Eagle Creek and Squint Lake in Burnaby After Snow

snow bridge

The bridge over Eagle Creek

On New Year’s Eve, I published a post about my walk beside Eagle Creek to Squint Lake on a sunny December 31st. Today I describe the area on a snowy day. We don’t get much snow where I live. When it does fall, it usually appears after Christmas and doesn’t last long. In February, 2017, we got a nice deposit that created some picturesque scenes. I visited Eagle Creek and Squint Lake with my camera to take some photographs of the scenery before the snow melted. The creek drains into the lake and then continues on to the larger Burnaby Lake.


Squint Lake and mallard ducks

The Origin of Eagle Creek

Eagle Creek is created by water that drains off Burnaby Mountain. With an elevation of 370 metres, Burnaby Mountain is low compared to the nearby mountains on the other side of Burrard Inlet. It’s a great place to explore, though. It offers a forested conservation area with trails as well as a park with wonderful views of the inlet and its surroundings. Multiple creeks drain off the mountain and continue through the surrounding lowlands.

Urban Trails

I travel beside Eagle Creek and to Squint Lake along an urban trail and a park trail. Urban trails are wide paths with a surface made of gravel or tarmac. They allow pedestrians and cyclists to safely travel around the city of Burnaby to places like schools, shopping centres, libraries, medical offices, and parks. They are also great places to get some exercise. For the most part, they have attractive and landscaped borders. They connect to the urban trail system in Vancouver. Burnaby adjoins the city of Vancouver.

Park Trails

Burnaby has places that are in their original forested or treed condition (except for the trails that have been created for people to travel through them), such as the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area. It also has a great collection of parks. The latter sites are often more developed than the conservation area. They have areas of natural and sometimes landscaped ground as well as artificial trails and facilities for the public. Even areas such as these, which I classify as “semi-natural”, are enjoyable places to observe nature.


The frozen section of Squint Lake

Eagle Creek

Eagle Creek flows through various types of landscape on its journey to both Squint and Burnaby Lake, including culverted and channelized areas. In some places, it’s located by an urban trail. In others, it travels through parks. It sometimes travels through undeveloped ravines. Immediately after it leaves Squint Lake, it passes through a strip of natural habitat in the Burnaby Mountain Golf Course. The lake is also part of the golf course grounds but is open to the public. I plan to one day follow and photograph the creek’s interesting journey.


A great blue heron

A Great Blue Heron by Eagle Creek After Snow

The great blue heron (Ardea herodias) is an impressive bird because of its size. I photographed the bird above from an urban trail beside Eagle Creek just after the snow had fallen. I quite often see a heron in Eagle Creek or in a nearby creek that drains into it, but this was the first and only time that I’ve seen the bird on a street lamp.

Despite its name, the bird is more grey than blue, though the plumage does have a slightly blue tint. It’s a wading bird with a long bill, a long thin neck when it’s extended, long legs, and a wide wingspan. It generally catches aquatic prey but will also eat land animals. The subspecies of the bird in the Vancouver and Burnaby area doesn’t migrate but stays here all year.


“No Skating Allowed” sounds like a sensible idea.

Bridge Over Eagle Creek and Squint Lake Park

I always want to follow a bridge over water in order to see where it leads. The bridge in the first photo in this post leads to the main part of Squint Lake Park. The park contains pleasant trails through the remnants of a forest as well as a softball field, tennis courts, a small playground for children, and the golf course. One section contains a skunk cabbage patch that is beautiful in the spring. A sign by the bridge warns people that the creek is a route for salmon fry and implies that the water should be treated well. The fry are released into the creek at suitable times of year by a group known as the Eagle Creek Streamkeepers.

Despite the park’s name, it’s located to the north of Squint Lake. To reach the lake, a traveller needs to bypass the bridge and the main part of the park and keep walking on the trail beside the road to the golf course entrance.


The bench where people often sit to admire or feed the ducks.

Squint Lake

A coating of snow or ice often changes the landscape dramatically as well as beautifully. While I don’t like driving in snow, I enjoy walking in it. The partially frozen surface of Squint Lake and the snow-covered trees are a lovely sight. 

Mallards are the most common birds seen in the lake and stay there all year. People often sit on the bench to feed them. The birds are confident as they come on land to get the food, though they do leave if someone gets too close to them.

Some of the golf course area is open to the non-golfing public, such as the lake, landscaped areas, and a place to buy coffee. The city of Burnaby offers a free WiFi service at public facilities, including the golf course. Visitors can’t go on to the grass unless they have paid to play golf.

So far the only snow in my area that I’ve noticed was a very light fall that didn’t settle and soon turned to rain. The situation is different at the top of Burnaby Mountain, which often gets snow in winter when the communities at its base don’t. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next couple of months. If it does snow, I hope to get more pictures of the creek and lake.

Nature Scene: A Walk to Eagle Creek and Squint Lake

The last day of 2018 was sunny, which made a nice change from the rain that we’ve been getting lately. For my daily walk, I decided to follow the trail that travels beside Eagle Creek and goes to Squint Lake. As usual, the walk was enjoyable. There are always interesting things to see and photograph in nature. I took all of the photos below on New Year’s Eve.


English holly against a winter background

English Holly

The predominant colours of nature in winter here are dark green, brown, very pale yellow, and grey. It’s so nice to see some brighter colour in the form of holly berries. English holly (Ilex aquifolium) is classified as an invasive plant where I live, so I shouldn’t admire it. Its glossy leaves and bright red berries are such a cheerful sight in winter, though, especially during the Christmas season.

The species is dioecious, which means there are separate male and female plants. I see both types on my walk to the lake. I have to admit that they do seem to be spreading because I’m seeing more holly bushes than I used to, including some very near to the start of my walk along the Eagle Creek trail.


English ivy on a tree trunk

English Ivy

English ivy (Hedera helix) is another plant that is sometimes invasive in my part of the world, though like holly it isn’t a major problem in my neighbourhood at the moment. It’s an attractive plant that grows on tree trunks and over the ground, but luckily not excessively. Cultivated varieties of the plant are popular in gardens. The familiar, lobed leaves represent the juvenile and vegetative stage of the plant. The stems of the adult and reproductive stage produce oval leaves with a pointed tip and don’t climb.


The western sword fern is common where I live.

Western Sword Fern

Unlike the previous two plants, the western sword fern (Polystichum munitum) is native to my area. The fern often grows in the understory of coniferous forests. Like English ivy, it exists in a cultivated form as well as a wild one.

The fronds of a western sword fern grow in clumps and emerge from a common structure in the ground. The result is a very noticeable plant. The leaflets or pinnae of a frond have a lobe at their base. They are attached to the stipe, or stem, at a single point instead of by the whole base of the leaflet.

Rows of round reproductive structures can be seen of the underside of the leaflets. Each one is called a sorus and contains multiple sporangia, or spore sacs. The sori (the plural of sorus) are pale green at first and turn brown later. The sporangia and spores are interesting to examine under a microscope if one is available.


A bridge over Eagle Creek


A crow watching me from the other side of the bridge

Northwestern Crow Beside Eagle Creek

Northwestern crows (Corvus corinus) are common where I live. They are confident and clever birds and are always interesting to watch. It would have been nice to have gotten a better photo of the one above, but I didn’t have a camera with a telephoto lens with me. I tried to use a slow and non-threatening approach to get as close to the crow as I could.

Several thousand crows roost in the trees by another local body of water. It’s awesome to see a mass of crows flying to their roost at dusk, especially when they’re backed by a dramatic sky.


Douglas fir cones and leaves

Douglas Fir

When I reached the lake, I found a couple of Douglas fir trees that had dropped their cones and a few branch tips, enabling me to get the photo above. The scientific name of the Douglas fir is Pseudotsuga menziesii. The tree is a conifer. It has leaves in the form of needles and bears cones. The needles are relatively soft and surround the stem. Male and female cones are borne on the same tree. The three-pronged bract above each scale of a female cone is distinctive. An old tale says that the bracts represent the legs and tail of a mouse hiding in the cone. The tree is not a true fir, despite its common name.



Squint Lake in winter

Squint Lake

Eagle creek drains into Squint Lake. The creek continues at the other end of the lake and carries the water to a much larger body of water called Burnaby Lake. Squint Lake is small. In fact, before the golf course was created, the local people used to joke that the lake was so small that you had to squint to see it. This gave the lake its name. The public can still visit the lake, even though the far side lies next to the grass of the golf course. They can’t walk on the grass unless they are golfing, though.


The fountain at Squint lake

The photo above shows the golf course and the fountain in the lake. In spring, summer, and autumn, attractive landscaping is on show at the golf course. Mallards can be seen all year on the lake and crows often pay a visit. Other types of ducks can often be seen on the water during summer as well as a wider variety of birds in the trees. Although the area around the creek, the lake, and the golf course is more attractive at other times of the year, even in winter it’s interesting.