Eelgrass Tide Pools

Eelgrass (Zostera marina) is a marine vascular plant that produces flowers and seeds. There have been some really good low tides in the late afternoon this week and I’ve been able to get out on the sand flats and poke around in the eelgrass tide pools at Miracle Beach Provincial Park on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. I love exploring tide …

Mistletoe Mystery

Hemlock Dwarf Mistletoe (Arceuthobium tsugense) growing on Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla). I’ve been looking for Dwarf Mistletoe (Arceuthobium sp.) at Miracle Beach Provincial Park for years now – I know that it is there, growing on the Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla). My wife Jocie has found it several times and has brought it back to the house for me to …

Red Listed Pink Heart-Cockle

While out walking at Miracle Beach Provincial Park yesterday I was extremely fortunate to find a single blooming Pink Heart-Cockle (Dicentra cardii). This plant is red-listed in British Columbia and it is rare to find it in flower. It has a brief “blink and you miss it” blooming period in late March/early April after which it withers away. One of …

Signs of Spring on Lily Lane

I love this time of year for the amazing new growth and early flowers here on the West Coast of Canada. On the southern part of Vancouver Island things are already well on the way to spring and here in the “north” I’m seeing more and more species of flowers coming into leaf, bud and flower. Some of the earliest …

A Lesson in Lichens

The bright red apothecia of Toy Soldiers (Cladonia bellidiflora) stands out on gray winter days. Quite often it is the small things that are missed when one is walking with being attentive. This week I discovered a beautiful community (?) of lichen on a log near the ocean at Miracle Beach Provincial Park. I’ve been specifically looking for cladonias since …

Tastes Like Licorice

Sori of Licorice Fern (Polypodium glycyrrhiza). One of the Pacific Northwest ferns to look for on these dreary winter days is the Licorice Fern (Polypodium glycyrrhiza). Typically, you find Licorice Fern growing as an epiphyte on Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum) and Red Alder (Alnus rubra) but I’ve also seen it growing occasionally on the ground or on moss covered rocks. …

A Pleasing Peltigera

Freckle Pelt (Peltigera sp.) one of two possible Freckle Pelts – P. aphthosa or P. britannica. A lesson in how to identify a Peltigera, learned in retrospect. When I saw this lichen growing in moss at the base of a rotting stump in Miracle Beach Provincial Park I recognized it immediately. It was a Peltigera, a pelt lichen, and its …

Miracle Beach Birdwatching

Miracle Beach Provincial Park on Vancouver Island, British Columbia provides a good place for both forest birds and marine birds. It has a great mix of “old growth” Douglas Fir, Big Leaf Maple, and open, well established Red Alder (in the campsite area) as well as stream habitat alongside Black Creek, productive estuary habitat at the mouth of the creek, …

Guess that Gull

I admit that I struggle with identifying gulls. Not only do you have to deal with four years of different plumages, you have to deal with hybrids as well. It can be extremely challenging and there are many opportunities to second guess yourself. In situations like those, sometimes it’s better to simply close your eyes, wait until the gull is …

Brown Clustered Ear Cup

If you keep your ear to the ground you never know what you might see on your next walk in the woods. The Brown Clustered Ear Cup (Otidea alutacea) looks like delicate ears poking up through the moss. In actuality, it is a cup fungi. Brown Clustered Ear Cup (Otidea alutacea) We found a group of these cup fungi growing …