We added Yumi's beautiful salmon lanterns to our Halloween display this year. We're calling them the "Ghost Salmon of Byrne Creek."
The fish seem appropriate since the creek is right behind our townhouse complex, and there are salmon spawning in it right now. They die after they spawn, and we've invited their spirits to join us on Halloween.
And just for fun, here's a close-up of the pumpkins Yumi carved this year.
Yumi and I volunteer with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers, and at this time of year our main activitiy is counting and processing returning chum and coho salmon that return to the creek, spawn and die. We measure them, cut them open to confirm sex and spawning activity, and then cut them in half so we don't double count, and return them to the stream to provide nutrients for the cycle of life.
While we try to walk the creek nearly every day, our "official" spawner counting day is every Wednesday.
Area covered: Byrne Bridge to halfway between Tags 516 & 517 (slide area)
We didn't have time to cover the full ravine today.
Time: 3:00 - 4:15 p.m. Sunny and clear.
There were 3 chum spawning about 7-8m downstream of Meadow Bridge, and more gravel had been cleared just below the d/s side of the bridge.
Nothing in the spawning channel and no signs of gravel/cobble disturbance.
Saw a total of 14 live chum in the sediment pond, and 2 dead (Tag 514).
Saw 2 live chum spawning in the lower end of the culvert running under Southridge Dr.
So a total of 19 live chum, 2 dead, to bring the running total by my count to 26 chum spotted, 7 processed so far this year.
Details on morts:
1 chum male, E-T 58cm, N-F 73cm. All fins. Likely spawned but plenty of milt still left.
1 chum male, E-T 57cm, N-F 69cm. All fins. Likely spawned but plenty of milt still left.
After processing them, we took both carcasses and planted them in the stream just below the slide area in the ravine, about halfway between Tags 516 and 517. We do this to encourage newly arriving fish to try to move higher up the creek, and to provide nutrients in the ravine area.
CSI Yumi held her breath for about 7 minutes, and reconstructed the badly chewed up/eaten female chum we found dragged up onto the bank beneath some blackberry bushes at Tag 515 at the top end of the culvert yesterday. Estimated E-T 60cm, estimated N-F 74cm. Yumi then returned her to the creek.
The Stream of Dreams Murals Society had its first annual general meeting Sunday.
As president, I am pleased to report that all of the five previous directors stood for reelection, and three more people agreed to join to make a total of eight directors.
We followed the AGM with a board meeting at which many important issues were resolved, including the establishment of several committees.
The society is growing rapidly, and getting a handle on that expansion is going to be a big job. I'm glad that both the board and general membership are growing, and that volunteers are stepping up to the plate to move the society forward.
The Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra kicked off a new season tonight with a number of crowd pleasers, including an inspiring solo flute performance by Lorna McGee.
This dedicated group of amateurs has to be one of the lower mainland's best "bang for the buck" offerings of classical music. Highly recommended.
My wife Yumi and I volunteer with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers, and at this time of year when spawning salmon are returning to the creek, we check it carefully every Wednesday, while other volunteers take other days.
We are fortunate to run our own business, so we are able to get out for a couple of hours in the daytime as the days grow increasingly shorter.
We send an email out to our members when we're done, and here is today's report:
Oct. 20, 2004 Spawner Patrol
Paul and Yumi
From confluence of Byrne and John Mathews Creeks to ravine stairs (tag 521).
10:30 - 1:00. Overcast with sunny breaks.
Saw one live, listless chum just below the upstream side of Byrne Bridge. Disappeared under bridge before we could take a guess as to male or female, but it was on the large side.
Processed one dead chum 10m upstream of Byrne Bridge. Most of the head was eaten away, and there were raccoon tracks around. It was a fully spawned-out female, only a couple of eggs left inside. Eye-to-base of tail 58cm. Nose-to-fork estimated at 70cm. All fins intact.
No signs of fish or spawning activity in the habitat channel.
Saw one live chum in the sediment pond, possibly two or more, however accumulation of oily substance on surface and silt stirred up by the fish made it impossible to confirm more than one.
So today's total: 2 live chum (possibly 1 or 2 more) and 1 dead chum.
Saw nothing in the ravine, however there were a couple of mildly fishy smelling areas and loads of raccoon tracks in several places.
I attended my first meeting of the Edmonds Town Centre Business & Community Association and found it to be an excellent experience.
Louise Towell and Joan Carne, founders of the Stream of Dreams Murals Society, of which I am now president, have been members for some time, so I thought I should check it out.
In addition to community businesses, the Burnaby RCMP, Fire Department and Mayor's Office are represented at the meetings.
It appears to be a valuable organization of people dedicated to seeing their neighborhood grow and prosper.
I signed up our company as a member, and hope to attend more meetings in the future.
We saw spawning chum salmon dancing in Byrne Creek today. It's incredibly moving to watch them giving up their lives so a new generation of salmon can live.
The females flip sideways and flail at the gravel with their tails, digging out depressions in the streambed called "redds" in which to deposit their eggs, while accompanying males circle them.
They are choosy -- they need a certain size of gravel or cobble for their eggs to survive, and if you look closely, you can see they have tested several areas in the creek.
I find myself moved nearly to tears as I watch these wonderful fish spawn in my own back yard, in the middle of a growing city.
We can do it. We can preserve and enhance habitat, even in urban areas. We just need the will, the effort, and the discipline.
It's amazing to hear the call of the wild, just steps from our back doors.
Yumi and I lucked into spotting one returning chum spawner in Byrne Creek today at around 12:30.
We were standing at the side of the creek just downstream of the wooden footbridge in the ravine when she (Yumi insists it was a girl) came zooming up the creek in an energetic sprint through the riffles.
She then disappeared into the deeper, murky water beneath the bridge and we didn't see her again.
It's not uncommon to see a male not far behind, and while we continued to watch for about 10-15 minutes we didn't see any suitors in pursuit.
We checked the rest of the creek fairly carefully as far down as Byrne Bridge, however it was too deep and murky in most places to see anything.
It was raining steadily the whole time. The sediement pond in the habitat was slightly overflowing, and the water temperature at the lower end was 12.5C, and beneath the footbridge it was 12C. Air temperature was 10C.
Last year the first returning spawning chum salmon were spotted on Oct. 18, so today's result was very consistent.
I also sent variations on the message to Fisheries Minister Geoff Regan, and Industry Minister David Emerson, the senior minister in British Columbia.
I am dismayed to hear that the budget for the popular and effective Salmonid Enhancement Program run by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans may be slashed.
Dollar for dollar this is one of the most beneficial programs the DFO runs, because it has a huge multiplier effect by supporting the work of thousands of volunteers all over British Columbia.
I am proud to count myself among such volunteers, as my wife and I dedicate hundreds of hours per year to the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers in Burnaby, BC. Our passionate, community minded group greatly appreciates the support it receives through this program.
I am appalled that the government can boast of a budget surplus of over $9 billion, and then contemplate cutting back an incredibly cost-effective, grass roots program.
Salmon runs in BC are an annual multimillion dollar renewable resource that is under ever-increasing pressure from over-fishing and environmental destruction.
In our particular case, the work of DFO community advisers and dedicated volunteers brought a dead urban creek back to life. We expect to see salmon returning to spawn beneath the shadows of high-rise condominiums any day now.
Please don't let us down.
Apprently there are moves afoot to cut the Department of Fisheries and Oceans $25 million budget for its Salmonid Enhancement Program by $4 million. This is a very popular and effective program that has a huge multiplier effect by supporting thousands of volunteers on the west coast.
This is also the program that provides small grants for streamkeeping groups like the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers, and chum fry and coho smolts to release in the creek every spring.
Please write letters or email messages expressing your concerns.
Prime Minister Paul Martin
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington St.
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A2
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans
The Honourable Geoff Regan
HOUSE OF COMMONS
Minister, Fisheries and Oceans
Parliament Buildings, Wellington Street
Canada, K1A 0A6
The Honourable David Emerson (Senior BC minister)
Minister of Industry
5th Floor, West Tower
C.D. Howe Building
235 Queen Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H5
Tel.: (613) 995-9001
Fax: (613) 992-0302
Find the email address and snail mail address of your local MP in this directory.
Chum spawners have started returning to Stoney Creek in Burnaby, so they should appear soon in Byrne Creek. We first spotted spawners in Byrne Creek last year on Oct. 18. Hope we get some rain soon!
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It's still a bit early for Byrne Creek, however the recent rains and richly hued autumn colours have spawning salmon dancing in my head.
The spawners usually arrive closer to the end of October, but there's a new bounce to my step, and a heightened awareness of the sights and sounds of nature when I ramble down the ravine and along the creek these days.
I check the pools and peer into riffles, my nose twitching for the scent of decaying fish. That's how you find the hidden ones -- you smell them before you see them....
It may sound awful, but it's nature's cycle. Spawn, die, and fertilize the creek to prepare it for the next generation of fish.
Who knows when the first returning spawners will be spotted?
It's been a bad year so far for returning salmon on the Fraser River, but I have high hopes for our little urban creek.
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan made a moving speech about breast cancer at the Burnaby Board of Trade 2004 Business Excellence Awards luncheon yesterday. He pledged to have his head shaved today to raise funds for breast cancer research.
Corrigan said he, and other city staff, would have their heads shaved to stand in solidarity with a city employee who recently underwent surgery and chemotherapy for breast cancer.
Corrigan said he wanted to speak to the men in the audience, and tell them that one in nine women will get breast cancer, and to think about their mothers, wives, sisters, daughters and friends.
I happen to be president of the society, and am pleased to announce that the Stream of Dreams Murals Society was named as a finalist in four categories:
Achievements like this would not be possible without the support of Byrne Creek Streamkeepers volunteers, dozens of school and community volunteers, and SDMS board members.
The winners will be announced at the Burnaby Business Excellence Awards Dinner on Nov. 4 at the Hilton Vancouver Metrotown.
Congratulations to Louise and Joan!
I went to the Telus website a few moments ago for my several-times-a-year check to see if high-speed ADSL Internet is available yet in my 101-unit townhouse complex in the same city as Telus headquarters. I've been doing this for three years now.
I'm on Shaw Cable, and am pretty much satisfied with it, yet it would be nice to have some competition available.
I used to click the "Availabilty" link on the Telus site, enter my phone number or address into a simple form, and groan every time when the response was that ADSL was not available at my address.
This time however, I was shocked to be turned away because I was running an "incompatible browser" -- Firefox on Windows 2000.
I copied the URL from Firefox, started IE, popped in the URL, and discovered that to use the Availablity Wizard, Telus wanted me to download and install some software!
What ever happened to simple Web standards? What ever happened to serving the broadest possible spectrum of customers?
Wait a minute -- what if I tried the "Mac Users click here" link, even though I'm on a Windows machine? Say what? There's that simple form where I can type in my phone number, even with Firefox.
Who thought up this site design? I don't get it.
And, by the way, I still can't get it. Telus ADSL, that is....
Ichiro has set a new MLB hit record at 258, at his very next at bat after he tied the record. Amazing!
Hit 257, for a well-earned tie with "Gorgeous" George Sisler, who set the record in, get this, 1920!
I was having problems burning DVDs, even though I upgraded to the latest version of Nero 6 Ultra Edition. Nero often locked up my Windows 2000 box when trying to burn a DVD, and I'd have to do a hard boot to get it going again.
I then tried Terabyte's Image for DOS program that is supposed to create and burn complete hard drive images onto DVD+-R discs. The program complained that it couldn't even find a CD or DVD writer!
I could read data *from* CD and DVD discs, so what was going on?
I took a look at the BIOS, and strangely there was no entry for a DVD writer in the boot sequence. That got the grey cells stirring as I began remembering that there were issues with the Promise UltraDMA/100 controller and this particular motherboard. The board has four IDE channels -- a primary and secondary UltraDMA/100, and a primary and secondary UltraDMA/66/33. The 100s appear to Windows as SCSI devices, not IDE devices, so perhaps that was preventing the buring programs from seeing the DVD writer as an ATAPI device.
Sure enough, as soon as I moved the DVD writer to an UltraDMA/66/33 channel, Image for DOS happily churned out and burned a complete image of my hard disk spanned onto five DVD+R discs.
Maybe it's time to get a new computer and quit tearing my hair out over this ancient VIA-based system! I've also discovered that the AMD Thunderbird 800 cpu simply hasn't got the juice to handle some of the latest audio/video programs that came with the latest Nero. Honey? Can I buy a new computer?