Frazer River Ecological Reserve wardens report April 2024

Posted June 20, 2024 | Categories : 76,Field Notes,Photos,Reports,Species List,Warden Reports |

ER #76 Fraser River – April 22, 2024 Report by Bill & Bev Ramey

See the pdf with photos:ER #76 2024, April 22, pdf


Sunshine, 9 to 18o C, light breeze Launch kayaks from Nicomen Island 9:45 am, return 6:15 pm Walking distance about 11 km Water level at Mission gauge: 0.1 to 1.3 metres (Fraser is tidal at Mission) Water level at Hope gauge: 3.6 metres Participants: Riley Kennedy, Senior Park Ranger; Jack Mantle, Senior Park Ranger; Frank Lomer, plant expert; Ryan Usenik, Langley Field Naturalists; Bill & Bev Ramey, Wardens ER #76

Lovely weather for our trip today on Earth Day. We appreciate the interest and commitment of the two BC Parks staff who accompanied us for most of the day.

Our walk about the islands was enhanced greatly by Frank Lomer’s wealth of knowledge on the many herbaceous plants leafing out on the deposited river silt, clay and gravel, as well as the several species of colonizing trees. We headed upriver crossing the Sand Dune area, where the recently dug holes and coyote tracks were again visible. One of our group saw an adult coyote at what appeared to be a den. On scanning the upriver tip of the islands, we were pleased to view a couple of hundred Black-bellied Plovers, loafing on a long, narrow gravel bar about 30 metres out in the water channel. These birds are on migration north to breed in Arctic tundra. There were also approximately ten Dunlin loafing on this gravel bar. We watched an Osprey hovering overhead nearby, then it swooped down to the river. As it flew back upwards, we weren’t certain whether it held a fish in its claws, but as it gained height an adult Bald Eagle flew in and harassed the Osprey.

From the upstream tip we continued walking downriver on the eroding southeast side of the islands. Frank showed us how to identify the newly recognized hybrid species of blackberry, which is a cross between the native trailing blackberry (Rubus ursinus) and the invasive Himalayan Blackberry (Rubus armeniacus). The latter has taken hold over much of the islands. Along the way we picked up much plastic debris — a large garbage bag, two smaller bag fulls, a damaged large Tupperware, and a 20-litre plastic pail.

Some of our group bushwhacked across part of the upper southeastern island to view its conifer trees, Douglas fir and hemlock. Here there were also several large cottonwoods with invasive English Ivy growing up their trunks to great heights. It looked like all the lower ivy leaves had been browsed by deer although unfortunately the deer had not chewed through the climbing stems. Nearby were a few invasive English holly trees. This area had several native species of berry producing shrubs, plus herbaceous plants nearing flowering.

We next walked downriver on the northwest side of the largest lower island. The downstream tip of the islands is rich in herbaceous colonizing plants, some native and some invasive. This area is mostly sand and clay as it likely forms a back-eddy during freshet. Returning back upriver along the inner swale, which was dry at this water level, we noted several native plants that are listed on Frank Lomer’s plant list attached. (His list notes species which have not previously recorded for the islands. It includes five species of Artemisia native to the east side of the Coast Mountains.)

We did not see an active eagle nest in the location where a nest has been observed in previous spring visits, even though those large cottonwood trees still stand tall. That grove of large cottonwoods is not on an eroding side of the islands.

Species lists and photos

Beaver sign of chewed and fallen trees, and pathways visible throughout the islands, but especially along the upper southeast facing island and its eroding shore; viewed a beaver swimming near shore in that main river channel .
Seal seen swimming in main channel off that upper southeast island
Several Deer tracks, but only one set of young (small) tracks seen; one adult deer seen
Several Coyote tracks, but no young (small) tracks seen. One adult seen leaving a burrow on the Sand Dune area
Possibly a Mole, based on mole-like tunnel across swale

Amphibians and Reptiles :
One Northwestern Toad
One large Garter Snake
(we did not visit the inner ponds to check on salamander egg masses)
Several shells of introduced snails, likely Brown-lipped Snail Cepaea nemoralis
Two freshwater mussel shells found Western River Pearl Mussel (we think these have floated down from upriver)

Leaf-eating Beetles identified on previous spring visits were common on some willows; genus Altica and likely given the willow as host plant, were Altica bimarginata
Lady Beetle, introduced Asian, on willow together with the Altica beetle
Spider species also common
Hover flies

Birds have been entered on eBird at hotspot:

Double-crested Cormorant 1
Great-blue Heron 2
Canada Goose 7: five flying over, two as a pair on shore of downstream island
Mallard 16; flock of fourteen flying over, plus M & F in water
Ring-necked Duck 10
Bufflehead 1
Common Merganser 25; eighteen flying over in two flocks, seven loafing on quiet water and beside on log
Turkey Vulture 8, seven of these were flying beyond river, circling above nearby farm
Red-tailed Hawk 1, flying over
Osprey 1, hovering and diving for a fish in channel north end of islands Bald Eagle 3; adults flying over, one harassed the Osprey
Rufous Hummingbird 1
Black-bellied Plover 200 loafing on upriver gravel bar
Dunlin 10
Short-billed Gull 24
Ring-billed Gull 6
Glaucous-winged Gull 3
Greater Yellowlegs 7; feeding along shorelines in different locations
Tree Swallow 6
Violet-green Swallow 2
Barn Swallow 1 o
American Crow 2, flying over as individuals
American Robin 5
Purple Finch 3, singing from perches in trees
American Goldfinch 1
Dark-eyed Junco 20
Song Sparrow 2
Spotted Towhee 1
Common Yellowthroat 1

Vascular Plant Species from ER#76, April 22, 2024

compiled by Frank Lomer (Note: these species are additions to Terry Taylor’s list of October 2011, so Terry’s species are not included, most of which were seen by Frank.) Aliens in red. Alnus incana (native on the east side of the Coast Mountains but occasionally washed downriver)
Speckled alder Arenaria serpyllifolia
Thyme-leaved sandwort Artemisia absinthium
Wormwood Artemisia biennis
Biennial wormwood Artemisia borealis (native on the east side of the Coast Mountains but occasionally washed downriver)
Boreal wormwood Artemisia campestris (native on the east side of the Coast Mountains but occasionally washed downriver)
Northern wormwood Artemisia dracunculus (native on the east side of the Coast Mountains but occasionally washed downriver)
Tarragon Artemisa frigida (native on the east side of the Coast Mountains but occasionally washed downriver)
Prairie sagewort Artemisia michauxiana (native on the east side of the Coast Mountains but occasionally washed downriver)
Michaux’s mugwort Cirsium arvense
Canada thistle Cirsium undulatum (native on the east side of the Coast Mountains but occasionally washed downriver)
Wavy-leaved thistle Crataegus monogyna
Common hawthorn Erigeron philadelphicus Philadelphicus
fleabane Galium aparine
Cleavers Ligustrum vulgare
Privet Osmorhiza berteroi
Mountain sweet-cicely Potentilla argentea
Silvery cinquefoil Prunus avium
Sweet cherry Rubus ursinus x armeniacus
Hybrid blackberry Symphyotrichum ciliolatum
Lindley’s aster Verbena bracteata (native on the east side of the Coast Mountains but occasionally washed downriver)
Bracted bervain

Grasses & Rushes

Elymus repens Quackgrass
Elymus trachycaulus Slender wheatgrass
Juncus articulates Arctic rush
Juncus balticus Baltic rush
Juncus tenuis Slender rush

Asplenium trichomanes Maidenhair spleenwort
Cystopteris fragilis Fragile fern


Also some species added and name updates to Terry Taylor’s list…
Change Solidago canadensis to Solidago lepida (updated name)
Hypericum formosum is likely Hypericum perforatum which we saw. Crepis sp. is likely Crepis tectorum which I saw.
Fragaria sp. is likely Fragaria virginiana which we saw in flower.

Rorippa sp. is likely Rorippa palustris which we saw two varieties side by side – var. palustris and var. hispida.

Agrostis sp. is likely Agrostis gigantea which was frequent.

Rubus discolor name update to Rubus armeniacus (current name in use for the Himalayan blackberry)

And on the plant list (combined to 2012), Tanacetum pipinnatum should be Tanacetum vulgare (Common Tansy)

See the pdf with photos:ER #76 2024, April 22, pdf