Saturday, December 27, 2014

Swans - Honk If You Like Me - Chilliwack's Winter Visitors

If you hear a loud honking overhead this time of year in Chilliwack, Agassiz, and the eastern BC Fraser Valley it will most likely be a large flock or "bevy" of Trumpeter or Tundra Swans. These birds fly down from parts as far north as Alaska in an effort to escape the winter cold and find food in our fields and farms.  
A Wedge in Flight©Stephen Mullock

The Trumpeter Swan is the largest native bird in North America and can weigh over 33 pounds. They are distinguished by their white feathers and dark beaks. These birds mate for life - so long as eggs are produced, otherwise, "divorce" may occur. An adult male is called a "cob" and a female a "pen".  Their offspring are known as a "swanling" or a "cygnet".

Trumpeter Swans

At one point, this fine bird was almost hunted into extinction.  A big, white target in the sky. So it is reassuring to see their return in numbers each year to Chilliwack, Agassiz and the eastern Fraser Valley. Mahatma Gandhi once said "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." Perhaps there is hope for us yet.

Still, they are the noisiest bird in the sky. Not at all like our sweet trilled song birds in the spring these swans, honk and hoot like a drunken choir moving onto the next bar. Their flying could be improved as well - although they were doing pretty well on the day I took the picture above.

There are a lot of great places to see these birds including almost any large farm field but two areas in particular are worth the visit.

"Sardis Park" is a 14 acre park nestled into a southern part of Chilliwack. Its' large pond provides "birders" a wonderful opportunity to view many different types of fowl  at close range. A great place to take a walk with the family.

The Cheam Wetlands is a much larger park some 265 acres in size with a sizeable lake. It is not groomed like the more urban Sardis Park and requires some long lens if you want to take pictures.  Birds in flight as the sun is setting are a pretty sight.

Chilliwack and eastern Fraser Valley communities such as Agassiz, Harrison or Hope offer a special closeness to the wild. The arrival of the Trumpeter and Tundra Swans in November signals that late fall has begun and the winter season approaches.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas Spirit / 2014 Rotary Chilliwack Santa Parade

Having a blue Christmas?  Lacking that certain Christmas Spirit?  You need to come out to one of the many holiday events being held in our area of Chilliwack, Agassiz and Harrison Hot Springs. Events like the Rotary Christmas Parade which was held in downtown Chilliwack this past Saturday. Despite a steady rain drizzle, the streets were lined 5 people deep with the kids at the front. What fun!

Watching the parade on Wellington Ave.
The parade began at 5:30 p.m. and the magic continued for an hour and a quarter. A start and finish just right for families with babies/children to meet bedtime schedules.

The crowd, despite the rain, was in a very good mood and those on the floats were evidently having a fine time as well.

Hey, we're having fun on a Christmas Float
I had been asked by a Rotary member, buddy of mine, fellow Realtor© Ian Meissner, to help out with the photography. He would shoot the floats and I would take pictures of the crowd's reaction.  What a great assignment as it gave me a chance to talk to people along the route.  I was struck, once again, no surprise here, at how nice the people of Chilliwack are.

A special thanks should go to the Rotary clubs of Chilliwack and the City of Chilliwack whose financial support helped bring the Christmas Parade back in 2013.  The Christmas spirit is still alive and well in these Rotary clubs and just a single look at the smiling faces of the parade crowd would tell them this - this was money well spent.

While most folk viewed the parade standing at street grade I spotted some other interesting spots to take in the parade as well. On balconies, on shoulders, on chairs, bleachers and our Royal LePage Star 98.3 Kindness Crew partners even had a tent set up right at Five Corners. Free hot chocolate was offered to me numerous times as I made my way up and down the streets.  Christmas cheer.

Shoulder View
The Royal Box

At the very end of the parade just as the last float was going by I noticed this small group of kids holding hands....on top, Santa Claus.

That, my friend, is a Christmas moment to remember.

May you always enjoy the Christmas spirit of peace, love and understanding.

Take my hand, here comes Santa Claus

Next must see event is the CP Holiday Train in Agassiz - December 17th, 2014.  Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo will be performing. Cash or food donations requested.  See you there.