October 31, 2006

Frosty Halloween Morning at Royal Roads

It was a frosty morning at Royal Roads University in Victoria today, with the temperature at -1 C. The cold, fresh air cleared my mind as I took an early morning walk to prepare for another long, intensive day in residency. This is my second, and last, residency in the Master of Arts in Professional Communication program, and with a little over two days to go on campus, my feelings are bittersweet. I've really enjoyed it and have loved the intensive work with so many amazing people. I'm going to miss everyone. But I also want to go home. I think these wintry shots evoke that feeling a bit as they signify a changing of the seasons, death, and looking forward to rebirth...

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Posted by Paul at 10:20 PM

Royal Roads MAPC Poster Preparation

Learners in the Royal Roads University Master of Arts in Professional Communication program are gearing up for their poster presentations with which they will display their major project tomorrow. My research question is "How Do Canada's National Newspapers Frame Sustainability?" Here's a shot of my poster in progress and a shot of the final product. Am I happy with it? Well, lets just say that it is colorful and legible... :-)

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Posted by Paul at 10:12 PM

October 25, 2006

Streamkeepers in Burnaby Now

The Burnaby Now had a good article today on Byrne Creek Streamkeepers monitoring returning salmon spawners with a couple of photos. It's great to get the coverage. There was one misunderstanding though, in that the spawners tallied and pictured were chum, not coho.

Posted by Paul at 09:12 PM

October 22, 2006

Royal Roads Gardens

After studying for about eight hours, I took a break and walked around the gardens at Royal Roads University this afternoon. While the autumn colors were past their peak, the gardens were still wonderful.

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Posted by Paul at 08:18 PM

Royal Roads Sunrise

It looks like we're heading toward several days of rain here in Victoria over the coming week, so I took advantaqe of a quiet Sunday morning during my residency at Royal Roads University to get out for a walk before sunrise.

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I ran across this deer just before the sun broke the horizon. My Canon SD400 does not do well in low light, particularly at the telephoto end of its range.

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Another deer was inquisitive. I spotted it 30-40 meters down a path, and as I talked to it in a low, gentle voice, it gradually ambled toward me, ears pitched and eyes ogling.

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Here's the sun breaking over the lagoon.

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A sailboat on the dock.

I ran into a couple of other learners and we watched the changing colors as the sun rose.

Posted by Paul at 08:08 PM

October 21, 2006

Autumn Colors at Royal Roads University

The autumn colors are gorgeous here at Royal Roads University. I took a break from studying this Saturday afternoon and took a walk around the grounds. You could spend the whole day from sunrise to sunset exploring the photographic opportunities here.

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Hatley Castle -- I'm looking forward to our tour next weekend.

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Canada geese in the lagoon.

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Two of the famous peacocks.

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A tiny garter snake. I've never seen one this small.

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The trees have wonderful personalities.

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And so do leaves and needles.

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Posted by Paul at 09:30 PM

October 17, 2006

Evening at Royal Roads Lagoon

I ambled down to the lagoon at Royal Roads University after my last class today and found several rowing sculls hard at training. The sky was filled with billowing clouds as the sun sank toward the horizon.

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Posted by Paul at 09:31 PM

October 16, 2006

Salmon Return to Byrne Creek

I knew it! The day after I arrived in Victoria for my second residency at Royal Roads, salmon were spotted in Byrne Creek back in Burnaby. A member of the streamkeeping group that I volunteer with spotted two chum and one unidentified salmon following the rains that came on the weekend. I'm sorry to have missed the start of the run, but I'll be following reports from the group while I'm away.

Posted by Paul at 08:37 PM

October 15, 2006

Royal Roads Second Residency

I headed off to Royal Roads University today for the second three-week residency in my Master of Arts in Professional Communication program. I'm really looking forward to the residency. It's a chance to catch up face-to-face with other learners in my cohort.

It rained much of the night in Burnaby, and was still raining as I drove out to the ferry. I was happy with the rain because returning salmon need higher water in local creeks to spawn, yet I was a bit disappointed that learners from across Canada had missed our gorgeous late summer and autumn. The crossing was overcast and drizzling, yet by the time I reached the campus the sun had broken through -- a good omen!

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The crossing from Tsawassen to Swartz Bay was misty and monochromatic.

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Evening avenue of trees on campus.

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The lagoon at sunset viewing Fort Rodd Hill.

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Another view of the lagoon.

Posted by Paul at 06:16 PM

October 14, 2006

Low River/Stream Conditions in BC

The BC Environment Ministry issued a press release today saying: "Rivers in a large portion of the province continue to experience low streamflow conditions. In some areas, these continue to be record-low flows for the date."

Details here.

Posted by Paul at 08:52 PM

And Man Created Coho

There was a story in the Vancouver Sun today about coho salmon in the city. It's part of a series of short articles on urban wildlife. While I applaud the Sun's initiative in educating the public about nature, the coho story ended with a rather strange sentence that implied coho never existed in urban streams in the lower mainland until humans began stocking the fish.

"Fish in the city: Initially all the coho that swam out to sea from city streams were hatchery-born. They were transported to creeks as fry, where they remained until heading to Georgia Strait and the Pacific a year and a half later. Hatchery-born fry are still added to creeks but, over time, wild-born fry have become part of the spring mix."

There is a huge historical gap here -- human activity wiped out "fish in the city" for decades. Vancouver used to have over 60 streams, of which only a few still exist, and only a couple provide spawning access and habitat. All the rest have been paved over and piped. Where I live next door in Burnaby we are more fortunate in having a greater number of productive urban streams because development happened later here, at a time when people were more aware of environmental and sustainability issues.

But no, hatcheries and humans did not create salmon runs in the city! The best we can say is that we brought some of them back in a diminished state with a lot of hard work after realizing the error of our destructive ways.

Posted by Paul at 08:03 AM

October 13, 2006

Eudora Going Open Source

My long-standing email program of choice, Eudora, is going open source in collaboration with Mozilla's Thunderbird project. This is cool!

See the press release.

I've often considered switching to Thunderbird, but I've been using Eudora for so long that it's tough to change. I'm looking forward to great things happening.

Posted by Paul at 09:28 PM

October 10, 2006

Adams River Sockeye Run

Yumi and I headed up to the Adams River yesterday afternoon to take in the sockeye run -- 2006 is one of the peak returns that happen every four years. I checked the BC Parks website and discovered that a campground near Vernon, Kekuli Bay, was still open, so we decided to spend the night there.

That evening it was cold and windy, and we chowed down on hot ramen and hot dogs in the dark.

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The next morning, we had a chat with the park operator and complimented him on the clean site. The park is on the bare side, but still beautiful in its own way. We saw loads of small fish from the dock, and enjoyed the changing colors on Kalamalka Lake as the sun rose.

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We drove up to Adams Lake via the Falkland-Chase road. It's a small highway with a stretch of gravel that passes through pretty country. When we arrived at Roderick Haig-Brown park, it was already crowded even on a weekday. There were lots of schoolbuses with hundreds of kids.

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DFO staff were on hand to tell people about the sockeye, and disect a few dead ones.

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We headed out to the river to watch the fish. It is a breathtaking sight to see the thousands of spawners performing their final act before they die.

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We were surprised to see many chinook spawners as well -- they are huge fish compared to the sockeye. We hadn't seen any chinook when we visited the Adams run four years ago. Here's a dead chinook next to a dead sockeye and the size disparity is evident.

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There were several people snorkelling and taking video and still images of the spawners.

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Here's one more image of a male sockeye in his full glory.

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We spent over an hour walking along the river and watching these beautiful animals complete their life cycle. As a sign on the path poignantly pointed out, they're born orphans and die childless. A true wonder of nature.

We drove to Kamloops and then took the 5A south to Merrit, stopping for an hour of fishing at Stump Lake along the way. I had a couple of bites casting from shore, saw a trout following my lure, and had one on line for 10-15 seconds, but we didn't land any. We always use single, barbless hooks. Here's Yumi as the sun began to drop in the sky.

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Posted by Paul at 10:00 PM

October 05, 2006

Barred Owl On Byrne Creek Path

I was hoofing it up the Byrne Creek ravine path this afternoon when I passed a bend and came face to face with a gorgeous barred owl. I slid to a halt and we stared at each other. I began speaking to it in a low, quiet voice, explaining that I was going to slowly remove my belt pack and get my camera. The owl held me in its gaze and didn't move.

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I slowly moved closer, and kept snapping photos, some without flash, and some with. It was fairly dark in the forest, so the photos without flash tended to be blurry, and the photos with flash produced amazing red eye.

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I got as close as a meter, and it was incredible watching this magnificent bird monitor its surroundings. It seemed to be more concerned with tracking crows and other birds than it was with my presence. It finally took off when another walker came down the path with a dog.

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Posted by Paul at 04:58 PM