Sunshine Coast Day 4 – things to do in Halfmoon Bay

Smuggler Cove is our destination this morning – a half-hour drive up the highway, just past Halfmoon Bay. This morning’s walk should take no more than an hour and will give you a great introduction to the pristine beauty of the Sunshine Coast.

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Bring your binoculars, as the first half of this well maintained trail system is joined together with a series of boardwalks traversing over and around small marshy lakes, and offering good birding opportunities. Later the trail opens to  sweeping views of Welcome Passage and Thormanby Islands, and at this time of the year, you’re also likely to see several sailboats moored within the protected confines of the cove itself. Follow this link for more information and pictures.Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 8.52.08 AM

For lunch, drive back toward Sechelt, but turn right at Redrooffs Road, and then follow the signs  to the Halfmoon Bay General Store. Next door you’ll find the Upper Crust Bakery with a good selection of Paninis and baked sweets. Between the two stores you can put together a pretty good picnic lunch. Then carry on down to the end of this little one-lane road to the Government Wharf for the best “restaurant” view you can imagine.

After your leisurely lunch, it’s time to hit the road again, but we’re not going too far.  Continue driving along Redrooffs Road for about ten minutes and you’ll find another Sunshine Coast Secret.

Sargeant’s Bay has been a favourite of mine for a long time – a perfect horseshoe-shaped cove with piles of driftwood stacked haphazardly along a pebble beach – and most likely you’ll have the whole area completely to yourself. If you’re interested in birding, this is a rich habitat with over 150 species. Spend as much time as you like here – with benches and lots of logs on the beach, pull up a seat, relax and soak in this pristine setting.sushi bar 5517

Our dinner recommendation for tonight is Sushi Bar 5517 in Sechelt at that address on Wharf Street. If you are a sushi afficionado you will not be disappointed but they also have a great selection of other Japanese dishes. The menu offers a very broad and creative selection of sushi – one of my favourites is the Alaska roll with salmon, crab and avocado. Be sure to order the Gomaae, a wilted spinache salad with sesame-peanut dressing.

If you’re not into sushi, there are two other restaurants nearby – The Old Boot and Daphne’s. After dinner, it’s time to head back to your favourite waterside deck to watch the stars come out. Keep an eye out for those of the shooting variety.

Follow this link to see more of our suggested itineraries or click here to return to our website.

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Bird Watching Holidays on the Sunshine Coast – Cormorants at Coracle Cove

We continue to have periodic visits from these majestic birds throughout the year, and can often see them perched on our dock with their wings outstretched. Most studies suggest that Cormorants spread their wings simply to dry them, although some breeds do flap their wings as a courtship display.

Cormorants are adept divers and take most of their prey during underwater pursuit, propelling themselves with large webbed feet.  This Double-Crested Cormorant feeds mostly on schools of fish in open water, while Pelagics will dive much deeper, pursuing small fish at depths of up to 150 feet.

Cormorants nest in colonies, typically producing 3 or 4 eggs with a relatively good survival rate among hatchlings. The chicks leave the nests, forming small groups called creches. They continue to form larger groups, until, at the age of about one month they belong to very large creches. The dutiful parents still come to feed their offspring in these super-creches.

 The Cormorant population is relatively stable now, after suffering a serious decline in the middle of the last century from DDT and other toxins. Recently, however, some jurisdictions have legislated a culling of the population, based on pressure from fishermen and fish farmers who see Cormorants as competitors and marauders. In most cases, these claims have proven false as the birds often take fish of no commercial value.

Fortunately, we have neither of these industries near where we live, and we can continue to enjoy these beautiful birds. As always, remember to bring your camera when you come to stay at Coracle Cove.

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Thanks to Sechelt Farmers Market for a great Spring-time dinner

Here’s another sign of Spring – the first day of the Sechelt Farmers Market. I’ve been watching the calendar for the past few weeks, anxiously waiting for this day to arrive.

I have a cold frame and if I can find a few lettuce seedlings to tuck into the warmed soil,  I’ll be noshing fresh garden salads in just a few weeks.

I was in luck, and as you can see from the picture there was lots to choose from. Naturally I ended up with more than a few seedlings – two different varieties of lettuce, some arugula, kale and Pak Choi – but my container garden is well on its way.

But I also came home with much more than a few seedlings. Tonight’s dinner has taken on a special Spring time theme inspired by a few more of my treasured finds at the market.

We’re starting off with some fresh Camembert made from local goats milk and then a flavourful micro-greens salad. The little jar of pesto that I found,  made from wild nettles and cashews, will go perfectly with fresh asparagus and nugget potatoes. Then I’ll  fire up the BBQ and cook an old favourite – beer-can chicken. For dessert… fresh strawberry cobbler. Now that’s a great spring-time Sunday dinner – thanks Sechelt Farmers Market for the inspiration!!

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Eagles active at Coracle Cove

Our resident family of eagles have been extremely active lately. While their nest is hidden  in the forest, as the day begins to lighten they return to their regular perches along our shoreline to watch for breakfast opportunities, and eagerly call back and forth  to each other.

an eagle visits coracle Cove

Occasionally one of the family will perch in our big fir tree and give us a great close up. It’s a magical moment for our guests and a reminder to always have your camera ready.

Bandit

“Bandit” whom I named last year for the band of adolescent brown feathers over his eyes, will this year have his full head of white feathers. His younger brothers and sisters, however, jostle for landing space as they land in the nearby trees. Toward the end of each day, they can often be seen practicing their flight manoeuvres, chasing each other in the sky and calling out with their distinctive high-pitched whistling.

IMG_5785And sometimes, we’ll get another close-up when one of them perches on the railing leading down to our dock… all the better to catch their next meal.

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We often think of eagles as being at the top of the food chain, but only about one in ten actually survive past age three. We’re very lucky as Bandit has several brothers and sisters  Proud Parents

While all this is going on, the parents are never too far away, and should be very proud of their efforts in raising such a large family and beating the odds that Nature so often extracts.

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Spring birding on the Sunshine Coast – March 31st

These LBJ’s (little brown jobs) are doing a pretty good job of taking over our feeders right now. There’s generally a dozen or more perched in the branches of the big Fir tree next to the B&B feeder, waiting for an opportunity to swoop in and feed. They’re actually Black-eyed Juncos, called that because… well they have black eyes and bird names are usually that way.

This is a great time for birding, with lots of new species arriving each week. There’s a friendly little contest going on between some of our local birders, with the current leader having just passed the 100 mark for the year.  I’m quite a bit off that mark but I do enjoy the annual spring parade of returning species, and I really enjoy trying to take their pictures.

The Juncos are pretty tolerant of human activity, especially when they’re bulking up for mating season, as they seem to be doing right now. I took these two pictures from our B&B deck.  By positioning the feeder just off to the side, I was able to catch them in a natural setting, perched on a branch, waiting to move on to the feeder.

Happy Birding Everyone!!

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Watching the Great Blue Heron at dinner

Like a well choreographed musical, the Great Blue Heron has once again made its grand seasonal entrance to the stage at Coracle Cove, displaying its timeless evolutionary talents.IMG_9516 - Version 2

It brought back memories of another Spring day, when I was able to watch this beautiful bird standing patiently for several minutes, in a shallow basin of water at low tide. It was very focussed, not seeming to notice the close attention that I was paying to it at all, when suddenly its head plunged into the water.

Great Blue Heron at Coracle Cove

 

Great Blue Heron at Coracle Cove

Heron are carnivores and their long legs, neck and pointed bills have evolved to allow them to forage for their water-borne food supply. A further modification in their vertebra lets them draw their neck back into an S-shape. Standing completely motionless, they patiently wait for small fish to move into striking range, and then shoot their head and bill forward with lightning speed to spear their unwary prey.

Great Blue Heron at Coracle Cove

Unfortunately, these heron are themselves, caught in the middle of the food chain. They must be ever vigilant and on the lookout for the sharp-eyed and swift-flighted eagle. As the eagle population has increased, the ungainly flight pattern of the heron is seriously outmatched, and our heron population is now noticeably declining.  Can anything be done, or do we already interfer too much with Mother Nature?

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Taking ‘dog friendly’ to another level

 Our waterfront suite is dog-friendly!  As former dog owners ourselves, we understand the problem when you really need a weekend getaway but have the hassle of finding somewhere for Fido to stay. It’s never easy and it used to break our hearts when we had to leave our Sophie at the kennel.

We have only the one suite, so it’s really easy for us to accommodate a variety of needs,  be it parents with kids, couples &  pets, or just a quiet, romantic place to getaway for a few days.  Our guests don’t have to worry about disturbing anyone else – whether it’s excited kids or a barking dog – because you are our only guests.

But back to the dog friendly part…  what we’ve really noticed is that the dogs who come with their owners are really well behaved and it’s fun having them around. Now these two pups… talk about well behaved – check out their YouTube video . They’re welcome to stay with us anytime… as long as their owners behave themselves.

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My perfect morning Om!!

Today I’m writing about two of my favourite activities – yoga and food – and they came together yesterday morning like a perfectly pitched Om. Thursday mornings I have a class at Yoga by the Sea and I’m really enjoying the Energizing Flow sessions which provide a good mix of both physical and mental activity.

Yoga by the Sea is located in downtown Roberts Creek and as the class was ending around 11:30, my thoughts gently drifted toward  lunch… and that’s when the second part of the perfectly pitched Om chimed in.

We wandered over to the Gumboot Restaurant just as it was beginning to fill with a lively lunch crowd. I started off with an Americano, well pulled with a nice,thick crema floating on top. Then I ordered the Buddda Bowl… it seemed appropriate for the morning, and I wasn’t disappointed. A large mounded plate arrived, piled high with steamed greens, shredded raw carrots and beets, baked tofu slices, and brown rice with a rich and flavourful peanut sauce. There was way more than I could eat so I got to take home a doggy bag –  next time I’ll remember to order a half-bowl.

My yoga buddy ordered the Tostada Breakfast, which was equally large-proportioned – a couple of eggs, over easy, laid on top of a corn tortilla with smokey pinto beans and a tangy/spicey chipotle mayo… mmm good!

The Gumboot menu is not large but with a couple of choices like this, you can’t go wrong. They’re open all day – breakfast, lunch & dinner.

The bottom line:  Definitely two thumbs up!!

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A Taste of Sechelt – where to eat & where to shop to eat later

Recently I was invited to join a group of visitors on a guided walking tour, A Taste of Sechelt.  As a long-time resident I have to admit that I learned a few things on this tour, but I also came away with an appreciation of just how valuable such a tour would be for anyone visiting Sechelt.DSC02128

If you’re looking for ideas on where to go for lunch or dinner, or what to pick up for dinner back at Coracle Cove, this is a great introduction to Sechelt’s food scene.Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 8.40.30 AM

 

So much to see! So much to do! So much to taste! We stopped in at nine shops and restaurants to sample some of the finest foods Sechelt has to offer.

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Our first stop was Ty’s Fine Foods, which has always been one of my favourite spots for lunch. We sampled two of their in-house soups: a zesty carrot-ginger and a savoury split pea, together with a lovely flakey spinach scone. All of their products are made from scratch – no “heat and serve” soups here, and yes, they do take-out.

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Half a block down Cowrie Street we stopped in to meet Dean,  the new owner of the Sechelt Fish Market. Dean provided us with his sampling: salmon pate with a caper aioli on a delightful biscuit-style cracker. All of the ingredients were available in his store, together, of course, with a good selection of fresh, local seafood. I picked up some seasonings for my own kitchen, some Old Bay and a small tin of Maldon Sea Salt.

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Further down the road and around the corner we stopped in at Lucky’s Smokehouse where we sampled some pulled pork sliders on a fresh baked biscuit. Wow, not just a feast for the eyes, but mighty tasty as well. Here’s a picture of our happy group. In the background you can see a few of the old classic movie posters which have been used to decorate this great little spot. While there, I learned that Lucky’s also delivers, so I’ve picked up a few of their menus for my guests.

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Our next stop was the Butcher Block where we had a very interesting presentation on their products, the farms they come from and what makes them different from the mass produced products we find in supermarkets. Once again, it was an eye opener for this local boy. I was given a couple of links of their in-house Italian sausage to take home with me, which I added to a spaghetti sauce that night. Yes, there is a difference!

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Now I don’t have a dog, but if you look a little closer at this picture you’ll see why our next stop was so much fun…

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If you do have a dog or have a special friend with a dog, then you must stop in at Three Dog Bakery. They use all natural ingredients to make their special dog treats. Coracle Cove is a pet-friendly vacation rental and many of my guests like to travel with Fido when they stay with us, so I’ll be sure to recommend a visit. DSC02139

 

Our next stop was the newly opened Angelo’s Greek Grill. It was late in the day but we still had some room for these Gyro sampler’s – shaved pork on pita bread… yumm!!

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And finally, just to round out our geographical sampling, we ended the tour at Saffron, for some East Indian cuisine. The pakora was perfectly cooked with an interesting blend of spices, and sitting inside the restaurant magically transported us to another land.

Like I said earlier, so much to see, so much to do, so much to taste. A taste of Sechelt is offered by Earthly Journeys. Check out their website for other tours and give them a try.

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Spring is here – a little bird told me

It may not feel quite like spring but the birds are on to something. The other day I heard the sweet singing of a Song Sparrow. While personally, I’d like it to warm up a bit more, I’ll put my trust with these feathered weather forecasters – after all they’ve been doing this for eons.

Ornithologists have learned as days lengthen in the Spring, the longer hours of light trigger the release of hormones in birds, and these hormones prompt the male birds to sing. Male birds – like this Song Sparrow use their melodious song to attract mates and fulfill nature’s imperative to engender new life. Spring… song... romance.  Have you heard this song – listen now 

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