Sandy Island Marine Provincial Park

Tree Island from Longbeak Point on Denman Island When is an island not an island? When you can walk to it – at low tide! You won’t find the name Tree Island on many maps – but ask someone from the Comox Valley, and they will refer you to Sandy Island – the Marine Provincial Park so close to the …

Top Five Birding Spots in the Alberni Valley

Somass Estuary in the Alberni Valley on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. I recently ran across a couple at Victoria Quay in Port Alberni. They had the tell-tale sign of a birder and a visitor – binoculars hanging from their necks and hanging around the signs by the Somass River. I approached them and they started asking about how to get …

Dunes at Goose Spit

Dramatic skies at Goose Spit, Comox, British Columbia. Often the reason a destination is popular has little to do with the superb natural features of an area. Such is the case with Goose Spit Park in Comox, on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Usually portrayed as “the” place to enjoy the sunset and an evening beach fire, Goose Spit has much …

A Place of Rainbows

Island of Rainbows The name Sointula, the Malcolm Island community of utopian origin off northern Vancouver Island, translates as ‘Place of Harmony’ – but it might equally be called ‘Place of Rainbows’. A frequency of rainbows of course means an abundance of rain, of which Malcolm Island receives over 150 cm annually – but the south facing shore of the …

Sensational Sea Lions

A juvenile Sea Lion swims by me at Norris Rock near Hornby Island, BC. My partner and I are the only divers in the water this afternoon and we are outnumbered 30-2. We hover in 20’ of water anxiously watching an undulating cloud of sand, silt, fur and bubbles head our way. A welcoming committee of curious juvenile California Sea …

Rathtrevor Ramble

Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park Most people mention the endless stretches of sandy beach, ocean swimming and eel-grass tide pool exploration when they talk about Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. However, this 347 ha Provincial Park has much to offer the terrestrial naturalist as well. There is no question that the rich eel-grass beds hold a treasure …

Brandt’s, not Brant’s

A Brandt's Cormorant (Phalacrocorax penicillatus) showing off its exotic blue gular patch and white breeding feathers. If I only had a dollar for every time I’ve seen the confusion in the spelling of Brandt’s and Brant, I might be able to afford my dream birding trip to Ecuador. Right now we are nearing the end of the Brant Goose migration …

Where the Wildflowers Are

Western Trillium (Trillium ovatum), one of many streamside flowers to look for this spring on Vancouver Island. The spring wildflower bloom is well under way on Vancouver Island but there’s still time left to see some of the flowers along coastal forest trails and riversides. Here’s some of the more noticeable species to look for as well as some of …

Ripple Rock Trail

Seymour Narrows and the former site of Ripple Rock from the viewpoint. A hundred years ago, the name of Ripple Rock evoked dread in the hearts of mariners, but today entices hikers to explore natural history as well as human history, on the Ripple Rock Trail. The stretch of water in Seymour Narrows, part of the Discovery Passage north of …

San Josef Bay

The beach at San Josef Bay, Cape Scott Provincial Park. I have made two visits to the San Josef Bay area of Cape Scott Provincial Park. The area is an excellent place for both beach combing and photography. On the first occasion we drove to the trail head, parked and backpacked the short distance to San Josef Bay. This is …