Summer 2011 at least I hope it is summer as at this writing in June we are not sure whether it is summer or more spring like weather but I hope we are well into summer as you read this. In fact yesterday on the solstice it was the warmest day yet with a nice warm South Easterly wind blowing. All the Wild Coho smolts have gone to sea over the past two months from all our streams. The pond in the estuary, which holds smolts leaving Bonnel Creek, has been drained with all the fish leaving under their own steam. We can only hope that enough Wild Chum fry were able to incubate and leave over the spring, as Chum leave almost immediately after emerging we have no way to tell how many there are in the streams. Last fall it seemed that the adults returning were very low for the Chum and with all the big washouts over the winter we hope that not all the eggs were buried too deep for them to emerge or worse still washed out of the gravel and lost before they could hatch; only time will tell. Many years ago the Chum were so plentiful residents made trips to the streams to watch the Chum return in large numbers. Something went wrong, of which we can only speculate, over fishing, possible due to the gillnet fishery which used to be right up to the mouth of the bay and was based on the escapement into the Nanaimo River. When they decided the Nanaimo River had enough Chums returning they allowed an opening to so call clean up the remainder, which also cleaned up all the other smaller, streams returning Chum.
July and August is a busy time for stream keepers as we continue with our rescue of trapped fry in drying pools as the streams dry up for the summer. Walking the streams now in June we see lots of fry so things look good for at least the Wild Coho.
On June the 9th we took a grade one class from Aspengrove School for a nature walk into the estuary. During the walk the kids picked up garbage along the foreshore and the estuary. This day was organized with the help of the Royal Banks Blue Water project, which promotes the stewardship, and protection of our most valuable resource Water. The children learned about how important the whole watershed is to the continued quality of water and how it affects all life within. We had a kindergarten of around 80 to 100 goslings wandering around while their adult chaperones kept a close eye on our whereabouts at all times. The children observed the few smolts remaining in the pond and help pull an extra board out of the outlet to encourage the remainder to leave as the flows increased. Redwing blackbirds singing away all under the watchful eye of a big Bald Eagle who was probably scorning us out over disturbing his gosling hunt. On the way back they helped me pick some Sea Asparagus and by the time we left the estuary some of them were snacking on the Asparagus, which was a good introduction to wild food along with a quick talk on mushrooms when observing some Puffballs growing along the way. After a lunch on the beach they all had some time to play along the foreshore and all left exhausted. This was a great day with all the children enjoying their day out. We would like to thank the manager and staff of the Woodgrove branch of the Royal Bank for their involvement in this event and a special thanks to the children from Aspengrove School and their teacher Miss Moss. [See attached picture]
Oh and of course the parents who also came along making this great event for all concerned. A thank you to the RDN for waiving the dumping fees for the garbage that was collected.