Here are some key points about Groundhog Day/World Wetland Day:
- Groundhog Day is an old tradition that comes from the blessing of the candles back in Europe. It was called candlemas.
- On this day, people would look at some animals coming out of hibernation like hedgehogs. The tradition was that if they would see their shadow, there would be another 6 weeks of winter but if they couldn’t see their shadow, spring was on its way.
- When European came to America they used groundhogs for that purpose since there are no hedgehogs here.
- Some of the most notorious groundhogs are Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania, made famous by the movie, Shubenacadie Sam in Nova Scotia and Wiarton Willy in Ontario.
- Manitoba Merv started predicting the arrival of spring in 1994 as we needed our own groundhog in Manitoba since we have a very different climate here.
- Manitoba Merv is a puppet (a golf club cover actually) and this is great because unlike other groundhogs, it lives forever and does not need to be awoken from hibernation to make its prediction. Live groundhogs usually hibernate until late March or early April.
- He has a great track record with 98% accuracy, he only made a mistake once, the year he fell in love with his girlfriend Manitoba Maria. Their relation was short lived.
- It’s pretty hard to be wrong in Manitoba because 6 more weeks of winter after February 2 is still and early spring for us 🙂
First Goose Contest:
- Although we like our plush prognosticator, we know very well that the arrival of spring is tied with the arrival of the geese at the Marsh.
- We organize our First Goose of the Year Contest every year where we encourage people to guess the date and time the first goose will arrive at the Marsh.
- The person closest to the date and time wins a plush Canada goose and a one-year family membership to Oak Hammock Marsh.
- People can vote online, check our website for details.
World Wetlands Day:
- One of the reasons we celebrate Groundhog Day at Oak Hammock Marsh is to bring attention that today is also World Wetlands Day
- February 2nd was chosen as World Wetlands Day because it marks the anniversary of the signing of the Ramsar Convention. A convention to protect wetlands of International Importance.
- Over 100 countries have joined the Ramsar Convention and designated some 900 wetland sites. These wetlands are known as Ramsar Site.
- Oak Hammock Marsh was designated a Ramsar site in 1987
- Ducks Unlimited Canada, a leader in wetland conservation, has its headquarters at Oak Hammock Marsh.
- Wetlands provide the perfect habitat for countless species of plants and wildlife. They are often referred to as the wetlands of the North. Oak Hammock Marsh for example has nearly 300 species of birds using the marsh either during nesting season or during migration.
- Wetlands are also vital on the landscape as they reduce flooding and the impact of drought, two very important issues here in Manitoba.
- They help in recharging aquifer, sequestering carbon and filtering water naturally.
- They are also great places for wildlife watching, wildlife photography, canoeing and many more recreational activities.
You can find more info on our website: https://www.oakhammockmarsh.ca/events/world-wetlands-day/
The Wetland Discovery Centre is finally reopening to visitors on February 5. Current health regulations will be in effect (vaccination card and masks are required while indoor).
Here are our upcoming events for February: https://www.oakhammockmarsh.ca/experience/events/