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Your Passage to the Wild Heart of Vancouver Island BC Rainforests: Tours with a Biologist
When you take a rainforest tour on Vancouver Island BC, it’s hard to take your eyes off the giant mossy trees glowing like stained glass in nature’s cathedral. Some of the tallest stretch over 90 meters, while others are 20 meters around.
Even with your eyes closed there is a humid, fragrant coolness that enables the mosses and lichens clinging to the tree branches to grow so well. Multiple canopy layers, forest openings with berries and other pioneer species, dead standing trees with holes for owls, bats, squirrels, and nut hatches are just a few of the highlights.
For wildflowers, April and May are great times to see what’s flourishing in the ancient rainforest. Coral root and Calypso orchids, trilliums, wild cherry, elderberry and salmon berry are some of the flowers that you can find in the spring. Starting in June and lasting into September, you also can taste the wonderful parade of berries that result from this profusion of flowers. (Be sure to take along a field guide or an expert to avoid any poisonous plants, and avoid harvesting plants in a park.) There are some very tasty and nutritious plants like stinging nettle (cooked) and many medicinal ones as well.
If you slow down and look down…way down under the slabs of bark in the summer you will see a menagerie of colourful critters. The black and yellow millipede gives off a cherry smell when handled. While the faint whiff of cyanide is harmless to humans, it would prove deadly to others its size that chose to mess with it. Then there are the giant hermaphroditic banana slugs, which get to be 25cm long. Their slime has a natural anaesthetic if you happen to get a toothache while lost in the forest. The delicate and secretive red backed salamanders live their entire lives in rotten logs. In fact there are over 92 species of animals, insects, and birds using dead trees in the forest. A magnifying glass and pocket microscope are just a few of the gadgets to help you explore the microcosmos.
In April the forests fill with spring bird song, especially in the early morning and you can watch many species that prefer older forests such as varied thrushes, brown creepers and pileated woodpeckers. If you’re lucky and around at dawn or dusk you may hear or see a western screech owl, northern saw-whet owl or northern-pygmy owl. Bird watching in rain forests with trees that stretch higher than 20 stories presents its challenges. It is helpful to have a scope with an angled eyepiece or lie on your back with binoculars to save your neck. Many species can also be called down to more visible levels with their own call or a ‘psss’ sound. There are some excellent recordings of bird calls of Vancouver Island by John Neville which greatly assist in identifying these phantoms that flit about high in the tree canopy.
The mild climate on Vancouver Island means that you can experience the rainforest wonders all year. The wet season begins gradually sparking a techni-colour explosion of mushrooms in September and October. November brings the torrential rains that produce such fantastic growth and bring out the many shades of vibrant green in the mosses reconstituting from a dry summer. Mist, fog and rain bring a whole new atmosphere and photographic opportunities.
For more information, including the big tree registry visit http://www.coastalrevelations.com/
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About Coastal Revelations Nature Tours: Coastal Revelations' eco tour operators can help you find the wilderness adventure holiday you’re looking for. Your nature tour guides are Interpretation Canada trained, which means their passion for this place lights up innovative and interactive programs and activities.
Coastal Revelations is a registered company with biologist memberships in the Association of Professional Biologists of BC, the College of Applied Biology, the Parksville Chamber of Commerce / Tourism Information Center, and Interpretation Canada. Our focus is to help you see and understand more during your eco adventure vacation to the west coast. Not only will you discover something new, you will revitalize your sense of wonder as you gain insight into the ways of the BC wilderness.