The main chamber at the end of mine Dividend, Osoyoos BC – A. Bryant
Navigating some tricky terrain – A. Bryant
Myotis ciliolabrum at Oliver BC – A. Bryant
Why they call it a “Big-eared” bat (Plecotus townsendi) – A. Bryant
Life underground can be pretty strange – A. Bryant
and access was sometimes tricky – A. Bryant
Yes a strange job – A. Bryant
Hibernating Plecotus – A. Bryant
Andrew Bryant – “Looking for hibernating bats in the South Okanagan” by Andrew Bryant, 20 Apr 2023.
After cancellation of another speaker, Andrew stepped up, rummaged through his slide collection yet again, and came to speak to us about hibernating bats.
Way back in the dark ages (1988), it turns out that he was hired to look for bats…within abandoned gold mines. To say this was a “strange job” would be to put things mildly. Water hazards, spiders, strange fungus, graffiti…and yes the occasional bat!
Surveys have been completed using volunteer’s boats and surveying the coastline from Halfmoon Bay to just south of Powell River. – J. Blancard
Here we have a pup with its mama. As you can see, they do not hold still for long! – J. Blancard
For our winter survey, we went out on Jim’s fishing boat. We completed a survey from the Harbour to just south of Powell River. – J. Blancard
This is Ruben on the gas dock at John Henry’s marina. He has a go pro that is at the end of a selfie stick and he walking slowly along the dock capturing images. – J. Blancard
The European Green Crab (Carcinus maenasis) is considered to be in the top 10 of the top 100 most invasive species in the world – J. Blancard
Sometimes the going can be really tough as shown here with Lee Ann. – J. Blancard
Sometimes…we have to run for our lives! Just kidding. I love this picture so much. There was this little glide here and I wanted to get a pic of the salmon running through. Ruben was waiting patiently but of course when I was ready with the camera, there were no fish. So Ruben decided to cross and of course that is when a fish went. He was trying so hard to get out of the pic but that fish was out to get him! – J. Blancard
Note-taking is of extreme importance, – J. Blancard
And sometimes you just get stumped…like when we found this tiny squid! – J, Blancard
A nice flock of Common Mergansers – J. Blancard
and Loons are ALWAYS just “special” – J. Blancard
Jenn Blancard – “Pender Harbour Coastal Waters Monitoring Program” by Andrew Bryant, 16 Feb 2023.
Jenn Blancard came and spoke to us about the Pender Harbour Coastal Waters Monitoring Program. This is truly a massive “citizen-science” effort, involving dozens of volunteers, boat captains, divers, birders and more.
The idea is simple. What else lives here? What trends can we learn from monitoring their population dynamics over time? And can we ascribe those dynamics to particular ecological conditions?
That’s easy to say…and really, really hard to do in practice!
Kudos to you and your team Jenn. This is an extraordinary effort that will pay off in spades – but yes it will take a few years!
Out travel route from Ecuador was a bit convoluted – P & C Miniato
Blue-Footed Booby – P & C Miniato
Dunes on Isla Rabida – P & C Miniato
Magnificent Frigatebird (male) – P & C Miniato
Isla Santiago – P & C Miniato
Lava Cactus (endemic) – P & C Miniato
Red Mangroves on Isla Santa Cruz – P & C Miniato
Marine Iguanas – P & C Miniato
Old Volcanoes – P & C Miniato
Sally Lightfoot Crab – P & C Miniato
Paul & Cheryl Miniato – “The Galapagos” by Andrew Bryant, 16 Feb 2023.
Paul and Cheryl Miniato spent a couple of weeks cruising around the Galápagos Islands in October of 2022 – and fortunately for us they took lots of photos!
Although neither of them are biologists or professional photographers, they are observant naturalists, had knowledgeable guides and made the most of their camera gear. It was a spectacular talk, with all kinds of interesting trivia that you just will never learn unless listening to someone who’s actually been there.
Highlights for me were learning about how speedy Sally Lightfoot Crabs (Grapsus grapsus) are…and learning that Charles Darwin was originally employed upon HMS Beagle as a “Captain’s companion”.
The communities visited in the stories – You have been referred (2021)
Sami Elder Maria Sergina validates the first Yona map with Project leader Tat’yana Tsmykailo – M. Robinson
Gwich’in Trapper at Rock River NWT – M. Robinson
Karim-Aly Kassam, Mikhail Gorbachev, and michael Robinson at University of Calgary in 1998 – M. Robinson
Compilation map of Fort MacKay.
Michael Robinson – “My life in applied anthropology” by David Bedry, 19 Jan 2023.
Our January speaker Michael Robinson, an Order of Canada recipient, spoke about his work with indigenous peoples and Metis of Fort MacKay affected by the mining and refining of the Fort McMurray tar sands.
To recognize the importance of the land to the people living off it Micheal worked with elders to record their resources on maps. These maps showed areas of trapping, fishing, big game, trees, plants, berries, and cultural land.
The study was taken to the government and the board of Syn Crude in an effort to protect these resources.
It was successful and other indigenous groups in Northern Canada asked for help with similar studies. Micheal through his position as CEO of the Arctic Institute of North America at the University of Calgary helped put their resources together to create additional studies.
The crowning effort was when Mikhail Gorbachev funded a similar study for the Sami reindeer herders around Murmansk in northern Russia.
Michael concluded his talk with a few amusing readings from his book You Have Been Referred – My Life In Applied Anthropology.
Belize is a small, hot country – with exceptional diversity in habitats -N. Hughes & P. Geoffray
and consequently birds! Here’s a Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) -N. Hughes & P. Geoffray
Wandering Tattler (Tringa incana) -N. Hughes & P. Geoffray
Green Heron (Butorides virescens) fishing in mangroves -N. Hughes & P. Geoffray
The ubiquitous Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus major) -N. Hughes & P. Geoffray
Coastal Lagoon with mixed heron flock – N. Hughes & P. Geoffray
The best way to bird to “pay the money and do the boat trip” – great value even at $120 !! -N. Hughes & P. Geoffray
Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor) -N. Hughes & P. Geoffray
Boat-billed Heron (Cochlearius cochlearius) -N. Hughes & P. Geoffray
Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) -N. Hughes & P. Geoffray
Yellow-crowned Night-heron (Nyctanassa violacea) -N. Hughes & P. Geoffray
Yes, Snail Kites (Rostrhamus sociabilis) REALLY DO eat snails! -N. Hughes & P. Geoffray
The best thing about boats is that you can get REALLY close! -N. Hughes & P. Geoffray
Amazon Kingfisher (Chloroceryle amazona) -N. Hughes & P. Geoffray
Aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus). Yes it’a a Toucan! -N. Hughes & P. Geoffray
Turquoise-browed Motmot (Eumomota superciliosa) -N. Hughes & P. Geoffray
One of our better camping spots! -N. Hughes & P. Geoffray
Pierre in his element -N. Hughes & P. Geoffray
Neil enjoying some of the other attractions. Mayan ruins at Lamani -N. Hughes & P. Geoffray
White-whiskered Puffbird (Malacoptila panamensis) -N. Hughes & P. Geoffray
Yellow-olive Flycatcher (Tolmomyias sulphurescens) -N. Hughes & P. Geoffray
A deadly Fer de Lance – about five feet long. We kept our distance! -N. Hughes & P. Geoffray
Red-capped Manikin (Ceratopipra mentalis) -N. Hughes & P. Geoffray
Not the most reliable vehicle on the planet – but it did the job! -N. Hughes & P. Geoffray
This Howler Monkey was not happy with us… -N. Hughes & P. Geoffray
Laughing Falcon (Herpetotheres cachinnans) -N. Hughes & P. Geoffray
The National Bird of Belize – the amazing Keel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus) -N. Hughes & P. Geoffray
Neil Hughes & Pierre Geoffray – “Birding Belize” by Andrew Bryant, 15 Sep 2022.
We had a treat for our first meeting of the 2022-23 Invited Speakers season. Neil Hughes teamed up with Pierre Geoffray to revisit their recent birding adventures in Belize – and what adventures they had!
Belize is a small country (about 73% of the size of Vancouver Island) but extraordinarily rich in habitat diversity. It also has the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world, has the lowest human population density in Central America, and English is the official language. All of these things make Belize a magnet for tourists – and birders!
Pierre spent five months there last year, driving 3000 km (with 3 different vehicles), visiting 2 cays, and counting 414 bird species. He saw a few large cats, a few snakes…and got over his fear of the ocean by snorkeling with sharks!
Neil was in Belize for only 13 days, but still managed to drive 1000 km (walking 78 of them) and tallying 265 bird species.
For me, I thoroughly enjoyed Neil and Pierre’s vastly different speaking styles. Not to mention their extraordinary photographic skills. The other wonderful trick was that Neil had many of the bird calls on his smart phone…so as Pierre was advancing through the slides we could also hear that bird in real time.
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!
In addition to talking about past and ongoing projects,… – Mitchell & Currie
we learned some fascinating life-history details about individual species– Mitchell & Currie
– Mitchell & Currie
Red-legged frogs are lovely…and vulnerable to road traffic!– Mitchell & Currie
– Mitchell & Currie
– Mitchell & Currie
– Mitchell & Currie
– Mitchell & Currie
– Mitchell & Currie
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!
The rugged and undeveloped interior of Rarotonga – A. Bryant
It’s about as far away as you can get
Heather dancing in the soft, gentle rain – A. Bryant
“our” beach at Rarotonga – A. Bryant
the rooster in the backyard kept us in “our time-zone” – A. Bryant
But the stars told us “we on a different planet” – A. Bryant
The beach across the road became “our beach” – A. Bryant
We tried to make friends with the locals. Here’s a Fiddler Crab (Uca Crassipes) – A. Bryant
The sunsets were spectacular – A. Bryant
Andrew in a happy place – A. Bryant
Moonrise and coconut palms (Cocos nucifera) – A. Bryant
Downtown Avarua, Rarotonga, Cook Islands – A. Bryant
I was happy to hike with Gerald in 2000…and donate my waterproof binoculars. That was a GOOD trade!
only to learn that he has turned this into a major conservation “success story”. Amazing man – J. Ueda, 21 May 2019
Makatea surrounding the island of Atiu – A. Bryant
Pineapples in the wild. I had no idea they grew this way! – A. Bryant
Atiu Swiftlet (Aerodramus sawtelli) – E. VanderWorf (1 Sept 2003)
Chattering kingfisher (Todirhamphus tuta) on Atiu – A. Bryant
The extraordinary blue waters of Aitutaki Lagoon. – A. Bryant
Indo-Pacific Sergeants (Abudefduf vaigiensis) in Aitutaki Lagoon – A. Bryant
Moturakau (Leper Island), Aitutaki, Cook Islands. It served as a leper colony from the 1930s until 1967. – A. Bryant
yup. I learned a little bit more about “love”
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.
We travelled from Vancouver to Edmonton, and then onwards to Yellowknife. There we changed to a smaller plane, and proceeded to Bathurst Inlet – Google Earth
Arrival in Bathurst Inlet – H. Harbord
Welcome to Bathurst Inlet! (notice the mosquito at top center) – H. Harbord
I’m wearing a net over my hat, a mosquito jacket and mosquito gloves, all of which I used in Nova Scotia. Glenn showed us how to pour just a small amount of Deet onto our palms and then rub our hair, clothing and anything else likely to be bitten. Just don’t put it on your forehead as your sweat will run it into your eyes! – H. Harbord
This was formerly a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post established in the 1930. Former RCMP Contable Glenn Warner and his wife Trish bought it in the 1960s. -H. Harbord
We travelled about in the “blue loo”, a landing barge with a handy ramp for easy disembarking. Yes, that’s an outhouse at the back! – H. Harbord
The highest point of South Qadjuk Island, called Ayuk. It’s 1250 ft at the crest, and home to Golden Eagles and Peregrine Falcons. – H. Harbord
The great sill of the Quadjuks, overlying sedimentary layers – H. Harbord
Glenn let June and I paddle two of his plastic kayaks but sent an escort boat with us and called us back in before we went out of sight. The weather was subject to instant changes so he was wise to do this. The water was ice cold. – H. Harbord
Wind-sculpted sandstone “heads” on South Quadjuk Island…these are about 30 feet high. – H. Harbord
Thie all-white Glaucus Gull is the largest of the all the gulls. Immature birds visit Mitlenatch Island in the spring. – P. Burt
Willow Ptarmigan. Only a few white patches remain of her all-white winter plumage. Her feathered feet enable her to walk over the snow as if wearing snowshoes. – H. Harbord
Red-throated Loon on her nest. These birds are very vulnerable to changing water levels which can drown the eggs. – P. Burt
Sudetan Lousewort Pedicularis sudetica…with a mosquito on it for scale. The freckled petals are landing platforms for pollinators. – P. Burt
Peregrine Falcon approaching her nest. One chick was close to fledging. – P. Burt
Masses of Arctic Avens Dryas integrifolia and Arctic oxytrope Oxytropis arctica – P. Burt
Marsh Marygolds Caltha palustris Growing in a tiny pond. – P. Burt
Purple Mountain Saxifrage Saxifrage oppositifolia. This is one of the first flowers to bloom in spring and is the official flower of Nunavut. The flowers are eaten by children across the Arctic. – P. Burt
Dwarf Birch Betula glandulosa or Betula nana. This plant is environmentally dwarfed, not genetically. South of the barrenlands they grow into 20ft trees. – P. Burt
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” 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!
But the damage was relatively light – Powell River Museum and Archives
Vancouver Island suffered greater damage. This is the Elementary school in Courtenay. Fortunately it was a Sunday so kids were at home. – Powell River Musuem and Archives
Here’s the post office in Courtenay. -Powell River Museum and Archives
And this is the Bank of Montreal in Port Alberni – Powell River Museum and Archives
The epicentre was in Forbidden Plateau, and at magnitude 7.3 it was a “pretty good shake”. felt from the Okanagan to Portland – Natural Resouces Canada
It was likely a “strike-slip” earthquake – Natural Resouces Canada
although it remains unclear which of the numerous fault-lines in the region was the culprit – Natural Resouces Canada
There were numerous reports of “liquefaction”, “underwater slumping” and “fill in slumping”. Yes it was a “good shake”. – Natural Resouces Canada
I thought the big underwater slump just off Grief Point to be particularly noteworthy – Mosher et al. 2004
The fact are clear. – R. Thoms
and some of the eyewitness accounts are impressive – R. Thoms
but it could have been worse – R. Thoms
Take heed – R. Thoms
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!
The stuff of legends. Poulpe Colossal attacks a merchant ship Pierre Denys de Montfort (1810)
The reality. Diver with Pacific Giant Octopus – unknown
Another beauty – J. Wieners
Giant Pacific Octopus – J. Britnell>
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).
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.
Chris described the fields of research in astronomy from the planetary to the cosmological scales – C. Mann
The universe is primarily studied using electromagnetic radiation from radio waves to optical light to gamma rays – C. Mann
We set the stage in our own solar system before looking outward to other star systems – C. Mann
Here we must define what an exoplanet actually is (that’s not as easy as you might think!) – C. Mann
The 1st exoplanet was discovered 25 years ago in an orbit we did not expect! – C. Mann
Detection methods: first velocimetry, then transit (pictured here), and now direct imaging – C. Mann
These methods have resulted in a virtual zoo of planets of all orbits, shapes, and sizes – C. Mann
The telescopic array Chris uses in his own research – C. Mann
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!
Glyn Williams-Jones – “Mt. Meager Volcano” by Tom Koleszar, 13 Feb 2020.
Glyn is the Chair of the SFU Department of Earth Sciences & Co-Director of the Centre for Natural Hazards Research. His talk was all about the Mt. Meager volcano which lies near the upper Pemberton Valley, only 115 km NE of Powell River. During his visit to Powell River, Glyn also spoke to the emergency planning committee of the Qathet Regional District.
Glyn gave us an overview of the Mt. Meager complex and its most recent eruption 2360 years ago, which was comparable in size and style to the Mt. St. Helens 1980 eruption. He then covered the recent (2010) landslide and the potential for much bigger future slides in the Mt. Meager area. These are very significant natural hazards!
The volcano is currently degassing, with three new fumaroles having recently opened through the ice cover.
Given its relative proximity to populated areas, Mt Meager is the focus of much current research, including ice mapping, numerical modelling, subsurface imaging, and activity monitoring. And it may even become a NASA test site, testing equipment for missions to icy outer solar system moons!
The geological context of Iceland is interesting – it’s the only place where a volcanic “Hot Spot” coincides with the Mid-Atlantic Ridge – Ricker et al (2013)
This is “The Table”, just south of Garibaldi Lake, BC. “Tuyas” are circular, flat-topped volcanic constructs found in many locations around the world, most notably in Iceland, Siberia, Antarctica, and BC. – Andre Charland
Mark’s thesis was about the formation of Tuyas. In a nutshell, they’e not all created equally…and it gets complicated in a hurry – Þórðarson (2008)
Base camp. This is about as remote as you can get – M. Koleszar
The morning commute – M. Koleszar
Because of geography, the island of Heimaey always had a pretty good natural harbor. – M. Koleszar
Which was made even more sheltered by the volcanic eruption of 1973! – M. Koleszar
Iceland is pretty windy. This erosion was caused by pebbles swirling around in what eventually became a fairly substantial pit! – M. Koleszar
This is Seljalandsfoss waterfall…you can walk behind it! – M. Koleszar
Gullfoss (“Golden Falls”) was the site of a proposed hydrolectric project in the 1950s. It is now protected, and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland. – M. Koleszar
Incredible – M. Koleszar
Iceland is otherworldly…and gorgeous – M. Koleszar
The”Krafla fires” lasted from 1975-1984 and represented a significant volcanic “extension event” – Sigurður Þórarinsson
This looks to be a pretty lonely ranch. The sheep might help. – M. Koleszar
This is the last landfal before reaching Antarctica…about 15,000 km further south – M. Koleszar
Resiliance – M. Koleszar
Resiliance #2 – M. Koleszar
Birding is popular in Iceland – T. Koleszar
Common Murres (Uria aalge) – T. Koleszar
Atlantic Puffins (Fratercula arctica) – M. Koleszar
American Oystercatchers (Haematopus palliatus) – U. Koleszar
Iceland Ponies – U. Koleszar
This is Grímsvötn (“Grim Waters”), which erupted beneath a glacier in May of 2011, disrupting air traffic throughout northern Europe. – Páll Stefánsson
Mark’s Powerpoint presentation described this as “The continental divide”. He knows more that I. For me…it’s just stunning. – M. Koleszar
Mark Koleszar – “Geological tales of Iceland” by Andrew Bryant, 17 Oct 2019.
Mark recently completed his Masters thesis at the University of Iceland, entitled “Flat-topped volcanic edifices in Vonarskarð, Central Iceland, and on the Kolbeinsey Ridge“. You can learn more about his research here, or read his full thesis here.
Geology is one thing. Iceland is something else.
Over the course of three years, Mark got to visit places that few humans have ever seen – indeed his principal field study areas are about as remote as it gets. Iceland is a place of wonder; waterfalls, volcanoes, ponies and puffins. And Mark (and family) are very talented photographers.
So I think it best to let the images speak for themselves.
Earth’s cryosphere: much if not all of Canada’s hydrology is influenced by the cryosphere
Canada’s glaciers: about 200,000 km² if ice, ¾ of it the Arctic Archipelago
Comox Glacier: see the changes over a 3 year period
Devon Island: the ice cap meets the sea over a 15 km calving front
Peyto Glacier mass balance: the long term trend is clear even through the large annual variations
Global summary: most areas decline while Scandinavia grows due to increased precipitation
Peyto Glacier history: changes in size since 1840
Ice core story: the cores show more melt features now than at any time since the last ice age ended
Field work – the good: Columbia Icefield on a sunny day
Field work: – the bad: and the more common poor weather (digging out camp day after day)
Mike Demuth – “Cold Matters: Cryospheric Change and Related Hydro-ecological Functioning” by Tom Koleszar, 26 Sep 2019.
Mike is an Emeritus Research Scientist in Glaciology and Cold Region Environments who lives part-time in Lund. Mike’s talk introduced us to Earth’s cryosphere and then focussed on mountain glaciers. More can be learned about the cryosphere here.
We learned a great deal about how to measure glaciers and track changes to their mass balance over time – not a simple task! Direct field measurements shown included stake farms, digging pits, and drilling holes through the ice – in all kinds of weather! Remote sensing through photography, Lidar, and satellite measurements is also very valuable today.
The talk then turned to focus on the results – the dramatic changes taking place today in most of the world’s alpine glaciers. Warming conditions and changes to precipitation patterns can be seen very clearly in the ice measurements – one advantage of cryosphere research is that it is easy to eliminate weather noise for climate data. The changing ice mass then has pronounced hydrology effects downstream on resource industries, agriculture, wildlife, recreation, and domestic water supplies.
In closing, Mike paid homage to some of the original 19th century workers in glaciology, and showed some more great pictures of some nice days – and not so nice days – in the field.
Why is there an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean? Plate tectonics and volcanoes. – B. Sherriff
Easter Island is actually formed by three volcanoes. Bacause of plate tectonics, these formed in “approximately the same place” over millions of years…making Easter Island quite different from the long, drawn-out string of volcanoes that make up the Hawaiian Islands. – B. Sherriff
Thor Hyerdahl was wrong – about a number of things! – B. Sherriff
The last “true-blood” Rapa Nui woman died in 1946…but the language and culture lives on, with a significant population inhabiting mainland Chile. – B. Sherriff
What’s the difference between a Maoi and a Ahu? The Ahu are the platforms that the statues (Maoi) stand upon. The mysterious Moai were powerful ancestors often chiefs placed on a platform (Ahu) to protect a village. – B. Sherriff
In 1774, the island was rediscovered during the second voyage of Captain James Cook. One of the expedition’s artists was William Hodges, who painteded this famous watercolor. He’s one of few who saw the Moai still standing.
Rana Raraku Quarry (where all the Moai were carved) has 397 Moai in various stages of carving…carving Moai was a business !!! – B. Sherriff
Contrary to popular belief, the Rapa Nui did not cut down all the trees and move the Moai along on rollers. Instead they carved them with a “keel” and “walked them along”…like moving a heavy appliance – B. Sherriff
Why did the Moai get toppled? War. – B. Sherriff
The native trees did get wiped out…primarily because of clearing for agriculture, wood used for cremations, and the introduction of rats. – B. Sherriff
The adoption of “Birdmen Culture” (1600-1867) ended tribal warfare and the local “military industrial complex”…and in turn that ended when Christianity arrived… – B. Sherriff
Something rarely seen…Barbara up at the crack of dawn! – B. Sherriff
Yes, the glaciers of Patagonia are impressive! – B. Sherriff
Barbara Sherriff “Moai and volcanoes of Easter Island…and Patagonian glaciers” by Andrew Bryant, 23 May 2019.
The Club’s very own Barbara Sherriff, well-known for her globetrotting adventures, recently returned from another epic voyage – this time to Easter Island and the glaciers of Patagonia!
Always the consumate educator, Barbara provided a hugely informative and highly amusing talk, deftly switching from tidbits about geology (did you know the Moai all wore “hats” of red volcanic scoria carved from a single quarry at Puna Pau?) to social commentary (why we could all benefit from adopting aspects of “Bird Man Culture“).
In turn, we learned about:
Why there’s an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean
Where the Rapa Nui people came from
What happened to them
What the giant statues represent
The difference between a Moai and an Ahu
How the Moai were made
How they were moved
Why they were toppled
What happened to the native trees
Whew. And if that weren’t enough, we were then taken on a side-trip to the glaciers of Chile and Argentina, where we got to witness something truly amazing…Barbara up at sunrise…
What we’re hoping not to see this summer… – J. Belcher
The Coastal Fire Centre – J. Belcher
The scale of resources is huge…and others are “on call”… – J. Belcher
In comparison to other Fire Centres, things were relavively quiet here last year – J. Belcher
The long-term trend is obvious…but the reasons are complex. Forestry, historical wildfire management, insect outbreaks, and global werming all play a role. – J. Belcher
To put it mildly, the last two fire seasons were “above average” – J. Belcher
Of note is the incredible importance of weather, Wildfire activity literally exploded in early August. – J. Belcher
The scale of things was impressive – J. Belcher
And how can we predict such things? – J. Belcher
Well, 2019 will be an El Niño year, bringing warmer and dryer conditions. – J. Belcher
So, although computer models are “just computer models”…things are not looking rosy – J. Belcher
Yikes – J. Belcher
Fire preparedness starts at home – J. Belcher
Depending on high atmospheric conditions, wildfire (red dots) smoke can travel around the globe – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) via the Washington Post
Jeff Belcher “B.C. Wildfires: past and future” by Andrew Bryant, 25 Apr 2019.
Jeff Belcher works for the BC Wildfire Service. He spent the first ten years working in the interior of the province out of Williams Lake and Alexis Creek. He grew up in Courtenay, so made the move to Powell River just over a year ago to be closer to home and enjoy the unbeatable coastal lifestyle.
Jeff’ spoke about the 2017/2018 wildfire seasons, with specific reference to “his” area, the Coastal Fire Centre (CFC). The thing that impressed me the most was the scale of things. We’re talking about huge areas of forests (almost 17 million hectares) and resources (210+ people) – not to mention aircraft, trucks, chainsaws, and other personnel drawn in from across the Province – or across Canada – or even from Australia or South Africa!
By comparison with other Fire Centres, the Coastal Fire Centre had a “quiet” 2018 season, with “only” 297 fires and ~150,000 hectares burned. The Northwest Fire Centre had fewer fires (150) but these burned an extraordinary 843,000 hectares. Equally impressive were the trends over time. In a word, they’re up.
Jeff provided some helpful links, for example to the B.C.’s FireSmart Program, which seeks to educate landowners about how best to protect their own properties. He also shared some fascinating graphics…some of the smoke you saw last August…may having been coming from Siberia!
What a view! The food, however, was so-so… – S. Gordon
Access to goat habitat can be, shall we say, challenging…(500 foot cliff, no ropes, severe vertigo…) – S. Gordon
Typical goat habitat – S. Gordon
Some of Steve’s study areas in the Powell River backcountry – S. Gordon
This photo shows just how close both conventional and helicopter logging is coming to occupied mountain goat habitat. Note the >35 ha clear-cut adjacent to occupied goat habitat. – S. Gordon
Classic “old-school” field-biology. Watching goats through a 60x spotting scope. Randomized “instantaneous scan sampling”…and a whole lot of hours. – S. Gordon
Long-term observation allowed sexing of juveniles through behaviour – repeated observations were important – S. Gordon
Note the small flowered penstemons in full bloom – S. Gordon
How does one go about catching a mountain goat? – S. Gordon
Steve’s had an exciting and rewarding career – with the opportunity to make a difference! – S. Gordon
Admittedly, some days were better than others… – S. Gordon
No regrets – S. Gordon
Steve Gordon – “Goats, grizzlies and goshawks: adventures of a habitat biologist” by Andrew Bryant, 21 Mar 2019.
Steve works for the B.C. Ministry of Environment as a “Habitat Biologist” based out of Nanaimo. He prefaced his talk as “not to be interpreted as expressing government policy”…and then told his story. And what a story it is. He’s served variously as a “Land Use Planning Biologist”, “Ecosystem Section Head”, “Field Operations Supervisor”, “Forest Ecosystem Specialist”, and “Habitat Protection Officer”.
But the bulk of his career, and the bulk of his talk, has been related to mountain goats.
As part of his M.Sc. research at Royal Roads University, Steve spent two years observing mountain goats in their natural habitats high in the backcountry behind Powell River. His focus was to evaluate the impact of helicopter-logging on the behaviour of these magnificent beasts.
In biological terms, mountain goats are quite unusual. The species (Oreamnos americanus) is the only species in the genus. They live in impossible terrain. Where death is a single mis-step away. That’s what mountain goats do. That’s what mountain goats are. Life on the edge.
Oh. And Steve did it too. It rather looks like he enjoyed it.
I liked this shot, as it shows different plumages (ages) – D. Hancock
Here’s the cheat-sheet – D. Hancock
Impressive – D. Hancock
Early days…with wrapped eagles – D. Hancock
Be sure to check out the eagle-cams! – D. Hancock
Be sure to check out the eagle-cams! – D. Hancock
David Hancock – “Understanding the lives of Bald Eagles” by Andrew Bryant, 28 Feb 2019.
David has spent most of his life studying west coast and arctic wildlife, but is most well-known for his work with Bald Eagles, beginning with his pioneering population surveys during the early 1960s while a graduate student at UBC.
Although a world travelor, published author and interested in all birds of prey, David has focused much of his recent efforts following the bald eagle adaptations to the urban environment. In 2006, he and fellow Director Dr. David Bird founded the Hancock Wildlife Foundation, which promotes the conservation and appreciation of wildlife and their habitats through science, education, and stewardship.
Today David is involved with various Bald Eagle projects, including his pioneering programs broadcasting live streaming web cameras to the general public and consulting on Bald Eagle mitigation programs, where he brings his ecological understanding of “Speaking for Eagles” to the business table.
Presently, he is helping develop the Bald Eagle Tracking Alliance in the Fraser Valley – a project he spearheaded with the HWF. David has developed a monitoring database of over 400 pairs of nesting Bald Eagles in the Lower Fraser Valley that enables an understanding of competing eagle territories. You can even follow tagged eagles in real-time…check it out.
This looks much like both Amanita gemmata and Amanita pantherina…Let’s see which it is! – J. Leane
– DNA is “amplified” using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) – DNA “primers” define start and stop points for DNA copying from the much larger full genome – The amount of target DNA is doubled roughly every 2 minutes, ending up with ~2 billion times more target DNA than you started with – J. Leane
– DNA sequencing is now around $9 USD per sequence from a commercial lab – The equipment necessary to prepare DNA at home for sequencing costs under $1000 total – The portions of the fungal genome suitable for identification purposes are well-studied and reliable (internal transcribed spacer regions) – J. Leane
Once a several-thousand-dollar tool used in high-tech university labs, now on Ebay…I found mine for under $1000 – J. Leane
This is the region we care about. There’s some benefit to studying other regions but this is the standard place to look – J. Leane
– Once the PCR process is complete (90-120 mins), the samples are verified via gel electrophoresis, then sent to the lab for sequencing – After receiving the sample, the lab sends you the DNA sequence in less than 24 hours in most cases – J. Leane
This is a “sequence file” The DNA code is on the top, at bottom are raw results from the sequencing machine. – J. Leane
There’s a Google for this! This on-line tool lets you search for your sequence in the GenBank database. – J. Leane
These are the search results. oh. Well that’s a problem, isn’t it? 100% match to two different species. That is NOT how species work – J. Leane
These are the real results It’s a new, as yet unnamed, species. These new entries are only a month old, the science moves fast with this stuff – J. Leane
This is Pholiota terrestris. I picked three specimens from the edges of the parking lot at the Academy of Music. Genetically, they were identical – the same individual. It’s probably about the size of a house… – J. Leane
Is this something new? Probably not. I think this is Pholiota squarrosa, somewhere near Comox But the point is…with mushrooms…we may change our minds tomorrow… – J. Leane
Jason Leane – “Citizen Science And The Discovery Of Novel Fungal Species” by Andrew Bryant, 21 Feb 2019.
Jason Leane is not a scientist – he works as a technologist at Brooks Secondary – but citizen-scientist he most assuredly IS. So a lifelong interest in science and biology has translated into a most unusual and interesting hobby…and a fascinating talk for us!
In a nutshell, the advent of quick and affordable gene sequencing technology has allowed us to classify species based on genetics as opposed to physical features. That’s why Jason has a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine in his kitchen…yes you heard that right…
yes, he’s been literally cooking DNA…
and learning lots in the process.
Jason’s been examining local mushrooms. It seems he’s been finding some that may be slightly mis-categorized, wildly mis-named, or suspiciously far from their known habitat. He may even have found a new species – or ten.
Because as more data emerge, in the fungal world at least, we’re discovering that we’ve been wrong. A lot. Luckily, in science, being wrong means you get to learn something. We learned a lot…from the largest organisim on Earth to amazing, real-time DNA analyes using a smart phone.
Simplicity – always beware the cluttered background – D. Bedry
Much better… – D. Bedry
Framing – is your story about the cabin? – D. Bedry
or the epic landscape it’s surrounded by? – D. Bedry
That’s a whole lot of snow geese… – D. Bedry
But this is a better shot. Because of the perfectly focused bird nicely placed using the “Rule of Thirds” – D. Bedry
Lines – those sunbeams filtering through the forest canopy are really nice… – D. Bedry
But the path is also a “line” for the eye to follow…and isn’t it more intriguing to have a traveler upon it? – D. Bedry
Balance – here are two snags with live trees in the background – D. Bedry
And without moving more than a few steps, here are two snags with the clutted background intentionally minimized, being replaced by the BIG, GIANT sky… – D. Bedry
Here’s a very nice photo of poppies. – D. Bedry
I don’t know about you, but I’m seeing “simplicity”,”lines”, “framing” and “balance” all wrapped by a master photographer. starting to get the idea? – D. Bedry
Sometimes it’s just better not to over-think things. – D. Bedry
David Bedry – “Nature photography: basics and more” by Andrew Bryant, 19 Jan 2019.
Long-time club member and skilled photographer David Bedry provided an informative look at “getting it right” when creating images…no matter what gear you use.
He began with a 1979 Kodak film called The Beginnings of Photographic Composition. If that sounds dated or dull, well…trust me it wasn’t! Indeed, it was solid introduction to the principles of good photography…which David’s been kind enough to expand upon here.
In a nutshell, whether you shoot with a smart phone, a basic point-and-shoot, or a high-end DSLR, these principles (framing, lines, balance, rule of thirds, etc) will improve your photography. Because they’ll make you think about the shot before you pick up the camera!
The second part of David’s talk was solid fun.
We explored a diverse selection of his own images – combined with his humorous and candid appraisal about why this particular shot is a keeper and why, oh my word…
this one’s a dud.
Burrowing owls have a really interesting geographic range… – A. Bryant
At the time I was commuting between U of Calgary and Vancouver Island… so when I got the chance to work on owls in the “middle”, I figured – why not? – A. Bryant
The south Okanagan is absolutely wonderful – although not without its hazards – A. Bryant
This is Bob Lincoln, who pioneered reintroduction efforts for Burrowing Owls in B.C. They started with a single family group, back in 1983 – A. Bryant
For me, owl surveys in Washington State were the best part – A. Bryant
Some gorgeous country there – A. Bryant
That’s a natural nest at left…and one in a culvert at right! – A. Bryant
A camouflaged trap at left…and a happy Cheryl at right – A. Bryant
Washington State got some useful information out of our collaboration. Here are some of the nests found in 1987. We, of course, got some owls! – A. Bryant
Wayne was rightfully very proud of this one. “Tri-City West” brood, 30 May 1990. That was a looooooonng day – A. Bryant
This is a natural Burrowing Owl nest chamber, “Pasco 2-pipe” brood (10 owlets), 26 May 1989 – A. Bryant
Orville Dyer releasing owlets at Osoyoos, 1989 – A. Bryant
Reading leg-bands with a 60x spotting scope was definitely an “acquired” skill… – A. Bryant
The dots on the graph represent annual average “return-rates” and “fledging-rates”. In no year were these high enough to establish a “self-sustaining” population. – A. Bryant
In the end, I wrote a couple of papers on the subject, and focused on marmots for the next two decades. – A. Bryant
It wasn’t until I was preparing this talk that I learned that neither owls nor people had given up… – A. Bryant
Burrowing Owl captive-breeding facility near Oliver, BC, 2018 – L. Meads
Juvenile owl at Osoyoos, 1989 – A. Bryant
Andrew Bryant – “The operation was successful (sort of): reintroducing Burrowing Owls, 1989-90” by Lois Bridger, 22 Nov 2018.
Andrew provided a humorous look at the hands-on, and sometimes very labour-intensive methods needed to reintroduce a species. The Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) is one of only four species officially listed as “endangered” or “threatened” under the BC Wildlife Act. They were considered “extirpated” from the province by the late 1970s.
The first reintroductions occurred at Vaseux Lake in 1983 and 1984. Later ones took place near Osoyoos. Andrew worked on Burrowing Owls for two years – while struggling to finish his thesis at the University of Calgary and simultaneously chasing marmots on Vancouver Island!
Burrowing Owls rely upon other burrowing animals such badgers. With much of the area being farmed, there are now fewer of those than there once were. Artificial burrows can solve that problem. Andrew and his team had to work in a treacherous environment as they crossed paths with rattlesnakes, fires, ticks and the particularly hazardous spines of cactus! The work could also be demanding, as they had to dig out the burrows in order to access the owlets. One burrow entrance was a whopping 22 feet long – not easy work on a hot summer day!
The process of gaining the required permission from Washington State was an enormous undertaking – not to mention the paperwork involved in transporting owls across the border. Andrew had to first survey the owls in Washington State in order to collect the owl families for the reintroduction project. Occasionally there were fatalities which were always heart wrenching whether they happened during transportation or due to predators (mostly coyotes, weasels and other owls) after the reintroduction. Habituation pens in Osoyoos did increase success but losses still occurred.
The population did increase but not enough to make the population viable, and after the project ended in 1990 the numbers again declined.
The story, however, doesn’t end there. Andrew recently discovered that a group of volunteers (Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of BC) has been again trying to reintroduce the burrowing owls. With their improved design for artificial burrows they are having some success.
So with the perseverance of many there is still hope that the Burrowing Owls will make a comeback!
With a mixture of history, science and irony, Jackie delivered a powerful talk indeed.
I was astounded to learn, for example, that the U.S. Navy sent pilots out to attack orcas with depth charges and gunfire in 1955, austensibly to aid the local Icelandic fishermen. Nor was I aware that both “transient” and “resident” descriptors are misnomers; the terms “inshore mammal-eating” and “inshore chinookaholics” more accurately reflect what these populations actually eat and how they behave. The “offshore” orcas with their ground-down teeth are a different matter – they eat sharks.
Much of Jackie’s talk was disheartening. Orcas are in big trouble, and as with so many other ecological problems, it’s not just one thing. Persistent chemicals, noise pollution, declining food resources, tourism, and other factors. In short, Orcinus orca is suffering a “perfect storm” of issues. So while there’s some good news – human attitudes have changed swiftly and dramatically over the course of only a few decades – the question remains: