Laskeek Bay Conservation Society
Another stop that Tansy made while on the Passing Cloud was at East Limestone Island (click here for a map) the location of the Laskeek Bay Conservation Society field station. The Limestone Islands are north of the Gwaii Haanas protected area off the east coast of Louise Island.
The Laskeek Bay Conservation Society was founded in 1990 with the initial purpose of studying Ancient Murrelet populations, though their natural history work has expanded considerably since then. The Society works as a collaboration between members of the public and the scientific community who work from the field station for three months of the year. Read more about their work at this link to their excellent web site.
We were met on the west beach by a Conservation Society biologist who guided us through the forest to the station on the east side of the island, explaining the work of the Society as we went and sharing a lot of interesting natural history with our group.
In the last year or two the area was hammered by very powerful winds that have blown down much of the forest in the middle of the island. A great deal of work has been done to clear the trails so that the anchorage can be accessed and so that the staff and volunteers can access the numerous nesting sites in order to monitor the progress of chicks of many species of birds.
Tansy was quite distressed by the huge numbers of spruce that had blow over and by their sadness to be lying down where they could no longer see the horizon and feel the wind.
It was a long walk for someone with short legs so Tansy had several rests along the way.
The trail network is quite extensive, but Tansy was careful to not get off the right path for fear of getting lost, or attracting the unwelcome attentions of ravens. Hittys have a fearful respect for corvids that is deeply embedded in their phloem and xylem due to the stories they all know of the original Hitty and the crow.
Tansy thought it might be fun to sleep in a tent like this, on the ocean’s edge and raised above the damp forest floor. It looks as if it would be dry even in a heavy rain.
Tansy never asked what this structure on the beach is for, but guesses it is probably a place to shower. It appears to have been decorated by a Haida artist.
Inside the research station cabin were many delights for a Hitty, including displays of bird feathers and other identification materials for helping to record observations.
Several workers were in the cabin entering observations in computers. It was clearly a busy place.
All too soon Tansy had to return to the Passing Cloud, slogging along the trail to the other side of the island. Along the way she was interested to note the numerous red painted stakes that marked nearby nests and monitoring locations.
There are many deer on the island, and someone even cut a notch in a fallen log to help them along their way.
However, as an introduced species without any predators, deer are extremely destructive of the native ecosystem.
In one area is a recently-built “exclosure” to keep the deer out and allow a patch of native vegetation to regenerate. It is right next to the trail and already there are many more small plants and young trees within than there are outside the fence where the spruce are pruned by browsing and mosses are the predominant species on the forest floor.
Back on the Passing Cloud, the passengers rested, and tried their hand at fishing in an anchorage just west of the Limestone Islands. Tansy was tired from the walk but felt exhilarated by all that she had learned along the way.