DNCB Outing No. 2015-9 to Beaty Biodiversity Museum, UBC

See full set of photos by Terry (TC), Marion (MS), Ken (KB) & Pascale & Alberto (P&A) at DNCB Picasa site

DNCB & Blue Whale skeleton (KB)

DNCB & Blue Whale at Beaty Bioversity Museum, UBC (KB) (click photo to see large version)

A brilliant, sunny but cool day saw 9 members meet at Petra’s to carpool to UBC, Old Marine Drive for 9 a.m.  Others met there as did our westside resident guide, Bev Ramey.  From our parking spot in Pacific Spirit Park, 25 of us walked west to Totem Park and adjacent forest where a Northern Flicker, Steller’s Jay and Song Sparrow were spotted.  We had our DNCB group photo taken by the lovely Frances in front of Totem residences.


DNCB at Totem residences (photo taken by Frances, from UBC) – click on photo to see large version

The group proceeded north and west to briefly explore the Earth Sciences Building, the Pacific Museum of Earth with its dinosaur fossils,

and the Aquatic Ecosystems Research Lab where we met Professor Andrew Trites who was responsible for the suspended Minke Whale, Orca and three Pacific White-sided Dolphin skeletons in this building, as well as the Blue Whale skeleton in the Beaty Biodiversity Museum.

Professor Andrew Trites at Aquatic Ecosystems Research Lab (KB)

Professor Andrew Trites at Aquatic Ecosystems Research Lab (KB)

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At 10 a.m., met by Marylile, Annie and Rob, Geof and Jean, we entered the Beaty Biodiversity Museum.  We were awestruck at the massive skeleton of a 26 m long female Blue Whale floating magnificently above us in the atrium.  This Blue Whale washed ashore on Prince Edward Island in 1987, was dug up in 2008 and transported 6000 km to UBC, where it was reassembled (read how this was accomplished at http://www.beatymuseum.ubc.ca/blue-whale-project).

Ildiko Szabo, Assistant Curator of Birds (KB)

Ildiko Szabo, Assistant Curator of Birds (KB)

Thanks to Terry’s excellent organization, our admission went smoothly, and we were met by Ildiko Szabo, the Assistant Curator of Birds.  She toured us through the Cowan Tetrapod Collection comprising over 40,000 specimens shelved in drawers from floor to ceiling, row upon row.  A conventional taxidermy display of birds was viewed, which included an extinct Passenger Pigeon.

Highlights of the shelved “skins” included Penguins, a Harpy-looking large duck, a colourful Macaw, and various Saw-Whet Owls including a “glow-in-the-dark” species unique to Haida Gwaii.

Our tour concluded with a visit to the lab where grad students and volunteers worked on preparing bird carcasses.

We were shown the wing of a Golden Eagle and learned how age could be determined.  This specimen had been shot through and through but survived.  Ildiko escorted us back to the entrance from the lab where a Snowy Owl carcass awaited her attention.  Rob reported a glimpse into the Bone Room where skeletons are cleaned by beetles.

Outside, Bev Ramey guided 15 of us on a further walk around UBC.  We headed for the Nitobe Garden, skirting it and the neighbouring Museum of Anthropology where hordes of school kids frolicked.  Looking north at the top of the cliffs we had great views of Bowen Island, Howe Sound, and Lighthouse Park.  We carried on east  past Cecil Green Park and the Chan Centre.  Turning south, we climbed many sets of stairs to the Rose Garden.  The Buchanan courtyard brought back many memories for UBC grads Roger, Terry and Marylile.  We then passed the Main and Sedgwick Libraries where we encountered several Anna’s hummingbirds doing diving displays, and a Spotted Towhee, House Finch and Bushtits.

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We continued south on the Main Mall back to Beaty.  Twelve of us were guided by Bev to Mahoney’s Pub, involving a creative detour through the Immunology Building as the University Boulevard sidewalk was blocked by massive construction.  A fine meal ensued, expertly served by ex-manager Joey.

by Marylile Martin

Next week, the DNCB Outing will be “Birds on the Bay” on Wednesday, March 11, setting out from Cammidge House at 9 am to walk around Centennial Park and end back at Cammidge House around 11:30 am.


About dncb

DNS: Delta Naturalists are a group of nature lovers whose aim is to foster interest in the natural history of the Fraser delta by sharing and enjoying nature and promoting environmental awareness and conservation. DNCB: Delta Nats Casual Birders is a group of Casual Birders who go Birding at different locations each week, usually within the Lower Mainland or in nearby Washington State.
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