Loch lays in a bowl. When I first started going
there it was a nature wonderland. The loch was full of
and large perch. When fishing from a boat it was common to see
big shoals of perch which would all be over a pound in
weight. The loch was home to at least a hundred swans that
each year nested in the reeds. Many, many species of ducks,
coots, water hens, frogs and song birds made their homes in
the sedge. Further back in the fields, rabbits, hares,
partridge, pheasants, curlews, peewits and others abounded.
A cloud of starlings had a
morning and evening ritual of
flying from the Kirk steeple to a big tree that flourished
growing out of the water at the east end of the loch. The
loch was indeed a vibrant, active and noisy place when all
of these creatures were on the move and communicating.
slowly at first, disaster struck the loch. Over the course
of a few years most everything vanished. The huge pike and
the perch were gone. The water became
crystal clear to the point that even the underwater weeds
vanished. Even the tree in the loch died. The loch that I
knew became a sterile, silent, eerie place.
don't know if the cause was DDT or some other chemical that
drained from the fields and ended up into the loch but I do know that
right after World War II there was a considerable increase in
the spraying of pesticides.
Nearby is another place that was severely ecologically
damaged but for a very different reason. This was at the
section of roadway that stretches from the north lodge of
the Elie Estate to the gate at the curling rinks. On either
side of this roadway grew very old trees, so old and
prolific that their canopies intertwined over the roadway to
form a tunnel. The area was always shaded and was dank and
quite dark. Likens and mosses thrived and clung to the
walls. Ferns and many species of wetland plants flourished.
Little frogs were everywhere. In the spring the roadside
ditches were full of tadpoles. It was a very special place.
disaster struck. One day a crew of roadway workmen arrived
in lorries and in short order they cut and removed the
entire canopy of overhanging branches. First the dampness
vanished then the mosses and the lichens followed suit and
before long all the frogs and the other life forms
disappeared. Vehicles were now
proceeding faster along this stretch of road but the flora and
fauna were devastated.
many years at the beginning of Spring I would collect a jar
of day old frog eggs and take them home to a small
pond in our garden. Daily I inspected the development of the
eggs as to the metamorphosis that took place as
the eggs developed into tadpoles then finally into
completely formed little frogs. I then gathered up all
the little frogs and took them back to their birthplace. I
never mentioned this to my fourth grade schoolteacher
daughter, Heather, but the acorn didn't fall far from the
year in September Heather takes her class on a field trip to
a nearby stream
to watch Kokanee salmon lay their eggs in the
gravel of the shallow waters. Next the class goes to visit a
nearby fish hatchery that's run by the Oregon Department of
Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). Later the students receive from
ODFW 200 newly
spawned Kokanee fish eggs that they incubate in their
classroom where they have an aquarium ready and waiting to
receive the eggs. Each day the class checks on the hatching
process. They keep records as to water flow, temperature,
the light on the tank and other important factors. They
learn all about acidity and alkalinity and the pH scale.
They make adjustments to the water to bring it to the
recommended pH number. Finally when the eggs have developed
into fingerling kokanee, Heather and the young biologists
make another field trip to release the fish into their wild
environment. Later in the year one of the Fish and
Wildlife biologists comes to the classroom where the
biologist has the children dissect a fish to teach them all
about the functions of the inner parts.