Category Archives: Day Trip

Post Election Birding in Nanaimo

I made my first post-election birding trip yesterday.  A friend, who I’ll refer to by his initials LR, and I set our Nanaimo itinerary to take us on a loop including Neck Point, Pipers Lagoon, the Nanaimo River Estuary and Buttertub Marsh.

We should have known better as we only made it to Neck Point and Pipers Lagoon spending more than two hours at those two sites.  We did add the Linley Valley Drive Wetlands which is walking distance from our house.

As usual, I had both camera and binoculars at hand.  Birding was enjoyable and I did get a couple of nice pictures that I’ll share.

Neck Point

We arrived at Neck Point and had barely got out of the car when the buzzing (for an example play this recording of a Bewick’s Wren on Xeno-Canto) of a Bewick’s Wren was heard.  There was actually a pair flitting around near the parking lot and they were surprisingly unafraid bopping around in plain site.  Here is one checking me out:

Bewick's Wren at Neck Point, Nanaimo, 2015-11-05

Bewick’s Wren at Neck Point, Nanaimo, 2015-11-05

Note that I rely heavily on the auto-focus feature of my camera (Panasonic FZ-200).  When taking of pictures of fast moving birds, especially when they are in bushes the auto-focus does not always behave.  Here is an example:

Camera misfocus on Bewick's Wren.

Camera misfocus on Bewick’s Wren.

Apparently the camera liked the road-side pebbles better.

We saw a total of 14 species at Neck Point (eBird checklist)

Pipers Lagoon

Pipers lagoon was more productive producing a total of 23 species (eBird checklist).  The picture bird, a male Hairy Woodpecker,  was again located first by sound (here’s a recording of a Hairy Woodpecker on Xeno-Canto).  Here’s a picture that shows the long bill (compare with the shorter bill of its smaller look-alike cousin the Downy Woodpecker):

Hairy Woodpecker, Pipers Lagoon, Nanaimo, 2015-11-05

Hairy Woodpecker, Pipers Lagoon, Nanaimo, 2015-11-05

The final picture, while not of the highest quality because it was taken at full zoom, proved to be useful for the identification of a pair of gulls sitting on a small rock offshore.  The yellowish legs and plumage suggested a California or a Mew gull.  Studying the picture later suggested that it was a Mew Gull.  Check it out for yourself:

Mew Gulls at Pipers Lagoon, Nanaimo, 2015-11-05

Mew Gulls at Pipers Lagoon, Nanaimo, 2015-11-05

Linley Valley Dr Wetlands

A two minute walk from my house is a small wetlands  surrounded by housing developments in various stages of completion.  We spent about a half hour walking the path that runs along one side of the pond and saw some interesting birds (5 new species for the day) including a Hooded Merganser pair, Ring-necked Ducks, a Fox Sparrow, Chestnut-sided Chickadees (surprisingly not seen at the other two locations) and a Pied-billed Grebe.  The site total was 12 species (eBird checklist)

 

Watching a Family of Palila on the Big Island

[Updated December 10 2014 based on feedback.  Additional links on the Palila have been added.]

A recent week-long vacation took us to the Hawaiian Islands (October 26 to November 1). Having previously been to the island of Kauai at the old end of the island chain, we decided to try the island of Hawaii at the other, newer end.  To prevent confusion with the state of Hawaii this is frequently referred to simply as the Big Island.  I had my Panasonic FZ-200 camera along to document the trip.

On the last full day, I signed up for a Rainforest and Dryforest Birding Adventure tour — a day-long outing put on by a tour group called Hawaii Forest and Trail.  They do many other tours too that are not just for birding.  The rest of our group, for instance, went on the Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Adventure trip which takes you up to the volcano’s summit to watch a sunset.

Our trip set out in search of 2 specific target birds.  In the dry forests on the side of Mauna Kea we would be looking for the Palila, a critically endangered species which lives in a single forested area on the volcano’s slopes.  This forested area is the source of the māmane plant which the Palila has adapted to be able to eat and which is toxic to other birds.

In the second part of our excursion, we would travel to some wetter forests where we hoped to find different endemic, the ʻAkiapōlāʻau.

While we were, unfortunately, unable to track down the ʻAkiapōlāʻau, we were extremely successful with the Palila and the rest of this article describes that encounter.

Mauna Kea and the Palila

First, a quick note and the Palila habitat on the slopes of Mauna Kea.

Mauna Kea is still considered to be an active, though dormant, volcano and even though it has not erupted in 4600 years there is still the slim possibility that a lava flow from a future eruption could wipe out this habitat leading to their extinction.  While this might make for a good story in Hollywood, the reality is that there are much more dangerous risks that could well see the Palila gone from these slopes long before they are touched by lava.  Forest fires, for instance could, in the right conditions, very quickly destroy the Palila habitat.  Other threats include introduced species of plants, animals, insects and disease.  The Hawaiian government’s Mauna Kea Forest Restoration Project has lots of good information here.  Finally, according to BirdLife International, the endangered status of the Palila in recent years is also related to rapid population declines as a result of drought that has affected its primary source of food, the māmane plant.

The Palila Plan

The plan was simple.  We parked in an area accessed by a hunter access road on the lower slopes of Mauna Kea.  The trip organizers allowed for up to 4 hours climbing the slopes to find and view the Palila after which time, win or lose, we would head for the second location.

Here is a picture taken near our parking spot and at the lower edge of the area expected to contain the Palila.  Note the sparse trees on fairly open grassland.Mauna Kea slope forest home of the Palila

Here is a second shot taken as we climbed a little further up the Mauna Kea slope.Mauna Kea slope Forest Home to the Palila

Found:  A Family of Palila

According to the guide, on one recent trip they spent most of the allocated time hunting for the Palila and only found them as they were about to quit and move on.  We got lucky and found one after about 15 minutes with another pair showing up shortly thereafter.  In fact it appears that we had found a family unit with male, female and juvenile foraging together.  The juvenile showed typical begging behaviour with fluttering wings and an adult was doing the foraging and feeding of the juvenile though regurgitation as described, for instance, in a Palila wikipedia article.  This article says that both adults will regurgitate to feed the young in our case the male was feeding while the female stood guard, presumably looking for predators.  If the wikipedia article is correct then perhaps they take turns feeding and guarding or perhaps the guarding behaviour only happens occasionally, for instance when a large number of two-legged, orange-vested homo sapiens are also foraging in the area.

If we only consider predators seen historically before the arrival of man on the islands the most likely candidates would probably have been the Hawaiian Short-eared Owl (Pueo) and the Hawaiian Hawk (ʻIo).  It is not clear what threat we birders posed to the Palila though it was clearly not enough to drive them away.  Whether or not the female would have stood guard where and when she did if we had not be there is unclear.

As mentioned earlier, introduced predators are currently one of the Palila’s biggest threats.  These include feral cats and black rats (see for instance this article on the Palila from BirdLife International (birdlife.org).  Mosquitos transmitting avian malaria have also proved very dangerous to the endemic populations of birds.  They are also threatened by habitat degradation especially if it affects the growth and spreading of their primary food sources, the peas from the seed pods of the māmane plant and certain types of caterpillar.  Introduced mammals such as sheep and pigs are particularly bad for disturbing the forest plants.  Through hunting and fencing the threat of these has been reduced.

First Sighting: An adult male processing a māmane pod.

Our first sighting of a Palila was that of an adult male who was processing a māmane pod in the middle of a bush that provided the bird with some protection.  The following 7 pictures, shown in the order that they were taken, cover a period of about 9 seconds.  All of these pictures were cropped from the original size of 4000 x 3000 down to about 1200 x 800.  The displayed images below are shown at a resolution of 640 x 400 though the full-sized cropped images can be viewed clicking on the image and following the link back to Flickr.

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Video of the Male Foraging

The following is a short video that was taken starting 10 seconds after the last picture (above) was taken.  You can hear the group leader describing the bird to some of the birders that were just then discovering it for the first time.  Initially you can see the Palila alternating between working on the māmane pod and raising it’s head up to check its surroundings.

You can also hear the Palila in between the periods where it is working on the māmane pod and also after it appears to be done having released the māmane pod.  Perhaps these calls were communications to the other family members that would be showing up in the seconds that followed the video.  There may even have been a specific message to the juvenile that he (the adult male) was full and that it was time to eat.  This might also explain why he dropped the pod.  It’s not clear why they moved to a different location for the feeding.  Perhaps it was because of our presence or perhaps because it is generally safer to keep moving.

Unfortunately there is a half minute gap between this series of pictures and the next series with adult feeding juvenile.  The only thing that I recall from this period is that the juvenile and adult female arrived to join the adult male and then the female left again.

Second Sighting:  A juvenile begging and being fed by the adult male.

The second set of 7 images were taken over a period of 13 seconds starting 63 seconds after the last picture in the first set or about 38 seconds after the end of the short video.  As mentioned, in these 38 missing seconds the male moved to a different perch and a juvenile and an adult female flew in to join the adult male.  Only the juvenile stayed to be fed by the adult male while the female flew off to, it appears, stand guard (see the third sighting section below).

The sequence between the adult male and the juvenile clearly shows the begging behaviour as well as the regurgitation and transfer of food from adult to juvenile.

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The final image was taken 5 seconds after the previous one and shows the juvenile left alone and somewhat hidden in the foliage while the adult male had moved on, perhaps to start a new cycle of processing māmane pods prior to the next feeding cycle at which point he would call the juvenile to join him there.

Third Sighting: An adult female on guard duty.

The third set of 5 pictures were taken over a period of 24 seconds starting 18 seconds after the last image in the second set.

The adult female Palila, which made a brief appearance off camera took up a position 100 feet or so from where the other two birds were positioned.  Her perch at the top of a bare branch gave her good visibility. She chose a bush that kept all of the birders, which had broken into several groups by this time, on one side of her, perhaps in order to be able to see all of them at once without continually having to look in opposite directions.  As the photos show, she still does look away from time to time, perhaps scanning for other possible threats.  As mentioned previously, the two historic threats where probably the Hawaiian Short-eared Owl (Pueo) and the Hawaiian Hawk (‘Io).  At this point in our trip we had already seen 5 of these owls hunting (one near where we found the Palila) and we had one unconfirmed hawk sighting.

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I was impressed by the fact that both adult Palilas were caring for what was clearly a juvenile bird.  The splitting of the task of feeing the young was split into roles of foraging and standing guard.  It would have been nice to know if they switched roles from time to time.  Many species, particularly migratory ones, leave their young to fend for themselves at a much younger age or only one of the adults take responsibility for the young.

 Final Thoughts

I acquired my Panasonic FZ-200 camera to help with bird identification but on several occasions it has proven useful in seeing behaviours that I would never have noticed using just binoculars.  The ability to capture large numbers of pictures and even videos with sound provides the opportunity to analyze different aspects of bird sightings that happen too quickly in the field.

It would seem that my camera is rapidly replacing my binoculars as my primary birding equipment.  Here are some things that I might change in the future that might lead to better results:

  • Take more pictures and make more use of burst mode.  You can always delete them later.
  • Take more video clips.  Images can be extracted from these videos though not with the same resolution.  Video also records sound which can be useful in understanding bird behaviour.
  • Bring a tripod.  A remote control cable might be useful as well for the still shots.
  • Make sure that the memory card is fast and has lots of space.  Bringing extra fast cards will encourage taking lots of pictures and videos.
  • Add a directional microphone that plugs into the audio in jack on the camera.
  • Get more people involved.  It would be interesting to see if better behaviour could be captured with a coordinated group of birders taking pictures and videos together.  The camera clocks would obviously need to be either calibrated or synchronized to help determine the order of various events.

It was a fun way to get introduced to a new bird and, while it took a lot of time post-processing, it was definitely more satisfying than a brief sighting and a simple pencil mark on a checklist.

For More on the Palila Check Out the Following Links

The Palila article on Wikipedia.

The Palila Status at BirdLife International (birdlife.org).

The Mauna Kea Forest Restoration Project website from the Hawaiian state government has much more detailed and accurate information on current status and threats to the Palila.

The Facebook page for “A Paradise Lost”, an animated movie about the Palila directed by Laurie Sumiye.

A Visit to Central Zürich

A business trip to Zürich in early June was extended by a few days before and after to accommodate a little sight-seeing. The before-business visit consisted of 2 days in Zürich. During the first of these we walked from our hotel (Hotel Krone) downtown wandering around looking at both architecture and birds.

Here is a visual summary of some of the more interesting things that we saw:

Near the Hotel Krone in Zürich
Tramway in the middle, cars and bicycles on the outside and no place for automobiles to park on the road.

Near the Hotel Krone in Zürich

Old Building near Zürich Hauptbahnhof
Interesting old building with a tower near the train station.

Alpine Swifts over Zürich
The Alpine Swifts were quite active at this building while we were there.

Rock Pigeon

Mandarin Duck
We saw and photographed this Mandarin Duck at a distance.

Common Blackbird
The common blackbird was snacking here. Just three-and-twenty more and we could make a pie.

Chaffinch
Pretty bird with quite a strong song.

Zürich Downtown Street
The narrow streets were interesting and each seemed a little different.

Red-crested Pochard
Male Red-creasted Pochard.

Red-crested Pochard
Female Red-creasted Pochard.

Red-crested Pochard
Returning from a dip this one’s back still had a sheet of water on it.

Red-crested Pochard
A fraction of a second later and the sheet of water had broken up.

Red-crested Pochard
Another instant and the duck’s back appeared dry again.

Narrow stair-walkway between buildings
One of my favourite stair pictures for the day.

Cobblestones, Stairway and Wooden Home
Yet another ramp/stairway climbing a hill.

Cobblestone Path Between Buildings

Singing Chaffinch
This bird was singing merrily away when…

Singing Chaffinch Noticing the Audience
it spotted a small audience forming behind its back.

Common Blackbird Singing

Hiking in the Anza Borrego Desert State Park

The Anza Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in California stretching from the Mexican border north some 60 miles or so more north towards Palm Springs.  We went on a day trip and saw only one piece of the entire park hiking a single trail.  Nevertheless, we did get a sense of the park despite our short stay.

We left Palm Springs fairly early. The drive to the park is straight down the 10 interstate until you reach Indio at which point you branch onto the 86 and head south.  When you arrive at the town of Salton City, you take the S22 (also known as the Borrego Salton Sea Way) west.  The road is not in fantastic shape but it gets you to the park:
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Along the way you will see a large area of the land being used by off-road vehicles. There was a fairly visible presence of both off-road ATV type vehicles and camping vehicles from cars with small trailers to monster RVs.
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Eventually the road runs into Borrego Springs which is a small town based around a large oasis in the desert.
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This following was taken from the car as we drove into town:
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Like other desert environments in the US southwest, the Colorado Desert can be characterized by its vegetation.  The Sonoran Desert is known for its giant Saguaro cactuses; the Mohave Desert for its Joshua Trees.  The Colorado Desert, sometimes considered part of the Sonoran Desert, has creosote bushes, the ocotillo – not a cactus but a deciduous desert plant – and many other plant varieties.  The Western Fan Palm, the tree found at oases throughout the region and the only native palm tree in North America, is typically found in a Colorado Desert environment.

The visitor center for the park was be partially buried – presumably to help manage the extreme heat of the summer months:
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A short interpretive walk showcased some of the key aspects of the park and the Colorado Desert. Here is a large ocotillo which is not a true cactus:
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Between the various plants growing in the desert was some pretty cool looking, colourful ground cover.
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We came planning to take one good hike and the one that was recommended was the Palm Canyon Trail with trailhead a short drive away:
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The trail starts in a dry river bed. There was a surprising amount of vegetation and a fair number of plants were flowering.
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As we climbed out of the river bed the trail wound its way through a field of rocks and boulders.
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There is lots of vegetation from many different plants to be seen along the way including this colourful ground cover.
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After a fair hike through the rocks we came around a ridge and got our first view of the oasis.
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The 2004 Flood

In September of 2004 a rainstorm dropped a large amount of rain on the area around the Palm Canyon. The resulting flash flood ripped apart the oasis leaving only a quarter of the trees standing. The remainder were scattered around, several being washed downstream by the fast flowing water. A good account of this event and the effects on the canyon is listed in the references at the bottom of this post.

Here are some of the palm trees that were ripped out of the ground during the flash flood.
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At times, the path to the oasis was somewhat creatively constructed around the large boulders.
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Some of the biggest boulders were found as we approached the oasis. The stream of running water became more obvious as well.
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How much power was their in the flood waters? Check this out:
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Finally – the Oasis:
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The oasis comes with a small waterfall too.
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A pond with water just down from the waterfall is covered with what looks like duckweed. I wonder how that got here?
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We started back down the trail, eventually taking a different fork to follow a different trail back to the parking lot.

In case you didn’t get the scale of the earlier picture with boulder on trunk here is a version with boulder, trunk and me.
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The running water supports lots of different types of vegetation that look like they belong in a wetter climate.
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Event away from the stream, there were many flowering desert plants.
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As mentioned some of the logs were moved a long way down stream. This large palm trunk was found more than half way back to the parking lot.
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And that, as they say, is a wrap – to the hike at least. We didn’t see many birds and I wasn’t able to get much on camera. There was a Shrike and a high-up hawk and a few sparrows.

We stopped in Borrego Springs for lunch and then headed back on highway 78 which runs south of the S22 towards the south end of the Salton Sea. We were off to check out the Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge though I’ll leave the details of that for another post.

References, and Further Reading

The article: Anza-Borrego: Plant Guide To Borrego Palm Canyon Nature Trail has extensive information on the Palm Canyon Trail, its vegetation and the September 2004 flood.

Sandhill Crane Adventure at the Reifel Bird Sanctuary

Squawking Sandhill Crane(for J & C – You know who you are!)

Last Sunday I went to the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary in Delta BC.  I spent about 3 hours wandering around watching birds and taking pictures of anything interesting. In the end, however, about two-thirds of the pictures were of Sandhill Cranes.

It wasn’t that there were hundreds or thousands of them and almost nothing else – in fact, there were only about a dozen or so I never saw more than 4 in a group. No, the real reasons that I took so many Sandhill Crane pictures were that:

  • Several of the cranes were relatively tame and did not fly away when I approached.
  • It is a lot easier to take pictures of a crane than a chickadee.
  • The cranes were in my way, blocking the path in the direction that I was going.

One quick side comment:  During my visit I watched people feeding both cranes and chickadees right out of their hand (the chickadee had to land on the hand first which – obviously – the crane did not do).  Personally, I would feel safer feeding the chickadee. Up close, a crane bill looks like it can deliver a pretty hard poke.

Anyways, when I showed up at the sanctuary, I didn’t really expect to see Sandhill Cranes at all. I had been there a week earlier with a photography group that I recently joined and we had only heard a single crane calling (which we didn’t even get to see). Imagine my surprise when, walking one of the paths through the middle of the sanctuary, I ran into a group of cranes along the path ahead of me. Here are two of them:
Sandhill Cranes

These two were but half of a posse of 4 adult birds blocking the path. Here are 3 of them checking me out. You can just see the fourth hidden behind the foliage on the right.
Sandhill Cranes

I must not have been very threatening as they proceeded to turn their backs and head back along the path in the direction that I was hoping to go (though I would have preferred a less leisurely pace).
Sandhill Cranes

I finally made it around the bend in the path.

Hey, nice ‘digs’!

Apparently they were squatting in one of the prettiest parts of the sanctuary.
Sandhill Cranes

All I needed to do was get past these three who did not appear to be paying me much attention.  How about along the edge of the pond?
Sandhill Cranes

Hey! You’re not cranes! This story is supposed to be about cranes!  Still, pretty cool. It was two mallards, one leucistic (missing some pigment making them look white – not albinism though).
Leucistic Mallard ?

Anyways, back to sneaking past the cranes…

Drat! Spotted!

They may seem tame but there’s no point in getting too close. Time to backtrack and go around.
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I turned back and went up the North edge of the sanctuary past the viewing tower. I watched some Dowitchers and Yellowlegs on my way by one of the larger ponds and then headed South briefly spotting my nemesis bird, the Marsh Wren, who was no doubt sticking his tongue out at me as he dove into the long grass.

I had walked most of the way down the West edge of the sanctuary when I encountered 2 more cranes, even friendlier than the first 4. The crane on the left was cleaning up a spot on the ground where I suspect someone had dropped a handful of crane-food – some kind of coarse seed mixture. The crane on the right was keeping an eye out – whether for threats or treats was unclear.
Cranes blocking the path

What was obvious was that they were quite tame allowing me to get close – really close.
Crane (with Long Grass)

This must be a good snacking spot. At one point a trio of people showed up and one of them offered the cranes a handful of something – more crane kibble probably – that they seemed to like a lot as they took it straight out of the person’s hand.

I imagined the crane thinking: “A teensy nip, he drops the goods and no-one gets hurt” (or is that “hoit”?).
Cleaning up after messy humans

So maybe it was an ambush spot too! There we were, blocked by a pair of ruthless sandhills forcing all passers-by to empty their pockets.

There was no way that I was giving up my bag of cashews.

Lucky for me, there was a distraction – a group of three sandhills flew overhead heading out into the marsh that separated the sanctuary from the open water of the Strait of Georgia.
Sandhill Cranes in Flight

A short time later, a second group of 4 flying cranes appeared. This group, however, let out a group call as they passed overhead. I must say, these are pretty loud birds with quite a bit of lung-power behind their calls. It was clearly some kind of message because the two birds not 10 feet ahead squawked in return.
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They got in a couple of rounds of noisy calls before the flying group were out of range.  It was an award winning performance.

Envelope please!

… and the winner of the Squawky goes to …
Crane Calling

The squawking was over and the people with crane-kibble in their pockets had left.  I finally slipped by and headed for the exit and that was the end of my Sandhill Crane Adventure.

More on Sandhill Cranes at the Sanctuary

The Sanctuary has resident Sandhill Cranes that live there year round (and has had for about 30 years).  While other groups of cranes will come and go, when the breeding season comes around only the resident pair will remain to nest and try to raise a family.  Last year (2012) they had one chick that unfortunately died.

The sanctuary has lots more pictures and information on their Sandhill Cranes page.

UBC Botanical Garden

Sunday, July 28, 2013

JC had a Groupon for the Canopy Walk at the UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research that was about to expire.  So, without the dogs in tow, we hopped in the Jetta and headed west.  If we arrived early (they open at 10:00) we figured that we could get in and do the canopy walk before any crowds arrived and lineups formed.

We followed the route provided by our iPad and iPhone devices which got us to the UBC campus without any problems.  There was a triathlon being run that day resulting in road closures including the one indicated on the map.  After a little angst and a quick check of the Garden’s website we found the parking lot and geared up.

The first thing that we noticed was a group of Bald Eagles, 1 or 2  adults and at least 4 immature birds, flying around, chasing each other and doing acrobatics.  I assume that it was part of the learning process for the younger birds.
Eagles at PlayEagles at PlayWe watched them for a while, while I tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to get some pictures of the fast flying birds.

After perhaps 10 minutes, we paid our entry fee and headed into the Garden.
Garden Path to the Forest CanopyBench and PondOur first destination would be the Canopy Walk which was towards the southeast end of the Gardens.
Along the way there was lots of interesting plants to look at.

The Eagle Tree

Eagle TreeEagle Tree Information
We also passed the Eagle Tree, a 600 year old tree that the bald eagles liked to perch in.  It was occupied most of the time that we were there but only by adult birds.  Perhaps it should have been call the ‘boss eagle’ tree.

The Canopy Walk

The full name is the Greenheart Canopy Walkway and it provides the opportunity to see close up a west coast forest canopy ecosystem.
Canopy WalkCanopy WalkCanopy WalkCanopy Walk
While it claims to be the only one of its kind in Canada, there is a another canopy walk that we have tried at Whistler.  The Whistler canopy walk is more extensive and higher off the ground but it is more expensive and only available as a tour, since it requires a short bus ride to the start.

The Garden’s tree walk can be self-guided or part of an hourly tour.  We chose to go with the self-guided tour.

A Glacial Erratic

Glacial ErraticGlacial Erratic

At the exit from the canopy walk is a large rock that was picked up and dropped off by the glaciers 18,000 years earlier.

Flowers and Bees and Butterflies

Yellow Flower with BeeWhite Butterfly

We headed back to explore parts of the Garden that we had whizzed by on our way to the tree-walk. Seeing some bright flowers, bees and butterflies I decided to try out ‘macro’ mode on my camera with some nice results.

Through the Tunnel to the Other Side

Tunnel to the Other SideGarden MarshSparrowFurtive Spotted Towhee in Flowering BushBird BathSucculent Flower Beds

We discovered a whole lot more garden on the other side of the road accessible through a tunnel. There were in fact several different garden themes. The first area we went through was a marshy area full of cattails that was part of the Carolinian Forest area.

Across the Great Lawn was the Alpine Garden where I got some good pictures of a sparrow and a Spotted Towhee hiding in a flowering bush (one of my favourite birds to photograph). It may have been the large stainless steel bird-bath that was attracting them to this part of the Garden.

B.C. Native Garden

Garden WetlandDuck and DucklingThe B.C. Native Garden had several sub-areas including a small wetland with a dabbling duck and duckling pair.

Food Garden

The Food Garden is a living demonstration of varieties and techniques for home gardening.  More than 100 varieties of carefully trained fruit trees line the outer paths. Fruits and vegetables harvested by the Friends of the Garden are donated to local charities.

Part of Vegetable Garden
Gourd or PumpkinMiniature ApplesKiwi Plants with Fruit

Wildflowers and the Physics Garden

Enclosed by a traditional yew hedge, the design of this small garden is based on a 16th century Dutch engraving. The 12 concentric beds encircling a sundial showcase traditional medicinal plants from medieval Europe.

Physics GardenSundial in Physics GardenWildflowersWildflowersThistle FlowersThistle FlowersAround the Garden Pavilion and the Physics Garden were lots of colourful flowers including giant thistles and lots of wildflowers.

The physics garden was our last stop after which we headed back to the parking lot, hopped in the Jetta and headed home.
A day that started as an effort to get some value out of a coupon before it expired had turned into a very enjoyable visit the UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research.

We saw a few interesting birds as well resulting in a few good pictures.

We will definitely consider the Garden as a place to bring visitors when they come to visit us.