Andrew Bryant – “I’m STILL wearing a mask”

by Andrew Bryant, 14 September 2022.

Even though mandatory mask requirements have been lifted…

I’ve been out snorkeling pretty much every day since 12 June.  I’m not a marine biologist.  The best part of that fact is that everything is still new to me.  Which keeps me excited about learning new things – and that happens pretty regularly.

There’s a whole network of local scuba divers who’ve helped me identify many of the species shown here – especially Sean Percy.  And yes perhaps one day I will find time to create an “underwater life-list”…but not today.

Because snorkeling season is not quite over yet!



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

by Andrew Bryant, 29 August 2021.

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

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

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

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



Andrew Bryant – “Heron and Neowise at Mowat Bay”

Andrew Bryant – “Heron and Neowise at Mowat Bay”
by Andrew Bryant, 13 Jul 2020.

Having seen some wonderful images of Comet NEOWISE from around the world, I thought I’d dust off my trusty Nikon and take a stab at it myself.  My immediate impressions were:

Wow: there sure were a lot of people at Mowat Bay at midnight on a Monday!  I think most people were inspired, as I was, by this being a one-in-6800 year event.

I suspect the entire Powell River “camera community” was there.  Along with others.  There were dogs, and flashlights, and a whole lot of conversations going on.  Complete with fast cars peeling out with impressive exhaust systems.  Man.  I’m so very glad to be old.

Because nobody else noticed the heron just sitting there.  Quietly.
Not twenty feet away.
While the heavens unfolded above.

Thank you, Mr/Mrs Heron.  Let’s see what we can do to return the favor.

Heather Harbord – “Willingdon Beach Trail”

Heather Harbord – “Willingdon Beach Trail”
by Heather Harbord, 7 Jul 2020.

In my anti-Covid battle, I try to boost my immune system by tramping along either the Sea Walk or the Willingdon Beach Trail twice a week.

Here are some of the plants I identified recently along the Willingdon Trail.  Towards the far end of the trail, where there are less people, there are lots of bird songs.  Swainson’s Thrushes are much in evidence.  There must be lots of nests in the undergrowth probably well hidden from the trail.  Occasionally there’s the loud hollow rat-tat-tat of a Pileated Woodpecker.

Plant Walk with Ioni Wais

Plant Walk with Ioni Wais 
by Laurette Hamoline, 26
 June 2016.

A small gaggle of enthusiastic naturalists (about 10-12 of us) gathered in Willingdon Park on Sunday to learn about plant classification.  Ioni Wais was our charming and knowledgeable guide as we wandered around the grounds learning about strange “relations” in the plant kingdom.  There are numerous ways in which we categorize plants but the main one both taxonomists and us regular folk use is a plant’s morphology, or how it looks. We observe the color and shape of the blossom and of the leaf and stem.  Is it tall or short?  Where is it growing and when?  Does it have a taproot, a fibrous root or perhaps a rhizome?  How does it disperse its seed – through the digestive system of animals, by wings like dandelion fluff or perhaps with hooks like a burr?  These are all helpful in determining what family it may belong to but taxonomists go even deeper, studying the chemical compounds found in plants and even DNA to help them determine “family traits”.

The suffix “aceae” designates the family name.  For example, po-“aceae” refers to the grass family, which is a huge family including our grains, corn, sugar cane and bamboo.

In the araceae family, also known as arums, there is usually a spadix (stem with flowers/seeds) surrounded by a spathe (leaf like structure) such as in the skunk cabbage.  Some members of this family are thermogenic, creating their own heat, even melting through snow or ice.  The flowers are often stinky in an effort to attract insects necessary for pollination.  An interesting tidbit is that when bears break hibernation they seek out and consume skunk cabbage (with high concentrations of calcium oxalate) not as a food source but as a laxative to get their sluggish system functioning again.   Plantain, commonly found in our lawns, belongs to this family and has been referred to as nature’s bandaid because of its many medicinal qualities.

We learned that the ranunculaceae family, which includes the common buttercup, likes moist conditions and the word ranunculus means “little frog”.

Within the polygonaceae or buckwheat family, many species exhibit a zigzag pattern on the stem with swollen nodes at each bend. The name is derived from Greek where “poly” means “many” and “goni” means “knee”.  Japanese knot weed is a good example of this trait.  There is also most often a sheath which covers the new growth.  Think of your rhubarb when it first pops out of the ground.

Ioni made a valiant attempt to correct a few common misconceptions.  There is no official or even universal classification for weeds or even invasive species.  These are subject to the environment, political situation and even our own personal preferences.

Trees are not classified as coniferous opposed to deciduous.  There are coniferous trees that lose their foliage in certain seasons and trees with leaves that are evergreen.  Never mind what you were taught in school way back when!!

And it was very interesting to look at the inflorescence (proper name for the blossom) of different plants. Sunflowers and dandelions are composite flowers with a compact flower head consisting of hundreds of individual florets surrounded by many bracts or rays.  And common yarrow or even cauliflower is a large cluster of florets.

So have a closer look at the plants around you.  You might just learn something!