BRAE ISLAND REGIONAL PARK – LFN SUMMER WALK AUGUST 10TH
A Western Toad Walk? Really!
Recalling our previous summer Bat Walk, one participant suggested after finding 15 large Western Toads hopping across our path that this was a “Toad Walk”!
Ten naturalist, plus four newbies, joined leaders, Joan T and Anne G, to walk to the tip of Brae Island Regional Park on a nice comfortable warm evening. We came across a few birds; a Coopers Hawk, Belted Kingfisher, Canada Geese, Steller’s Jays, Chickadees, and Towhees and the usual Robins and Crows. However, along with the toads we also counted over 35 rabbits hopping everywhere! – reminding us of the beginnings of a biblical plague. A large black bear footprint was found and we posed for a group photo at the tip of the island. On the way back we tried to find the Barred Owl previously seen with no luck. It was a nice end to a nice evening. Anne G
EVENING BAT WALK – JULY 20 – Our leader Kirk led a very fascinating and exciting Bat Walk for the 26 eager Naturalist who joined him. He was very knowledgeable about bats; telling us lots of fascinating information about these small night flyers. The type of bat at this colony were Little Brown Myotis bats- who are an endangered species because of “White Nose Disease” – for which there is no cure. Apparently this virus has been making its way across Canada decimating bat populations. Also in this colony were Big Brown Myotis bats. We learned that Little Brown Bats are insectivores, eating moths, wasps, beetles, gnats, mosquitoes, midges and mayflies and using echolocating to find their prey.
Kirk had a “bat monitor” which played the different bat echo calls demonstrating what to listen for. This monitor also tracked them as they came flying in overhead, their calls telling us which bat specie they were. They came in over our heads and in between our group for about 20 minutes. In the evening’s twilight glow, a few people tried to get pictures of this marvel. Our count had reached to over 150 “fly-byes” at approximately 10:00 pm – with more to still coming! Hearing all the interesting facts about bats and their behavior, proved to be an evening of amazement and wonder. Our thanks to Kirk for leading us to this local evening spectacle.
“How to take Bat Pictures” by Ian Kakebeeke!
and night shot by Joan Taylor!
The Eagle and Owl
Three of us walked out to the tip of Brae Island to check the Purple Martin boxes on June 16, 2016. We enjoyed a leisurely walk listening to birds and chatting. Along the way we heard Swainsons Thrushes, Black-headed Grosbeaks, Pacific Wrens, Willow Flycatchers, Pacific Slope Flycatchers, Towhees, Song Sparrows, Robins and a lonely Yellow Warbler. On the point we rested on the bench and watched Tree Swallows making regular return visits to the boxes feeding babies with insects. On the trail in we had been pleasantly surprised by the sudden appearance of a Bald Eagle swooping down and grasping a small mammal in his talons and lifting off. A mouse we guessed, however, rabbits were seen feeding in the meadows. On our way back we came across a lovely Barred Owl sitting in trees beside the trail. He let us stand quietly watching him for several minutes. Thrilled with all our day’s encounters we came home very satisfied but with no Purple Martins sightings.
We stood on top of the old “first fort’s” walls, we trod over thousands of old graves, we listened about other boxed graves that hung from huge cedar trees. We learned about the complex interactions between two different peoples meeting on the Fraser in 1824. Also, that trading and intermarriage were so very important to the peace and stability. Why did the fort move to its present location? Did the first nations also move up stream? We heard about the old town of Derby and viewed the town plan. Nearly 30,000 men were camped waiting for permits in 1858, – but for what? Where are the Kanaka’s descendants today? We laughed at the Houston family’s humorous stories.
Thanks Amin for a history talk that held everyone spellbound for nearly two hours!
HISTORY WALK- DERBY REACH PARK JUNE 11,
This year at the BC Nature Courteney/Comox AGM, I was fortunate enough to join one of the zodiac trips to Mitlenatch Island. The weather had looked iffy, but the island is situated in rain shadow and receives only 30 inches of precipitation per year giving us warm sunshine.
Scrambling up the beach and pulling off our heavy zodiac suits, we walked the low windswept bush “krumholtz” narrowed trails. The island radiated magic, peace, calmness beneath the cry of seabirds and warm sun. Captivated by the clean smell of the ocean and beautiful ocean scenery, we found many wild flowers and calling birds – including a Virginia Rail. Our two guides led us to the bird-blind view point to tell us about the nesting seabirds on this amazing island. The island’s nesters are – Glaucous-winged Gulls, Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants, Pigeon Guillemot and Oyster Catchers. Many Harlequin Ducks and Common Murre were also seen on the rocky shores.
Two volunteer live-in caretakers look after this remote island for a week at a time. Perched ten feet away from the caretaker’s cottage’s rustic sun-deck, were Common Murre, Oyster Catchers and Harlequin Ducks. The entrance to the cottage’s tiny cove was guarded by a colony of noisy Steller’s and California Sea Lions. I would have loved to have been a volunteer caretaker in the past. What a rare and amazing place to visit. Anne Gosse
Surrey Bend Park April 23, 2016
Nineteen people turned out for our walk in the brand new Surrey Bend Park. They had all waited until the noisy Grand Opening was over to come and see Surrey’s newest and largest park. We had a cloudy day with just a couple of sprinkles.
We started off on the trail through the lovely huge Cottonwood forest that was alive with bird life high in the canopy in some areas. The lovely big cottonwood trail was carpeted with Lilly of the Valley, Piggyback Plant plus several other wild flowers. Lots of lovely green mosses and ferns bordered the trail as well. We took a look at the Fraser River on a tiny beach and spoke to two fishermen who told us about catching Sturgeon at times – and of course releasing them. We heard lots of warblers high in the canopy, Robins, Song sparrows, and Towhees and on the long trail back we heard many Common Yellow Throat and Marsh Wrens and spotted Hummingbirds and Hawks. We all had an enjoyable day of discovery in a new park to explore and recorded 21 species of birds. Afterwards, several of us lunched on the picnic tables laughing and enjoying tall stories.
Brownie Troop Nature Walk with Langley Field Naturalist April 18th 2016
On a warm evening in Campbell Valley park, two Langley Field Naturalist members (Anne G & Joan T) greeted 13 young girls from a local Langley Guide/Brownie troop for a nature walk. Dressed in their orange and navy Brownie uniforms the girls seemed very eager to be off along the trails. Around the boardwalks we showed them wild flowers – Lilly of the Valley, Bleeding Heart and Salmon Berry, Skunk Cabbage. We also stopped to observe and listen to some birds and hear their calls. They were very interested in the Common Yellowthroat’s “witchy witchy” spring call and the Pacific Wren’s very long beautiful melody. However, these 8 and 9 year olds were the most intrigued with caterpillars found along ground on the path, reminding me of the saying “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, he became a beautiful butterfly”, making me reflect that soon, they as well, will bloom into more beautiful butterfly’s. At the end of the walk, they gathered around we two leaders to sing a chirpy Brownie “Sparks” thank you tune. Anne G
Pictures with permission of Brownie Troop
The Derby Reach Brae Island Parks Association’s spring Flower Walk took place on April 15th with leader Al Grass, a well-known local naturalist. Some of the participants included three young children, one baby, two dogs and several adults who enjoyed a morning of discovery finding many wild flowers. Star Flower and Hooker’s Fairy Bells gave us very good showings, as well as patches of Bleeding Heart and Yellow Violets – plus many more varieties. Al also told us a few interesting facts about the lovely beauties and we ended up with count of 32 different species of wild flowers and bushes. Our thanks to Al for leading us on this lovey spring walk of discovery.
Reifel Refuge February 8th, 2016. – …..After all birders help record the many species numbers, and habitats of birds!
On this day in Reifel, we four birders had just completed a marvelous morning of searching, finding, observing, and recording 44 different species; including three different species of owls!! Now, resting on a bench – one said O’my back, another O’my legs, another my lungs and one O my heart! But hey! it certainly never crossed our minds to stop our adventurous outdoor hobby!
We had been busy recording the many species of waterfowl on this sunny day. We had great views of a Rough -legged Hawk – peeks at a Saw-Whet Owl, two Great Horned Owls and a Barred Owl in Alaksen Research Facility. The Canada Geese and Sandhill Cranes were starting to pair up aggressively. We witnessed a Canada Goose try to wring a duck’s neck. Many Blue Herons were glumly eyeing each other on the slough in preparation for mate selection and nesting.
On this sunny Family Day, Reifel Bird Sanctuary was filling fast with young families – in fact a long line-up of cars and people clogged all entrances as we exited. After our lunch in the warming hut, we left the sanctuary to the families, and set off for home to share our findings on ebird courtesy of Nora – affirming that yes, birders lives matter!