May 25, 2005

Fresh Coho Fry in Byrne Creek are Cutthroat!

Yumi and I netted one of the new, small fry that we've been seeing in Byrne Creek the last few days. It was a tish longer than 3cm. Initially we thought it was a coho, but debate with other streamkeepers and research in identification guides makes it a cutthroat trout.

Yumi took this photo of it before we released it.

byrne_creek_coho_fry_20050525.jpg

Posted by Paul at 03:47 PM

May 24, 2005

Lots of Good Bugs in Byrne Creek

Yumi and I checked out Byrne Creek carefully again today and saw lots of caddisfly larva! We saw a total of 16 of them while we were looking for fry, ranging from u/s of Tag 517, all the way down to just above the stop log at the upper end of the sediment pond, and even below the gravel pile in the sediment pond. There were also loads of mayflies, including beneath rocks in the gravel pile in the sediment pond.

Caddisflies and mayflies do not tolerate pollution, so things are looking good!

Posted by Paul at 08:54 PM

May 23, 2005

Victoria Day Byrne Creek Observations

Yumi and I spent a couple of hours this lovely afternoon poking around along Byrne Creek. A few observations:

The most interesting was a small coho fry in the sediment pond just below the gravel pile. There were lots of larger coho fry in the 5-6+cm range, however this one was distinctly smaller, perhaps 3.5-4cm, and swimming alone. This makes us wonder if we got late coho spawners that we missed. We had a similar phenomenon last spring, with batches of small coho fry appearing months apart. Hm..... We're going to keep a sharp eye out to see if we spot any more small coho babes, or if this one was just some strange runt of the litter.

NOTE: All of the fry that we initially thought were late coho are more likely cutthroat trout... Live and learn :-).

There were lots of cutthroat and coho smolts in the sediment pond as well. Their numbers have been increasing over the last few weeks. Interesting to see how they move about the system. The incoming water was slightly soapy and there was oily film on the surface.

Saw lots of tiny stickleback at the upper end of the overflow pond, and more at the lower end.

We also saw a coho fry at Tag 531, and at least half a dozen at Tag 532. This is d/s of the Hell Hole, but above the Hedley outfall.

Somebody built a fire on top of the roots of the big cedar near the Hell Hole again. This time they dragged woody debris out of the bush. There were broken beer bottles and a can of fire starter. We've broken up fire rings there several times, however I think we need to clean up the area and cover the burned roots with earth. I think the dead coals and ashes attract more use, and Parks has never done anything about it.

There were lots of people walking the ravine, and we did some PR work, pointing out fry etc. Met one middle-aged fellow and his wife who said they had recently discovered the ravine and were so impressed that they sent an email to Burnaby Parks telling them how much they liked it! They had heard of the '98 toxic spill into Byrne Creek and were happy to hear that we were getting spawners back and that there were lots of fry.

There were lots of mayflies beneath stones wherever we looked in the ravine.

We saw a 12cm crayfish just below the Southridge culvert in shallow water, and it was acting strange, showing no fear and moving in a tight circle in the bright sunlight. Closer observation showed it was injured, with the antenna and eye damaged on the side it was constantly turning away from.

Here's a photo that Yumi took:

injured_crayfish_byrne_creek_20050523.jpg

The Morning Glory is really starting to take off along the Brynlor trail. We pulled some off of young maples and salmonberries.

Water temp at the footbridge (Tag 516) was 12C, and at the lower end of the SedPond (Tag 514) it was 13C.

An interesting afternoon!

Posted by Paul at 07:38 PM

May 22, 2005

Educational, Entertaining Streamkeepers' Conference

Yumi and I attended Workshop 2005, a BC streamkeepers' conference that is held every two years. This time it was at the North Vancouver Outdoor School near Squamish.

It was the first time we attended the workshops and we had a great time despite the rainy weekend.

The event started off with registration and displays on Friday evening at the Totem Hall of the Squamish Nation. It was an impressive facility, and the banquet there on Saturday night was great.

Saturday and Sunday there were numerous interesting and educational workshops on the beautiful grounds of the school, and things wound up with a presentation of Mark Angelo's impressive RiverWorld show.

Since we work on an urban stream, we were encouraged by the "Saving the World" workshop, in which Department of Fisheries and Oceans Community Advisor Tom Rutherford spoke of the importance of rehabilitating such watersheds.

He said he is often asked why he spends so much time working on urban watercourses to which only a few salmon return to spawn. The bottom line is the educational opportunity. He said up north you may find relatively pristine watersheds with 100,000 spawners and 100 human residents. In urban areas you have creeks with 100 spawners, and 100,000 people -- and it is people who need to learn and change for salmon to survive.

Posted by Paul at 11:01 PM

May 15, 2005

Kettle River Camping

Yumi and I went on an overnight camping trip to Kettle River Provincial Park over the weekend.

The forecast was for rain, but we took our chances and arrived as the sky was clouding over. We saw a grouse strut through the campsite we chose, followed by greetings from assorted chipmunks, squirrels and jays, and then we got the tent and tarps set up.

Our dining and eating shelters in place, we walked the river from the campground south to the old Kettle Valley railway bridge and then back to the north end of the park before dinner.

We were looking for beavers, for we had seen one near the island at the north end of the park last year, and on our way back to the campground we rounded a bend and found ourselves face to face with a sturdy specimen eyeing us from the water only a couple of meters away. We stared at each other, and then as I reached for a camera, it disappeared. Sigh.

After dinner we walked back south to the bridge, and then all the way to the south boundary of the park and back. There were dozens of swallows flitting through the sky over the muddy, fast flowing river like a melee of dogfighting Spitfires.

It rained that evening, but we were snug under our tarp by a fire.

The next day dawned soggy and foggy after heavy rain. We had breakfast, packed up the wet gear in garbage bags, and went for a walk on the other side of the river where there are several visible entrances to old mines. They are all "closed" because of the danger of collapse, however it's obvious that people explore them. Not us, though, a photo in front of a dark, gloomy, mostly filled-in adit is close enough for me!

Kettle_River_Old_Mine_20050515.jpg

The morning walk was also rewarded with seeing a marmot, spotting several unidentified raptors, and hearing an owl. As we slowly drove out of the park, a couple of young deer near the road graciously said goodbye with ears flared, and noses twitching.

Posted by Paul at 06:53 PM

May 05, 2005

Gladstone Students Tour Byrne Creek

Several Byrne Creek Streamkeepers took over 40 students from Gladstone High School in Vancouver on a tour of the creek this afternoon. It was a gorgeous day, and many of the participants were amazed at the beauty of the ravine.

As we walked the ravine loop, we stopped periodically and discussed various issues and what streamkeepers do. We covered CPTED (crime prevention through environmental design) and its impact on the riparian zone, impacts of development on urban streams including loss of pervious surfaces leading to flooding and erosion, the spread of invasive plants species and ongoing illegal dumping of organic matter in parks, hazard tree monitoring and removal, etc.

I emphasized that there are different points of view on many issues, and we try to keep a balance and open minds. I also imparted the lesson that life is politics, like it or not, and that citizens can influence city hall :-).

I can blather on about these topics for hours, however I tried not to bore the kids to tears...

Posted by Paul at 05:38 PM

May 03, 2005

Coho Smolt Release

A class of grade 4/5 kids, Byrne Creek Streamkeepers and our DFO community adviser Maurice released 3,000 - 4,000 coho smolts (yearlings) into Byrne Creek today. The kids were great, as was their teacher, Angela Dodd.

Here's Maurice checking out what the kids had learned about salmon while I flank the herd :-).

coho_release_20050503.jpg

After everyone had left, Yumi and I went to the settling pond to see if the coho were moving downstream, and sure enough, there were hundreds of them coming down to join remnants of the chum fry that we released last week.

coho_smolts_20050503.jpg

The coho would pile up at the bottom of the culvert running under Southridge Dr., and then, sensing the danger of the open area ahead, they'd mill about, gradually gaining the numbers and the courage to make the dash into the settling pond. Unfortunately, as we sat there watching them, trouble appeared in the form of a somewhat scrawny heron.

It sailed right in and landed in the pond just four or five meters away from us, and immediately began whacking smolts.

heron_nabbing_coho_20050503.jpg

The heron gobbled 13 smolts in less than ten minutes while we watched with a combination of fascination and horror. Should we have shooed it away? What a call to make. We let nature run its course...

Here it's got one nearly ready to slide down its gullet.

heron_eating_coho_20050503.jpg

Run coho, run!

Posted by Paul at 08:53 PM

May 01, 2005

Edmonds - Byrne Creek Skytrain Station

On March 14, 2005, I emailed a contact at TransLink with the idea of renaming Edmonds Skytrain station Edmonds - Byrne Creek Skytrain station after I noticed that several Skytrain station names have had second parts added to them.

The person I contacted liked the idea and forwarded it up the ladder, however six weeks later I have yet to hear from anyone :-). I still think it's a great idea, and am contemplating mounting a more organized campaign...

Why become Edmonds - Byrne Creek Station?

- Byrne Creek runs within a few meters of the station.

- Hundreds of people pass Byrne Creek every day as they walk to the station, whether they are coming from the east or the west.

- Byrne Creek drains the largest watershed in south Burnaby.

- Byrne Creek Ravine Park is the largest ravine, and one of the largest parks in south Burnaby. It's a forest that is key to maintaining urban biodiversity.

- Translink promotes green values and the benefits of mass transit. What better connection than the most productive stream in south Burnaby with active runs of coho and chum salmon in an urban environment?

- It is the closest station to the new, high-tech, green, Byrne Creek Secondary school that is under construction and will open this autumn.

- Developers of townhouse and high-rise projects near the station tout the beauties of Byrne Creek in their advertising.

Seems like a shoe-in, dontcha think? :-)

Posted by Paul at 07:25 PM