I enjoy pretty much everything there is that has to do with the outdoors. Some of my most peaceful moments have been while walking through the forest, sitting on a beach, or boating (minus the loud engine). Accordingly I have a great respect for nature and enjoy learning about the plants and wildlife therein. My plan is to continue that learning process and hopefully enhance it by sharing what I learn. I intend for this blog to serve many purposes, but in the immediate future it will be a place for me, and hopefully others, to share ideas about reducing our individual impact on this planet, protecting wild spaces, and in general just to comment on the things we enjoy most in the great outdoors. I welcome all opinions as otherwise you cannot consider every aspect of a subject. However, I would ask that every opinion be expressed in a respectful way and considered with an open mind. Often there is no single right answer. Thanks.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Nature Walk in Mt. Doug

Since we got our dog about a year ago I have spent a lot of time walking through Mt. Doug park.  Occasionally I will walk up to the top, but quite often I walk around the bottom and, up until today, I thought I had done a fairly thorough job of exploring the trails.  I had a basic map in my head and, while I had not been down every trail, I deceived myself in thinking that there was not much more to see.  For whatever reason I let my dog lead the way down a trail I had not taken before.  I figured (incorrectly) that it would soon curve back towards the trail we take most often and my approximately 1 hour walk turned into 2 hours.  Luckily I had nowhere to be and I enjoyed the scenic detour.

The trail we walked down widened out, was finished with gravel and also had a couple of the nice board walk style bridges over swampy patches.  As I rounded one corner I noticed that the sword ferns in the area were splattered with copious amounts of bird droppings and a couple of stray feathers.  I am guessing that it is under either a favourite bird hang out, or perhaps a nest.  I looked up hoping to catch a glimpse of the underside of a nest, but could not see anything.  Luckily I did not get crapped on either.

A little farther along I heard the familiar thudding of a woodpecker so I stopped again and tried to find it.  I was fortunate enough to see a pair of, I think, Pileated woodpeckers.  I had seen a pair on the Cedar Hill side of the park early in the year but not since.  I watched them fly over to a nearby tree and hop around a few times before moving on to the next one.  They are beautiful.  As usual I did not have my Canon with me and I did not bother trying with my Blackberry as, if I had been quick enough to take the picture, it would not have done them justice.  I do have a picture of one taken at my parents house.  When I finally take time to re-learn how to crop and re-size an image in GIMP I will fix it, but for now hopefully this will give you an idea of what they look like.  My bird book does not show that this species live on Vancouver Island but these woodpeckers are fairly distinct so hopefully I am right.

Other than the wood pecker and a lot of bird droppings I was mostly interested in a few plants that are new to me.  I often quiz myself as I walk through trails so that I can remember the names of the plants and here are some new ones to add to my list.  I am not an expert so if anyone reads this and I have got the wrong name beside a plant please feel free to correct me.  I also cannot find a couple of them in my book.  I love learning about this stuff so if anyone knows please pass the info along.

Cooley's Hedge Nettle

There are two plants in my book that look very similar but I think that I have got this one right.

Harvest Brodiaea

I have no idea what this one is (native, non-native, invasive???) so if anyone knows please enlighten me.  The leaves caught my eye on this one because of their shiny finish and I thought the flowers were interesting too.

I am pretty sure that this is Harvest Brodiaea.  The colour of the flowers I saw are more blue than the example shown in my book but the stems and buds are very similar.

I do not have a fungus book so I have no idea what this is called.  But I thought it was a beautiful shape and had the markings of a flower so I could not resist taking a picture.

My last picture is definitely not a flower.  I am not a fan of wasps when they build nests near my house, but I do have an appreciation for their workmanship and tenacity.  This nest is not far off one of the trails on the busier side of Mt. Doug so heads up if you are out and about in the park.

I have got loads more pictures of plants from different days in Mt. Doug and also walks in different areas such as Ripple Rock and near Whistler.  I even took some of the pictures with my good camera.  What a novelty!  My goal is to get a few more of them up over the next couple of weeks.

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