Category Archives: Nature

Hatchery Coho Smolts Die in Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby, BC

Well, I was hoping it wouldn’t happen.

I was hoping it wouldn’t rain, because rain flushes all the crap off our roads and into our creeks. Gasoline, oil, antifreeze, metals from brake-lining dust…

But today one of our volunteers from the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society observed 130+ dead coho smolts in the sediment pond, near where they had been released just two days ago. See photos in previous post.

Anger. Sadness. Frustration.

We’ve had years where we’ve counted over 700 dead smolts, or a mortality rate of over 25% of those released, and I’m sure we always miss many morts. Mother Nature cleans up damn quick when a smolt buffet is set for all the birds and beasts who love fish.

The weirdness is that indigenous fish appear to be fine. You’ll see fry and trout swimming about unaffected by the pollutants that kill the coho.

byrne creek dead coho smolts

byrne creek dead coho
You can see live fry on the right-hand side of this photo

dead coho smolt byrne creek

dying coho smolt byrne creek
This one was barely alive. It sat on the bottom barely moving, then turned a few circles, and banged its head into the concrete wall of the sediment pond.

Coho Smolt Release on Byrne Creek

Our DFO Community Advisor released about 5,000 coho smolts in Burnaby, BC, south slope creeks this morning. Byrne Creek, on which I volunteer, got a total of about 3,000 of those.

coho smolts
The yearlings are transported in a special tank and then transferred into the creek in buckets

coho smolts
A closeup of the seething mass of life. It appeared that we lost just two or three out of the thousands

coho smolt
DFO is now saying to clip the adipose fins on hatchery coho again, which means streamkeeper volunteers will be able to distinguish hatchery from wild coho when they return to spawn in a few years.

lush growth
The habitat was looking lush following this morning’s rain

lush growth

wet blossoms
Rain beading on blossoms

lonely blossom in the rain
Lonely blossom in the rain

Chest Wader Fashion Shoot

I got these new rubber/PVC chest waders for 50% off at Canadian Tire recently. Thought I’d show them off :-).

chest waders

chest waders
Work it! That’s it! Hold the smile!

I have a set of fancy Browning chest and hip waders (bought at blowout prices at Surplus Herbies)  that have “stocking” feet that require separate boots. I have felt-soled boots for them, but sometimes a simple one-piece rubber outfit is better for muddy in-stream streamkeeping work.

Jane’s Walk Explores New Westminster/Burnaby border trails

I joined a Jane’s Walk today led by Mary Wilson that began in New Westminster BC, and crossed the border into Burnaby to explore the urban trail system. Mary pointed out that while there were great trails in the Edmonds area of Burnaby, there was no connectivity to neighbouring New West. Perhaps this is something that the two municipalities, and particularly NW, could look at.

Mary had come to last month’s Byrne Creek Streamkeeepers Society meeting, since these volunteers help care for the urban creek and ravine park in the area. I tagged along on the walk today, and welcomed the opportunity to chat a bit about urban watersheds, daylighting creeks, the importance to wildlife of natural areas and corridors to connect them, etc.

Thanks Mary!

You can find other New Westminster Jane’s Walks here, and while at this time Burnaby so far appears to lag in variety, there are walks popping up here.

Janes walk edmonds
Looking at the massive, near-50-acre former Safeway distribution lands that will be redeveloped soon. There’s an ambitious plan for a walkable, transit-friendly, mixed-use residential and commercial area.

janes walk connecitivity

Birds at Elgin Heritage Park in South Surrey, BC

I spent several hours wandering Elgin Heritage Park in South Surrey, BC, this afternoon. It’s one of my favourite places for bird photos in the lower mainland.

northern flicker
Northern Flicker

red-winged blackbird
Red-winged Blackbird

Anna's Hummingbird
Anna’s Hummingbird?

spotted towhee
Spotted Towhee

spotted towhee
Spotted Towhee

spotted sandpiper
I’m guessing Spotted Sandpiper?

European Starling
European Starling

bald eagle
Bald Eagle

BTW, if I misidentify any birds, give me a shout. I’m always happy to learn.

Mason Bees Spotted on Our Balcony

We put out a box for blue orchard mason bees on our balcony, along with some cocoons, but we hadn’t seen any action. The cocoons were all holed and empty, and we feared predators like wasps had gotten all the bees.

Today I was happy to see a slow-moving, but live, mason bee. Hope to see more as the days go by. We’ve set out lots of flowers on the balcony of various species.

mason bee box

mason bee my thumb

mason bee






Blueberry flower

Birding on Burnaby Mountain, at Burnaby Lake

Master birder George Clulow led a group around Burnaby Mountain today. It was great fun, but the birds were on the sparse side, so he suggested ending the morning at Piper Spit on Burnaby Lake, which proved to have an abundance of feathered friends to observe.

Thanks to the City of Burnaby and its Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services Dept. for organizing such tours!

A few photos from today’s rambles:

Burnaby Mountain Playground of the Gods
Kamui Mintara, or, Playground of the Gods

I’ve shot Kamui Mintara many times over many years, yet I think this may be the first for me to approach the totems from behind, move around, and deliberately expose for a silhouette effect.

Yes, they do stand upright. But I like this tilted angle.

Burnaby Mountain trails
Burnaby Mountain picnic tables

Burnaby Mountain

Burnaby Mountain

Burnaby Mountain birding

Burnaby Lake goslings

Burnaby Lake goslings

Burnaby Lake wood duck

Burnaby Lake wood duck

Burnaby Lake sparrow

Burnaby Lake blackbird

Burnaby Lake blackbird
Bold blackbird!

Releasing Chum Fry in Burnaby’s Byrne Creek a Highlight for Volunteers, Kids

We had a sunny, warm day for our chum fry release in Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby, BC, this morning. We arranged for a couple of classes of students from Taylor Park Elementary to come down and help with the release. Kids, teachers, parents, and streamkeeper volunteers all had a great time.

Thanks to our DFO Community Advisor Maurice, and technician Scott. They’re been doing this for years, and are always a pleasure to meet, even for an hour or two.

Thanks also to the volunteers at the Bell-Irving Hatchery out at Kanaka Creek in Maple Ridge, who put in so many hours collecting eggs in the fall, and raising them through to releasable chum fry and coho smolts. It’s a huge task, and we appreciate your ongoing efforts.

Byrne Creek Burnaby chum fry release

Byrne Creek Burnaby chum fry release

Byrne Creek Burnaby chum fry release

Byrne Creek Burnaby chum fry release

Byrne Creek Burnaby chum fry release

Byrne Creek Burnaby chum fry release

Such releases are truly joyful occasions. The kids love scrambling down from the tank to the creek with baggies full of fish, and even adults succumb to the adventure. Everyone feels good about giving back a little.