May 30, 2010

Camping, Canoeing, Bears at Birkenhead Lake


The first camping trip of the year was met with rainy weather, but we forged on regardless and had a great time. We headed up to Birkenhead Lake Provincial Park, one of our favourite parks because it's only about a 3-hour drive from Vancouver, yet it's remote enough that it tends to be fairly quiet, especially early in the season.


And quiet it was! Of the nearly 100 sites in the campground, several walkabouts over the weekend showed only a few dozen were occupied. We had reserved a nice site up against Phelix Creek,  and the sound of the rushing water also helped to muffle any human noise.

Rain regardless, we put our canoe in the water on Friday afternoon and paddled for several hours until we were soaked and tired. Trolling a line behind produced a single bite, and no catch.


Fortunately we had been able to set up the tent and rope up a tarp over the table before the rain hit, so were fairly comfortable on Friday evening with a cosy fire.


A 15-minute shot of sun through the clouds!


Saturday resulted in more rain off and on, and blasts of wind. We headed out in the canoe again, but there can be substantial winds with occasional heart-quickening, canoe-heeling and spinning  gusts on the  mountain lake, so we headed back in after only an hour or so out on the water.

The next bit of entertainment came as Yumi was washing some of the mud off our trusty '98 Outback at our campsite (15km of access road to the park is "gravel," or in other words, potholed, stony washboard, packed dirt :-). As she went to refresh her pail of water from a pool just off the edge of the tent pad, I saw a black shape silently lumber past through the woods just a few meters beyond her.

"Yumi, get back! Back to the car, right now! There's a bear!"

Poor Yumi didn't see a thing, but scampered back nonetheless. It was amazing how silently, and how fast, that black bear rambled by.

I immediately ran out into the road because I knew some kids had been bicycling up and down the campground, and sure enough a wide-eyed little boy zoomed off to his dad as I barked at him, "look sharp, there's a bear right in there!"

The father spotted the bear, policed his family, and then the two of us monitored the beast, while spreading the word to other campers, blowing our car horns, etc. The fellow said he'd heard from park staff that the bear had recently gotten into a cooler that some irresponsible camper had left unattended. The word was to make as much noise and be as uninviting to the little bruin as possible, in the hope that it would move on, and not get itself shot.

The bear moved back down the campground between tent sites and the creek, and disappeared. Half an hour later as Yumi and I set out to hike up to the Goat Trail Lookout, the bear burst out of the bush, ran across the road, and hightailed it into the forest on the other side with park staff in a truck hot on its heels, horn blaring madly. The attendant got out, hollered he was going to set off a bear banger, and, BOOM!

We saw no more of the bear, but we sure made a lot of noise as we climbed up to the Goat Trail Lookout!


Crossing high, fast, Phelix Creek on the Goat Trail


Now that's some head banging!


The lookout


Yumi scoping the lake and mountains


An hour of sunshine, wow!


There is canoe rental at the lake now, but we're glad we
have our own


A red-breasted sapsucker that let me get to within two meters
or so to get this shot with my teeny Canon SD780 pocket camera

Instead of canoeing the choppy lake, we decided to try the trail on the north side to where the wilderness campground used to be (now shut down due to hazard trees).

Not far down the trail we ran across a big pile of fresh green scat - OK, at least the bear's a vegetarian. Another dozen meters and lots more fresh scat, dark in colour, but at least no bear bells in it :-).

We ventured a bit further, but as our pace slackened and doubts increased, we decided that common sense outweighed valour, and turned back.


It still being cloudy and drizzly, we packed up in the morning, thought about another jaunt in the canoe, took one look at the cold, choppy lake and decided to head south. Coffee in Pemberton, a walkabout at Alice Lake, lunch in Squamish, and a leisurely drive home.

Posted by Paul at 06:41 PM

May 26, 2010

Bev Bowler of DFO Receives ‘Salmon Hero’ Award

Bev Bowler of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans received the Salmon Hero award at the 2010 Fraser Assembly of the Fraser Salmon & Watersheds Program. Bev received the award for her dedication to the Salmonids in the Classroom program, in which schoolkids receive salmon eggs to hatch and rear in their classrooms, and then release into local creeks.


Bev is very deserving of this award. Though I rarely get to meet her in person, I've had the privilege of helping several schools release their chum fry into Byrne Creek every spring. It's a great program that thoroughly engages kids, teachers, and parents, and I love the enthusiasm and excitement.

Posted by Paul at 08:55 PM

Ernie Crey Gives 2010 Fraser Assembly Keynote

Ernie Crey, Senior Policy Advisor for the Sto:lo Tribal Council gave a moving keynote address to the Fraser Salmon & Watersheds Program 2010 Fraser Assembly this morning.  These are my rough notes, so while the gist may be correct, they cannot be attributed to Ernie Crey as direct quotations . . .

We are undergoing profound, ongoing changes. Changes in the aboriginal community signal profound changes in the entire community, institutions, and policies.

Change is the constant that we all face and we can't hide from it.

Trying to hold back change doesn't work. Change is overwhelming and inevitable.

The best we can do and hope for is to flow with the change and see if we can direct it around the values that we have. That's all that we can do.

Get engaged, run for and hold public office.

People in Ottawa make policy for all aspects of our lives: the environment, taxation, health, etc. All those decisions are made there by a small cadre of males from the dominant community. Woman are largely absent. Aboriginals are absent. Policy is mostly made by white males.

It's best that we be the shapers of public policy in Canada. I've never been a believer in sitting it out.

We've entered a difficult place in the history of this province, particularly when it comes to fisheries.

120 years ago there were 100 million and more sockeye salmon coming back to spawn up the Fraser. We now consider a good year to be 10 million fish. Fish have been going missing from the Fraser for decade upon decade.

The DFO is not the saviour of salmon or its champion. This needs to change.

If we don't drastically change our ways, the chinook will all be gone. Will we allow that to happen? Will we sit it out?

What is the right thing to do? What is the ethical thing to do? For our children and their children, and the children of the white man.

Can't we respond to change?

The aboriginals have adjusted and have begun to fish selectively.

The Cohen judicial inquiry into missing sockeye salmon. I predict the hearing will transfix British Columbians. A good part of the world knows about the disappearance of the sockeye. Some say they are AWOL at sea. Nobody knows why. People blame different sources. Some say it's a scientific question. That may be the case.

Here's my take. It may be a question of science, to improve science, in-season management. But you know it's really a question for British Columbians like you and me. Post your opinions on the inquiry website.

I think communities should hold their own hearings. All of you together. In Merritt, in Kamloops, in Vancouver. Get the ordinary citizens to come forward with their observations and opinions as if they counted.

It's important not to be exclusive as scientists, politicians, and council members. We need to be inclusive.

Working together is what it takes.

We have a shot at not only preserving but enhancing salmon runs.

"Gramps and grandma restored the environment and the rivers." That's the vision that we can, and should, embrace.

Posted by Paul at 08:33 PM

May 24, 2010

Glorious Day Photographing Birds at Reifel Sanctuary

What better way to spend a long-weekend Monday than wandering around for three or four hours at the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary.


My favourite shot of the day - hummingbird in flight

For those curious the tech specs are: Nikon D300,
handheld Nikkor AF-S 70-300 VR zoom at 300mm
(35mm equivalent of 450mm), ISO 1250, 1/500 @ f9.
Aperature priority, +1.0 EV.

No post-processing aside from cropping.


Hummingbird with tongue sticking out




Chickadees are pretty darn cute, too




Red-winged blackbird letting a crow know its not wanted


Crow stares at nattering blackbird


Mom in convoy


A mass of cuteness




Swallows are way cool


And way pretty


Yumi surrounded by goslings





Parents keep a sharp eye out


When they're not snoozing


A pintail


A shoveller


A junco


A grosbeak



The ubiquitous heron


The rare sandhill crane


Some sort of finch? I'm still not good at my small birds


A bunch of bee and wasp shots







Posted by Paul at 08:14 PM

May 23, 2010

A Photographic Jaunt Along Vancouver’s Waterfront

Rode the SkyTrain and SeaBus today, and had a blast walking around and taking photos.



These cormorants like to hang around the SeaBus terminal


What's this?


A cool hunka modern art!


My ghostly reflection in the piece





Goose on the green roof of the new convention centre


Orca block sculpture


The Winter Olympics 2010 cauldron - apparently the plan
is to spruce up the site and light it on special occasions


Posted by Paul at 09:52 PM

May 22, 2010

23 Years of Changes

Ran across this photo today:


I've added about 1kg, or 2. 2 pounds per year on average since!

I can't run any more due to lower back problems, but I would certainly feel better back at my 1987 weight. . . The pool in our complex is open for the season. Better get splashing!

Posted by Paul at 09:03 PM

Who Is Proofreading Apple Website?

As an editor who understands too well the ease with which wee errors slip by, I love catching ones out in the wild.

On Apple Canada's website, someone was getting confused about whether or not to use hyphens with amounts of RAM and hard disk size:


The 13-inch models have "4GB memory" and "320GB hard drive" while the 15-inch models have "4-GB Memory" and "320-GB hard drive."

Posted by Paul at 08:24 PM

May 20, 2010

Check out Environment Week in Burnaby


(Image courtesy of the City of Burnaby website - I figure they won't mind because I'm a taxpayer and I'm providing free publicity : -)

I love the bee on the graphic. Bees are essential to our food supply of vegetables and fruits because they are pollinators. Too bad so many people seem to be afraid of them.

Burnaby has a lot of great events lined up for Environment Week 2010.

Posted by Paul at 03:49 PM

Growing Gardens Together in Burnaby



Richmond Park Community Garden Public Meeting

Space for a community garden is available for interested gardeners living and working in the Edmonds neighbourhood of Southeast Burnaby. See the new vision for Richmond Park. Learn what is involved in the creation of a Community Garden Association.

Hear from others how they created their community garden. Meet neighbours interested in getting together to grow a garden at Richmond Park

DATE: Thursday, June 3rd

TIME: 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

LOCATION: Edmonds Community Center

7282 Kingsway, Burnaby



For information call Donna Savoie 604.540.5901

@ Burnaby Parks Recreation & Cultural Services

City of Burnaby

Posted by Paul at 09:00 AM

May 16, 2010

First Fry Born in Byrne Creek Since March 4, 2010, Toxic Kill

A few days ago some Byrne Creek Streamkeepers reported seeing fry in the creek - - the first since someone poured a cleanser down a street drain on March 4, 2010, killing everything in the creek. Streamkeepers and local schoolkids have released chum salmon fry and coho salmon smolts provided by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans since the kill, but these are the first native-born fry we've seen.

They are likely cutthroat trout fry, spawned after the kill, incubated in the gravel for 7 - 8 weeks, and just starting to pop up now. It's great to see life coming back to the creek!

Posted by Paul at 07:58 PM

May 15, 2010

Rice Lake, Lynn Canyon, Newts

We hiked around Rice Lake in North Vancouver this afternoon, followed by another loop to the Lynn Canyon suspension bridge. We were enchanted by dozens of rough-skinned newts in Rice Lake. We'd never noticed them before, but today we watched them for nearly an hour. They're so cute!




They sit on rocks under the water and come up to
the surface every few minutes






Posted by Paul at 08:09 PM

May 14, 2010

Name Pronunciation – Do I Win a Prize?

There's been a funny thread on the Editors' Association of Canada mailing list about pronouncing names. Here's my contribution:

Paul Cipywnyk
Need I say more? :-)
It's approximately Sip-iv-nick

The Ukrainian?
My romanization is weak, but more like Tsi-pyv-neck

I've been mangled
I've been tangled
I've been swallowed
I've been coughed

I've been hiccupped
I've been glossed
I've been shuffled
I've been lost

People freeze when
The name arises and
They must publicly proclaim
Damn that confounding name!

OK, I've never made any claims to being a poet, especially late on a Friday night after a long week!

Posted by Paul at 09:32 PM

Exotic Fish Identified in Burnaby Pond

Several times over the last couple of years we've seen strange fish in a pond in Fraser Foreshore Park in Burnaby near Byrne Creek. I finally got some photos that were good enough to ID one of the species, though it's difficult shooting through the murky water even on a bright, sunny day.

Unfortunately, a biologist has identified them as pumkinseeds,  a species introduced to the lower mainland, likely by people who like fishing for them and eating the pan fish. Unfortunate, for several reasons: if they spread they can compete with native species, they may not have natural predators here, etc. City of Burnaby staff helped with the ID process and are aware of the problem. I have no idea how it can be resolved, but whoever is dumping alien fish in this pond, please stop! Native fish like coho and chum salmon, and cutthroat trout, have enough to contend with in our urban watersheds without having to compete with alien species.



Posted by Paul at 07:32 PM

May 13, 2010

Pond Life in Fraser Foreshore Park

I love this pond near the outlet of Byrne Creek into the Fraser River in SE Burnaby - despite its unfortunate populations of alien fish (see above entry). It's a magnet for all sorts of bugs, amphibians, reptiles and birds.








Posted by Paul at 07:44 PM

May 09, 2010

Steveston Stroll

One of our favourite places to go for a stroll is down in Steveston. The picturesque remnants of the fishing village and canneries offer lots of photo opportunities. Here are a few shots from today:





Baby bird in old cannery building begging for food



Same photo edited with high saturation and low gamma applied



Same shot with high saturation and low gamma applied

Posted by Paul at 07:21 PM

May 08, 2010

Disappointed by Bruce’s ‘We Shall Overcome’

I'm not much of a protestor, but I readily acknowledge what has been accomplished by protest in societies all around the world. I'm more of a "worker with. . ." I prefer to work *with* people, be they bureaucrats, politicians, NGO members, etc.

Anyway, tonight I was reading a story about Alexandra Morton's march on the BC Legislature to protest farmed salmon, and somehow I remembered the song "We Shall Overcome" because I support her cause.  The inference could have been triggered by my youth when my family spent a few years in New York City back in the late 60s/early 70s.

I remember being a wide-eyed, young Canadian boy in an American "experimental" school, holding hands with Black and Hispanic kids on a stage with a huge projection of Frederick Douglass behind us, all of us singing "We Shall Overcome" to the beatific smiles of our white, middle-class, grass-smoking, bra-less teachers. . .

You still appreciating this, Fred? Uh-huh. I figured you'd be a tad more into discipline, hard work, accomplishment, and modesty . . . Anyway. . .

There was a genuine spirit there, as strange as it may have seemed to a boy raised to that point as loyal subject of her Majesty QEII in a traditional Canadian school (accompanied by a good dose of Ukrainian Orthodoxy, including years as an altar boy . . .) I always had a capacity to honour my past, my ancestors, while incorporating new developments. . .

I knew I had a version of "We Shall Overcome" somewhere on my computer, and there it was, the stalwart Bruce Springsteen. . . The song used to mean something, even with my rather acerbic recollection of the circumstances in which I learned it. And it did mean something to me then, and it still does to me now. . .

So . . . Yuck! Where's the passion? This version's a soporific, sugary, somnolent dirge! Bruce, pick it up, eh?

Posted by Paul at 09:23 PM

Northern Voice 2010 Social Media Conference a Blast

I was happy to get registered for Northern Voice this year - last year by the time I heard registration was open all the tickets were sold out!

Northern Voice is a social media conference that has featured great speakers and stimulating discussion from its inception. This year was no exception.

Today I took in:

How (Should) Journalists Use Social Media?
with the CBC's Lisa Johnson and Vancouver Sun managing editor Kirk LaPointe 

More Drawing On Walls - The Power of Making Things Visible
with Nancy White

Flog Your Blog: How to Turn Your Blog Into a Book
with Angela Crocker, Kim Plumley and Peggy Richardson

Art and Social Media
with Rebecca Coleman, Rachel Chator, Deb Pickman and Sara Genn

If Machiavelli and Montaigne Grew Mushrooms
with Dave Cormier and Jon Beasley-Murray

I didn't want to lug my laptop with me as I've been having some back trouble the last several weeks, so I took only a few handwritten notes. I will try to flesh out this post, but right now, I'm tired!

Posted by Paul at 07:50 PM

May 07, 2010

Chris Hildred Receives Burnaby’s Citizen of the Year Kushiro Cup

At the City of Burnaby appreciation dinner this evening, Chris Hildred was awarded the City's Kushiro Cup for Citizen of the Year. A long-time community policing volunteer, Chris is a deserving recipient. I've had the privilege of working with Chris on a few community events over the years, and he is a real gentleman.


L-R: MLA Kathy Corrigan, Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan,
Chris Hildred, MLA Raj Chouhan, flanked by RCMP members.

Posted by Paul at 10:12 PM

May 06, 2010

Clinton Schoolkids Release Coho in Byrne Creek

Kids from Clinton Elementary in southeast Burnaby helped streamkeepers, DFO community advisors, and City of Burnaby staff release coho smolts (yearlings) into Byrne Creek this morning. Clinton School has been involved in several Byrne Creek activities this year - - good on them!

Thank you DFO for bringing these young coho all the way from the Bell-Irving Hatchery at Kanaka Creek. All life in Byrne Creek was wiped out in March when someone unthinkingly poured a cleanser down a street drain, so we're rebuilding the creek from scratch, yet again.

Here are a few photos of today's uplifting event.


Setting the scene: the gorgeous lower reaches of the ravine park


Maurice of the DFO chats with the kids


Yep, that's how big the coho will be when they
come back to spawn in a year or two :-)
Maurice is passionate about his calling,
and we streamkeepers and kids love his style!


The kids' eyes light up as they see the fish they will release


There they go - thanks Clinton kids!


Giving a few confused laggards a gentle poke to move them on


Beautiful young smolts acclimatize to their new, temporary
home before they head out to the ocean soon.

Hope to see at least a few of you back spawning in our creek in
a year and half, when you're nearly as long as my arm!

Posted by Paul at 10:06 PM

May 05, 2010

Summit Logistics Hosts Streamkeeper Display

I had the pleasure of hanging out with staff at Summit Logistics in southeast Burnaby during a staff BBQ today, with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers display. Thanks to Rick LeBlanc for inviting us to the company's Health and Safety Week event. I chatted with people about how all storm drains lead to local creeks, and about the watershed. Summit has extensive spill-prevention and containment measures in place.


Posted by Paul at 09:57 PM

DFO Must Act Now to Save Pacific Salmon

". . .anglers who care about their sport and the stocks that sustain it are already putting their rods away. Only the greedy and the stupid squabble over who gets to kill the last fish for fun."

Good article from Stephen Hume on how several first nations are moving to stop fishing completely, while DFO still dithers on recreational and commercial fisheries.

Posted by Paul at 08:02 AM

May 02, 2010

CBC: Burtynsky's Oil images win photo book prize

"In 1997, I had what I refer to as my oil epiphany," Burtynsky said in a statement accompanying the book and exhibits.

"It occurred to me that the vast, human-altered landscapes that I pursued and photographed for over 20 years were only made possible by the discovery of oil and the mechanical advantage of the internal combustion engine. It was then that I began the oil project.

"Over the next 10 years I researched and photographed the largest oil fields I could find. I went on to make images of refineries, freeway interchanges, automobile plants and the scrap industry that results from the recycling of cars. Then I began to look at the culture of oil, the motor culture, where masses of people congregate around vehicles, with vehicle events as the main attraction."

Read more:

Posted by Paul at 08:18 PM

Photographer vs Volunteer

I was asked to photographically document a community cleanup the other day - an event that I was also involved in coordinating and actually getting out and working on.

Now that I am reviewing the photos, I have quickly realized that by splitting my attention among so many roles, the photography suffered. I was rushing here, rushing there, trying to cover all the bases, both event coordination and photography. It simply can't be done!

While I'm not a professional photographer, I am pretty good, but the photos I got of the event were not that great. I also did not get the accompanying information that is required for publication: names, permissions, etc.

Why? I was distracted. As I said, I was also an event coordinator, a volunteer organizer, and supposedly a garbage collector. Part of the time I was pitching in on the ground, part of the time I was coordinating various groups, part of the time . . .  I was taking photos, as requested.

You simply can't do it all. To take good photos you have to be in the zone. The viewfinder has to be your only focus.

Posted by Paul at 08:00 PM