Trip Report: Estuary trails, May 26, 2019 (South Dyke Trail and East Marsh)

Rhonda O’Grady had lent me an inspiring book called Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer.   As a university botany professor and First Nations person, Robin beautifully conveys a fuller understanding and appreciation of plants by bringing together these different ways of thinking.  As I knew Rhonda would be coming, my original intention for the outing had been to begin by sitting amongst the sweetgrass in its habitat, with peacefulness and appreciation, to see if together we could create Robin’s approach and perhaps carry this throughout the outing.  Kevin likes to learn from varied points of view and I think would have been open to this.

Two from Vancouver were the first to arrive. Sigal is a biologist now keenly interested in studying plants.  She was aware of this outing because we both participate in iNaturalist.  Sigal finds iNaturalist to be an excellent tool for learning botany.  Confirming identifications for observations posted onto iNaturalist requires Sigal to learn the detailed characteristics of the species to see if the posted name is correct.  She has confirmed identifications for approximately 6000 plants on iNaturalist.  Sigal and Jonathan had time and were keen to see and photograph as much as possible while here, particularly Plantago macrocarpa (Alaska plantain)*, as our Estuary has a disjunct (separated) population. The nearest records on the mainland for this species are way up in the Central Coast. All being well, by late summer this species of plantain will have produced its distinctively large capsules.

Carl’s creative ability to spot and photograph amazing, varied discoveries in nature led him quickly here and there and up and down around the area.  I always look forward to seeing through his photographs what caught his eye!

We had a view across the channel of the new culvert installed in the road to the Spit: the purpose of the culvert is to improve access for fish from the Squamish River to the Estuary.

There was also an abandoned homeless camp to clear.

Participants:  Rhonda O’Grady, Kevin Nold, Carl Halvorson and Leona Murray, Sigal Blay, Jonathan Hanna, Judith Holm

Submitted by Judith Holm

Photo above by Judith Holm. New culvert installed in the Spit road.

*Editor’s note: We asked Judith to include photographs of the Alaska plantain in the album for this trip. She had nothing recent so set out in the morning on May 30 to get photographs before the wind came up. She saw a bear coming along the railroad tracks toward her, and elected to include some photographs from previous seasons. Good choice!