A sunny afternoon at Whytecliff Park

The sun was shining; we definitely needed some time off, and so we went to Whytecliff Park in the hope to see some harbour porpoises – or at least one.

Well, we did not see a single one but we saw lots of harbour seals, popping their heads out of the water.
And we saw several birds flying by.

The most amazing bird we saw, however, was a tiny Anna’s hummingbird sitting on a tree.
I felt extremely lucky to get a picture of this little one. And then the sun shone directly onto it, and its head and throat turned into a bright red. I could not believe my eyes. Just gorgeous!

So much to see at the Reifel Bird Sanctuary

Finally, after many attempts, we had found some time to visit the George C. Reifel Bird Sanctuary in Delta. And we were so lucky with the weather. Though it was quite cold, the sun and the excitement to see so many birds kept us warm.

While walking along the many beautiful paths, we encountered so many ducks in and out of the water, heard a lot of birds singing, saw some of them, too, and discovered some sandhill cranes hiding in the marsh.

One of the many amazing moments was when red-breasted nuthatches, black-capped chickadees and even the larger red-winged blackbirds ate some bird seeds right out of our hands.

After we had seen sandhill cranes hiding in the grass, we were pleasantly surprised to see them wade through the water and come out of it right in front of us. That was such an amazing experience to see those large birds up close.

And to top all this, we saw a flock of what seemed to be several hundreds of lesser snow geese fly by and land in the marshlands a bit further away. That was such an impressive sight!

We had a fantastic day, and we will definitely be back – hopefully next spring when we might get to see the ducklings.

Exploring VanDusen

After so many rainy days we headed to the VanDusen Botanical Garden to enjoy some time outdoors and especially to get a glimpse of the remaining autumn leaves there.

We came fully prepared with our rubber boots and rain gear – and we definitely needed the boots, especially while walking around all the maple leaves.

Luckily for us, the sun was out all the time so that we could happily explore the garden and, of course, walk on the boardwalk (did I mention that I love boardwalks?!), admiring the various plants, flowers, trees and their autumn leaves which had such magnificent colours.

A beaver at Lost Lagoon

When we were walking around Lost Lagoon, we saw a lot of wildlife.
There were squirrels, a red-winged blackbird, a towhee, wood ducks and mallards, mute swans, seagulls, blue herons, Canada geese and their goslings – and a beaver. Never before had we seen a beaver at Lost Lagoon, so that was really exciting. At first we only saw a branch in the water, but it was moving on its own; so that could not be happening, right – and then we saw the beaver dragging the branch along. Amazing, eh?

We had a fantastic evening stroll around Lost Lagoon, and we should definitely spend more time there…

Third, Stanley Park

After having said goodbye to my in-laws, Marcus and I went down to Stanley Park’s seawall to enjoy fantastic views in the remaining sunlight on this beautiful day.

The Canada geese were busy picking in the grass whereas the seagulls were having a blast flying above the water and landing on it again while being very noisy.

We could also admire the amazingly coloured autumn leaves that have such luscious colours – even if there is no direct sunlight.

(to be continued…)

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 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.

Gastown, Lost Lagoon and Second Beach

Once again we used the SkyTrain to get to Vancouver, and this time we went to the terminus station Waterfront from where we headed towards Gastown, named after ‘Gassy’ Jack Deighton who opened a saloon in that area from which Vancouver evolved. Of course, we had to have a look at its famous Steam Clock which, by the way, is also featured on the artwork to Nickelback’s album ‘Here and Now’.

On our way to the Lost Lagoon we stopped to see the Olympic flames which are impressive indeed.

When we arrived at the Lost Lagoon, we did not only see nature in its full bloom but also animals in abundance. There were Canada geese, blue herons, raccoons, spotted towhees, chickadees, turtles, ducks and swans – all living there in harmony. I just love this place and never tire of coming back to it again and again.

From there it’s just a little walk to Second Beach which we saw at low tide – for the first time. We enjoyed the sun and had our first ice cream there. Yummy!

After having spent an amazing day outdoors, we headed towards the SkyTrain station where an enormous amount of cherry blossoms greeted us. What a wonderful outing!

Visit to the Vancouver Aquarium and the Lost Lagoon

Having escaped the never-ending construction work at our building, we ended up at the Vancouver Aquarium where we – once again – visited Jack (who wasn’t much in a playing mode, unfortunately) and Daisy. The bunch of penguins were quite entertaining, too, with Hope trying to stand closest to the door (feeding time perhaps?). After going to see Schoona, Hana and Helen, Qila and Aurora, and of course Tanu and Elfin we had a walk along English Bay and then headed to the Lost Lagoon, one of our most favourite places in Vancouver – and it was partly frozen so that loads of ducks and two swans were gathering around or were even in the water hole.

Anyway, it was a lovely day – and when we were home we enjoyed a nice cuppa in a very quiet building as the construction workers had left for the day.

Impressions of Cates Park and Sunset in Burnaby

I just wanted to add some more pictures to Marcus’s post about our walking tour around Cates Park earlier today which we enjoyed very much, especially as the sun was shining on an otherwise rather cold day.

On our walk we saw a squirrel sunbathing – the perfect opportunity to take a picture! Of course, we saw seagulls and ducks as well.

Back home we had a nice hot cuppa and enjoyed the sunset from our couch.