Category Archives: Streamkeeping

Byrne Creek Bug Counting

It was a lovely day for counting bugs on Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby today. Such aquatic invertebrate surveys provide an indication of water quality in the creek, and unfortunately while streamkeeper volunteers have been regularly sampling for over ten years, the quality is nearly always poor to marginal, with just the occasional satisfactory at best.

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Using a D-net to gather a sample

Byrne Creek bug counting
Chatting with neighbourhood friends

Byrne Creek bug counting
Volunteers show up with a new generation of streamkeepers 🙂

Byrne Creek bug count

Byrne Creek garbage collection
Volunteers usually combine data collection with ongoing garbage cleanup

Early blooming
It’s been a warm winter!

Early blooming

Strange black substance coating Byrne Creek spillway
I checked the artificial spawning habitat and sediment pond for fish, but saw only two cutthroat. No fry yet. I also found this odd black, flaking coating on the sediment pond spillway. Something yucky came down the creek not too long ago!

BC Govt Steps Up to Protect Our Water. Huh?

So according to an article entitled “No more free water for bottlers in BC” in Business in Vancouver, and another in the Globe & Mail, BC will start charging commercial bottlers for water now taken freely from the commons, put in plastic bottles, and sold.

Yes, our water will now be sold to commercial bottlers for $2.25 per million litres. Ouch, that’s gotta hurt.

That means bottlers like Nestle will now pay 0.00022 cents per litre.  In case you have trouble seeing the decimal point, that’s “point zero zero zero two two” cents per litre.

Er, how much does Nestle charge for a litre of bottled water?

City of Burnaby Adopts Progressive, Green Design Standards for Town Centre Streets

The City of Burnaby’s new design standards for streets in its four town centres look interesting. Lots of green including rain gardens. Hope this progresses quickly, as we need all the rainwater infiltration that we can get to keep our urban streams as healthy as possible. Infiltration naturally filters pollution and reduces peak flows.

See the document here.

Speaking Twice at SEP 2015 Stewardship Workshop in May

I’ve been asked to take part in two presentations at the SEP 2015 British Columbia stewardship community workshop in May.

One will be on event and documentary photography, with an emphasis on using photos for effective communication and engagement, be it in paper publications or online. The other is a panel on engaging youth in stewardship activities. Should be fun!

SEP 2015 will take place in Port Alberni, BC, May 15-17, 2015.

More information about the workshop will be posted to this website as details firm up.

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

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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.

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!

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.

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