Nicola Naturalist Halloween Outing – Oct 2020

On Saturday 31 October 2020 a small group of Nicola Naturalist Society members participated in a COVID-safe outing to a site near Juliet Creek. Situated just off the Coquihalla Highway, this was a special site that Norm Hansen had discovered. When the Coquihalla Hwy was built more than 35 years ago the engineers designed spawning ponds to enhance the breeding of the Coldwater River salmon. Our outing was to one of these sites, much modified since it was first built.

Our first sight of the spawning ponds near Juliet Creek. Photo: ©Alan Burger
Beautiful calm conditions – a fine fall day to be out in nature. Photo: ©Alan Burger
Chris R. lost no time in looking for interesting plants in the marshy areas. Photo: Alan Burger
Fall is a time for berries – in this case Squashberry or Soopalalie (Shepherdia canadensis). The leaves of the plants have all fallen, leaving the bright red berries to attract passing birds. Photo: ©Alan Burger
A close view of Snowberries (Symphoricarpos albus)
Emergent grasses make a colourful contrast with the green pond. Photo: ©Alan Burger
This American Dipper was sitting mid-pond and singing heartily – an unusual activity for a bird in the fall. But in this case it seems it was trying to deter an intruder into its territory. We watched it chase another Dipper multiple times around the pond. Photo: ©Alan Burger
During most of our visit we could see this Common Merganser diving in the shallow water, seeking small fish – likely juvenile salmon. Photo: ©Alan Burger
Chris L. and Norm exploring. Photo: ©Alan Burger
One of the large beaver lodges in the ponds. Photo: ©Alan Burger
Beavers tend to build dams where there is running water. As a result they block up the channels intended for salmon the access the spawning ponds from the Coldwater River. To try and deter the beavers, the engineers built extensive cages to keep the channels open. Photo: ©Alan Burger
But in many places the beavers have succeeded in damming up the channels intended for fish access. Photo: ©Alan Burger
Evidence of recent beaver activity. Photo: © Alan Burger
Another large beaver lodge in a separate pond. Photo: ©Alan Burger
The Coldwater River runs past the spawning ponds. Photo: © Denise Williams
Alan and Norm on the Coldwater River bank. The trail that is barely visible along the steep bank is part of the Trans Canada Trail. Originally this was a railbed of the Kettle Valley Railroad, but over many decades the river has eroded it all away at this spot. Norm and other volunteers come here every spring to maintain the trail for cyclists and hikers. Photo: © Denise Williams.
Cottonwood trees with glorious golden fall leaves. Photo: ©Alan Burger
An adult Bald Eagle keeping watch over the river from a tall cottonwood tree – already bare of leaves. Photo: ©Alan Burger
And Chris R. still finding interesting plants to photograph – in this case a tiny sedge. Photo: ©Alan Burger

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