May 28, 2007

Reifel Bird Sanctuary

I finally got a rough draft of my master's project in yesterday, so Yumi and I celebrated by taking a break this sunny afternoon and headed down to the Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary. While we're not "birders," we do enjoy walking around and trying to spot various species. The highlight today was a pair of turkey vultures soaring over the marshes.

As we were walking the trails, we spotted several plants that looked suspiciously like something akin to the poisonous giant hogweed that can cause serious burns to the skin. We've been warned to report this huge, dangerous, invasive plant to municipal authorities. The ones we saw were not huge, but could they have been baby hogweed? We mentioned them to staff, and they said they'd check them out.

When we got home and poked through Plants of Coastal British Columbia, we suspected that the smaller ones were cow-parsnip; however, we did see a stand of what was likely giant hogweed as well.

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This is the stuff that may be cow-parsnip.

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This looks very much like a stand of giant hogweed.

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The observation tower.

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Swallow building a nest on the warming hut.

Posted by Paul at 05:20 PM

May 16, 2007

The Demise of CRT Computer Monitors

When my Mom died last month, I inherited her three-year-old Dell computer and newer 20" LCD monitor. I replaced my 21" Dell CRT monitor with the 20" Dell LCD because they both have 1600 X 1200 resolution, and the LCD takes up less space and uses less power. I also have a 17" Sony CRT and a 19" Sony CRT sitting out in the garage, so I decided to put all three CRT monitors up for sale. After a bit of research I discovered that you can barely give these units away!

Those three monitors -- the Sony 17" and 19" units, and the 21" Dell -- had an original combined cost of over $2,000, but I'll be lucky to get $100 - $150 for the lot these days. It's a shame because they're all excellent units, but it appears CRT monitors are dead. I know CRTs are still preferred for some applications, but those who need them already have them.

I hope tens and hundreds of thousands of CRT monitors aren't being dumped in landfills around the world. My city, Burnaby, accepts computer equipment for recycling at the Still Creek recycling center.

Posted by Paul at 09:01 PM

May 14, 2007

Cool Fly-Bee-Wasp Thingy

On a stroll down Byrne Creek to assess the prevalence of invasive plant species, Yumi and I encountered a really cool looking bee-ish, wasp-ish beast.

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Update: Yumi tracked the beastie down on the Bug Guide website. It appears to be a sawfly.

Posted by Paul at 07:07 PM

Byrne Creek Duckling Rescue!

Yumi and I found a mallard couple and five ducklings in the Byrne Creek sediment pond this afternoon.

Dad took off, leaving Mom to protect her babies. The family had either jumped in or come down the culvert, and once over the stop log the ducklings couldn't get out of the concrete basin. We hauled a debris log from the spillway and made a ramp, but it took Mom and the kids the longest time to figure out how to use it. We kept gently shooing them toward it, and Mom finally jumped out and stood near the top end of the log, and quacked to attract her kids. A couple of them figured it out and scooted up and over, followed eventually by a third, but two were left behind.

At that point it appeared that Mom was going to accept her losses and began leading the three down to the overflow pond. The two left behind became increasingly frantic, peep-peeping mournfully. Finally one of them discovered the log and scooted up, and fortunately number five saw him go and skittered on up as well.

By this time Mom and the other three were swimming down the overflow pond, and the two laggards veered off the spillway and into the habitat. One of them finally rejoined the group, but number five was lost in the spawning channel. We saw no. 5 several times and kept trying to shoo it toward the overflow pond, but it finally went to ground and stopped peeping, so we gave up. By that point we were wondering if our efforts were doing more damage than good!

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Mom and the kids near the log we put in place as a ramp.

Posted by Paul at 07:02 PM

May 08, 2007

Byrne Creek Coho Smolt Relaase

Kids from Stride Ave. Community and Kenneth Gordon schools in southeast Burnaby released coho salmon smolts (babies) into Byrne Creek today. The event was a blast, and we were also graced by the presence of a bald eagle that sat in a tree watching the fun until the noise got to be too much and it flew away. Our DFO community advisor Maurice Coulter-Boisvert shows up with the tank full of fish from the Bell-Irving Hatchery at Kanaka Creek, and the kids are given plastic bags of the yearling fish to release into the creek.

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Maurice speaks to the kids.

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Kids watch the fish they've released.

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A slightly stunned smolt gets used to its new surroundings.

Posted by Paul at 06:55 PM