Category Archives: Nature

Searching Squamish, BC, for Salmon and Eagles

This is a great time of year to see salmon and eagles up the Sea-to-Sky highway heading north from Vancouver to Squamish.

Didn’t see that many of the magnificent raptors today, but enough for some decent photos.

eagle_paradise_valley_road_squamish_20141122Eagle soaring above the Paradise Valley road north of Squamish, BC

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Lunching on what appears to be a chum salmon on the Squamish River

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Cruising along the Squamish River

eagles salmon squamish bc
A mass of  biomass. Lots of carcasses near the Tenderfoot hatchery off the Paradise Valley road north of Squamish. It looks gross, but salmon bring nutrients back from the ocean that enrich our coastal forests and other wildlife.

If You’re Reading This, You’re Guilty, As am I

I am an “environmentalist.” Local papers have labelled me an “activist.”

Yet as I sit here in my office, I am surrounded by metal, plastic, wood, paper — all materials mined or “harvested” from the environment I purport to protect.

I could not be sharing this with you, if you were not also in possession of plastic, glass, various metals that make up computers or tablets or smartphones, and the electrical energy required to  charge their batteries, and run the infrastructure of the Internet.

You are all plugged into your various electrical grids. Some of you could be burning coal to read this, some of you oil. Some of you may be fortunate to be using hydro power (which still kills rivers and fish).

Anyone out there know for sure that they’re purely solar? Or geothermal? And then, what materials were used to make those panels, or bore and set up those wells?

It’s a tough world we live in, for those of us aware enough to realize that we’ve got problems.

BTW this is not meant as message of despair, it’s meant to be a message of awareness, and stimulation to design things better going forward.

Frosty Deer Lake Circumrambulation

I was expecting a nature tour around Deer Lake in Buranby, BC, today, but I couldn’t find the group. I ended up taking a bit over two hours to walk around the lake with my camera on a crisp, sunny morning. Here’s a set of 30 shots in  a Flickr album.

Yes, I know circumrambulation is not a word, but I think it should be. It’s what you do when you ramble entirely around a lake : -).

Deer Lake photos Nov. 16, 2014. Flickr

 

I also counted about 30 chum salmon carcasses in Buckingham Creek, in the short stretch where it runs north of the parking lot and into the lake. I was impressed. Salmon had disappeared from the creek for decades, and began returning again only recently after restoration efforts including making culverts more fish friendly. The first time Yumi and I saw a salmon carcass there was in 2009, documented on my old blog.

Byrne Creek Moving Water Medley

As I patrolled Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby, BC, in search of spawning salmon on Nov. 4, I didn’t see any fish as the water was high and fast. But I did get several video clips of moving water that I edited together into a 2-minute video today.

BTW, nothing fancy. I used my Canon Elph 520HS pocket camera in its 1920 HD video mode. I mounted it on a GorillaPod so that I could get nice and low into the creek, while keeping things steady.

I edited the clips together using the standard Windows Movie Maker that came with Windows 8.1

No music, no narration, just the sights and sounds of moving water in nature.

Enjoy!

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.

chum salmon byrne creek

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!

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.