April 28, 2004

Kids Release Chum Fry Into Byrne Creek

Yesterday Byrne Creek Streamkeepers helped several classes of grade three children from Nelson Elementary in Burnaby release about 20,000 chum fry into Byrne Creek.

It turned out to be a beautiful sunny day, and as teachers, parents, kids and streamkeepers waited for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans truck to arrive from the Bell-Irving Hatchery at Kanaka Creek, we toured the artificial salmon spawning habitat, and the ravine park.

Streamkeepers pointed out indigenous fry and small cutthroat trout, and a wide variety of invasive species that are attacking the creek.

At last the truck arrived, and the fun began. It's heartwarming to see parents and teachers lose their inhibitions and ape the kids in the pure joy of releasing the tiny, 4-5cm fry into the urban wild.

Posted by Paul at 05:56 PM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2004

Streamkeepers, Stream of Dreams, Mentioned in BC Legislature

BC MLA Patty Sahota mentioned the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers and the Stream of Dreams in the provincial legislature as examples of succesful, hard-working volunteers!

Speaking about the Burnaby Festival of Volunteers organized by Volunteer Burnaby, Sahota said:

"Many people volunteer because it allows them a chance to give something back to their neighbourhood or to their community. Organizations like the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers are a prime example of volunteers who have shown dedication and determination in the face of adversity and have won the support of the community with their Stream of Dreams."

You can find the full Hansard entry here.

Posted by Paul at 08:34 PM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2004

A Tale of Herons, Salamanders, Orchids and Shrews

My wife and I went to "A Tale of Herons, Salamanders, Orchids and Shrews" on Wednesday, April 21.

Ross Vennesland, a species at risk biologist with the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection gave the presentation at the Fraser River Discovery Centre, in conjunction with the Douglas College Institute of Urban Ecology.

Ross said 19 species are known to be extinct or extirpated in BC so far, and that biologists are expecting a massive increase in extinctions in the future.

While 12% of BC land is designated as parks, he said that unfortunately there was little overlap between parks and areas with species at risk.

COSEWIC, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, is the federal body charged with assessing and listing species at risk, while in BC, provincial info on endangered species and ecosystems can be found here.

Ross said that while polls show that in principle, over 60% of people strongly support species at risk legislation, and 28% somewhat support it, they are probably not aware of how costly it would be to save many at risk species.

He then focused on the four species in the title of his presentation, and it was a fascinating lecture. There were many questions from the appreciative audience.

Posted by Paul at 05:48 PM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2004

Review - Starting and Running a Nonprofit Organization

Starting and Running a Nonprofit Organization
Joan M. Hummel
2nd Edition

A good introduction to exactly what the title states.

This well-written, concise guide covers a lot of the bases, with emphasis on setting goals and measuring results.

Whether dealing with setting up an effective board of directors, raising funds, running the office and coordinating volunteers, or compiling and monitoring budgets, this book offers sage advice.

While aimed at a U.S. audience, I found plenty of information to put to good use in Canada.

Posted by Paul at 07:56 PM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2004

Marlborough School Hosts Stream of Dreams

The Stream of Dreams rolled into Marlborough School in Burnaby this morning, kicking off a huge project to teach kids about their watersheds, and paint dream fish and other animals for display on the chainlink fence around their school.

Kudos to the school, staff, parents, and kids for starting such a great event on Earth Day.

I attended the first few sessions this morning as the freshly minted, learning-as-I-go president of the Stream of Dreams Murals Society. It was educational to see founders Louise Towell and Joan Carne in action -- Joan in the classroom teaching kids how watersheds work, and Louise leading them in painting their own dream fish.


It's a sight to behold as teachers, kids, parents, and volunteers pitch in.

I hope to attend a few more sessions over the next week.

Posted by Paul at 12:31 PM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2004

2010 Olympics: How Can My Business Get Involved?

The Burnaby Board of Trade luncheon today featured Ian Tate, former director of Community Relations for the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation, and he was full of enthusiasm and ideas for how local businesses could captilize on the 2010 Olympic Games.

One of his major themes was turning 17 days (the actual length of the games) into 17 years of opportunity. That means businesses should already be doing their homework, finding and capitalizing on opportunities, and figuring out ways to make all that hard work continue to benefit them locally, and even globally.

Tate pointed out that we will be having incredible media exposure that has already begun, and that will extend through the games and beyond.

People want to come and see what Vancouver and BC have to offer.

He also talked about how the Olympics can be a catalyst for change, and mentioned social, arts and environmental aspects.

In summation, he told the crowd, "You're only constrained by your imagination."

Posted by Paul at 09:31 PM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2004

Silly Error Appears in Maclean's Japan Story

Why do western newspapers and magazines continue to publish cutesy stories about Japan without checking facts?

In the April 26, 2004, Maclean's, Steve Burgess writes: "Such unusual touches and jarring cultural snapshots have caused westerners to put Japan under a microscope for years." OK, one would assume that he would then have a passing acquaintance with his subject.

However, he later states: "Japanese writing features three different sets of characters. One of them is reserved exclusively for spelling out things that are not Japanese, such as the signs of foreign-owned restaurants." Not true.

If you look at the main photograph accompanying the article, it shows several Japanese companies displaying their names in katakana, the script that is supposedly reserved only for foreign words, or even in English characters, for huge outdoor advertisements.

I have beside me a Japanese-language catalog from electronics retailer Yodobashi Camera from my last trip to Japan a few months ago. The Yodobashi Camera logo is in katakana. Inside the catalog names of leading Japanese companies including Sony, Nikon, Canon, etc., are rendered in katakana, or simply in English characters.

Better take another look into that microscope!

Posted by Paul at 08:44 PM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2004

Milky Substance Enters Byrne Creek

A milky, light bluish substance with soapy suds passed through Byrne Creek today.

My wife and I noticed it in pools in the ravine mid-afternoon, however when we went down to check again around 6:00 p.m., it had cleared out of the creek.


Fortunately we spotted fry, small cutthroat trout and a coho smolt, so it couldn't have been overly toxic. Another mystery spill or runoff.

Posted by Paul at 10:51 PM | Comments (0)

April 18, 2004

Iona Beach Regional Park

We went to Iona Beach Regional Park today for the first time. The park is well-known by airplane watchers, as it has a great view of Vancouver International Airport.

You can stand and watch plane after plane descend into the airport and land. It's quite a sight. The park is part of the Greater Vancouver Regional District system and offers beach, dune and marsh trails, along with access to the north arm of the Fraser River.


There is also a 4km jetty extending into the Strait of Georgia that has a path on it, however we had to get home and couldn't walk it -- that's a project for another day.


Posted by Paul at 08:11 PM | Comments (0)

Sunny Sunday at VanDusen Garden

With threatening clouds in Burnaby, we headed west into Vancouver and spent a wonderful couple of hours wandering around the VanDusen Botanical Garden under mostly sunny skies.


We go the the garden several times a year, and the change since we were there a few weeks ago was amazing. There was a much wider variety of blossoms and flowers.


The tutles were out in force, basking in the warm sun.

A Great Blue Heron was there too -- likely the same one we saw a few weeks ago -- and is so accustomed to photographers that it allows people to come within a meter or two.


Posted by Paul at 06:15 PM | Comments (0)

April 17, 2004

Eagle Optics Provides Great Service

We ordered two Audubon 6 X 16 monoculars from Eagle Optics last week.


The cute, close-focusing (3 feet) monoculars arrived yesterday, however unfortunately one of them had a loose lens that clinked when shaken.

I e-mailed Eagle Optics and received a response the next day that a new monocular would be shipped to us, and that we could keep "Klinky" as well.

Great service!

We intend to use the close-focusing ability for streamkeeper activities such as identifying fry and bugs in the wild.

Posted by Paul at 08:17 PM | Comments (0)

Reifel Sanctuary Teeming With Species

We spent a sunny afternoon at the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary in Delta and identified a wide variety of birds.

See our complete list:

Canada Goose
Snow Goose
Greater White-Fronted Goose
Red-Winged Blackbird
Song Sparrow
Great Blue Heron
Sandhill Crane
Wood Duck
Green-Winged Teal
Northern Pintail
Northern Shoveler
American Wigeon
Lesser Scaup
American Coot
? Hawk
Baird's ? Sandpiper
Rufous Humingbird
Black-Capped Chickadee
Bald Eagle
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
House Finch

Not bad for a couple of birding newbies!

Unfortunately I don't have any photos yet, as I was using up a roll of film in my old Nikon F2 instead of shooting with my digital camera.

Posted by Paul at 08:08 PM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2004

Fish Trapping Finds Duck, Robin Eggs

A group of Byrne Creek Streamkeepers out placing traps to try to catch, identify, and release fry and other fish ran across one intact and several hatched mallard eggs, and one intact robin egg that had fallen on the ground in the salmon spawning habitat.

Since all the other mallard eggs were hatched, we suspected the intact one was a "dud," so to speak.

We couldn't spot the robin nest and in the heat of the moment, I brought the robin egg home with the misguided idea that perhaps it may still hatch.

After searching the Web, I discovered what common sense should have told me in the first place -- even in the unlikely event that the egg hatched, the bird would still be doomed, for it would imprint upon us and never be able to survive in the wild.

Another example of silly good intentions :-(.


Posted by Paul at 09:32 PM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2004

Byrne Creek Observations

Yesterday my wife Yumi and I made a number of interesting observations in and around Byrne Creek.

1) Dam: Someone had rolled rocks into the creek from the right-bank riprap embankment above the footbridge at the bottom of the ravine to create a dam. We rolled several of them back, but need to go again with rubber boots to get more out of the channel.

2) Turtle: We saw a fairly large turtle basking on a fallen tree extending into the overflow pond in the salmon spawning habitat. Likely about 6-7" carapace. It was covered with mud and disappeared into the water as we approached so we were not able to identify the species.

3) Ducklings: We saw a mallard Mom with a brood of 13 ducklings in the overflow pond several days ago. We spotted them several times again as low as Byrne Bridge and as high as the top end of the Southridge culvert. Unfortunately we found at least three of them dead in the sediment pond, with perhaps more assorted body parts. Update: Today we saw her again and she was down to four ducklings, illustrating a low survival rate.


You can barely make out the oil surrounding this duckling in this photo by my wife Yumi, who took all the photos in this entry.

4) Erosion: I don't know if it's our imaginations, but it seems like the side of the ravine above the path in the area of tag 519 is becoming increasingly denuded of vegetation, and that what were once tiny paths are becoming wider trails. We've seen mountain bikers up in that area several times.... Could be a good place to try some photopoint monitoring.

5) Oil: There was still an oily film entering and accumulating in the sediment pond.

6) Shrews?: We saw two tiny mammals on and near the ravine stairs. Looked like little brown fuzzballs. Body size barely over an inch, slender nose, long bare tail. They were unafraid, and made little effort to hide or run away. Could be new babies?


Posted by Paul at 08:08 PM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2004

Photopoint Monitoring Workshop - Bowen Island

Bowen Island Stewards (BIFWMS, BI Land Conservancy, etc.) gathered for a one-day pilot session on April 10 to learn about the Photopoint Monitoring technique for making archival photo records that is ideal for monitoring changes in habitat.

I joined the workshop as a representative from the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers in Burnaby, and I think we can put the methodology to good use in our creek to monitor erosion and streambed changes.

Rob Knight, a project coordinator with the BC Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection volunteered to run the workshop on an Easter weekend Saturday, and was also kind enough to meet me on the ferry and drive me around the island.

Rob also gave a presentation on the Community Mapping Network project and demonstrated how field data can be entered and shared through its online database. Check it out here.

It was a gorgeous day, and all of the participants enjoyed getting out in the field with some local volunteers who are restoring a wetland on Bowen Island.

I dusted off some of my old Nikon camera equipment that I hadn't used in years, as the method requires a 35mm SLR with a fixed 50mm lens for all photos. It felt good to have that hefty old F2 in my hands again, and I'm looking forward to trying out some photopoint techniques in our creek.

There are links to Photopoint Monitoring info here.

Posted by Paul at 06:35 PM | Comments (0)

Burnaby Symphony - Young Artists of the Future

We attended this Burnaby Symphony fundraising event last night at the Vancouver Hilton Metrotown, and were blown away by the amazing talent of the five young pianists and one violinist.

The kids ranged in age from 10 to 14 and displayed astounding mastery of their instruments. It boggles the mind to imagine how they will sound ten years from now as young adults.

Kudos to the event organizers, and the hotel for providing the facilities free of charge!

Posted by Paul at 06:10 PM | Comments (0)

April 04, 2004

Chum Fry Identified in Byrne Creek

We've been seeing increasing numbers of fry (baby fish) throughout Byrne Creek over the last week, and a few days ago began seeing schools of them in the sediment pond and the spawning channel.

Today my wife Yumi and our friend Maho managed to net a couple. They took photos and identified them as chum salmon. That is good news and adds to the coho salmon fry we began seeing at the beginning of March.

The coho hang around in the creek for a year before heading out to sea, while the chum stay for only a few weeks.


Posted by Paul at 06:31 PM | Comments (0)

April 03, 2004

Eight Step Editing with Jim Taylor

I attended Jim Taylor's informative and entertaining "Eight Step Editing" workshop today that was put on by the BC branch of the Editors' Association of Canada.

It was well worth the $90 fee. I won't steal Jim's thunder, I'll just say that anyone who has to write or edit anything would benefit from this workshop.

Jim has an excellent 76-page booklet that he hands out to participants, which contains plenty of excercises that are done in the workshop, and at home.

He puts on an excellent presentation, full of humour and wit, and leaves participants begging for more.

Highly recommended!

Posted by Paul at 06:46 PM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2004

April Fry Day -- No Foolin'

There are fry (baby fish) busting out all over Byrne Creek, and we also found a dead frog in the sediment pond today.

Here are our observations:

-- Dozen new fry in the sandy area just below the old weir.

-- One small fry-sized dark fish just above new weir. Could be one of the mysterious dark ones that zoom about.

-- Several dozen fry above Byrne Bridge.

-- Several dozen fry above and below Meadow Bridge.

-- Saw a few fry in the overflow pond.

-- Dead frog at lower end of the sediment pond. Fished it out and took some photos. Nose to end of bent legs about 6.5cm. No obvious external damage. Not identified yet.

-- Two schools of fry in the sediment pond. One at lower end and one around the gravel pile near the upper end.

-- The usual midsize to large cutthroat in the sediment pond -- wonder how long the schools of fry will last!

Excited at seeing so many fish we then proceeded backwards (moving downstream) through the spawning channel.

-- 1 midsize cutthroat or coho smolt near tag 513.

-- School of fry near tag 511, at least 30-40.

-- A couple of fry near tag 510.

-- A small fish, larger than fry, perhaps 7cm, near tag 509.

-- 1 midsize cutthroat or coho smolt near tag 508 under stump, could only see tail.

WOW!!! A beautiful day, and fish all over :-).

Posted by Paul at 09:42 PM | Comments (0)