Friday, May 30, 2008

Canada Geese and Gosling

In March I told you about the return of Canada Geese to Hole in the Wall on Powell Lake. After much in and out traffic it settled down to two nesting pairs. Yesterday we were excited to see one of the pairs pass by the cabin with a single gosling.

A female will lay from 2-8 eggs with the incubation period from 25-30 days. I'm not sure why only one gosling survived in this clutch. The Hole is pretty quiet this time of year, but maybe predators got to the nest. We do have raccoons in the area.

The pair and their baby paddled along our booms calling all the way. They munched on a few of our logs and stumps, but fortunately passed the garden by. Do you have geese in your area? How are they doing? Here's an interesting site I found about the growth of a gosling. -- Margy

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Decorative Stumps

Stumps play an important role at our float cabin. They help cut down wave action from wind and passing boats. They also provide an attractive and colorful addition to our water lot. Here are a few treasured stumps on duty in front of our cabin. A small alder tree, moss and salal plants give them lots of character.

This stump is named Bede after the BD-5J homebuilt jet from BedeCorp. If you go to their website you might see the resemblance. This year Bede has a large lupine growing out of his well watered crevices.

Thanks for looking at my stump pictures. If you would like to see more about float cabin living, click here. -- Margy

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Swallow Update

Right now we are surrounded by swallows. Each spring they arrive in the Hole to make their nests and raise their young. In the morning we are treated to aerial displays of acrobatic antics. Bugs are flying in the cool air, so the swallows are busy chasing them just above the lake surface. Occasionally, we will see a swallow dip into the water to make a catch, leaving a ring to ripple out after their passing.

Tree Swallows are starting to make birdhouse selections. We have five to choose from, but this year the garden float birdhouse seems to be the most popular. Mom is moving in while Dad stands watch. This morning, one of the swallows perched on our swim ladder. He was so docile that he let me get within two feet before flying back to his garden float home. I just love to hear their high pitched twitters while I have my morning coffee on the deck. Want to see inside a Tree Swallow nestbox? Click here.

In addition to the Tree Swallows, the Barn Swallows have returned. One pair is trying to build a nest at the peak of the cabin roof under our eaves. Last year two swallows worked for a week in the same location, only to have their nest fall from the precarious spot. I hope this year's attempt is more successful. Barn Swallows are easy to distinguish from the Tree Swallows. They have a reddish breast and long forked tails.

I'll keep you posted. We hope to hear and see some hatchlings by next month if all goes well. If you can't wait, here are some shots from last year's brood. -- Margy

Monday, May 26, 2008

Small Town Friends

Recently I was talking to a friend about differences in small town and a big city living. When Wayne and I lived near Los Angeles, we barely knew our neighbors. Now that we live in Powell River, things have really changed.

You might think that we wouldn't see many friends when we're at our float cabin, but that is definitely not the case. Last month, our neighbors downstairs at the condo dropped by in one of the Lakeside Floating Vacations houseboats. Just a few days ago, Doug and Karen stopped by in their new (via e-Bay) boat. Of course, we see John all the time either at his cabin or ours. Right now, we are helping him get his #1 cabin ready to sell. Helping friends on the lake is a common practice.

Last night Jess and his girlfriend stopped by for a chat. Jess has the cabin across from us in Hole in the Wall. It used to be one of the smallest on the lake (8 X 10, pretty as a picture). But now it's growing out and up. It's to the lockup stage, and soon it will be ready for the summer season.

Jess has a unique boat. It is a barge design with a loading ramp and lots of space to carry all of his building supplies. He is one of the best boat drivers we know. He can turn that big rig on a dime, and squeeze it through some pretty tight spots. In addition to his construction talents, Jess is the go-to guy for wood stoves and rope.

Jess is a frequent blog reader. In fact, when he went to Japan to meet his girlfriend's family, he used my blog to show them a distant shot of his cabin. Hopefully he'll enjoy this post from one friend to another. -- Margy

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Quad Ride to Fiddlehead Farm

Yesterday Wayne and I joined the Powell River ATV Club for a quad ride from a camping head- quarters at Nanton Lake through the nearby back country. The logging roads were pretty dusty after several days with no rain, but it was a very enjoyable ride. Our lunch stop was at the popular former Fiddlehead Farm site. It was once a thriving hostel/wilderness resort, but now all that is left are a few apple trees and a grassy meadow.

While we all rested and ate our lunch, we had a visitor. He was a very friendly and precocious Brown-headed Cowbird. He pecked at the ground for dropped morsels while we stood around and "chewed the fat." Cowbirds are termed brood parasitic. They lay their eggs in another bird's nest and then abandon them for the host bird to raise as their own. Cowbirds are a member of the blackbird family. They originally followed bison across the praries, but now have spread across North America. Their diet consists of seeds, small insects and the occasional dropped cookie crumb.

There are so many things to see and do around Powell River. After the ride we all gathered back at the Nanton Lake campsite for a BBQ. It is amazing that all of this is available in our own back yard. Wayne wrote about exploring the back roads and logging trails in Up the Main. Click here to find out more about the book and our amazing area. -- Margy

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Rocks, Rocks and More Rocks

Powell Lake is a very "rocky" place. Ancient volcanoes that formed the BC Coast Range have eroded over time leaving their granite intrusions exposed. Over time and with the help of ice age glaciers, huge outcroppings have been broken down and released into streams, rivers and ultimately the lake. Here are a few of my favourite rock shots.

This solid granite outcrop is in my cabin's "back yard."

An intrusive dike visible at the water's edge.

A rock with a large, distinctive inclusion.

Thanks for looking at my rock pictures. -- Margy

Thursday, May 15, 2008

How to Dock a Big Ship

On Saturday, May 3, the HMCS Edmonton docked at the Westview pier. The Edmonton is a maritime coastal defence vessel (MCDV) manned primarily by reservists. She was here to participate in Battle of the Atlantic ceremonies on Texada Island. While the Edmonton was in Powell River, she was open for public viewing, quite a thrill.

While the Edmonton was docking, there was a stiff wind coming from the northwest. It was amazing to watch the crew work as a well practiced team to get the ship tied up to the pier. It also gave an opportunity for the local Sea Cadets to get some exciting hands-on experience.

In the stiff breeze, it took a few runs at the pier. First the ship angled towards the end of the pier. A heaving line was thrown to crew already stationed on the pier. Then the hefty dock line was hauled up and attached to a cleat on the pier. Using a combination of engine work and dock line placement, the ship was "walked" forward along the pier and into final position.

When the ship was secure and the engines turned off, the colors of the Canadian Forces Maritime Command were raised. It was an incredible show. -- Margy

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Quadra Island Boat Tour

Quadra Island is one of the Discovery Islands between Vancouver Island and the mainland of Coastal British Columbia. It was named after Don Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra, an 18th Century Spanish Naval Officer who explored the area at the same time as Captain George Vancouver. About 4,000 people live on the island, but in summer that number swells as tourists arrive by floatplane, boat and ferry. Quadra is a frequent destination for our 24' Bayliner Halcyon Days. The following are a few shots to entice you to come for a visit some day.

The ferry from Quadra to nearby Cortes Island.

Narrow passages.

And quiet coves.

Thanks for looking at my Quadra Island pictures. If you would like to read more about our trip you can click here. -- Margy

Monday, May 12, 2008

Coastal BC Birds: Crossbill

Crossbill

Each time I go up the hill to check on my potato patch I hear birds in the bushes and trees near my compost pile. They are quick and elusive, but a few days ago I was able to capture a few on film.

The most evident thing was their crossed bills. After an Internet search, I have identified them as Crossbills, an apt name. I am not sure about the species, but think it is a Red Crossbill.

Crossbills (genus Loxia) are members of the Finch family. Based on the coloring, I believe this is a female. Males tend to be reddish in color and females a greenish-yellow. The crossed nature of their beaks is specialized to allow them to remove seeds from conifer cones. I noticed the remains of cones on the ground next to the compost pile. I had assumed it was the work of a squirrel, but it must have been the Crossbills sitting in the trees cracking open the cones to extract the tasty seeds.

Maybe the next trip up the hill I will be quiet enough to capture a few more shots. Do you have any spring bird photos to share? Let us know and give us a link to your site. -- Margy

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Time to Spare

Time slows for us when we are at our float cabin. This morning we heard an interview on CBC Radio with an author about a book called Slow is Beautiful. The premise is simple, we need to slow down and take time to appreciate life. It is even a trendy "movement" as described in this Seattle Times article. My comment back was, "Get a float cabin." Living away from town, TV and especially the Internet gives you the time (and the incentive) to slow down. Just take a look.

"Hey Wayne, let's just rest a few minutes here in the sun. Anyway, isn't it nap time?"

"Hey Wayne, it's a long way to haul this sofa to shore. Besides, it's break time."

See what I mean? All kidding aside, it's good to take time to smell the roses and connect with your inner self.

If this is your first visit to my blog, go to the Float Cabin Living section to see what off-the-grid cabin life is like. For my frequent readers, Wayne and I will be heading back up to the cabin this afternoon for some well deserved "time" together in the place we love. I don't know when we'll be back. We aren't on a "time" schedule. So, until then, have a great weekend and beyond. Hope we all get some much needed sunshine!! -- Margy

Friday, May 02, 2008

Baby Buster

Last July I wrote about one of my cabin regulars, Buster the Garter Snake. He usually makes an annual appearance in May and hangs around until fall. This year, I would like to introduce you to Baby Buster. He showed up on the garden float this week. It's a little early, but things seem to be happening a little early this spring. I know it isn't Buster, because this snake is much smaller, hence the name "Baby Buster."

You can read more about garter snakes at my original post by clicking here. Having a garter snake living on the garden float is good for organic gardening. Mice like to nibble nice tender shoots. Buster helps us keep them out of the garden area. Garter snakes also like to eat frogs. That helps keep the non-native bullfrog invasion under some control.

Baby Buster is only about 50 centimetres (20 inches) long. He can grow up to about 1.5 metres (3.5 ft) long. His distinctive coloring is yellow stripes on a dark brown body. Always alert, his bright red forked tongue flicks out to monitor the surroundings. If disturbed, he slides through the cracks of the float to the shelter of the logs underneath. From there he can watch and listen for a quieter time to resurface and get back to soaking up the warm rays of spring sunshine. -- Margy