Such an amazing variety of animals

Today we watched the harbour seals and Pacific white-sided dolphins in action before exploring the galleries and having a closer look at some of the smaller animals at the Vancouver Aquarium.

There is always so much to see!

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…)

Waiting for the sun to set

After having said goodbye to my in-laws, Marcus and I headed towards Stanley Park’s seawall to take some pictures of Lions Gate Bridge in the setting sun.

While waiting for that to happen, we observed several seagulls and a even duck. A bit later a blue heron came by, too, sat on the seawall, and kept us company.

As is became colder and colder, we just kept walking along the seawall, and took some pictures of the girl in a wetsuit statue – with and without the additional seagull on top of it -, and the empress of japan figurehead while watching the sun set. The houses in North Vancouver and the Lions Gate Bridge had some stunning reflections of the setting sun.

We even waited until it became a bit darker to have an early night picture of Lions Gate Bridge.
I love the bridge day and night, and I try to drive across it whenever possible. It looks especially lovely with its LED lights on.

Anyway, after having spent quite a while at Stanley Park’s seawall, we headed home – via Lions Gate Bridge! – to have a nice hot cup of tea.

Enjoying the rest of the evening in Stanley Park

After some fantastic hours at the Vancouver Aquarium, Marcus and I sat on a bench in Stanley Park, enjoying the remaining minutes of sunshine, watching the nature around, observing the animals, and just relaxing when Arty the Jester came up to us and showed us his newest props. Marcus even took some pictures for him before a family came by and wanted to have their picture taken with Arty the Jester. Arty then made a balloon monkey for the little boy which was really fascinating to watch.

Later on he told us story after story – and we definitely had a lot of fun.
After having said our goodbyes (several times), he gave us a balloon penguin (how appropriate today) and a balloon flower.

Arty the Jester is definitely lots of fun, and boy, can he entertain!

English Bay and Stanley Park

Today we went to Vancouver to spend a whole day there, especially at English Bay and Stanley Park.
First, we strolled along English Bay until English Bay beach where Tom was brave enough to go swimming in the cold Burrard Inlet. Unfortunately, it was low tide so that the water slide was closed.
On our way back we walked along the seawall and admired this rock balancing art by John Shaver who just balances all stones without the use of any glue.

From Second Beach we headed towards the Vancouver Aquarium where we saw our first penguin walk. It was such fun watching those two penguins waddle along. I definitely have to see that again!
On our way to the last show starring Hana and Helen, we had a stop over at the B.C. Sugar Pool to say hi to Jack and Daisy, but only Jack came to the underwater viewing area which was great, nonetheless.
Then it was time to watch Hana and Helen in action – and, unfortunately, their show was over much too soon, as I could watch them for hours and hours…
We then had a quick look at the harbour seals (happily swimming in the water) and Steller sea lions (already dozing – well, one of the girls was, the other one just came out of the water).
And finally, we tried to get some more jellyfish shots to enter the competition with.

Anyway, as it was a really sunny day, we went to Lumberman’s Arch and to the water park close-by where Ben and Tom had lots of fun. A seagull seemed to copy all that behaviour there and went for some fun in the water, too.

Ben and Tom enjoyed this day very much – and so did we!

A relaxing afternoon at Cates Park

We quite spontaneously decided to spend the afternoon in the nature, and Cates Park in North Vancouver is a great location for that, as it offers walking trails in the forest as well as the possibility to stroll along the beach.
The hardest part was finding a parking spot as probably half North Vancouver and surroundings had the same idea, but we were so lucky to get the last spot. Yay!

First we followed the trail until the end of Cates Park, headed down to the beach and enjoyed a leisurely walk back to where we started.
We observed two Canada geese couples swimming in Burrard Inlet and saw a little crab hiding among the little stones. Can you see it? There was also a seagull sitting on a pillar, and I was wondering if it has read the sign that fishing and crabbing are not allowed?

At one point we could see the Second Narrows Bridge (officially the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing) which links North Vancouver with Vancouver – and which we took to get home again. So we had been in three cities today!
Anyway, although we only spent a short time at Cates Park, it was really refreshing, and we enjoyed it a lot.

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 day in Vancouver

Today we went to Vancouver by SkyTrain and decided to walk along the seafront from Burrard SkyTrain station to the Vancouver Aquarium. We could have taken the bus but where is the joy in that?! Besides, we could try and search for a geocache on our way which we finally did find after having come up empty last summer.

As you can see in the pictures, the sky was quite overcast when we started our day’s outing from home but became gradually better and better so that we had lots of sunshine already once we were near the Vancouver Aquarium. On our way there we saw lots of flowers and trees either starting to bloom or in full bloom – simply beautiful!

Once inside the Aquarium, we were greeted by one of the sharks lying on its favourite spot. We then went to see our all-time favourites Daisy and Jack, the harbour porpoises. As it was really busy we had to wait for a while until Jack came down to the observation window to say hi. He even played peek-a-boo with me! A bit later Daisy came by just to say hi shortly and swam back into her favourite corner.

We also went to see the penguins where we love to spot Hope and observe her. Two of her friends even went into the water and had a nice swim. On we went to see Aurora and Qila, the beluga whales, who always glide so gracefully through the water. Katmai and Tanu, the sea otters, were playing, and it was really great to see that Katmai got along so well with her new surrogate mum Tanu.

On our way to the Lost Lagoon we saw a seagull trying to eat a peanut which originally two squirrels were interested in. And you can always see some Canada geese in Stanley Park. This time we spotted some near the seagull and some others near Stanley Park Causeway, probably watching – and counting? – the cars going to Lions Gate Bridge.

Whenever we are in Vancouver, we have to go to the Lost Lagoon, even if it is only for a short time as this is one of our most favourite places. It is like an oasis where we can simply sit and relax and enjoy nature and its wildlife whenever we are there.

Although it is a much longer route, we chose the seafront for our way back to the SkyTrain station where we saw lots of boats and yachts at Coal Harbour – and shortly before getting to the station at Downtown we got a glimpse of Vancouver’s Olympic Cauldron with North Vancouver in the background.

By the way, all in all our little tour turned out to be a 10 kilometre walk – but we had so much fun being outside! And as a special treat we got to see a most beautiful sunset which we could enjoy from our couch back home again.