Dr. David Patriquin
In the late spring of 2017, the SLCA asked Dr. David Patriquin, Professor of Biology (retired), Dalhousie University, if he would undertake a “flora survey” of Sandy Lake and Environs as part the association’s efforts to ascertain whether the original ecological value of the area had survived the decades. Was it worth trying to protect the ecological integrity of the area? Dr. Patriquin expressed reluctance at first due to other commitments, but in his words “a single visit convinced me that it had to be done. I conducted field trips on 22 days over the period June 14 to Nov 1, 2017; a few were on water (paddling), most were on land. It was a volunteer activity, there was no payment and no contract.”
Dr. Patriquin subsequently launched a website www.versicolor.ca/sandylakebedford/ to report his observations and interpretations together with some integration of related documents produced by many others. The website is also intended to serve as a resource for others pursuing interests in the natural history of the area.
Dr. Patriquin presented a talk summarizing his findings to the Sackville Rivers Association in December of 2018:
Dr. Patriquin notes that mostly what his study contributes is a description of the plants and plant communities (terrestrial and aquatic) that you see when you visit the area. Additionally, measurement of some limnological variables provides some update on the state of the surface waters. The descriptive studies included formal documentation of Old Forest ratings at 3 sites according to a DNR protocol. Two of those qualify as ‘Old Growth’, so with the already established Old Growth status for the peninsula hemlocks (by Ed Glover/DNR) that makes three sites that qualify as Old Growth in the area. Dr. Patriquin describes a ‘pit and mound’ topography at these sites which indicates the presence of old growth forest historically and underscores the importance of wind as a disturbance agent. The aquatic studies point to deterioration in oxygenation of the lake since the 1970s, while the pH conditions for salmonids have apparently improved. The fringing wetlands in Sandy and Marsh lakes and along the stream corridor to the Sackville River support healthy populations of amphibians and reptiles. Dr. Patriquin took many photos. Selections of the photos are posted in Google Photo albums which are given as links on his website.
Dr. Patriquin notes “I expect my explorations and the website to be ongoing, as my enthusiasm for Sandy Lake and Environs only increased during the course of the initial exercise. I view Sandy Lake and Environs as they were viewed in 1971: an asset to all of Halifax municipality, indeed to the whole province. I see it as a very special place, complementing not replicating other major natural assets of Halifax.”
How our Health Depends on Biodiversity, Eric Chivian M.D. and Aaron Bernstein M.D., M.P.H.
“The eminent Harvard biology Professor Edward O.Wilson once said about ants, “We need them to survive, but they don’t need us at all.” The same, in fact, could be said about countless other insects, bacteria, fungi, plankton, plants, and other organisms. This fundamental truth, however, is largely lost to many of us. Rather, we humans often act as if we are totally independent of Nature, as if our driving thousands of other species to extinction and disrupting the life-giving services they provide will have no effect on us whatsoever.
This summary, using concrete examples from our award-winning Oxford University Press book, Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity, co-sponsored by the U.N. (CBD Secretariat, UNEP, and UNDP) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), has been prepared to demonstrate that human beings are an integral, inseparable part of the natural world, and that our health depends ultimately on the health of its species and on the natural functioning of its ecosystems. We have written this summary because human health is generally not part of discussions about biodiversity loss, by policy-makers or by the general public, and because most people, as a result, do not understand the full magnitude of the biodiversity crisis and do not develop a sense of urgency about addressing it.We believe that once people really grasp what is at stake for their health and their lives, and for the health and lives of their children, they will do everything in their power to protect the living world.”
The following summary is a mixture of formal surveys and less formal observations. Most have to do with plants, animals, fish and birds. Further surveys that include records of lichens, mushrooms and smaller plants need to be done.
Changes over time affect the wildlife that inhabits natural areas. First we will look at the most recent observations and then some historical surveys of the area.
Interim Report of Formal Bird Survey of Sandy Lake Regional Park lands, Summer, 2017
Location: Route 3 Viscount, Halifax County, Nova Scotia, CA
Date and Effort: Mon Jul 10, 2017 6:20 PM
Party Size: 1
Duration: 1 hour(s), 20 minute(s)
Distance: 2.0 kilometer(s)
Observers: Beth Sherwood
Comments: 23C and windy
Species: 20 species total
1 Ring-necked Pheasant
5 Mourning Dove
1 Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
2 Blue-headed Vireo
1 Red-eyed Vireo
1 Blue Jay
2 American Crow
1 Common Raven
5 Black-capped Chickadee
1 Swainson’s Thrush
at the river
6 Hermit Thrush
2 American Robin
2 Common Yellowthroat
2 Magnolia Warbler
2 Black-throated Green Warbler
2 Dark-eyed Junco
1 White-throated Sparrow
2 Song Sparrow
5 American Goldfinch
Are you submitting a complete checklist of the birds you were able to identify? Yes
Location: Route 3 Viscount, Halifax County, Nova Scotia, CA ( Map )
Date and Effort: Tue Jul 11, 2017 7:15 AM
Party Size: 1
Duration: 1 hour(s), 15 minute(s)
Distance: 2.5 kilometer(s)
Observers: Beth Sherwood
Comments: 15C, calm
Species: 23 species total
6 Mourning Dove
1 Northern Flicker
1 Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
5 Blue-headed Vireo
3 Red-eyed Vireo
2 Blue Jay
1 American Crow
9 Black-capped Chickadee
1 Red-breasted Nuthatch
1 Winter Wren
3 Hermit Thrush
6 American Robin
4 Cedar Waxwing
1 Black-and-white Warbler
4 Common Yellowthroat
4 Magnolia Warbler
7 Black-throated Green Warbler
6 Dark-eyed Junco
4 White-throated Sparrow
3 Song Sparrow
1 Purple Finch
6 American Goldfinch
Are you submitting a complete checklist of the birds you were able to identify? Yes
Location: CA-Lucasville-621 Viscount Run – 44.756x-63.72
Date and Effort: Jun 18, 2017 6:57 AM
Party Size: 1
Duration: 188 minutes
Distance: 3.00 km
Observer: Sylvia Craig
All birds reported
Comments: Fog and drizzle
1 Common Loon
1 Red-tailed Hawk
1 Spotted Sandpiper
10 Mourning Dove
1 Hairy Woodpecker
1 Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)
4 Alder Flycatcher
3 Blue-headed Vireo
6 Red-eyed Vireo
3 Blue Jay
2 American Crow
6 Black-capped Chickadee
2 Winter Wren
7 American Robin
3 Cedar Waxwing
2 Black-and-white Warbler
8 Common Yellowthroat
5 Northern Parula
5 Magnolia Warbler
1 Blackburnian Warbler
2 Palm Warbler (Yellow)
10 Black-throated Green Warbler
4 Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)
5 White-throated Sparrow
3 Song Sparrow
1 Pine Siskin
13 American Goldfinch
Number of Taxa: 29
Non avian species: 1 garter snake, about 12 green frogs
(Part 4 pending)
Observed in Sandy Lake Regional Park lands by Clarence Stevens between 2005 and 2015:
American Beaver, Castor canadensis
American Red Squirrel, Tamiasciurus hudsonicus
Little Brown Bat
Black Bear -American Black Bear, Ursus americanus
Bobcat, Lynx rufus
Coyote, Canis latrans
Deer Mouse, Peromyscus maniculatus
Eastern Chipmunk, Tamias striatus
House Mouse, Mus domesticus
Meadow Vole, Microtus pennsylvanicus
Muskrat, Ondatra zibethicus
Northern Flying Squirrel, Glaucomys sabrinus
Porcupine – American Porcupine, Erethizon dorsatum
Raccoon, Procyon lotor
Red Fox, Vulpes vulpes
River Otter, Lontra canadensis
Short-tailed Shrew, Blarina brevicauda
Short-tailed Weasel, Mustela erminea
Smoky Shrew, Sorex fumeus
Snowshoe Hare, Lepus americanus
White-tailed Deer, Odocoileus virginianus
Woodchuck (Groundhog), Marmota monax
Woodland Jumping Mouse, Napaeozapus insignis
American Black Duck
American Tree Sparrow
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Common Loon —-
Eastern Wood Pewee
Great Black-backed Gull
Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
Northern Saw-whet Owl
Breeding loon families on Sandy Lake and Marsh Lake
Barred owl pair
Osprey nesting pair
purple and goldfinches
Foxes (also silver fox)
Leopard frogs and others
Garter snakes and others
Snapping turtles (large, laying eggs on shore and swimming)
Painted turtle eggs
A large puddling of tiger swallowtail butterflies on the west beach +50
Various water bugs,
large water spiders
Freshwater clams and mussels
Wild Atlantic Salmon
Around 2000 a moose was killed near Tomahawk Lake.
Moose tracks were seen west of Sandy Lake in 2017
2015 AECOM watershed Study of Sandy Lake:
“…the sandy Lake watershed is an historical spawning ground for Atlantic Salmon… salmon spawning habitat has been identified along Peverills Brook between Marsh Lake and Sackville River and between Marsh Lake and Sandy Lake.”p.11
“Sandy Lake is used for sport fishing and contains (speckled and sea run speckled) trout, bass, perch, Atlantic salmon, gaspereaux, American eel, chub, bullnose trout, brown stickleback, shiner, shad, sea trout, catfish (Dalhousie 2002).
A comprehensive assessment of the fish species and populations has not been completed for sandy Lake. However, historical and anecdotal evidence suggests Sandy Lake, Marsh Lake and Peverill’s Brook support healthy fish populations.
Beavers are reported in the area, along with the Eastern Wood Turtle (Dalhousie 2002). Loons, osprey, eagles and kingfishers have been observed on Sandy Lake.” P.11
“wetlands perform a variety of ecological functions. They provide important habitat for flora and fauna, improve water quality, mitigate flooding and are valued for educational and aesthetic purposes by the public. …The Sandy Lake watershed wet areas were assessed in 2010 by the Sackville Rivers Association to evaluate areas for future wetland compensation potential (SRA 2011). Twenty six (26) wet areas were identified using GIS and eight of the 26 sites were further evaluated and found to be suitable for development into wetlands.“ p.12
A mature hemlock stand is reported on the peninsula in the southern half of Sandy Lake and may be remnants of older forests in the area.
Shrub species: bunchberry, sphagnum moss in forested areas.
A variety of schrub species in open areas
Along the shoreline of Sandy and Marsh Lakes: steeplebush, leatherleaf, sheep laurel, blueberry, asters, golden rods, tickle-grass, deergrass.
Seven vascular plants of provincial concern have been recorded within five kilometres of the centre of the watershed; of these seven species, two – the wavy leaved aster (Symphyotrichum) and the Greenland stitchwort (Minuartia groenlandica) have been observed in the Marsh Lake area. Both plants are listed as S2 (Provincially rare); Orchids and ladyslippers have been reported near the shores of Sandy and Marsh Lakes.
“The Dillon Consulting (2009) EA for proposed Highway 113 provides a description of wildlife that is generally applicable to the Sandy Lake area. The area generally has a low diversity of small mammals and a high concentration of white-tail deer (Washburn and Gillis 2000). Other than deer, which generally avoid barren and wetland habitats, species typical of the forest and lakeshore habitats within the watershed would include coyote, hare, bear, bobcat, bats, fox, porcupine, skunk and raccoon (Dillon Consulting 2009; Porter Dillon 1996). Other small mammals typical of disturbed and second growth habitats include shrews, mice, voles, red squirrels, and chipmunks (Porter Dillon 1996).
Previous studies have identified forest and shoreline birds including black duck, white-throated sparrow, chipping sparrow, song sparrow, yellow-rumped warbler, yellow warbler, common yellow-throat, sharp-shinned hawk, gray jay, American goldfinch, flycatcher, American robin, savannah sparrow, spotted sandpiper, and an active crow population. Bald eagles and great blue heron have also been reported as occasionally feeding immediately south of the watershed (Porter Dillon 1996). P.13
“The Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre records 25 species of conservation concern within the sandy Lake watershed. Although precise locations of species sightings are not recorded, most of these species appear to have been identified in the Marsh Lake area. Although most of these species are birds, there are two amphibians present: the snapping turtle and the wood turtle.” P. 14
Common Loon (not uncommon, but on watch list)
2002 Dalhousie/NSCAD studies:
“Atlantic salmon, speckled and sea run speckled trout, gaspereaux, American eel, chub, bull nose trout, brown stickleback, shiner, perch, shad, sea trout, small mouth bass, and catfish. Sandy Lake cottager Mr. Thornton caught one of the largest trout at 19.5 inches. Species of mussels and freshwater clams were caught but not harvested as food. p.33
Beavers have been spotted at beaver dams in the lake area. Other animals of significance within the Sackville River system, of which Sandy Lake is a part, are the Eastern Wood Turtle, and a freshwater mussel – both species on the endangered list.
Waterfowl, in particular loons, are of interest to the Sandy Lake community. For years two pairs of loons have been observed as early as first ice break-up.
They fly between Marsh Lake and Sandy Lake where they nest and reside for the summer and fall. Other birds inhabiting the area include ospreys, eagles, and kingfisher. P. 34
2001 Sandy Lake Park Environmental Review (Lion’s Beach Park):
“…typical of the Acadian Forest Region consisting of Sugar Maple, Yellow Birch, Beech and Spruce, and Eastern Hemlock in well drained areas and Black Spruce, Balsam Fir, White Pine and Larch in poor soils.”
Also, “White Ash, Red oak, Red Maple, Red Spruce”
1986 Jack Lake Environmental Evaluation Report 1986 Wildlife Study focused on birds but also enumerated other wildlife:
In November 1984, and June 1985 two trained avifauna (bird) specialists surveyed the area.
Jack Lake showed stress from acid, indicated by prevalence of an acid-tolerant variety of zooplankton. “Generally, Sandy and Marsh Lakes were the most productive.” P.4-12
“Since benthic invertebrates are also a main fish food, it would appear that Sandy Lake would contain better fish habitat in terms of food supply.” P. 4-13
Fish caught in Sandy Lake 1980-1983: Brook trout, gaspereau, yellow perch, common white sucker, brown bullhead, American eel, Branded killfish.
1986: Fish were sampled in the outlet from Marsh Lake upstream of the Sackville River: brook trout, Atlantic salmon, American eel, banded killfish.
Two brook trout were caught in the inflow from Sandy Lake.
Jack Lake: 3 brook trout were caught.
Vegetation study, Jack Lake area
mountain sandwort (Arenaria groenlandica) somewhat rare
3 rare species:
Dwarf bilbury (Vaccinium cespitosum)
Broom crowberry (Sporabolus gaviniflorius)
Sporabolus gaviniflorus grass along northern boundary of Jack Lake lands.
More than 75 bird species during the survey
Loon, palm warbler, olive-sided flycatcher, 2 or 3 species of wood warbler, scarlet tanager, owl (tentatively identified as the uncommon long-eared owl),
Squirrels, mice, voles, racoon, white tailed deer
“The areas around marsh Lake and along the Sackville River (outside the JLLA) boundary) provide exceptionally rich habitat conditions for wildlife. During one survey, numerous deer, waterfowl, small mammals were sighted in the Sackville river riparian zone just north of the JLLA boundary.” While the jack Lake (JLLA) in all probability does not have any rare or unusual mammals and does not contain any rare, unique or endangered wildlife habitat, the Marsh Lake area has an unusually large, seasonally inundated wetland which potentially could harbour uncommon wildlife. Of most significance though is the Sackville River Valley outside the JLLA study area.”
A Collection of Studies done in the Sandy Lake, Bedford, Area
The topics of the studies add value to the Ecology Landscapes, and some to the Recreational Landscapes. However, the number of studies, and the extent of effort and intent demonstrated through these reports, also add value to the Cultural Landscapes.
Note: We did not do a complete search for articles. This list is compiled from information we had at hand.
1971, Natural Environment Survey: A Description of the lntrinsic Values in the Natural Environment Around Greater Halifax-Dartmouth. Dean P. and D. Lister, Canadian Wildlife Service, Dept. of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Dept. of Fisheries and Forestry. Identified 7 important natural areas to preserve in Greater Halifax-Dartmouth.
1971, MAPC (Metro Area Planning Committee) Recreation Work Group Report. Proposed 7 Regional Parks for Hfx-Dartmouth.(McNab Island, Long Lake, Chain Lake watershed, Hemlock Ravine, Marsh and Sandy Lakes, Sackville Flood Plain, Admiral Cove, Lake Williams & Lake Charles canal complex, Cole Harbour.
1972, MAPC Water Quality Survey for Selected Metropolitan Lakes. Description of lake and water quality.
1973, Natural Land Capability: Halifax-Dartmouth Metro Area. NS. Dept of Municipal Affairs.
1974, Ecological Reserves in the Maritimes: Region 7: NS. NB. PEI. Halifax. Canadian Committee for the International Biological Programme – Conservation Terrestrial Communities Subcommittee.
1975 Halifax-Dartmouth Regional Development Plan defines and separates regional parks and development areas, including the same 7 proposed regional parks.
1979, July, Hfx Dart MAPC Regional Parks Report, by Parks Advisory Group, identifies 7 proposed Regional Parks – the same as in 1971 but with more detail and Marsh and Sandy Lakes, Sackville Flood Plain park name changed to Sackville River Regional Park. It includes Sandy, Marsh and Sackville River corridor as before, but with a protective buffer around the area. The boundaries and conceptual maps contain half of Jack Lake as part of the buffer area.
1982 Bedford Zoning Bylaws created to protect land around lakes, particularly Sandy Lake, from development
1983, Water quality study of Sandy Lake and Bedford Town, with a Detailed Area Study of Sandy Lake area.
1984, Natural History of Nova Scotia. Simmons, L. et. al. NS Department of Education and Department of Natural Resources.
1984, An Experiment On The Feasibility Of Rehabilitating Acidified Atlantic Salmon Habitat In Nova Scotia By The Addition Of Lime. W.J. White, W.D. Watt, C.D.Scott, Department of Fisheries and Oceans. (At a time when the entire southern end of the province was losing fish because of acid rain from the US northeast, the scientists dumped industrial levels of limestone into the lake to learn about adjusting pH.)
1986, Jack Lake Environmental Evaluation Final Report. CMHC and NS Dept. of Housing. Contains a detailed environmental assessment.
1986, Canadian Wildlife Service, NS Wetlands Atlas. Environment Canada.
1988, Sackville River Historical Research- Environmental Planning V, NS. Coakley, M., College of Art and Design, Halifax.
1988, Main Sackville River Watershed Project. Koenig, M., Environmental Planning, NSCAD.
1989, A Draft inter-Municipal Planning Strategy for the management of the Sackville River Basin. Environment Planning Studio IV, NS College of Art and Design, Halifax.
1989, The Scenic resources of Nova Scotia: A Macro-Scale Landscape Assessment. Millward, H. and Dawn Allen, Dept. of Geography, Halifax.
1990, April 23, Reconvened session Bedford Town Council minutes: Recreation Advisory Commission requests “environmental study of the sandy Lake watershed area” before use of the Bluewater Lot is developed.
1990, Assessment of Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar L.)Habitat in the Sackville River, NS, 1986, Canadian Manuscript Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences No. 2059. Cameron, J.D., Fisheries and oceans Canada, Halifax.
1990, Correspondence and reports from the Sandy Lake Area Residents association with the Bedford Water Advisory Committee, Feb. 25.
1992, A Quiet Place in the white Man’s world. Edwards, T., Bedford Magazine, October, p.6.
1993, Hammonds Plains the First 100 Years. Evans, Dorothy Bezanson, Bounty Print Ltd.
1993, Summary: Parks and Protected Areas Systems Planning. Lynds, A., Nova Scotia Dept. of Natural Resources.
1994, Towards the Identification of Environmentally Sensitive Areas for Environmental Management: A Case Study in the Sackville River Watershed, Nova Scotia. Rhea D. Mahar thesis. Sandy Lake is rated as the second most valuable Environmentally Sensitive Area between Bedford Basin and Mt Uniacke. Old Quarry Corridor of the Sackville River is third.
1994, Field Surveys. Mahar, RD.
1995, Sandy Lake Vegetation Survey and Trail Design, for the Town of Bedford to aid in and complete the trail design and layout for the area. Basic Elements Ecological Enterprises.
2000, A Mi’kmag Learning resource: Bedford Barrens Petroglyphs. (Online). Martin, Catherine. www.booth.k12nf.ca/projects?Mi%27kmaq/bedford.htm.
2001, Environmental Inventory of Sandy Lake, Marsh Lake and Jack Lake. DalTech and NSCAD Environmental Planning: This was a study of the environmental attributes of the Sandy Lake, Marsh Lake, Jack Lake area “that impact water quality, to analyze the information, and to develop a synthesis of this knowledge to understand how to maintain water quality in the valued habitats of wetlands and watercourses.”p.ii
2001, Sandy Lake Park Environmental Review. EDM Consultation Report (February, 2001)
2002, Issues of Urban and Rural Fringe. DalTech and NSCAD Environmental Planning: This study based on Sandy Lake, Bedford, had three objectives: “1. To review and document the pressures for growth in the urban/rural fringe locally and nationally, and to consider the key approaches being used to respond. 2) To examine demographic and economic trends in the urban/rural fringe of HRM. 3) To examine land use and transportation patterns on the urban/rural fringe of HRM.” P.1
2002, Sandy Lake Community Profile. DalTech and NSCAD Environmental Planning: This study explored the impacts of development on a community located on the urban fringe. It researched urban growth pressures, demographics, land us patterns (both historical and current), transportation patterns, and community perceptions of the landscape of Sandy Lake, Jack Lake, and Marsh Lake area.
2002, A Water Quality Analysis. DalTech and NSCAD Environmental Planning: This report, created by senior Environmental Engineering students from Dalhousie University in 2001-02, involves the examination of Sandy Lake and surrounding area creation of baseline data including dissolved oxygen, pH, total suspended solids, a bathymetric map of the lake, total and fecal coliform, as well as other water quality parameters.
2002, Suggestions for managing Development. DalTech and NSCAD Environmental Planning: This study integrates the information found in the Urban Fringe document and examines the outcomes of different types of development and the consequences of each on the Sandy Lake area.
2002, Policy Review and Recommendations. DalTech and NSCAD Environmental Planning. (This document is missing.)
2016, Bedford Land Use Bylaw- 5 acres on public road is an ongoing bylaw. Also, archaeological sites identified on west Sandy Lake lands (Clayton lands).
For over two decades, minutes of Halifax County Council and later the Bedford Town Council show efforts toward creating a regional park at Sandy, Marsh, Jack lakes and the Sackville River. Since 1982, the park goals and land acquisition goals are still in the Regional Plans, however development is a parallel option.