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Salmon River Spawning

Robinwood is on the Salmon River. At this time of year as the salmon are spawning, and with  the unmistakeable aroma that goes along with that, the river feels more alive and connected than ever. I was down at the beach a few days ago and all was quiet, and now suddenly there is activity. Salmon jumping, gasping, and struggling over the shallow spots, aiming to get as far upstream as they can before their final gift to the land -fertilizer and food for the creatures that roam the river’s edge and the forest beyond.IMG_7603

The Salmon River headwaters begin in Strathcona Provincial Park and it runs about 80 kms before it reaches the ocean in Kelsey Bay near the Sayward Village. Banked by old growth of Sitka Spruce, Western Hemlock and Red Cedar, Cottonwood and Alder, we have about 800 meters of river running the southern border of our land.

During the summer, I swim and bathe in the shallow water everyday. I’m able to walk across to the other side, at some point the water just ankle deep. In the rainy season, I don’t even like to get close.

The Salmon River fluctuates dramatically with the rains. The main reason it changes so much from day to day and hour to hour is because of clearcut logging along the valley up river. When it rains 70 mm, for example, we can expect the river to rise 2-3 feet within 24 hours. And there’s a dam upriver as well. Basically, a few days of rain create huge changes around here. Standing on the beach below the trees, you can see grass and twigs still lodged in the branches, showing that last winter, the river came a good 10 feet there.

So, with the salmon come the bears! Look at these tracks!

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I followed them a few meters and found this: A big bite out of this guy!

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And more tracks; signs of the secret life of woodland creatures left in the sand. The ones on the left are from Rita and the bear, but the ones on the right, well, what do you suppose those are from? Raccoon? River otter? I am not sure….

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Mushroom Hunting

We went mushroom hunting!
We drove up a road someplace into some woods nearby and found a very diverse kingdom of fungi! Blue ones, orange, purple, pink, red, glowing white and yellow. We found a ton of chanterelles, our bounty was incredible. Chanterelles for breakfast lunch and dinner for days!
We even saw a bear! I had brought my camera and it made our 2 hour sojourn in the mushroom moss that much more fun for me. Every tiny spec in the world holds beauty, and the sweetness of the dripping rainforest is full of my kind of treasures.
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Toads

One of the biggest treats for me living down by the river is being around so many toads. I love these little critters!! You can hear them croaking constantly, and lumbering/hopping through the grass at night, and outsmarting the toad hunters down by the river…

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One day,  I noticed a funny string in the pond at the edge of the river. This little pond had been cut off from the main flow and was warming up quite nicely. The toddlers had fun playing in it, and apparently, it was a good spot for the toads as well. Anyhow, I found this funny string, which had to have been over 50 ft long. I had no idea what it was! IMG_4120IMG_4119

As you can see, it was a clear jelly like line, full of these little black dots. eggs? Alien eggs?

I kept going back to check on the string, and in a few days the shape had turned from round, to more of a… let’s say “mouse poop” shape. The string became weaker over time, and in a few more days it was obvious that these were little tadpoles! I felt like a proud toad mama!

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It was crazy how they would huddle together in these big clouds!IMG_5486

Everett and Brynn had fun catching them, (not too challenging) and they even found a crayfish!IMG_4225

I left for a few weeks in the summer to run my camps in Victoria, and missed the moment we’d all been waiting for when they emerge from the water. When I got back I search and searched for the tiny baby toads that must have been hopping around in the thousands, but it took a few days to spot one. And then, once you see one, you see more….IMG_7141IMG_7151

I have done a little research, and toads can live up to 10-15 years. They reach full maturity in about 2-3 years but less than one percent of the baby “toadlets” make it. Their warty skin apparently tastes bad, and it is not just good camouflage.

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Everyone loves the toads!IMG_5397

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So, it’s now October, and the toads have migrated up to higher ground, and I’ve noticed that on sunny days, they all come out from under our pallet deck outside the bus/outdoor kitchen. This is the winter home, I guess! Perhaps I can “accidentally” drop my babies some food? Here is a photo I took just the other day, can you spot all 4?

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More toad info! how exciting!