Mud Bay Park in Surrey British Columbia

A raft of (mostly) Northern Pintails (Anas acuta) drift past two old pilings during high tide at Mud Bay in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.

parting clouds and sunlight on mud bay

A Parting in the Clouds at Mud Bay (Purchase)

Earlier this year I visited Mud Bay Park in Surrey, British Columbia in the hopes of photographing some shore birds of some kind. Mud Bay is at the eastern end of Boundary Bay and is surrounded on 3 sides by south Surrey and Crescent Beach. I didn’t see many birds all that close to shore on this day, however. The tide was all the way in at first, and most of what I could see nearby were large rafts of ducks. I walked several kilometers east along the trail from the parking lot. There are very nice ocean views here, and often lots of wildlife, but this experience is somewhat countered by the fact the trail/shore is just meters from Hwy 99. So it isn’t a quiet birding spot! As always though, I may have subjects in mind when I go to a location, but I’m always looking for just about anything to photograph. The image above came to be as I was watching the interesting clouds in the sky. It wasn’t stormy, but it wasn’t one of those “boring” overcast days either. I was trying to work with these two old logs/posts sticking out of the mudflats, and lined up the gap between these passing clouds in between. As I was doing so, a raft of Northern Pintail ducks (Anas acuta) drifted past and into the photograph. This was not part of the plan, but they form a line almost parallel with the horizon and I think it works here. By the time they drifted past, the clouds had as well, so I continued down the trail.

great blue heron sunset silhouette

Great Blue Heron Wading At Sunset on Mud Bay (Purchase)

After I’d turned around and headed back toward the parking lot the tide had gone out. Mud Bay is quite shallow, so even 30 minutes later the edge of the water was a significant distance from the shoreline. This revealed many different patterns in the mudflats and tide pools. I noticed this Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) wading in what were some pretty vibrant orange sunset light reflections. One of the reasons I have (too) many heron photographs is they often stand still, or move slowly and then stop. This makes for a relatively easy wildlife subject compared to more active species. In this case, however, it made things a bit more difficult. As this was going to be a silhouette, I wanted there to be a gap between the birds head and the dark mud in the background. The heron was not interested in moving and just stood in one spot for many minutes. Eventually I stood on a rock, and held my tripod and camera up in the air to change the perspective so there was a small gap which separated the bird from the background. Luckily the color reflecting from the sky held out for the duration of this! The cranes you can see in the background are at GCT Deltaport near Tsawwassen.

sunset reflections mud bay

Sunset Reflections on the Mudflats of Mud Bay (Purchase)

As the sunset light color was fading I made the photograph above of some interesting clouds along with the patterns in the mud and sand of the mudflats. If you want to see some more more photographs from the city of Surrey visit my Surrey Gallery.

Sandhill Crane (Antigone canadensis) Adults and Chick

A Sandhill Crane (Antigone canadensis) chick eyeing a snail on a wetland plant in British Columbia, Canada.

sandhill crane chick looking at a snail

Sandhill Crane (Antigone canadensis) Chick looking at a snail (Purchase)

One day last spring I went for a walk with my camera and didn’t really have any goals in mind in terms of subjects. Sometimes I have something I’m thinking of working with, but I’m often wandering in a good place just to see what I might find. I was certainly not expecting to come across a Sandhill Crane family walking through a shoreline wetland area foraging for food! I don’t know if this breeding pair caught the wider attention of the birding community or not. When a rare species or relatively uncommon photo/viewing opportunity comes up, I tend to avoid those areas and events. Sure I’d like to see the bird, but the behaviour of people in the area often make me just not want to be around. This can range from simply being a bit too crowded for my liking, to egregiously unethical (and sometimes illegal) behaviour that I’d rather not witness or have to report or otherwise think about. A few people were watching and photographing these cranes but everyone was pretty relaxed and respectful, including the cranes.

The first photograph above shows the Sandhill Crane chick eyeing a snail that has made its way to the top of a tall leaf. The two parents were wandering around the marsh with the chick looking for various food items to feed it. This species of crane are omnivorous so these items would usually include seeds, grains, berries, tubers, small vertebrates, and invertebrates. This chick has probably learned that snails are a good snack, and was taking a closer look.

sandhill crane chick receiving food from parent

Sandhill Crane Chick Receiving Food (Purchase)

Sandhill Crane chicks leave the nest quite quickly after hatching, sometimes within 8 hours and often within the first day. They are able to swim immediately. I did not see this one swim but it mostly wandered around this marsh area with small trees and shrubs and was periodically fed by a parent. The photo above shows the chick receiving a morsel of some kind from the adult. I didn’t see the chick eat anything on its own, but I’m sure the scrutiny of that snail meant that milestone was not far away. Generally the chick just explored with the parents but at one point it did get slightly animated and made some noises begging for food (photo).

sandhill crane chick foraging with adult parent

Adult Sandhill Crane with Chick (Purchase)

Both parents were involved in the feeding/herding of the chick, though they seemed to switch off periodically, with just one being really close by. The other would take a break and find some food on its own, or do some preening. The photo below shows one of the parents in the middle of preening. Sandhill Crane adults are often a mix of grey and white, as you see here on head and upper neck of this preening adult. Some birds can have this rusty/brown coloration on the feathers on the rest of their body. This is not different plumage, but due to the mud being rubbed onto the feathers during preening. Since the soils in this location seem to have enough iron content, the feathers turn a rusty/brown as a result. These cranes are likely the subspecies Antigone canadensis tabida or the Greater Sandhill Crane.

sandhill crane preening feathers

Sandhill Crane Adult Preening Feathers (Purchase)

The other parent bird also stopped to preen and generally had its eyes closed when doing so. It kind of looks like it is sleeping in the photo below, but it was organizing feathers just a bit more slowly than the other bird above. Seeing this normal behaviour that close to me is a good thing though, it is confirmation that the presence of myself and others there weren’t impacting the cranes at all. Sandhill Cranes have a relatively long lifespan, with an average of around 20 years. They also mate for life, so this pair will probably be coming back to the Metro Vancouver area to breed for quite a few years to come.

sandhill crane adult preening

Sandhill Crane Adult Preening Feathers (Purchase)

You can view these and a few other crane photographs in my Bird Photos Gallery.

Concord Grapes Harvest (Vitis labrusca)

Cluster of organic Concord Grapes (Vitis labrusca) in a Fraser Valley garden.

cluster of organic concord grapes

Cluster of Concord Grapes (Purchase)

The backyard vines had a particularly vigorous crop of Concord Grapes (Vitis labrusca) this year and I made a few photographs of them. The Concord Grape is mostly known for juice, and not a grape that one hears about often in conversations about wines. It can be used for wine, but is much more often used for juice and grape jellies. The Concord Grape was first produced in 1849 by Ephraim Wales Bull in Concord, Massachusetts, which gives a good idea where the name came from. This particular photogenic bunch was growing in the backyard, and hadn’t yet been harassed by hungry wildlife or grazing humans. Normally I just eat a few fresh off the vine when outside, but this year I decided to harvest some.

harvest of organic concord grapes

Concord Grapes after Harvest (Purchase)

I left the majority of the grapes on the vine, and picked what looked to be the ones in the best shape. I had a sizeable bucket by the time I was done, and put about 3/4 of them in the freezer where they are still waiting. My intent is to juice them and then make some jelly, but I’ve done neither before, so we shall see how that goes. The process of using the steam juicer here doesn’t seem difficult. There may be some potential errors to be made in making the jelly though. I’d imagine that not quite getting things right could result in something syrupy instead of jelly-like but we will see.

organic concord grapes in a bucket

Harvested Concord Grapes in a Bucket (Purchase)

For more photos of crops and farm related images, visit my Farms Barns and Crops gallery.

Views of Ambleside and Dundarave in West Vancouver

Ambleside Beach, Ambleside Pier, and the newer retail and residential buildings in the Ambleside neighborhood of West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

ambleside beach and pier in west vancouver

Ambleside Beach and Pier in West Vancouver (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

I’ve been meaning to spend a bit more time in West Vancouver and in early November I spent an afternoon there looking for scenes to photograph. I started at Horseshoe Bay, but I had not heard the shoreline/beach park was closed, so I headed over to Whytecliff Park instead. They were filming a movie there, so it was a challenge to find parking. I had a look around and then left for various spots along English Bay. Ultimately I wound up at Ambleside Park next to the beach, and photographed this first panorama above just after the peak of sunset. This area has changed a lot in the past few years since I last visited. A lot of the retail/condo buildings around the Ambleside Pier were still being built or weren’t around yet last time I visited.

condos and apartment towers in the dundarave neighborhood of west vancouver

Highrise apartments and condos in the Dundarave neighborhood of West Vancouver (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

My first stop after leaving Whytecliff was near the Dundarave Pier at 25th street. I was unaware that the January 2022 storm that destroyed the Jericho Pier across English Bay in Vancouver had also caused so many problems in West Vancouver. The Dundarave Pier remains closed for repairs. The West Vancouver Centennial Seawalk had been repaired from the storm and can be seen along the edge of English Bay in the photo above. It was quite busy with people walking its 1.7 km length near various condo and apartment towers. I made a few photographs here and headed east along the water.

john lawson park and john lawson pier in west vancouver

John Lawson Park in West Vancouver BC’s Ambleside neighborhood (Purchase)

My next stop was in the Ambleside neighborhood of West Vancouver at John Lawson Park. John Lawson Park does have its own pier, aptly named “John Lawson Pier”, and it had been repaired and was open. The path here is just past the end of the West Vancouver Centennial Seawalk, but continues on all the way to Ambleside Park to the east. John Lawson Park has some nice views of English Bay, Stanley Park, and the Lions Gate Bridge.

ambleside beach and pier in west vancouver

Sunset at Ambleside Beach and Pier in West Vancouver (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

From John Lawson Park I went to Ambleside Park for sunset. The sunset wasn’t very interesting itself, but I don’t use it as a subject very often. I usually prefer to see what that warmer light is going to with other subjects, and in this case it warmed up the look of the buildings in Ambleside quite a bit. Compare to the first photograph here that was made 20 minutes later. Still a bit of glow on the windows from the horizon but not on much else. I also made this photograph (Link) kind of in between the two.

Likewise you can see some glow in the windows of Ambleside and Dundarave but not on much else in this last photograph. Some of the buildings here are the same as in the second photograph here but from around the corner. The pier here is the John Lawson Pier and you can see the seawalk heading west from the park.

buildings at sunset in dundarave and ambleside

Sunset light falls on the Ambleside and Dundarave neighborhoods of West Vancouver (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

For more photographs of West Vancouver visit my West Vancouver Gallery.

My Top 10 Photographs from 2022

It is again time to look back and see what my favourite images are from what I’ve published this year. With a long and wet spring, a long hot drought summer, and an almost non-existent fall before the cold came… it has been an “interesting” year to work with!

Working on my 2023 Nature Calendar every year helps get this list started, though there are usually a few differences as I have a more limited scope of themes for the calendar. If you click on a photo below you’ll be taken to my Image Library. I’ve also linked to corresponding blog posts that contain these images (if available) to provide more information about the location or to see other photos from that area. As usual, choosing 10 images is rather difficult (and I cheated this year), even though these should be considered my favourites and not the “best” necessarily. These aren’t in any order really as that would be just too hard!

I hope you enjoy this years selections and am curious to hear if you have any particular favourites!

My Favourite Photos of 2022:

canada goose goslings under wing
1. Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) Goslings Taking Shelter Under Mom’s Wing
(Mission, British Columbia)
    Blog post: Miscellaneous Photos Collection #5

sailboat english bay west end vancouver
2. Sailboat on English Bay near the West End of Vancouver
(Vancouver, British Columbia)
    Blog post: Views from Jericho Pier and Locarno Beach

sailboat with red sail on english bay in vancouver
3. Sailboat Crossing English Bay

    (Vancouver, British Columbia)

fairyslipper orchid calypso bulbosa
4. Fairy Slipper Orchid (Calypso bulbosa var. occidentalis)
(Salt Spring Island, British Columbia)
    Blog post: Wildflowers on Salt Spring Island

sandhill crane chick in shoreline plants
5. Sandhill Crane (Antigone canadensis) Chick

    (Salt Spring Island, British Columbia)

dark thunderstorm clouds over south surrey farmland nicomekl river
6. Thunderstorm Clouds Darken the Sky Over South Surrey Farmland
(Surrey, British Columbia)
    Blog post: Storm Clouds Over South Surrey

alison the jersey cow grazing at ruckle heritage farm
7. A Jersey Cow Named Alison Grazes in a field at Ruckle Heritage Farm
(Salt Spring Island, British Columbia)
    Blog post: Ruckle Heritage Farm on Salt Spring Island

snow on the trees at derby reach regional park near the fraser river
8. Snow Outlines the Branches in a Deciduous Forest
(Langley, British Columbia)
    Blog post: A Snowy Walk at Derby Reach Regional Park

sailboat anchored in burgoyne bay
9. Sailboat Anchored in Burgoyne Bay

    (Salt Spring Island, British Columbia)

round-leaved sundew camosun bog
10. Round-Leaved Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) at Camosun Bog
(Vancouver, British Columbia)
    Blog post: Bog Plants in Vancouver’s Camosun Bog

Bonus Image

Okay, here is a “bonus” image as I just liked the evening light around this Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) too much to not include it:

great blue heron at beach grove lagoon tsawwassen
11. Great Blue Heron Resting in a Grassy Field
(Tsawwassen, British Columbia)
    Blog post: Bird Photography at Tsawwassen’s Beach Grove Lagoon

For many years Jim Goldstein maintained a list of photographer’s top 10 posts but he seems to have given that up. For the past few years Tracy Schultze has created his own list which you can ask to be part of. You can find his list here: https://tmschultze.com/pages/photography/best-of-2022-blog-posts/. I always discover some interesting photographers on these lists.

You can view my favourite photographs from 2021 here: My Top 10 Photos of 2021.

2023 Nature Calendar Now Available!

My 2023 calendars are now available! I have put together some of my favourite recent photographs into a 11″x17″ (28cm x 43cm) calendar. Included are 12 photographs of landscape, wildlife, and nature scenes from British Columbia. As the purchase website no longer has a preview available, take a look at the index below for a small preview of the images contained in the calendar.

cover for 2023 british columbia nature calendar

2023 Nature Calendar Cover

index for 2023 british columbia nature calendar

2023 Calendar Index

A Walk through Lynn Canyon Park

Lynn Canyon Park is a popular area in North Vancouver for tourists and locals alike. I had visited briefly a few years ago but hadn’t got onto the trails to walk around since 2013 when I photographed Twin Falls. I intend to go back soon, and visit trails I’ve never seen before, a few other bridges, and likely Rice Lake. Hopefully this will be part I of a pair of posts soon.

Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge

lynn canyon suspension bridge and lynn canyon falls

Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge and Lynn Canyon Falls (Purchase)

The Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge is the main attraction in Lynn Canyon Park which opened to the public in 1912. The bridge is in a very scenic canyon, next to a waterfall, nearby parking, and is free (compared to the nearby Capilano Suspension Bridge). The suspension bridge hangs about 50 meters (160 feet) over Lynn Creek, and offers a nice view of Lynn Canyon Falls. The bridge was recently closed for a period of time so the “deck” could be replaced, and you can tell the difference between 1) an older photograph I made in 2013 and 2) the current surface of the bridge. The new surface is very “grippy” on ones feet and doesn’t feel like you are in danger of sliding on it which is comforting in this location. The bridge doesn’t bounce very much either, though those uneasy with looking down that great of a distance to a rocky canyon below may not wish to linger and complete the crossing quickly.

As you can see from the first photograph here showing the bridge and Lynn Canyon Falls (photo), this isn’t an easy spot to photograph a waterfall! Even though the park wasn’t busy, the bridge vibrates a bit after someone walks on it, so finding a steady perch for a longer exposure wasn’t going to happen. I combined two exposures to get this wide of a view, and you can see some effects of that in the poor overlap in the walking surface tiles. Someday I may be able to do a long exposure of the waterfall on this bridge, but that wasn’t possible on my last visit.

Twin Falls

After photographing the suspension bridge I hiked down a number of stairs on the trail to Twin Falls. Like the bridge above, I’d photographed Twin Falls before. I had somewhat forgotten the rather precarious position one has to get in to shoot over the fence there. I remembered the fence, I didn’t remember the yoga position required! Most of the foliage here is provided by evergreens, but I appreciate that one small Vine Maple that is hanging onto the rock on the left and has turned a nice yellow. You can barely make it out in this photo, but there is a bridge just above the falls that crosses Lynn Creek. I saw a few photographs and videos online that showed this location less than 24 hours after this photograph was taken, and after an atmospheric river had passed through. Southwestern BC had a drought this summer and fall, and apparently the new rain couldn’t soak into the ground as easily as it might usually. As a consequence, the water coming over Twin Falls the next day looked more like a canyon wide fire hose! This version is certainly more photogenic.

twin falls at lynn canyon park in north vancouver

Twin Falls in Lynn Canyon Park (Purchase)

Baden Powell Trail

The Baden Powell Trail was opened in 1971 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of British Columbia’s entry into Canada. The Baden Powell Trail is a 48km (30 mile) trail that runs from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver to Deep Cove in North Vancouver. Along the way, it cuts through Lynn Canyon Park, and I made a few photographs along the trail within the park.

fall color display baden powell trail

Stairs and boardwalk along the Baden Powell Trail in Fall (Purchase)

While the trail itself is many kilometers long, this small section between the suspension bridge and “30 foot pool” is familiar to many who venture here with less ambitious hiking goals. The first of these photographs above comes from a spot on the trail just north of the suspension bridge. The drought and other challenges have made fall foliage a bit scarce this year, but I did find some nice displays from the Vine Maple (Acer circinatum) trees along the way. These were creating a nice canopy while overhanging the boardwalk and stairs along the trail.

moss covered trees near 30 foot pool

Moss Covered Trees on Baden Powell Trail (Purchase)

These conifer trees are heavily covered in moss which is relatively common here in the temperate rainforest of North Vancouver. Some nearby Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum) trees have shed their leaves and created this orange and brown carpet amoung the rocks along the trail. The ferns on much of the forest floor are mostly Sword Ferns (Polystichum munitum) in this location.

vine maple fall leaves and lynn creek

Vine Maple Fall Leaves at Lynn Creek (Purchase)

On the way out to 30 foot pool I noticed this Vine Maple with some of the more unusual fall foliage colors in this part of the world – deeper reds. On my way back I photographed it with Lynn Creek providing a nice foreground.

For more photographs of North Vancouver visit my North Vancouver Gallery.

Fresh Goji Berries (Lycium barbarum)

Ripe Goji berries (Lycium barbarum) in a Fraser Valley garden.

organic goji berries ripe

Ripe Goji Berries (Purchase)

I’ve managed to keep this Goji Berry plant alive through several bad winters but have never really managed to get much in the way of fruit from it. This year some regular watering (and a hot summer) seemed to make a difference and most of the branches were covered in berries. I had never tried them fresh, and they are quite different tasting than anything I’ve had before. Good, but different.

Goji’s other English names are Wolfberry, Matrimony Vine, and Box Thorn. While considered a “Superfood” and often accompanying exaggerated health claims, they nonetheless have high levels of essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and Vitamin B and C. The berries are used in a wide variety of food products, teas, juices, or eaten fresh. Dried Goji Berries are eaten as snacks. Native to Asia, they are an important commercial crop in China where they are know as Ningxia gǒuqi.