Warden’s report -Visit to ER #76 – Fraser River Islands, Oct.23 2004

Posted October 23, 2004 | Categories : 76,Human Disturbance,Invasive Species,Species List,Warden Reports |

Visit to ER #76 – Fraser River Islands, October 23, 2004

Cloud, showers, turning to rain, thunder and lightning later in afternoon

Water level low of 1.4 metres at Mission Bridge

Drove to Nicomen Island and launched kayaks in short rain storm at boat launch (11:30 am). Ferried across 3 channels and walked across two gravel bar islands before reaching main upper accreting island (not sure if this one in Eco Reserve). Three trumpeter swans loafing in back eddy bay above where we landed. An additional three trumpeter swans flew overhead. Fourteen eagles were perched in trees of main island (of which 4 eagles are immatures). In addition, three eagles on shore where we landed (of which one is immature). And on small gravel bar island near downstream end of reserve (SW tip) are another 5 eagles.

We walked upriver along shore to the tip of the upper accreted island, where four heron flew up from area of emergent vegetation. There were about 6 fishermen and four boats at the up river tip of the entire set of islands. We walked down on southeastern shore, fronting on main river channel, where there were about five campfire remains and some garbage, mostly confined to the gravel bar. Continued towards main islands through inner dry channel. Numerous deer tracks throughout. Noticed about 100 feet of Himalayan blackberry fronting shore of the dry channel. Inland there were about four (40′ high) Douglas fir growing as specimens among the young willow and shrubs. Several areas inland where Himalayan blackberries also spreading. Found a pile of about eight large bundles of horsetails (bundles gathered by harvester for florists? – see April visit write-up), that had been left to rot as if forgotten. We cut back through young vegetation of accreting island to our kayaks (as pools had covered dry channel by this point).

Carried kayaks across wide gravel bar to flowing inner channel that crosses tip of large islands (flows east to west). Paddled up this channel eastward through deep channel with beaver activity. About 20 mallards loafing on this quiet water. Near main Fraser River channel was another fisherman with anchored boat. We walked SW down to the main dry channel between the two main islands. The southeast shore of the smaller island is eroding considerably and has about a 8 foot sheer edge that is collapsing into the main channel of the river, trees and all.

The dry channel is filled with bigger pools than last time we were here. We followed a small trail just above the partly dry, partly pooled channel, the trail passing through Equisetum. There were three locations of scat (possibly coyote). Considerable amount of Himalayan blackberry growing along the side of the big island fronting the inland (dry) channel. Noticed a wider trail heading up the bank onto the smaller island (opposite a green plastic wash pail hanging in a tree), so we followed and soon saw about 8 four litre containers (milk jugs and oil jugs), all empty. Trail continued to another cache of bigger containers (20 litre water jugs and pails), and beyond was a child’s swimming pool with collapsed sides (would have been about 10 feet across with about 3 foot high sides). Also a long length of 2″ diameter black pipe stretched along much of the trail. Several marijuana plants had been growing in scattered locations (visible from potting soil where planted, and in some cases root clump had been pulled up. These were scattered in area of very open vegetation. Most plants had been cut off just above base. One plant had sent out new shoots from the stem just below where it had been cut. Estimate at least 50 plants

on network of trails. With the now heavy rain settling in, we did not explore all these small trails. Looked from the condition of pails, that had been active this past summer.

The bunch grasses colonizing on the sand/gravel/silt dry channels were very noticeable. In the open meadows, there were Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis), Douglas’ aster, Greater northern aster (Aster modestus) and Dune Tansy or Common Tansy (Tanacetum bipinnatum or T. vulgare). Also a plant with yellow daisy like flowers with brown centres, possibly Blackeyed Susan, Rudbeckia hirta (non-native).

From the Wetlands of BC book, classify the wetland as Pacific willow – Red-osier dogwood – Horsetail.

We saw no salmon carcasses on any of the shores, despite the fact that the eagles were certainly there, and that a week and a half earlier, there had been many salmon jumping in the river. Learned from others that there were many carcasses in the Harrison River this same weekend. Our trip last fall was 17 days later, and there were many salmon carcasses then.

Returned to shore at 4:00 pm in heavy rain.