Morseby Explorers Tour August 23 to August 26th, 2016

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The first Europeans who sailed in front of the native villages lining the shores of Hiada Gwaii must have been awe-struck and astonished at the rows of large colorful long-houses, the huge entrance door poles, the many tall clan and ceremonial totem poles – along with the intricately carved canoes. Our goal was to visit these ancient villages – plus see the wild life and experience these mystic and remote islands.

Our Morseby Explorer four-day adventure started as we disembarked the walk-on ferry across Alliard Bay from Skidegate to Sandspit.  With our tour leader and eight other companions assembled we drove along a long dirt road into Morseby Camp where the company’s zodiacs, kayaks and gear were stored. There we were outfitted with rubber boots, rubbers overalls, rubbers coats and a life jacket; – ours for the next four days; they were heavy.

Day 1. – The zodiac had two rows of padded seats facing front-wards that you straddled between your legs with sturdy handles in front to hold on to.  Off we cruised down the Cumshewa Inlet into the Selwyn Inlets heading towards the first native village of Skedans – now called Kuuna.  As a protection from plunder and heft the Hiada have formed a group called “The Watchman” who live at the old ancient sites to greet boating visitors.  Mary, our Watchman at Skedans, led us on a guided tour of this ancient first nations village with its many falling totem poles.  Most of the poles were leaning over, falling and rotting away. The site was once a huge village and home to quite a large population pre 1840.  Although there were not any standing structures now, you could still see the fallen logs and remnants of where large homes used to be.

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Then, on to the floating lodge for the night which was half-way down Gwaii Haanus near Tanu Island. The floating lodge was very comfortable and staffed by two young ladies who fed us some amazingly good food. While there, we watched a group of large Risso’s Dolphin’s feeding in the front waters.       Picture old Tanu 

Day 2 – Early next morning, with our bed sheets, and lunches we geared up for our journey around the exposed headland towards Rose Harbor. We went through the beautiful Burnaby Narrows where we had lunch on a remote lonely beautiful beach.  Then it was off through Skincuttle Inlet towards Benjamin Point to navigate around the headland to our remote and rustic accommodations in Rose Harbour.  On the way we watched several Humpback whales breeching. We also saw White-Sided Dolphins, lots of sea birds such as Surf Scoters, Murrelets, Harliquin Ducks and Oyster Catchers.

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Rose Harbour, was an old whaling station from the early 1900’s near the tip of Gwaii Haanas.  Around the harbor’s beaches, scattered everywhere, were all kinds of old ruins; red brick buildings, rusty drums, large containers, and odd whaling station items. Our old lodge had very basic plank beds, good heavy blankets, and outside toilets –  with ice cream buckets for night time use.  Susan, our Rose Harbour cook, served a tasty supper outside on a round table in the warm sunshine.  Susan and Gutz have lived at Rose Harbor for 30 and 34 years respectively.

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Day 3.  Next morning, after a great breakfast by Susan we set off for home by rounding the exposed headland of Benjamin Point again.  However, the wind and waves were building higher and higher as we proceeded – with white caps spraying heavily backwards their tops stinging and lashing our eyes and faces.  The zodiac fought to crest each large roller and then ski down – before climbing the next. After an intense two and a half hours in these heavy rough seas, we finally reached the shelter of the inner islands and a beach.  Everyone was shivering from the wet, the cold wind and the frightening sea.  Everything was soaking so we tried to dry ourselves and put on whatever dry clothes we could find. We then spread out our wet clothes over the rocks to dry in the sunshine.  After a rest we set off for the floating lodge to get warm and recover.

Day 4.  Our final stop for lunch was at the lovely ancient native village of Tanu now called Taanuu.  It was my favorite place.  It was situated in two half-moon bays with beautiful beaches in warm sunshine. We also walked to a lovely waterfall.  At one time, there were between 25 to 40 longhouses in Tanu and it had been a larger village than Skedans – but did not have any carved totem poles left.  Little is left standing at T’aanuu Llnagaay, but today the spirit of the place is still strong.  The house depressions and moss-covered house posts leave a good sense of the layout of this fairly large village.  We were back at our Morseby Camp by 3:30 pm for the long drive to the Alliford Ferry.  A great and memorable trip.Photo 2016-08-25, 1 09 36 PM.jpg

 

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BRAE ISLAND REGIONAL PARK – LFN SUMMER WALK AUGUST 10TH

IMG_5001BRAE 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

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EVENING BAT WALK – JULY 20, 2016

EVENDSCN6224ING 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!

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The Eagle and Owl, June 16, 2016

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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.

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HISTORY WALK- DERBY REACH PARK, JUNE 11, 2016

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 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!

 

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Mitlenatch Nature Provincial Park- May 17, 2016

 

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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

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Surrey Bend Park April 23, 2016

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.P1000513P1000519P1000518

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Brownie Troop Nature Walk – LFN 2016

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 TroopP1000456.JPGP1000463.JPG

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DRBIPA Spring Flower Walk April 15,2016

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.

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Sumas Prairie, Chilliwack April 9th 2016, 24 Celsus

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