Oystercatchers Along the Stanley Park Seawall

July 13th, 2014 @ 9:09am (PT) by Guest Author

StanleyParkEcologyThis post has been contributed by Don Enright, Volunteer and Past President with the Stanley Park Ecology Society (“SPES”). I have been following SPES since I moved into the West End almost a decade ago and I have been a member for two years. I wanted to offer the team an opportunity to share their news, events, and work so I have created “SPES Saturday” where they contribute and share stories with my audience once a month.

Red and Black and Fun All Over!

Comical oystercatchers entertain along Stanley Park seawall

One of the great benefits of living in Vancouver’s West End is being near Stanley Park. Almost every day, I step out my front door, smell the sea air, and whisper to myself, “I can’t believe I live here.” It’s a far cry from the chilly suburbs of Calgary where I grew up. And every chance I get, I head out along the seawall to listen to the tide crash in, to relax and breathe and clear my head, and look for some of the wild creatures that call Stanley Park home. There’s always something: eagles overhead, a seal bobbing off Ferguson Point… a couple of months ago we even had dolphins offshore. And as I walk, I always keep an ear out for my favourite birds of the intertidal zone: the beautiful, comical, excitable black oystercatcher.

Photo by Don Enright

You can’t miss them, once you learn what they look like. They’re all black except for their long pink legs and their huge orange beak. A friend of mine remarked that they look like a crow smoking a carrot. And if you don’t see them, you’ll almost certainly hear them. They whistle. And we’re not talking about a sweet twitter of a songbird—these guys’ calls are raucous, and almost anything will set them into a frenzy of excited hooting and whinnying. Eagles flying overhead, the arrival of their relatives from up the shoreline, a change in the weather, anything. Once you learn to recognize the call, you’ll hear it a lot. Listen for it between Second Beach and Siwash Rock.

Photo by Don Enright

It turns out that it’s not easy being an oystercatcher, and it’s not just because they have to climb around on cold rocks in their bare feet all day. First of all, it takes remarkable skill to outwit the clams, mussels and other mollusks that make up their diet. The oystercatchers of the world have two different styles of hunting: you’ve got your stabbers, and you’ve got your hammerers.

Hammerers use their big orange bills to pound their way through the shell of their prey to pull out the juicy insides. Stabbers are a bit more refined; they wait until the mussel or clam relaxes a bit and opens up, and they quickly stab their big beaks into the opening to eviscerate their prey. Our oystercatchers are stabbers, and it’s a skill that they need to learn and perfect over time.

Most birds are quick to fledge their babies; a sparrow can boot the young ‘uns out of the nest within weeks of their hatching. But oystercatchers are the Generation Y of the bird world, taking several months to move out on their own. They need the extra time to learn their hunting skills from Mom and Dad; they won’t develop their full repertoire of techniques until they’re about three years old. Parents mate for life, which is up to 15 years for these birds.

Next time you’re out on the seawall, look for oystercatchers that have black colouring on the ends of their orange bills; those are this year’s hatchlings, recently arrived from their nesting grounds not far away.

Photo by Milva DeSiena

Learning to eat isn’t the only skill that a young oystercatcher needs—they also have to master the fine art of not getting eaten. Peregrine falcons are a major predator. These raptors are powerful and fast, and can outfly almost any bird on earth. Our oystercatchers have a tricky defence: they fly away low over the water, just skimming the waves. The falcons won’t risk getting that close to water. Clever birds.

Black oystercatchers are completely dependent on the thin strip of shoreline along our coasts for their entire life cycle. The intertidal zone of Stanley Park is a very busy place, and oystercatchers (and all the living things they depend on) are best left undisturbed. Keeping your dog on a leash at all times is a big help. Fortunately, they’re easy to appreciate from a bit of a distance, given their larger-than-life personalities.

I think it’s remarkable that despite the 10 million-odd people that visit the park, we still have oystercatchers making a living on our shores. May they live and thrive and hoot and squawk for generations to come.

About the Guest Author:

This post has been contributed by Don Enright, Volunteer and Past President with the Stanley Park Ecology Society. If you want to support a non-profit organization that makes a difference for wildlife and people in Stanley Park, please make a donation or become a member of SPES. For more information visit the Stanley Park Ecology Society website. Follow SPES on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates.

Rio Theatre Friday Late Night Movies July 2014

July 11th, 2014 @ 10:44am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

The Rio Theatre is serving up a strong lineup of cult favourites for July in their late night movies series. These 19+ screenings can be complimented with a beverage from the theatre’s full service bar as you enjoy a night out with friends. Tickets are available online in advance or at the door for $8 or $6 if you come in costume.

Rio Theatre Friday Late Night Movies

riotheatrejulyFriday, July 11, 2014 @ 11:55pm
Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy (Kelly Makin, 1996)
A pharmaceutical scientist creates a pill that makes people remember their happiest memory, and although it’s successful, it has unfortunate side effects. Starring Scott Thompson, Mark McKinney, Kevin McDonald, Bruce McCulloch, Dave Foley.

Friday, July 18, 2014 @ 11:55pm
Mortal Kombat (Paul Anderson, 1995)
Three unknowing martial artists are summoned to a mysterious island to compete in a tournament whose outcome will decide the fate of the world. Starring Christopher Lambert.

Friday, July 25, 2014 @ 11:15pm* Early
2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
Humanity finds a mysterious, obviously artificial, object buried beneath the Lunar surface and, with the intelligent computer H.A.L. 9000, sets off on a quest.

The Rio Theatre is an independent art and movie house located at 1660 West Broadway, at Commercial Drive, and is easily accessible by transit. Follow along on Facebook and Twitter for more film screenings, comedy showcases, and special event information.

Miss604 is a media partner of the Rio’s Late Night Movie series.

Things to do in Vancouver This Weekend

July 11th, 2014 @ 9:14am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

The first heat wave of the summer will reach us this weekend as does one of the busiest Saturdays I’ve seen in a while. On top of all seasonal activities being in full swing (farmers markets, night markets, dancing, movies) we have the Khatsahlano Festival, Red Bull Around the Strait, Marpole Summerfest, and several places around town where you can watch the World Cup Final on Sunday including Trout Lake. The full list is below, have a great weekend!

Slip Sliding Away
Photo credit: Clayton Perry on Flickr

Things to do in Vancouver This Weekend

Events that run for longer than three days in a row are highlighted in green below.

Friday, July 11, 2014
Vancouverite: A Comedy Show
Music at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery
Allegheny, BC (Stupid Boy in an Ugly Town)
Enchanted Evenings Concert Series
FUSE at the Vancouver Art Galley
Take Off Fridays at YVR
Feel Good Fridays at Lougheed
Laugh Your Sexy Ass Off with Scott Thompson of Kids in the Hall
No Class Comedy Fundraiser in Support of BC Teachers
Theatre Under the Stars: SHREK The Musical
International Fastpitch Championship
Opera Mariposa – The Telephone
Shipyards Tours in North Vancouver
Richmond Night Market
Surrey Night Market
Indian Summer Festival
Dancing on the Edge Festival
Pacific Theatre Presents: Gruesome Playground Injuries
Papergirl Vancouver Exhibition at the Roundhouse
Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival
Klahowya Village & Spirit Catcher Train in Stanley Park

Saturday, July 12, 2014
Khatsahlano Street Festival
Marpole Summerfest
Knight St Community Day
Roller Derby Championship
Girls Rock Camp Showcase
The SFU Summer Festival
Vancouver Shogi Club
Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs Chivas USA
Broadway East Art Walk and Dude Chilling Art Collective Art Event
Critter Care’s 16th Annual Fundraiser in Langley
Dirty Dash Langley
Whistler Children’s Festival
Red Bull’s Around the Strait
Coquitlam Watershed Tours
Opening Reception: Mad Pride and Mad Cartographies: Wilderness of the Soul
Laugh Your Sexy Ass Off with Scott Thompson of Kids in the Hall
Wiener Dog Races
Déjà Vu Vintage Market
Trout Lake Farmers Market
West End Farmers Market
Kerrisdale Farmers Market
Richmond Night Market
Surrey Night Market
Vancouver Canadians Fireworks Night
Theatre Under the Stars: Legally Blonde the Musical
Opera Mariposa – The Telephone
Orpheum Tours
International Fastpitch Championship
Indian Summer Festival
Dancing on the Edge Festival
Pacific Theatre Presents: Gruesome Playground Injuries
Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival
Klahowya Village & Spirit Catcher Train in Stanley Park

Sunday, July 13, 2014
Free World Cup Final Event at Trout Lake
Project Limelight Presents: The Chocolate Factory
Free Sunday Salsa at Robson Square
Concert Sundays at Lonsdale Quay
Free Swing Dancing on Granville
Critter Care’s 16th Annual Fundraiser in Langley
Maple Grove Splashy Fun in the Sun
Free Dance Series on Granville Island
15th Annual Show & Shine in Downtown New West
Whistler Children’s Festival
Vancouver Food Cart Festival
Wiener Dog Races
Steveston Farmers Market
Kitsilano Farmers Market
White Rock Farmers Market
Coquitlam Farmers Market
Richmond Night Market
Opera Mariposa – The Telephone
Capilano Watershed Tours
International Fastpitch Championship
Theatre Under the Stars: SHREK The Musical
Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival
Klahowya Village & Spirit Catcher Train in Stanley Park

View the full monthly event list to plan ahead at any time. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook for frequent updates about local events and community happenings.

Related: 8 Vancouver Apps for Summer, Stanley Park Picnic Ideas, Where To Watch The World Cup, Where to Camp in Washington State, Where to Camp Around Metro Vancouver.

Surrey Fusion Festival 2014

July 10th, 2014 @ 3:15pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

The Surrey Fusion Festival returns for its 7th year at Holland Park, providing two full days of food, family fun, entertainment and free concerts on six stages. Miss604 is very proud to be the Social Media Sponsor of this event again this year (and since its inception in 2008) as it is always a highlight of summer. Here’s what you can find at the Surrey Fusion Festival this year:

Surrey Fusion Fest 2012
Photos by John Bollwitt for Miss604

Surrey Fusion Festival

Admission: Free to attend

When: Saturday, July 19, 2014 & Sunday, July 20, 2014, 11:00am to 10:00pm

Food Tickets: Pavilion operators do not accept cash for food so be sure to pick up food tickets from one of the three booths on site. Tickets are $1 each and food items normally range between 2 and 8 tickets.

Where: Holland Park in Surrey (SW corner of King George and Old Yale). Take the SkyTrain to either Surrey Central or King George and walk over. There will be bike parking on site and free public parking will be available along Old Yale Road. Limited parking will also be available in the Central City parkade on level P5.

Surrey Fusion Fest 2008 Surrey Fusion Fest 2008

Surrey Fusion Fest 2012 Surrey Fusion Fest 2011 Surrey Fusion Fest 2011
Photos by John Bollwitt for Miss604

Music Lineup

Stages open at 11:30am each day, this is just a sample of what you can find at Surrey Fusion Festival this year.

Saturday, July 19, 2014
Concord Pacific World Music Stage
4:30pm-5:00pm Ash Grunwald
5:30pm-6:00pm Aidan Knight
6:30pm-7:00pm The Boom Booms
7:30pm-8:00pm Hey Ocean!
8:30pm-10:00pm Bruce Cockburn

SFU Celebration Stage
4:30pm-5:00pm Git Hayetsk Dancers
5:30pm-6:00pm Mostly Marley
6:30pm-7:00pm Pat Chessell
7:30pm-8:30pm African Dance Music Ensemble

Chevron Stage
2:00pm-2:30pm Helaranga Sri Lankan Dancers
3:00pm-3:30pm Tusuy Kusun Peruvian Folk Dance
3:30pm-4:00pm Korean Arts Society Drummers
5:00pm-5:30pm Dirty Mike And The Boys
6:00pm-6:30pm Silva
7:00pm-8:00pm Bocephus King

Community Stage
Zumba lessons at 1:30 & 2:30
Bhangra lessons at 3:30, 4:30 & 5:30
1:00pm-1:30pm Mr. Fantastik
2:00pm-2:30pm T. Nile
3:00pm-3:30pm Hua Xia Multiculture Society
5:00pm-5:30pm Metis Fiddler Keith Hill & Company
6:00pm-6:30pm The Winlaws
7:00pm-7:30pm VOU

Cooking Stage
12:30pm-1:00pm Super Chefs Cookery for Kids
1:30pm-2:00pm Councillors Linda Hepner & Steele
2:30pm-3:00pm Super Chefs Cookery for Kids
3:30pm-4:00pm Trevor Randle Classroom Agriculture

Pow Wow Stage
1:00pm-1:30pm Pow Wow
1:30pm-2:30pm Pow Wow & Dance Specials
2:30pm-2:50pm Git Hayetsk Dancers
2:50pm-3:00pm Shelly Thorne Logo Unveiling
3:00pm-3:30pm Hoop Dancer
3:30pm-4:00pm Stars of the North
4:00pm-4:30pm Jingle Dancing
» Full Schedule

Sunday, July 20, 2014
Concord Pacific World Music Stage
4:30pm-5:00pm African Stages
5:30pm-6:00pm Ache Brasil
6:30pm-7:15pm Alpha Yaya Diallo
7:45pm-8:30pm Tropicana
9:00pm-10:00pm Pavlo

SFU Celebration Stage
4:30pm-5:00pm Bollywood Hungama
5:30pm-6:00pm VOU
6:30pm-7:00pm Tonye Aganaba
7:00pm-7:15pm Leela Contemporary Dancers
7:30pm-8:30pm En Karma w/ special guests

Chevron Stage
3:00pm-3:30pm Lebanese Cultural Presentation
4:00pm-4:30pm Zimbamoto
5:00pm-5:30pm Dirty Grace
6:00pm- 6:30pm No Sinner
7:15pm-7:45pm Ash Grunwald

Community Stage
Zumba lessons at 12:30 & 1:30
Bhangra lessons at 2:30 & 3:30
Salsa lessons at 4:30 & 5:30
4:00pm-4:30pm Billie Woods
5:00pm-5:30pm Edgar Muenala
6:00pm-6:30pm The Timewalkers
7:00pm-7:45pm WIL

Cooking Stage
12:30pm-1:00pm Super Chefs Cookery for Kids
1:30pm-2:00pm TTrevor Randle Classroom Agriculture
2:30pm-3:00pm Shelley Robinson
3:30pm-4:00pm Tony Luk
4:30pm-5:00pm Super Chefs Cookery for Kids

Pow Wow Stage
12:30pm-1:00pm Powwow
1:00pm-1:50pm Powwow & Dance Specials
2:30pm-2:50pm Dance/Drum Special
2:50pm-3:15pm Stars of the North
3:15pm-3:50pm Powwow Dance Exhibitions
4:00pm-4:30pm Closing Ceremonies
» Full Schedule

Surrey Fusion Festival 2012

Cultural Pavilions

Argentina (New), Bangladesh (New), Barbados Bolivia, Canada, China Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, Ghana, Greece, Haiti, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Israel (New), Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Lebanon, Metis, Mexico, Morocco (New), Nepal, Nigeria (New), Pakistan, Palestine, Portugal Peru, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Spain (New), South Africa, Taiwan, Togo, Tonga.

Family Fun

Kids World with Surrey Libraries’ Storyville, Games Land, Giant Sandbox, Craft Tent, and more. Don’t miss the Flavours of Surrey at the City’s premier food and agricultural awareness event celebrating local agriculture, farming and food.

For the latest updates, follow @Surrey_Events on Twitter or “Like” the Surrey Fusion Festival Facebook Page. Follow the #SurreyFusion tag to join in the conversation.

Takaya Tours with Aboriginal Tourism BC

July 10th, 2014 @ 10:44am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

I recently spent a day with Aboriginal Tourism BC and some of its stakeholders/partners to share unique local opportunities that help you experience your own city like never before. This is the second post in a three part series.

Takaya Tours

Takaya Tours with Aboriginal Tourism BC

“If you see one our height or bigger, our ancestors would have picked berries off the same plant,” Cease Wyss told me as she lifted the branches of a red huckleberry tree and picked a few juicy pearls for us to try. Cease is a guide with Takaya Tours, owned and operated by the Tsleil-Waututh Nation and based out of Cates Park (Whey-Ah-Wichen) in North Vancouver and (Tum-tumay-wheuton) in Belcarra Regional Park, Port Moody.

Takaya Tours Takaya Tours

Red Huckleberries can be found growing out of the top of rotting stumps, feeding on the remnants of old timber, and they are abundant in our local parks. Reciting the latin name, Vaccinium parvifolium, Cease listed off the benefits of this berry and the significance of its bounty over the years, feeding many generations. Her experience and knowledge is tough to beat. Not only is she well versed in ethnobotany, she shares helpful tips on her Indigenous Plant Diva site, the latest extension of a blog she began over a decade ago.

“When I do the walks I want people to be as passionate as me so I really try to infuse it into them that this is something – and you might just be here for an hour – but even if you take away one piece of information from this walk that stays with you and carries you through your personal health and wellness then that’s my vision and my hope. That’s why I really love doing this work.”

“Teaching people how to pick things and teaching them how delicate our ecosystem is, is like putting a pebble in the water and watching the ripple effects that go out.”

Cease is one of the only guides for Takaya Tours that works 12 months of the year because things are growing in the forest all the time. “That’s the amazing thing living on the Pacific Northwest Coast, and that’s how our people survived for so long,” Cease told our group from Aboriginal Tourism BC.

During her walking tours she will also add in songs and stories but her main focus is on the plants and how to use them, starting with the plants’ own lifecycle, including the pollinators.

Takaya ToursCease tries to make her knowledge accessible and has done many talks at schools of all levels and in various communities, as well as teaching her family about the benefits of natural supplements. She shared that her daughter, who is now a teenager, remarked that growing up when her friends were taking pain pills she was drinking Salmonberry leaf tea to cure the same ailments.

“By having an eco tourism company we promote and encourage people to think outside the box… …Take the time to walk in the forest, go on the water and experience something that uses human power to get somewhere.”

The Rainforest Walking Tour runs for two hours with a focus on wildlife, aboriginal village sites, and vegetation education. You can book online between May and October.

Adventures Offered by Takaya Tours

Experienced First Nation guides like Cease host a variety of different adventures with Takaya Tours that include: Canoe Tours, Kayak Tours, Canoeing and Walking Tour, Spawning Salmon Tour, Cultural Boat Excursions, and Multi-Day Tours.

Learn more by visiting the Takaya Tours website and Facebook, and also the Takaya Tours listing on the Aboriginal Tourism BC website. There is also tourism information available at Klahowya Village in Stanley Park which is open every day until September around the Miniature Railway area.

Disclosure: cmp.ly/1

This post is in partnership with Aboriginal BC and tours were all compliments of the hosts. Views and stories are my own.

Talaysay Tours with Aboriginal Tourism BC

July 9th, 2014 @ 2:14pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

I recently spent a day with Aboriginal Tourism BC and some of its stakeholders/partners to share unique local opportunities that help you experience your own city like never before. This is the first post in a three part series.

Talaysay Tours with Aboriginal Tourism BC

Talaysay Tours“When I was growing up, three of my closest friends were three cedar trees,” said Candace of Talaysay Tours with a smile as we entered Stanley Park (Xwáýxway). She continued down the path and patted the thick bark of a Douglas Fir, “This is why I call this the ‘Talking Trees Tour‘. It’s about being in balance with nature and enriching our relationship with plants and trees.”

Candace has been running Talaysay Tours with her brother Jonathan for the last 11 years, offering kayaking and hiking tours locally and on the Sunshine Coast between May and early September. The family is Shíshálh Coast Salish and Blackfoot First Nation members with English and Scottish ancestry. Raised Sechelt (Shíshálh), more specifically Porpoise Bay, the two siblings are members of the xenichen Wolf Clan.

Specializing in linking adventure elements to nature, Candace hosts her Talking Trees Tour in Smuggler’s Cove, Porpoise Bay, on the North Shore and in Stanley Park (by request) — which is where I came in. I have walked the trails of Stanley Park hundreds of times but I have never truly seen them as I did with Candace and her relative Jessica who was on the tour with us. With every step, I learned something new about a plant or tree that I had walked by so many times before.

Talaysay Tours

Talaysay Tours Talaysay Tours

Talaysay Tours

Line baskets with the leaves of a Thimbleberry, use Cedar bows for open baskets in which to put fresh clams, get the best heat for a fire using Douglas Fir bark, and the Elderberry can be used as a laxative. Use the leaves of Skunk Cabbage (Swamp Lanterns) to wrap and steam food, and make a tonic with Cascara Bark to relieve constipation. Huckleberries, Salmonberries, Salal Berries. What is good to eat on the spot, what is good for treating ailments, and what will keep through winter.

Talaysay Tours
I learned the traditional name for Beaver Lake — Axachu7 — thanks to Chief Ian Campbell who was with our group that day as well.

The tour was absolutely fascinating. Aside from the practical uses for these plants and trees, Candace shared the cultural history of each of these resources — like why the Western Hemlock seems to hang its head in shame when you spot it in a grove with other trees. You will learn about the ecology of the forest and hear tales and traditions passed on from ancestors who lived in this area centuries ago. Every bit of the forest that you may have previously dismissed is explained, appreciated, and serves a purpose.

Adventures Offered by Talaysay Tours

Sea Kayaking Day Tours and Multi-Day Trips, Hiking & Walking, Paddleboarding, and Snow Shoe. The walking tours are usually about 3 hours long.

Talaysay Tours

Learn more by visiting the Talaysay Tours website and also the Talaysay Tours listing on the Aboriginal Tourism BC website. There is also information available at Klahowya Village in Stanley Park which is open every day until September around the Miniature Railway area.

Disclosure: cmp.ly/1

This post is in partnership with Aboriginal BC and tours were all compliments of the hosts. Views and stories are my own.

5 Gorgeous Vancouver Street Views

July 9th, 2014 @ 11:14am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Recently the popular social site Mashable posted a gallery of The 34 Most Beautiful Google Street View Sightings and while some contain sweeping, picturesque views, I wondered why none from BC made the cut. Surely some cherry blossom covered lanes or the Sea to Sky Highway would outrank some cement street planters from Poland (#12 on the list) so I thought I would create my own gallery. Thanks to Google Street Views, here are some stunning everyday scenes around Vancouver and the “604″ area:

1. Sea to Sky


2. Spanish Banks


3. Stanley Park Seawall


4. Barnston Island


5. Agassiz-Rosedale Highway


We all get around the region in different ways. TransLink helps you get to where you’re going by helping out in four key ways: transit, cycling, walking and driving – What’s your favourite way of getting around? I am currently giving away TWO 3-Zone FareCards ($170 value) for either August or September 2014. See THIS POST for details on how to enter to win.

Red Bull Around the Strait in Vancouver

July 9th, 2014 @ 10:20am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Red Bull is known for bringing its out of this world adventures and feats to all corners of the globe and they’ll be hosting another exciting event in Vancouver this weekend. Red Bull Around the Strait will take place on Saturday at Jericho Beach.


What: Red Bull Around the Strait (Competitive Sailing Race)
Where: Jericho Beach, Vancouver
When: Saturday, July 12, 2014 from 10:00am to 4:00pm

This will be an exciting day of action on the water as amateur and seasoned sailors alike go head to head in this first time competitive sailing race with a twist. With three difference race formats wrapped up in one contest, it will take a mix of strategy, skill and a little style to win.

There will be three race stages. The Blitz Course has a Le Mans-style start where racers will sprint down the beach to their boats in an exciting battle straight out to a marked buoy, and then back to the finish line near the beachfront.

On the Cup Course boats will start downwind with each class trying to take the hole shot around the first turn. From there, high speed downwind sailing and strategy takes over with a gate giving the sailors a choice of directions to head back up the course to finish on their second lap.

The Hull Flyer is the decider for the points, and ultimately the winner. Red Bull asks: “How far can you push your boat, in style, as spectators look-on from the beachfront? It’s time to show off or crash trying, points will be given by on water judges. Points based on height, time flying and style.”

If you would like to compete, registration is open online. To be a spectator, simply head to Jericho on Saturday to enjoy the action for free with your family and friends.