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!




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.



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!