This Weekend, I joined local naturalist Istvan Orosi and members of the Hastings Park Conservancy for a guided walk around the pond at Hastings Park, my local greenspace. While Istvan kept an eye out for birds (he is master of the Audubon Bird Call!) I mainly scanned the foliage for insects and spiders.
This week was big for the Conservancy, as the Vancouver City Council heard arguments for the transfer of governance of the park from the PNE corporation (which is not doing that great a job for the wildlife) to to the Parks Board. The Council will decide the issue in a special session Aug. 1, but I am not really hopeful the governance will change.
In the meantime, here are the pictures I took on Saturday!
An impressive male Tetragnathid, or Long-jawed Orbweaver, which seem common near bodies of water.
Green Lacewing resting in the shade.
A bird-dropping mimic caterpillar, which I believe is that of a swallowtail butterfly.
We spotted a Golden-rumped Warbler, which was a treat.
Y’all know I love me some syrphids! These awesome fliers are fun to watch and are very abundant in season. They are devilishly hard to catch in flight, but sometimes they oblige and hover motionless in the air, begging for a shot. Last evening at Hastings Park, I was shooting in an area filled with blooming thistle. This little gal did the hovering thing right in front of me, so I took a quick few shots. With the Laphria I found Wednesday, this has definitely been my lucky week for flies!
I just got an update on the unfortunate duck we found Tuesday: The duck has been captured, and is being treated at Wildlife Rescue for wing droop. The wing was not broken, but was strained, and it should be releasable within a few days.
Still no word back from the Parks Board regarding the fishing issue, but I will keep vigilant for further problems arising from this activity.
This poor young Mallard has a hook embedded in the wing, and likely a broken wing from trying to free itself.
Yesterday, I took my dad down to see Hastings Park, one of the very few natural areas in my neighbourhood. After making our way along the shore, we came to the north side of the pond, where we stopped for a while to watch a heron preening. After a time, we noticed a group of young Mallards sitting on the shore. One of them had its left wing drooping, as if it was injured. We thought at first that the raccoon we had seen earlier had attacked it, but closer inspection revealed that the poor duck had a fishing hook stuck into its wing. Evidently, the bird had become snagged on the hook and broken its wing trying to free itself.
How could this come to be? Why was there a discarded fishing hook hanging from one of the branches?
Well, the story behind this actually is more than a bit creepy. Stan Taylor, another nature enthusiast was there when we met this unfortunate duck and gave us the background. A couple months ago, the administrators of the park (which is a private company!) and the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC decided it would be fun for the public to be able to fish in the pond, and so they plowed a route down to the water (in bird nesting season) and installed a dock for people to fish from. They also released 900 sterilized rainbow trout for people to catch. The rules were supposed to be that the fishing was only to occur at that specific dock, but people began fishing all around the pond in the height of nesting season, trampling down vegetation and leaving waste all around the park.
Here is a hook hanging in Hastings Park on June 11, ready for a frugivorous bird to grab it.
This is a really ill-thought out idea, that goes in direct opposition to the planning that has been done by the Hastings Park Conservancy and the recommendations of the Friends of Hastings Park. Instead of a quiet urban refuge for wildlife, the powers that be want to make this quiet park into a far different place, where people learn how to kill aquatic animals for sport. I am not against fishing per se, but this tiny little pond is not the kind of place for it. Here in East Vancouver, we have so little in the way of habitat for wildlife, that every little bit should be carefully managed.
130 species of bird have been sighted in Hastings Park, and there is an active eagle nest in a large cottonwood.
Anyway, I have sent the pictures and a letter to the Parks Board and put up the video on YouTube. This unfortunate bird is probably only one of many that have been or will be adversely affected by this change in the way the park is used. Hopefully this will help change some minds about having an unaccountable private entity control one of our public parks.
Hastings Park is one of my favourite nearby places to go to see wildlife, and it would be a shame if injuries like this become the norm for the birds nesting and migrating through the park.
For more information about the controversy, see the following links:
I was off shooting in Hastings Park this evening, using the Monster Macro Rig and having a good time shooting immature insects. Everything was working as advertised, and I got a few decent shots of caterpillars, sawfly larvae and a nymphal seed bug. The beauty of this rig is that the background and subject are both lit at a tiny aperture, making motion irrelevant and achieving the look a tripod shot might.
Then the batteries in the subject light died just as I was shooting a damselfly…
Although it was not the shot I intended, I am pretty pleased with the result! This is the type of thing that gives me just the boost I need. Maybe I will try a series of silhouettes next.
This weekend I was busy with science outreach at the Science Rendezvous, where I gave a talk on caracara predation behaviour. I only got the chance for a short outing around the lab, and a quick visit to Hastings Park on Sunday before some heavy rain started. I did manage to return with some modest prizes, including some heron fishing footage.
A Mayfly in the headwaters of Stony Creek behind SFU.
This Mayfly lived much less than a day, before the water striders got it.
Julie Wray of the Elle Lab waits to deliver fresh science at the Science Rendezvous.
Believe it or not, this is a Neuropteran, family Coniopterygidae. They are often called Dustywings.
Found this under some plywood behind the Insectary Annex at SFU.
Totem Pole covered in algae, Hastings Park.
A Great Blue Heron fishes in Hastings Park
Below is the Heron Fishing video. Watch it in HD if you can, and see this impressive bird on goldfish patrol!
This Weekend Expedition, we set out to go to North Vancouver’s Maplewood Park. Just a short bus ride across the bridge, right? Well, if is if you manage to catch the bus! Catherine and I arrived at the bus stop just as our bus was pulling out…And it was Sunday, so the next one was in 25 minutes. No problem! Lets just walk to the next bus stop and wait there.
This bus stop was awesome, we had knitting to do and Tobey Maguire (Spiderman!) to keep us company. Except the next bus didn’t stop for us! Apparently, our special bus only stops at the first stop (not that they are labelled or anything. Thanks TransLink!). Rather than wait another 25 minutes, we decided to change plans and head to Hastings Park, a few blocks away. Have a look below to see what we found!