Category Archives: Nature

Streamkeeper Training in North Vancouver

I attended a one-day streamkeeper training course in North Vancouver hosted by the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation. We covered modules 2, 3, and 4 from the Streamkeepers Handbook.

I figured it was about time I had a refresher, since it must be around ten years ago that I originally took the training.

It was a lovely, sunny day, and a great group of people.

You can check out some photos I took in this Flickr album.

Streamkeeper training North Vancouver

Injured Gull Caught, Delivered to Wildlife Rescue

Good deed of the day accomplished. While we were checking out lighting stores in Richmond BC, Yumi spotted a seagull that appeared to have a broken wing. We observed it for a few minutes, and it was definitely dragging its right wing, and when approached, stayed on the ground.

I called the Wildlife Rescue Association in Burnaby, and described the situation. They said it would be great if we could get it into a box and bring it in.

I grabbed a pair of work gloves and an old towel from the trunk of the car, and kept an eye on it, making sure it didn’t stray onto busy Bridgeport Rd. while Yumi went in search of a box. Yumi was back in a few minutes and after a short chase and trapping pincer movement, it scooted into the box and we had it secured.

We drove directly to the WRA, getting there in about half an hour, and deposited the patient. We kept the box covered with the towel to keep it dark and relatively quiet, and the gull made the trip with little noise.

Hope it makes it.

We were so focused on the rescue that I forgot to take any photos!

UPDATE: Aug. 20. I’m sad to report that I contacted the WRA today to check on the gull, and it had to be euthanized. Apparently the humerus was beyond repair. Sad to hear, but at least it didn’t have a potentially long, suffering death.

Urban Sprawl — Are Humans Less Efficient Than Slime Molds?

“History suggests humans, in contrast to ants and slime molds, rarely optimize growth, particularly when multiple objectives such as profit, equity, and ecological integrity come into conflict.” And since we aren’t quite as good at this as slime molds are, there is the distinct possibility that we should plan for the worst rather than assume we’ll fix the problem ahead of time. – Dave Levitan | August 5 2014

Thanks to Pamela Zevit for posting this quotation, and the article it came from, on FaceBook. Pam posts links to a steady stream of articles that make one sit up and think.

Small Sockeye This Year?

I bought our first wild sockeye of the season at Save-On Foods in Burnaby, BC, today.

It was small, weighing in at 0.686 kg, or about 1.5 lbs. Of course that’s sans head and guts, but it still appeared undersized. All of the sockeye at Save-On looked small. Certainly way smaller than the pinks I fished on the Fraser last year.

Come to think of it, the fish looked not much bigger than a coho jack — a male coho salmon that returns to spawn a year early.

According to the DFO Tidal Waters Sport Fishing Guide, a sockeye “usually weighs between 2.2 kg and 3.1 kg, but can reach 6.3 kg.”

UPDATE: I’ve been looking into this online, Googling and reading academic papers, and have come to the conclusion that while small, this fish was likely not an outlier.

Most research and reporting on fish sizes and weights presents “average” ranges, and it’s hard to find information about what the usual minimum weights are. However I did find the following on the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada government website:

“Commercially caught sockeye range in weight from 2 to 9 pounds and are graded according to size: 2-4 lbs., 4-6 lbs., and 6-9 lbs.”

So I guess that 1.5-pound dressed fish was not an outlier.

Touring Byrne Creek with Vancouver Retired Teachers

A walking club from the Vancouver Retired Teachers contacted me a few months ago to ask for a tour of Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby. They walk regularly every Wednesday, all over Vancouver, Burnaby, and the north shore. I was happy to accompany them around the creek and ravine park today.

We covered the ravine loop in just over two hours, with plenty of time along the way to enjoy nature, and talk about urban streamkeeping and biodiversity. I am passionate about nature in the city, so I can blather on for hours, but they politely insisted at the end of the tour that they’d found it all very interesting : -).

And in a surprising gesture, they passed the hat at the end of the tour and came up with nearly $80 to donate to the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society. Wow! I was really touched, since our group is 100% volunteer and we have never charged for tours.

I enjoyed the morning outing. It’s wonderful getting out into nature, fresh air and sunshine, talking with a group of convivial folks, and getting some exercise all at the same time!

Vancouver Retired Teacher tour Byrne Creek

Shocked to See Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby Milky for 2nd Day

I was shocked to see that Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby, BC, was running milky for the second day in a row. You can see my photos from yesterday below in an earlier post.

This is the third day in a week that someone has been discharging something into the creek. Volunteer streamkeepers haven’t seen any dead or distressed fish, but this amount of sediment occurring so frequently cannot be good for life in the creek.

The City of Burnaby has been swift to respond, sending out staff to try to backtrack the sources of these illegal discharges. Of course staff cannot say much while investigations are ongoing, but I hope they are successful.

While a fine or two would be great to make perpetrators sit up and take notice, I am generally not gunning for punitive measures. Education and outreach are key in the long run.

UPDATE: As of late afternoon, City staff had traced the source to a broken line on private property that was seeping and carrying silt into a drain.  As is often the case, it was unintentional, and will be fixed.

UPDATE 2: As of 6:30 pm, I received a report from another volunteer streamkeeper that a “deluge” of water was passing through Griffith’s Pond, and that she had contacted the City of Burnaby, and had been told there was a watermain break somewhere upstream. How many hits can this poor creek take in a day, much less in a week?

Here’s what Griffith’s Pond near Edmonds Skytrain Station looked like as of 7:00 pm tonight:

still milky byrne creek

Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby Turns Milky

Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby was running milky today. All drains on streets and parking lots lead to local creeks!

I don’t know what the substance was, but local streamkeeper volunteers first shared the info just after 1:00 pm today, and as I walked the creek from 2:30 to 3:30 it was still running milky.

City of Burnaby staff were out trying to track the source through the storm system.

This is the second such event in a week! Last week the creek was running silty brown from what appeared to be construction-site silt.

Here are some shots of today’s event:

MIlky Byrne CreekThe pond near Griffiths Dr.

MIlky Byrne CreekThe outflow from the pond into the creek

MIlky Byrne CreekClose-up of the milky flow

MIlky Byrne Creek
Further down the creek, near the playground at Ron McLean Park