October 30, 2012

Girls From Byrne Creek Secondary Rock on Spawner Tour of Byrne Creek

I was impressed with the good cheer and fortitude of half a dozen girls from Byrne Creek Secondary who went on a spawner patrol on Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby in the steady rain this afternoon. Thanks to Louise from Stream of Dreams for arranging the tour.

Lu suggested meeting at the footbridge in the lower ravine at 3:00 p.m. so I got there about an hour early to scout the creek for fish for the students to see.

We watched a pair of chum spawning near Tag 517 in the lower ravine, and then watched another pair about 10m upstream of the weir in the lower ravine. A lone female chum was still beneath the log in the pool between 517/518.

The girls and their teacher were enthralled and peppered us with questions.

Then the piece de resistance: I'd found a dead coho in the spawning habitat earlier, and we walked over and processed it together.  It was a male, unspawned, 46cm, between Tags 511/512, likely a jack as it had no spawning colouration and was on the small side. We inspected its internals together to the best of my ability (I'm not a biologist!).

It was missing its adipose, so we took its head for delivery to a Sport Head Recovery Depot:

I was impressed by the girls' enthusiasm, even during the bloody bits.

As we were processing the coho we saw a spawner zoom up the overflow and jump into the sediment pond! Way cool! I cannot believe how cooperative the fish are being in getting ooos and aaahhs from the crowd this year!

I look forward to participating in more of the Stream of Dreams project at Byrne Creek Secondary.

NOTE: It is illegal to interfere with spawning salmon. Please observe from a distance. Streamkeepers have training, and authorization from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, to process dead spawners to collect species, size, and spawning data.

Posted by Paul at 06:36 PM

2012 BC Water Sustainability Grant Award to Stream of Dreams for Byrne Creek Project

Great news! Post from Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia:

The 2012 BC Water Sustainability Endowment Fund grant is awarded to Stream of Dreams Murals Society for "Mapping Where We Live," a project they are undertaking in collaboration with Byrne Creek Streamkeepers and Byrne Creek Secondary students in southeast Burnaby's Byrne Creek watershed.

Check out the cool video.

Posted by Paul at 08:23 AM

October 26, 2012

Invasive Plant Presentation, Nov. 17 in SE Burnaby

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers will host a presentation on invasive plant species by the Invasive Species Council of Metro Vancouver, Saturday, Nov. 17, starting at 10:00 a.m. at the Tommy Douglas Library near the corner of Kingsway and Edmonds in SE Burnaby. The length and depth of the presentation may vary by audience experience, and will likely run around 2 hours. If there is time and interest, we may follow up with a walk along part of Byrne Creek Ravine Park to view sites where streamkeepers have been battling invasive plants for years. This event is free, and open beyond BCSS membership, but please RSVP to the Invasive Plants Team, so we know how many people to expect, and in case we need to limit numbers.

Posted by Paul at 09:31 PM

October 25, 2012

Informative Invasive Species Council of Metro Vancouver Forum

I attended the Fall Forum put on by the Invasive Species Council of Metro Vancouver today, and, as usual, the organizers put on a stimulating, educational event. Not to mention the excellent networking with representatives from many lower mainland municipalities, NGOs, etc. It was also great to see several staff from the City of Burnaby, where I volunteer with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers, and put in plenty of volunteer hours on invasive plant species control.

Here are a few skimpy notes from today's presentations:

Presentation on invasive mussels. This was scary as they are spreading like wildfire across North America. They are hugely prolific, and partly because of this they quickly adapt to new environments. Not confirmed in BC yet, but we have few, if any, protections in place, compared to rigorous inspections, regulation, and enforcement in our neighbouring states in the US.

A lot on using stem injection on knotweed -- working very well.

An intriguing presentation on goats. They are being used to combat invasive plants with great success. A herd of 440 goats has been working the BC interior and apparently doing a great job.

Brainstorming on creating a "Regional Invasive Species Strategy for Metro Vancouver." ISCMV has gotten approval and seed funding from Metro Vancouver to start the process of developing such a regional strategy. Exciting, and long-overdue, developments!

Thanks, too, to the friendly and helpful Grouse Mountain staff.

Here are a couple of shots from the Skyride and the balcony:




What a gorgeous place to hold a meeting, yet within easy access of downtown Vancouver.

Posted by Paul at 09:46 PM

October 19, 2012

Interviewed by Burnaby Now on Salmon Returning to Burnaby Creeks

Interviewed by Burnaby Now on salmon returning to spawn in urban creeks in Burnaby: 'Struggling against incredible odds'.

Posted by Paul at 06:37 PM

October 18, 2012

Botched Print Job Results in, ah, Art?

Objet trouve : this is what happens when you print a photo of autumn leaves in Byrne Creek, and you put the Epson Ultra Premium Photo Paper Glossy into the printer upside down. You throw the resulting wet piece of paper in the trash, and then a few minutes later you glance over and notice that the runny result is quite nice. Offers? :-)


The original photo was framed vertically, so here's that perspective:


That's not bad, either!

And, ta-da, here's the original shot:


Posted by Paul at 09:17 PM

Video of Chum Salmon Spawning in Byrne Creek

I shot this video on Oct. 16 of the two chum spawning in Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby in the lower ravine area.

Posted by Paul at 04:35 PM

October 16, 2012

Byrne Creek Oct. 16 Spawner Patrol Turns Up 6 Chum Salmon

When the sun popped out today, I had to drop everything and head out on Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby to check on spawners. I'd spotted two chum on Oct. 15, so I knew they were moving upstream from the Fraser River.

I saw a total of six chum today, and four of them were paired off in two "couples". One pair were working on a redd (nest) in the lower ravine, and the other pair were courting in the sediment pond.

It's a glorious time of year to be out, and the fish make it especially exciting.


The pair in the lower ravine. The female was slowly digging a depression into
the gravel and cobble with her tail, while the male stayed close by to protect his mate.


This is what happens when you inadvertently nearly step on  a salmon.

I knew there was a chum male hiding just above the culvert at the lower end of the ravine,
because I'd seen him pass under the footbridge earlier and then retreat back downstream.
As I inched along the bank I spooked him before I saw him. I instinctively pointed my camera
in the fish's direction as it exploded downstream, and hit the shutter release several times without
even trying to frame the action. This was the best of a bunch of blurry shots!


Here's the above fish about half an hour earlier, swimming under the footbridge.

Posted by Paul at 08:31 PM

Autumn Colors Make For Gorgeous Salmon Patrols

We're lucky that the salmon run in Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby from mid-October, when the autumn colours are still vibrant. A few non-fishy shots from my spawner patrol today.


Now isn't that a nice path to amble along?






Posted by Paul at 07:50 PM

October 12, 2012

The Rain is Whispering ‘The Salmon are Coming’

As I sit here this evening listening to the rain outside my home-office window, I feel a little thrill of excitement. Because after a long dry spell, the rain means salmon will start moving upstream to spawn, including in the creek beyond our back fence -- Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby.

We have two species of salmon in our urban creek, chum and coho, and if there is rain, they return from the Pacific  Ocean and start their final journey like clockwork, arriving in our creek within a few days of mid-October each fall, and continue as late as mid-December.

It's a bittersweet time of year -- sweet because the salmon bring with them seeds for new life, and bitter for it means their own deaths.

As streamkeepers, we'll start patrolling the spawning reaches of the creek, getting out at least three times a week, to enumerate the numbers of spawners, and their species, sex, and size. After they die, we measure them, cut them open to check on spawning success, and then cut them in half (so we don't double-count any) and return their carcasses to the waters, for they bear in their flesh nutrients from the ocean that help sustain a multifaceted food web.

The salmon in Byrne Creek are also an affirmation that we, humans, can turn things around and undo some of the environmental damage we've done. Decades ago Byrne Creek was dead. Cut off from the Fraser River, it was devoid of fish. Then the City of Burnaby cut a new channel in the lower reach and installed gates that move with the tides. Volunteers and Fisheries and Oceans Canada began re-stocking the creek with chum and then coho, and cutthroat trout also repopulated the waterway.

It's an ongoing struggle with numerous pollution events poisoning the creek over the years through street drains, but given clean water, the salmon do come back, they do spawn successfully, and their progeny do hatch in the spring. This cycle of life is a sight to behold in our urban area.

Some of the fish that will be arriving soon were hatchery raised and released by schoolchildren a few years ago. Some were born in the creek, and are coming home. All will do their best to plant the eggs and seed for a new generation, and then die.

Welcome back.

Posted by Paul at 07:50 PM

October 10, 2012

I’ll Present at Language Lanterns Book Launch in Vancouver on Nov. 30

NOTE: The following event has been moved to Nov. 29. Time and place remain the same. Thanks!

The Ukrainian Women's Association of Canada Vancouver Branch will host a book launch of several Language Lanterns translations on Nov. 30, at 7pm, in the mezzanine of the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral , 154 E. 10th Ave., Vancouver. Free admission and refreshments will be served. Thanks to UWAC Vancouver Chair Lydia Huzyk for taking the lead!

I will talk about several volumes, and do some readings from them. The books will include Prometheus and Maria.

Posted by Paul at 03:24 PM