Monthly Archive for March, 2011

The Birds (and Bees) of March

Smiling BeeHappy Spring! Below is my bird list for March. It contains fewer additions than I’d hoped for, but there are a couple of new birds and I was finally able to get a decent look at the hawks too. Early in the month, my wife spotted a House Sparrow at our feeder but that was, unfortunately, the only time we saw it. Likewise, I only managed one good look at a Brown Creeper while walking the dog through the trails at Dogwood Park a few days later.

Two weeks ago, we went for a walk along Centennial Beach at Boundary Bay Regional Park and a Bald Eagle buzzed our heads and landed close by. It was a huge, chocolate coloured juvenile, but when it flew away we could see that it was bright white under its wings. This creature’s enormous size made me question the sanity of the couple who came walking along behind us with their snack-size Shih Tzu off-leash.1

Spring is coming on quick in our neck of the woods. The garden is surging back to life and we’ve even had a few bees about. The neighbourhood crows are busy building nests, as were the pair of Bewick’s Wrens that spent last Saturday morning scouring our garden for building supplies. I could make no sense of their selection/rejection process but it seemed like pretty serious business. One day, I even heard a hummingbird zip by, a sound that always reminds me of the rapid whir of my fly reel when an angry trout suddenly takes off with my line. An obvious sign that it’s time to go fishing!

American Robin

American Wigeon

Bald Eagle
Bewick’s Wren*

Black-capped Chickadee
Brown Creeper*

Bushtit

Canada Goose
Cooper’s Hawk*

Dark-eyed Junco

European Starling

Glaucous-winged Gull

Great Blue Heron

House Finch
House Sparrow*

Mallard

Northwestern Crow
Red-tailed Hawk*

Song Sparrow

Spotted Towhee

Steller’s Jay

Varied Thrush

Winter Wren

  1. Update: Apparently a 5 to 7.5 kg. Bald Eagle can lift only about half its weight. So a 4 to 7.5 kg. Shih Tzu may be in less danger than I thought. Still after watching this video of a Golden Eagle hunting goats, I think I’d still proceed with caution.

Hiking in the place of the deformed

Last week, the dog and I went for a ‘hike’ on the logging roads that run about Mount McGuire, just southeast of Chilliwack. It was our first outing of the year and both of us were moving pretty slowly by the time we limped back to where my van was parked on Chilliwack Lake Road. We had climbed approximately 250 meters in elevation on the icy, snow covered mountain before turning around and heading back already well exhausted. It seems the two of us are in fairly poor shape.

As someone whose peaceful fishing has been disturbed on more than one occasion by the roar of ATVs cutting through the wild, I’ve always turned my nose up at the thought of buying one. Now I’m not so sure. I really don’t care for the noise — it’s hard to learn from a mountain without listening to it — but it would be nice to cover more ground and get a little deeper into the wild than my legs are apparently capable of carrying me. The trouble is that if I buy one for myself, I’d also have to buy one for the dog and it’s far too easy to imagine that crazy son of a bitch chasing off after some rabbit at full throttle, disappearing over the horizon never to be seen again.

We also might not have noticed as much had we’d been travelling faster. Moving at the pace of sun-stroked turtles, we spotted a fair amount of animal sign in the snow, all of which had to be photographed and sniffed extensively. I won’t tell you who took care of what, but I will admit that the dog has mad camera skills, for a dog. We also stumbled across a spot where someone had left an unsightly mess of 12 gauge shotgun casings, clay targets, and Budweiser empties. Seven of the clays had been missed completely — Budweiser doesn’t improve one’s aim? — and lay in perfect condition in the snow. I tucked the unbroken clays and two of the casings into my pack.1

So, for the time being at least, we’ll content ourselves with exploring on foot as best we can. I hope to eventually get to know all the mountains and trails in that area and Mount McGuire, standing tall at over 2,000 meters, seemed as good a mountain as any with which to start. Plus, I was intrigued by the legend surrounding its original name, Tamihi Mountain.

The native name goes far back into the history of the Chilliwacks. In ancient times, according to legend, it was this mountain that the deformed or misfits in communal life were taken by their guardians. Here on Tamihi they were left to fend for themselves, and there was little chance of survival. T’ehmeehiy in the Chilliwack language means “the place of the deformed.”2

Heading out that day, I had no idea of just how fitting the name Tamihi would later seem. I imagine the two of us looked entirely appropriate in the place of the deformed as we awkwardly hobbled our way back down the mountain. Still, I can’t shake the feeling that, even with a name like Tamihi, the mountain deserves explorers in better shape than the dog and I.

  1. I appear to be conducting an investigation, the purpose of which is unknown at this time.
  2. The Chilliwacks and Their Neighbors
    by Oliver N. Wells