November 27, 2009

Bill in BC Legislature to Recognize Ukraine Terror-Famine as Genocide

Ukrainian-Canadian Congress Press Release:

Holodomor bill introduced in British Columbia  on the 76th anniversary of the famine genocide in Ukraine, 1932-33.

November 26, 2009 - Victoria, British Columbia - Yesterday a private member's bill was introduced in the province of British Columbia recognizing the Holodomor as an act of genocide.

New Democrat MLA for Surrey-Whalley, Bruce Ralston, introduced legislation recognizing "Holodomor" as the "famine and genocide that killed millions of Ukrainians during the period of forced collectivization in the Soviet Union."  The legislation proposes that the fourth Saturday in November every year be commemorated as Holodomor Memorial Day in B.C. and recognizes the survivors of Holodomor who moved to British Columbia and made a positive contribution to the province.

The provinces of Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario have enacted legislation recognizing the Holodomor and honouring the survivors of this crime against humanity.

National Holodomor Awareness Week continues through November 29.  For a list of commemorative events in your community visit

Posted by Paul at 08:34 AM

November 25, 2009

Salmon Return to Japanese River

From the The Yomiuri Shimbun

This article is about salmon returning to the Chikumagawa river as flows improved after East Japan Railway Co. was directed to stop taking illegal amounts of water from the river to power trains in Tokyo.

Wow, amazing how one's life can change. When I rode the Yamanote Line in Tokyo on a daily or weekly basis for well over ten years from 1985 - 1999 I had no idea that some of the power was coming from a dam that was impacting salmon. Mind you I knew next to nothing about salmon, and nothing about streamkeeping back then.

Posted by Paul at 09:18 PM

Welcome New Edmonds Association Exec!

As outgoing president, I would like to warmly welcome the new executive of the Edmonds Town Centre Business & Community Association. It's very exciting to have several fresh new faces, and to see the energy and ideas flowing around the table at the first meeting of the new board today.

Please welcome your new executive. I trust we'll all pitch in and help continue to move our organization onward and upward!

  • President - Joyce Rostron
  • Vice President - Darcy Schlechtleitner
  • Vice President -  Natalie de la Cruz
  • Treasurer - Allan Zhang
  • Secretary - Dave Fairhall
  • Warren Walker - member at large
  • Paul Cipywnyk - past president and member at large

Thank you to everyone who helped me learn the ropes over the last few years, and to all the volunteers who make our association the great group that it is. A big pat on the back to all of you!

Posted by Paul at 02:09 PM

November 22, 2009

Fur Ball Reveals Vertebrae, Claw

A ramble along Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby is always stimulating and refreshing, and if you keep your eyes open, you can spot all sorts of interesting evidence of the animals that live in the ravine. I'd love to spend a few days in the ravine with some First Nations elders, and plant and animal biologists, to really learn what to look for and how to interpret it.

While on spawner patrol, Yumi found a fur ball. Something had regurgitated it - a coyote? Spreading it apart with the tip of a walking stick, we could see vertebrae and a claw inside, but we don't have the knowledge to ID what beast ended up in the stomach of another one!


Claw at top left, vertebrae scattered near middle.

OK, if you'd like something more pleasant to look at to end this post, here's a raindrop sloughing off a berry :-).


Posted by Paul at 09:25 PM

Coho Spawning in Byrne Creek

The day was dark and gloomy following a week of rain, but my wife Yumi and I decided to check out Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby for spawning salmon. We volunteer with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers, and spawner returns have been low this year, but we're always hoping.

It's tough to see fish when the water is high and dirty, and the light is low, but to our surprise we ran across a pair of coho spawning. In fact, the poor conditions likely worked in our favor, for on a bright day with clear water, the notoriously shy coho would have quickly spooked and hidden themselves. While we never saw them that clearly, it was still a thrill when we'd catch a flash of these magnificently muscular fish, with their scarlet-streaked copper-green sides.


A swirl of dark green, brown-gold and red as one of the coho moves up the creek. They had chosen to spawn just above a fast riffle, and moved up and down, battling the current.


The female flips sideways and carves the gravel with her tail to dig a nest for her eggs called a redd.

Posted by Paul at 09:07 PM

November 20, 2009

Teen Sexting to Kill Us All?

I had a good laugh at a headline boo-boo in an email from CNET today - as you can see as you read further, it's not about hormone-fueled kids and cute vampires :-).


I delight in such editing slips because. . . I'm an editor and it happens to all of us.

Posted by Paul at 03:21 PM

November 17, 2009

Deer, Faun, Waskesiu Summer 2009

Ran across this photo from my summer trip to Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta and am posting it now to relieve some of the Wet West Coast early winter rain blues.


Taken early one morning near the golf course in Prince Albert National Park.

Posted by Paul at 09:02 AM

November 14, 2009

Bird’s Nest, Spider, Claw Marks Along Byrne Creek

Today on a patrol of Byrne Creek my wife and I found one dead chum salmon, one live chum guarding a nest of eggs (redd), and three coho salmon, in addition to lots of cutthroat trout that gather this time of year hoping to snag a wayward salmon egg. Nature being unemotional and efficient, we've observed cutthroat poking female salmon in their bellies, hoping to pop eggs out.

Today Yumi found a nest on the ground. It looked like it had never been completed. We also ran across what I believe is an orb weaver spider. It was on the cycling/walking path on Southridge Drive, so Yumi shepherded it off into the grass, as she is wont to do with any sort of animal that she feels is in danger.

We also observed plenty of claw marks and tracks at various places along the creek as opportunists of all species gather to meet the returning salmon. That's why salmon are so crucial to the entire west coast environment - they are a key part of the food chain for all sorts of birds and beasts, in addition to fertilizing the forests.







Posted by Paul at 07:37 PM

November 12, 2009

Byrne Creek Paw Prints, Paint & Mushrooms

I ran across lots of tracks along Byrne Creek in southeast Burnaby on a patrol looking for spawning salmon today. Dead spawners attract all sorts of hungry animals from skunks to raccoons to coyotes. I've even seen squirrels checking out carcasses - why not? A cousin of mine calls them "rats with bushy tails" :-). Someone also thoughtfully left a bunch of paint cans along the fence at the spawning habitat!


Prints leading toward the creek




A rain-filled mushroom


Poster reminding people and dogs to stay out
of the creek during spawning season


What's with the paint cans? Someone even took the
time to nicely line them up, so why not the time to
take them to a recycling centre?

Posted by Paul at 07:23 PM

November 11, 2009

Burnaby Now Interviews Streamkeepers about Spawning Salmon

Thanks to reporter Christina Myers and photographer Larry Wright from the Burnaby Now. What was to be a quick photo op on salmon returning to Byrne Creek in southeast Burnaby turned into a great front-page article after Christina and I "chatted" via email.

Dunno if this is a permanent link, but at least for now you can find the story here.

Posted by Paul at 07:56 PM

November 06, 2009

Face to Face with Coyote on Byrne Creek

I had a meeting at the Stream of Dreams office just off Byrne Road south of Marine Way in SE Burnaby this morning, so I dropped into the Byrne Creek artificial spawning habitat for a few minutes on the way back up the hill to check if the chum salmon I had seen on a spawner patrol the previous day were still around.

As I broke out of the path into the habitat and onto the vehicle access road, a coyote came scooting out of the bush just a few meters in front of me, trotted a short way down the road, and stopped.

A large coyote.


It was the biggest I've seen in some time. It looked at least the match of a mid-sized German Shepherd, and had thick, sleek fur, so it appeared well fed... (the above photo was snapped on the quick draw with a tiny pocket camera and enlarged dramatically, so the quality is middling. . .)

It stopped and stared at me, and I stared at it while regretting not having the long walking pole that I usually carry. It flinched first, and began loping down the chain-link fence looking for a way out, and finally wriggled under it.

Before I proceeded further, I got my knife out and then slowly walked in, making plenty of noise. (During spawning season I carry a sheath knife in my pack to process dead salmon with -- streamkeepers have permission from the Department of Fisheries to cut open carcasses to determine sex and to check if fish have spawned before they died).  The creek was still running high and dirty from the morning rain so I didn't bother searching very hard because water visibility was very poor. I have to admit I was also on edge moving through the bush, because the coyote was likely in the habitat because it was attracted to dead salmon.

Sure enough, on my way out, I found the remains of a chum the coyote had been eating on the bank at the southwest end of the overflow pond, near where I first flushed it out.


There wasn't much left, just head bones, and about five inches of body. I didn't linger, not wanting to be between a coyote and its lunch :-) . I did see salmon eggs that had spilled into the water, so it was likely an unspawned female chum.

I found the experience exhilarating, and it left me tingling all over. It's amazing how the sight of a predator sharpens your senses when you're alone in the bush -- even in an urban park.  Thank you, coyote, for that moment of clarity, focus, and connection to nature.

Posted by Paul at 03:28 PM

November 02, 2009

Twitter Woes

Somebody hijacked my Twitter account today, with the usual routine of sending followers direct messages. I seemed to regain control by changing my password a couple of times, but now I've been knocked off because it appears somebody keeps trying to log into my account, trying various passwords, which results in me getting booted off for "too many failed attempts to sign in." I also got a lot of spam DMs today from others that I follow, so it seems to be a bad Twitter day. Hope they figure out a way to get this cleaned up.


Update Nov. 3: Still getting the same message.

Update later on Nov. 3: Twitter sent me a message to reset my account with a new password, which I did. Things seem to be working again, but I can't get logged on with TweetDeck. And if I try more than a couple of times, I get locked out again. Sigh. Perhaps I'll try completely uninstalling TweetDeck and reinstalling it.

Posted by Paul at 09:54 PM

November 01, 2009

Silverdale Creek Wetlands

On the way home from Harrison Lake we took the slower route 7, and at one point before Mission saw trails and what looked like a spawning channel to the north of the road. We found an access road, and discovered the Silverdale Creek Wetlands. We'd heard about the project, so we set out to explore. There were "Mother Bear with Cub" warning signs all over, so we kept our eyes peeled, proceeded slowly, and made plenty of noise!

It was a beautiful area, with ponds, marshes, and a spawning channel. We found only one dead spawner in the wetland area, but saw several more dead, and one live one swimming upstream, from the bridge over the creek near the entrance.






Look closely - there, in the middle foreground, it's
a huge concrete salmon. Steamkeepers around the
lower mainland have been sharing the mold for
these beauties


Despite it being November, there were still lots of dragonflies about



Lots of bird boxes of various sizes adorn many erected perch "trees"


The only spawner we saw in the habitat


The same spawner can be seen in the foreground


And a close-up of a second concrete salmon in the habitat

Posted by Paul at 09:42 PM

Harrison Lake Colors, Aerobatics Flight

On the pretext of looking for spawning salmon in Fraser Valley creeks and rivers, Yumi and I took a day trip all the way up the valley to Harrison Lake. While we didn't see many fish, it was a gorgeous day. As we were strolling around the beach at the lake, a formation of aerobatics planes zoomed overhead.


Kayakers head out on Harrison Lake


The dock near the hot-spring hotel


Along the trail to the original hot springs pool


Heading back toward the beach area


A sudden roar, and this formation unexpectedly flew overhead


A slightly tighter shot as I banged away while zooming in


Breaking into the blue


Heading back from a loop over the lake

Posted by Paul at 09:27 PM