talbot Road followed a natural ridge of glacial moraine which stretched from Windsor to Point Pelee and if I'm not mistaken, it was originally a trail used by the First Nations people in this area. But a road is hardly considered 'sacred'.

So, let's just say, "everything/nothing".

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Right here, how deep do you have to drill before you reach water? Q17 of The Big Here Quiz

The Sustainable Water Well Infrastructure (SWWI) Expert Panel Report: 'Water Well Sustainability in Ontario' [pdf] : Ontario has two principal geologic materials, which can be tapped for groundwater supply: fractured bedrock and sand and/or gravel overburden deposits. Bedrock is found throughout the Province and is the result of several billion years of geologic activity. The sand and gravel deposits, which are less than 100,000 years old, are associated with advances and recessions of continental ice sheets that covered the Province. Together, these two geologic formations form aquifers which provide storage for groundwater resources and a perpetual water supply to wells... Adequate groundwater for domestic supplies of up to 5 m3 /day can usually be obtained by drilling wells a few tens of metres into most of the bedrock or overburden materials found in Ontario...

The Dundee and Detroit River aquifers are also found in the southwest corner of the Province (south of Lake St. Clair), but the water is often sulphurous. As a result, it is mainly used for irrigation purposes. The mineralization in this area increases with depth. The region between London, Sarnia and the north shore of Lake Erie is underlain by shales. These formations yield small supplies and the water quality is usually poor.

Once I realized that I should be searching for the word, 'aquifer' as opposed to 'groundwater table' or 'water well essex windsor', I was finally able to find information on the topic:

Analysis of Agricultural Water Supply Issues (pdf) : The Southwestern Area has two major bedrock aquifers -- the Dundee Formation and the Detroit River Group (Lucas and Amherstburg Formations). The Detroit River Group has the highest permeability of the two but both are widely exploited for domestic, municipal and industrial uses... The upper portions of the Detroit River Group is used as a plentiful irrigation supply south of Lake St. Clair. The supply however, can be sulphurous in places.

This has been the hardest question so far. The closest information I can get to "right here" is the proposed second span of the Ambassador Bridge:

Ambassador Bridge Replacement Span – Environmental Presentation:
* Four Distinct Aquifers:
  • Water Table aquifer – essentially non-existent
  • Overburden aquifer – within 4 meters of surface regionally, near surface in site study area, has generated artesian conditions
  • Contact aquifer – located at bedrock/overburden contact zone, largest aquifer with respect to area
  • Bedrock aquifer – located within the bedrock, has generated artesian conditions

Again, my profound lack of understanding of the geology and geography of where I live, has humbled me greatly.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Where is the nearest earthquake fault? When did it last move? Q16 of The Big Here Quiz

faulty home

It appears that the closest fault to my home is the "Electric fault" and there has been some slight earthquake activity sometime within the last five years (I don't have the patience to look for more specific information from Natural Resources Canada's Earthquake Database).

It took me a while to find an article with a map as clear as the one above (with no thanks to you, Geoscan database). The world of earth science is not an easy one to navigate as a layperson. Even through I have a degree in Geography and Environmental Science, I have a very hard time with the language of geology.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Who uses the paper/plastic you recycle from your neighborhood? Q14 of The Big Here Quiz

I think this question is a little unfair. I'm pretty sure that the Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority are under little obligation to disclose to whom they sell their recycled materials (although their most recent audit does reveal that they sold slightly over $3 millions dollars worth of such material [pdf]) Besides, its quite possible that every year or multi-year contract, new players would be involved. Not one my favourite questions from the quiz.

How many people live in your watershed? Q.13 of The Big Here Quiz

Having already established the boundaries of the watershed where I live in for Question 7 of The Big Here Quiz, this question is merely a matter of adding up the population of the cities in my watershed:
  • Amherstburg, ON = 21,748
  • Belle River, ON = 4,531
  • Essex, ON = 20,032
    • includes Harrow, ON
  • Kingsville, ON = 20,908
  • LaSalle, ON = 27,652
  • Leamington, ON = 28,833
  • Tecumseh, ON = 24,244
  • Windsor, ON = 216,473
Total watershed population: 364,421

I used Statistics Canada's 2006 Community Profiles for most of these figures with the exception of Belle River, Ontario where I used 1996 data as the community amalgamated with the town of Lakeshore in 1999 which is outside of the watershed.

This map illustrates some of the smaller watersheds of Windsor

Friday, February 15, 2008

Where does your garbage go? Q.12 of The Big Here Quiz

I didn't know this before: The Essex-Windsor Regional Landfill is located at 7700 County Road 18, Cottam in the Town of Essex.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Name five native edible plants in your neighborhood and the season(s) they are available. Q10 of The Big Here Quiz

This is one my least favourite questions in The Big Here Quiz because its tries to do too much and in doing so, accomplishes very little.

One major problem is that question asks what is available in "your neigbourhood." Now my neighbourhood is a relatively small residential area that might have homes with gardens containing "native" (and even possibly edible) plants -- but I can't be expected to know what's in all these gardens. So I'm going to ignore the word "neighbourhood" in this question.

That leaves me with trying to find the intersection of what plants are native *and* edible in the place where I call "here".

Well, there are books like this one on native plants but generally the emphasis of these books is to encourage their growth to support local flora and fauna, not for their consumption. I browsed through this book on edible and medicinal plants of the Great Lakes region but was put off by author's qualifications and his medical advice.

With time and effort, I'm sure I would be able to draw up a proper list of what Carolinian plants are edible, but instead, I'm going to trust this more general guide by Sweet Grass Gardens to provide my answer:

  • Nodding Wild Onion (Allium cernum)
  • (young shoots of) Fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium)
  • Wild Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)
  • Prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa)
  • White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum)