Vancouver Aquarium, Lost Lagoon and Burnaby sunset

The last day of May promised to be as sunny as a summer’s day – and is there any better way than to spend it at the Vancouver Aquarium?! – So that we did.

On our way there, at Devonian Harbour Park, we saw a Canada geese family with lots of goslings swimming happily together.

Once inside the Vancouver Aquarium, we made a beeline to Jack and Daisy’s habitat, only to see that now there were six female fur seals in. I had never seen any of those before, and they were fun to watch, too.
Jack and Daisy were still in the little dolphin habitat. But the good thing for us was to be able to see them interact with their trainers during one of their training sessions. Jack seemed to respond more to them than Daisy did.
We then walked over to the Steller sea lions and harbour seals to watch an interesting training session with them as well. Vancouver Aquarium interpreter Lauren and both marine mammal trainers Anna and Leonora made this experience very special.
It was the first time that we actually saw all four female Steller sea lions together with their male colleagues, the three harbour seals.
And then it was time to see the dolphins in action. Once again, Lauren very enthusiastically led the audience through the dolphin show in which Hana and Helen had fun interacting with their trainers Anna and Leonora.
When we went to see Elfin, Tanu and Katmai, they all seemed to have a very relaxing day.
Time is always flying by when being at the Vancouver Aquarium, and as it was nearly time to leave, we quickly headed towards Schoona’s habitat which she shares with lots of fish, some sharks and rays. So one of her co-inhabitants is often swimming in front of the lens and trying to sneak into the picture…

Then it was time to say good-bye to all the animals, but surprisingly we saw quite a few different animals on our way home, too.
In Stanley Park, there was this black squirrel sitting in the grass and climbing a tree later, and some turtles were swimming in the Lost Lagoon. There we also saw those huge berries which looked like raspberries, but I looked them up and found out that these are edible salmonberries.
At Devonian Harbour Park we did not only see two geese families, and one of them had twelve (!) goslings, but also some birds. There were a house sparrow, a male red-winged blackbird and a female Red-shafted Northern Flicker. Did you know that these Northern Flickers are the only woodpeckers that frequently feed on the ground? Interesting, eh?
At Cardero Park we also saw a Common Starling, and a bit further away, near the Marina, there was a single duck swimming with its duckling.

Back home in Burnaby, we had a beautiful sunset with great clouds. What a fantastic ending of such an amazing day!

We have been to Alice Lake

Although the weather forecast predicted a 60% chance of rain today, we nevertheless went to Alice Lake Provincial Park, a most beautiful place to spend a day hiking, geocaching and enjoying nature at its best. In summer this is also a great place for swimming, kayaking and relaxing at the beach. We decided to tackle all four lakes which are, by the way, fresh water lakes, and what better way to do so than hiking along this 6 km Four Lakes Trail that covers, as the name says, all four lakes. After having had some lunch at Alice Lake, where there are plenty of picnic benches available, and seeing a Canada geese family with five goslings at the lake, we headed towards Stump Lake where our official walking tour was about to start. Stump Lake had some beautiful yellow water lilies to admire. Besides we saw so-called floating gardens that are made of sphagnum moss and sedge. Those plants anchor to a fallen log, grow out over the surface and then form such floating gardens. Great, eh? On our way to Fawn Lake we passed a wild creek and made our way towards it. Once there we could not only admire the water paving its way along the little stones but also see those beautiful mountains, still covered in snow. From the creek it was back into the wilderness again, and after an uphill hike we could even see it again from above. On our way we saw a Douglas squirrel which, unfortunately, was too fast to get a picture of and a black wild animal. Well, it was not a black bear, but black and wild it was, this black slug… And then it looked as if we had found a moss covered orca in the woods. It really does look like one, doesn’t it? Along the trail we also saw young ferns and some Cornus canadensis or bunchberries which they are called, too, and which are native to Canada. Finally we arrived at Fawn Lake where quite a few people were resting on some logs in front of it – and we had a rest, too, before continuing our hike to Edith Lake. Once there, we saw some anglers trying to catch some fish. From Edith Lake it was another smaller uphill hike before finally getting onto the long downhill walk to Alice Lake where we passed a little creek, crossed a nice little bridge and enjoyed some tiny waterfalls. Just look at the crystal clear water! Then we stopped to admire this beautiful old stump, and from there it was only a very short walk until we reached Alice Lake where we once again sat on one of those picnic benches – in the sun! – to enjoy some afternoon snack before heading back home. Alice Lake itself is also a very stunning place with its beaches, picnic areas, a great playground – and all that surrounded by mountains and forests. Simply beautiful! On our way back home, we decided quite spontaneously to stop at one of those viewpoints along the route and did get a great view of Watts Point (known as Xelxwelítn, meaning Europeans) and Howe Sound. All in all we had a wonderful day hiking along the most beautiful Four Lakes trail where we could walk in the wild, untouched nature and see lots of Pacific red cedars and Douglas firs, among others. And we also found some geocaches hidden along the trail. Anyway, I especially love those moss covered trees and still can’t believe that we are living in the Pacific temperate rain forests with its lush vegetation. We will definitely be back soon.

Jupiter – Venus – Mercury

If we are not mistaken, we saw the planets Jupiter (on the left), Mercury (on the right) and Venus (in the middle) from our living-room for just some minutes before they faded away from our view. That’s impressive, eh?

Jupiter - Venus - Mercury
Jupiter – Venus – Mercury

What a wonderful afternoon in Vancouver

After having not seen them for quite a while, we got to spend some time together with our friends Leanne and Susannah – and what better place to do so than at the Vancouver Aquarium. We are all members and love to come there as often as we can – and although we have probably seen everything more than once already, we are always fascinated by all the animals there, and believe it or not, we feel that there is still so much more to see and experience!

First of all we went to see Jack and Daisy who, unfortunately, were not in their habitat, the B.C. Sugar Pool, but once again in the smaller dolphin habitat. There we could observe a training session with them, and it was really interesting to see how they reacted and interacted with their trainers.

Our second stop was at Elfin’s habitat where he was sleeping. Even that is so cute to watch. His female colleagues Tanu and Katmai were much more active in their habitat. Especially Katmai was so curious that she always looked into our direction even when she was grooming herself. And that was so cute, too!

Next it was Helen and Hana’s turn to shine in their show, and they were especially excited and enjoying themselves a lot today. They showed a lot of jumps this time, and that was really impressive.

Then it was time for the beluga show starring Aurora and her daughter Qila. Our favourite interpretive specialist Lauren once again passionately led the audience through a highly interesting show. It is always amazing to see those huge animals interact with their trainers. A seagull, well, probably the seagull as there is always one on site, sneaked into the programme but flew by and waited at the edge of the habitat.

We then went to Penguin Point where all seven penguins were standing outside. Later they headed over to the other side of their habitat, jumped into the water, swam over, and after a very short swim got out of the water again. Meanwhile a bald eagle flew above the Vancouver Aquarium.

As time was nearly over, we set out for Schoona’s habitat, but when we passed the sea otters’ habitats, we saw that it was feeding time for Elfin who enjoyed his food very much. The funny thing was that Katmai was standing at the glass door of her habitat trying to get some attention – and most likely more food.

I absolutely love those ancient looking creatures, like lizards, tortoises and also sea turtles – and Schoona is really a beautiful specimen. Despite her huge size, she swims so gracefully and seems to ignore all the fish, stingrays and sharks swimming around her.

Well, after we had said our goodbyes to Leanne and Susannah, we headed home, too. On our way along Stanley Park’s seafront we saw a harbour seal looking out of the water – and then it was gone. This was so amazing – coming from the Vancouver Aquarium and having seen the seals there, we suddenly saw one living in the wild just surface out of the blue…

On our way back to Waterfront SkyTrain station we saw such beautiful flowers and simply had to stop to take a picture of them. Don’t those bright red poppies and those red and yellow torch lilies look stunning?
Further on we also observed a blue heron walking along the jetty until it found ‘its’ yacht where it stopped and started to look for its dinner.

This was such an amazing day that simply has to be repeated soon!

We spent a great day in Vancouver

Sunday showed its sunny side so that we couldn’t resist and head out into the sunlight to enjoy a great day in sunny Vancouver.

On our way to Stanley Park we observed one of the blue herons standing in the water near Devonian Harbour Park and trying to catch some food – and that it did! It just seemed as if its food didn’t want to be eaten and tried to seal the blue heron’s bill. After this exciting experience we continued our walk to the Vancouver Aquarium where we couldn’t wait to get inside once again. Well, it was only the second time this week…

We headed to the first sea otters’ habitat where we watched Tanu and Katmai at feeding time. And then we saw that Elfin, the male sea otter, was in his habitat again – happily playing with a red ball. They are all so cute, and I simply can’t get enough observing them.

Then we went on to have a look at Hana and Helen who were happily swimming in their smaller habitat, especially Helen swam around all the time – on her back!
Opposite them the sea lion jumped out of the water while two seals were looking out of the water.

But as huge Jack and Daisy fans we simply had to go down to their underwater viewing area. Surprisingly, Daisy came down this time posing in front of the cameras – just like a little diva, but so super cute! The funny thing was that Jack didn’t come down as long as Daisy was there, instead he hovered nearby observing the situation. It looked like as if he had been parked there.

Then we made our way to the 3:30 pm dolphin show but had to stand in a second row as it was really crowded. As always, you could see that Hana and Helen had great fun during their training session which was commented on very enthusiastically by Lauren, a passionate interpretive specialist for marine mammals at the Vancouver Aquarium. After the show and a little chat with Lauren we went to see Hana and Helen at their underwater viewing area and were amazed how close they swam by.

After having spent some time there, we headed to Aurora and Qila’s underwater viewing area, sat on one of the benches and just watched those beautiful belugas in action.

From there it’s just a little walk to Jack and Daisy’s habitat where we spent the rest of the afternoon playing with Jack (me) – and yes, he came down very often – or taking pictures of him (mostly Marcus, sometimes me as I was busy playing with him…). We were literally the last two persons to leave Jack. Strangely enough he somehow sensed that his fun was over and he stopped playing, and it seemed as if he was saying something like ‘You can’t go now. I’m so cute!’ That was heart breaking…

Anyway, we really had to leave the Vancouver Aquarium and strolled through Stanley Park where we saw two squirrels until we arrived at the Lost Lagoon. There we saw a blue heron, together with two ducks, on one of those logs placed in the Lost Lagoon. After a while a tree swallow landed on a bird house nearby. Of course, the usual Canada geese and seagulls were present, too. And then, just like some days ago, a male red-winged blackbird appeared, quickly followed by a female one.

At Devonian Harbour Park we couldn’t believe our eyes as we saw another pair of black-winged blackbirds there. The Canada geese family and their goslings from last time were swimming on the pond before heading onto land for their lunch or dinner.

As we had to get back to Burrard SkyTrain station, we walked along the seafront, passed the marina and saw two seagulls checking out their seafront property, i.e. this interesting piece of art. A bit further on we also had a great view of the Convention Centre, the sea plane terminal and Vancouver harbour. But we had to get some rest on those lovely benches at Jack Poole Plaza (who can’t resist sitting on those huge benches?) where we could once again enjoy the view of Coal Harbour, Stanley Park, North Vancouver and the mountain range with those funnily shaped mountains.

As you can see, we had a most fantastic day which simply has to be repeated soon!

We just love the Vancouver Aquarium

Although it was already around noon, we decided to head towards Vancouver and spend some time at the Vancouver Aquarium. It is always quite a long walk from the SkyTrain station to Stanley Park, but we don’t mind it at all. Besides, we had our first little stop at Jack Poole Plaza where Vancouver’s Olympic Cauldron and the huge Harbour Spirit Digital Orca by Douglas Coupland (installed in 2010) can be admired. The view of the mountains and North Vancouver there is also spectacular.

On our way to the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park we saw a raccoon on top of a bin – perhaps looking for its lunch?

Once inside the Vancouver Aquarium, we had a short stop at those epaulette sharks which are somehow cute to watch.
On we went to have a look at the sea otters Tanu and Katmai who were in their front habitat again, either relaxing or grooming. Aren’t they just cute?
And then finally, we made our way to Jack and Daisy’s underwater viewing area but, unfortunately, neither of them came down although we were waiting and waiting…
Well, if those harbour porpoises are too busy, what can we do?!
So we just went a little further to the next underwater viewing area and observed Aurora and Qila swimming by.

And then it was time for the dolphin show starring Hana and Helen who were very excited today, jumping out of the water or swimming very fast already – even before they could show their various behaviours during their show. Once again Lauren, a very friendly and enthusiastic interpretive specialist for marine mammals at the Vancouver Aquarium, guided the audience through each and every step of the training session.

On our way back to Jack and Daisy again we passed the sea lion and seal habitat where a sea lion sat on her deck and tried to catch some sun – or so it seemed – and two seals were swimming by very quickly.
Another stop at Penguin Point let us see all seven penguins standing together on one spot, as usual, on their rockwork.

And then, finally, it was Jack and Daisy time! And can you believe it, Jack was in playing mood and came down to the viewing area so often that I was even a little bit exhausted after having played with him for an hour. I really can’t get enough of him, especially as he seems to copy some of my movements. Anyway, he is so cute – and he probably knows it!

Of course, we would have stayed longer but the Vancouver Aquarium closes at 5 pm, and we were literally among the last ones to leave! Just look at those empty spaces there…
However, we had a very quick stop at the epaulette sharks shortly before finally heading out.
But we will be back very soon!

As usual we went to the Lost Lagoon to enjoy the peace and quiet at one of our favourite places. Even our favourite bench was unoccupied so that we could enjoy the swans, ducks, seagulls and Canada geese. Surprisingly, even a male red-winged blackbird came by. I had never seen one at that location before, only at the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary so far.

As an additional bonus we even saw a Canada geese family with their goslings swimming at the pond at Devonian Harbour Park.

Well, after such an exciting but also a little bit exhausting day, we just needed some relaxation time at those huge benches at Jack Poole Plaza with breathtaking views of either downtown Vancouver, Lord Stanley Park or North Vancouver, the sea plane terminal in the foreground and the mountains in the background. What a beautiful place to live in!

And to top it off, this wonderful day full of sunshine ended with a great sunset back home in Burnaby.

A reddish sky at sunset

It is always fascinating to see how fast clouds are moving so that the sky looks different all the time, especially when dark clouds are involved.

 

We went to the Vancouver Aquarium – once again

Well, we had to leave our apartment building as plumbing repairs were planned – and what better place to spend the day than at the Vancouver Aquarium?

So off we went taking the SkyTrain to get into Vancouver and then walking along the waterfront to finally reach the Vancouver Aquarium where we first of all went to see… well, you have certainly guessed it correctly, Jack and Daisy. Jack was in his habitat, but where was Daisy? A short walk confirmed that she was still in the smaller dolphin habitat waiting to get over to Jack again. After a while we could even see Vancouver Aquarium staff getting Daisy ready for her transfer to their harbour porpoise habitat. Once there, Daisy was greeted by Jack, and we could see them swimming happily together.

Of course, we went to see Hana and Helen who definitely had fun during their show presented by Lauren, a very passionate interpretive specialist for marine mammals at the Vancouver Aquarium, whereas the two Steller sea lions opposite were making loud noises.
After some play time, Tanu and Katmai were holding paws and resting on the water.
We did not realize how fast time flew by so that we were among the last persons leaving the Aquarium before closing time. This only gave us the chance to have a last glimpse at one of the epaulette sharks.

Outside the Vancouver Aquarium we enjoyed a lovely stroll through Stanley Park where we watched some Canada geese and later on a raccoon climbing onto a container (although it really looks like a cat with a bushy tail, doesn’t it?).

At the Lost Lagoon we sat down on a bench, enjoyed the sunshine and watched the wildlife around us.

Then it was time to head home, once again walking along Vancouver’s waterfront where this time we could see various ships in front of the mountains. And we appreciated, as so often, what beautiful place on earth we are living on.

Vancouver Aquarium – here we come

Finally we found some time to hop onto the SkyTrain and go to Vancouver where we wanted to visit our favourite animals at the Vancouver Aquarium again.

On the way there along the waterfront we had a short stop at Cardero Park where we admired those huge tulips and all the other beautiful flowers.

Inside the Aquarium we first of all headed to Jack and Daisy but we only found their empty habitat which had to be cleaned. Fortunately, we could still have a look at them as they were swimming in the smaller dolphin habitat (without the dolphins, of course!).
Hana and Helen were quite active, and we were observing them in the underwater exhibit and later during one of their great shows where they showed us a lot of their activities.
By the way, near the dolphin habitat there is this huge native art salmon which looks pretty good.
Of course, we did not forget to visit the penguins with Hope, our favourite one, and went on to see Tanu and Katmai who were rafting together. That was so cute!

On our way home we went through Stanley Park (where we found another geocache – yay!) and then simply had to take the detour to the Lost Lagoon from where we went to see Ted and Mary Greig Rhododendron Garden (named after them as they donated so many plants to Stanley Park). And this is such a beautiful place, especially now that the rhododendrons are in full bloom.

At the Coal Harbour Community Centre we saw those huge tulips (most of them still in the sun) – and I had to take some pictures with them, the marina and Vancouver’s waterfront.

Once again, we had a most beautiful and sunny day at Vancouver, and we will be back soon.