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 …

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, …

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 …

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 …

The Littlest Duck

The male Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) sports attractive iridescent purple and colours on its head. The Buffleheads (Bucephala albeola) may be the smallest ducks in North America, but they are the favorites of many bird lovers. Because of their petite size and elaborate courtship displays, they are always fun to watch. Whenever I see them in freshwater ponds or the shallow …

Spring Flowers at Mount Douglas

A small group of Chickweed Monkey-flower (Mimulus alsinoides) growing in a vernal seep. The vantage point of the top of Mount Douglas in Saanich offers a spectacular 360o view of rural Saanich, downtown Victoria, and the Olympic Mountains across the Strait of Juan de Fuca in Washington state. However, it is worth turning one’s eyes from the striking vista and …

Spawning Spectacle!

Herring roe on fucus, a nutritional meal for many birds and animals. Photo © Guy Monty. Each year herring spawns around Vancouver Island, British Columbia in early March. This year is no exception. Last week, I heard that the herring were spawning near French Creek between Parksville and Qualicum Beach. This area has traditionally been one of the most important …