Posts Tagged ‘crows’

Exploring Vancouver’s West End. Part 3. Beaches and Seawall.

Monday, April 14th, 2014

On Sunday evening the skies were clear and you could feel the warmth of Spring in the air, the breeze had a slight chill to it but nothing to make you uncomfortable or ruin the moment. It was the perfect evening to catch the Sunset at one of the beaches that hug the Seawall around the West End.

Beaches of the West End
Walk westbound for around 10 to 15 minutes down the hill on Davie Street and you will reach the western boundary of the West End district – here you will be greeted by the very popular English Bay Beach and the entrance to Stanley Park with the gorgeous Lost Lagoon dividing suburbia and nature – read our next Blog installment on the West End and we have more to say about the Lagoon.

As the Sun was setting on Sunday April 14th there were many many people who were gathering at the English Bay to see it, we were at the peninsula where the stunning Inukshuk is standing – which is an excellent area to watch the Sun set. The waters of English bay were quite calm and had a stunning metallic gold shimmer with dashes of blue reflecting from the stunning blue skies above. As the Sun was setting the crowds had swollen in size and there were lots of cheering and drumming as the spectacle came to its finale!


Photo courtesy of Kyle Pearce at Unifiedstream – visit their site at http://www.unifiedstream.com/

Inukshuk Monument at English Bay
Standing by the Inukshuk you really get to see the beauty that this city has to offer and also the realisation of what a wonderfully cute area that the West End is, the location of the Sunset Inn and Suites hotel is indeed a prime spot for us and our guests.
The Inukshuk itself looks very majestic overlooking the ocean and the North Shore mountains as a great backdrop, it is a great opportunity for some incredible photographic shots and memories of your stay in Vancity. It is also one of the most recognised landmarks in this part of the world and is a symbolic representation for the First Nations peoples and adopted for the Winter Olympic Games of 2010. Traditionally the Inukshuk were used as markers for a point of reference when navigating the land especially during hunting in the more northern climes of Canada- they were also used as Sign posts for settlements in the area.

Click Inukshuk and you will see a great video on the meaning of this symbolic monument is.

Looking at the map, you will find the Inukshuk is located at the South Side of English Bay at the mouth of False Creek – our Hotel is at the same spot marked where the HI Hostel is..

The Seawall
The Seawall is one of the most walked, run and biked paths in Vancouver and at 22km long it encompasses Stanley Park, and much of the Downtown peninsula with a plethora of sights to absorb and photograph- one things for sure you will certainly remember this part of your visit.

Balancing Rocks
We suggest that you walk from English Bay back South to South East where you start to follow the seawall along the opening of False Creek towards Burrard Bridge and Granville Island, along this path you will come across some really cool Rock structures balanced on the large boulders and rocks embedded among the pebbles and sand.
Everywhere you go along the beaches in Vancouver, if there are rocks, there are likely to be plenty that are balancing on top of each other, and as much as you may believe that they are glued on, well, you will be wrong, the glue that is holding them together is quite literally the natural force of gravity and the awesome art of balance!

Rock Pools and Sandy Beaches at Sunset Beach.
Further along the Sea Wall you will notice that there are more options to hang out at the waters edge, here the rocks make way for Sandy beaches and large Logs that have been lined up for you to hang out and have a picnic. This is called Sunset Beach the hotels namesake and is the quieter option in comparison to the popular English Bay.
As the Rockier beaches transition to more Sandy style beaches you can easily explore the area with your family, just be mindful of the tides of course. Along the beaches you can come across some cool Rock Pools and see some smaller fish, crabs and all varieties of colour from the Seaweed and Algae that adorn the rocks and pebbles. It is also a great area to watch all the local Birds such as Geese, Gulls, Crows and the majestic Herons, if you have a really keen eye, you may even catch a glimpse of a Seal popping its head up from the water…

Events that are best seen from Sunset Beach and English Bay during the Summer
There are lots of events that happen in Vancouver throughout the year, here we will highlight a couple of the major events that come to our neck of the woods.

Celebration of Light Fireworks Display.
These Fireworks come to Vancouver every single year and draw in very large crowds of locals and tourists alike every year, the display is a competition that travels the world each year and our turn comes at the end of July and the beginning of August – the masses love to get their prime seat down at English Bay, but for us, we feel that Sunset Beach will do the job and is quieter too, so if you do not like the crowds – Sunset Beach it is!
Celebration of Light: http://hondacelebrationoflight.com/

Pride Parade and Festival.
Davie Village which is adjacent to the Hotel is home to the Gay District of Vancouver so naturally that means we have fun with the annual Gay Pride Parade. This event always happens on the final weekend of the Celebration of Light fireworks.
The Parade winds it way from Robson St through to Denman where the procession ends at Sunset Beach and then the party truly begins!
Vancouver Pride Parade: https://vancouverpride.ca/

For further information on other Vancouver Top Attractions – click here: http://www.sunsetinn.com/leisure/attractions

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 3. Wildlife of Stanley Park

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Stanley park will be celebrating its 125th birthday in August, we are writing about the highlights in a series of blogs leading up the special celebrations on August 24th & 25th 2013.

In our continuing series of where we explore the very best of Stanley Park we will like to introduce you to the large array of wildlife species that live within the park.

While staying at the Sunset Inn you may be quite surprised to see many animals casually taking a stroll close under your feet (and we don’t mean the small doggies that sometime reside in peoples handbags or the local domesticated cat), we are referring to the squirrels, raccoon’s and Skunk’s to name but a few that live in the West End like we do.

Wildlife is abundant in this city and if you keep your eyes open all around you, you will certainly see many many species of all walks of life (even the people watching is pretty incredible here too, so many weird and wonderful varieties of humans to check wandering the streets)! Joking aside, we will guide you so you know what kind of critters you will expect to see within the park and its beaches.

BIRDLIFE
If you take a peak up in the skies, there is no shortage of spectacular bird species of all varieties, these include Bald Eagles, Crows, Ravens and Herons.
Many of these birds have nesting sites throughout the parks, be sure to keep a beady eye open – you will see them all in action.
There are also quite a variety of differing Bat species in the park, we were lucky enough to have some Bat specialists stay at the hotel and on that very trip they had discovered a brand new species of Bat that was not familiar to them in the park.

The Bald Eagle population in Vancouver was limited to just a couple of pairs, one pair in Stanley Park and the other out at UBC, nowadays the population has grown to a very healthy size and you will be more than likely to see these huge majestic birds of prey in their natural habitats.

The herons are very famous in the park, especially as there are many of them who nest during the Spring season just above the Tennis Courts, to date there are more than 170 nests at any given time, these birds are known for therei huge beaks and large wingspan, they are quite the sight to behold.

The Goose population are also thriving in these parts too, and of course, Canada would not be Canada without seeing the Canadian Geese flying in their unmistakable V formation, it is not unusual to see them frolicking down by the beach, seawall and other areas around the city.

There are also sightings of elusive Peacocks in the park too, these birds are from the old Stanley Park Zoo that has long since shut down due to the living conditions there that were deemed not livable.

Here is some cool footage of a Raven interacting with a human for some help after it got itself into some bother with a Porcupine: http://youtu.be/hlwxLtFQcrY

MAMMALS
As well as the eccentric species of people that are known to visit the park, you will see no shortage of the cute and furry variety animals in the park.
The most popular Park and Urban dwellers in this area of the world are the large populations of Skunks, Raccoon’s, Rabbits and Squirrels.
At times you may get to see the Raccoon’s foraging for food in all parts of the city, some you will even see at the waters edge fishing for clams and mussels while enjoying a soak in the sea.

The Squirrels are the most visible all around the city, in fact, the Grey Squirrels that you will encounter were actually given to Vancouver as a present from New York where in the eastern part of North America is where they naturally reside. The Park was given two in the early part of the twentieth century, and, within a few decades the population has grown to a considerably large population, so much so that they thrive and have become one of the most dominant animals in the area.
Coyotes are very popular in and around Vancouver, yet they are hard to catch as they are quite elusive, if you are going to see them it will likely be after dark.

WATER DWELLERS
At the seawall and if you have a keen eye, look out along the water you may just see a head pop up from below the surface, this will likely be a sea lion taking a wee look at the tourists in between some hunting for fish.

Down at the Lost Lagoon there is no shortage of cool animals that reside around this small but stunning lake. As well as the herons wading in the water, take a look at the rocks and you will see Turtles, plenty of species of ducks and other wonderful birds.

For further information on the local ecology click here: http://stanleyparkecology.ca/conservation/urban-wildlife/other-wildlife-resources/

And of course the Vancouver Aquarium that is located close to the Lost Lagoon: http://www.vanaqua.org/

Signs that Spring is approaching.

Friday, February 8th, 2013

After spending a great evening with a friend and reminiscing over our usual catch up on nature, (the Crows are always on top of the agenda in this conversation), it inspired that time should be spent on some walking in and around the West End. The forecast was for an improving picture as the day would go on, and judging from what we have seen so far, it indeed is improving, the conditions are certainly what is more akin to late March as opposed to where we are at the moment – February!

We were also debating and comparing predictions about the weather as it had been pretty mild for this time of year, we were wondering if this is game over for Winter, the clues are there, such as the sound of the Spring birds arriving during their migration, it does seem that there is a good chance that it will be a Green Winter, or are we being fooled? Will there be chances of brief snapping stabs of Winter like conditions at the turn of Spring?

The next afternoon was spent sitting in one of the small Inner city Parkways that are used by Pedestrians and Cyclists to pass through, a nice place to take a break and have a moment. This small little Oasis is one of many dotted all around the West End and the rest of Vancouver, they are really cute spots to use and enjoy, you can easily be occupied by all the trees and plant life that have been cultivated around you. There is also no shortage of wildlife to entertain and enthrall as they go about their lives (you will be no stranger to Squirrels, and overnight Skunks and Raccoons), it is easy to actually hear the wildlife even as the city noise buzzes near by, it is really actually not that audible and more of a quieter background hum, the birds conversations really are the dominant sounds of this environment at this time of listening.

On a really beautiful Spring day as today, in this small park alone you can see and hear the hints of a spring stirring up, it is waking the hibernating plant life and other creatures from their long slumber. The sounds of the birds are beginning to change, it is a sure sign that the first birds of Spring are arriving in the city, the area of Canada and the US that is known as the Pacific North West is their regular stop at this time of year. It seems like their migration is a never ending cycle, its almost unfathomable to comprehend at how large the distances some of these birds cover – some spanning the whole globe. The noises of their language is really fascinating to hear, some are like songs, some have the sound that is spoken as if in some Science Fiction setting -as if it came out of the mouth of a robot. Others are not so glamorous, some sound threatening, some sound horrifying and kind of scary, its certainly not dull up there and is a life that is constantly on the go.

It really is quite the sight to see the abundance of trees and plant species around the West End, there is quite the variety to take in. On days like these it is a good time to absorb the colours of the plants as they become illuminated by the sun, marking a vivid contrast among the colours of brown and green. The mountains are also awash with colours that the Sun is beaming its light upon and in between the towering columns of cloud. It seems like an age since Vancouver last saw the sun, yet, when it does make an appearance it has this uncanny effect on us in the city. People seem to have this extra skip in their step and a grin on their faces, with the seawall beginning to get busier with the leisure walkers and joggers making the most of a beautiful day, its quite nice to get a glimpse of Spring in the winter time. Hopefully this is a sign of a good things to come.

So if you are staying at the Sunset Inn and Suites this Spring, make sure that you have a nice stroll around the streets of the West End, it maybe the city, but the nature is all around us, and Spring Season is quite stunning in this area.

Click on the following link from Tourism Vancouver, it explains what you need to do in Spring in Vancouver
http://www.tourismvancouver.com/do/explore/sightseeing/7-ways-to-enjoy-spring/