Monday, 14 November 2011

Pumpkins, puppets and prints

Lesser snow geese
A month of weekends at home since my last blog hasn't yielded tales of grizzlies and mountain adventure, but thought I'd update you on life in Vancouver in 'fall'. 

Birding and Beetlegeuse

North Americans take Halloween pretty seriously: some houses have full miniature graveyards set up on their front lawns, together with life size zombies and witches on the porch; at least three types of Halloween snack in my office; and (slightly weirdly) lots of men dressed as women for the night itself.  

Our contribution was Mark carving some awesome pumpkins and our first ever drive-in movie in a empty parking lot in downtown to watch Beetlegeuse; skyscrapers were the backdrop and the sounds comes through your car radio which was awesome.  
Red winged blackbird

We'd spent the day at Reifel Bird Sanctuary, home to 30,000+ overwintering snow geese and tons of other birds (in fact the noise of the geese flying and honking overhead was a bit spooky after a couple of hours).  We spotted 50 (yes, 5 0) different species of bird including bald eagles, peregrine falcons, hawks and sandhill cranes.  Proper treat seeing an otter resting on a stone in the middle of a small lake and finally finding where all those geese were flying to; thousands feeding on fields on the way home. 

More naturey stuff 

Not yet seen, when I do, I'll probably phone everyone I know
Last weekend was spent at various Vancouver Parks activities:
- Learning that some plants get their nutrients not from the sun, through chlorophyll, but from funghi who, in turn, get in from the huge trees in the Pacific rainforest.  They're called 'mycorrhiza'.  
- Practised puppeteering as a way to engage kids in nature; my Albert the snail was a clear favourite.
- Hearing tales of how close the cougars and bears come into town; a cougar was found in a tree about 5 minutes' walk away from our front door last year; and wolves roam the mountains just north of Vancouver.  Obviously now aim to see both animals ASAP.

And piece de resistance:
- Meeting the staff at Lynn Valley Ecology Centre where next weekend I start helping out at nature themed birthday parties!  I'm hoping it will be as fun as the end of term Brownies party, plus the chance to see a bear, and minus any organisation!

p.s. If you've noticed a sudden upscale in my photo ability, afraid to say it's not due to new talent or camera, but a new friend, Dan Grima, who is now official team photographer: 

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