Winter Ruminations in the Great Bear

by Doug Brown
Raincoast Field Station Co-Coordinator
Denny Island, March 2009

The sun is once again shining on the field station bunkhouse after three months of sitting low on the horizon.  The field station is in the north by some standards, on the central coast near Bella Bella, BC. This is the traditional territory of my people – the Heiltsuk. It’s late afternoon and I’m taking a break from my daily duties as caretaker of this beautiful property. I’m enjoying the warmth of the sun on my face through the window, and the light on the water toward Campbell Island.

You might think winter in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest would be a quiet time for wildlife, but on an average day I will see sea lions cruising by, otters resting on the old float, hooded and common mergansers diving and coming up with blenny’s and sculpins in their bills, mallards sleeping on the rocks, and “Harold” the resident great blue heron watching over it all from his favorite piling. I look further and spy a pair of bald eagles perched on a tall spruce at the point.

A wolf cross Briggs Inlet in the Great Bear Rainforest

Out near a little island that sits across from the field station there are surf scoters, marbled murrelets, common murres, red-necked and western grebes, pelagic and double-crested cormorants. At least once a week I take a boat over to that little island to watch and photograph birds, as it is always active with avian life. Whenever I’m there, it strikes me what a little unknown gem of a spot this is as a stop-off point for so many species of birds. Even journeys into the inlets at this time of year can be rewarded with wolves, such as the one just spotted swimming Briggs Inlet, likely in search of its next meal.

While winter on the coast holds its own quiet attractions, I can sense the whisper of spring and with it, the arrival of new life that my ancestors have welcomed for thousands of years.

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Other news:
UVIc is closing Dunsmuir Lodge

Yes it’s sad. As of April 1st, Raincoast is moving its main office from our beloved forest on Mt. Newton into downtown Sidney, due to the University’s closure and likely sale of the Dunsmuir facility and property. Our mailing address, phone and fax will all stay the same but our physical office space will be located at 2506 Beacon Ave, 2nd floor. It’s a smaller space, but the upside is we will be more central and easier to get to!

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