Desolation Sound (aboard the Misty Isles)

Desolation Sound (aboard the Misty Isles)
by Howard and Lois Bridger
, 23 July 2022

Leaving Lund at full capacity with twelve passengers, our Captain Jonas and assistant Tosh.

We couldn’t have asked for a nicer day. The temperature was perfect and the few clouds were scattered over the mountain tops. We motored around Sarah Pt., past the Curme Islands to Prideaux Haven where we discovered we were not alone.

Referred to, by Jonas, as “the parking lot” for good reason.  It seems Desolation Sound is a popular spot!  Fortunately, this trip is all about the spectacular scenery of which there was plenty.

Many small islands, narrow channels and the majestic coastal mountains filled our views. Jonas and Tosh regaled us with many stories of First Nations, early settlers and the natural history of the surrounding area.

Sightings included, Marbled Murrelets, Pigeon Guillemots, Bald Eagles, Harlequin Ducks, nesting Gulls, Pelagic Cormorants, stunted Old Growth forests on rocky islands, a seal nursery, many stands of beautiful and large Arbutus trees and more.  We arrived back in Lund feeling relaxed and saturated with coastal beauty.

 

Low tide exploration (aboard the Misty Isles)

Low tide exploration (aboard the Misty Isles)
by Howard and Lois Bridger
, 26 June 2022

It was a fair weather day as the Misty Isles, with Captain Jonas, naturalist George Sirk and a full contingent of twelve naturalists headed out from land towards Hernando Reef.

Bird sightings included, a pair of rarely seen Caspian Terns, a Peregrine Falcon, Kingfisher, Harlequin Ducks, Purple Martins, Nesting Glaucous-winged Gulls, Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants, Pigeon Guillemots, Bald Eagles, Turkey Vultures, Ravens, Crows, and more.

Stellar Sea lions, Harbour Porpoise and Seals were also sighted.  Using the zodiac we were escorted to the reef where we disembarked and spent several enchanting hours exploring the reef off of Hernando Island.

Sharon Shultz donned her wet suit and snorkeling gear to see what treasures awaited in the deeper depths.  The reef was abound with intertidal life; many crabs, bivalves, corals, sponge, jellyfish, fish, sea stars, barnacles, hydroids, seaweeds and seagrasses.  On our way back to the harbour we cruised the East side of Hernando Island past the Twin Islands off of Cortez, around the Powell Islets and back through the Copelands.

Another adventure aboard the Misty Isles comes to an end.

 

Streams and Trees

Streams and Trees
by Tom Koleszar
, 29 May 2022

Fifteen club members headed into the back country to learn about riparian areas and find some big trees.  After leaving Lang Bay, we drove for an hour to get to the canoe route portage at the head of Windsor Lake.  Here we parked and walked the ~1km route down to the lake, learning about the stream running through the valley and the forests around it.  Most of the area around the stream has never been logged but was burned ~120 years ago, leaving some very interesting snags behind!  We had lunch down at Windsor Lake before heading back up to the vehicles and on to our second stop.

To get to our second stop – the big trees – we had to go a few km down the Rainbow Main, then up an unused spur road that Nancy and I had previously cleared out – and it’s a good thing I had my saw as I had to clear it again to get the vehicles through!  At this stop we saw a group of very old, very tall (~80m) Douglas Firs.  This area was burned ~90 years ago, and most of the forest dates from that time, except for a handful of old giants!  Though these trees are not large enough to be protected by the provincial government big tree regulations (the largest was “only” 2.05m in diameter) they are being protected by the TFL holder Western Forest Products.  We were able to clamber up the steep hillside to get up close and personal with the trees and measure their diameters. Nancy described the trees and the area history for us, and measured one of the tree’s height for a guessing contest – which David Bedry won!

 

Mitlenatch (aboard the Misty Isles)

Mitlenatch (aboard the Misty Isles)
by Sharon Shultz
, 7 May 2022

The Misty Isles, her Captain Jonas Fineman and Naturalist George Sirk picked us up at the Lund Marina and took us on a lovely day trip to Mitlenatch Island. Twenty seven (27) species of birds were spotted during our trip. The camas, monkey flowers and sea blush were in full bloom as well as many other plants. The weather held until we returned to Lund. Twelve club members enjoyed this trip and each other’s company for the day. Here are some of their comments:

● Impressions of the trip:
○ Very knowledgeable guide and captain which added so much fun and interest to the trip.
○ The trip was very well organized and we were very well informed about safety as well as where we were going.
○ Very relaxing and laid back.
○ Amazing trip, gorgeous scenery, knowledgeable guides.
○ Can’t wait to go on the next wonderful Misty Isles trip. I learned so much in such an entertaining way from George.
○ My third trip to Mitlenatch Island and continues to be amazing…new info, new friends, fabulous.
○ Wonderful trip, George gave a wonderful explanation of the gulls, how they train their chicks and how they protect their property (spot).
○ My third trip on “Misty”, interesting conversation, a lovely day as usual.

● One thing I learned was:
○ What the Camas was used by First Nations & How seagulls breed.
○ Camas bulbs were edible and used by natives for many years.
○ The difference between Pelagic and Double Crested Cormorants is that at breeding time the Pelagic have white feathers which show when they fly.
○ Learned how to recognize Blue Camas and Death Camas and also sea blush.
○ Red dot on seagull’s nose is chick bullseye to peck and cause regurgitation of food.
○ The hierarchy and separation of species while living in close proximity to each other.
○ Plant life was very diverse – much more than I imagined. I was surprised to see the prickly pear cactus. Would love to make many more trips to witness the various flower seasons. Also loved learning about the history of the island. Loved George’s stories about his experiences on the island as well as his knowledge about the flora and fauna.

 

 

Mrs and Mr Moss – getting to know them

Mrs and Mr Moss – getting to know them
by Tom Koleszar
, 1 May 2022

Fifteen of us gathered at the Inland Lake parking area to begin to get to know the mosses of this area with trip leader Rod Tysdal.  Rod is a retired forester, and spent the last few months delving into the world of mosses – buying new books and dusting off old ones – to prepare for this trip.   Before we started out, he gave us an introductory talk aided by samples and other materials in the back of his truck.

We then proceed around the lake to the Lost Lake Trail, looking at mosses in the forest on the open rocky areas and collecting samples of many different kinds as we went.  Rod provided us with a guide sheet including a little songs entitled “Hylocomium Splendens” which we sang to the tune of “I’ve been everywhere, Man”.  Its probably just as well there was no one else on the trail to hear us!  Once we reached Lost Lake, we gathered together all our samples and learn to identify them and a little bit about their different natures.

We topped it off with lunch at Lost Lake, enjoying the scenery and more discussions about mosses and other things before heading back.  Rod did his usual wonderful job, and everyone really enjoyed the trip.   A special thanks to Rod, and also to Nancy Pezel for coordinating the trip.

 

Birding by Ear (Part XI)

Birding by Ear (Part XI)
by Andrew Bryant
, 30 Apr 2022

Nine of us gathered at the Italian Hall to marvel at the wonders of spring migration – with an expert.

Iwan van Veen was at the top of his game and I think we had 20+ species before leaving the parking lot.  He kept careful track and by days end had recorded 35 species.  His eBird report is here.

For me the highlights were the Townsend’s Solitaire, not seeing any smoke coming from the mill!

Ken & Kathie Pritchard – “Passionate about our feathered friends”

Ken & Kathie Pritchard – “Passionate about our feathered friends”
by Andrew Bryant, 17 Apr 2022.

In only our 2nd “in person” meeting since last November, Ken and Kathie Pritchard came to speak to us about their passion for birds.

There was no concert upstairs this time – but we again had some technical issues with the Zoom meeting, and not many stayed to the end.

For the 20-30 persons who attended in person, it was a terrific talk.  Ken got the ball rolling with a very professionally-done short video (see below).  Kathie then took over and took us on a virtual tour “Powell River birding though the seasons“.   In between we learned LOTS of helpful tips about identifying (and photographing) local birds.

Once again the photography, and the delivery,  was exceptional.  Check out the video!

Watch now

 

 

Aimee Mitchell & Chris Currie – “Species and ecosystems at risk”

Aimee Mitchell & Chris Currie – “Species and ecosystems at risk”
by Andrew Bryant, 17 Mar 2022.

In our first “in person” meeting since last November, Aimee Mitchell and Chris Currie came to speak to us about local endangered species and ecosystems.

The good news is that it was nice to see familiar faces (although most of us were still wearing masks).  The bad news is that hosting our meeting on Saint Patrick’s Day meant that there was a live music concert going on upstairs – which made listening conditions terrible.  Our new wireless headset microphone worked, but sadly the internet connection dropped out.  Most viewers visiting via Zoom quickly gave up in frustration.

For the 20-30 persons who attended in person, we learned that Chris and Aimee have been very busy indeed!  From Red-legged Frogs to Western Screech owls to Little Brown Bats, all of these species have fascinating life-history traits.  I’d forgotten that these bats, for example, have only one pup each year…but can live to be 30 years!

It was a good talk under trying circumstances – and we have some planning and technical challenges to solve!

 

 

 

Winnie Ferrier – “The Great Backyard Bird Count”

by Winnie Ferrier, 6 March 2022.

The Global GBBC (Great Backyard Bird Count) celebrated its 25th anniversary this year in February.  For me it was just one year ago that I tentatively recorded in a notebook bird sightings from my yard, and for the first time put into my computer the species and numbers onto eBird.  I spent half an hour each morning and afternoon of the four days of the GBBC observing birds and accumulated 15 species, and a total of 147 birds.

I have learned so much since then.  Firstly, it doesn’t have to be just in my yard that I count birds for the GBBC.  It can be anywhere in my neighborhood or community.  So this year over the four days I submitted 9 checklists – 2 from looking out of my home window, 3 from walks around my neighborhood, and I went birding to Cranberry Lake, Myrtle Rocks, Brew Bay, and the Beach Gardens Marina.

I was fortunate enough this past year to participate in a Zoom course through Rocky Point Bird Observatory in Victoria that gave me the confidence to tally birds on my  iPhone using an eBird app – I’ve been inputting the birds that I observe on outings ever since!  Me – who has always been intimidated by anything “techy”!  My observation times for the GBBC this year ranged from 15 minutes to 1 ¾ hour each.  I had a terrific time with binoculars on my front, a backpack on my back and my point-and-shoot camera over my shoulder.  I felt like an adventurer, excited about what I might see next.  My goal was to try and find some birds that I hadn’t seen before. I was gratified in that I found three that were new to me.  In total I recorded 38 species and 863 birds in total.

I look back from just a year ago and celebrate my successes!

 

 

Andrew Bryant – “A visit to the Cook Islands”

Andrew Bryant – “A visit to the Cook Islands”
by Andrew Bryant, 17 Feb 2022.

Having dated for a few months, I invited my “lady friend” Heather to spend three weeks exploring the Cook Islands back in November of 2000.

This happened because because another well-travelled friend said: “listen, Andrew, just go:  It’s like Tahiti was 30 years ago.  And what Hawaii was like 100 years ago.  You’d love it.  And you look like you need a holiday.”  Having just started the captive breeding program for Vancouver Island marmots (1997), completing my PhD (1998) and unsure of whether any of my conservation work would make any difference at all…this seemed like sage advice.

So off we went.  We left on Halloween of 2000.  We crossed the International Date line…so arrived on 1 Nov.

Twenty-two years later I had much fun digitizing old 35 mm slides and trying to learn this new Zoom technology.  I’m pleased at how the slides turned out.  The Zoom format presented some challenges because my internet connection failed on the flight between Rarotonga and Atiu,..but the audience stayed with with me as we continued to Aitutaki and Motorokau (leper island).

What a trip!  Rarotonga Flycatchers, Chattering Kingfishers, Atiu swiftlets, and so many other “once-in-a lifetime” species.  In the course of looking up Gerald McCormack in order to learn whether he’s still alive…

Well, not only is alive, he’s looking very fit and happy.  And so is the website that he built…which is the only way I could have identified many of the species you just saw.

Oh.  Heather and I married on 11 November 2002.  I figured that was one date  I could remember.

 

 

Sentinal-2 map for Avenza

  1. Download and install Avenza Maps on your smart-phone.  You can do this directly from your phone using the “app store” or “google play” (depending on whether you have an android or iphone device).
  2. Download the Sentinal-2 image.
  3. Follow the “import a map” instructions found here.  I found it easiest to download and save the map in “Dropbox” and then install the map from there.  But you could also email it to yourself (although at 23 MB this is a large file).

Notes about the map.

It made sense for me to create a larger map than the existing Powell River Recreation Map.  You can get that map directly from Avenza (it’s free but you’ll need to set up an account in order to download it).  I wanted a larger map because while I’m not as adventuresome as some, I still occasionally venture as far as Mitlenatch or Savory or Mount Washington.  And if I’m hiking I like to see those contour lines!

This is a Sentinal-2 image made on 6 Sept 2019.   The file is a “georeferenced” PDF document, which means that Avenza Maps will “know where it is” on planet Earth.  Apart from rivers and contour lines, the only other thing I’ve added to this image is the City of Powell River municipal boundary.  The resolution is 10 metres.  In practice I have both maps installed and switch between them depending on whether or not I want to see roads.

All you need to do is to save the file somewhere where Avenza Maps can find  it.  “Dropbox” worked nicely for me.

Enjoy!

Click to enlarge…but note that the PDF version is much, much larger

Heather Harbord – “A visit to Bathurst Inlet”

Heather Harbord – “A visit to Bathurst Inlet”
by Andrew Bryant, 20 Jan 2022.

Long-time club member Heather Harbord stepped in at short notice to share details of her trip to Bathurst Inlet Lodge back in 2005.

Not only did she learn how to utilize Zoom effectively, she invited Page Burt, who’s served as staff naturalist at that very lodge for decades, to join in…from her home in Rankin Inlet!   Page is author of Barrenland Beauties: showy plants of the arctic coast (1991) and an exceptional photographer.

So for members who tuned in, we had an unusual speaker’s event.  We had Heather’s experience of visiting a very out-of-the-way place on Canada’s north coast combined with Page’s experience of living and working in that remote environment for several decades.

Wow.  From caribou to kayaks, peregrines to painted cups, we got to see a lot!

 

 

Bruce Nidle – “Riparian Areas”

Bruce Nidle – “Riparian Areas”
by Andrew Bryant, 18 Nov 2021.

Bruce Nidle is a Registered Professional Biologist with over 35 years of experience in environmental assessment, habitat inventory, stormwater management, and single/multi-family urban development projects.  He presently works for PGL Environmental Consultants of Vancouver.

He spoke to us about “riparian areas”.  What they are, why they’re important, what threatens them, and what legislation we have in British Columbia to protect them.

Riparian areas are important for many reasons, not least of which is that they provide habitat for a myriad of creatures!

 

 

 

How to sign and send your membership waiver

  1. find the Informed consent and  waiver document and save that document to your computer desktop.  (Hint: right-click on the link and “save link as…”)
  2. Open the saved document using Adobe Reader.  If you don’t happen to have Adobe Reader already installed on your computer, it’s free to download and install from https://get.adobe.com/reader/
  3. Open the document with Adobe Reader.  Click the “sign” tab at the top right and select the “add text” tool.
  4. Type in your name, mailing address, phone number, email address and emergency contact information.  Use the “add Checkmark” tool to select whether you want to receive the biweekly newsletter.  To sign the document you can use the “add text” tool and type your name again.  If you want to get fancy you can use a different font, but it’s not necessary.  Save your edits.  Saving the document as “John Doe signed” will work just fine (but use your own name).  Note that your signature is required in two places on this document.  It also needs your full name, mailing address, email, phone number, and emergency contact information.  This is important in these Covid-19 times!!!
  5. When you’re done editing, save it “as a new document”.  If you name  it something like “John Doe signed” then it makes it easy to stay organized.  Create a new email to the club addressed to Malaspinanats@gmail.com, attach the John Doe signed file to that email, hit the send button and you’re done.

Trust me it’s EASY — just like these guys!

Brewer’s Blackbird, my backyard, 26 October 2021
– A Bryant

Ryan Thoms – “The 1946 Vancouver Island Earthquake”

Ryan Thoms – “The 1946 Vancouver Island Earthquake”
by Andrew Bryant, 21 Oct 2021.

After many years with the BC Wildfire Service, Ryan Thoms now lives in Powell River and is manager of the qathet Regional District’s Regional Emergency Preparedness Service.

His topic was apt, for not many remember the Vancouver Island earthquake of 1946.  Fortunately the local damage was not severe.  Some chimneys were toppled, and the school was damaged.  But residents were fortunate.  The fact that it happened at 10:13 AM on a Sunday in June meant that most people were home.  Had it occurred on a weekday in January things might have been quite different.

Beginning with historical images and newspaper accounts, Ryan took our understanding of the event to a new level with application of modern geophysical methods.  There were a few surprises.  I was unaware, for example, that there was a freshwater tsunami on Powell Lake, and a substantial “debris flow avalanche” just off Grief Point.

History is indeed surprising…and please take warning…often repeats itself!

 

 

 

Lang Bay Hatchery and Nature Garden

Lang Bay Hatchery and Nature Garden
by David Bedry
, 17 October 2021

We met at Lang creek on a drizzly morning where we were met by Phil and Tesarlatwo of the hatchery’s staff.  With our overnight down pour they had been up all night.  They had been monitoring the rising creek levels and keeping the water intake for the building free of debris.

Phil gave an introductory talk about the facility.  It is where eggs and milt are harvested from the fish.  The eggs and milt are then transported to the hatchery which is at the paper mill.  Four species return to Lang creek.  Pink salmon are left to spawn on their own while chinook, coho and chum are sorted and stored in the egg take collection building.  Eggs are harvested when the eggs mature for the different species.  Chinook mature first followed by the chum and then the coho.

All the fish are diverted through the building where a count of the fish occurs. After the eggs and milt of selected fish of each species are collected, the rest of the fish in storage are released back to the creek to continue their trip up the creek to spawn on their own.

Micheal Stewart then gave a talk on the Native Plant Garden which is beside the parking lot.  A recent donation from Powell River Community Forest allowed the Naitive plant society to install new plant identification signs.

 

Mike Moore – “Pacific Giant Octopus”

Mike Moore – “Pacific Giant Octopus”
by Andrew Bryant, 23 Sept 2021.

Mike Moore, who many members will remember as the former owner and skipper of the Misty Isles, returned to speak again to speak to us at our first event held in our new venue at the Royal Canadian Legion.

We began with a short  (15 minute) Annual General Meeting (the AGM minutes are here).  We had a few hiccups as we learned the “lay of the land” and  employed our new Covid-19 protocols.  Then  we dimmed the lights, Mike took over and we entered the world of a genuine sea monster, the Pacific Giant Octopus.  The old adage that  “truth is stranger than fiction”, is indeed especially true of these guys!

The color-changing, jet- propelling giant Pacific octopus is a brainy beauty that can disappear in the blink of an eye. Its magic tricks are surprising.  They’re strong,  and can open jars and crab traps.  They’re big (the record is about 600 pounds), but can squeeze into amazing small spaces.

Welsome back Mike, and thanks for a wonderful talk!

Here’s a nice little 5 minute video about the world’s largest octupus, courtesy of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  You need to hit the “play” button to see it.  Note that there’s another button that will allow you to see it in “full screen” mode (recommended).

 

Notice regarding membership – 2021-22

by Cindy Dalcourt (President), 3 Sept 2021.

IMPORTANT NOTICE REGARDING MEMBERSHIP — EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY
MALASPINA NATURALIST CLUB
A.G.M. & Speaker: Mike Moore — “Pacific Giant Octopus
7:00 p.m. Thursday Sept. 23, 2021 (doors open at 6:30)
NOTE our new meeting location!!!

Royal Canadian Legion Branch 164

6811 Alexander St

(You enter the parking lot & building from Willingdon Ave).

Masks must be worn and vaccination records presented

 

We’re all looking forward to meeting in person again after so many months under public health restrictions.  This fall however, there will be some changes necessitated by Covid regulations and increased operating costs.  We had to find an alternative venue to hold our monthly meetings — resulting in a threefold increase in hall rental costs.  We were also faced with securing insurance  to cover the increased operating risks in the club.  We elected to do so under BC Nature (Federation of B.C. Naturalists).  By so doing all our members also become BC Nature members – with all the benefits that come with it.

To cover these extra expenses we’re raising our annual membership fee from $20 to $30 per person.  Children (18 and under) of adult members are still free to join.  Please note that this is the first increase in club fees since 2016, and  our fee is still below the average of $35 for naturalists clubs in B.C.  You are also required to sign this waiver form upon creation or renewal of your membership. You can either print and return this at your first meeting or mail it to the address noted on the form.  Copies will also be available at the A.G.M.

We’ve had excellent response from members who have used e-transfer for club transactions, and we encourage this because it makes transactions contactless.   It’s easy.  Simply add malaspinatreasurer@gmail.com as a payee to your online banking account and you can renew your membership now.  Please include your name and contact info (address, phone number and email address) in the comments section so we can confirm payment.

Of course membership dues can still be collected at the door for those who wish to pay by cheque or cash (exact amount appreciated).

Until Covid restrictions are eased, the seating capacity at the Legion is 54 people  with chairs widely spaced.  The capacity would be 108 with no Covid restrictions.  Seats will be filled on a first-come-first-served basis with priority given to fully paid members.  We can no longer allow people to drop in for free.  Non-members will be charged $5 at the door if space is available.  In keeping with public health guidelines (as well as for insurance purposes) all attendees must now sign in for every meeting.  Unfortunately no drinks or refreshments will be available at this time.  We’re looking into the possibility of having our meeting and speaker’s presentations available via Zoom.  As always we welcome any questions, comments or suggestions you may have.

Cindy Dalcourt
President

 

 

Andrew Bryant – “I’ve been wearing a mask”

by Andrew Bryant, 29 August 2021.

So, thought…well if I have to wear a mask anyways…

Why not make it a snorkel?  I’ve been out pretty much every day since 15 June.  I’m not a marine biologist.  And I’ve probably not even found the best local snorkeling spots yet.  Willingdon Beach is a marvellous Powell River asset.  You can always find a helpful child to point that “elephant-head” water feature at you and thus rinse off the salt.

My first encounter with a “moon jelly” on 21 June demanded that I buy a proper underwater camera.  The first camera was a bust.  The 2nd camera is a keeper.  Now I need to get over the fact that I know very little about what I’m photographing.

Yup.  I feel like I’m a non-birdwatcher showing up in Algonquin in May of 1984.  Again.

 

 

Mitlenatch day-trip

Mitlenatch day-trip
by Winnie Ferrier
, 24 August 2021

Eleven of us arrived at 10:00 am in Lund to meet Misty Isles for a day on Mitlenatch.  The day was sunny and the ocean calm. After a safety talk by Jonas, our skipper, we were underway.  As we journeyed we were given archeological and historical facts of Mitlenatch by George, our guide for the day.  George was an employed Naturalist on Mitlenatch from 1969 to 1971 and told us many interesting and entertaining stories.  Jonas offered everyone a hot drink and homemade cookies baked by his wife, Amy.  As we passed Major Island we viewed harbour seals lounging on the rocks, and a pod of   porpoises appeared off our port side.

We were greeted on arrival at Mitlenatch around noon by the waving on shore of three volunteer wardens; Shirley Cole, Janet Southcott and Janet May. They are all members of the Malaspina Naturalist Club and gave us a grand tour of the island, including their quaint and tidy cabin.  George informed us that he had built the extra room on the cabin in 1969, calling it his honeymoon suite, as the original cabin had only room for a single bed, and he was living there with his new bride.

We were walked to the bird blind to watch glaucous-winged gulls with their new broods that would have hatched around July 1st.

Many of the flowers on the island had gone to seed but we did see yellow flowering gumweed, and plants of prickly pear cactus and Oregon sunshine.

Jonas shuttled us back to our anchored Misty Isles in the dingy and a few of us took a refreshing swim off of the boat.  Next we circumnavigated Mitlenatch, scanning for birds and sea life. These included numerous Double-crested and Pelagic cormorants around the cliffs where they nest, Black Oystercatchers, and a colony of Stellar’s sea lions. We were fortunate to see a migrating peregrine falcon hidden in the shadows of a rock face. George enthusiastically pointed out two surfbirds just as our boat pulled away from the island.  We made our way back to Lund, arriving around 5:30 pm. After hardy thanks to Jonas and George we set off to our vehicles while the Misty Isles made her return to Cortez Island.

 

Alpine Adventure #4 – Ironface

Alpine Adventure #4 – Ironface
by Tom Koleszar
, 14 August 2021

After being rained out last week, we got out today.  The wildfire smoke threatened, but we were largely clear in the mountains further from the coast.

Twenty members were landed by helicopter at 1660 metres elevation in the meadows between Ironface Peak and Mount Alfred.  The weather was sunny and warm with some smoke drifting in during the afternoon.  After everyone was assembled at our destination, we spent a hour before lunch learning about the geology (several interesting rock samples were spirited away into backpacks!) and the flora of the area.  At that elevation few trees – mostly mountain hemlock – were present, but we did identify several kinds of wildflowers and other plants.  Due to the later trip date and dry summer we were passed the peak flower time, however.

A few birds were seen, and some bear scat was spotted – but the most abundant wildlife encounters were of the “flying insect” variety.

After an enjoyable lunch in the meadows, we had a couple of hours of free time to explore, and many started out by making snow angels in one of the remaining snow patches (yes, we are still kids at heart!)  After that, people wandered the area around the meadows and along the ridge, and one even made it all the way to the peak of Ironface (1920m).

All in all, a great day was had by everyone.  Thanks again to our drivers who got everyone to the staging area safely and to Nancy for bring the extra helicopter fuel, and especially to Tag, our Oceanview Helicopters pilot, who got everyone on and off the mountain safely.

 

Misty Isles low tide trip

Misty Isles low tide trip
by Tom Koleszar
, 24 July 2021

On a nice sunny day, 9 naturalists set sail with Captain Jonas and Naturalist George Sirk on the Misty Isles for a tour of the Hernando Reefs on a very low tide.

On the way they passed by Major Rock with all its bird and marine life.  Many different species were spotted there and throughout the day – George even got quite excited about some of them!

Arriving at the reef, Misty Isles anchored offshore and everyone was taken to shore by zodiac.  There they spent several hours exploring the reef and all its life – copious marine plants and crabs, sea stars, and even a sea cucumber and baby seal!

You had to get your feet wet on this trip and some wonderful underwater photos were taken.  After returning to the boat, everyone had time for a swim before beginning the return journey.  On the way home, they sailed past the Copeland Islands, witnessing yet more birds and seals.

Everyone was very happy to have had a wonderful day on the water.  Many thanks to Jonah and George for making the day possible!

 

Life’s a beach

Life’s a beach
by Tom Koleszar
, 18 July 2021

After being postponed due to heat two weeks ago, we finally got to go on our beach field trip on Sunday.  The tide was nice and low, and the day warm and sunny (but not too hot!)

Michael Stewart lead us on a walk along the beach at Lang Bay, learning about beach life and finding many interesting things in the sand, amongst the rocks, and in the tide pools.  David Bedry added to the afternoon by helping us explore the sand in more depth and learn more of the shellfish, too.  We also found out a little bit about the nature of beach sands and how they move and evolve.

All in all, it was a wonderful day at the beach, and thanks again to the trip leaders for such an informative day.

Desolation Sound

Desolation Sound
by Pat Karis
, 13 June 2021

Eight Malaspina Naturalists arrived at Lund to take a boat trip to Desolation Sound.  Our captain ”extra-ordinairre” Jonas shared with us that he had left Whale Town on Cortez Island, that morning, 2 and a half hours prior to arriving in Lund…at 9:45.

After a few minutes of instruction around protocol inside and outside of the boat, we proceeded to get settled — unloading our gear and finding a comfortable place to sit.  There were outer decks open to all with lots of seating space.  Sitting inside was also an option that one member chose.  A little history about the Misty Isles ~ she is 43 feet in length and is a GAFF rigged schooner with a certified capacity for 12 passengers and two crew members.  She is also a ”well-loved and respected member of the west coast maritime community and a Desolation Sound icon !!

Shortly after leaving Lund, we headed north into the Copeland Islands where we drifted past many historically significant landmarks.  The weather was warm and overcast, to begin with, with many changing cloud formations floating past us above.  Later on, we ventured into Prideaux Haven, where we dropped anchor for lunch.  One of our very hot crew members, Sharon, decided to dive off the top of the boat, cooling off in the ocean waters.  We enjoyed our lunches that we brought.  Jonas’s wife surprised us with individual packages of cookies that she had baked just for us., to be served with the tea/coffee that was provided by the Misty Isles.  Yum, delicious — what a nice treat!!

Indeed, the Misty Isles is well maintained and very comfortable.  And the hospitality and knowledge of our host/captain was very impressive.  At times the boat was put on automatic pilot, so Jonas could mingle with us and point out places of interest.  At one point, we decided to venture up to and into Refuge Cove.  Unfortunately, our schedule/time didn’t allow us time to disembark from the the ship, but we did have time to sail in past some of the local shops and landmarks, etc.   Next Time!!

After a full day of being out on the water, our crew sailed back into Lund.  A great day was had by all .. thank-you, Misty Isles for another awesome day out on the water — we’ll tell our friends and other members what a great time we had !!

 

 

Fun with ferns

Fun with ferns
by Tom Koleszar
, 5 June 2021

On Saturday eight intrepid members of the Naturalist Club braved the weather to explore the world of ferns with trip leader Rod Tysdal.

Rod is a retired forester, and he dusted off a lot of his old knowledge – and even bought a new book – to prepare for this trip.  Before we started out, we had a little test on fern identification – which a few of us even passed!

Rod provided us with a little guide sheet (complete with original poetry), then led us on a wonderful guided walk up Blackwater Creek to David Lam Falls looking at ferns (and other forest life) all along the way.  We learned how to identify several different kinds of ferns ( Licorice, Deer, Sword, Spiney Wood, Bracken, and Lady ferns), as well has where they like to live and how they propagate.

We topped it off with lunch at David Lam Falls, enjoying the waterfall scenery before heading back to the vehicles.  Rod did a wonderful job, and everyone really enjoyed the trip.  We hope we can entice him back for more trips in the future!  Thanks Rod!  And a special thanks to his wife Vicki who assisted Rod on the trip, and had to put up with him during all his preparations!

 

 

Ken Marr – “New plant discoveries from the northern BC alpine”

Ken Marr – “New plant discoveries from the northern BC alpine”
by Heather Harbord, 20 May 2021.

Dr. Ken Marr, Curator of Botany at the Royal BC Museum, and one of the Club’s first speakers, gave a fascinating account of his research on the Alpine plants of Northern BC especially in the area east of highway 37.  This is a remote and expensive area to reach.

Alpine areas, which are determined by the lack of trees, have been scraped and carved by glaciers.  Plants like moss campion Silene acaulis are the first to grow on the wind swept soils.  They grow in cushions which encourage other vegetation to establish themselves close by.  Except for a few quick growing annuals, most alpine plants are perennials.  Survival depends on their ability to tolerate an extreme climate from sub-zero temperatures to 30°C heat.

During the field trip season which only lasts for two-three weeks a year, the crew fly in by helicopter or float plane and establish a camp including facilities for drying specimens.  They usually cover about four mountains, though they have done up to eight.  Each team carries a radio and a GPS and communicate with each other every two hours.  Visiting as many different habitats as possible, they collect 130-200 of the 400 species so far recorded in the area.  Orchids, yellow poppies, several louseworts, and purple gentians are among the many treasures they find.

Once back at the museum, they write up their notes of where and when each specimen was collected so that this information can be shared with other researchers around the world.  Like parallel researchers of mammals, they are beginning to think that there may have been more glacial refugia than had previously been thought.  Alpine Plants of BC, Alberta and NW North America by MacKinnon and Pojar and published by Lone Pine is a useful resource.

 

 

Birding by Ear – Part X

Birding by Ear – Part X
by Andrew Bryant
, 8 May 2021

Some field-trips will be remembered for being “pre COVID” and some will be remembered as being “post COVID”.   And frankly, birds don’t care.

Accordingly, Pierre and I took 8 members over 7 km of uneven terrain and had a great day over an area formerly known as the “Wildwood Bluffs”. Pierre writes: “It was a good outing the other day. People seemed more focused than in the past and there was real interest in learning something out of it.”

I don’t have a species/abundance list.  I was supposed to get one via e-Bird, but…it didn’t happen.  UPDATE 10 July 2021: It took a while, but here it is!

So here you get one person’s impression of a fine day out.  And it WAS…a fine day out.   I’m not a “bad” birder…but placed side by side by Pierre, well we would have gotten the common stuff…but would have missed most of it!

Accordingly, next year we’ll be starting a wee bit earlier…at 0630.

 

 

Chris Mann – “What are Exoplanets and how are they studied?”

Chris Mann – “What are Exoplanets and how are they studied?”
by Tom Koleszar, 21 Jan 2021.

Chris is a PhD student at the Université de Montréal (UdeM) currently studying extra-solar planets, or “exoplanets.” His talk started with an introduction to the domains of astronomy and the methods used in the study of the cosmos. He then focussed in on planets and especially exoplanets, describing what they are and how they are found and studied. It is a field of research that is still very young, but progressing rapidly, especially as new tools and technologies become available.

We got a flavour of what is out there – several thousand exoplanets have been identified to date, with more coming all the time. The variety of sizes, orbits, and compositions discovered to date is astounding! Towards the end, Chris gave us a quick overview of his own work, using a telescopic array in New Mexico to verify and detail discoveries made by an orbiting observatory.

In closing, Chris answered all sorts of questions on exoplanets and other space subjects in a very knowledgeable manner. Thank-you Chris!

 

 

March Lake old-growth

March Lake old-growth
by Nancy Pezel, 27 Sep
 2020

After about an hour’s drive up logging roads, 13 members enjoyed a leisurely walk along a newly constructed portion of the Sunshine Coast Trail (SCT) just north of March Lake.  The overcast skies provided perfect conditions for hiking and photography.

After walking approximately 15 m off an existing logging road, we were onto the SCT and into a 65 year old western hemlock, Amabilis fir and western red cedar forest that established after logging and a fire in the 1940s, likely at the time the Spring Lake logging camp burned to the ground.

A little further along the trail we came into the old growth forest, evidenced by the more open canopy and resulting increase in understory vegetation, varying ages and heights of trees, a lack of first growth stumps and no evidence of the fire.  The understory vegetation consists of a few varieties of blueberries, false azalea, some salal and numerous moss species.  This forest is in a protected Old Growth Management Area and consists of western hemlock, Amabalis fir and some smaller and large diameter yellow cedar.  The larger trees are estimated to be 257 years old, but the forest only averages 28 m in height.  The tallest trees in the area are approximately 38 m tall, and we thought those might include the larger yellow cedar, and a large diameter white pine.  It is unusual to find yellow cedar growing at this 600m elevation, but it is likely because of the colder climate in the low lying areas around March Lake and nearby wetlands.  At the far end of the old forest, we enjoyed our lunch on a series of boardwalks PRPAWs had constructed over a wet area.  A perfect spot for social distancing!  As we walked back towards the vehicles, we took a short side trail down to March Lake to enjoy the views and see some of the late season flowering Gentians, as well as sundews and other wetland vegetation on the shore of the lake.

When we got back to the vehicles we were surprised to find that one of Tom’s tires was completely flat!  Apparently it takes 1 can of sealant, 1 small air compressor (thank you Claudia!) and 13 naturalists to fix a tire when the spare can’t be lowered from it’s spot under the vehicle!!

Gail Schofield – “indigenous plants inspire”

by Gail Schofield, 15 Sept 2020.

Here’s a 2 page newsletter about new developments at the Lang Creek Gardens.  In spite of Covid, we’ve found a way to move forward with projects and signage installation.

We remember meeting you at the gardens for a tour this time last year – it feels like a lifetime away!

We hope your members well and finding interesting ways to stay busy and safe….