Walk 114 and 115

View of Brunette River, during the first walk.

After missing yesterday’s run due to a toothache, I decided I needed some kind of exercise today, even though the tooth is still kind of hurting (I go to the dentists tomorrow).

I left late morning to avoid Xtreme Heat, and it was fine, with a nice breeze blowing. There were some off-leash dogs on the river trail, but fortunately well-behaved. There were no other incidents of note, and the walks were much like the previous–strictly walking on the way to the lake, with a good mix of walking and running on the way back. I felt fine and my mouth cooperated enough that it didn’t distract me.

And that’s about it!

The ever turtle-free Turtle Nesting Area, before starting back from Burnaby Lake.

Stats:

Walk 112 and 113
Average pace: 9:13 and 8:19/km

Location: Brunette River trail/Burnaby Lake
Distance: 4.02 and 4.03 km
Time: 37:01 and 33:32
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 23-25°C
Humidity: 60-62%
Wind: light
BPM: 121 and 129
Weight: 167.4 pounds
Devices: Garmin Forerunner 255
Total distance to date: 847.76 km

“Prime Day” without the prime is a nice day

I cancelled Amazon Prime a little while back, so I am unable to partake in all the “Prime Day” deals that are on offer today and tomorrow. Which is fine, because Amazon is a horrible, abusive company, and I have been able to find alternatives without too much trouble. There are still a few things that can be tricky to source elsewhere, such is the power of Amazon’s crushing monopoly. This is bad for consumers and businesses alike.

Kudos to Ars Technica. As I write this at 8:24 a.m. Pacific time, they don’t have any stories about “Prime Day” deals on their main page. This may change over the course of the day, but it’s still nice to see. UPDATE, July 17, 2024: It did change. Day 2 has a featured story on the main page with links to deals provided by Wired magazine, another Conde Nast property. Still, it’s just one story and easy to ignore if desired.

The Verge has five stories, and Engadget has six before you even get below the “fold” (start scrolling). I stopped counting after that. There may be other tech sites that have even more, but I have some standards.

Also, Joe Rosensteel, a VFX artist, posting on Mastodon:

Run 872: So very slightly faster

View from Cariboo Dam, pre-run.

Today was the second half of the 5K run I started…a week ago. I swear I’ll be running regularly now!

My goal today was simple:

  • Start early to beat the heat (though the high today is 26C, which is not too bad)
  • Get an average pace under six minutes

Success!

I started near the Jiffy John® and had the following times for my abbreviated run:

  • 1K: 5:54
  • 2K: 5:59
  • 3K: 5:52

After the second km, I knew I had very little wiggle room, so I put in a wee bit of extra effort and managed to get my average pace to a slow but still under six minute pace of 5:55/km. Woo.

The temperature and humidity were both fine, so no dry mouth or other discomfort, other than just being somewhat out of shape again.

I chose not to time the walk around the rest of the lake, but did time the walk back from the lake, with my Training Status going from Recovery to Maintaining. That’s also fine. Everything was fine, or fine-like.

This was the first run with my snazzy new Speedgoat 6 shoes, and they were…fine! They are basically the same as the Speedgoat 5s, so no real difference in terms of fit or feel, which is good.

Overall, a perfectly cromulent way to start the week.

View from Phillips Point, post-run.

Stats:

Run 872
Average pace: 5:55/km

Training status: Maintaining
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Start: 10:08 a.m.
Distance: 3.03 km
Time: 17:56
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 19-20°C
Humidity: 71-70%
Wind: light
BPM: 156
Weight: 168.8
Total distance to date: 6,220 km
Devices: Garmin Forerunner 255 Music, iPhone 12, AirPods (3rd generation)
Shoes: HOKA Speedgoat 6 (5/13/18)

Walk 112 and 113: Squirrelly

I’m counting this as two walks, as I clocked them separately, due to the gap in between them.

I have been getting my daily steps in, but haven’t been doing a lot of capital “e” Exercise lately. It’s Sunday, so I didn’t want to run, but I do have my new orange and purple Speedgoat 6 trail runners, so I put them on and walked to the lake and walked/ran on the way back.

It was fairly warm at 28C, but most of the trek is in the shade or out of direct sunlight, so it wasn’t that bad. I didn’t experience any issues, and I got to watch two Douglas squirrels chase each other around a tree at Burnaby Lake. In all, a good excursion and test of my shoes.

Stats:

Walk 112 and 113
Average pace: 9:01 and 8:41/km

Location: Brunette River trail/Burnaby Lake
Distance: 3.02 and 4.02 km
Time: 27:14 and 34:56
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 28°C
Humidity: 56%
Wind: light
BPM: 120 and 121
Weight: 167.2 pounds
Devices: Garmin Forerunner 255
Total distance to date: 847.76 km

Birding, July 12, 2024: How to attract ducklings

Where: Reifel Bird Sanctuary (Delta), Crescent Beach (Surrey)
Weather: Sunny, 19-25°C

The Outing

Reifel Bird Sanctuary

Another Friday birding adventure, but due to scheduling and not the weather, which continues to be sunny and warm (but thankfully not hot and gross). We first headed out to Reifel, hoping to see the pair of adorable Sandhill crane babies.

As we neared Westham Island, we got stuck behind a rather slow-moving car with a large lab-type dog stuffed in the rear window. It was panting. But don’t worry, the windows were open. I know this because people on both sides of the car occasionally stuck their arms out and waggled their hands. I’m not sure if they were signalling that it was OK for us to pass them–most of the road here is “no passing” and usually the driver does the signalling, as the driver is the one, well, driving. Maybe he had one hand on the wheel and one holding an extra hot cup of McDonald’s coffee1I know McDonald’s doesn’t do this anymore. Please don’t sue me, McDonald’s.. Whatever the case, we observed that dogs are not allowed at Reifel, but the car was passing every possible stop before Reifel, including the island hotspot of Emma’s Farm, which is so popular in the summer they have “No parking here” signs all around the property, so people won’t park just anywhere, desperate to get in and touch cows, or whatever it is you do there.

As it turns out, the car turned off at one of the last few houses before Reifel, which made me wonder, how often do any of the island residents actually go there? Do they ever go there? Do they even like birds?

In any event, we like birds and arrived to a flurry of barn swallows buzzing the main lagoon. Nic got some nice shots, I got one blurry shot that vaguely resembles a UFO.

We also discovered that the wood ducks are still here, when we came across a bunch of male wood ducks in one of the increasingly swampy-looking inner waterways. These young fresh fellows were just starting to develop their mullets. Apparently the wood ducks stay, but just move out of view during the summer. Maybe that’s what the shovellers and pintails do, too.

Chickadees remained scarce and elusive. I did not get any shots. We did see some towhees and a few errant song sparrows, but most of the birbs proved elusive. There were goldfinches, too, but either far off in the marshland or in deep shadow in the trees, taunting us to get good shots. I did not.

However, there were oodles of herons all over the place, lots of them flying around, plus bonus turtles outside the first bird blind.

One highlight began as a lowlight–the Sandhill crane viewing area was closed, meaning a large swatch of the inner ponds was inaccessible, and we wouldn’t see the adorable babies.

Fortunately, Sandhill cranes can’t read signs and pay no attention to human barriers. We were preparing to leave and lo, the entire family was right there in the picnic area near the entrance, casually strolling about as they do. The two kids are rapidly growing and already entering the “90% legs” phase.

The other item of note were my shoes. I have new HOKA Speedgoat 6s. They look like this:

We encountered the first of many sets of ducklings near the base of the viewing tower, and these duckings were very interested in my new shoes, with all of them coming up and pecking at them or pulling at the laces. Apparently this colour combination resembles either a food source or just something delightful to them (I mean, the colour is pretty delightful). One duckling even started following me as we left the area.

So now I know how to attract ducklings.

Canada geese were still ever-present, and still ominously quiet. One mom came by with her gaggle of kids, and they were in that prime gangly teen stage, still all downy, but showing adult colours, and 95% legs (even more so than the crane babies).

And we saw a most unusual sight: A single Eurasian wigeon. I think Nic and I took a combined 500 photos of the bird. It was very cooperative that way. I had to go for quantity, as my camera sees wigeons as robins, which is to say fuzzy and slightly out of focus (as a side note, I had some camera issues today, despite the camera being cleaned the night before. The only thing I can think is heat may have been a factor. The telephoto lens casing did feel pretty warm after some time in the sun). The wigeon was very handsome and helped cap a typical summer day at Reifel–pleasant, beautiful vistas, but overall quiet compared to migratory seasons.

Crescent Beach/Blackie Spit

Nic did not want to log 30,000+ steps, so suggested Crescent Beach next, which is relatively compact. Unlike Reifel, which was quiet both bird and people-wise, Crescent Beach was hopping–with people. Birds, not so much, and some of the ones we did see were off in the distance. We saw herons, some gulls, plenty of crows, but no killdeer (which had been reported in the area). Again, some nice scenery shots, but not much in the way of birbery. We did see a snail clinging upside down on a flower, with a large spider nearby. I’m not sure if there was drama there, or if they were both just avoiding the sun.

Speaking of, I once again avoided any sunburn. Then forgot my sunblock in the car.

Overall, not a bad day of birding, and the weather was just plain nice.

The Shots

Soon™

The Birds (and other critters). Rare or rarely-seen birds highlighted in bold.

Sparrows and sparrow-adjacent:

  • American goldfinch
  • American robin
  • Barn swallow
  • Black-capped chickadee
  • Brown-headed cowbird
  • Eastern kingbird
  • House finch
  • House sparrow
  • Marsh wren
  • Purple martin
  • Red-winged blackbird
  • Savannah sparrow (heard, not seen)
  • Song sparrow
  • Spotted towhee
  • Tree swallow

Waterfowl and shorebirds:

  • Canada goose
  • Eurasian wigeon
  • Great blue heron
  • Mallard
  • Sandhill crane
  • Wood duck

Common:

  • American crow
  • Rock pigeon
  • Seagull

Raptors:

  • Bald eagle

Non-birds:

  • Sand wasps
  • Assorted pollinators
  • A snail
  • A spider next to the snail
  • Bull catfish doing their bottom-feeding best

Summer tips for summer fun

  • Move to Australia. It’s winter there! Just try to avoid the poison animals. So maybe don’t move there.
  • Dig a hole in your backyard that’s about 10 feet deep, where it’s always nice and cool. Convince Amazon to deliver your sunscreen there. I’m kidding, don’t use Amazon, they’re a terrible company.
  • Remember to stop activities before heatstroke, not after.
  • Sand is your friend. I mean, it’s not, but if you go to the beach, you’re going to have to pretend.
  • Notice how trees have all their leaves in the summer? Trees are your friends (unlike sand, which just gets in your shorts). Touch trees all summer, to keep in the shade and rekindle the primitive soul within. But mostly to keep out of the relentlessly cruel hot sun.
  • Remember how winter is six months of steady rain? It doesn’t matter that winter is only three months of the year, it’s still six months of rain. Think about how you are getting a nice sexy tan now instead of plodding through endless puddles from endless rain.
  • Heat domes are still rare! This is not a tip, but is helpful in managing expectations when people start going on about how it’s too hot. Manage those expectations! Everyone loves the, “Well, actually, it could be hotter…” guy! That guy could be you. Also works for all other genders. Note: Everyone may not actually love this person.
  • Do not listen to the 1992 album Summer in Paradise by The Beach Boys. Do you really want to hear Mike Love rap? (You do not.)

Birding, July 6, 2024: The best camera is the one in your hands

Where: Tlahutum Regional Park (Coquitlam), Iona Beach (Richmond)
Weather: Sunny, 23-27°C

The Outing

Tlahutum Regional Park

Coquitlam River, aka the desktop background shot.

I am writing this some five days later for reasons, so I’m doing my best to remember what we saw and where we saw it.

There were birds.

We started out, uncharacteristically, at Tlahutum Regional Park, hoping the morning would yield more birds and birbs. We passed a woman exiting with a giant, bone-crushing telephoto lens, and I asked her if she had seen anything exotic. She then offered some tips on seeing somewhat exotic birds, so we ventured from our usual route to lead west and north, roughly following the path of the Coquitlam River. We spotted a black-headed grosbeak! It was a little high up and the light was not great, but it gave us opportunity to get shots as it chirped noisily, before darting off. A pair of cyclists saw us and one actually turned back to report a bittern sighting in the adjacent creek. But they had apparently spooked it into hiding behind some tall grass and we never actually saw it.

But in the same creek was a mallard! But also a green heron. Being a heron, we were able to get a good number of shots before it flew off, though it was a little tricksy shooting down into the creek over all the nature in the way.

We continued on a bit further, spotting a few not-very-close cedar waxwings, an Eastern kingbird and more.

Overall, a pretty nice haul. Tlahutum is the one place where I wish I had a better than 250 mm telephoto lens. It’s fine for places like Reifel, where the birds are closer, but at Tlahutum the birds are rarely close. Alas, to dream.

After putting on more mileage than intended, we headed out to Iona Beach.

Iona Beach

I heard you like seaweed, so I put seaweed in your seaweed.

The Ferguson Road realignment was surprisingly complete, or complete enough to open. This isn’t directly related to birding, but it is a nice improvement for the area, taking a narrow road adjacent to the airport, moving it farther away, and expanding it to include multiple bike lanes (there were none before, nor even any shoulders on the old stretch of road), providing a wider, safer route to the beach. It should be fully finished in the next few months.

But then birds! But first, bugs. The sand wasps have returned and were busily digging and ducking into their burrows, where they do secret sand wasp things. Fortunately, they don’t seem fussed by nosy humans walking by (I also brought Deep Woods Off!, but we did not need it–yet!)

The pond area yielded a few birds, but mostly off in the distance.

We moved to the beach and took advantage of an especially low low tide to get into the gap in the jetty that allows fishies to now swim through (when the tide is not especially low). On the way back, we moved further away from the shore, always opting for a clear path that led us out more. This was inevitably going to end with us having to cross through muck at some point, and we did, gingerly stepping over slippery yellow mud, vast piles of vibrant green seaweed, and the occasional bit of flowing water. I got my shoes thoroughly mucky, which is how it goes at Iona.

The birding was a bit whelming here, though there are always nice vistas to shoot. I shot them all.

Strangely, the best bird shot I got of the day was not with my Canon EOS M50, but my creaky old iPhone 12, when we were getting ready to leave. We had both front doors open, and a blackbird landed first on the driver side door, then took off and landed on the passenger side. I managed to get four photos before it flew off. I don’t know if it thought there was secret seed in the car or something, but it definitely had that “I just might hop inside!” look to it, and that would have been quite interesting, I’m sure.

The best shot was one I got just as it began to take off. I present it here, gallery-free!

Red-winged blackbird demonstrating why it is named thus.

In the end, not a ton of great shots, but some nice rare sightings to compensate. Also, no sunburn, woo.

The Shots

Soon™

The Birds (and other critters). Rare or rarely-seen birds highlighted in bold.

Sparrows and sparrow-adjacent:

  • American goldfinch
  • American robin
  • Barn swallow
  • Black-capped chickadee
  • Black-headed grosbeak
  • Brown-headed cowbird
  • Cedar waxwing
  • Eastern kingbird
  • House finch
  • Red-winged blackbird
  • Song sparrow
  • Spotted towhee
  • Tree swallow

Waterfowl and shorebirds:

  • American bittern (allegedly)
  • Great blue heron
  • Green heron
  • Mallard
  • Wood duck

Common:

  • American crow
  • European starling
  • Seagull

Raptors:

  • None

Non-birds:

  • Sand wasps
  • Assorted pollinators

Burnaby Lake, July 8, 2024

Some shots taken around the lake post-run and before it got silly hot, shot on my iPhone 12.

In order:

  • Actual view of lake
  • View from bridge over Deer Lake Brook
  • Still Creek
  • Still Creek from bridge, looking east
  • Still Creek from bridge, looking west
  • View from Phillips Point
  • View from Phillips Point
  • View from Piper Spit