Friday, March 26, 2010

Important Bird Area – B.C. 033

Throughout the world there are internationally recognized ‘Important Bird Areas’ – you can look them up on the web under that name.  One of these areas is the Chehalis Estuary, otherwise known as IBA B.C. 033.  I am fortunate to live on property that abuts this IBA. and am, in fact, a volunteer ‘caretaker’ of the area.  This role necessitates occasionally venturing out right onto the estuary, just to ‘check things out’.  Last Friday was one of these forays.


this time of the year the gravel flats of the estuary are exposed – in fact, right now the water levels are as low as I’ve ever seen and the gravel bars extend almost to the Harrison Bridge way off in the distance to the south.


Sometimes, in this gravel with sparse vegetation habitat we find species like Horned Larks, Killdeer, and American Pipit.  This trip all we found were a few pairs of Canada Geese.  That ‘tower’, erected by Hancock Wildlife Foundation holds solar panels and cameras.  Check out their website for more information.


Rather than continue on eastwards, we turned northwards towards one arm of the Chehalis River.  In the past, at this time of the year, Mountain Bluebirds and Western Meadowlark have been seen in this area….today only a few Tree Swallows were seen.


areas of grass and brush are interspersed with gravel beds that will be the first areas to hold water once snow melt happens and water levels start to rise.


as we approached the first main arm of the river, we spotted these Common Merganser lined up along the shore.


on the river itself were a couple of pairs of Common Goldeneye.  All duck species out here are pretty spooky and don’t allow for close approach – partly due, no doubt, to the fact that duck hunting is allowed.


we now started to follow the river northward….


the course of the river changes over the years, it used to be that the main channel was on the left, now it is on the right.


Beaver dams, like this one, are one contributing factor that changes the course of flow.


thigh high grasses line the shores of the river at this point.  Caution must be exercised as the grass can mask the undermined banks of the river….


we’re through the grass now and back to where you can walk along the shoreline.


This log jam has been here for many years, again, the river has changed, it used to be on the left side of this log jam, where it is all gravel now.  Once, when water levels were higher to allow for canoeing, we  saw a Green Heron on those logs.  This visit, a Great Blue Heron flew up from the side of them. At this point the river makes as sharp left hand turn…..


around the bend now, this is where we sat to eat our lunch.  There are usually a number of ducks on this stretch of the river….


Today was no exception, mostly Common Merganser like these (1 male and 3 female in photo), some Common Goldeneye and a few Mallard.


While we sat quietly eating lunch this pair of males drifted down past us affording a closer shot than can usually be managed.  Common Merganser nest on this stretch of the river….come summer it is not unusual to see several females with a large raft of youngsters.  Wood Ducks have also been known to nest here, although up the quieter off shoots of the river itself.


lunch over and no exciting species to be seen, it was time to head back…this shot is looking towards Eagle Point Park and the housing developments.


You can just make out some of the houses through the screen of trees in this shot of another pair of Canada Geese.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cheam Wetlands Regional Park

We don’t often go over to Cheam Wetlands for the simple reason that although it is quite near to where we live, dogs aren’t allowed.  There is a reason for this of course as it is a preserve for birds but when you have dogs that like to go for walks too, you tend to find other places where dogs and birds can co-mingle.

However, last Sunday we decided to walk the dogs elsewhere first and then go to the wetlands to see what was happening.  This area must be a little higher in elevation as it always seems to be just a little behind the general area in terms of leafing out.


Here is the first view you get from the parking lot, of the lake area. 


walking along the shoreline, heading towards the viewing platform…


and here is the view, looking out from the viewing platform, with the snow capped mountains forming a backdrop.  One of those waterfalls would be Bridal Falls.


There were a couple of Tree Swallows flying around one of the nesting boxes….very shortly their numbers will increase dramatically…


there were also a number of Canada Geese, most of which were paired up but not quite at the nesting stage yet, although definitely staking out territory!  We could spot a lock raft of ducks at the far end of the lake but couldn’t ID them.


this sleepy pair of Hooded Mergansers, a skittish pair of Wood Ducks and about a dozen Ring Neck Ducks were the only other waterfowl we saw.


as we headed back and down towards the ‘Loop Trail’


I could hear, coming from this reed bed, the unmistakable ‘buzzy’ call of the Marsh Wren…

022and there he was!  In fact there were a number of them calling from various spots in the reeds.  These guys are one of the earliest returning ‘migrants’.  The rest of the walk was fairly uneventful apart from what seemed like dozens of Black Cap Chickadees that all seemed to be paired up.


this quiet pond located along the walk had a pair of Canada Geese at the far end, along with a pair of Mallards.  Not quite the hot bed of bird activity there will be as spring progress’s.  Perhaps we’ll have to try to make another visit in a few weeks time.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Kane Valley photos

I had promised to post some pictures of the Kane Valley when it is not covered in snow.  I hadn’t thought it would take me quite this long to get to it but life seems to intervene with blogging sometimes.


This is the southern portion of Kane Lake.  That is Ernie and Shantz cooling off as this was taken in July on a warm sunny day.  There is a camping area on the south shore, favoured by those with horse trailers, and Harmon Lake, with it’s campground, is over there, behind those trees.

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If you recall I mentioned in an earlier posting that there is a demonstration forest at Harmon lake, complete with walking trails….well this area is one of the spots those walking trails take you to.  These are wild Larkspur in flower.  I didn’t check the date, but probably in late May or June.

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I had also mentioned that a couple of years ago we had spent a weekend camping  (the old fashioned way) at Upper Second Lake – the spot we stopped at for lunch on the 21st of February.  Well here is Ernie trying to figure out how to set up the new tent….

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and here is what the lake looks like in early July…

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there is camp – April had already discovered the sleeping bags on the air mattress so she was parked for the duration.

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the lake was so inviting that we pumped up the kayak…

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and I headed out. 


there were a lot of birds in the area that day, including lots of Cedar Waxwing…


a whole family of Yellow Warblers (this is daddy)….and


and the family of Spotted Sandpipers I mentioned in my previous post.

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another one day trip was taken the middle of August in 2008 when we were in the middle of a heat wave….we stopped at this location (almost the same place as the picture in part one of Feb. 21, 2010) to take pictures of and report the forest fire in the distance.  The temperature was 39 degrees Celsius  – Thank Goodness for air conditioning!

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now here are some wild flower shots taken that same July trip when we ‘roughed it’…

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that pink stuff is ‘Sticky Geranium’ and these pictures were all taken in the vicinity of Kane Lake…

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a closer look at the colourful wildflower field…

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and a bit further along up on a hillside where everything was mauve….these are all later types of wildflowers…

and finally a look at the shallow lake area we stopped at on the 21st of Feb….

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this is what it looks like in the summer.