Category Archives: Nature

Spawner Patrol Orientation on Byrne Creek in Burnaby

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers had a spawner patrol orientation today in SE #Burnaby, BC, to show some new volunteers the area that we patrol.

Due to human intervention and ongoing development, the area in which salmon spawn on Byrne Creek is limited. It can be covered on foot in about an hour.

Salmon usually start returning to spawn on Byrne Creek around mid-October, and we weren’t disappointed, spotting three in the sediment pond, all likely coho.

There’s nothing like seeing these majestic fish in an urban area to get volunteers inspired and reinvigorated. This is my favourite time of the year, as I try to get out on on the creek as many times as I can, sometimes three or four times as week, as work and other commitments allow.

Volunteer streamkeepers have training from the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation, and permission from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the City of Burnaby, to patrol the creek and enumerate spawners.

Please, if you see salmon, maintain a respectful distance, do not walk in the creek, and keep dogs leashed. The eggs the fish lay in the creek won’t hatch until spring, so it’s important to stay out of the creek.

Citizen Science vs Social Media Speculation

I am a strong proponent of citizen science. I think the observations amateurs make, share, and get verified on places like iNaturalist are crucial to understanding what is going on in the natural world.

But sometimes things get crazy on social media.

The other day I posted a photo of a heron scarfing a large salmonid about 30-35cm long.

By a quick ‘n dirty count of responses, several Registered Professional Biologists, several hatchery managers and staff, and a few folks from the Department of Fisheries agree it was a coho.

Yet the debate on my original post continues to grow days later with “no, that’s a Chinook” or “no, that’s a Steelhead” or “No. . . whatever. . . ” comments piling up.

I have not responded to those posts in that thread, and I won’t, because that would likely just pour fuel on the speculative fire.

Without actually getting hands on with the fish to look at teeth and gums and scales and spots and whatever, there is no point to arguing.

But I’ll go with the pros, eh?

And, oh yeah, that citizen science. In over 20 years of streamkeeping on the creek we have never seen chinook or steelhead. Only chum and coho use this creek to spawn. Just once in those years have we trapped a chinook smolt, and that  was near the  mouth, where it was likely taking a break while heading out to the ocean from somewhere up the Fraser.

Deer Lake Birds in Burnaby

Spent four hours rambling Deer Lake in Burnaby this morning. I debated about lugging Big Bertha (Tamron 150-600mm lens on a Nikon D7200) and Manfrotto tripod, and while I’m sore now, I’m glad I did.

birds deer lake burnaby bc
Pied-Billed Grebe winter phase?

Steller’s Jay — the backlight and crown not showing make it look like a crow.

There were lots of American Coots

American Robin

Canada Geese


And one of the ubiquitous mallards

Covid Fatigue Evident at Deer Lake Park in Burnaby

I had a four-hour photography ramble around and up and down Deer Lake Park in #Burnaby.

In over 20 years of walking the trails there, I have never seen as many people as I have since Covid.

On the one hand, it’s great that people are getting out into this beautiful park, but on the other hand, Covid fatigue has definitely set in, and people are being less mindful than they ought to be.

There were several large groups of over ten people doing the circuit. Unfortunately they were oblivious to other park users. Faster walkers and joggers had to stop and plead with people to give some space. In many stretches the boardwalk and trails are just a bit over a meter wide.

I’d guess that about two-thirds of the “One Direction Only” and “Maintain 2-Meter Spacing” signs had been torn down, with many tossed into the bush, and four or five tossed into the lake.

Too many people are not being Kind or Safe, leading to it becoming more difficult for others to be Calm, eh?

Great Blue Heron Catches Large Fish on Byrne Creek

Great Blue Heron taking a fish at the mouth of Byrne Creek in SE #Burnaby this morning.

At first I thought this may be a small coho, a jack or jill, or is it another salmonid like a large trout. We rarely see trout that big on the creek.

I was impressed by how surely it handled the fish, and by the size of the swallow, though I’ve seen herons gulp rats.

UPDATE: I have confirmation that this is a coho. Nice to know spawners have started returning to the creek!

great blue heron swallows large fish byrne creek BC

UPDATE 10/16: Thanks to the Burnaby Now for publishing one of these photos with commentary!