VANCOUVER - From a car window, a landscape can be read like a book — and British Columbia's landscape is a real page-turner, say biologist Richard Cannings and his twin brother, zoologist Sydney Cannings.
"There are many fascinating features of the environment that can be appreciated at 100 kilometres per hour," they write in their updated edition of "The New B.C. Roadside Naturalist: A Guide to Nature Along B.C. Highways" (Greystone Books).
It's possible to identify trees and shrubs from a car moving at highway speeds (an appendix gives tips), and animal sightings can give clues on interpreting the environment, the authors write.
"A large flock of gulls gathered on the shores of a river is often a sign of a salmon run, whereas a high-flying, mixed flock of nighthawks and gulls usually means there has been a significant hatch of ants or termites in the area."
The book covers the natural history along all the major highways that traverse the province, as well as some of the shorter routes.
For the new edition the authors have added the main roadways of northern B.C.: the Stewart-Cassiar Highway and the Hart and Alaska highways. Information on rest stops, some with interpretive trails and displays, is also included.
Among the must-stops on the Alaska Highway is the Liard River Hot Springs, the Canningses say. This amazing "oasis of lush diversity" features ostrich ferns, more than a dozen types of orchids, brilliant yellow monkey flowers and a small snail found nowhere else in the world.
Through the Skeena and Cassiar Mountains via the Stewart-Cassiar Highway, the scenery is "always astonishing."
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