Archive for the 'Tidings from Gabriola Island' Category

Apr 05 2014

My Favourite Song of Spring

Published by under Tidings from Gabriola Island

From this unassuming frog pond comes this delightful evening chorus all spring long. Once all the frogs have mated, the singing stops, until next year!

frog pond spring chorus

Gabriola frog pond on our street

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Jun 14 2013

Watershed Helicopter Tour Redux

Published by under Tidings from Gabriola Island

The gang ready to embark on the tour: Julie Pisani, RDN Team WaterSMart; Doug Long (photo winner); Morri Mostow; Sophia Jorgensen (poster winner); Sophia’s cousin; pilot Rob Anderson 

Click here to read what the Regional District of Nanaimo’s WaterSmart Team put on their site.

 

 

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Jun 10 2013

Up In the Air…by Helicopter

Published by under Tidings from Gabriola Island

Husband Doug’s photo collage of our cistern installation won the photo contest draw for Drinking Water Week 2013, sponsored by the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) (to which our island of Gabriola belongs). The prize: a helicopter tour of the Vancouver Island watershed that supplies water to Nanaimo and many other mid-island communities.  Julie Pisani, special projects assistant with the RDN’s Team WaterSmart, joined us on the tour, along with a grade 9 student who won the the Water Week poster contest.

Our hour-long tour, generously donated by SunWest Helicopters, lifted off on June 7 from Qualicum Beach Airport.  As we flew, Julie pointed out important features of the Nanaimo watershed: Mt. Arrowsmith, the largest mountain on southern Vancouver Island, whose snowpack feeds Cameron Lake and the Little Qualicum River, which in turn recharges the groundwater aquifer supplying water to Qualicum Beach; the Englishman River, which supplies water to Parksville; a dam on the Nanaimo River that creates a resevoir for Nanaimo’s water, and much more.

Our comfortable Bell LongRanger helicopter, and the skill of our personable pilot Rob Anderson, made my first ever helicopter trip a delightfully memorable one. Our thanks to the RDN and SouthWest Helicopters for raising awareness about the need for water conservation and management in our regional ecosystem.

SunWest Helipcopters, Vancouver Island

Husband, Doug Long, with our pilot, Rob Anderson and SunWest’s Bell LongRanger Helicopter.

Flying from Qualicum Beach toward Mt. Arrowsmith

Flying from Qualicum Beach toward Mt. Arrowsmith.

Some of Qualicum Beach with its long beach

Qualicum Beach.

The Qualicum, Parksville, Nanaimo area with Sunshine Coast in the background

The Qualicum, Parksville, Nanaimo area with the Sunshine Coast in the distance.

View of Mt. Arrowsmith framed by the helicopter's window

Mt. Arrowsmith framed by the helicopter’s window.

Mt. Arrowsmith, Vancouver Island

Snowy peak of Mt. Arrowsmith, the largest mountain on southern Vancouver Island.

We flew close up to the snowy flanks of Mt. Arrowsmith

We flew close to the snowy flanks of Mt. Arrowsmith.

mountain lake, Vancouver Island

Beautiful mountain lake on Mt. Arrowsmith, Vancouver Island.

Gabriola Island, Gulf Islands, British Columbia

The distant cliffs of Gabriola Island.

SunWest Helicopters, Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island

Our SunWest helicopter returns to Qualicum Beach Airport, Vancouver Island.

 

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Apr 23 2013

Today’s Unwelcome Visitor: Wild Turkey!

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Wild Turkey on Gabriola Island

Wild turkey in the garden. First it was peacocks, now this!

There is a certain irony to today’s unwelcome visitor. After only a week since ridding our property of a  flock of pesky feral peacocks, we’ve been invaded again. Wild turkeys wreak just as much havoc as peacocks, but without the aesthetics. It’s like we’ve gone down market, to Walmart instead of  Barneys.

There are several flocks of wild turkey roaming our island. Like peacocks, they are the bane of gardeners. They often stop traffic as they meander across the road. I’ve always enjoyed encountering them on my outings, secure in the knowledge that our neighborhood has never been plagued by them. Until now!

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Apr 11 2013

The Great Peacock Roundup – The Video

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Watch Doug and Steve in action at: http://youtu.be/L_Hej_8CnXo

 

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Apr 10 2013

The Great Peacock Roundup – Part II

Published by under Tidings from Gabriola Island

The great peacock roundup went better than expected. No one got scratched. The secret: blankets! Once a peacock’s head is covered, it immediately stops moving. Steve was able to grab one peacock at a time, wrap it up and place it in his van. They didn’t move while he drove them to their new home on the other side of the island. This morning, the mother of the flock, who has evaded capture so far, arrived on the property calling for her brood — a very sad sound indeed!

 

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Mar 31 2013

The Great Peacock Roundup – Part I

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Outsmarted again! A family on our island agreed to take our peacocks and came over today to try to catch them. They spread a large net on the ground, on top of which they put a black tarp and seeds. The peacocks circled the netting warily for a bit and then left the property without venturing onto the tarp. It was clear they knew something was up. They may have small heads but they are very, very clever birds. We’ve left the netting wrapped up near a pile of seeds, hoping that they’ll get used to the netting and ignore it after a while. At some point, when they are feeding, we will try to pull the netting over them. If that doesn’t work, perhaps the attempt to catch them might be enough to dissuade them from coming back!

Speaking of clever birds, earlier today a hummingbird flew to Doug’s office window – in the basement! – to notify Doug that it was back and missing its feeder. Naturally, I was given the immediate task of finding and filling the hummingbird feeder, which Doug then hung up in a new location. Yet another bird smart enough to get us to do its bidding! Since it is so smart, I’m sure it will find its feeder the next time it flies by.

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Mar 25 2013

And Then There Were Five…Cisterns, That Is

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Roof-water cisterns, an effective water-management solution

Roof-water cisterns, an effective water-management solution

Since we moved to Gabriola Island seven years ago, I’ve come to understand that we really have only two seasons: the wet and the dry, of almost equal duration. Consequently, our island experiences a severe water shortage every summer when we inevitably experience a prolonged drought. We are a “rural” island so there is no municipal water. The solution is water conservation and management. We now have three  cisterns to collect and store water from our well over the rainy season, and two cisterns to collect and store roof water for gardening. So far, by being very, very careful how we use water during the dry season, we’ve managed not to run out of water for our needs.

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Mar 21 2013

Peacocks Enjoy the Spring Sun

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Peacocks are tropical birds after all. When sunny Spring days finally arrive, they like to soak up the warmth…preferably in our herb garden where they can peck and preen!

Sunbathing in the warm Spring sunshine

Sunbathing in the warm Spring sunshine

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Mar 14 2013

Officially Spring on Gabriola Island

Published by under Tidings from Gabriola Island

There’s always something new to see on my walking circuit. Today it was early cherry blossoms, narcissus and crocuses, but best of all I was able to pick my first bag of nettles — soon to be streamed like spinach. And of course, Mara’s goats are always bleating for attention.

 

 

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Mar 06 2013

An Original Use for a Derelict Camper Trailer

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Neighborhood free-range chickens

Here are a neighbor’s free-range chickens.
And there is their chicken coop.
Note the wooden ramp leading to the chicken door.
O
n Gabriola, there are many derelict trailers cluttering people’s yards. At least this one had been put to good use! 

Gabriola camping trailer cum chicken coop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mar 04 2013

Free-Range Peacocks & Other Friendly Fauna

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Feeding time for the peacocks

Doug feeding the “peaks”

This bucolic scene is deceptive. Because Doug has never encountered an animal he doesn’t want to feed, our property is overrun with pesky peacocks and pet deer.

Deer sunbathing

Friendly deer enjoying the sun outside our front door

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Mar 03 2013

Office Colleague

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Peacock at work!

Peacock at work!

I usually have one or more of these feathered creatures at my office windows, peering in and/or pecking at the window to get my attention (so I’ll go out and feed them!) Until we dissuade the  flock of feral peacocks from spending their days on our property, it appears that I’ll have company at work.

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Mar 02 2013

Harbinger of Spring #3

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primula

primula

early spring blossoms
early spring blossoms

In Nanaimo, the pink and white heather are already in bloom, as are the early rhododendrons. Last weekend, I spotted these spring blossoms in a friend’s garden in Tsawwassen, south of Vancouver, BC.

At this time time of year, I begin to crave spring greens. Ours have been eaten by our flock of pesky feral peacocks, but wild nettles will soon be ready for gathering, very very carefully, with rubber gloves!. See “Stinging What?”

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Mar 01 2013

Harbinger of Spring #2

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spring bulb shoots

The spring bulbs are pushing up.
Daffodils and hyacinth blooms should appear any day now.
One of the joys of West Coast living is an early spring.

 

 

 

daffodil shoots

 

 

 

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Feb 28 2013

Harbinger of Spring #1

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Bees emerging

Bees emerging

It’s heartening to see bees buzzing around after a winter of confinement in their hives. Brenda, Gabriola Island’s bee lady, told me they still have several months in which they could starve to death. There’s still not much for them to eat except pollen from the aspen trees.

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Dec 26 2010

And Then There Was One

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lonely goose on Gabriola

This lonely gander has lost his gaggle

During the past four years, this gander and his two male gaggle mates have terrorized our road.They staked out the intersection in front of their house and attacked anyone who ventured by: pedestrians, cyclists, even motorists. I gave up walking in their direction unless I was feeling particularly brave. Armed with a long stick to keep them at bay, I learned never to turn my back on them. That was the signal for an all-out attack. With necks and wings extended, honking furiously, they would fly up and try to bite as I ran screaming down the road.

Continue Reading »

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Dec 20 2010

Our adopted seal pups head home

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On October 18, 2010, our two adopted seal pups, Casper (black) and Pumba (white) made their dash to freedom in the Salish Sea off Salt Spring Island in British Columbia. Thanks to three months of expert ministrations by the staff at Island Wildlife Natural Care Centre on Salt Spring, and their innovative Adopt-a-Seal-Pup Program, these lucky, orphaned seal pups got a new lease on life.

Rescued seal pups released by Island Wildlife staff

Casper waits for Pumba to join him

Two rescued seal pups released

Casper & Pumba swim off to freedom together

Continue Reading »

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Feb 11 2010

Pet for a day. This smiley rough-skinned newt stole my heart

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On my walk, I rescued a torpid rough-skinned newt from the road, warmed him up in my hands and carried him home to identify. I named him Newton, rigged up a temporary terrarium with moist paper, pureed cat food and a water dish for drinking and dunking. Despite his ever-present smile, he wouldn’t eat, so the next day I released him in my neighbor’s small pond across the street. He took to it immediately. His ear flaps opened as he swam happily away.

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Nov 28 2009

Confessions of a Cat Chef

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LuciFur at play with her toysI have never, ever wanted to cook for our three cats. My husband, Doug, is the self-appointed chef in our household. But after our jet-black feline, LuciFur, was temporarily paralyzed from the “waist” down Continue Reading »

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Nov 28 2009

Under Surveillance … by the Animal Kingdom

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Tiny Kali-gee is a fearless peacock chaserIt was not yet dawn. Our business line was ringing, so I automatically jumped out of bed and ran to answer the phone. Big mistake. Within seconds, Kali-gee, our geriatric outdoor cat, was howling Continue Reading »

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Sep 07 2009

Even Deer Get the Blues

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Depressed buck in back yard (click to enlarge). Summer is coming to an end, the nights are chilly, and even bucks get down in the dumps when contemplating what’s to come: the fall rut and the cold, snowy months of winter when food is hard to find. Bucky barely budged when we went out to cheer him up. Just gave as a doleful look, then decided to sleep under our deck.

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Aug 21 2009

Wild Animals? Hardly.

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Deer at table with adopted mother

Janet Schwartz of Ucluelet, Vancouver Island, is about to have her pet doe seized by misguided local wildlife authorities. This is a very sad tale indeed.  Ms. Schwartz rescued it as a fawn after it was orphaned five years. The black-tailed (mule) deer is entirely domesticated: it sleeps on a bed and eats at the table; it dances to music and gives kisses. Ms. Schwartz considers it the child she never had Continue Reading »

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Aug 14 2009

Wild animals are smart. They know where to turn to for help.

Young, injured osprey on Gabriola Island ferry

This week, the crew of our local ferry found an injured and weakened juvenile osprey waiting patiently outside the entrance to the crew stairwell, as an eagle circled hungrily overhead. Clever move on the part of the osprey. The crew went into action, protecting it with a blanket and calling a wildlife rescue organization, which quickly flew it by seaplane to a wildlife recovery centre in Richmond, across the Strait of Georgia. Hopefully, the osprey will recover and be released in about two weeks.

Source: The Flying Shingle: The Voice of Gabriola since 1972

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Nov 08 2008

One of the Reasons I Left Winnipeg

Published by under Tidings from Gabriola Island

It’s November 8. When the electricity returned early this morning (power failures are fairly common on our Gulf island, especially in the rainy fall and winter seasons), I turned on the TV to see my former hometown, Winnipeg, Manitoba, blanketed in 20 cm of wet, heavy snow. The temperature there:  a frosty -6 degrees (Celsius).  On Gabriola Island this morning, the tree frogs are chirping outside my window. The temperature here: +14 degrees (Celsius).  Continue Reading »

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Aug 28 2008

The Day I Stopped Traffic on Harrison Hill

Published by under Tidings from Gabriola Island

Last week I stopped traffic. It was a somewhat nostalgic moment. As a high school student in Winnipeg, I couldn’t walk along Grant Avenue  without being accosted every few blocks by young men proffering rides in their automobiles. I would huffily decline and push on, annoyed but secretly flattered. Continue Reading »

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May 26 2008

Bye-bye Ginger

Published by under Tidings from Gabriola Island

Ginger the tom catHe was a beat-up, feral tomcat, teeth worn to stubs, with testosterone-inflated jowls and scrawny, caved-in sides.

Our first encounter was not promising. A week after our arrival at our new island home, my husband finally let Pussicle and GoldiPuss out to explore our property. Within minutes, we heard the furious howls of a cat fight next door; then our cats disappeared. Four hours later, a bedraggled Pussicle returned, wounded, soon to become infected, necessitating an expensive course of antibiotics. Our beloved GoldiPuss is still missing after almost three years. Continue Reading »

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May 26 2008

Head & Shoulders to the Rescue

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Itchy scalp? Dandruff? If you’re Canadian, you inevitably turn to Head & Shoulders shampoo, touted in its ads as the cure for both, and for soft, shiny hair. Continue Reading »

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May 20 2008

Stinging What?

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Or how I learned to love nettles

Urtica dioica or stinging nettleThe first summer on our Pacific Northwest island, my husband, while jogging, inadvertently brushed a patch of Urtica dioica, commonly known as stinging nettle. Two years later, the scabs on his calf have still not completely healed. Consequently, I’ve kept a wary distance from these poisonous plants despite their reputed medicinal and culinary properties.

Until now, that is. Continue Reading »

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May 05 2008

Persecuted by Pesky Peacocks?

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You’re not alone!

peacock on display on Gabriola Island BCSome people love peacocks; others hate them — and we inevitably hear all about it.

A sample of some recent queries:

One young man wondered how to perk up his listless pet peacock. Turned out he was feeding it only lettuce and vegetable scraps. We don’t pretend to be experts on peacock nutrition, but we advised augmenting its diet with a high-quality, dry cat kibble to give the bird a balanced diet with protein and other nutrients. It worked. Not long after, he wrote to say that his peacock was doing much better on cat kibble. We also told him to get a second peacock to cheer up his bird. Peacocks are gregarious and congregate in well-ordered flocks, and his bird was no doubt lonely. Continue Reading »

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