Monday, 21 December 2015

December 21

The wetter weather has, for the most part, kept me from spending time outdoors (as has studying flora, biogeoclimatic ecological classification, interviews and christmas preparations) but I did participate in 2 christmas bird counts this week.

The Nanoose CBC (held Friday December 18th) was not the most productive with only 22 species being observed. Low numbers were expected as the route our group birded was along logging roads in areas of active logging.  We were able to drive up to 440m in elevation where we were pleased to find a Gray Jay (the only one for the count).  I was informed (and have not yet confirmed) that forestry only pays for timber hauled out, and not what is cut.  Sadly, these clear cut areas had many felled trees that have clearly been left behind.  Hopefully over the years these downed trees will provide the soil with nutrients for new growth.  Personally I feel the forestry industry should be held accountable for all that is cut, not just what is hauled out!

It would appear that the trees in the higher elevations (possibly Mountain Hemlock Ecozone) are either not reachable by foresters, or not profitable to invest in harvesting.

The Parksville CBC (held Sunday December 20th) was significantly more productive than the Nanoose CBC for me.  With 72 species observed, and some impressive numbers of pacific loon (600+) and western grebe (30), it was clear that the ocean is where the action is!  Numbers for scoters was lower than previous years and some dirt birds were also not discovered by our group (rock pigeon and house sparrow for example), but compared to Friday this was very "birdy".

 Snow covered mountainous ridges (with clear cutting beneath)
 Black Scoter
 Surf Scoter
 River Otter enjoying some Sculpin sp
Merlin perched near the blueberry farms.

Sunday, 29 November 2015


November 29th.....Gabriola Island

Today we took a quick trip over to Gabriola Island to do a little hiking.  The island is approximately 60 square kilometres with a population of ~4000.  There appears to be significant green space on the island but driving down the main roads certainly reveals the extent of urban development (predominately personal dwellings).

We visited 3 main sites on the Island: Descanso Bay Regional Park, Malaspina Galleries and Drumbeg Park.

The highlight of the trip was the Orca observed breaching numerous times ~800m south of the shoreline at Drumbeg Park with the only interesting birds seen being Marbled Murrelets.

Below are some photos from the day
Descanso Bay (snorkel gear in the summer time seems like a great idea)

 Descanso Bay (a spot to check come spring)

Heavily eroded rock Malaspina Galleries

 Barrows Goldeneye & Surf Scoter

Marbled Murrelet 

 Dorsal fin of the Orcinus orca

Possibly Antlered Perfume (E. prunastri)
 
Possibly Beaded Bone (H. enteromorpha)....potentially more than 1 species of lichen here.



Friday, 27 November 2015

November 27th.

I have been neglecting the blogging lately, mostly because I have not seen much I felt worthy of blogging.  That being said, I figured a few photos from various day trips would help fill the void of any followers (LOL).

On November 22 we decided to climb to the summit of Mt Benson in Nanaimo.  From what we could see the warmer weather had resulted in some snow melt which would make the climb a bit easier (especially to get to the top).

This was a "lung buster" of a climb as the majority of the trip up is a steep slope (>45 degrees), and consequently your knees take a beating on the way down.

There was not a large diversity of birds observed this trip, but that is to be expected at the higher elevations this time of year.

The following are some photos of flora or fauna observed


Ragbag Lichen (Platismatia glauca)
 
Menzies' Wintergreen (Chimaphila menziesii)

  
Gray Jay (Perisoreus canadensis) at the summit of Mt Benson

 A photo of myself with Nanimo and the Straight of Grogia behind me



Wednesday, 18 November 2015

November 18th

It has been a while since I dedicated some time to birding so with low winds and a clear sky I set out with scope and binos in hand.

I drove up to Qualicom River Estuary hitting the usual spots along the way (Englishman River Estuary, Mouth of French Creek, Qualicom Beach).  Overall it was a productive day with 56 species observed.

The following are some photos from today..

Englishman River Estuary

Surf Scoter

Female California Quail

Male and Female California Quail

Dunlin Rock


Monday, 9 November 2015

November 9 - Western Toad Tracking

Today I was fortunate enough to join a local research project which involves the radio tracking of Western Toads (Anaxyrus boreas).  It has been a while since I radio tracked herptiles, so this was an exciting trip.  Getting to the close proximity of the individuals was not the challenge, but finding them proved to be more challenging than the snakes I had radio tracked back in Ontario.  Regardless, we found a few individuals above ground and after data was collected a quick photograph of this handsome guy was taken.


                                      Western Toad with waistband transmitter

Pacific Treefrogs (Pseudacris regilla) were very vocal today (hearing frogs vocalizing in November is very much a treat for someone from Ontario), and we were were lucky enough to observe one on the ground.



Pacific Treefrog



No interesting birds observed today but I did have my eyes directed on the ground rather than towards the sky.
 


Tuesday, 3 November 2015

November 3...Campbell River

Today I made my way up to Campbell River for an interview and had to be back in Nanaimo for 5 to assist with some amphibian surveys so exploring Campbell River was restricted to a couple quick stops.

We visited the Quinsam River Salmon Hatchery to have a look at some salmon.  This hatchery allows visitors to get good looks at pink, coho and chinook salmon at various stages of their development. 

Salmon making its way over an obstacle 

 Salmon attempting to get over a larger obstacle


Before returning back to Nanaimo, we took the scenic route along the ocean to look for some birds, there wasn't anything outside of the ordinary but there were some pleasant scenic views.



Ohh, there was one bird worth mentioning, I didn't think much of it at first as they are fairly common back in Ontario, but this Snow Bunting is apparently not so commonly reported on Vancouver Island.

Snow Bunting along the beach

Friday, 30 October 2015

video

October 30th.....A quick look off the balcony resulted in an impressive show from this California Sea Lion (Zalophus californianus) devouring, what is likely, a chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta).  California Sea Lion are often mis-identified as Stellar Sea Lion (Eumetopias jubatus) as both occur in the area.  Typically, only male California Sea Lion migrate to BC waters during fall/winter and one way to tell the two species apart is coloration.  California Sea Lion are much darker than Stellar Sea Lion, and almost appear black when in the water.