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Bob's Blog

Animals Category

Sky Attack!

bc-crow-nixon-100607.jpgYears ago, an owl living in Stanley Park began to attack a few joggers running along the trails.  It would wait until they ran by then swoop down and latch onto their heads before flying off.  The bird was quite particular about its targets, choosing mostly women, almost all of whom had pony tails.  Experts decided the bird mistook that for a squirrel's tail.  Probably, the owl soon learned to distinguish between the two and the attacks ended as suddenly as they began. 

Switch now to Surrey and 77-year old Pearl Schweitzer, who has got a problem even worse than that faced by the joggers.  Unlike them, she cannot run away from her attacker.  The Bird icon_video.gif

Howie the Whale?

bc-whale-nixon-100503.jpgI have done a couple of wildlife stories in Squamish over the past couple of years and both involved very good news.  The first was two years ago when massive numbers of herring arrived to lay eggs in the estruary, after largely ignoring the area for decades.  Much of the credit for the revival was due to the Squamish Riverkeepers, who had worked with industry to wrap creosote soaked pilings in non-toxic fabric so the eggs laid on the pilings could survive. 

Some people believe the success of that project, coupled with other efforts to revive the estruary, is linked to the arrival of the first Gray Whale in 100 or more years to feed in the shallow waters off Squamish.  Whatever the reason, it certainly drew scores of people to the Squamish Spit, many of whom were among to the first to catch a glimpse of this leviathan.  But let me tell you, when that whale is a few kilometres away, it is not easy to film.  Though we saw it rise more than a dozen times, we managed just one brief shot of it. Gray Whale icon_video.gif



The Dog Guy

bc-afghan-nixon-100420.jpgOwing to the hockey play-offs, our stories have to be a little shorter than normal, as our news show is only half an hour long rather than the usual ninety minutes.  That's why for this story I was unable to put in a key point about my main character. 

John Hall is well known to people on False Creek seawall because of his daily walks to Granville Island in the company of his pack of dogs.  But I almost did not get this story done in time when he told me he had been the keyboard player with the legendary Vancouver rock band 'Prism'.  As soon as I got back to the office, I was on youtube pulling up live 1970s performances of Starship Superstar and Armagedden.  Amazing stuff.  Winner of the 'Group of the Year' Genie in 1980, my mention of Prism drew blank stares from the younger CBC folk.  But listen to lead singer, the late Ron Tabak, sing and you'll see where Axl Rose might have got his sound.  (Surely the name Axl Rose wouldn't produce blank stares, would it?)

Anyway, the piece made it to air and did not really need the Prism reference.  Hall has moved on, plays piano at the Joe Fortes restaurant these days.  Besides, touring with a rock band would have made his dog walks pretty tough.  Afghan Man icon_video.gif

Blue Whale

bc-whale-nixon-100407.jpgOver the past few years, I have been lucky enough to make a number of stories about Andrew Trites' efforts to bring a blue whale skeleton to UBC's new Beaty Biodiversity Museum.   As a marine mammal expert, Trites usually focusses on the mystery of why the Stellar Sea Lion's numbers are dropping on the west coast.  But anyone who has visited the Biodiversity Centre at UBC can see all manner of remarkable whale, seal and sea lion skeletons suspended in the most strangely lifelike poses.  Now he and his colleagues have succeeded in bringing this amazing acquisition to the now completed Museum.  It has been a journey that has taken this unfortunate whale - apparently the victim of a collission with an ocean freighter more than 20 years ago - from coast to coast.  Skeleton Arrival icon_video.gif

City Hall Bees

bc-bees-nixon-100319.jpgFull disclosure time now.  I have an interest in this story.  The miracle of honey production has fascinated me ever since I was a kid on the prairies.  Manitoba creamed clover honey sent me into the most wondrous sugar high.  As a teenager, I once spent months poring over a bee catalogue imagining myself as an apiarist (that's fancy for beekeeper).  But I lived in the city, everybody knew you could not raise bees in the city. 

Fast forward 30 years and I discover that cities are changing.  Vancouver ended its ban on backyard beehives.  I called up the head provincial apiarist and took a beginner course.  Got some hives.  My life has been sweet ever since. 

Now Vancouver City Hall has gone one step further.  Not just allowing its citizens to engage in this sometimes stingful hobby, but deciding to put hives at City Hall itself.  Proving you can flight city hall.  (I'm sorry, but you need to be prepared for the painful puns you are about to hear.)  Bee City icon_video.gif


Surrey Peacocks

bc-peacocks-nixon-100209.jpgWe city folk have a strange ambivalence towards wildlife.  We like most wild animals so long as they do not view us as dinner (bears and cougars), want to spray us (skunks), live in our attics (racoons and squirrels), bite our kids (coyotes) or poop on us (most any bird).   This list of caveats means many people do not like wild animals at all, if they happen to invade our urban environment.  But this happens rather regularly and somehow we manage to co-exist with many of the animals I just mentioned.  

Trouble is what is a pest to some is a welcome guest to others.  Witness the wildlife invasion in one Surrey neighbourhood.  Running a-Fowl icon_video.gif

Toothy Dilemma

bc-mammoth-nixon-100201.jpgGiven the kind of lifestyle stories I do, you would not immediately think my world suffers from that most pressing of reportial issues - deadline pressure.  The TV news biz is designed to avoid the disaster of a reporter missing their assigned slot - especially if their story is the lead item.  It follows that top story reporters get resources assigned to them early, so they can start filming, writing and editing in time to make their spot. 

Now the last time I led the news was shortly after the great Vancouver fire of 1886.  So when I ask for camera time, I am usually met with laughter and great guffaws, before my tears soften their hearts and off I go.  This often means I get back late and must rush the writing and editing in order to make my slot.  This item, involving a rather interesting item, is a case in point.  Let's just say that if you watched it on TV, you saw a few elements presented out of order, which no doubt only increased your usual level of confusion from my pieces.   I have fixed the problem for this blog, and hope it's less confusing now.  Mammoth Sale! icon_video.gif

Teaching Old Dogs ...

bc-dog-nixon-net.jpgWe've all heard about how a dog year is equal to seven human years.  They just age faster than us, they die sooner than us.  People who love dogs keep replacing them one after the other, sometimes giving the new one the same name as the old one.  But what happens when an old dog just keeps getting older?  Well, that's the focus of this story.  And I should mention - that I wrote the story on a Wednesday and it ran on TV on a Thursday.  Why is that important?  Because - in the strange coincidence department (see next story) - Otto the World's Oldest Dog - died on the same day we showed this story on TV.  (We only learned of it on the Friday)  Oldest Dog? icon_video.gif

Swan Release

bc-flock-nixon-net.jpgMost people like wildlife.  Nobody wants a bear or cougar to attack them, but the idea of bears or cougars wandering about in the wilderness is usually a pleasing thought.  We like to live in harmony with our fellow creatures.  We often travel long distances to see them. 

That connection to wildlife often becomes an emotional one when we come across animals in distress.  We know all about it being a jungle out there, survival of the fittest and all that - creatures get injured and die in all kinds of natural ways. 


Swan Rescue

OK, here's the back story.  The swan's plane was late, which meant everything else got put back - the arrival at the rescue centre, their examination of the poor thing, and the time when they would show to us.  Wouldn't you know it, we ran out of time.  It was a question of getting the pics of the swan OR getting the story on the air that night.  Couldn't have both.   So with that caveat - watch away!  Swan Love icon_video.gif

Doggie Blood

Over the years, I've done plenty of story about appeals from the blood bank for more donors.  Over the years, I've done plenty of stories about pet health too.  Pet ambulances, doggie dental surgery and the like.  It was only a matter of time before I combined both stories into one.

Doggie Spa

As a kid, we had a black lab named Skipper.  She was so smart that when I told her to go get her dog food, she would race down to the basement larder and pick out the Dr. Ballards from amongst all the niblets, peas and other can choices.  Could she smell the food through the tin, or did she recognize that German Shepherd on the label?  I never knew - but neither did I ever reward her for her ingenuity.  

Times have changed, apparently. 

Bedbug Bow-Wow

Hey, the idea of bedbugs creeps me out as much as it does the next guy.   I recall getting in late to a pretty well known hotel in Winnipeg years back that some rather nasty critters in the room they gave me.  What hotel - you ask?  Well, without naming names - it was close to the Forks - but they did give me another room that had no such problem, and it was years ago, so probably they got rid of the problem, within minutes of my complaint.  Really! 


Let's Raise Sheep!

    These are tough days for farmers.  Cattle ranchers still face lingering problems over BSE, hog producers watch demand dwindle over an apparently misplaced fear about the connection between pork and H1N1. 

    But that's not the case with sheep farmers. 

Bearer of Bells

What with all the mascots, mittens, pins and such - you just know the Vancouver Olympic folks will leave no retail marketing stone unturned.   Witness the latest from the Spirit of BC (North Shore) Committee. 

Taxidermy Exhibit

I've reached the age when I can start puffing out my chest and beginning sentences with "Well, in MY day....."  and then go on to pontificate to young people.  Here's one I can use right here - Well, in my day - when we went to museums, we used to see dozens and dozens of stuffed animals.  Not any more though, most museums have long since relegated their menageries to the storage rooms - or worse (or better, depending on your view). 

Yukon Donkey Trek

Normally I don't take CBC cameras on my holidays.  But when the trip involves wandering a Yukon mountain with donkeys carrying the gear, why not? 

Lobster Feed

You may have heard that when the stock market collapsed last year, New York restaurants noticed that stockbrokers were no longer buying 'what the hell' wines at lunch.  These are wines that cost hundreds of dollars a bottle.  In fat times, financial folks would look the price and say 'ohhhh, what the hell' before ordering one. 

Dog Funeral

In the search and rescue parlance, he was known as a cadaver dog - trained to uncover dead bodies.  And a golden retriever named Barkley performed that role so well that

Wild Dog

They came from Russia speaking no English - bringing along a little street dog.  But once they got to Vancouver, the dog went missing.

Eagle Cam Chicks

The eagle cam sensation continues to attract web viewers worldwide, attracted to this up close view of wild life the makes for some amazing reality TV.  

Eagle Cam Fever

They're back, and bigger than ever.  B.C. eagle cams waiting for the eggs to hatch at three separate locations. 

Love Birds

A sure sign of spring only with a twist.  Star crossed interspecies romance.