February 29, 2012

Milky Green Substance Enters Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby

When I went for my afternoon walk today, I was dismayed to see Byrne Creek in southeast Burnaby running a whitish-green color. We'd had rain and snow, but the "normal" color of wash off the road following rain is brown. There was no noticeable smell, and I didn't observe any fish dead or in distress.

I called my observations in to City of Burnaby environmental staff.

I first saw the discoloration when I reached the bottom of the stairs into the ravine around 3:30 today. I checked the forebay of the rain garden on Southpoint Dr. and the water there was clear. Then I checked Griffiths Pond near the Edmonds Skytrain Station around 4:05 and the discoloration was evident there, though diminished.

I also posted the news to the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers mailing list, and another streamkeeper, Garnet, traced the greenish flow all the way upstream to where the creek now comes to light from storm pipes in the Edmonds area.

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Photo I took in the ravine

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Photo sent by streamkeeper Garnet where the creek daylights

Posted by Paul at 09:06 PM

February 25, 2012

Stirring Vancouver Philharmonic Concert Tonight–Tian Yu Zhou = Wow!

17-yr-old Tian Yu Zhou wowed the Vancouver Philharmonic audience tonight with a powerful, commanding rendition of the Rachmaninoff Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. Zounds!
She was bopping about taking photos with what appeared to be family and friends after the concert, and she seemed to be just a genuine kid -- with evidently a genuine work ethic and talent.
I also enjoyed the VPO's thrilling rendition of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. Well done.

Posted by Paul at 11:48 PM

February 22, 2012

Power Walking White Rock Promenade

In my quest to lose weight I've been out power walking or cycling 45 minutes to an hour nearly every day. To get a change of scenery, I went down to White Rock today, and brought my camera along.

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Posted by Paul at 08:46 PM

February 19, 2012

Campbell Valley Chickadees

One of our favourite places to interact with birds in the lower mainland is Campbell Valley Regional Park, part of Metro Vancouver's lovely park system. The chickadees in this park are handfed regularly, so it's great fun to feed them and take photos.

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Posted by Paul at 08:33 PM

February 11, 2012

Streamkeepers Collect GPS Reference Points on Byrne Creek

Volunteers from the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers were out again this weekend, collecting GPS reference points on Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby, BC. We installed reference tags along the creek over a decade ago so that we had set geographical points to relate our data collection to. Some of those tags had disappeared over the years, and some were badly faded, so last weekend we began installing fresh tags, and also taking GPS coordinates at each tag.

We have approval from the City of Burnaby to refresh the tags, since much of the creek is in a municipal park.

It's quite strenuous working one's way up the ravine as there are no trails in a good portion of it. We locate the old tags, install new ones, take GPS readings, and also take a set of photos at each tag so we can compare views over time. We want the GPS coordinates so that we can easily share our data collections online through GIS applications such as the Community Mapping Network and Google Earth.

Today's highlights were coming across a heron and a raccoon.

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I am always amazed at how these awkward-looking birds
are so graceful and balanced when perching in trees

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This raccoon came ambling along right up to our group. I don't know
if it simply didn't hear us, but it was comical when it suddenly realized
it had walked within a few meters of us, and beat a hasty retreat.

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We ran into it again a hundred meters or so up the creek,
where it had taken refuge in a tree.

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Yumi doing a pH sample.

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Garnet GPS-referencing a photo on his iPhone.

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John holding an old hub cap. Wonder if it's an antique?
People used to use ravines as convenient places to dump garbage
and get rid of unwanted appliances and vehicles. Thankfully we've
cleaned up most of it over the last decade or so, but we still run
across "archaeological middens."

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Yumi collected six bags of garbage along the way.

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Me taking a reading with my trusty Garmin 60Csx. Even in the depths of
the ravine with lots of tree cover, I could usually get 5-6 meter accuracy,
though occasionally that drifted to 7.

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L-R: Garnet, Dave and John collecting data at a reference point.

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Posted by Paul at 08:02 PM

February 07, 2012

Lovely Afternoon at Historic Stewart Farm in South Surrey

I took advantage of the sunshine to head down to the Historic Stewart Farm in South Surrey for some rambling exercise and photography.

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There were lots of golden-crowned sparrows, if I've got my ID right:

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A kingfisher

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Towhee

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Posted by Paul at 08:17 PM

February 05, 2012

Snowy Owls, Other Birds at Boundary Bay

Yumi convinced me to go to Boundary Bay today to see if there were any snowy owls left. I'd been in a boycotting mood after hearing about the masses of photographers, some of whom appeared to be overly eager to get a good shot and were harassing the birds. . . But though there were a lot of people out there today, 99% were respectful, with only the odd one or two encroaching on the mud flats. There were enough owls left to get some good shots from the dike.

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The following individual entertained us for half an hour with
grooming activities

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That was hard work, time for a nap. . .

There's something so engaging about a yawn. We yawn. Dogs and cats
yawn. Our turtle yawns. . . So nice to see an owl yawn.

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For the photographers out there, all of these were shot handheld with a Nikon D300 and an AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm lens at around ISO 1,250. Yeah, shoulda brought a tripod. The Boundary Bay area is a good place for "lens envy." :- ) There were plenty waaayy bigger than mine!

Posted by Paul at 08:26 PM

February 04, 2012

Quick Walk in Burnaby’s Foreshore Park

I took advantage of the sun today to take a quick walk in Burnaby's Foreshore Park. There were lots of people out enjoying the late afternoon rays.

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Posted by Paul at 08:21 PM

February 01, 2012

Sony Digital 8 DCR-TRV460 Joins Photo/Video Family

I bought a used Sony Digital 8 DCR-TRV460 camcorder on EBay a few weeks ago and it arrived the other day. It works, but the package needs a few AV cables that I've got on order.

Why would I want to purchase such "ancient" technology? I have a pile of analog Hi-8 tapes recorded back in the first half of the 1990s on a Sony camcorder that bit the dust a decade ago, and the 460 can not only play those back, it can also digitize them with its built-in analog-to-digital conversion capability. Plug it into a computer with a Firewire cable, and transfer away. Then burn those old clips to DVD. Cool.

I haven't reviewed much old tape yet, but the first one I popped in had clips of Midori, our turtle, from 18 years ago when she was a third of her present size. Wow.

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At least 20 hours worth of recordings dating to the early 1990s

Posted by Paul at 09:48 PM