Buckingham Creek Bonanza – Again!

An email from Deer Lake resident Leigh Palmer today, reporting salmon spawning again in Buckingham Creek, had me rushing down to the lake to view the action. And sure enough, after the chum salmon arrival and spawning in the creek starting at the beginning of November, here we are at the beginning of December, and spawning coho salmon are now in the creek.

Coho#1

Tucked tightly under the bank, the fish were visible, but very hard to photograph given the dim light along the creek. Remember to click on the pictures for larger images.

Some redd building action was visible from the viewpoint at the edge of the parking area, next to the playground swings, but there too photography was a challenge.

Coho#2

However, our very good fortune was that Dr Palmer managed to make a beautiful video this weekend of the fish spawning. The spots along the back, and the bright red sides identify them as coho.

Click here to view the action.

The chum spawning here in November were much more subdued in their colouring (see earlier posts), and a few final decaying remains of that marvellous event are still visible along the creek. With the coho here now, our salmon viewing season at Deer Lake has just been doubled – a real bonanza at Buckingham Creek!

Spawning Salmon – Buckingham Creek

Upon hearing reports of spawning salmon at Deer Lake this afternoon, I rushed down to the east end of the lake where, in fading light, I managed to watch several chum salmon (I couldn’t get a good count) actively working the gravel of Buckingham Creek in an attempt to build a redd in which to drop their eggs, and fertilize them.

Salmon spawning on the edge of a residential street, right next to the children’s swings in the playground must rate as some kind of ultimate trick and treat the day after Halloween!

All I could see at first were pale shapes beneath the creek’s dappled surface.

While listening to the slap of tails, and swooshing of water, the ghostly figures soon resolved into the recognizable shapes of salmon.Finally, I got progressively better looks, and was able to recognize them as chum salmon, one appearing to be more than 70 cm long.

More splashing action was followed by more waiting, until swimming near the bank one of the fish came into full view, its back above the surface.Over the many years I’ve enjoyed Deer Lake Park, this is my first sighting of spawning salmon here. Maybe I’ve missed something in previous years. After all, being a birder I’m always looking up, rarely down. However, there are a number of reports of other chum salmon returns to Burnaby waterways such as Byrne Creek, and Stoney Creek. See Burnaby Now reporter Jennifer Moreau’s blog.

Byrne and Stoney Creeks annually have spawning salmon. I’m not sure if Buckingham has been a member of that exclusive club in recent years. If not, maybe it’s time to think about doing some stream rehabilitation at Deer Lake too. Salmon in the city just has to be worth some effort. After all, the fish are clearly trying hard.

I’ll do some more research to see what I can find out about salmon at Deer Lake, and update this post next week.