Heat Dome Devastation

The recent, record-breaking heat-wave, described as a “heat dome”, caused shocking devastation on some many fronts.

Our Violet-Green Swallows abandoned their nest.  We watched four adults swirling around in front of the birdhouse on one of the hot afternoons and then they were gone.  I knew that no young had fledged as I had been keeping an eye and ear on the birdhouse ever since the adults started nest building.  There had been lots of activity, but no sound of hungry, young birds.

It took a day before I realized they were definitely gone, and it was with dread that I opened the nest box.  Luckily, there were no dead chicks or even eggs.  But I found a beautiful, feather-lined nest which had taken so much work.  What a waste of valuable energy.  Others had even worse results. Neighbours grieved for dead chicks, one which had managed to pull itself out only to die under the bird house with its siblings dead in the nest.

Another tragedy came to light when I learned that our Eel-grass transplant project was cancelled (or hopefully just postponed).  The extraordinarily high levels of E.coli in Cowichan Bay made it unsafe for the divers to enter the water.  There are likely several causes for this huge increase in the bacterial count in the Bay, but one contributing factor could be the rotting invertebrates that were cooked at low-tides during the heat wave.  Thousands of mussels, clams and other invertebrates perished during the heat dome.  These would have been the food source for seabirds and other marine predators. The chain reaction is frightening.

Will more of us now realize that climate change is real, and do whatever possible to try to turn the tide?