Botany Group Report – April 1st Outing to the Comox Lake Bluffs Ecological Reserve

15 of us had a glorious day in the shade of the forested areas, and out in the sun on the old road that skirts around behind the open bluffs (which we avoided because of the extreme aridity).  The hot dry weather of the latter half of March after the prolonged arctic temperatures has not been kind to vegetation in general.  There was very little to see of spring blooms – some manzanita shrubs and chickweed monkey flower.  So the choice of a “Moss walk was fortuitous – mosses and liverworts can be “revived”  by a misting of water, an essential part of leader Randal’s equipment.  Attached is the list of the mosses that Randal highlighted for us arranged according to habitat.

Photos attached : one of the group near Mandy’s sign beside the path out to the open Bluffs and one of the tiny Hypnum circinale moss with its bright chestnut sporophytes (apologies that the focus is poor).


With the recent rain, lots of plants have perked up and even in deepest coldest Merville the fawn lilies, toothwort and woodland violet are finally in bloom.  Today on CVN weekend walk along the south side of the Puntledge down from the dam we saw  the open Bog area both the male and female flowers of the Myrica Gale (sweet gale), in addition to the swamp lantern, but the Kalmia and Labrador Tea were showing only a few new leaves.  Attached is a photo of the female flower of the sweet gale ( held still by blue-gloved hand!). These tiny (1.5 cm long)exquisite flowers are one of the many treats to be seen in the “Puntledge Bog” – well worth a visit.

Reminder – next gathering tomorrow at Kin Beach,   10: 30 am.   

For the  removal of a patch  invasive yellow archangel ( Lamium galeobdolon)  please bring gloves, a small hand fork and/or secateurs if you have (plus kneeling pad if needed).  The uprooted plants will be put onto the Park burn-pile.   For more information call Helen.

The plan is to do the hard work first, then have a walk around the Park to see what is in bloom, followed by snack lunch at the picnic benches (weather permitting).


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Botany Outing Report: April 1 2019

Greetings all,

Spring is suddenly upon us.  Luise reported that there were goldstars (crocidium multicaule) blooming on Hornby on Sunday 17th; check out Point Holmes, usually one of the earliest spots here on the mainland. The coltsfoot (Petasites palmatus) that produced its bud by the third week of January, finally opened March 9th.  On the CVN walk along the Campbell River Estuary out to Baikie island we saw  fawn lilies (Erythronium sp. ) pushing up through the silt and dead leaves along the river, and the Indian plum (Oemleria cerasiformis)  was starting to flower.  No doubt the latter is blooming along the Airpark path too;  if anyone has seen fawn lilies along the river banks in Courtenay let us know. ( Photos of all except the goldstar are attached.)

Next outing:  April 1st, Comox Lake Bluffs Ecological Reserve.  11 am at the Trailhead.

To get to the trailhead, drive out Laketrail Road, till you meet Comox Main; turn left on Comox Main and follow past the entrance to Courtenay and District Fish & Game, over the bridge at the dam and on about a kilometer to a parking area on the left-hand side of the road.    You can check Google maps    Comox Lake Bluffs Ecological Reserve :   (not sure if the link will work – webmail is not user friendly!)  Attached is the BC Parks map of the Reserve and a list of Bryophyts compiled last year by Randal and Terry Taylor.

The plan is to focus on bryophytes, with Randal in the lead , since it will be early (maybe) for many of the spring flowers. ( We will save that for a later date. ) Note that if there is a large crowd of us, we will spend our time on the trail through the forest and up the old road.  Because of the sensitivity of the actual bluffs area Mandy would like to restrict the numbers of boots treading on the fragile plants on the rock faces.  Parks is apparently working on establishing a designated walkway or the like with cordons.

Bring your lunch and suitable footwear for an uneven trail, rocky in places.

Enjoy the sun,  Alison


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Shoreline Outing Summary: Mission Road Pleistocene Deposits, Mar 13th, 2019

Roughly twenty shoreline members made it out on Wednesday to investigate 12,500 year old sand deposits laid down 10m below sea level back when the the waves would have been lapping at the spot where today you find the front entrance of the Home Depot at Lerwick & Ryan roads. We collected quite a few shells from a number of mollusc species (see annotated photograph below) and looked at a brief window of the local Pleistocene sediments. To follow up on some of the things we were curious about, there are some notes, diagrams and photographs below.
What did we find?
We found 12,500 shell deposits that showed a diversity of sizes and shapes indicative of a natural concentration of shell material driven by water currents. In the 250ml plastic container of shells, we had the following
Barnacles (Balanus sp.)
Tubeworms (Serpula vermicularis)
Scallops (Chlamys sp.)
Limpet (Acmaea sp.)– with bore hole from (?) gastropod radula
Mussels (Mytilus sp.)
Butter Clam (Saxidomus giganteus)
Echinoderm spines (see pictures– in the fine sediments)
Echinoderm spine (rod-shaped fragment among 1/2mm sand grains.
What is the sequence of unconsolidated sediments in our area and how old are they? 
The shells, bones & wood excavated from the site give a corrected age of around 12,5000 years based on radiocarbon dating. We were digging through the “Capilano” and/or “Salish Sediments”, layers that were deposited along the sea floor (and shore) after the ice had retreated. Looked down an excavated face in the quarry and saw poorly-layered glacial till (“Vashon Drift”) beneath (material melted out of the ice sheet). This in turn would be underlain by stratified sand and clays of the Quadra Sands, which were deposited by waters running off the leading edge of the ice sheet as it retreated and advanced sometime between 20-30,000 years ago. The Quadra Sands are the sediments that make up most of the Willemar Bluffs in Cmox as well as the cliffs around Seal Bay, Denman Island and Quadra Island. I am pasting below a chart showing the ages, composition and sequence of major layers of sediment in our region from Jan Bednarski’s (Geological Survey of Canada)  2015 report on surficial deposits just south of Deep Bay.
John was remarking on how well-preserved the shells are given their age and how porous the sediments were. These shells would be subject to all the chemical weathering that the pore waters could bring about. Perhaps the density of shell material acted as a buffer to keep acids from leaching away too much of the material. As many of you saw, some of the mussels still had a hint of nacre left on them, meaning that the organic matter has not completely broken down, either.
These types of materials are broadly referred to as sub-fossils. True fossils are old and encased in consolidated sediments. Really it doesn’t matter– these are evidence of ancient life in our region just around the time that we start to see physical evidence for human habitation in our region. The assemblage of shells is interpreted to represent a cold water community akin to what would be seen around 60 degrees north today.
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Guest Speaker: Ann Eriksson, Salish Sea Nearshore Habitat Recovery Project, 17. March 2019

CVN invites the public to learn about the Salish Sea Nearshore Habitat Recovery Project

Comox Valley Nature is pleased to host a public lecture. Join Ann Eriksson for an illustrated talk entitled: “Salish Sea Nearshore Habitat Recovery Project (SSNHRP)”. The lecture is on Sunday March 17, 2019 and will start after introductions at 7pm in the Rotary Room of the Filberg Seniors Centre 411 Anderton Ave, Courtenay.
Recovery of native eelgrass (Zostera marina) habitats. Photo by Ann Eriksson

SeaChange Marine Conservation Society is a not for profit marine conservation organization based in Brentwood Bay, BC. Since 1998 SeaChange has focused on conservation and restoration of marine life in the Salish Sea, primarily through education and the recovery of native eelgrass (Zostera marina) habitats. In 2017, SeaChange was granted funding support from the Coastal Restoration Fund through the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for a five year project, the Salish Sea Nearshore Habitat Recovery Project (2017-2022). Now in Year 2, the goal of this project is to recover ecosystem health and increase resiliency of nearshore marine intertidal and subtidal habitats for all species of salmon and the critical forage fish upon which they depend and are most affected by anthropogenic activities. Activities include removal of underwater debris to expand potential eelgrass habitat, restoration of damaged, degraded or destroyed eelgrass habitats, and improvement of marine riparian areas where feasible in sites utilized by juvenile salmon and spawning forage fish. This regional approach is possible because of successful long-term partnerships with local First Nations, BC Parks, other community and stewardship groups, local businesses, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Come and hear about progress of the project and how you can get involved.

Biologist and author Ann Eriksson is the SSNHRP Technical Coordinator for the Gulf Island Region. Ann lives on Thetis Island and is a founding director of the Thetis Island Nature Conservancy. Her most recent book, Dive In! Exploring Our Connection with the Ocean is a non-fiction title for children about ocean conservation.

This is an excellent opportunity for the public to learn more about the Salish Sea Nearshore Habitat Recovery Project.

Comox Valley Nature is a non-profit society affiliated with BC Nature, consisting only of unpaid volunteers. CVN fulfills its educational mandate by hosting monthly lectures, organizing free weekly guided hikes for members, and a free monthly walk open to the public. Comox Valley Nature also supports specialized groups (Birding, Botany, Marine & Shoreline, Conservation, Garry Oak Restoration, Wetland Restoration, Photography and Young Naturalists Club) which have separate monthly activities. Membership in BC Nature and Comox Valley Nature is $30.
Founded in 1966, it is one of the oldest environmental societies on the North Island. Meetings and lectures of the Comox Valley Naturalists Society are held on the third Sunday of most months at the Florence Filberg Centre, 411 Anderton Ave., Courtenay. Meetings and guided walks are open to the public, including children and youth. Lecture is free, though a $4 contribution from non-members is appreciated. New memberships are always welcomed.
Anyone interested in this lecture or participating in CVNS activities can also contact us at the website

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