Thursday, May 01, 2008

big trees

just got back from a lovely relaxing trip to the island. hitting the road:

we ducked around nanimo, courtney and duncan. we spent a fair bit of time on a farm belonging to a friend of miriam's, playing with the dogs and collecting eggs from the chooks. it reminded me a bit of the dale. we ate a lot of very good food and visited people who fed us tea and cakes.

we also made a day trip down to cathedral grove, which is a little patch of *enormous* trees in the middle (more or less) of vancouver island. it was a beautiful sunny day, steam rising off the moss where the sun hit it.

some of the trees were simply enormous:

Cathedral Grove is a rare surviving old growth ecosystem with big trees (Douglas fir, western red cedar, grand fir and western hemlock) on Vancouver Island in British Columbia (BC), Canada. The largest trees in the ancient stand are about 800 years old and measure 75 m (250 ft) in height and 9 m (29 ft) in circumference.

apart from the fabulous old trees, there was some pretty cool undergrowth. may i present to you . . . skunk cabbage!

it smells like skunks!

there was also lots of salmonberry bushes in flower. they're the earliest berry to fruit in BC, so seeing the pink flowers is a herald of summer. i've never tasted one, but apparently they're quite seedy.

most exciting of all, we saw a rufous hummingbird feeding from the flowers! they look something like this:

(photo stolen from the interwebs). it was a pale brown colour and tiny tiny - about the size of my thumb. we were about five feet away and could hear the whirr of its wings as it zipped from flower to flower, and the strange squeaky noises it made as it ate. we watched it eating for about thirty seconds then it whipped over our heads and disappeared. i was unreasonably excited. i looked it up in my book when we got home and found out that rufouses are a particularly aggressive and territorial hummingbird, which is kind of entertaining.

later i saw a calliope hummingbird eating from a feeder at the farm, and that was pretty damn cool too. maybe i will invest in a pretty blown glass feeder and hang it outside my window. . .

here's a panorama of a big big tree to give you a sense of scale. read from top to bottom and pretend the photos are joined:

we also made a quick trip to miracle beach, which is a beautiful little sandy beach on the east coast of the island. it's one of the few island beaches i've been to with a sandy shore. again, it had the fabulous views of islands and snow-capped mountains on the other side. i just don't get tired of that setting.

the water was not uber cold, but i wasn't tempted to go in any further.

human prints:

and deer prints:

sorry i didn't get a better shot. that's them down the bottom - the pairs of lines in the sand. we saw a few deer, mostly nibbling people's lawns. most of the people we visited were complaining about the deer eating their gardens and discussing fencing. it was most entertaining and i felt like those tourists who sit agog at discussions about the wombat busting fences in the dale or wallabies being a road hazard.

also in wildlife news, i heard a woodpecker for the first time. it was very loud and deep, and all the pecks ran together. very cool.

i think that's about all my news. lots of natcha, you know, and sitting round reading. we had to sprint to catch the ferry home. here's us being the last car on, and them closing up behind us:

now i'm having the usual re-entry issues. miriam is heading inter-province for a couple of months soon, so that's sad, but i have chicory for a couple of days, which is ameliorating. i want a dog.


Epponnee-Rae said...

ps. i will answer all comments tomorrow. thought it was more important to get a new post out first. now i have to go cook tea.


itchy fingers said...

ooh! please add the grove of big trees and hummingbirds to the list of things i need to do! soooo purty!

Gauri said...

ooh ! you said ameliorating. that's fun.

the natcha pics are beautiful ! i want to see a giant tree !

Epponnee-Rae said...

itchy - you better start checking out maps and buses and stuff, then. anything else around that area you're interested in seeing?

gaurozen - yes. many syllables.

yay for big trees!

grotajira said...

yay for hummingbirds and woodpeckers

have you got a little twitcher notebook? just date and location of sighting - otherwise you will forget - eg, i have a feeling i've seen a hummingbird, but can't remember where - might be written in a travel notebook somewhere - b might remember

sounds like it was a lovely trip

b and i had a money discussion this am - you know what that means - just as well you are 13000(?) km away

anyway, won't get to Van in the next 3 years if we follow our plan (which we hardly ever do)

itchy said...

sounds like you aren't interested in coming there with me. hmmm, not so fun on ones lonesome.