Winter Sparrows

All through the winter months, even on the wettest and dullest days, there are always birds in the shrubs and hedges of our neighbourhood. Sparrows are some of the most common winter birds, but I’m always glad to see them. They aren’t particularly flashy or colourful, but they have a subtle beauty, and like good friends they just get better …

The Nature of Texada Island

Dick Island, a pleasant hiking destination on Texada Island, British Columbia. With a warm, sunny weekend weather forecast, my mother and I decided to go camping on Texada Island. Boarding the ferry from Comox at Little River, we crossed Georgia Strait to Powell River, then re-entered the terminal for the shorter passage to Texada. The largest of the Gulf Islands, …

The Beauty of Arbutus

Groves of twisted Arbutus (Arbutus menziesii) can be found at Helliwell Provincial Park on Hornby Island, British Columbia. A painting called “The Sunbathers” (by Daphne Stevens) hanging on my kitchen wall depicts a group of smooth, orange-barked arbutus trees basking in the sun on a hot, rocky hillside from BC’s southern Gulf Islands. There is something mesmerizing about this tree, …

The Dunes at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

A variety of unique and interesting plants can be found in the Wickaninnish Beach dunes. This is the time of year to visit the dunes of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. While most visitors walk the endless sandy beaches that the park is famous for, fewer take the time to visit the unique and fragile …

A West Coast Giant

Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis) grow to an average 70 meters in height although some are much taller. Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) is in the big leagues as far as trees are concerned, along with other west coast giants like Douglas-fir and western red cedar. To me, the very name “spruce” conjures up an Emily Carr-like image of a dark green, …

Ancient Horsetails

The pale, fertile shoots of Giant Horsetail (Equisetum telmatiea) are visible for a short period in the spring. During a recent visit to Sayward I happened upon a patch of giant horsetail rising from a roadside ditch. Strangely alluring, the pale brown wand-like fertile shoots appear in spring, followed shortly after by green, vegetative shoots. These anemic fertile shoots, which …

Pollen is in the Air

Red Alder (Alnus rubra) begins to produce pollen as early as late February on Vancouver Island. When my husband starts sneezing and snuffling, I know that allergy season has arrived. Here on the coast, pollen related allergies can start in late February and continue through to September. To better understand my husband’s suffering I went to the source, the pollen …

Winter Birding at Oyster Bay

Looking out at the old pilings at Oyster Bay. The eastern coast of Vancouver Island has many locations that are excellent for winter birding. Sheltered bays offer resting places for numerous species of waterfowl and the beaches can be productive for shorebirds. One of the highlights between Courtenay and Campbell River is Oyster Bay Shoreline Regional Park, which is located …

Exploring Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Beach walkers at Schooner Cove. We have just returned from a wonderful weekend get-a-way at Pacific Rim, on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Winter is our favourite time to visit the west coast. There aren’t too many tourists, and rain or shine we are always dazzled by the area’s natural beauty. Established in 1970, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve …