Monday, 28 May 2007

Farwell BC tour

Well I made it back, thanks to the generosity of the lovely American Christy who saw me all the way from Port Hardy to Vancouver. We took the inside passage down from Prince Rupert, a stunning ferry, like a cruise (boo). Saw lots of Dolphins, included some seabirds like Kitiwakes, Common Murres, lots of Rhino Auklets, and others. Check out the video of the Dolphins riding the bow wave in the video section.

It was thanks to the Greyhound strike that I was able to take the ferrie down from prince rupert instead of heading back on the bus. All in all, it made my iternery more interesting, so I made a little map of the  routes I took. Kinda aesthetically pleasing, dubbed my "Farwell BC tour", though the only significantly lengthly portions of my trip were, of course, with Laskeek Bay Conservation Society on Limestone Island, the Rose Spit hike, and being stuck in prince rupert.

And now that I'm back, I fill my time buying stuff for alaska, like toques and gloves and vests and crap. I'm really excited, and can't wait to be outta here. I always said I wanted to live in Vancouver "when I settle down", but in the frame of mind I'm in now, three weeks among the sea, islands and mountains, the crowded dirty city makes me predictably sick.

Crossing my fingers that'll I'll be accepted to Gothenburg University!

a poem: rose spit hike

From my Rose Spit hike, comes a quick poem:

Rose Spit Hike

Why did I North Beach?
by it blew away my struggling soul gales
over the mud ephemeral
whose footprints ever flee
to the sea, ever changing
and leaves no trace of my passing

The birds, expanse, and spit wale
but not for my mind gales
I'm not the worst they'll storm
By it blew away my mind
full of you, full of shame
and hurt no longer mine
but to the shameless sea.


Watch pacific white-sided dolphins ride the bow wave of the inside passage ferrie


3 whales. Turn up the sound to hear one vocalize (whooom!)


humpback whale slapping fluke


its need to listen to the sea lions on skidans point


Jack chaising an ancient murrelet adult at night to check if banded

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Stuck in Prince Rupert

One of the unions for greyhound workers is on a strike, so I'm stuck in Prince Rupert for a couple days. Actually, its not a bad thing, as my alternative will be the Inside Passage ferrie ride down the central coast of BC. All pumped about sea birds from my stint with Laskeek Bay, I'll enjoy the opportunity for some chance glances at pelagic birds and inshore birds. Petrels.

So, what am I doing in PR? Watching movies, getting rediculously tanked with the other backpackers, enjoying the nice little town. If I had money I'd kayak around, alas, I've got some gumboots so I think I'll go clump around in the intertidal tomorrow.

Monday, 21 May 2007

sea lions swimming Laskeek Bay

stellar sea lions swimming

sea surface temperature in laskeek bay

sea surface temperature in laskeek bay

Laskeek Bay Conservation Society

May 18th

Its the silence more than anything else that typifies the end of my time with the Laskeek Bay Conservation Society: no trills of the Townsends Warbler, no shimmering droplets from Ravens, no panicked cackling of the Black Oyster Catchers, no bellows from Humpbacks whales to wake you in the morning, no more omnipresent crash of the surf on the craggy limestone shores to orient your body. Most of all, I will miss the Ancient Murrlets, those peculiar Auks whose colony is the raison d'etre of the LBCS. They fly in from the sea at night to trade incubating duties with their mate, down in shallow burrows scattered in the forest and around our camp. Breee-tri-ti-ti-brimp! A party of non-breeders in the branches erupts in calls and helicopter-loud wing beets, sometimes crashing into your tent (they can't see so well in the dark, but neither can raptors and ravens, so thats the trade-off). Now, just dropped off by the cesna in Queen Charelotte Village, its like I'm searching for these familiar sounds that were always in the background of my time on Limestone Island.

I think I finally get the “cult” of seabird biologists— under the tutelage of Jen and Jake, two young and very competent project biologists, I learned about the evolution and ecology of seabirds, and the pleasure of working with them. In short, seabirds are big, loud, generally social, oddly married to the terrestrial system for giving birth, and forage far and wide over the patchy and transient resources of the sea. The Ancient Murrelets are amusing in that the hatchlings are precocial and make a long tracherous march from their hillside burrows over jagged and cliffy terrains to the sea, only two days after they've hatched, then boogie it out over huge swells, gale force winds, and the darkness of night, paddling with little feet to feeding areas in the Hecate Straight. Plastic-sheet “funnels” lining the colony would corral the tiny chicks into predictable outflows where waiting volunteers could snatch the chicks to count and weigh them. All this happens between 12:00 – 3:00 am, everyone's generally sleep deprived, but the miracle of life bouncing down cliffs keeps you going and happy.

There is a decline in the Murrelet numbers.

I also helped do sea transects for birds and marine mammals surveys, monitor wildlife trees (snags), and other odds and ends. Some highlights include Stellar Sea Lion haul outs, booming humpbacks, two tufted Puffins! and good times with cool nature-buffs.

Friday, 18 May 2007

Laskeek Bay Conservation Society

2 weeks volunteering with the Laskeek Bay Conservation Society in the Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands). Ancient Murrelets.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

rainiest city in Canada

It takes 26 hours by greyhound to get from Vancouver to Prince Rupert, the lauchpoint for Alaskan ferrie rides and the Haida Gwaii. I've another 8 hour ferrie ahead of me, and find myself waiting for another 5 hours or so in the "rainiest city in Canada". Not bad here, old enough to have a real downtown, and popular enough to not be gutted by superstores. The best part of the trip was along the Skeena river from Terrace to PR. Collasal water falls dive from mossy granite cliffs capped by misty gaciers, down into the wide muddy waters of the Skeena. There's actually old growth here, as you can see with all the dead standing trees, unlike the logged disgrace that was the rest of BC.

What's with the Scandinavian flags in Prince Rupert? Well, apparently they built this city... coincidence! Everywhere I go in Canada, the swedes manifest themselves in one way or another