Fall 2012 BC Nature FGM

Spring 2012 BC Nature Conference and AGM

Report on the BC Nature AGM and Spring Conference
Kelowna, May 10-13, 2012
by Pamela Jenkins

Some participants enjoyed a pre-conference trip on Thursday to visit the South Okanagan Similkameen (SOS) Park proposal, led by Bob Lincoln and George Scotter.
 
Following registration and delightful desserts prepared by the Culinary Arts students at Okanagan College and University, Bob Lincoln talked about the SOS Park at the crossroads and urged us all to continue to write individual letters in support of the park. The fight is not over yet. The second speaker was Hugh Westhauser on Flammulated and Western Screech Wwls.

Linda Kennedy and I joined the early Friday morning birding group, meeting at 4.45am! It took almost an hour to reach Roberts Lake, north of Kelowna. We used scopes and binoculars to observe many birds including killdeer and semipalmated plovers, a peregrine falcon, lesser yellow legs, Wilson's phalarope, soras and the usual ravens , crows, chickadees and more common birds.
 
The first speaker on Friday morning was Don Gayton with Forrex, talking about “Fire in the Pines, the Ecological Role of Fire”. He mentioned disturbance ecology as a natural process dependent on random processes. In other words, fire is unpredictable with pragmatic, ecological and spiritual values. He spoke of the Mean Fire return Interval (MFI), which before European contact had been high, leading to the paradox: The more often it burns, the less damage it does. Fire is studied at the Trout Lake Ecological Reserve. Tree fire scars show up in growth rings in tree trunks and measure when fires occurred. A first recorded fire at Trout Creek was 1730 and the last recorded 1952. It has been 60 years since the last fire, and early tree ring analysis would indicate fires occurred naturally about once every seven years.
 
The next speaker was Les Gyug. His topic was “Birds and Beasts of Okanagan Mountain Park Before and After the Firestorm”. The Park was established in 1973. In 1989 a hike was recorded and in 1993, CONC and SONC established a bird and critter count. No one was allowed in the Park for a time after the fire, but when it was possible to continue observations, it appeared that in 51 of 90 common species, there was no significant change. Woodpeckers, not recorded before did well. A burn leads to shrub, forest or a mosaic.
 
After a coffee break, Dr. Tom Sullivan spoke about small mammal populations after the firestorm. Small mammals are a food source for birds of prey and fur bearers. They feed on insect pests, aerate the soil, consume seeds and lichens. Some species are crucial to the environment, but others may be a pest. Early after the fire, voles and mice appear first, followed by hares, red squirrels, red-backed voles and flying squirrels. Research started in 2005 and it was found after seeding and planting in burned areas everything disappeared, because voles had been feeding on the new saplings. Seeding burned areas is not a good idea. We need to avoid clear cuts and enhance other habitat for predators in other ways.
 
The last Friday morning speaker was Dr. Melanie Jones who had grown up in Southern Alberta, done post docs in Calgary, and Oxford England from 1988-1990, and has now returned to UBCO as a biology professor. She spoke about fungi triggered by the fire. There are now numerous morels which are good eating.
 
In the afternoon there were many trips. I squeezed in as one of the last to sign the sheet for the Brigade Trail trip. We started off at the Summerland museum, where the present curator, a retired dentist, told us enthusiastically about the trail, about how for thousands of years, First Nations people had used these routes, then picked up by European fur traders, and later the gold rush people, all claiming it as their route. Then we drove out to see parts of the trail beyond Garnet Lake, with great views north and south along Okanagan Lake. Back to the college/university for a light supper of wraps, sandwiches and desserts again prepared by the Culinary Arts students.
 
Evening speakers were Anna Warwick Sears, executive director of the Okanagan Basin Water Board, who gave an excellent comprehensive account of how we consume water and how we could consume less, and current water supply problems. She was followed by Todd Cashin, an Environmental and Land Use Planner for the City of Kelowna, and Margaret Bakelaar, Land Use Planner for the Regional District of Central Okanagan.

On Saturday morning others went on interesting trips while I went to the directors meeting. Don Guild, who had been our Regional Director is now Conservation chair, with Jim Bryan (who was once with NONC) keeping us informed about what is happening with the SOS Park proposal, Joan Best is keeping tabs on Outdoor Recreation Vehicles (ORV), with possible registration of such vehicles on hold for the moment. Anne Murray is in charge of the Breeding Bird Atlas. Bev Ramey and Joan Best are watching Agricultural Wildlife.
 
General comments were despair about Harper’s cutbacks to National Parks, and in BC distress that logging has been suggested in Parks and Protected Areas, because of the collapse of timber supply. Another horror is the Taseko mine proposal near William’s Lake. Individual letters may help if we write enough of them. Studies about the mine or pipeline and tanker traffic, make no reference to ecological concerns or assessments. People not directly affected by any of these proposals will not be heard or allowed to comment.

Some spaces are still available for BC Nature’s Robson Bird Blitz, June 9-10, and the Manning Bird Blitz, June 15-16. The deadline for BC Nature awards is August 1, 2012.
The Fall General Meeting will be September 27-30, hosted by the Nanoose and Arrowsmith groups. A Lilloet camp will be October 1-6. Deadline for club grants is January 31, 2013 and BC Nature Awards nominations February 28, 2013,
 
A Skagit bird blitz will be in May 2013 and next years AGM will be in Mission.
 
At the AGM in the afternoon, we first heard the Honourable Steve Thompson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, followed by Bill Bourgeouis, a registered professional forester talking about Healthy Forests and Healthy Communities. Following the election of next year’s executive, the business was similar to the directors meeting.
 
The evening banquet was catered by the Culinary Arts students, who provided a tremendous feast. Awards were presented to various hard-working people. The Elton Anderson award went to Pat Westhauser. Later we moved to the auditorium to hear the keynote speaker, Scott Alexander on The Northern Pacific Rattlesnake.

Three possible outings were offered on Sunday morning. I’d returned to Vernon on Saturday evening so did not go on any of those. Also from Vernon, at the conference and AGM, were Linda Kennedy, Jack and Lyn Smith, Marnie Williamson, Bob Clarke, Harold Sellers, Peter Blokker and Robyn Thornton.

NONC Annual Report 2011

NONC Christmas Party in Pictures

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

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Our opening entertainment was dance

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Another dance

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Musical chairs!

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Bill won!

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Food….lots of it

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Skits

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Dance?

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More skits

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Our actors and good sports

Cosens Bay, November 10, 2011

Nov 10th - On Thursday four of us took Bob's suggestion to drive with him to the Cosens Bay Gate. From there we took trails to the Bay, not seeing much until we were in a wooded area above the beach on the Side Winder trail. Here juncos were twittering and flying around. From the Cosens Bay beach we could see grebes disappearing under water and resurfacing.
We took a trail back through the grasslands, following a treed gulch. There had once been a route through that gulch to a waterfall, but it is now very overgrown. We ate some lunch with a lovely view of the muted colours around Cosens Bay, then continued up the trail to the road, then down onto another trail to reach Bear Valley, which has become the first bit of the High Rim Trail. Returning back to the parking lot we were greeted by magpies.
We were: Bob and Joyce Hebbert, Pam Jenkins, Gail Loughridge.

Fall General Meeting of BC Nature, Sept 29 - Oct 2, 2011

BC Nature Fall General Meeting : Tsawwassen September 29 - October 2, 2011 
Pamela Jenkins

Arriving a bit late at a pre-conference trip to the Reifel bird sanctuary, after getting lost, I found Peter Blokker and Jack and Lyn Smith among the eager birders, already peering through binoculars at the first birding site.

We wandered slowly around the ponds and dykes. Sandhill cranes posed for us and there were other interesting water birds.

We checked in at the Coast Tsawwassen Inn. I shared a room with Susan Spiller.

In the evening Anne Murray, from the Delta Naturalists, presented "The Fraser River Delta: an ecological overview”, featuring photographs by club members.

Early morning birding on Friday at Boundary Bay was great with a spectacular sunrise over Mount Baker. I got a good picture of a great blue heron eating a fish. There was one extremely knowledgeable birder among the group. I later found out he was Russell Cannings.

Friday morning presentations followed the conference theme "Nature on the Move". Dr. Jason Jones (Vancouver Avian Research Centre) talked about the miracle of migration. The next speaker was Caitlin Birdsall from the Vancouver Aquarium, talking about the migrations of Grey and Humpback whales. After a short refreshment break, we heard Dr.Marvin Rosenau from BCIT talk about salmon habitat of the Fraser River and efforts to restore it.

For the afternoon field trip Susan and I chose to go to Burns Bog, a Delta Nature Reserve, to look at bog and woodland ecology. Burns bog is surrounded by freeways and an overpass and yet remains a real nature oasis in the middle of development.

There was an evening BBQ held in a large marquee at Boundary Bay by Cammidge House. It had been catered jointly by Tsawwassen and Boundary Bay Lions Club and Metro Parks.

It really was too cloudy for star gazing, to be led by the Royal Astronomical Society, so most of us heard two talks, one about urban owls, by a girl from SFU, and a presentation about sandhill cranes: the ‘canaries’ of the lower mainland.

Early morning birding on Saturday was at Grove Park on Boundary Bay. In the trees a great horned owl was watching us. He was difficult to see, but I finally found him and took another picture. There were other interesting Saturday trips, but I needed to attend both the directors meeting in the morning and the afternoon general meeting.

At the morning meeting the Kitimat delegation brought their fears of the proposed oil pipeline and oil tanker traffic along the coast and asked us to write letters about it to various authorities, remembering various boat disasters and oil spills along the coast. Otherwise we gathered in Regional groups to discuss our activities. This oil tanker concern matter was also discussed at the general meeting.

Following the banquet at the Coast Tsawwassen Inn with BC Nature awards, a silent auction, and a raffle for a pair of binocular, the guest speaker was was Russell Cannings. His amusing speech was entitled “Birds on the Move and the People that Follow Them”.

I went on the post conference trip to Lighthouse Park and Lily Point at Point Roberts over the border. People who live there have to travel through Canada or take a boat to get to their own mainland. The land here had been purchased, planning to build a light house, which was never built. Lily Point was a cliff overlooking the sea and birds below. The lighthouse site lay across the peninsular with a yacht club between the two sites. The birding was less inspiring than Boundary Bay.

Pinnacles Lake, August 27, 2011

Pinnacles Lake, August 27, 2011
by Tom Crowley
 
Heartened - and somewhat surprised - by the continuing sunny weather, Pam Jenkins led myself and Ehor Shlanka on a hike to "PInnacles Lake" in the Monashees, east of Cherryville.

This diverse trail changes constantly - first traversing wet, muddy areas with much log and plank hopping; then through beautiful stands of gigantic, mature  cedar; next a few wide-open, lushly-vegetated slide areas are crossed; and finally a demanding switchback-route strenuously ascends the valley's steep headwall to emerge from the last trees on the shore of gem-like 'Pinnacles Lake'. The Lake's outflow stream plunges precipitously down the smooth rock of the headwall in two major cascades - the upper more muted and slow, the lower one roaring down in an almost vertical drop.
 
Even this late in the season, colourful wildflowers were everywhere in the wet environment of the cascades and slide areas - where a remnant of last Winter's snow still lingered. Noteworthy species included : 'Yellow' and 'Pink' "Monkey Flowers"; "Columbian Monkshood"; "(Yellow) "Stream Violet"; the "Fringecup" (Tellima); "Leatherleaved Saxifrage"; "Fringed Grass-O-Parnassus"; "Alaska Saxifrage"; "Purple-Leaved Willowherb; "Devil's Club"; "Five Leaved Bramble"; "One-Leaved Foamflower"; "Meadow Rue”; and "Baneberry".
 
We thoroughly enjoyed this worthwhile hike in the heart of the wild Monashees.
- Tom Crowley, Pam Jenkins, Ehor Shlanka

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Bugaboo Trip, August 10-13, 2011

Bugaboo Trip,  August 10 to 13,  2011
by Pamela Jenkins
 
On Wednesday August 10, Tom Crowley and I drove to the Bugaboo Septet Forest Service Recreation site, not far from the Canadian Mountain Holidays exotic resort near the Bugaboo Spires. There were four sites with tables and lots of available other spaces, but there was only a deserted camper van as we arrived. We got a glimpse of one of the occupant(s) who had a mountain bike.
 
Tom and I had both visited the Spires with other people in the past. In fact our first encounter was at Boulder Camp in 1966, 45 years ago. Tom phoned me 40 years later out of the blue. We’ve been enjoying trips like this ever since that phone call.

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My last visit to the Bugaboos was in 1994 with my late husband, who had been a good climber. He had wanted to lead me up Pidgeon Spire, but I’d had to give up no too far from the summit with bleeding hands from the rough rock surfaces.

The Bugaboos consist of granite spires protruding from snow, icefields and glaciers, and have become an international climbing mecca.
 
At the climbers parking lot people are advised to wrap their cars with chicken wire to protect tires, fan belts and other rubbery bits from the porcupines.
 
Our objective on this trip was to get to the Conrad Kain shelter, near the Boulder camp site and return the same day. I no longer carry overnight gear on my back.

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In the sixties there had been two fibre glass igloos, which were relocated to a more remote site when the Spires became a park.
 
The trail starts off gently through some woods and across a meadow, before climbing up through the first boulder field. It continues in the trees, besides a creek, continues up through more meadows and crosses bouldery rocky places, but higher up has had to be re-routed because of massive land slides. Others on the trail, some overtaking us and some coming down, had well equipped packs with ropes, camping stuff, crampons, ice axes, helmets and such. The alpine meadows led to some rocks with a chain to follow upwards. Higher up we came to a ladder up one of the rock faces. Further up, there was a more extensive chain section with footholds scooped into the rock.
 
Past the chain and ladder part of the trail, we continued through delightful meadows occasionally getting glimpses of the roof of the hut, but it never seemed to get any nearer.
 
The last bit was a gravel moraine-like ridge across from the hut. When we got there a few people were preparing for big climbs, but most were still out there. It took me 4-1/2 hours to get to the shelter and another 5-1/2 hours to get back; a long day. Some younger people were rushing down and returning up with more supplies to extend their stays, in less time than it had taken me to reach the hut. 
 
My first trip to the Bugaboos had enabled me to climb Pidgeon and Eastpost Spires, both cowering below Bugaboo Spire.
 
On Friday we had a supposedly gentle walk up Chalice Creek. A bridge across Chalice Creek had been washed out and the new trail climbs up steeply and awkwardly up through trees for about 800 metres. It crosses Chalice Creek above the cascading water part, on two cedar logs, then rejoins the older easier track, which we followed far enough to get a panoramic view of the Bugaboo Spires.
 
We were back early afternoon, so we took the chance to visit the grounds of the Mountain Holiday Resort, rather incongruous with lawns, flowers, magnificent views and helicopters ready to take off for the prosperous elite.
 
Vegetation highlights during these two days included pinedrops, a spectacular 80cm tall reddish brown saprophyte, many single delight at Chalice Creek, lots of white rhododendron lower down, paintbrush, mountain forget-me-not, pink spirea shrubs, arnicas, white, pink and purple heathers, Western anemones in various stages, grass of Parnassus, white rein orchids, cow parsley, a special spotted saxifrage, sandwort and so on.

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Before leaving the campsite we talked with some new arrivals from the States. Two climbers, ready to camp behind the Howser Spires to get away from it all, were planning a very technical climb. We stopped to look at the Bugaboo Falls near the road before continuing on to Brisco, then stopping at Radium Hotsprings to soak out aches and pains. We had our Saturday lunch at a bakery in Invermere, then drove on to Fort Steele, where I got reminiscent views of Mt. Fisher, which I’d climbed with my late husband in 1997. We continued through Creston and Salmo which is one end of Hwy 6. The other is Vernon. The moon was shining as we crossed the Needles ferry and we got here about midnight after a wonderful adventure. <>
 

Twin Lakes, August 4, 2011

Twin Lakes, August 4, 2011
by Pamela Jenkins
 

Three people phoned me about Twin Lakes, so four of us drove up to the Twin Lakes parking lot in my Honda. We followed the North Fork Road from Cherryville. We arrived in two hours with no incidents.

On an earlier trip, Bob Hebbert had had a flat tire and I had had a tire blow out, so I
 almost didn't want to make the drive, but mine was the most suitable vehicle to go.

Peter insisted I mention that we had seen or heard olive-sided flycatchers; the ones that chirp "Quick three beers"; a ruby-crowned kinglet; a red breasted nuthatch; and rufous hummingbirds. A small plumpish mammal ran across the road; Susan suggested was a fox. There were also ground squirrels and marmots.

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The well-established trail, adequately signed by the Vernon Outdoor Club, started steeply up through wet interior rain forest vegetation. Lower down there was some devils club and white rhododendron (also known as mountain misery when you have to bushwhack off trail on steep hillsides). The glacier lilies were over, but higher up were lovely Western Anemones, in flower or just starting to become tow head babies in their seed form.

Other flowers included globe flowers, spring beauty, valerian,
 green rein orchids, arnica, paintbrush, but an absence of tiger lilies as seen on other trips this year.

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We had to persuade Susan to continue to the ridge, where we needed to cross several snow patches. Peter continued down towards the lakes, but we called him back about half way down at an excellent viewpoint where we could eat lunch.

I had been to Twin Lakes several times before,
 two times camping at the lakes. Once I had climbed Severide on a NONC trip, when It had taken me rather a long time, from early morning until after dark. Now I'm even more slow.

After lunch, Peter and Vivian did go down to the lakes. Susan and I walked down to the last steep bit among the flowers and waited for the guys to return. It had taken two hours to drive out, about two hours to reach our lunch spot and I could go no faster on the way back. In fact I got a leg cramp on one steep uphill bit going back to the car.

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I drove down to the Cherryville Emporium, where I bought a piece of cooked chicken, some pan fried potatoes, ice cream, tea and juice. The guys did not want to stop for supper, so I asked Peter to drive so I could eat my supper in the car.

We were: Peter Blokker, Pamela Jenkins, Vivian Merchant and Susan Spiller.

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Wrinkly Face Provincial Park, July 28, 2011

Wrinkly Face Provincial Park, July 28, 2011
Pamela Jenkins
 
Wrinkly Face Provincial Park was established May 2,.2004. The park protects a series of dry Meadows at the top of the basalt cliff formation and the wetter meadows at its base and the Douglas fir forest.
 
There are five red/blue listed vascular plants. Only one has a common name, the false mermaid. The others are noted by their long botanical names. ( Information taken from the internet).
 
Bob led our trip. Wrinkly Face Park is traversed by the High Rim Trail (HRT). We joined it to start walking North steeply uphill along the HRT. There were carpets of twin flower beside the trail and at the top we saw some larkspur, miniature yellow monkey flower, oxeye daisies, yarrow, lupins, three flowered avens, paintbrush and yellow hawkweed to mention a few of the plants, which are doing particularly well this year because of the wet weather.
 
The views of Kelowna, the lakes and the airport were indistinct because of a pollution haze, so it didn't matter that I'd forgotten my camera. Some one had driven over a new fence around the   park and cows had trampled on the trail. Pictures were taken of our wrinkly faces by the park sign at the North end of the park where the HRT continues on to the Oyama Lookout and Cosens Bay.
 
We stopped to eat lunch at a viewpoint before returning to the cars. 
 
On the way back we stopped at Kayola Park to swim in the lake and pick apricots from a tree in the park.
 
We were: Bob and Joyce, Fred and Ina, Gretta, Peter B, Susan and Pam.

Trophy Mountains, Wells Gray Provincial Park, July 26-28, 2011

'Sheila Lake' Backpack, Trophy Mountains, Wells Gray Prov. Park, July 26 - 28, Tom Crowley.
 
Having missed the successful NONC Wells Gray Camp, a companion and I backpacked up to 'Sheila Lake' in the extensive alpine meadows at 6800 ft. below the Trophy Mountains ridge in Wells Gray Prov. Park.

We travelled in (unpredicted!) intermittent freezing rain on Tuesday evening, July 26, learning later that Kamloops was being coincidentally deluged and blasted by thunder and lightning during that same evening! Thankfully, no lightning accompanied our exposed ascent, and while we were well-equipped for the rain and hail, thoughts of hypothermia-dangers were not entirely absent from our thoughts. The rain relented by 8:00 P.M. and we set up camp and had a late supper.

Next day (the 27th), we had hoped to ascend the ridge above camp and traverse it to the main Trophy Mtn. summit (8450'), but almost continuous low-cloud and showers, broken only occasionally by brief bursts of sunshine, made if prudent to abandon that plan.  Instead, we meandered around the wonderfully-diverse series of meadows, tarns, and small ridges - all brilliant with alpine flowers such as Marsh Marigolds, Globe Flowers, Moss Campion, Gentians, and Western Anemones.
 
Wildlife was sparse, and we were surprised that many birds, like Clark's Nutcrackers, "Whiskey Jacks", or Rosy Breasted Finches were not to be seen.  The whistles of only a few Hoary Marmots could be heard at times, and we concluded that many ground-squirrels and other rodents had likely not survived in their burrows this lengthy, past Winter.

Two marmots did visit our campsite, but it was only on our July 28 backpack 'exit' that we had our most exciting wildlife sighting! When we reached the sheepherder's cabin we saw an unusually large Grizzly family some 200m across the vast meadows of avalanche lilies. There were 5 bears in all - a mother, 3 cubs and a yearling ....all VERY aware of us. The mother stood up, 'checked us out', and slowly moved the cubs and yearling further across the meadow, where they continued - watchfully - digging lily-bulbs. All looked in beautiful, prime condition, and though no danger seemed likely, we carefully withdrew by continuing down the trail through the meadows - noting that our backpacking 'tempo' had significantly increased!
 
We had seen no other campers or hikers at all during our outing, but now we began to meet groups of hikers coming up from the lower parking-lot - all of whom we urged to be alert for the Grizzly family higher up. At the vehicle, after the near-freezing conditions of the high-country, the heat - and insects ! - of the parking-lot and later, down in the Clearwater valley-bottom, made for a dramatic, and almost oppressive, ennervating contrast. - Tom Crowley, Dwight Boulton.

Oyama Lookout, July 24, 2011

Oyama Lookout, July 24, 2011
Pamela Jenkins
 
On Sunday July 24, a few of us missed out on a trip to Twin Lakes, fearing too much snow, as reported by the person who had done a recce for the Outdoor Club (VOC) ten days before. I later heard that Jack, Lyn and Ray and some others had gone to Twin Lakes and had found no snow on the trails and fields of glacier lilies. Mountain areas change very quickly.
 
Oyama Lookout above town beckoned. Tom, Ehor and myself drove South to Oyama, across the isthmus and up the Forest Service Road towards Oyama Lake.
 
Part way up, there is a rocky ledge viewpoint over the colourful south end of Kal Lake, looking towards Terrace Mountain and surrounding areas, where we stopped to take pictures.
 
Ehor had the VOC trail book, so we parked at a different place, at a point on the High Rim Trail (HRT). In the past I've parked near the west end of Damer Lake.
 
The HRT eventually joins the route from Damer Lake, passing an almost dried up Chatterton Lake.
 
About noon, we reached the microwave towers, which three guys were maintaining. One told us that the receiving discs had been used for target practice and were full of bullet holes.

Eating lunch looking north to Swan Lake and over Vernon, I read the VOC and noted a new (to me) trail, which left the drivable road just behind the towers.
 
It turned out to be a much longer route, starting off through windfalls and down a steeper slope. We had already seen red columbine plants and several spectacular 80cms tall pinedrops (pterospera andromedia), a reddish brown saprophyte. On this trail there some smaller pinedrops.

After descending some distance there was a sign to Geoff's Lookout. We followed this overgrown track down through a gulch and up the other side to see a rocky outcrop, but somehow we lost the trail, so gave up. 

After more downhill and a few uphill bits we eventually came out on a road. I assumed it was the side road on which we were parked and in fact it was, but we came to a well-defined Outdoor Club green arrow, pointing into the bush. Here Ehor wanted to rush along to check out the road. Tom wanted to try the trail after rushing after Ehor but not catching him up.

Tom returned from his trail exploration, to where I was resting, and we decided we had to follow Ehor, who was soon returning with no answers, so we felt we must follow the green arrow. Tom had missed some flagging and we were soon back on the HRT trail, passing the Chatterton Lake sign, and back at my car. It was a much longer hike than I'd had in mind.
 
We had to drive this backroad just to check it was the road where we had seen the green arrow.
 
Driving back we continued along the King Edward Lake Road and came out on Hwy 6.

Exploring Wells Gray, July 12-18, 2011

Exploring Wells Gray with NONC   July 12-18, 2011    Pamela Jenkins
 
Some of the following information and part of the title is taken from Roland Neave's book on Wells Gray Park. Wells Gray is BC's fourth largest park.

We didn't reach the rugged remote areas north of Clearwater Lake, but were able to see many of the sights in the southern third of the park, which has the Clearwater River flowing south through it. Various streams running into the Clearwater River have gouged deep spectacular canyons through the lava flows from the volcanic plateau.
 
Ten of us stayed at the Clearwater Country Inn and RV park, where we could also camp. We drove into the nearby park each day.
 
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On Wednesday, our first day there, the weather was somewhat uncertain, but we drove to explore anyway. The first stop was at Spahats Falls, which has now been included in the park. Years ago it was also a small provincial park with a campsite, which is no longer there, and from where there was access to Trophy and Raft Mountains.
 
Then we stopped for a short walk to the surging waters at Dawson Falls. There we saw our first rainbow in the spray. Next under cloudy skies we parked and set out on the South Rim trail to Helmcken Falls. It’s a four kilometre walk through the trees to the canyon edge. 

About half way along this trail it started to rain. The weather has encouraged wild flowers to bloom. There were lots of pink pyrolas, white rein orchids, Columbia lilies, paintbrush and pink roses, all somewhat bedraggled in the wet. At the cliff edge above the falls the sun came out for a short while, creating our second rainbow experience. We were able to eat lunch during this less wet time. The return trail seemed a lot shorter, but then we were not stopping to take photos and we hoped to get back to the cars before the next shower. Some were sheltering in an outhouse when I finally plodded back.
 
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Next we drove four kilometers to the tourist parking for Helmcken Falls on the North Rim, where the walk to the fenced off edge is quite short. It was still raining, but from here there is a full panorama of the falls. There is a lot more water than some years. Last year Tom and I had visited the park when there was less water and spray about the same time of year. Perhaps that is why I had suggested the trip.
 
On Thursday, in still dubious weather, we decided to go to the Ray farm and homestead, a few kilometers further on. This involved a gentle walk through the cleared meadows to see the fenced off, collapsed farm buildings and the historic homestead. Peering across the wet field filled with lots of bog orchids, we saw a brown shape, which at first looked like a deer. Looking through binoculars I believed the others who had seen a sandhill crane. We continued into the wet woods with lots of devils club and wet rain forest growth to some bubbling springs in a patch of red ochre coloured soil. Nearby a bear was clawing a tree stump. It got on with its business and allowed us to walk by before it took off.
 
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Before returning to Clearwater, we stopped to drive up the Green Mountain road, where there is an observation platform providing a 360 degree view. The sun was shining through the clouds.
 
Those on supper duty then drove back, but six of us had tea at the Buffalo Ranch. 

On Friday, eight of us decided to try the Trophy meadows trip and planned to drive as far as we could get. John and Gretta were on supper duty, Gretta had been before and was apprehensive, so they decided to explore other places. They actually did the Trophy meadows in better weather on Saturday and I believe they went a little further than us.
 
There was no problem driving to the parking lot. The trail starts off through a clearcut, climbing gently to the cedar and pine forest. Higher up the trail was snow-covered so I was worried about reaching and walking through the meadows. In open glades we saw the first Avalanche lilies. They appear just as the snow recedes.  The trail was snow-free but wet across the open slopes covered with yellow lilies. I knew there was an historic shepherd’s cabin just around a patch of trees. Some of us got to this spot to take pictures and a few of us hiked to a slightly higher nearby tarn. Last year Tom and I had gone on to the next ridges and also had visited Sheila Lake, where there is a back country camp place.
 
On the way back we took another road to peek at Silver Tip Falls and locate the parking place.

On Saturday, John and Gretta did the meadows trip, while the rest of us drove back to park at the head of the Silver Tip Falls trail. The trail was quite short , but not easy. Jeannine, who has had knee surgery, decided to give up at one very steep bit where I had pulled myself up using protruding tree roots. The falls are high, but not cited because part way down they cascade over a large rock boulder, which although spectacular, breaks the distance fallen, according to a book.

Back at the cars we drove to the parking spot for the Moul Falls, where we first ate our lunch. This trail crosses private ranch land. The owners allow hikers to walk their road 2.9 kilometres to a trail head, which leads through the bush to the fenced off top of the falls. A more demanding trail leads down to some metal steps, which are easy to negotiate, but the lower old wooden steps are tricky and very big steps. Some people returning from these falls were soaking wet. We watched a father lead his children on a trail which goes behind the falls. If ever I return I will have a swimsuit so that I could change and go behinds the falls. I just did not want to get wet.
 
At the end of our trips, sometimes we swam in the Country Inn pool, as we did this last night for all of us. Everyone seemed very happy and we toasted each other.
 
Exploring Wells Gray  July12-18,   2011 185

On Sunday, George and Jeannine and Ron and Evelin stopped to play a pre-arranged golf game in Barriere in the sun. John and Gretta also drove back.
 
Jack, Lyn, Susan and myself stayed one more day to hike to the Dragons Tongue, a lava flow now moss-covered, at the South end of Clearwater Lake. At the end of the Dragons Tongue loop, an unmaintained wilderness trail takes off for 20 kilometres to Kostal Lake. We returned to a fork to the Osprey Lookout. The trail climbs up to a picnic table where we ate lunch, then walked the Osprey loop with interesting mountain and lake views peeking through the trees. Jack kindly drove us past the camp places to the boat launch area, so that I could see where I had once launched a new kayak with my ex-husband in 1965 and kayaked the length of Clearwater Lake, portaged through to Azure Lake and kayaked to the end of that lake.
 
Every night there had been terrific thunder and lightning storms and again on this last night.

Spectrum or Rainbow Lake, July 7, 2011

Spectrum or Rainbow Lake, July 7, 2011
by Pam Jenkins

Bob's suggestion last week was to go to Spectrum, also known as Rainbow Lake. Five of us met at the usual place and met four more at Coldstream Ranch.

We first drove to the Falls up from the Shuswap River. The falls were spectacular with lots of water and spray and the sun was just in the right position to create the rainbow. 

Last time I was at Spectrum Lake was in the seventies, when the trail started just above the falls. Now you return down from the falls to the logging road following the Shuswap River until you reach a sign on another road pointing uphill to Monashee Provincial Park.

This more recent road passes through some active logging, then climbs a long way uphill to a new parking lot. 

Blue lupins lined the road edges and along the trails we saw foam flowers, bunch berries, prince's pine and one-sided wintergreen. There were also beds of twin flower, some yew trees among the cedar and pine and devil's club near the water, besides other plants. Some, like dandelions, would be called weeds.

Leaving the cars we crossed Spectrum Creek and climbed up through the forest to reach a place where the old overgrown trail joins it and continued on the well-groomed trail which gradually ascends through the forest and across rocky patches, passing 1km , 2km then 5 km signs. Each kilometre seemed to take forever as we crossed several creek gullies. Just beyond the 5km sign, one trail continues up to Peters Lake, and another descends another kilometre down to Spectrum Lake.

Bob and Joyce decided not to go down to the lake and started back. The rest of us enjoyed the sparkling blue water and surrounding snow-covered hill tops peeking through the trees and across the lake.

There are now prepared campsites and picnic shelters. We chose one, the nearest one, to stop and eat our lunch. I had to explore and find the flat place near the water’s edge where I had once camped on my way up to Peters Lake with some Girl Guides. John, Fred and Jack climbed up to join the Peters Lake trail further up. The ladies returned the way we had come down to join the trail back to the parking lot.

It took me a long time to finally get back to the cars. We all enjoyed the trip. I fell once going down to Rainbow Falls at the start of the trip, when I banged my head on a protruding log, and towards the end of the trail, I had another minor fall into some mud.

Bob and Joyce Hebbert, Fred and Ina Wisse. John and Gretta MacDougal, Jack and Lyn Smith and Pamela Jenkins enjoyed this outing.

Baillie Birdathon 2011

Baillie Birdathon Experience, May 21, 2011
by Harold Sellers

Bird Studies Canada’s (BSC’s) Baillie Birdathon is the oldest sponsored bird
count in North America. Funds raised are used to support a number of BSC activities and programs, plus a portion is returned to an organization chosen by the birdathon participant.

This was my first year doing the Baillie Birdathon myself. Back in Ontario, I had joined a friend for a few hours of observing, so I was familiar with the basics, that is: record as many bird species as possible by sight and/or sound, during a period of 24 consecutive hours in the month of May. The following is my story of how it went this year.

Up at 4:00 am, I recorded my first bird: the American Robin. Several of them were already singing outside our apartment at that early hour.

Driving through Vernon on the way to Kal Lake, I logged House Sparrow. Pausing at Kal Beach, I added Pheasant, Quail, Mallard and Canada Goose. Heading towards Kal Park (which was closed), there were House Finch, Magpie, Starling and Flicker along the streets and roads.

Wandering the roads of Coldstream between 5:00 and 6:00 in the morning, I found Crow, Bullock’s Oriole, Mourning Dove, Meadowlark, Western Kingbird and Red-winged Blackbird.

Turning back towards Vernon, on my way to Swan Lake, I noted the Heron were flying out to look for food.

Parking at the Swan Lake parking lot, a slow walk at 6:30 am, through the field and wetland gave me Tree Swallow, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Virginia Rail, and Wilson’s Snipe. At the pond constructed a couple of years ago I found Spotted Sandpiper.

The trail from the footbridge to the blind was under water, due to the high water levels of this past Spring. I was wearing shorts and sandals because I anticipated this. The water was up to my knees as I neared the blind and it was very COLD! I had brought a towel in my pack and it took a number of minutes to warm up my feet. My efforts added only a few species: Coot, Loon, Osprey and an unidentified Grebe.

Walking back through the fields and wetland I added Red-tailed Hawk, Savannah Sparrow, Killdeer, Sora and Cinnamon Teal.

Driving past Kin Track I noted Rock Pigeon.

Picking up Linda at home, we headed down to Oyama at 10:00 am to check the Hebberts Bluebird trail, which we were watching while they were away. Here we added Towhee, Clark’s Nutcracker, House Wren, Western Bluebird, Red-breasted Nuthatch and Turkey Vulture.

By 1:00 pm we were on our own Bluebird trail at Predator Ridge and McKay Reservoir. Here we saw Mountain Bluebird, Brewer’s Blackbird, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Bald Eagle, Pygmy Nuthatch and Barn Swallow.

From here we went to Birdie Lake at Predator Ridge. That stop gave us Calliope Hummingbird, Ruddy Duck, Northern Shoveler and Redhead Duck.

Coming back to Vernon we paused at Rose’s Pond and recorded Hooded Merganser and Ring-necked Duck.

At 4:00 pm our next route was out Otter Lake Road. Raven was added and at Otter Lake we stopped at the parking lot. The wind had come up during the afternoon and the high waters of the lake were almost whipped into whitecaps. We saw a Bonnaparte Gull hanging onto a fence, head pointed into the wind. A Bald Eagle was trying to lift a large dead fish, but after several attempts gave up. Other species seen around the lake were Blue-winged Teal and Herring Gull.

At 5:00 pm we saw an American Kestrel sitting on a telephone pole near Armstrong. A quick look at the Armstrong sewage lagoon was disappointing; nothing new.

Some dinner and back to Vernon and out to Kalamalka Park to conclude the day. Between 7:00 and 8:00 pm we completed our list with Black-capped Chickadee, Ruffed Grouse, Yellow-rumped Warbler and Black-chinned Hummingbird. Interesting both hummingbird species we had seen were observed resting atop Saskatoon bushes. They would repeatedly fly out briefly and then return to rest on a high branch.

After almost 16 hours of observation, it was time to call it a day. However, a visit to Becker Park in our own neighbourhood, gave us the final species: a Western Tanager. With 59 species recorded during our first attempt at the Baillie Birdathon, we were pleased. It’s always amazing what you can see when you slow down, stop, listen and look.

Thanks to those NONC members who generously sponsored me to a total of $300. A portion of those proceeds will be returned to the club by Bird Studies Canada. Next May I plan to be out there again. <>

NONC Annual Report 2010

Bluebird Nestbox Report Form #1

Bluebird Nestbox Report Form #2