A colleague asked whether I might be interested in helping BC Parks to set up their summer volunteer warden camp on Mitlenatch Island.
He didn’t have to ask twice.
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This is lovely, tiny, rocky, low-lying and deserted Mitlenatch Island.
Except…it’s hardly deserted. During spring and summer these cliffs are occupied by thousands of nesting seabirds…gulls, cormorants, guillemots and more.
Getting close gave me a new appreciation of Glaucus-winged gulls. They are truly beautiful in full breeding plumage.
About 3000 pairs breed on the island, and they were already becoming quite territorial.
The monkey-flowers were already in full bloom when I arrived on the 29th.
And sea lions.
LOTS of Stellar’s sea-lions. I estimated about 240 or so. On a couple of nights their roars made it hard to sleep. On other nights they were completely quiet. Heaven knows why.
Although owned and managed by BC Parks, Mitlenatch is NOT a Provincial Park or an Ecological Reserve. It is instead a “nature park”, an unusual designation of which there exist only a few.
Home sweet home. Built mostly of driftwood, this cabin was built circa 1965 and is wonderfully sturdy, wind-sheltered, and very comfortable.
Especially with all the stuff we had to cart over the rocks. Gee whiz. You mean maybe I didn’t get asked to help just because of my brains and charm?
Who cares? After all, life is but a shooting star…
or a pot of gold…
This blue camas was just starting to think about blooming.
This one was a bit further ahead in its thinking.
My all-time favourite Latin name for something. Somehow Histrionicus histrionicus just seems right for the Harlequin duck.
I did not know this…but sea-lions have REALLY terrible breath.
Oh how I love springtime!
and white fawn-lilies
Wet. Cold. Rain. Horizontal. Alive. Five good words.
Morning. Light. Two more good words.
Ooooh. A mating ball of Western Terrestrial garter snakes. How sexy is THAT?
The harbour seals were typically curious and delighful to make eye-contact with.
I remember thinking “this is either a scene from a Monty Python movie, or Easter is just around the corner…”
In any event my wood was green and not yellow, and this particular path required no divergence…
My high count from a single vantage point was 18 oystercatchers…the sound was incredible.
They seemed always to be in a great rush to get somewhere else… …immediately… …and do something of great importance… What precisely that was I never figured out…but it did seem to me to be a familiar feeling…hmmm
In between squalls the lighting was occasionally spectacular.
and harlequin romance
and just taking the Nikon out for a night-shoot.
Here are two of my nocturnal camp-mates. Note the improvised rodent live-trapping device…
I really liked the sensation of feeling the world turn, and watching our thin atmospheric blanket responding to huge mountain and ocean masses moving beneath it.
Song sparrows were abundant and making themselves very obvious…
Time to reflect!
The best part of visiting Mitlenatch in March is that one can explore the island without disturbing the nesting birds. So here’s the view from the secondary summit of what I called “Mitlenatch Peak”
And this is “Lake Mitlenatch”. A logical resting and staging point for intrepid souls facing the final summit push…
…as it turned out the final pitch was a bit anti-climatic – Ken Kennedy photo (thanks!)
but, as climbers and watchful sea-lions know… epilogue is prologue