Bird Watching Holidays on the Sunshine Coast – Spring Birding at Coracle Cove – Part 2

Spring is here and as you can see from this image, we’re having a little trouble keeping our bird feeders filled here at Coracle Cove.

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spotted towhee at feeder

I took this photo from the outside deck off the suite and caught this Spotted Towhee in the act. He’s a bit bigger that most of the others and has a particular preference for these black oil sunflower seeds.

Song Sparrow belting it out

We have a large variety of LBJ’s (little brown jobs) mostly from the Sparrow family. This male Song Sparrow has one of the most beautiful mating songs which they sing upon arrival in the Spring to establish territory and attract a mate.

White-crowned sparrow

I think this White-crowned Sparrow is a particularly handsome chap with his black and white stripes, and he’s a pretty good singer as well.

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This is another of those LBJ’s that are sometimes difficult to identify. It looks like a sparrow but the yellow wing and tail feathers ID it as a Pine Siskin, one of the flock of Siskins in the opening image of this blog.

All of these images were taken just a few feet away from our feeders so be sure you bring your camera when you come to Coracle Cove.

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Bird Watching Holidays on the Sunshine Coast – Spring Birding at Coracle Cove – Part 1

As a novice birder, I’ve approached this new-found interest with enthusiasm, and one of the great things that I’ve learned about birding is that it has a season. Migratory birds set off from distant points south, and arrive here on a schedule that has been in place for eons. The arrival of the Rufous Hummingbird is a much anticipated event among local birders here on the Sunshine Coast.

Hummingbirds are of course, are extremely hungry after their migration, which could have been up to 9,000 kilometres long. They are naturally attracted to feeders and with two freshly filled feeders installed, I had my first visitor today – did I mention that there is a competitiveness among our local birders to announce the first sighting. It wasn’t me, but I was close.

They’ll stay for most of the summer, providing us with lots of entertaining moments and opportunities for taking pictures like these. It’s one more reason why you should bring your camera when you come to stay at Coracle Cove.

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Poached Pears for breakfast… or as a decadent dessert

It’s pear season and this is a regular item on our breakfast menu during the Fall and Winter seasons. We also serve this as a dessert when we’re entertaining or if we just feel like a special treat. We’ve had several requests from our guests for the recipe, so here it is.

Start with some fresh pears. They don’t have to be ripe but you don’t want them bruised. If they’re a little on the hard side you’ll just cook them a little longer.  When you cut them it’s nice to leave a bit of the stem  on both sides. Scoop out the core with a melon baller or a small spoon, and clean up the other end where the flower petal was. Cook a few extra to keep on hand for your next craving.

You can use anything for your poaching liquid and once you get the hang of it you can experiment.   I used a bottle of red wine and added a cup of sugar, a couple of tablespoons of mulling spices and another tablespoon of black tea.

The cooking time will vary so let the pears simmer for 10 or 15 minutes and then poke them with a skewer to check. Remove them from the poaching liquid and let them cool. While you’re waiting you can ladle some of the poaching liquid into a cup and enjoy a pleasant hot drink. Save the rest of the liquid for the next time.

At Coracle Cove we serve these with our signature decadent cream – half a cup of both whipping cream and sour cream, a quarter cup of sugar and a few drops of almond extract – whip it all together. We also add a few sprinkles of granola, or in this case, some left over crumble topping with black sesame seeds…yummmm!!

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All that Jazz… and so much more

What do you get when you mix together a hot line-up of cool jazz in an incredible seaside location… why the Pender Harbour Jazz Festival, now in its sixteenth year.

Pender Harbour has been called the “Venice of the North” due to its many little communities connected to each other by boat. The Jazz Festival is an annual event for us, but this year we decided to take our boat to fully experience the flavour of this great weekend.

We tied up at Fisherman’s Resort,  just a short 5-minute walk from the Garden Bay Pub which was offering three jazz concerts that afternoon and evening. The sun was shining as we sat out on the expansive deck, overlooking the marina, while  listening to the bluesy jazz vocals of Ruth McGillivray.

Later that evening Doc Fingers took centre stage, together with a stellar cast of partners in crime, who kept the joint jumping well into the wee hours.

We woke up the next morning to bright sunshine, surrounded by water and boats. The water was as flat as the proverbial pane of glass, producing a surreal set of reflections.

It was another short walk, across a little wooden footbridge to LaVerne’s Grill where we had their rather substantial Boater’s Breakfast. Satiated, we wandered back and found front row seats  just as Anagram was setting up for their morning concert.

Back on our boat, we headed across the harbour to Madeira Park for the afternoon Jazzapalooza, four different groups, each offering one-hour sets and ranging from hot Afro-Cuban Jazz to mellow, straight ahead standards.

Here, Company B Jazz Band was on stage entertaining the appreciative audience with their beautifully harmonized renditions of the Andrews sisters and other songs from the 20′s to  40′s.

We made one more crossing, back to the Garden Bay Pub, to soak up the sunshine while listening to yet another fine group of jazz musicians. Wow… what a weekend. We’ll be back on our boat, heading up to the harbour next year for sure.

Follow this link to return to our website www.coraclecove.com

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The Upper Deck Cafe – a floating restaurant in Secret Cove

 

You can’t get any closer to dining on the water at the Upper Deck Cafe because you are actually floating on it. This seasonal restaurant, open from May to September is located in Secret Cove Marina in Halfmoon Bay and just a short 25-minute drive from Coracle Cove. It was recently reviewed in Flare Magazine’s “Five most romantic little getaways in the world.”

We’d been out boating that day with my son and his family and were able to tie up right beside the restaurant. While they offer a limited menu with a fresh sheet for daily specials, there were plenty of tantalizing choices that kept us concentrated for several minutes toying with our selections.

My wife is a self-admitted scallop junky and while initially torn in her menu decision, ultimately succumbed and ordered the sambuca-orange scallops with wild rice and barley.

My daughter-in-law ordered the chipotle seafood pasta to share with her young daughter and there were more than enough prawns to share with the rest of the table.

My son is a thirty-something male carnivore and his deliberation was focused more upon the turf-based side of the menu. He ordered the rib-eye roast cooked on the “closer side of rare.” It came covering almost the entire plate, served with yam puree and sage infused mashed potatoes.

Like father, like son I was also drawn to the same side of the menu. On the recommendation of our affable server, I chose the coffee-crusted tenderloin. It was tender, with a bit of spicy heat and the coffee crust and balsamic reduction a lovely compliment.

The food was marvellous, the service efficient and friendly, and the bill quite reasonable – $85/couple including a generous pouring of wine for each, plus tip. In addition to this fine dining experience we were entertained by boats of all sizes passing by our outside table on the upper deck. Dessert wasn’t necessary, but the colourful sunset was wonderful finish.

Follow this link to return to our website www.coraclecove.com

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Walking holidays on the Sunshine Coast – #6 – Escaping through Smuggler Cove

If you are looking to get away for the weekend or wanting a short side trip from Vancouver, the Sunshine Coast is a beautiful destination and Smuggler Cove, with its pristine beauty and colourful history makes for a great escape.

Shortly after leaving the parking area you’ll reach the first of several wooden walkways that cross over flooded areas and skirt around small ponds. If you’re lucky you might see beavers busily building the dams which have caused this flooding.

The 1.3 km trail winds through a diverse rain forest habitat with several twisting Arbutus reaching above the canopy, and continues with outlooks onto the cove itself, as well as Welcome Passage and Georgia Strait beyond. In the near distance you can see several islands, including North and South Thormanby and Texada.

During the summer months the cove is often full of anchored sailboats and other pleasure craft. You’ll see large boats navigating carefully through the narrow entrance to the cove, hugging the far shoreline to avoid several rocks lying just below the surface.

The cove has a colourful history dating back to the late 1880′s when it was first used to smuggle Chinese labourers into the United States to work on the expanding network of railways. The head tax required to enter the country was prohibitively expensive forcing them to resort to other means.

Later, American Prohibition, spawned a burgeoning industry for many Canadian boat operators, attempting to make ends meet during the Depression. Small, fast boats would load up with illicit liquor from stills on nearby Texada Island, to meet up with their American counterparts in international waters, 12 miles offshore. Each side of the sale would hold a torn dollar bill, to match up as proof of purchase.

Getting There:  Head north from Sechelt along the highway for approximately 10 minutes  and watch for the well-marked sign to Smuggler Cove. Turn left and follow this winding road until you reach a small parking area, where the trail begins.

Follow this link to return to our website www.coraclecove.com

 

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Roberts Creek Mandala 2012

The Roberts Creek Mandala Project is an amazing undertaking having evolved from a humble creation of five friends who came together one weekend to paint over some negative graffiti. Fifteen years later it has become a week long community event, bringing together over 500 painters.

The overall design is laid down in white latex paint by the mandala’s crew of organizers and then the community gathers to paint a specific “canvas” and share their artistic vision.

Paint, brushes, and all other necessary implements are supplied and creativity is encouraged in this sacred space of focused intention. Children of all ages bring the Mandala back to life each summer.

There was definitely a festive mood when I visitied the mandala this week. It was the final day of painting and the sun was shining brightly, music filled the air and several vendors had set up booths. Later that day there would be a celebration with more music and dancing.

You can find the mandala at the foot of Roberts Creek Road, at Chak Chak Point overlooking the gentle waters of Roberts Creek as they flow into the beautiful Salish Sea.

Follow this link to return to www.coraclecove.com

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Exploring Sechelt Inlet by water – two new exciting options

Sechelt Inlet is one of the most beautiful protected waterways in BC.  Tall green snow-capped mountains tumble majestically into the clear blue ocean waters and the luxuriant green shoreline vegetation reflects off calm, tranquil waters creating a lush, tantalizing visual feast. Two long standing Sunshine Coast tour operators have recently come together to provide a set of unique options for exploring Sechelt Inlet, the inland sea of the Sunshine Coast.

Sunshine Coast Marine Tours offers two scheduled tours daily in their new purpose-built 12-passenger boat. Their morning tour heads up the east side of Sechelt Inlet and within 15 minutes you are magically transported into a vast wilderness area and the traditional territory of the shíshálh Nation.

The run continues as far as Salmon Inlet, the first of two long arms branching off Sechelt Inlet. The tour joins up at Seal Cove with another group from Talaysay Tours who provide outdoor adventure experiences on our local waters with an aboriginal perspective. Talaysay offers a special one-way, morning guided kayak tour of the Inlet, providing stops along the way to view ancient shíshálh rock paintings.

The shíshálh first occupied this area thousands of years ago and the rich resources of the land and sea supported an expanding network of both permanent and seasonal settlements throughout this waterway.  Several pictographs still remain in the area and while their significance is still not completely known their presence provides a tangible link to the history of the area.

The two groups will go ashore at Seal Cove for a luncheon featuring cold-smoked salmon prepared in the tradition manner by the shíshálh peoples. After lunch, the kayaks are loaded onto the tour boat and both groups head home together, back to Sechelt. This set of tours offers a unique opportunity to get out on the waters of Sechelt Inlet in whatever way matches personal comfort levels and would be perfect for extended families.

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Putting the Pedal back into Pedals & Paddles

Pedals & Paddles celebrated their 21st season on the Sunshine Coast with an Open House this weekend at their fabulous new location on Lamb Bay, just 5-minutes away from Coracle Cove. This is a perfect location to put in a kayak with its protected bay and several nearby islets to explore.

Owner, Laurie Reid is delighted with her new location, situated at the base of Mt. Richardson, saying it has allowed her “to put the pedals back into Pedals & Paddles” as the 78 acre site is riddled with a network of old logging roads just waiting to be explored. Her staff are just in the process of finishing a one-hour green level loop for novice riders and in preparation they’ve added mountain bikes to their line of rentals.

Pedals & Paddles offer rentals for kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddle boards and the latter has become an extremely popular water sport on the protected waters of Sechelt Inlet. They also offer a number of guided tours, both in the morning and evening, as well as once a month under a full moon.

The staff is extremely professional offering personal instruction for new comers to the sport. They provide all of the regulated safety equipment and take the extra time to ensure that you are properly prepared before you set off. The protected waters of Sechelt Inlet are appropriate for beginners, yet also enjoyed by experts for its easy access and spectacular scenery.

Imagine going from city to wilderness in just 2 hours. Sechelt Inlet offers abundant opportunities for viewing wildlife on the water, land and in the air. In the short time I was there I saw eagles soaring in the sky and seals bobbing their heads at the water’s surface. A few weeks ago, while in my own boat I saw a black bear at the shoreline and have been hearing recent reports again this year of dolphins frolicking in the water nearby.

Pedals & Paddles is just a five minute drive from Coracle Cove making it a great option for our guests looking for some outdoor adventure, and whether you’re just a newbie wanting to try something new or a seasoned expert, there’s a variety of choices to meet your needs.

Follow this link to return to www.coraclecove.com

 

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Chasters creates the art of dining… and fine music

It was my birthday this weekend and also the start of a week long jazz festival, two of my favourite activities. It seemed like a good reason to celebrate and Chasters at Bonniebrook Lodge was offering a fabulous combination of dining and music.

We were seated on the patio when we arrived and were able to enjoy the warmth of the late afternoon sun while watching a parade of cruise ships in the distance.  With a glass of cold bubbly in hand we were treated to an assortment of delectable canapes - creamy Stilton on a paper thin wafer, salmon mousse, mussels in a savoury curry and duck over a sweet onion confit.

As if choreographed, the setting sun crept behind the tall trees and it was time to move inside for the rest of our set menu dinner. The menu included a  wine tasting flight and we started with a buttery Chardonnay to accompany our creamy celeriac potato soup. Our glasses were then refilled with a sweeter Pinot Gris, the perfect compliment to our salad course, freshly picked local organic greens with toasted maple pecans, feta and a honey hazelnut dressing.

We both chose the catch of the day for our entree, a perfectly cooked white fish over a soft pillow of potato mash, generously topped with a tomato and olive oil caper dressing. This was served  with a crisp, dry Chablis to moderate the rich olive oil.

While enjoying this wonderful food experience, we were also treated to the wonderful voice of jazz vocalist, Pat Collier and like each of the fine wines, her sweet, sultry voice was a perfect compliment to the evening. With just a simple keyboard to accompany her, she paid tribute to to the legendary ladies of those great jazz standards, singing straight from her heart.

Dessert was a fine finale to this evening of sensory experiences, a rich chocolate mousse offset with a tart berry sorbet served in a crunchy maple cup, and this accompanied with a creamy, espresso liqueur.

Chasters at Bonniebrook Lodge has truly created the art of dining and I would strongly recommend that you check them out for your next celebration.

Follow this link to return to www.coraclecove.com

 

 

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