Mushroom trip

Mushroom trip
by Lynne Macdonald
22 October 2023

The mushroom excursion to the Duck Lake /Squirrel Crossing area was a well-attended and much appreciated outing, in perfect weather.  As promised, Izy Loveluck lead an exploration of “mushroomology”, sharing her extensive experience with identification, the related cautions, and some cooking tips.

We began by walking along a pre-scouted trail, with Izy pointing out species of interest, with a focus on edible species.  With eyes now attuned to the landscape, we set off in small groups or individually to scavenger hunt what we could come across.  We were instructed to respectfully gather only a sampling of any patch we encountered or to only take a photograph of anything that seemed especially unusual or was standing alone.

A dozen or so different mushrooms were readily found and brought back for group examination.  The method for identification of these group finds was demonstrated by Izy.  We saw examples of Pantha Cap (close relative of Death Cap), Coral, Lobster, Bolete family, Jelly Tooth, Witches Butter, Milky Cap and Russula.  Everyone received a “How to Look at a Mushroom” handout and a sheet to facilitate spore examination.  Recommended field guides were on display, with a list to be emailed to attendees.

A highlight of the trip was Izy’s simple sauté of a huge Parasol mushroom, in butter with salt and pepper, one she had picked yesterday from her property.  Samplings of the dish were shared and unanimously enjoyed.

Many thanks to Howard Bridger for coordinating the trip and providing the cookstove and, of course, to Izy Loveluck for sharing her vast store of fungi knowledge and her humour.

Horne Lake Caves

Horne Lake Caves
by Nancy Pezel
23 September 2023

A rainy start to this trip did not deter the 10 adventurous members in their exploration of Riverbend Cave on Vancouver Island.  After gearing up with helmets and headlamps, our guide Kat took us on a 30 minute hike up a forested trail to the cave entrance.  At a number of stops along the way she pointed out and described the geological features that indicate the presence of karst (caves), including grikes, sink holes, dry stream beds, etc.  We also learned what defines a cave.

Once inside we walked and scrambled along the relatively gentle grade of an old dry stream surrounded by very impressive calcite deposits of varying shades of mostly white/cream with small amounts of brown and black. One of the first things we learned was not to touch the calcite formations, as they are easily damaged by the oils in our skin and turn a peanut butter brown and eventually black as they are damaged. Calcite is a “living” (growing) crystal formation, growing approximately 1 inch per 1000 years, so it takes an enormous amount of time for them to recover.  In the “Sacrifice Room” we were relieved to learn this room is sacrificial in that it is home to a large chunk of calcite that we were allowed to touch.  During our exploration of the cave, we paused for a short time to turn off our head lamps and experience what complete darkness felt like!  After that we walked back up to the cave entrance and back down to our vehicles on an alternate portion of the forested loop trail.

Thank you to our drivers Howard, Lois, Paul and Margaret.  Thanks to Barbara M for organizing this unique and interesting field trip.  And thank you to our very informative guide Kat for the wonderful experience.


Hollyhock Learning Centre

Hollyhock Learning Centre
by Jennifer Martin
7 September 2023

This was the clubs’ second trip to Hollyhock Learning Centre on Cortes Island this year.  While late in the summer we had great weather both sunny and cool.   After some members grabbed breakfast at Nancy’s Bakery in Lund, we boarded the 43 ft Schooner Misty Isles and headed for the Southern tip of Cortes Island.  We cruised by Major, Twin & Hernando Islands and Captain Jonas told us about the rich history of this area dating back to Columbus, Captain Cook and George Vancouver.

After 1.5 hrs we arrived at the beach below Hollyhock and tied up to a buoy offshore.  First mate Nadia ferried us onto shore in the zodiac.  As soon as you step ashore you feel the serenity of this special place.   A short walk brings you to the Hollyhock Learning Centre, Restaurant & impressive garden given the remote location.   We dined barefoot on the deck and enjoyed a very healthy lunch of mostly vegetables (grown in the garden), kombucha, organic teas, homemade bread & dressings.

The head gardener Holly then gave us a tour of the 40 yr old diverse and productive garden while sharing some of their composting, soil amending and growing practices with us.   The garden is a lovely mix of densely planted vegetables surrounded by lots of beautiful perennials including some exotic ones that are all used as cut flowers for arrangements in the rooms and around the resort.
After a short swim off the boat, Jonas hoisted the main sail and we cruised past Bliss Landing through the narrow channel of the Copeland Islands.  Jonas pointed out the metal ‘dolphin’ pilings that log booms are tied up to wait out stormy weather.  Just north of Lund our return was delayed by a family of 4 Orcas and we were fortunate to observe them feeding from only 150 metres away.  It appeared they had caught a seal so there was lots of excitement as they put on quite a display.  These special moments are never planned for so it was the perfect ending to an already glorious day.



Alpine Adventure #6 – Diadem Mountain

Alpine Adventure #6 – Diadem Mountain
by Tom Koleszar
13 August 2023

Alpine Adventure #6 – Diadem Mountain

Once again, on our scheduled field trip day (August 12), the backcountry weather was questionable – so we had to move the trip to Sunday August 13, when we had an absolutely beautiful day!  We landed on a ridge near Mt Diadem, with splendid views of the peak itself.  We could also see sections of Jervis Inlet, Diadem Lake, many backcountry peaks, and out towards Georgia Strait.

After everyone was assembled at our destination, we spent more than an hour before lunch learning about the local environment (flora and fauna, geology and landforms, etc.).  The area was mixed sub-alpine forest and open areas of rock and shrubs.  Despite this being a dry year, there was an impressive display of alpine flowers – we identified well over a dozen different flowers and many other plants.  Sharon Shultz’s list of plants she found is included below. Flowers weren’t the only life we saw – we did not have the ridge to ourselves! A black bear was around most of the day and was spotted by many of the trip participants. Some intrepid hikers even spotted some goats up towards the peak. There were also Western Toads, and salamanders in the largest pond. We had more than our share of horseflies, but also many bees, dragonflies and a few butterflies. The geology of the area is also interesting as it is largely composed of sedimentary and volcanic rocks of the Bowen Island formation, rather than the granitic plutons common to this region.

After an enjoyable lunch in the sunshine, we had a couple of hours of free time to explore. Some explored near the landing area, while others hiked further afield. Several brave souls even swam in the large pond (it was cool but quite swimmable!). It was a great day, and I think everyone had a wonderful time.

Thanks again to our drivers who got everyone to the staging area safely and to Cal Smith for handling all the trip registration and communications, and especially to Ben, our Oceanview Helicopters pilot, who got everyone on and off the mountain safely – and added some nice sightseeing along the way!

Sharon’s plant list:

Alaska Saxifrage

Alpine Aster

Alpine Fireweed

Alpine Lady Fern

Black Alpine Sedge

Davidson’s Penstemon

False Pixie Cup

Ground Cedar

Leatherleaf Saxifrage

Mountain Arnica

Mountain Daisy

Mountain Hairgrass

Oak Fern

Oval Leaf Blueberry

Parsley Fern

Pink Mountain Heather

Red Columbine

Running Clubmoss

Spreading Stonecrop



Low tide exploration

Low tide exploration
by John Edwards
30 July 2023

A fantastic low tide exploration day was enjoyed by members of the Malaspina Naturalists (Bengul, Dale, Dan, Madelon, Sharron, Fran, Colleen, Lynn, John and Kelly) on Sunday, July 30.  We powered out of Lund Harbor aboard the Misty Isles with captain Jonas steering us past Keefer Rock to the intertidal zone of Hernando Island.  The enthusiastic and knowledgeable naturalist George Sirk provided us with captivating information about the local bio-diversity, geology, ecology of our beloved Salish Sea.  He described how the ancient glaciers brought the gulf islands here all the way from the Fiji, depositing glacial moraine, large erratics and the makings of coral reefs. George and Jonas explained how the gravitational pull of the moon ebbs and flows the tidal waters from both sides of Vancouver Island, meeting up at Mitlenatch.  Bringing with it the warm waters and sandy beaches that we know as the Riviera of the North.
Before arriving at the southern tip of Hernando Island, the secretive harbor porpoises were putting on a show, as were sea lions and even a pair of sea otters.  Captain Jonas dropped anchor off the southern tip of Hernando and onto the skiff to deliver us to the warm beach, reef and subtidal shore line.
We counted twenty plus species of bird life; from eagle, turkey vulture, heron and barn swallows to harlequin ducks, common and red breasted mergansers, oystercatchers, nesting cormorants, numerous gull species, a Caspian Tern, sand piper….and from its artic nesting grounds a short-billed dowitcher!
As we explored the crystal -clear waters at this 1.3ft. low tide, George was teaching us all the various sea life of such abundance if the Pacific Northwest waters.  Finding such treasures like eelgrass limpet, and other limpets, top snails, turbans, Horse clams, cockles, mussels, oysters and moon snails and many more shellfish.  Several species of sea stars were found as well as a rare orange sun star.  We were unable to find the elusive sea anemones, sea cucumber, octopus, squid or sea urchins closer to shore, however Sharron may have spotted some while she snorkeled in deeper waters.  We saw a healthy crab population, various kelp species, like the turkish towel, sea grasses, sponge’s and hooded nudibranch.
With the tide changing, Jonas ‘skiffed’ us back aboard the Misty Isles, where he set the sails and we enjoyed our lunch and delicious homemade cookies listening to the peaceful sounds of luffing sails.  On our journey towards the Copeland Islands, we watched three foraging Humpback Whales for half an hour.  This was definitely the icing on an already delicious cake! A fabulous Low Tide Expedition had by all!



Powell River Lake

Powell River Lake
by Tom Koleszar
20 July 2023

This field trip was run for two groups on Saturday and Sunday, July 15 and 16. The trips were aboard the Tla’amin Braves II with Captain Bryce McKenzie, each following the same itinerary.  The trip leaders were Nancy Pezel and Tom Koleszar. The weather was wonderful (and a bit hot) on both days, and we had great views of the surrounding mountains.

Our first stop was near Cassiar Island where Nancy provided some information about the logging and fire history around the lake that has resulted in mainly second growth Douglas-fir forests.  Tom discussed how the last ice age created the “fjord” we now call Powell Lake, with its series of deep basins (350+m) separated by shallow sills, and that two basins still have 200m of salty, anoxic water at the bottom.

On route to the next stop, Elvis gave us a photo op before Nancy talked about how cutblocks have to meet the Visual Quality Objectives (VQO) designated by the government in scenic areas like Powell Lake. At Olsens Landing, we stopped at the old dock which has developed its own floating garden of bog plants, including sundews, Labrador Tea, Bog Laurel, some sedges and a few western red cedar saplings.  Bryce told us something about how the Tla’amin people used the lake, then Tom told us about the more recent history of early farmers in Olsens valley.

After cruising to the Beartooth Valley vicinity, Nancy talked about protected Old Growth Management Areas and Ungulate Winter Ranges (this area is a mountain goat hangout in winter).  Tom then spoke about the different types of rock in this area compared to other areas of the lake, and how these were formed.

We had lunch at the head of the lake, then walked up the logging road to the bridge over the upper Powell River. It was a hot walk both days, but the views from the bridge were spectacular. Before we left the head, Tom told us some stories of the eccentric characters that inhabited the area.

On the way back we looked for Rainbow Falls – but there was no water at all in the Falls! We then headed around to a small dock in the Goat Narrows and those who wanted to went for a swim (the water was lovely!). We then continued on the last leg of our journey, stopping off Fiddlehead to hear about the farm and see the octagonal cabin from the “hippy” era that had been skidded down to the lake and is now a float cabin. Bryce capped off the day by telling us about the Tla’amin Guardian Watchman programme of which he is the senior member.

Thank you to Nancy, Tom, and Captain Bryce for an interesting and enjoyable day on Powell Lake!




Forest Regeneration

Forest Regeneration
by Tom Koleszar
17 June 2023

Eleven club members headed into the Horseshoe Valley area to learn how forests are regrown after harvesting. Our guides for this trip were Darwyn Koch and Geoff Matheson – both Registered Professional Foresters with Western Forest Products. Our 1st stop was along Dixon Road where we saw a block about to be harvested, and learned a bit about its history, composition, and harvesting and retention plans. From there we moved on to a recently harvest block, and saw a Ministry of Forests silviculture trial testing different Douglas Fir seed stocks. After that we saw forest stands aged 13 and 23 years, and learned a lot about what it takes to get a new forest through its first few years (it isn’t always easy!). Complications arising from drought, Elk browsing and trampling, brush growth, and other tree species can make it quite challenging. It was then time for lunch, and we found a nice spot down at the Canoe Route landing on Horseshoe Creek. Our guides were kind enough to continue answering questions all through lunch!

After lunch we looked at a 55-year old forest that is nearing its 3rd harvest, and learned about the management that has made this possible – mostly aerial fertilisation. The last stop of the day showed us an intensively managed 34 year-old block with impressive growth results – it has been fertilised 3 times, had juvenile spacing done, and some pruning. The growth of the trees certainly shows the effects of all this effort!

Many thanks to our very knowledgeable and enthusiastic guides who provided us with a day of their time and much, much information – including a 17-page booklet for each participant outlining the field trip stops.



Stillwater Bluffs with Jason Addy

Stillwater Bluffs with Jason Addy
by Jason Addy
30 May 2023

A stunner of a day at the Bluffs! Fifteen members attended and I ramble along as the guide. The weather was perfect, a bit of cloud, a lot of sun, and cool ocean breezes.

We started at the mailboxes on Stillwater School Rd. I talked about the history of Stillwater the community and then the Stillwater Bluffs land (District Lot 3040) specifically. I mentioned that it is owned by a logging company whose only interest is to sell it. Our only hope to save it is to let as many people know about it and to create political pressure such that the only acceptable sale would be for the purposes of making it a park.

We walked down the trail to the rocky beach in the middle of the Bluffs, and on the way, I showed a quick example of how to use iNaturalist to find and or document various organisms. I mentioned that there is a Stillwater Bluffs Biosearch project on iNaturalist that takes all the data that anyone reports on the Bluffs, and adds it automatically. One species recorded there is a psylocibin mushroom. Another was the Rough-Skinned Newt. It has one of the deadliest neurotoxins on Earth.

At the beach I mentioned that the beach is reported to have been used in the past by orcas to rub their bellies, just like they do currently on other beaches further north of here. Also, the beach has an ancient weir built of rocks across it just above the lowest tides. Randy Mitchell thought it was likely for catching eulachon.

From the beach we continued around the outer bluffs in a counter-clockwise loop. Along the next section of trail, we came to a massive old growth Douglas Fir. The forest that surrounds it is very stressed by its proximity to the ocean and although it is true old growth, its trees are all very scrawny. That is except for this massive fir. The bark on it is extremely thick and Randy Mitchell told us how the bark is shed as the tree bends to the coastal winds.

The forest trails ends as the route enters the top of Moss Mountain. Moss Mountain is the 50ft high bluff that gives this area its name. It is popular with rock climbers. We saw a dead bee (tiny one of uncertain species) on a flower and I told of how I first saw a similar scene and found out about the creature that killed it. It is a crab spider, and it is able to change colour to match the flower on which it waits to sting its prey.

We noticed too that the cedar forest was still not recovered from the heat dome that hit us two years ago.

At the top of the bluffs we saw a death camas. It has a toxin that will kill you if you eat it. I talked about how the first nations along the coast collected other camas bulbs that look the same when not in flower (which is when they collect them). The way they made sure not to collect death camas was to meticulously weed the beds when they were in flower.

We passed a Zen pond on the way back into the forest and I pointed out that the crack in the wall of the pond had very old coins in it that have been chemically destroyed from something in the water that runs down the wall. The pond was very dry, which is completely unheard of for a May weekend.

Once we entered the forest, we were rewarded with massive old growth Douglas Fir trees and some very large boulders. I pointed out some routes that boulderers climb on the one that is called “The Bulldozer.”

From the forest we took a short side trail to the base of Moss Mountain and the amazing cliffs that are the namesake of Stillwater Bluffs.

After many photos were taken, we popped back up into the forest and checked out a patch of old dried Dyer’s Polypore mushrooms growing on the forest floor beneath the biggest Douglas Fir tree at the bluffs.

We made our way out of this forest and down a steep loose path to the base of another cliff (Catcheratcha). I frantically looked in all the cracks for Alligator Lizards but found none. This lizard’s blood will cure Lyme Disease in young ticks in their first stage of life which keeps them Lyme free for life.

Libby McDowell asked about the seaweed that I once posted from this area and we went down to the rocks on the shore to pick and eat the nori seaweed. It was tasty but also salty.

I mentioned that the massive rock blocks that fell off of Catcheratcha have made a maze of caverns and dead end cracks that the seals use to hunt fish. They chase them into a dead end or narrowing crack and traps them.

We decided to continue on the rocky foreshore instead of taking the short-cut path through the mossy clearing and forest. Along the short we saw common juniper with some berries on them. We talked of stew, gin and chutney.

Soon we came to a small forest of Arbutus, and noticed how they have a fungal infection that is taxing them, but so far are not killing them. Neofusicoccum arbuti is the fungus that causes these cankers.

Near the end of our trip, just before we cut across the back of the bluffs, we stumbled on a magnificent tiger lily at the top of The Stacks climbing cliff.

This place is magic and anyone who goes there will agree.

On this Saturday we explored a place that has a Camas with several steroidal alkaloids that will lower your blood pressure to the point of death. A psylocibin mushroom that can cause ecstasy and can also help with depression and anxiety. A newt that has tetrodotoxin the same toxin as a puffer fish. Eat it and you die. A Lizard whose blood can cure Lyme Disease. If its food that you are looking for, the sea is a great place to start. All the seaweeds on this coast are edible and many are tasty, and in the forest, come autumn, there are a few choice mushrooms to be foraged.

We scratched the surface together, and I hope to visit again soon. I hope you do too.




Mitlenatch aboard the Misty Isles

Mitlenatch aboard the Misty Isles
by Sheila Peters
13 May 2023

Saturday, May 13, 2023 was a gorgeous day for 12 club members to join captain Jonas Fineman and naturalist George Sirk on the Misty Isles trip to Mitlenatch Island.

Just out of Lund, Major Islet was bright with monkey flowers and sea blush and noisy with both Steller and California sea lions. Some lucky folks saw harbour porpoises off Hernando Island.

Jonas provided delicious cookies, tea and coffee while we circumnavigated Mittlenatch before anchoring at Northwest Bay. The sound and smell of sea lions filled Camp and Echo Bays, quite an increase from George’s 1969 summer working there when he saw just one. Both species of cormorants were on their separate nesting sites nearby and glaucous-winged gulls staked out their territory on rocky outcrops around the island.

Walking the trails, we saw abundant camas and chocolate lilies. Jonas explained how the many First Nations that used the island would mark the flowering blue camas, a rare source of starch, in the spring to be sure they didn’t dig up the death camas by mistake when they returned in the fall. Other plants included Hooker’s onions, monkey flower, sea blush, yarrow, trailing blackberry, cascara, Indian celery and stretches of flowering Saskatoon shrubs, providing welcome shade where the trails curved through them. Two volunteers welcomed us, pointing out the sea lion skeleton assembled near their cabin. No snakes, though.

Throughout the trip, we saw 27 bird species including a common murre, four rhinoceros auklets, marbled murrelets, double-crested and pelagic cormorants; Bonaparte, ring-billed, mew and glaucous-winged gulls; surf and white-winged scoters, crows, oyster catchers, a Caspian tern, Brant and Canada geese, a Pacific loon, harlequins, and an eagle.

Thanks to our guides for sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm. And special thanks to Jonas for making the time for two of us to swim, a relief after the afternoon walks in the +25 heat.

Bengul and Cal Smith have kindly provided links to their Flickr accounts featuring more photos of the trip.



The Mitlenatch Island Stewardship Team has a great website with more information about the island:


Browne Creek wildflowers

Browne Creek wildflowers
by David Bedry
, 7 May 2023

Four of us met at the north end of the mall to carpool to Browne Creek.  Dinner Rock Park is still closed.  We parked at the gate for about a fifteen minute walk to the area where the wildflowers were finally blooming.  The chocolate lilies are finally starting to bloom.  We also saw yellow monkey flowers, shooting stars, white death camus, saxifrage, strawberry flowers, and Oregon grape flowers.

One of the members had her cell phone along which she opened up to a birding app called Merlin. It would identify the bird songs so we had a birding by ear field trip as well. We could not see everything that it identified, but a treat was to see two brown creepers.

Return of the Brant geese

Return of the Brant geese
by Pat Cottingham
26 March 2023

On a cool and very windy day, 5 club members caught the 0810 ferry over to Comox and met up with our informative and interesting guide, Nancy Pezel, in Qualicum Beach.  We were in search of the Brant Geese (sub species Black or Pacific Brant “Brant nigricans) arriving from Mexico to rest and refuel (on local algae and eelgrass) before continuing their migration to their breeding grounds in the Arctic.

We spend the day visiting 4 different habitats within the Parksville-Qualicum Beach Wildlife Management Area (and 1 outside of this area).
– Near the “Little Qualicum Estuary” we saw millions of herring roe on the beach, a couple of actively feeding sea lions out in the Strait and identified 8 to the over 60 water bird species who use this area as staging grounds.  We stopped at the “Marshall-Stevenson Unit (“Estuary”) and could see the effects of overgrazing from the ever-increasing numbers of non-migrant Canada Geese and the erosion caused by the invasive Reed Canary grass.
– David set up his spotting scope at the “Seaside Nature Park” and we saw our first far-away glimpses of the Brant Geese!  Our second long-distance viewing was on beautiful Rathtrevor Beach further south.
– We spent some time at the “Englishman River Estuary” (and Uplands); now a model of successful conservation and restoration through the Nature Trust and partners.  There were multiple Blue Herons feeding throughout the channels and Tom captured a face-on photo of a hunting Barred Owl.
– Our final stop was a lovely walk, through privately-owned (Mosaic) second-growth forest in the Coastal Douglas fir zone, to the 36-hectares of “Hamilton Marsh”.  We saw swans, ducks (sorry; forgot to record species) and red-legged frogs, who apparently infuse the area with croaking song at dusk.

We had a fabulous day, despite being unable to get a clear photo of our small,  dark-headed, white-neck banded, unorganized -flying Brant Geese.  After a pleasant meal at the “Griffin Pub”, we caught the 1930 ferry home…..another great “Malaspinanats” adventure!



Comox Estuary Tour #2

Comox Estuary Tour #2
by Pat Cottingham
, 3 Oct 2022

An enthusiastic group of 12 spent a stunningly beautiful, warm and calm day on the Comox Estuary and in the Baynes Sound area.  We went over as foot passengers from Westview and boarded bus transport at Little River….to take us to Comox Harbour to link up with Duncan Cameron (skipper of the “Twee Schoenen”/Comox Harbour Tours) and our engaging and very informative guide for the day, Caitlan Pierzchalski. She is a Marine Biologist, with a graduate degree in Ecological Restoration, and is the Executive Director of “Project Watershed” ….an organization that is involved with a multitude of habitat improvement and restoration projects. Many of their projects are connected with other grassroots, provincial and federal agencies and many involve the input from the K’omoks First Nation; traditional territory of the Sahtloot, Sasitla, Leeksun and Puntledge peoples.
On our slow trip up the Comox Estuary (where the Courtney River meets the sea; and fresh and salt water mix), Caitlin provided fascinating historical, cultural, and physical details to set a context for what we were viewing. We were hoping to see the remnants of the fish weirs that an earlier earthquake unveiled …. but the tides were too high. It was a great day for our birders however, as there was a plethora of canada geese (they are one reason we need to restore the foreshore eel grass areas; agh), common mergansers, surf scoters (not scooters as I thought), american wigeon ducks and others that I missed making notes on; sorry!
We were able to see the progress of a major Project Watershed/K’omoks First Nation habitat restoration project… “Kus-kus-sum”… at the site of the former Field Sawmill. Instead of using this vacant site for residential and retail development, significant monies were raised through community fund raising, donations and multiple grants to buy the land from Interfor and commence work on restoration and conservation of the site. It really is an impressive and awesome endeavour to provide fish and wildlife habitat, attenuation, carbon sequestration as well as recreation and educational opportunities.
We had time for a leisurely trip towards Baynes Sound; checking out Tree Island and viewing the lovely beaches. We returned home slightly sunburned, totally relaxed, and again thankful to live in such a beautiful part of the world.

Comox Estuary Tour #1

Comox Estuary Tour #1
by Cindy Dalcourt
, 19 Sept 2022

A beautiful sunny fall day with calm seas for 12 of us to head over to Comox for our first ever trip with Comox Harbour Tours.  On the way there we were lucky to see whales spouting in the distance on both sides of the ferry.  As we had walked on we were met on the other side by our Captain, Duncan Cameron and boarded the arranged bus transport to Comox harbour.

Once aboard we met Cailin Pierzchalski – Director of Project Watershed who was our guide for the trip.  She was a wealth of knowledge about everything we saw.  The estuary is very shallow but with the draft of this boat we were able to go up the Courtenay River to see where Project Watershed is restoring the former Field Sawmill site back to native vegetation.  There was a lot of equipment working and it is a huge project funded by grants from many different agencies.  It was inspiring to hear of all the restoration work that has been done in the estuary area.

We saw a lot of seals and many different types of birds including turkey vultures enjoying a meal on shore.  We also learned that the Canada Geese are one of the main contributors to the destruction of the foreshore eel grass areas.  We definitely enjoyed our day and hope to make use of this tour company again in the future.

Alpine Adventure #5 – Slide Mountain

Alpine Adventure #5 – Slide Mountain
by Tom Koleszar
, 8 August 2022

Our scheduled field trip day of August 6 had beautiful weather, however, our helicopter was taken to fight wildfires near Bute Inlet, so we could not go! After much discussion and planning and rescheduling, we managed to get a full trip up to Slide Mountain two days later – still in wonderful weather with no smoke!!

Twenty members were landed by helicopter near a small lake just NE of Slide Mountain at 1350 metres elevation. The weather was sunny and warm (quite warm in the afternoon!) with excellent visibility. The views were spectacular. After everyone was assembled at our destination, we spent a hour before lunch learning about the local environment (flora and fauna, rocks and landforms, etc.). The area was mixed sub-alpine forest and open areas of rock and low bushes (mostly heather and blueberries). There can be impressive wildflower displays in some years, unfortunately the late snow pack this year meant little was blooming when we were there. Indeed, the lake was still almost completely frozen! A few birds were seen, and some goat trails and droppings were noted – but by far the most abundant wildlife species were the flies and mosquitoes!

After an enjoyable lunch in the sunshine, we had a couple of hours of free time to explore. Some relaxed near the landing area, while others explored around the lake or along adjacent ridges. It was a wonderful day, and I think everyone enjoyed themselves a lot – whether they were new to the alpine country or just renewing an old acquaintance.

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 Ben, our Oceanview Helicopters pilot, who got everyone on and off the mountain safely.

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.


Powell Lake’s Natural and Not So Natural History

Powell Lake’s Natural and Not So Natural History
by Nancy Pezel and Tom Koleszar
, 10 July 2022

We conducted this trip on two separate days aboard the Tla’amin Braves II with Captain Bryce.  The weather was OK on both days, just a brief shower on Sunday afternoon.  The lake was relatively calm and the clouds generally high enough to see the surrounding hilltops, if not always the highest peaks.

Our first stop was just south of Cassiar Island where Nancy provided some information about the logging and fire history around the lake that has resulted in mainly second growth Douglas-fir Forests.  Tom then explained how the last ice age created the “fjord” we now call Powell Lake, with its series of deep basins (350+m) separated by shallow sills, and that two basins still have 200m of salt water at the bottom.

On route to the next stop, Elvis gave us a photo op before Nancy talked about how cutblocks have to meet the Visual Quality Objectives (VQO) designated by the government in scenic areas like Powell Lake.

At Olsens Landing, we stopped at the dock which was a floating garden of bog plants, including sundews, Labrador Tea, Bog Laurel, some sedges and a few western red cedar saplings.  Bryce told us about the Tla’amin people’s use of the lake as well as how his job as a Guardian has a very long history with his people.  After a brief geology lesson, Tom told us about the early farmers in the Olsens valley.

After cruising to just north of the Beartooth Valley, Nancy pointed out and talked about the protected Old Growth Management Areas and protected Ungulate Winter Ranges as Mountain Goats hang out on the west side of the lake here in the winter.  Tom then spoke about the different types of rock in this area compared to the other areas of the lake, and how these were formed.

We had lunch at the head of the lake, then walked up the logging road to the bridge over the Powell River.  A lot of berries were eaten for dessert along the way.  We saw a bear both days, though it was happy to sit among the berry bushes and watch us walking up the road.  The rushing water and rock formations at the bridge were spectacular.   Before we left the head, Tom told us some stories of the eccentric characters that inhabited the area.

As we headed back, we made some stops at scenic waterfalls and travelled down the east side of Goat Island where we saw Rainbow Lodge and learned of it’s history.  After a brief stop at the Narrows towards Goat Lake, we continued on the last leg of our journey, stopping off Fiddlehead to hear about the farm and see the octagonal cabin from the hippy era that had been skidded down to the lake and is now a float cabin.

Thank you to Tom, Nancy, Captain Bryce and his crew for an interesting and enjoyable day on Powell Lake!

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!

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.


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