Category Archives: Nature

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

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

Rain = Excitement on Byrne Creek as Salmon Should Arrive Soon

When I heard the lush, lovely sound of steady rain when I stirred in my slumber last night, I couldn’t help smiling. For the rains bring the salmon, and salmon are life.

We don’t get many salmon returning to spawn on our battered urban creek in SE Burnaby, but those that do stir excitement and passion in people attuned to the natural environment. As a volunteer streamkeeper for 15 years, I do my best to connect as many kids and adults as possible to nature in the city.

So while the weather forecast may look grim to some, I find it exhilarating.

That’s because salmon that hatched in Byrne Creek have returned from their years in the Pacific Ocean. Those that have made it through the fisheries along the coast, and in the Salish Sea, and in the Fraser River, are pooling at the mouth of the creek, waiting for higher flows to assist their passage up the little waterway.

As long as there is rain, we spot the first spawners arriving in the creek around October 17, give or take a day or two.

So this forecast looks great!

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Adams River Sockeye Dominant Run 2014

The return of sockeye salmon to the Adams River in the Shuswap in British Columbia peaks every four years. This was my third or fourth visit for a peak run, combined with a 3-day SEHAB (Salmon Enhancement and Habitat Advisory Board) meeting.

Here are a few photos taken while volunteering on the river as an interpreter for the thousands of tourists who flock to this amazing event. The run was not yet at its peak, and I hope I can find the time to make it up there one more time this year.

Check out Salute to the Sockeye for more information.

adams river sockeye run 2014

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October 2014 Road Trip – Day 1

Today I drove from Burnaby to Kamloops, taking the 3 across to Princeton, and then the 5A up to Kamloops. This takes several hours longer than just blasting up the 5, but I prefer the slower, more intimate roads for photography.

The following shots were all taken along the 5A.

BC Highway 5A

BC Highway 5AThis was the second flipped semi I saw today. Yikes! Slow down!

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BC Highway 5A

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I
t was windy and there were whitecaps on Nicola Lake

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BC Highway 5A

Watching Closely as Midori, Our Turtle, Readies for Winter

I posted this on FB the other day, and it got a positive response from pet and animal lovers, so I’m expanding upon it a bit here. It rings a tad sanctimonious, but really folks, a pet IS for life, and you shouldn’t consider having one if you can’t fulfill that responsibility.

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We’re keeping a close eye on Midori, our turtle. It’s getting colder at night, and she’s starting to follow us around, wanting “uppy” for cuddling and warmth. We’ll be putting her on a heated gel pack in a basket overnight soon.

No, we’re not spoiling her, we’re keeping her healthy. If she gets too cold she starts shutting down. Yet on the other hand, she can’t get cold enough in the house to properly hibernate. We’ve discovered over the years that this “not quite here/not quite there” situation over winter is not good for her, as she starts to lose calcium etc.

We had a bad scare a few years ago when her limbs began puffing up during a semi-hibernation. After a costly vet visit, it turned out that in her semi-somnolent state her body was still “consuming” minerals, etc., but since she wasn’t eating anything, her system was sucking the calcium out of her own bones.

So the last few years we’ve kept her warm all winter. It’s a lot of work, but she’s much the better for it.

As I’ve said many times before, we do NOT recommend turtles for pets. Keeping them healthy and happy is a lot of work, and they can live for 40+ years. We didn’t know that when we got her 21 years ago.

But we will never give up the responsibility we took on when we made the (then admittedly uninformed) choice to take a red-eared slider into our lives.

And we will never dump her in a local pond or creek. She doesn’t belong in the Canadian wild. She’s not a native species. And she’s so used to humans that she’d likely follow anyone she saw, begging for food. And we all know that not all members of “our” species are good to other animals, eh?

She is ours, for better or worse, in sickness or in health . And you cannot divorce or just dump a pet, eh?