Spring means busy
Queen Elizabeth Park
When the kids go to Gymnastics I used to
walk around Queen Elizabeth Park looking for birds - mostly Barred
was around 5pm so it was a good time to see owls and I managed to
see them on a number of walks. Fast forward a month, and an
hour time change and it's far from dusk and the park is swarming
with people looking at the daffodils and tulips. I was
pretty sad having walked for most of my 45 minutes only seeing
mallards and crows when I heard a hummingbird. After some
hunting, it turned out to be an Anna's Humingbird on it's nest.
Cherry Blossoms Photo Walk
Bob was liked the idea of going for a photo
walk (he is involved with other photo walks other than work) so we
picked a theme (Cherry Blossoms) and asked if anyone at the office
wanted to go. Zero affirmative replies. Bob and I went
There are something like 14 species of
cherry blossom trees in Vancouver but you can simplify that into
two groups - those that blossom early (generally for only a week
or two in early March) and those that blossom late (generally for
about 4 weeks until mid to late April). The early trees were
gone, but there are still lots of locations that have the late
blooming trees. My bike route to work has some so we stopped
there first to take in some trees.
Next we stopped in Fairview to get some
Cherry Blossoms with city views. I had a shot from a few
in mind but those trees were done. We found
some trees looking towards downtown, but I actually liked the view
toward the Frank Stanzl Building more. I learned a new world
- Brutalist - that describes they style of architecture. The
word and the building works well with the organic flowers.
Burrard street skytrain station has some
nice cherry blossoms, but they were all done by the time we drove
past. We went to Stanley park to see the cherry blossoms
next to the Rose Garden, but sadly they were all done as well
(save one tree). We did a quick drive around the seawall and
found one lonely tree. The light was poor for backgrounds
but the skylight (blue light) made for a nice soft portrait.
A fitting end for the day. Thanks Bob for driving and all
QE Park Again
Now that I know where a nesting hummingbird
is, I really wanted to go back and visit again! Saturday
rolled around and I walked right up to where I found it last time
- hummingbird is still there watching people go by, completely
hidden in plain sight.
I visited again a week later - no nest, no feathers,
nothing. I was quite sad. I don't know if the nest
fell to predators, fell off or was outgrown and there are two
small hummingbird babies out there. Good luck hummingbirds!
Birding Walk at Iona
I'm a member of Nature Vancouver so I
decided to try out a birding walk at Iona park. I've been to
Iona park before but I didn't have much luck. Turns out
there is much more to see off the jetty:
There are a number of different subspecies of "birders".
Your most common birder is the binocular and scopes kind - they
generally want to see a large number of species, even if there
sightings are very far away. These people often have
excellent bird identification skills - even a marginal sighting at
a far distance can be identified.
I've done a few walks the "binocular" style birders - I have a
lens that can just barely keep up with binoculars and is poor
compared to a good spotting scope. I find the photos are
often of small birds far away, but you often see behaviour and
species I'm not familiar with. It's challenging to keep up
with, but the rewards are certainly present.
The second kind of birder if the
photographer. They generally have big lenses and often have
tripods. They are more concerned with birds that are close -
20 meters or less. The birds are generally more common, but
being so close you get a lot more appreciation of details.
Obviously I fall into this catagory, but on the Nature Vancouver
walk I wasn't alone. Roughly four members of the twenty
people out were clearly photographers.
There are other kinds of birders, but
they seem to be rarer. I've seen people that are very good
with bird calls - can pick out a species out of a cacophony of
background noise. I've seen biologiest - mist netting and
banding. I'm sure there is more. The only way to
discover more is more birding walks!
Flight Path Park
Flight Path Park is the perfect combination
of close to picnic friendly lunch places, enough free parking
spots and empty picnic benches. The kids can ride their
bikes without the fear of getting hit by a car and there is lots
of planes going by to keep their attention. We stopped for
lunch and the kids had a good time.
Riefle Bird Sanctuary
Helen was working this weekend so
outings need to play double duty. I want something fun to do but the
kids need to be entertained. Riefle hits those points - the kids
like to feed the ducks and when they are busy, I can take photos.
And there is a picnic at the end! What isn't to like?
I was hoping to see baby
ducks and other baby behaviour. It seemed a bit too early for
baby ducks - we only saw a few mallard chicks, but a lot of birds
were building nests. A few Canadian geese were sitting on
their nests which the kids seem to enjoy seeing. I like
to see the house sparrows building their nests in the building
rafters - it was cute to see both the males and females working
together on a project. The sandhill cranes had their nesting
island staked out (and keep out signs were posted) but there wasn't
much nesting going on yet.
Fun for everyone - home by 1:30 and Claira is off to nap.
Nara has class on Sunday mornings in
Richmond so Claira and I often hang out in Richmond and wait for
here class to complete. I got word that their were native
lilies blooming at Finn Slough we I set the google maps and away
Claira hasn't been to Finn Slough before and I
completly forgot that the bridge didn't have railings.
Claira did well but I didn't feel comfortable letting her run
around while I slowly took photos of flowers. Of course
once the iPhone and Movies came out, she was happy to sit still
while I took photos. The lily's are quite diminutive -
easy to overlook. They appear to have just started
Finn Slough was in it's regular state of repair/disrepair.
People were actively working on improving buildings, but there is
a lot of assets in advanced state of disrepair. It was
pointed out that Finn Slough isn't boat worthy - it hasn't been
dredged in a very long time. I'm curious how services like
water and sewage work here.
Crabbing at Sandheads
My friend Scott owns a boat and from time
to time he needs people to join him so he can use the HOV lane and
ballast the boat. I've wanted to go a few times, but I was
finally able to make it happen. Overall the plan is pretty
simple - leave the office at 4pm, on the boat by 5pm and motor
down the Fraser river to the Sandhead lighthouse, take a right and
drop crab traps. Wait about 40 minutes and pull up the crab
traps. Drive past the Sealions on the way back and back in
the marina before night.
The Fraser river is busy with industrial
traffic so we spent much of the trip looking at barges loaded with
trailers and rail cars, big ships hauling lumber to mills and car
carriers. I was quite surprised to see Sandheads
lighthouse. The last time I saw it, it was a building that
had people inside - now it's automated.
Scott bought some chicken at lunch and had
three traps on board. We assembled the traps, put some bait
in the bait bags and dropped the traps overboard with a long line
attached (roughly 25 to 50 feet of water). After the traps
were down (and their positions noted on the GPS, we enjoyed the
view and Scott's upgraded stereo system. Picking up the
traps is pretty easy - Scott drives by and we hook the line with a
gaff hook. We haul the rope up and found generally about 7
crabs in each trap. Each crab has to be sized and sexed -
most went back overboard because they were two small - I think we
took home six keepers.
After crabbing, we drove by the rock jetty
(which helps keep the Fraser river flowing in a navigation
friendly direction) and watched the Steller Sea Lions. They
aren't very active (apparently they mostly feed at night) but from
time to time a large male will rise up to look around.
We took the long way back, threading through some of the smaller
islands in the Fraser River. The larger channels are lined
with house boats and fish packing plants. The smaller
channels look like great kayaking day trips.
Scott parked the boat, killed the crabs and we were on our way
back home. Thanks for a great evening Scott!
Nara's Birthday Party
This year we booked Nara's birthday at The
Adventure Zone in the Kids Market at Granville Island. The
Adventure Zone has a multi-story playground with attached party
rooms for snacks and cake. For the most part, the kids know
what to do - most have been before or have a sibling inside and
they just copy. Our booking was 10am until noon - the Kids
Market also opens at 10am so it's basically door open, start
playing! We walked down and were a few minutes early so we
started playing at the outdoor playground so Nara was warmed up
before the formal event.
The party was broken into three parts - play at the playground,
get some cake, juice and vegetables, play some more. The
kids seemed fine with this format.
Nara has just turned six and a lot of her peers are "drop off
kids" - the parents go shopping for an hour or two while the kid
are okay. Taking care of 16 kids is a bit of an ask - we
actually lost one. Not really lost - when we gathered up the
kids to have snack and cupcakes, we forgot one kid in the
playground. The playground is mildly supervised (staff at
the gate) so she could have asked to come out, but never
did. We only figured it out in the second play period.
With more than a dozen kids, the kids seemed to find partners and
play together on various missions. A favorite was to take
the balls from the ball pit to the top of the slide.
Thanks everyone for joining us!
Tags: cherry blossoms(7), Iona Beach Regional Park(7), nest(6), Vancouver(6), Finn Slough(5), Queen Elizabeth Park(4)
People: Nara(6), Claira(6), Abby(2), Eric(1), Haley(1), Marcus(1)
From: John Harvey Photo > Blogs for 2023 to 2005 > April 2016
Last Modified Saturday, January 28th, 2023 at 23:16:23 Edit
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