While we still seem to be lacking an abundance of sunshine, there is no doubt that spring is finally here. The landscape is rapidly greening up, with early blooming flowers adding highlights of colour. Also contributing notes of cheer are birds singing for mates and selecting nest sites in preparing for raising a new generation this summer.
There is no better time of year to enjoy nature than spring, the most splendid season.
Two upcoming events should be additional enticements to get outdoors: the Fingerling Festival in Port Moody on Saturday, May 7 (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and International Migratory Bird Day at Colony Farm Regional Park on Saturday, May 14 (1 to 4 p.m.).
The Fingerling Festival at the Port Moody recreation complex is hosted each year by the Noons Creek Hatchery on the first Saturday in May. This year, the 20th annual festival promises to be an even larger event, with increased opportunities for children to release young chum salmon into Noons Creek and visit more than 50 displays, many with children's activities, in the skating arena just across Noons Creek from the hatchery. As usual, children's entertainers Bobs and Lolo will be singing their songs for young children at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. in the rear of the arena.
The popular Fingerling Festival typically makes for an overcrowded parking lot at the recreation centre/arena complex. While travelling by public transit is always a good option, parking in other areas near Shoreline Park and walking to the event along the Shoreline Trail would provide an opportunity to enjoy the spectacular natural beauty of the Shoreline Park.
Along this trail, the blooming Pacific crabapple creates an archway fitting for a wedding backdrop while other native shrubs in full blossom make for a hummingbird heaven at the head of the Inlet. Watch for the bright red throat of male rufous humming birds as they display from the tops of shrubs along the way.
This time of the year, you might even catch glimpses of the rare chocolate lily in full bloom. Other parts of the Shoreline Park attract band-tailed pigeons, a species at risk and the bird that appears on the city of Port Moody's official crest. Along the waterfront, you should expect good views of the nesting osprey recently arrived from Central America and, possibly, the resident pair of bald eagles nesting near Rocky Point Park.
Simply getting to the Fingerling Festival could become a pleasant experience and an excellent way to avoid the frustrations of finding a parking space closer to the event.
The following Saturday, May 14, a smaller event at Colony Farm Regional Park will provide opportunities to tour the bustling community gardens at 1:30 p.m., join a nature walk at 3 p.m. or, anytime between 1 and 4 p.m., view displays by the various volunteer groups active in the park. Children will have an opportunity to plant flowers in a pot and take them home.
Officially, May 14 is International Migratory Bird Day across North America in celebration of the annual migration that millions of birds undertake to reach nesting areas in more northern parts of the continent. The open meadows at Colony Farm attract a number of birds not commonly found in other local areas.
While this event will likely be just a few days too early to view the beautiful red and blue lazuli buntings, Colony Farm should be full of migrating warblers and swallows searching for good nesting sites. Red-winged blackbirds will be singing from the marshes and cedar waxwings should be moving through the shrubs near the community gardens. Colony Farm is an ideal place to view birds of prey, so expect to see resident red-tailed hawks or migratory turkey vultures flying overhead.
A new display at the Colony Farm event this year will be provided by the Vancouver Avian Research Centre, the group doing bird banding at Colony Farm. In the past two years, volunteers from this group have added several new and interesting species to the list of birds that rely on the habitat of Colony Farm. Colony Farm is always a great place for a pleasant stroll but the event on the afternoon of May 14 will provide an opportunity for families to discover more of its hidden assets.
Elaine Golds is a Port Moody environmentalist who is vice-president of Burke Mountain Naturalists, chair of the Colony Farm Park Association and past president of the PoMo Ecological Society.