Common Mergansers

A mother Common Merganser with her chicks

A mother Common Merganser with her chicks

Suset Cruise - notice one of the chicks riding on it's mother's back

Sunset Cruise – notice one of the chicks riding on it’s mother’s back

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Homesite Creek Park – 2013

Homesite Creek Falls

Homesite Creek Falls

Yesterday we walked Homesite Creek Park which is another park not far from us.  The trails take you through a forest that was logged in the early 1900’s and there are many old growth stumps left from those days.  It also passes lots of swampy areas covered with Skunk Cabbage which fills the air with their distinctive odour.  The creek itself is quite lovely with a couple of waterfalls.

Gnarly Tree

Gnarly Tree

Some tall snags

Some tall snags

This is an old stump left from logging.  This one is unusual in that it is so tall - about 10 feet.  I'm not sure why it would have been cut so high.  Younger trees have grown on top of it and now their roots have reached down to the ground.  It almost looks prehistoric and that it might walk away.  Eventually the stump will disappear leaving a very unusual looking tree

This is an old stump left from logging in the early 1900’s. This one is unusual in that it is so tall – about 10 feet. I’m not sure why it would have been cut so high. Younger trees have grown on top of it and now their roots have reached down to the ground. It almost looks prehistoric and that it might walk away. Eventually the stump will disappear leaving a very unusual looking tree.

Four old veteran stumps

Four old veteran stumps

The Creek

The Creek

Pool Foam

Pool Foam

Find the bird - a Swainson's Thrush

Find the bird – a Swainson’s Thrush

A Red Flat Bark Beetle I believe

A Red Flat Bark Beetle (I believe)

Skunk Cabbage

Skunk Cabbage

Skunk Cabbage blooming

Skunk Cabbage blooming

The Hunt

On a nearby beach, the dropping tide produces a large mud flat that at this time of year becomes a nursery for various marine birds.  This also attracts the predators, usually Bald Eagles, that eye perspective meals from the surrounding trees.  Quite often the eagles will hunt in pairs and you know something is happening from the alarm calls of the Canada Geese and seagulls.

Two Bald Eagles discussing their next meal

Two Bald Eagles discussing their next meal

A merganser with 12 chicks is chosen

A Common Merganser with 12 chicks is chosen

Panic Ensues

Panic Ensues

The dive and one chick is grabbed

The dive and one chick is grabbed

The Bald Eagle mate joins the successful hunter while the Merganser and chicks re-group

The Bald Eagle mate joins the successful hunter while the mother Merganser and chicks re-group

The Mergansers seemed pretty calm after their ordeal.  I had often wondered why Mergansers had so many chicks and this is probably one of the reasons.  It was very easy pickings for the Eagle.  

 

Smuggler’s Cove Marine Park (2)

The bonus feature of Smuggler’s Cove Marine Park is the shoreline trail that takes you to the mouth of the cove.  At one point you have Smuggler’s Cove to the right and the open waters of Malaspina Strait to the left with views of Thormanby and Texada Islands.  Arbutus and pine seem to grow right out of the granite outcrops and the views are stunning.

If you click on the collage below you can scroll through larger versions of the photos individually.

Smuggler’s Cove Marine Park (1)

Rising Waters

Rising Waters

Last Sunday we went on a great hike to 450 acre (183 hectare) Smuggler’s Cove Marine Park which is about a half hour drive from our house.  The park initially was accessed only by boat through a very narrow hidden channel that opened into a series of beautiful smaller coves.

It derived it’s name from two sources.  The first was from Chinese labourers who had been working on the Canadian Pacific Railroad across Canada who found themselves without work on the completion of the railway in 1885.  They paid  ‘pirate’ Larry Kelly, an ex-royal navy seaman, $100 each to smuggle them out of Vancouver, Canada and into the United States to try to find work.  Kelly used the cove as his base of operation.

The second was during Prohibition (1920-1933) rum-runners used the cove as a safe haven when collecting alcohol from nearby Texada Island to transport down to the US.

Some time in the 1970’s land access was created with a 2.5 mile (4 km) long trail from the car park to the entrance of the cove.  When we first walked the trail it passed a couple of small lakes with a stream linking them. Over the years, beavers in the lakes created occasional flooding by building dams.  Rather than fight them, park workers built boardwalks over the flooded areas.  On our latest visit it appears that the beavers have the upper hand.  The lakes have definitely increased in size and in three or four areas it’s necessary to do a little off-trailing to by-pass the flooding.

It’s great to see the beaver being allowed to do what beavers do, creating a much more interesting and diverse hike.

I’ll break this post into two sections, the beaver trails today and the cove tomorrow.

If you click on the collage below you can scroll through larger versions of the photos individually.

 Unfortunately we didn’t see any beavers this time.        

Portraits – 1968/70

Some more oldies:

Anna, 1968

Anna, 1968
In those days I used the ‘poor man’s’ softening filter – a piece of
nylon stocking stretched over my lens.

Smoke, 1969

Smoke, 1969

Embrace, 1969

Embrace, 1969

Canned Heat Bob Hite and Harvey Mandel, 1970

Canned Heat
Bob Hite and Harvey Mandel, 1970