9 March 2019 – Leaders: Bev & Bill Ramey. Trip Report by Tom Lane
It was a beautiful crisp morning that greeted us for the beginning of our nature hike in Pacific Spirit Park. Being my first nature walk here in Vancouver I was thrilled to have been invited and was looking forward to delving deeper into the flora and fauna of the park.
Being a bit of a ‘nature novice’, I was delighted to in the very capable hands of Bill and Bev, who led the walk. Supported by an array of different experts, nature enthusiasts, botanists and birders. Bill and Bev Ramey were brilliant at pointing out numerous points of interest along the route, leading to some very interesting discussions. Beginning at the entrance on 16th Avenue west of Blanca, we made a large loop around UBC golf course, and then down Pioneer trail to the beach. We looped back via a long walk along Wreck beach, and then up to UBC via Acadia trail and back to the starting point. A distance of 13 to 15 km (shorter for some of us who left early) and 7 to 8 hours.
There is always something that stirs within me whenever I enter Pacific Spirit Park. I feel as though I am instantly transported back to my childhood, running amongst the trees, a sense of adventure! Indeed, a key part of ensuring these forests are preserved for the future, is ensuring children can enjoy them and feel the magic they produce. Bev was clear to point out the work being done to encourage this and the challenges they face in finding a balance between protecting the forests and allowing people to enjoy them.
As we progressed into the forest we tuned our ears to the joyful sound of bird chatter. We were fortunate to spot a wide array of birds, from the small and nimble Anna’s hummingbird to the ever-majestic Bald eagle. In total 32 number of species were spotted both in the forest and around the coastline. What was particularly confusing, and a little worrisome, was the inclusion of a bat to our sightings, seen at the beaver pond off Spanish Trail. It was suggested that it might have been feeding, or maybe it had awoken with the warming temperatures? Highlights included Hairy Woodpecker, beautifully photographed by Bryan King, Golden-crowned Kinglet seen in good light near the forest floor, Cooper’s Hawk, and lovely sound renderings from Purple Finch, heard clearly by those of us with good hearing!!
Emerging from the forest, blue skies and sunshine! Great conditions for the next part of our walk around the coastline. Although slightly buffeted by a cold wind, we carefully navigated our way over the pebbles and on towards to the Point Grey bluffs. After a quick sandwich stop and sun soak, we headed over to observe the erosion that has been taking place. Whilst beautiful, the exposed sandy bluffs are at the mercy of both wind and sea. Highlighting the issue further, just hours before our arrival a huge tree had plummeted from its original home at the top of the cliff, the ground previously beneath it finally falling away. Peter Ward and Jennifer Getsinger gave some fantastic insight into the coastal erosion process and the local geology. What was also interesting to hear about, were the strategies that had been implemented over many decades, to try and protect the bluffs.
For the last part of the walk we ventured further around the coast to the beautiful Wreck Beach (All clothes remained attached!). From there a quick final stop at the intriguing biomass research facility at UBC. Woodchip fueled, this exciting research plant hopes to demonstrate a much improved way of generating electricity from biomass. Bravo UBC!
I have to say a big thank you to Bev and Bill for leading the walk, and to those who came along. Being surrounded by such a passionate and knowledgeable group of people was inspiring. It was such a wonderful day and I hope to meet up with everyone again soon.