Jim Wolford: Recipient of the 2006
From the Halifax Field Naturalist Report:
Colin Stewart Conservation Award
Jim has been actively working on
behalf of nature and conservation for several decades.
He's an active member of both the Blomidon and the
Halifax Field Naturalists, an on-going advisor to the
Town of Wolfville on a project to conserve over 700
acres of forest and wetlands on the Valley's South
Mountain, and was the major force behind the creation
of the Robie Tufts Nature Centre (the Chimney Swift
park). Jim works tirelessly on behalf of bird-watchers,
naturalists, and conservation groups. Apart from his
regular contribution as an HFN Board member, he gives
illustrated talks to school classes, various youth and
adult groups, and takes Scouts and Guides on field trips
to help them see the world around them. Congratulations,
Jim - you really deserve this award.
From the nomination:
Chimney Swifts are one of Jim's special interests. Swifts have roosted in Wolfville since
at least the late 1800s. Beginning in 1989, the Town decided to remove the old building
with the swift chimney. A three-way partnership was formed: the Town, the Business
Development Corporation, and the Blomidon Naturalists Society. The old building was
removed, but the chimney saved and it became the centrepiece for a miniature park. It
was named the Robie Tufts Nature Centre in 1990. Jim was one of the leaders
throughout this rebuilding project.
The Centre quickly became a major attraction in the community. Town people
and tourists gather each evening to see the swifts. The performances of up to 600 swifts,
sometimes more, dazzle the spectators. Jim is present many evenings to share his
knowledge of the birds and their behaviours.
Swifts are now in sharp decline. One Maritime account (written decades ago)
reports 22,000 swifts entering a chimney in 22 minutes. Today, a few hundred swifts per
evening is a good count. Communal roosting of swifts must be documented. Jim has
maintained a record of the Wolfville roost since 1979, and has worked to encourage
birders in other communities (eg. Middleton) to maintain records. This has now
developed into a provincial monitoring program, coordinated by Jim. A number of
communities in the province have "swift chimneys". Residents must be informed of the
swifts, they must be protected. This is what Jim has done for almost two decades.
While Jim has a major interest in birds, his range of expertise is much broader, he is well
informed on many groups of living things from bacteria to whales. He is a strong
believer in helping others gain an appreciation for nature and encourages them to support
programs that protect habitats.
Jim works tirelessly on behalf of bird-watching, naturalists, and conservation
groups. He enjoys giving talks, always illustrated with an abundance of slides, and leads
field trips on a variety of subjects, such as: eagles, amphibians, pond life, seashores, and
many more. He talks to school classes, youth and adult groups, and takes Scouts and
Guides on field trips and helps them see the world around them. For many, it is the first
time they have stopped to look and listen, their excitement is evident!
Helping others gain an understanding of nature is possibly Jim's greatest
contribution. We cannot expect others to protect habitat if they do not know about the
plants and animals that live there.
A few years ago, Jim's considerable work on behalf of nature and the community
earned him the title "Wolfville's Nature Ambassador". In recognition of Jim's work
and dedication, in 2003 the Town of Wolfville named Jim its "Volunteer of the