Fraser River Islands ER #76 Warden’s report October 12, 2013
ER #76 – October 12, 2013
Warden Reprt by Bill and Bev Ramey
Sunshine, 16 degrees, no wind
Water level 1 to 2 metres at Mission; Hope gauge 4.8 metres
Launch kayaks Nicomen Island at 10:00 am, return to car 6:30 pm
Talked to fisherman at parking lot. He was there to fish coho and said the Vedder and Chehalis runs were moving upriver. There was another fisherman at the former boat launch ramp. Fraser Valley Regional District sign still at the parking area stating the boat launch closed and giving two alternate sites.
There were no gravel bars in our crossing of the Fraser to the EcoReserve. This change happened during the long high summer flows of 2012.
Landed on upper islands just across from the eagle nest. Took time to observe the many eagles, loafing on the bars, perched in the trees, and some soaring in thermals. Counted 38 Imm Bald Eagles and 12 Adult Bald Eagles in the trees along the shore by the eagle nest, plus a few on the upriver bar. Also 80 Glaucous-winged Gulls. There were many pink salmon carcasses washed up along the shorelines, so lots of feasting.
Walked about the inner bars. Again could not find the liverwort Riccia Frostii observed during the wardens’ tour in October 2011. That large inner bar is still mostly sand/silt, without extensive gravel and the fixed wing planes do not appear to be landing there, likely as surface is a little too soft. Lots of beaver tracks in this area. We heard a sound like a diving fighter jet, and then saw a Peregrine falcon swooping to chase another bird. The falcon then flew off towards Chilliwack Mountain.
Paddled across the inner water channel (after trying to wade it unsuccessfully) to the main island with the largest trees and took interior route through to the far side using the former swales, now mostly grown-in swales. Some bushwhacking; Reed canary grass very lush. Spent time at the inner pond in the Reed canary grass waiting for the frogs (?) that we heard plopping into the water from sunning on shore. The frogs were likely small sized, based on the ‘plop’ sound – about ten of them. Observed greenish coloured small fish -was this just an algae covering? Some diving beetles and hundreds of whirly gigs. Some dragon flies.
Carried onto the top end of the large swale separating the lower islands. It has eroded away more at the top end of the island which formerly had the log jam. Again lots of beaver activity in the willow area. Startled two large garter snakes sunning.
Made our way down river through the main, open swale. It has not really changed since 2011, and still has the large ponds. Heard two very large plops from the lower pond and watched the shape swim out to the middle where it lay on the bottom. Bill waded out and took photo through about 2’ of water. Unfortunately, it looks like a bull frog (confirmed later by Denis Knopp looking at photo). So we figure there are at least two bull frogs in this pond. This is the first time we have observed bull frogs in the Ecological Reserve.
Downstream tip of the islands is rapidly accreting and the willow, cottonwood, horsetail and other vegetation is growing strongly and filling in. Even the channel at the downstream tip looks like it may no longer have much flow and is filling in, so possibly the next gravel bar will become part of the islands complex. Waypoint at downstream tip, with + 4 metres accuracy is:
Walked back up the northwest side of the lower island. We had to bushwhack our way inland for about 200 metres before heading back out to the shore. Hard going as there are some areas with blackberry vines. Lots of crows were gathering on the accreting island to the northwest. About 500 Northwestern crows perched and calling there (around 3:30pm).
Paddle across the inner channel back to the upper islands where we had first landed. Now there are an additional 200 crows. Walk up the northeastern side of the island and see area where there are tracks from fixed wing aircraft landing. On the accreting sand dune area of the upper islands a group is camped. They have a large awning pitched and at least one small tent. We didn’t walk over to it as people were there and time was getting on.
Upstream tip of islands had its typical large numbers of gulls, mostly Glaucous-winged – about 300. The southeast side of that upstream island has had significant erosion. A Northern Harrier juvenile flies low over us as we’re heading back down through the interior dry channel.
Now the very large number of crows are crowding into the trees just behind the largest cottonwoods with the eagle nest. We estimate about 700 crows. Flocks have been flying in from all sides, including the Sumas Mountain direction and from the Harrison River direction.
Paddle back, arriving at the shore about 6:15pm. Odometer shows we walked 12 km on the islands.
Canada Goose 180 flying over
Mallard 50, of these 40 were flying over
Common Merganser 18
Double-crested Cormorant 8
Great Blue Heron 3
Bald Eagle 14 adult, 42 immature, plus11 unknown
Northern Harrier 1 juv
Spotted Sandpiper 2
Ring-billed Gull 3
Thayer’s Gull 6? Or possibly hybrids
Glaucous-winged Gull 660
Belted Kingfisher 1
Downy Woodpecker 1 (male)
Northern Flicker 1
Peregrine Falcon 1
Northwestern Crow 100, plus 600 additional flocking at dusk
Black-capped Chickadee 8
Pacific Wren 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2
American Robin 3
Deer throughout islands, but especially upstream tip and downstream tip
Fox ? small dog like, maybe coyote
Garter snakes (2 large ones)
Bull Frog – at least two in the large pool of the wide swale near downstream tip of islands
Asters and Brown-eyed Susan still blooming