Fraser River Islands Ecological Reserve #76 warden’s report November 7, 2010
ER #76 – November 7, 2010
Report by Ecological reserve wardens Bev and Bill Ramey
Sunny, a few clouds and at noon heavy, but short rain, and by 2:30 some thunder and heavy rain for a half hour, dark clouds upriver, 14 degrees, no wind
Water level 0.5 to 2.0 metres at Mission; at Hope Gauge 3.97 metres
Launch kayaks Nicomen Island at 9:15 am, on island by 9:45 am; return to car 4:30 pm
Land on upper island and walk upriver along north shore. Flushed a Wilson’s snipe in bunch grass area of gravel bar (the first of three others). Noticed motorized tracks on north shore (which we later realized were made by fixed winged aircraft landing).
Walked around upper tip of upper island, where gulls were loafing (as in previous years). About 400 observed – Glaucous-winged gulls. Along popular fishing side (south) eleven fire pits observed, but very little garbage. The two ‘boxes’ used as outhouses were still there, although now in different locations from a year ago, one near upper tip, and one at upper end of central channel.
Then coming back down that central channel, we saw a plane had landed on the gravel bar near the central slough (after it had circled us low a couple of times). That pilot took off as we approached him, probably around 11:30 am. Over the day four planes landed.
The pilots of the yellow and red planes were quite pleasant, and said that the word about this being an Ecological Reserve should be put out to the flying clubs. They came from the Surrey airstrip, and said that all of the local pilots know each other, or at least recognize their planes. Said that a notation could be put on the Aviation Charts, through Nav Canada.
Back to 11:30 when we walked along mud shore of central deep and slow moving slough. Only 14 mallards there, much less than in past years and possibly due to aircraft. Red tailed hawk flew over. Observed several animal tracks, including: deer, bear, bobcat, fox and beaver. Beaver very active in that area, with two den observed; and later on downstream islands the two large den still active: one in central slough, and one on north side of main island.
Heard tree frogs in several locations.
Back in that upper central channel, we flushed up 3 Wilson’s snipe, as we’d done when walking down towards the plane the first time. Went into the upper small south island and were impressed with the size of its trees, a stand of Douglas fir (eight trees there over 60’ to 70’ in height), plus about 10 large cottonwoods (100’ in height), with sword fern ground cover and licorice fern on the deciduous trees. Interesting this area also has birch trees and big leaf maples, but unfortunately invasives: 8 large holly shrubs about 20’ in height, some blackberry, and the dissected, slower growing Hedera helix ‘birdsfoot’ form of English ivy climbing high up on 4 cottonwoods.
Large clusters of birds observed were the heavy concentration of eagles around the large cottonwood (except when aircraft landing, were only 2 in trees), up to 11 in trees.
After speaking with the pilots, we crossed the channel with our kayaks to the largest treed island, the one with the eagle nest and several perched eagles, especially after the planes had left. Walked and bushwhacked up to the large dry slough/swale between the lower islands, and then walked downstream. Fingerlings swimming in pools of this swale.
Eagles: heavy concentration of eagles around the large cottonwood (except when aircraft landing, and there were only 2 in trees), about10 in those trees, 9 scattered feeding on gravel bars and other trees on islands; and in vicinity 42 (see details below). The fifteen soaring eagles soaring above Chilliwack Mountain as clouds coming in and some thunder and heavy rain around 3pm. Then rain let up and sun came out briefly providing lovely photographic light.
Large number of loafing mallards in quiet water of north side of lower island. Counted about 450 mallards. Also 8 Bufflehead and 4 common mergansers in river.
Paddle back, arrived at vehicle about 4:30 pm
Birds observed (new species: Wilson’s Snipe, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Ruby-Crowned Kinglet)
CAGE 300 flying over
TRUS (Trumpeter Swan) one flying overhead mid day, and then at dusk 4 overhead when we’re at car
DCCO 2 (double crested cormorant)
BAEA 15 adults plus 4 imm; and 42 in vicinity as follows: 12 adults and 3 imm upriver on north side and 12 perched on Island 22 and 15 soaring above Chilliwack Mtn.
RTHA just 1
WISN 1 + 3
THGU (Iceland) 2
GWGU 400, with about 4% juvenile
DOWO female and male
NOCR 4, and around 4 pm as getting dark and we’re heading back, large numbers flying overhead, likely to rookery, flying from SE to NW direction, at least 200+
CORA 2 flying over
BCCH 2 + 6