Sunday, October 25, 2009

Salmon Run, American Dipper and Seville

Yesterday, Bill, Black Jack and I checked out Capilano River Regional Park, at the suggestion of Jean, who has been writing wonderful posts describing both the positive and the less positive aspects of observing the salmon run at this time of year. Since I have somehow managed to reach my 60's without ever seeing a live salmon, it seemed the perfect outing.

The light in the morning was poor for photo taking, but the scenery was dramatic and awe inspiring. Bill commented, as we both have before, on our good fortune to have wilderness so close to the big city. We looked and looked for the salmon, but as Jean had warned us, they are not easy to see. Still, an experienced fisherman standing on the bridge told us there were thousands in the river, so we kept our eyes peeled.
We finally took a short trail called the Coho Loop. Black Jack was absolutely psyched at the smells and sounds, and the moisture in the air, moss-lined branches and faery-tale forest setting made for a magical atmosphere.

We kept wondering how all those fishermen managed to get down to the water, and finally found some stone ledges that made steps to the shore. You can see them a bit of in this photo. Bill, patient and ever thoughtful for Black Jack's safety, carried her down, leaving me free to try to capture something of the magnificence around us.
Like the salmon, the wildlife we sensed everywhere seemed to have no difficulty staying out of the reach of my camera lens. When I did get fleeting chances to take pictures, I was usually too slow to get much of a capture. We did see this heron watching us from the top of a very tall tree.
A brave and athletic couple tackled the white water with what I could see later were grins of exhilaration on their faces. I've chosen photos that don't identify them, but if by any chance they should come by this post, I do think they would enjoy some of my captures of their impressive performance.
The girl having gone ahead, her companion prepares to follow her. Yikes!
As we climbed back up to the trail, Bill noticed this mushroom growing from a tree. I did a bit of investigating at this site, but did not find any that I thought perfectly match the one in this picture. I did get the feeling that fungi growing from trees is not a great thing for the tree.
Before we left the park, we stood at a lookout and watched the anglers. I have to admit that I was hoping they wouldn't catch any fish. As a Newfoundland fisherman's granddaughter, I think I have told this story before about crying the first time I saw my mother catch a fish. A fellow yesterday proudly showed his catch to his young daughter, and her tears brought back that memory. I know in the sensible side of my brain (it is there, if a little camouflaged:) that they will die anyway, and they make one of the healthiest and tastiest sources of nutrition one can find, but when Bill spotted this salmon, I was happy to photograph it alive rather than deceased.
Here is the same salmon again. I have no idea what those little white splashes are. The photo is poor, but perhaps someone can tell me.
We left the park and headed for Bridgman Park, also in North Vancouver. I believe it is spelled without "e" although the link I've chosen has included it.

The sun was beginning to peek through the clouds now, and we enjoyed standing by Lynn Creek. Neither of us were sure if the salmon would ever run in it, but we took a look just in case. No - no salmon, but we did see this wonderful shorebird. I am proud to say that I think I've positively identified it as an American Dipper.
I have no idea if it is commonly seen in the area, but it was definitely a first for me. They are amazing birds, choosing to be around fast moving water and diving into it to find insects. This fellow appeared to be enthusiastic about the entire process.
Several of my photographs had what I thought were defects, as the eyes appeared to be white. I found out later that these birds have white feathers on their eyelids. Unfortunately, I deleted the photos showing that, but perhaps you can see them a little bit in this one (if you click to enlarge it).
Bill and I both enjoyed the entertaining performance of this lively little bird.
Back in Vancouver, Bill drove along West Broadway so that I could do some errands. We parked in front of the school board office, and enjoyed this sculpture. The more I looked at it, the more it grew on me - one of those sculptures one wants to touch. The day, by now, was warm and sunny. Absolutely beautiful!
I took this photo of Black Jack near the statue. She looks good surrounded by green, I think.
A bit further down the block, we saw a girl throwing a frisbee for Seville, her very athletic Boston Terrier. The girl gave me permission to take pictures, and told me she is starting up a dog walking business, and is in the process of creating her own blog. I will look forward to that, for sure.

My goodness, Seville was enthusiastic about the game and so talented!
I am pressed for time, but these pictures beg captions. Any come to mind?

Seville didn't make many mistakes, but when she did, her expression was truly hilarious.

We were home quite early. There was time for a nap, some schoolwork, and even a short walk at Jericho later in the evening. This seagull was calling in a voice so piteous, I felt concerned, even though I know they sometimes appear to be drama queens. I think it was okay, although there was a red lining around the mouth that I wondered about.
And to close, just a few autumn colours as I left Jericho and headed home. They are coming to the end now, but there is still much beauty to admire.

That was our Saturday. My thanks, as always, to Bill, for planning his weekends around my pleasures, and to you, the reader, for taking time to share in our day.


  1. I'm glad you enjoyed yourselves, though I'm disappointed you did get to see the spawning salmon shoulder-to-shoulder (or gill-to-gill? fin-to-fin?) undulating through the water, their spawning colours of red, orange, yellow and green clearly visible. It is quite the sight. I think the first time I saw it was on the Sunshine Coast - there's a park with a bridge over a stream where the salmon spawn - I think on Red Roofs Road? Something like that.
    Of course, the Adams River Run in northern BC is famous - a spectaculer sight!
    Next year you'll just HAVE to come over here, Carol, and I'll take you to see them at Swallowfield. I'll put Allie in the bedroom so Black Jack won't get her - that's what we do when the Whippet Boyz come for a weekend.

  2. Ooh, a lovely invitation, and I do hope to take you up on it, Jean. Thank you! We are thinking of trying one more place next weekend. We were told that it is much easier to see the salmon after a heavy rain, although it is getting a bit late in the season, I guess. One suggestion was Weaver Creek, and i think the other was Vedder River, in Chilliwack. Still, Capilano was amazing to see, and I'm very happy you suggested it.

    Black Jack has been fine with one cat in this building. Felix is taken for daily outdoor walks, sometimes on leash, and sometimes free. He comes right up to her and licks her nose, and she prances around him, and it almost looks like they want to play together. Maybe by next year, there will be no problem at all.

  3. Wonderful Pictures Carol. I especially like the ones of the rain-ridden west coast forest, the American Dipper, and the Japanese Maple. Obviously, the dogs are not bad either.

    A good place to check out the Chum Salmon run is at the mouth of Stoney Creek; Stoney Creek runs down the mountain from Simon Frazer and merges with Brunette River a five or six hundred metres east of Cariboo Road - between Lougheed and TransCanada Highway. Each spring the local Elementary School students send salmon fry off on their journey to the sea, and their labours have now paid off and the small fish they put in get all the way back up throught the culvert under Lougheed, and up as far as Clark Drive. (All of this is in Burnaby here, close to North Road which is the divide between Burnaby and Coquitlam.)

    Cheers, Shiprock

  4. Thanks for the comment, Shiprock. The info about the chum is much appreciated, as is the feedback about photos. I'm hoping the salmon might still be running this coming weekend, and that we can stop by the Burnaby site one day, and do one of the longer runs (Vedder or Weaver) the other.

  5. I really like the sequence about the American Dipper.
    We have something similar in Europe too,but they are very rare...