All posts by Paul Cipywnyk

Bobcat Sightings at Deer Lake in Burnaby, BC

I suspect there may be a few folks out there disturbed by reports that a bobcat has been sighted several times at Deer Lake in Burnaby, BC. Deer Lake is one of Burnaby’s beautiful parks, and I find the reports exhilarating and uplifting.

A bobcat seen smack in the center of one of BC’s largest cities. Excellent!

Here’s the Burnaby Newsleader story.

I was also heartened by the response from Burnaby Parks that this was nothing to be afraid of, and that, indeed, the sightings show that we have a relatively healthy environment in our city.

I agree. The more species that can share and thrive in the same space, the healthier the environment you have. In contrast, the loss of species diminishes all of us.

I suspect this cat strayed here from remoter areas, but that’s also a good sign. The fact that wildlife can travel from place to place in an urban/suburban area is a positive indicator that we still have enough green spaces and green corridors to allow for such travel.

It’s been reported that the bobcat runs away when it sees humans, and that’s good. Wild animals should remain wild. It’s when humans interfere by feeding them, and trying to interact with them, that they can become dangerous.

Perhaps domestic cats and small dogs may be enticing to the bobcat, but dogs should be kept close all the time, and leashed much of the time, anyway.

Domestic cats? They have a huge negative impact on small wildlife and birds for they will kill even if they are well fed at home. Try to keep your cat indoors. Our cat is very content, and she’s 99.8% indoor, only going out on a harness from time to time to enjoy the grass.

Returning Salmon Highlight Wonders of Autumn

I like getting out in nature any time of year, but autumn is the season that evokes the most intense responses. Of course there’s the amazing display of colour, but there’s also a sense of excitement as the salmon return to spawn, and harvest reaches its peak with grain, fruits, and vegetables in abundance.

For me, autumn is the most stimulating time on my local waterway, Byrne Creek in southeast Burnaby, BC. I’ve volunteered as a streamkeeper for many years, and the return of salmon to spawn in this little local creek is an affirmation of efforts to maintain and restore some semblance of a natural world in an urban area.

Walking the creek and finding spawners is exhilarating. And I love to connect other folks to the creek through the awesome fish. Today I found a pair of chum spawning in an area easily viewed from the trail, and I pointed them out to several people who passed by.

“O my God!” “Really? That’s amazing!”

People are enchanted by the sight.

Sometimes the fish are not easy to see, even in a small creek like Byrne. Here’s an example of a “stealth chum” that I initially didn’t notice, though I had carefully scanned the area it was resting in.

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I saw a total of six spawners today, a pair of chum that were actively spawning, with the female flipping sideways and digging a depression in the gravel and cobble in which to deposit her eggs.

Then there was the fish in the photo above, a few meters away.

Later in a different part of the creek I saw two coho, a male already sporting bright wine red colours, and a speckled silvery female. There was another salmon in that vicinity, but I couldn’t get a good enough look at it for an ID.

Here’s to seeing more over the next month or two!

Why I Rarely ‘Like’ or ‘Share’ Posts That Ask Me To

If I see posts on Facebook that ask me to like or share them, nine times out of ten I ignore them.

If I see posts on Facebook that I like, that I find interesting or informative, I like and share them, no pleading or emotional coercion involved.

If I see posts on Facebook that have anything like “let’s see how many likes this can get” I ignore them.

If I see posts with anything along the lines of “I’ll know you care if. . .” or “I’ll know you’re really a friend if. . .” I get angry, and have to restrain myself from un-friending the poster,  or replying with a rant.

If you like something, or are interested in something, simply post it with no strings attached.

Let me, and others, decide if we like it, with no emotional harassment.

Art Students Tour Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby, BC

Today I, and Ray, another volunteer, took three classes of art students from Byrne Creek Secondary in SE Burnaby, BC, on three tours of the creek their school is named after. This is the second year that local volunteer streamkeepers have done this. Thanks to the kids, and their teacher, Judy Mcleod.

So many kids these days seem to be detached from nature, and uncomfortable experiencing it, so I enjoy any opportunity to try to make a connection with them, and connect them to their local environment. I don’t know if my blathering makes much impact, but I hope they learn something about the salmon life cycle, and the importance of urban watersheds and biodiversity.

Byrne Creek student tour Byrne Creek

Also thanks to Louise Towell of the Stream of Dreams Murals Society, who put together a wonderful project that combined student art with learning about Byrne Creek a few years ago. She created the contacts that continue to this day.

Cool Mason Bee Workshop in Burnaby, BC

Thanks to the City of Burnaby Parks Dept and the Environmental Youth Alliance for an interesting mason bee workshop today!

Mason Bee Workshop
Unrolling paper tubes from mason bee “condo”

Mason bees are very important pollinators for fruit trees as well as vegetables, flowers, etc. Due to concerns about the decline of pollinators, the City of Burnaby has a program in which it installs “bee condos” in municipal parks, and asks volunteers to monitor and clean them, harvest cocoons, keep them dry and cool over the winter, and place them back out in the spring to hatch. Mason bees are ideal for urban areas because they are very placid and non-aggressive.

Volunteers Count Bugs in Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby

Count bugs? Yep, doing aquatic invertebrate surveys is a good indicator of water quality, so we do them twice a year at nine locations on the creek.

Volunteers took bug samples (aquatic invertebrates) at three locations on Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby today. While we haven’t run the numbers yet, judging by how few bugs we found, and the very limited variety, the water quality is likely in the lowest “Poor” category.

We use the established Module 4 methodology from the Streamkeepers Handbook.

The water in Byrne Creek is usually in the “Poor” to “Marginal” categories, since our “headwaters” are all residential, automotive, retail, etc. All the crap that accumulates on roads and parking lots is flushed into the creek.

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Taking a sample with a D-net

Byrne Creek bug count
Baby crayfish found in one sample

Many Happiest Moments of My Life Have Involved Cats on Laps

My wife caught Choco the cat curled up on my tummy when I stretched out for a nap before supper. I know it’s getting colder when Choco plants herself on my lap when I’m seated, or on my chest when I’m napping.

When Yumi sent me the photos and I filed them in my “Choco” folder, I found a similar scene from almost exactly ten years ago.

Paul & Choco 3
Here we are before dinner tonight

Paul Choco
And here we are in November 2004. “Whiskers and Whisky” : -)

Choco always looks good, but ten-years-later me could stand to shed a few pounds.

I’ve always loved cuddling with felines. I like dogs, too, just haven’t had as much opportunity to share life with them over the years.

First Salmon Patrol Yields Fall Colors, No Spawners Yet

Despite the drizzle that gradually increased to steady rain, I took a two-hour ramble down and back up Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby, BC, today, hoping to see salmon coming back to spawn. When the rains raise the water level, the fish start heading upstream in mid-October, so they should arrive any day now.

I didn’t see any salmon, but it was a lovely day with the rain giving foliage a lush sheen, and the overcast sky imbuing the forest with a soft light.

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Byrne Creek, Burnaby, Autumn Colours