Archive for the ‘Environmental’ Category

Celestial News and happenings in April 2014

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Full Lunar Eclipse
On April 15th the majority of North America will be treated to a spectacular full Lunar eclipse, this occurs when the Earth passes between the Moon and the Sun.

The viewing time for this celestial treat will occur at a reasonable hour for once – so for us Vancouverites here in Sunny Canada will be able to watch the show from from the start time at 9.55pm when the Earth’s shadow begins to darken the moon. Totality occurs 12.08am – this is by far the most breathtaking moment to witness – the Moon will darken a-lot but will glow with a deep dark red colour as the Earth still reflects the Suns Rays – seeing the Earth eclipse the Sun from the Moons vantage point you would be treated to a darkened globe of the earth with a red fiery Halo circling the earth – which really is an infinite image of the Sun rise and Sun set- quite an awesome trick of the light.

Totality ends at 12.46am as the deep red glow moves over so you just have a more darkened disc of the moon as the larger earth shadow still prevents the full light from the sun penetrating the Lunar landscape. The whole spectacle will all be over by 3.36am. This event is quite a long one as we are luckily enough to be in the direct path of the full eclipse.

This event is also a little rare as it is the first of three Full Eclipses that will happen between now and September 2015. This series is known as a Tetrad of eclipses. The next full eclipse in our part of the world will happen again on October 8th 2014.

For further information on future events: http://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/in/canada/vancouver

Other Celestial events this month to watch for.
Planet Mars at opposition.
Carrying on with the Red colour – the month of April also marks the best time to witness the Red planet Mars which sits at opposition where our planet Earth sits directly between the Red Planet and the Sun – this gives us the best viewing of Mars in a couple of years, it will rise at Sunset and set when the Sun rises and should be easily visible in the night sky the whole night!

For further details on the oppsotion of Mars click here: http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2014/28mar_opposition/

April 22, 23 – Lyrids Meteor Shower.

These may not be the strongest of Meteor showers, but with patience you may get to see some pretty bright streaks across the sky, especially if you are in a location that is away from the bright street lights.
These showers happen every April as the Earth swings around the Sun on its orbit and during this part of the year it passes through the dust trail once left by the long-period Comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher.

The actual event lasts around a week – but the dates of April 22 and 23rd will be the peak times to watch the show.

For further information on the Lyrids:
http://www.astronomynow.com/news/n1204/19lyrids/

Airing on right now is a great TV show called COSMOS which is a reworking of the original TV series from 1980 that was concieved by Carl Sagan – the new updated version is now airing every Sunday and presented by Neil Tyson Degrasse

Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey Link: http://www.cosmosontv.com/

If Science and Space is your cup of tea then you really should be heading to Telus World of Science aka Scienceworld and the H.R. Macmillan Space museum.

Telus World of Science http://www.scienceworld.ca/

H.R. Macmillan Space museum. http://www.spacecentre.ca/

In just a matter of weeks the Bears begin to wake up from their hibernation.

Friday, March 21st, 2014

When you come to visit British Columbia you are not only visiting some incredible terrain that encompasses impressive mountains, deserts and a stunning coastline, you are also visiting Bear country.

BC is home to the most populous of bears in all of Canada, roughly half of all Black Bears and Grizzly Bears that are in Canada actually reside in BC, in fact, the majority of the world’s Grizzlies live in Russia and this corner of Canada and of course neighbouring Alaska.
If you are thinking of coming to visit this part of the world at the end of Spring and into Summer, than there is a very good chance you will get to see some of these stunning creatures as they forage for food after their long slumber. These bears will be mighty hungry and probably looking a little thin due to their long period of inactivity.

The bears typically are in deep hibernation during the dark winter months of November and April, it is not the same sleeping time for all the bears as this depends on their location and habitat, that will dictate the length of rest they need to undertake, for example, the bears that live on Vancouver Island and the more southerly coasts of BC will likely have a shorter hibernation period, this is due to the weather not being half as cold or severe and therefore food is more accessible for a longer period of time.

The Hibernation process for the bears is quite an incredible feat. The bears generally make Dens within or close to trees, leading up to the hibernating time the bears will eat as much food as they can so they can pack on the weight so they are able to shut down for the winter. Many of the bears will not even eat, drink, urinate or defecate for a few months and their heart rate can even drop as much as 50 beats a minute to as little as just 10 beats, (which seems pretty crazy), so of course their oxygen intake will drop dramatically and they will likely lose around at least a quarter of their weight due to abstinence of eating and drinking, which again seems crazy, but that is how these creatures roll!!!!

So come May and certainly June and July the bears will likely be out in force ready to fill their hungry bellies on Berries, Salmon and whatever else they can get to sustain themselves. As these are quite cute looking we must also take due care as these creatures as cute as they maybe are an apex predator and all due respect must be given to them, so we advise that if you want to witness the bears in their natural habitat, there are some tours that will specifically help you out with that.

Watching Bears in the wild – Tour Operators
The habitats of the bears in the wild is actually surprisingly close to us, from the North shore mountains of North and West Vancouver you are beginning to live in bear country. If anything, we have been imposing ourselves to their homes hence the reason we see them wandering around the north shore suburbs! So there are a few ways that you can see the bears in person….

Grouse Mountain – Vancouver
A popular destination just a 45 minute journey from downtown Vancouver – in the summer months this is a great place to visit for incredible scenery, hikes and more……they are also home to a couple of bears in their long term home, the poor things are not fit to live in the wild, so they now reside at the top of Grouse mountain quite literally living the high life!
Website: http://www.grousemountain.com

Ocean Adventures Charter Co – North Vancouver
These guys will get you to see the very best that the wilderness has to offer in this part of the world, from Bears to Whales and awe-inspiring First Nations culture, amidst BC’s most spectacular landscapes.
Website: http://www.oceanadventures.bc.ca

Whistler Discovery Tours – Whistler
‘Exclusive Land Rover Excursions’. Our year-round scenic private/semi-private eco-tours will take you to areas rarely seen by most Whistler visitors: Morning/Evening with the Bears, Ancient Rainforest/Eagle Viewing Experience, Hidden Glacier Lake Hike/Snowshoe.
Website: http://www.whistlerdiscoverytours.com

Spring time in Vancouver – Part 1…Gorgeous Wildlife and Plantlife

Monday, February 24th, 2014

For many of us who live in Vancouver the Season of Spring is by far one of the best, with the longer days becoming more noticeable and the weather slowly but surely warming it is a time where the city and nature start to wake from the long long nights of Winter.

There are many reasons to come to Vancouver between March and June not just because is it still a relatively cheaper time to stay in the city. The tourist season will generally start to really kick into gear during the latter half with the volume of Cruise Ships increasing, Spring break and so on, so if crowds are not your thing then very likely this season should really appeal to you as the city is not too too busy.

Many of us love Vancouver in the Spring for one thing overall and that is for the blooming of the plants and the explosion of colour because of this. As the leaves begin to unfold and the increase of the local wildlife who are during their rounds, where they will be getting ready for the mating season and need to fill their hungry bellies – so much to choose from that will no doubt grab your interest.

We will break down this blog into 2 parts so that there is something for everyone to be interested in, and, as always we will have further blogs that will keep you up to date on all the major events over the coming months.

CLIMATE
The Climate in Vancouver is very well known as soggy, mild with lots of rain! However, this year has been different, admittedly this particular Winter has not played ball as normal as it has been predominantly dry, it has had the odd blast of the Arctic air licking our shores (albeit brief) and its snowing as I type so we are still reminded that it is still the Winter season.

It has also been a remarkably sunny winter so therefore that means it has been very very dry. This area of the world is known as a temperate Rain-forest and we do normally average quite a few inches of rain each month during November and May respectively, in fact, the crazy weather that has been occurring in Europe and more specifically the UK is what we would call typical. So in a year that has been anything but normal we have to admit – it has has been quite nice to be able to get outdoors when we normally bunker down.

So what remains for the rest of 2014? Of course we will never really know, but many are predicting that it could be a year when we may get water advisories due to the lack of the precipitation, it could also mean that for all the visitors coming here in the Spring and Summer it could very well be an outstanding season to come. Meteorologists who are looking at the El Nino and La Nina fluctuations in the Pacific are seeing a possible transition to a mild El nino pattern which we has not been present in the last few years, if and a big if as always this is the case, this area of the world could expect a dry and warmer pattern -top that with the effect of this dry winter Summer 2014 may seem warmer than usual, only time will tell.

Spring in Vancouver is typically changeable with the rains becoming more showery with the odd brief cold spell, there is always an outside chance that snow may fall even as late as the end of March and at a push April – due to its topsy turvy nature, either way the great thing about Vancity is that you can get some late season skiing in on the slopes and then come back down to earth for a nice stroll down the beach – the Sun is starting to have an influence so it may be pleasent and warm down at sea level. In turn that means the world around us is waking up so the next section will explain about the blooming of the Plants and what wildlife to expect here.

TREES AND PLANTS
It is fair to say that the Spring season is one of the most colourful and stunning of all seasons and in Vancouver it is very visible- what you will also notice is the many varieties of Plant-life that hail from areas such as the Far East Asia with the main feature dominating are the Cherry Blossoms, they seriously show off what they have got especially during late April and May – there is a great Festival and Website that is dedicated to the Cherry Blossoms it gives you a comprehensive guide as to where the blooms are occurring around the city, what kind of blossoms they are, and what to expect over the next few weeks as they progress.
A major highlight of the Cherry Blossom blooms are the trees that line the square at Burrard Street Skytrain station – here there are so many Blossoms in bloom that they create a stunning pink and white canopy ceiling above you, its gorgeous.

Although the Cherry blossoms tend to take the most accolades in the area there are more amazing plants and trees to check out.

Cherry Blossom Festival: http://www.vcbf.ca/

Deciduous Trees
Vancouver is also home to some pretty stunning Deciduous trees in the area and in the Spring they really show off the very best of their Spring Blooms, trees such as Magnolia Vulcan this tree dazzles with a brilliant ruby-red 20-cm flowers. It thrives in every soil type and has sturdy upright growth. You can find this on the Corner of Beach Ave and Burrard St nearby, Magnolias are found all throughout the West End and vary in size and shapes.
Found all over but you can see it in the Rose Garden in Stanley Park The Prunus ‘Akebono’ (ornamental cherry) its pink blossom slowly turn to a soft pink-white from mid-March to early April.

Just around the corner from us is a wonderful Magnolia tree that is getting ready to put on its own Spring show, take a left turn from the Hotel and Burnaby Street onto Thurlow St and you will see this gorgeous tree!

WILDLIFE and STANLEY PARK
Spring is also the season when you notice the influx of the migrating birds and of course the critters that are now waking up from their deep winter slumber.
We recommend that when you do visit the parks (Its our stunning oasis in the city) we really do encourage you to keep your eyes peeled as there is plenty of wildlife to spot on the ground and in the skies.

The Great Blue Herons.
These majestic creatures have made a small area in Stanley Park their natural home for nesting and it is in surprisingly large numbers – it seems that in many other areas of the world the Herons are found to be dwindling in numbers, thankfully this is not the case in Vancouver, we hope that this is a healthy continuing trend.
During March we will see the return of the male Herons, the best place to see them are down by the Tennis Courts on Beach Avenue (Which is not too far a walk from the Sunset) the male herons will return to their designated nests where they will hope to attract the females whom arrive a short while later.

Once they do arrive the usual courtship ritual begins, you can spot this when the couples are in their nests and will cross their bills regularly, together they help maintain their nests (some return to the existing ones and like to modernise and spruce them up too).
Come the end of April and early May you will start to see the chicks hatching from their nests, it is quite a sight to see. At the last count there are around 165 to 170 nests, this location has been a regular home since 1921 there were many nests across the creek in Vanier Park, but now, only a handful remain.

Heron Colony of Stanley Park: http://www.greatervancouverparks.com/StanleyHeronColony01.html

Here is a video of the Herons in the Park
Blue Herons of Vancouver

The Elusive Coyote
Coyotes breeding season occurs from January through April and there is always a chance that you will catch a quick glance of them as Spring progresses to Summer. Cubbing season will be well under way by then so the Coyotes will be busy looking for food not only for themselves but for their new offspring too. If you do manage to see them – just let the Coyotes be, they may look a little under nourished but don’t be tempted to feed them as these critters are more than capable and happy to forage by themselves.
An interesting fact about the Coyotes, they were introduced into Vancouver in the 1980s and very quickly established themselves into the urban setting. They are a little fearful of humans when they are not treated or respected as the animals that they are, however, this is not a cause for alarm, just leave them be and they will carry on their merry way as long as they are not distracted – it is not unusual to find them wandering the street or even venturing deeper into the city, Coyotes live where ever they can get comfortable, they only make Dens for the purpose of bringing up the cubs, otherwise, leaves and shrubs will be more than fine for a home sweet home.

Living with Coyotes: http://stanleyparkecology.ca/conservation/co-existing-with-coyotes/

Migrating Birds
A sure sign of Spring is the sound of the Birds that are making their way around the globe and at this time of year start to make their presence known in the city, this is really noticeable by their chirping, whistles and regular songs that become more and more familiar, and of course the plumage, they really do begin to get more and more colourful!
The birds that arrive come in all shapes and sizes of course and there are far too many to mention here, but we will note a few to look out for, and please click on the link below so you can read in depth of the many other species not mentioned here. Keep an eye out for Hawks, Bald Eagles, Chickadees, Hummingbirds and of Canada Geese – easily spotted by their famous flying V formation!

A cool occurrence that happens everyday is when the Species of Gulls and Crows make their way home to their respective nests and roosts, if you look up at the skies roughly an hour before and up to Sunset you may get to witness a very large Murder of Crows heading east to their roosting spot in Burnaby, its is quite a sight to see – at the very same time, you will see the Gulls making their way home from inland out to the coast where their nests are.

Birds of Vancouver: http://birdvancouver.com/blog_april12.html

Exploring Stanley Park. Part 1. Landmarks of the Park

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

Stanley Park truly is the jewel in the crown in the city of Vancouver – it is located right next to our district of the West End with Downtown Vancouver nestled by its side. On August 24th and 25th the park will be celebrating its 125th birthday and there will be plenty of celebrations to mark this occasion. Please check our website for upcoming details of the events as and when they will be announced. We will be writing a series of blogs so are up to speed with everything you need to know about this beautiful destination.

The park is pretty big, in fact, it is roughly the same size as the downtown core of the city itself with the sea wall encircling the outside perimeter of the park at a distance of around 10km. It can easily be explored in a few days if you wish to really look at what this stunning park has to offer. We will like to highlight the very best that Stanley Park has to offer, so let us guide you around so you know what to do once you come by and visit.

LANDMARKS OF STANLEY PARK
There are many notable landmarks to visit in the park that are full of art and natural areas of interest.

Lost Lagoon
The Lost Lagoon is an important area that has a major influence on the local ecosystem and biodiversity in the park, it was formerly a tidal mudflat until the Stanley park causeway was built through the middle of the park – now it is a body of freshwater that acts as a natural filtration system in the park. The flora and fauna is very rich around the lagoon and you will be mesmerized by the fantastic colours of the plant life. The animals that live here are quite diverse too, the lagoon is a natural sanctuary for a wide variety of species.

Beaver Lake
Found in the very middle of the park like a small oasis away from the main drag, this is an area that is a peaceful, tranquil spot that is great to just drift away and reflect.
Like the Lost lagoon, Beaver Lake serves a purpose for natural biodiversity and if you like Ducks, well there are plenty of species to take a look at.
The lake is actually rapidly disappearing due to human influences around the park and overtime has been filling up with sediment – conservationists are working very hard to try and save the lake from filling up altogether.

For further information on the Stanley Park ecology plans – please click here: http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/stanley-park-ecological-action-plan-01102011.pdf

Hollow Tree
One of the most significant landmarks in the park and has also been at the center of controversy over the years regarding whether or not the tree should be left alone or removed.
The tree is the remnants of the stump from a 700 year old Cedar tree and has been wowing people for many many years, it become a major feature by tourists since the park opened way back in 1888.
In 2006, Stanley park was seriously damaged by a major windstorm that swept across Vancouver and in the process felled many of the trees in the park along its western flank – many parts of the park were damaged as well as the sea wall which had to undergo major reconstruction. The hollow tree itself became very very unstable after the wind storm and many of the soils around the tree rapidly eroded.

Siwash Rock
35 Million years in the making this is a stunning beacon of a natural geological process on the western side of the park along the seawall.
Standing at a height of 18 metres tall (60 feet) the rock which is known as a basalt stack and is the remnants of magma that was forced up to the surface through a fissure from a volcanic dyke. It is a symbolic relic that has been ingrained in indigenous folklore. It is believed that the rock was a man who was transformed into rock “as an indestructible monument to Clean Fatherhood.”

Prospect Point
By far one the best vantage points to view the stunning scenery from Stanley Park of the North Shore, the Burrard inlet and English Bay.
There is also a cute cafe at the point so you can soak up the views and have a bite to eat while you are there.

For further information on the park: http://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/stanley-park-125.aspx

STANLEY PARK is 125 years old in AUGUST!

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

HAPPY BIRTHDAY STANLEY PARK!

Stanley park truly is the Jewel in the crown of Vancouver and a beautiful reminder of what Vancouver used to look like before the city itself was born and developed.
2013 is the official 125th birthday of the park and we want to tell you what is happening for this special occasion and what you should see when you get to the park itself.

For further information as more events unfold, please ‘LIKE’ our Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/SunsetInnVancouver?ref=tn_tnmn

Stanley Park is Vancouver’s largest and very first urban park – it is nestled as a green oasis between the downtown peninsula of Vancouver and is connected via the famous and iconic Lions Gate Bridge that forms the artery between the cities of North & West Vancouver and the park over the Burrard Inlet waterway.

Aside from Granville Island the Park is one of the main attractions when visitors come to Vancouver, easily up to 8 million people take their time to experience the Sea Wall, lake, cafes and trails.

CELEBRATE! STANLEY PARK
Bring your family and friends to Celebrate! Stanley Park, on the weekend of August 24 & 25, to celebrate Stanley Park’s 125th anniversary. This event will feature live music and performances, ecological and historical talks and tours and more!

Like the official FACEBOOK page and keep up to date with what will be happening in Stanley Park during August so you are more than ready to join in with the festivities.
https://www.facebook.com/CelebrateStanleyPark?fref=ts

PLACES OF INTEREST IN STANLEY PARK
Here is our best of pick of what to see in the park.

SEAWALL
One of the most stunning seawalls around and its pretty big 8.8km around the park itself – it is ideal for a gentle stroll as there are no hills, or for a good hearty run and bike ride- which we highly recommend. BIKE RENTALS see English Bay Bike Rentals - http://www.englishbaybikerentals.com/

VANCOUVER AQUARIUM
A fantastic Aquarium that has various rotating exhibitions throughout the year, the current exhibition is showcasing the world of Jellyfish. The most popular exhibits are the performing Beluga Whales and Otters. You will also be educated about the local ecology of the surrounding waters here.

WEBSITE http://www.vanaqua.org/
FACEBOOK https://www.facebook.com/vanaqua?fref=ts

SECOND BEACH POOL
One of the most popular and pretty large open air swimming pools, it is heated and has fantastic views of English Bay.

http://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/second-beach-pool.aspx

THE BROCKTON POINT LIGHTHOUSE
Located at the North east end of the Park, the lighthouse is close to the location of the 9 o clock Gun that is fired everyday at…you guessed it 9pm!

GIRL IN THE WETSUIT – Located close to Brockton point, this is a quirky gem, a cute statue located on one of the boulders at the beach, at high tide it looks like she is floating on the rock.

TOTEM POLES
Located at the North East of the Park – the totem poles are a colourful reminder of the history of the Coast Salish First Nations and the lands that Stanley Park is located upon.

As the summer progresses and we get ever closer to the birthday of this stunning Park, we will be blogging about various other sites of interest in the park, this should enable you to really get stuck in and really discover where all these sites are, there is a lot to see in Stanley Park and all have their special place and story to be told.

DIRECTIONS TO STANLEY PARK
http://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/directions-to-stanley-park.aspx

Vancouver has been nominated as Earth Hour Capital 2013

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

Vancouver is now proud to be awarded the accolade of The Earth Capital of 2013 due to its ongoing efforts to become a greener and more sustainable city in an ever changing climate. This has come in time for the annual Earth Day celebrations that will be happening this Saturday around the world.

http://www.earthday.ca/pub/

This coming weekend is the annual Earth Day – Earth Hour celebrations – this year, the city of Richmond to the south of Vancouver will be host to celebrate this in festival fashion for the 7th year of this occasion. If you decide to bring the family down, you will be entertained with Live music, environmental exhibits, art, dancing, food and much much more…

http://www.hellobc.com/servicefelisting/all-events/4549664/earth-day-celebration-richmond.aspx?KWDS=&LOCID=646&NBY=True&FLID=646&PN=2

Vancouver has a rich history steeped in environmentalism and it makes sense that this city would be so, just by taking a look at the local surroundings – there is a great appreciation of the land it resides in and the importance of retaining each and every ecosystem that is interwoven to each other, this is what puts Vancouver in the driving seat for the cause. The climate and geography of the area is rich in abundance of some incredible species of wildlife and plant-life with areas of special significance that is unique to us alone.

Vancouver is home to some major organizations that are now world renowned for their efforts in conservation, please take a look at some of the links below if you are interested in this.

GREENPEACE
Most of us know who Greenpeace are.
Founded in Vancouver on September 15th, 1971, Greenpeace has grown to become the world’s largest, independent environmental organization.

http://www.greenpeace.org

THE DAVID SUZUKI FOUNDATION
David Suzuki is one of the most influential persons to come from Vancouver when it comes to working within the environmental cause. The David Suzuki foundation was created in 1990 and it has grown steadily to be quite a force to be reckoned with. Its primary goal is to bring awareness to the masses of the environmental battle and to create a sustainable practice that will conserve the environment while working with Government, local business and individuals through Scientific research.

http://www.davidsuzuki.org

THE LAND CONSERVANCY
The Land Conservancy is a non for profit charitable land trust that works to preserve and protect lands of significant importance through the process of acquisition.
TLC are modeled after The National Trust in Britain, it is the only organization of is kind that recognizes the importance of the wilderness around us in BC and will do all it takes to enable long term protection of these important land masses that require extensive conservation.

http://blog.conservancy.bc.ca/