Miscellaneous Photos Collection #5

Another in a series of blog posts where I publish a small group of photos that don’t quite fit into the regular posts. Most of these were made this year but the Coyote photograph was made in the summer of 2021.

Canada Geese Goslings Under Mother’s Wing

canada goose goslings under wing

Canada Goose Goslings Taking Shelter Under Mom’s Wing (Purchase)

Earlier this spring I visited Rolley Lake Provincial Park primarily for a quick lap on the perimeter trail. Having completed the loop, I saw this family of Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) walking towards the beach area. There were a few human families sitting on the edge of the water fishing, but the geese didn’t seem to care. They pretty much just “elbowed” their way through the group, and at one point an adult just hopped through a lunch box and kept going. I guess we know who owns that beach! After poking around the shoreline for a bit the goslings crowded under Mom’s wing for some shelter. With the size they were getting to at that point, it looks a bit crowded in there!

Finn Slough in Richmond

finn slough historic buildings richmond

Historic Finn Slough in Richmond, BC (Purchase)

These two buildings are part of the Finn Slough community in Richmond, British Columbia. Finn Slough was founded by Finnish settlers in the 1880’s and became the hub for fishing in the area. The buildings in Finn Slough were built between the late 1800’s and the 1950’s. The short bridge to the community had some warnings posted on it. I’ve heard a lot about some current residents being annoyed with the actions of photographers and visitors, so I kept to the road for this photograph. I have no doubt people who live there have had their privacy invaded more than once, it is a popular photo location.

Golden Ears (Mount Blanshard) Panorama

golden ears clouds mount blanshard

A band of cloud lingering over the Golden Ears (Purchase)

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I have quite a few photographs of the Golden Ears in Maple Ridge, BC. Many of those are panoramas like this one, but not many have clouds in them. I’ve sold a number of really large canvas prints of these images, so I made this photograph with the idea of having a few more options to present when a client is making their choice. Someday I’d like to get one with a colourful sky above the peaks, but as it lies directly north of here that is going to have to rely on some higher clouds picking up that light. One more thing for my long list of photos I hope to make in the future!

Red-Breasted Sapsucker at Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park

red-breasted sapsucker tree

Red-Breasted Sapsucker on Maple Tree Trunk (Purchase)

During a trip to Salt Spring Island in April of this year, I made a photograph of some ferns growing along a trail in Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park. Ultimately that photo didn’t work out, but as I walked further I noticed this Red-Breasted Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber) perched on a Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum) trunk. I approached carefully, making a few photographs as I moved forward. As this was right next to the trail, I couldn’t give the bird all that much space, but it seems I needn’t have been concerned. As we passed it stayed still and didn’t seem to concerned about our presence. Note in this photograph some of the small holes drilled into the bark where the Sapsucker, a species of Woodpecker, feeds on the trees sap. I made this second photograph while directly behind the Red-Breasted Sapsucker as it kept an eye on me.

Bonus photo: I found this character along the trail at Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park during the same trip to Salt Spring Island.

Coyote Hunting in Sumas Prairie

coyote in hay field sumas prairie abbotsford

(Canis latrans) Hunting in Sumas Prairie (Purchase)

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Almost exactly a year ago (before the Sumas Prairie flooded from the Atmospheric Rivers) I was driving through the Fraser Valley and passed this Coyote (Canis latrans) trotting through a freshly cut hay field on Sumas Prairie in Abbotsford. I turned around and pulled over on the rural road and made this photo from the car. Clearly my car was spotted by the Coyote as it stopped and looked at me briefly, then continued on. Occasionally it would grab something from the grass, and I presume it was hunting small rodents that were disturbed by the hay cutting. After a while it turned around and disappeared in the corn field in the background.

You can see more of my newly published images in the New Images and other galleries in my Image Library.

Birds at Richmond’s Iona Beach Regional Park

A male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) singing in the marsh at Iona Beach Regional Park in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada.

song spread display red-winged blackbird male at iona beach

“Song Spread” display by male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) (Purchase)

In early June I visited Camosun Bog in Vancouver’s Pacific Spirit Park but found myself with enough of the evening available to visit another location. I chose to visit Iona Beach Regional Park, in order to take a look at getting some better bird photographs than the last time I visited in the Winter (photographing Snow Geese). Iona Beach Regional Park is well known for the 4km long Iona Jetty that includes a walking/hiking trail. There are also two ponds that are popular with bird watchers and photographers. A lot of long lenses at this park!

The primary bird species I was expecting here in large numbers were the Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) and I was not disappointed. I’d not seen “tame” individuals before, but I guess enough people visit Iona and feed them next to the parking lot, that some resort to begging when new people show up. One male Red-winged Blackbird even got so close to me on a boardwalk railing I had to back up in order to photograph it. There was a possibility of seeing a Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus) at Iona Beach, but I didn’t manage to spot it. What I did see was a display by the male Red-winged Blackbird shown above. This posture of hunching forward and spreading the tail (while singing) is called a “Song Spread” display. As with a lot of other bird displays, this one is largely for territory defense and to attract females.

red-winged blackbird male in mountain ash tree

Male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) in Mountain Ash Tree (Purchase)

While walking around the various ponds at Iona Beach, I photographed this singing male in a Mountain Ash tree. The marsh/pond area there is not a quiet place, with a lot of different species singing and calling. There was also periods of quiet when a Bald Eagle would fly over. The birds here didn’t seem as concerned with the Osprey that kept showing up, fishing in the ponds. I saw it drop down and pick out a fish at one point, and heard it hit the water a few more time after that. It likely had a nest with hungry mouths nearby.

perched tree swallow calling out at iona beach

A Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) calls at a passing swallow while perched on a Blackberry branch (Purchase)

There are a lot of Swallows at Iona Beach Regional Park darting around catching insects. The park also has quite a number of nesting boxes available the Swallows use, so that likely adds to its popularity. The photograph above shows a Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) perched in some Blackberry bushes, calling to another Tree Swallow that periodically joined it. At the time I was unaware we were standing right next to one of the nest boxes and once we backed up, these two went back to tend to their nest inside. Ooops!

immature tree swallow landing

An immature Tree Swallow has a rough landing (Purchase)

At another nesting box further up the trail I noticed this juvenile attempt a landing on top of the box a number of times. It would land on the top edge, then slide off the back on its initial attempts. The photo above shows the first successful, if a bit shaky, landing on the top of the box. I presume the other adult swallow present is one of the parents supervising flying and landing lessons soon after this one has fledged.

flock of cedar waxwings perched

Group of Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) Perched in the Blackberries (Purchase)

I have photographed Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) before, but never this many in one frame. These birds were fairly elusive when I visited, preferring to stick to the top of some nearby Cottonwood trees versus anywhere I could photograph them. Then I noticed one in the blackberry bushes in front of me. Then another, and another. Can you spot all 5 Waxwings in this photo?

For more of my bird photography visit my Bird Photos Gallery in the Image Library.

London Heritage Farm in Richmond, BC

The London Farmhouse at London Heritage Farm in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada.

london farmhouse at london heritage farm in richmond

London Farmhouse (1898) at London Heritage Farm in Richmond (Purchase)

On the first full day of Summer in 2022 I found myself in Richmond, BC after a quick visit with Peter West Carey at Garry Point Park. It was a bit early for good light at Garry Point, and so I did what I usually do in such situations, drive around and explore. I first came across Finn Slough which I had never photographed before. I’d heard of London Heritage Farm, but only had a vague idea of its location. When I drove past just by luck I stopped for a visit. I do like heritage buildings, especially on farms.

The London Farmhouse was completed in 1898 by Charles Edwin London. In 1921 London’s eldest daughter, Lucy, purchased the farm and owned it until 1948. The farm primarily produced milk and various produce items. The city of Richmond purchased the London Farmhouse and land in 1978 before converting the site to a park and heritage site. The London Farmhouse has been fully restored with furnishings and other items from that era of farming and living in Richmond. The photograph above shows the front door of the London Farmhouse as seen from the Gazebo in the nearby picnic area. The grounds around the house also contain gardens and a restored barn with a display of old farm equipment.

london farmhouse at london heritage farm in richmond

English Gardens at London Heritage Farm in Richmond (Purchase)

Walking to the east side of the farmhouse, there is an old style English garden with many flowers in bloom (in June, at least). The photo above shows Peonies in full bloom, as well as some other plants including Pinks, Iris, Astrantia, and a Japanese Maple. I also noticed Lady’s Mantle, Foxglove, Calla Lilies, Iris, Snapdragons, and Roses in bloom at the gardens. In the background of the above photo is a small garden shed which holds tools that the volunteers use in the gardens and a small greenhouse.

london farmhouse at london heritage farm in richmond

Peony in the English Gardens at London Heritage Farm (Purchase)

Some of the brighter coloured flowers in the London Farm gardens were these Peony flowers. This photo also shows the Lady’s Mantle (bottom left) and Astrantia, middle right. The building in the background is referred to as “The Workshop” on the farm maps.

london farmhouse at london heritage farm in richmond

Restored Spragg Family Barn at London Heritage Farm (Purchase)

This small barn is referred to as the restored “Spragg Family Barn” in most of the information I’ve found about London Heritage Farm. I couldn’t find any other details about it, but I presume it was built after the London Family no longer owned the property. A display of old farm equipment and tools including a Fordson Tractor are housed on the side of the Spragg Family Barn.

london farmhouse at london heritage farm in richmond

Ripening Red Currants at London Heritage Farm (Purchase)

These Red Currant berries were ripening on the vine along the edge of the English gardens with some other small fruit bushes. Initially I confused these Currants with Gooseberries. You can tell a Currant bush from a Gooseberry bush as there are no thorns on Currants. Also, the fruit on a Gooseberry is individually attached along the main stem, not in groups as seen in these Red Currants.

For more photographs of the City of Richmond visit my Richmond Gallery.

Bog Plants in Vancouver’s Camosun Bog

Round-Leaved Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) at Camosun Bog in Pacific Spirit Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

round-leaved sundew camosun bog

Round-Leaved Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) at Camosun Bog (Purchase)

In June I’d seen a number of people on Twitter talking about Camosun Bog in Pacific Spirit Park as a good spot for various flowering bog species at the time, so I decided to head out there and see what was still in bloom. I was also thinking a lot about the possibility of seeing Sundews again, a species I haven’t seen in person since a University trip to Burns Bog back in 1999 or so. I visited Camosun Bog for the very first time last September. As this followed the Heat dome natural disaster earlier that year and a relatively dry/hot summer, things were pretty crispy in Camosun bog then. After a lot of rain this winter the bog looked replenished and relatively healthy this spring. I was a bit too late for a good flower display from the Bog Laurels, but there was more than enough species of interest to spend over an hour making photographs.

The first plants I looked for were the Sundews which were easy to spot and fairly plentiful. The photograph above shows a rather large group of them mixed in with some Sphagnum moss and decaying leaves from last year. This particular species is the Round-leaved Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia). Like other Sundews, the Round-leaved Sundew is a carnivorous plant, and more specifically an insectivore. The photograph below is a zoomed in version of another Sundew plant I photographed, and shows the sticky red tentacle-like hairs that tempt insects both with their red colour and nectar in order to trap and then digest them.

round-leaved sundew closeup

Round-Leaved Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) at Camosun Bog (Purchase)

The next species I photographed were these flowering Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) plants. I’ve seen Bunchberry before in person and in other photographs, but had not made images of them myself until now. I’d always thought they looked like miniature Pacific Dogwood Flowers (Cornus nuttallii) and there is good reason for that, they are in the same genus – Cornus. Bunchberry, unlike its larger cousin, grows as a relatively short ground cover in fairly moist forest floor/bog environments. The flowers mature into glossy red berries.

bunchberry flowers cornus canadensis

Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) flowers at Camosun Bog (Purchase)

I also made several images of Northern Starflower (Trientalis arctica) plants, which were mostly blooming when I visited Camosun Bog. I am not entirely sure which is the preferred name for this species, but it is also often listed as Arctic Starflower (Trientalis europaea ssp. arctica).

northern arctic starflowers camosun bog

Northern Starflower (Trientalis arctica) (Purchase)

One of the most recognizable species in a bog, Labrador Tea (Ledum groenlandicum). Labrdor Tea isn’t as flashy as a lot of the other species such as flowering Bog Laurels, but does have these very nice white flowers in the spring. As the name suggests, the leaves can be used to make a tea (steeped, not boiled) which is described as “floral” in flavouring. Labrador Tea resembles a rhododendron, and for good reason – an alternative name for it is Rhododendron groenlandicum.

labrador tea flowers ledum gorenlandicum

Labrador Tea (Ledum groenlandicum) Flowers (Purchase)

The most commonly thought of plant in a bog is likely Sphagnum Moss (Genus Sphagnum). I am unsure as to which species this photograph below illustrates, as there are roughly 12 species of Sphagnum in Camosun Bog alone! I do try to ID every species/place/mountain/building I feature in a photograph, but sometimes I have to draw a line!

sphagnum moss

Sphagnum Moss (Genus Sphagnum) (Purchase)

For more photographs of Native and Wild plants of Southwestern British Columbia visit my Native and Wild Plants Gallery.

Views from the Ferry in BC’s Southern Gulf Islands

When I visit Vancouver Island or Salt Spring Island, I’m almost always on the ferry deck during the trip. Even in poor weather, the view from there is much nicer than from inside the ship, and I tend to walk around too. During Covid there has been a lot more people on deck than before, but most people still seem to be inside even when the weather is nice and warm. I usually have a camera in my hand when on the deck, and I thought I’d share a few recent photos from the trip between Tsawwassen BC and Salt Spring Island via Victoria (Swartz Bay).

Active Pass

The first photograph below is from Active Pass which connects the Straight of Georgia to Trincomali Channel in British Columbia’s Southern Gulf Islands. This is the Spirit of British Columbia on its way to Tsawwassen, passing my ferry on the way to Victoria. Mayne Island is in the background. Active pass is no longer a route for shipping traffic. There was a recent controversy with a fully loaded oil tanker transiting Active Pass near the ferries, which people did not take kindly to. The area is quite narrow and has history of bad outcomes with shipping traffic. In 1970 the Russian freighter Sergey Yesenin collided with the Queen of Victoria, killing 3 passengers. After the oil tanker used the pass in 2021, the the Pacific Pilotage Authority banned the practice. That said, I enjoy the Active Pass part of the journey. There are a lot of waterfront homes to look at, often some wildlife, and there is often another BC Ferry passing nearby as well as smaller vessels. The photograph below shows the BC Ferry Spirit of British Columbia passing my ferry in Active Pass with Mayne Island in the background.

spirit of british columbia in active pass

BC Ferry Spirit of British Columbia in Active Pass (Purchase)

I’m sure those of you who have taken the Active Pass route on multiple occasions are familiar with this waterfront home with a nice view on Galiano Island. I made this photograph due to all the Gulls feeding off whatever foodstuffs have been churned up by another passing ferry. Active Pass can be a good place to spot wildlife, with seals, gulls, Orcas, and Bald Eagles as frequently spotted species.

gulls forage in the wake of a passing ferry off galiano island in active pass

Gulls Feeding in Active Pass near Galiano Island (Purchase)

At the eastern entrance to Active Pass is another structure many will be familiar with – the Active Pass Lighthouse (also known as the Georgia Point Lighthouse) on Mayne Island. The lighthouse at Georgia Point was built in 1969 and is in what is now called Georgia Point Heritage Park. The Lightkeeper’s house was built in the 1940’s. This northeastern point on Mayne Island has been a light station since 1885, and has been home to 3 different lighthouses in that time.

active pass lighthouse on mayne island

The Active Pass Lighthouse on Mayne Island (Purchase)

Southern Gulf Islands

Much of the trip between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay in Victoria winds its way past many of the Southern Gulf Islands of British Columbia including Mayne Island, Galiano Island, Prevost Island, North Pender Island, and Salt Spring Island. Salt Spring is often my destination, and is the largest of the islands in the area. A short 30 minute ferry ride from Swartz Bay to Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring has some nice views as well, and I’m usually looking off the side of the much smaller ferry that completes this trip. This is the view looking back at Mount Maxwell and Fulford Harbour on the passenger/vehicle ferry Skeena Queen having just left Fulford Harbour.

mount maxwell from fulford harbour salt spring island

Mount Maxwell an Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring Island (Purchase)

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This photo was made just east of Active Pass showing the Spirit of Vancouver Island about to pass the ferry I was on at the time. The mountains in the background are Crown Mountain and Grouse Mountain. Always interesting in a photo like this to see that the buildings along the water in the background are missing the lower parts, due to the curvature of the earth (they are approximately 35km away).

spirit of vancouver island salish sea active pass

BC Ferry Spirit of Vancouver Island in the Salish Sea (Purchase)

While I have yet to visit Mayne Island I have looked at some of the attractions on the island from the ferries. In addition to the Active Pass Lighthouse I usually keep an eye out for the Springwater Lodge shown below. The Springwater Lodge was established in 1892 at Miner’s Bay and became a common stopover spot for mine workers heading to the Fraser River and Caribou Gold rushes.

springwater lodge mayne island miners bay

Springwater Lodge at Miner’s Bay on Mayne Island (Purchase)

I often photograph other boats from the ferry and sometimes I am able to find some information on them when editing the photographs later. This particular sailboat is named “The Westerly” and is a Santa Cruz 70 racing yacht I photographed off the coast of Vancouver Island in Satellite Channel near Swartz Bay – with Cobble Hill in the background. “The Westerly” has competed in races such as the Pacific Cup in the past.

racing yacht westerly near swartz bay vancouver island

Santa Cruz 70 racing yacht offshore of Cobble Hill (“The Westerly”) (Purchase)

Wildflowers on Salt Spring Island

A Fairy Slipper Orchid (Calypso bulbosa var. occidentalis) blooming on the forest floor of Ruckle Provincial Park on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada.

fairyslipper orchid calypso bulbosa

Fairy Slipper Orchid (Calypso bulbosa var. occidentalis) Flower (Purchase)

During my trip to Salt Spring Island in April, I visited Ruckle Provincial Park and spent many hours walking around, hiking, and taking in the views from various shoreline trails. Initially I spent about 45 minutes photographing Ruckle Heritage Farm which I outlined in my previous post. After photographing the farm I headed into the forest and shoreline trails to see what I could find. There are great trails in Ruckle Provincial Park that give a variety of views ranging from farmland, ocean, forests, and beaches. One thing that especially caught my eye during that walk was the variety of wildflowers. Most of these species I’d not seen on the mainland, and were new to me entirely.

The first photograph here is a Fairy Slipper (Calypso bulbosa var. occidentalis) which is also known as Calypso Orchid or Venus’s Slipper. These orchids have no nectar, and trick Bumblebees into pollinating them through deceptive scents and shapes that mimic nectar containing flowers. I don’t think I’ve seen any orchids in the wild before, so this was a nice find. The entire flower and stem shown here was maybe 5cm (2inches) tall at the most. Very easy to miss while walking by in the forest!

slender toothwort - cardamine nuttallii

Slender Toothwort (Cardamine nuttallii) Flowers (Purchase)

When I photograph almost anything from buildings to animals, plants, mountains, lakes, creeks etc – I always try to find the proper name for the location or species. Wildflowers I’ve never seen pose a bit more of a challenge, as I’m not quite as sure where to start in a guidebook or other ways of identifying a species. Another hurdle can be that many species look nearly alike, and sometimes identification would have to come down to characteristics not revealed in a photograph. In the case of the variety of Cardamine species I found on Salt Spring, a lack of good photos of the leaves didn’t help me out any! I really need to engrave something like “photograph the leaves too!” on the back of my camera so I have those as a tool for identifying later at home. The Cardamine above I am fairly sure is a Cardamine nuttallii or Slender Toothwort. This species also goes by the names Beautiful Bittercress, Nuttall’s Toothwort, and Palmate Toothwort. I also photographed Angled Bittercress (Cardamine angulata). There are a few other Cardamine species that all look very similar which made narrowing these down a big of a lengthy challenge! Mountain peaks are comparatively easy.

white fawn lily - erythronium oregonum at ruckle provincial park

White Fawn Lily (Erythronium oregonum) (Purchase)

One species I had not seen before, but was anticipating seeing while on Salt Spring were the White Fawn Lilies (Erythronium oregonum). I was not disappointed – they were very frequently seen in Ruckle Provincial Park. Not a easy plant to photograph I discovered, especially when there is a bit of wind. The flowers point down so I made a lot of exposures (read: way too many) trying various angles. I liked the photograph above as it is backlit, and the sunlight shining through highlights the orange and yellow colours near the centre of the flower. The photograph below shows the White Fawn Lily in the kind of environment I usually encountered them – underneath some tree cover (in this case a Garry Oak) and mixed in with grass and other plants. Their usual environment in southern British Columbia is along the coast at lower elevations in forests and open meadows. This species is also known as the Giant White Fawn Lily.

white fawn lily - erythronium oregonum on salt spring island

White Fawn Lily (E. oregonum) underneath a Garry Oak (Purchase)

I was attracted to these Large-flowered Blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia grandiflora) flowers (below) initially due to their blue color but then because of the large amount of Bumblebees zipping about from flower to flower. The flowers are quite small, but were growing in large groups, usually mixed in with various mosses, on the more open spots along the rocky shoreline at Ruckle. Bees on flower photos are not something I normally attempt in a park – it can be a low percentage of a success much like other fast moving wildlife, but I couldn’t resist this time. It all worked out as this particular Bumblebee was moving from flower to flower a bit slower (and close to where I was on the trail), and I was able to make a sharp photograph as it collected nectar from these flowers. The yellow sacs you see on the bee’s back legs are called Corbiculae or Pollen baskets and are used for collecting pollen.

bumblebee on large-flowered blue-eyed mary flowers at ruckle provincial park

Bumblebee on Large-flowered Blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia grandiflora) flowers (Purchase)

Much like the Fairy Slipper in the first photograph, I’m lucky to have spotted this Fringed Redmaids (Calandrinia ciliata) flower nestled in the mosses and grasses in an open area along the shoreline. Not a species I was familiar with, but they are said to be quite common on the Southern Gulf Islands.

fringed redmaids flower on salt spring island

Fringed Redmaids (Calandrinia ciliata) Flower (Purchase)

I came across this Chickweed Monkeyflower (Erythranthe alsinoides) blooming in an open area in the campground at Ruckle Provincial Park. I’d previously photographed Harvest Brodiaea in almost the same spot a few years ago. This Monkeyflower is sometimes listed as Mimulus alsinoides or Wingstem Monkey-flower.

chickweed monkeyflower - erythrante alsinoides

Chickweed Monkeyflower (Erythranthe alsinoides) (Purchase)

I also had some luck spotting these Small-flowered Woodland-Star (Lithophragma parviflorum) flowers on the forest floor. While they are larger than the orchid, this was the only one I saw. L. parviflorum is also known as the Small-flowered Fringecup or Prairie Star, and is part of the Saxifrage family.

small-flowered woodland-star flower - lithophragma parviflorum

Small-flowered Woodland-Star (Lithophragma parviflorum) (Purchase)

I’m cheating slightly with the photo of a Common Stork’s-Bill (Erodium cicutarium) flower below, as I didn’t photograph it at Ruckle. The day before I was in Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park with my friend who lives on the island and spotted this one at the base of some Garry Oaks. The Stork’s Bill is another flower I don’t think I’ve seen before. Unfortunately, it is an invasive weed from Europe and not native to British Columbia. For some reason it always feels slightly disappointing to look up a species you’ve just discovered only to find it the name starts with “common”! While we were in Burgoyne Bay my friend pointed out some birds in the water along the shore he hadn’t noticed before. Common Mergansers, of course.

common storks-bill - erodium cicutarium

Common Stork’s-Bill (Erodium cicutarium) (Purchase)

For more photographs of Salt Spring Salt Spring Island, Ruckle Provincial Park, and the island’s wildflowers, visit my Salt Spring Island gallery.

Ruckle Heritage Farm on Salt Spring Island

A Jersey Cow named Alison grazes in a pasture by a barn built in 1935 at Ruckle Heritage Farm.

alison the jersey cow grazing at ruckle heritage farm

Jersey Cow Name Alison Grazes in a field at Ruckle Heritage Farm (Purchase)

In April I was again on Salt Spring Island and was happy to visit Ruckle Provincial Park for the first time without rain! Every other time it has rained on me, and while it is still a beautiful park to visit in the rain, I’d prefer to keep myself and my equipment dry. I took advantage of this opportunity and walked in Ruckle Provincial Park and Ruckle Heritage Farm for around 7 hours. I had no specific photography goals, but I wound up photographing Ruckle Heritage Farm and a lot of new (to me) wildflowers. My intention had not included making a lot of photos of the farm, but with the lack of rain, and some animals out and about, I wound up spending about 45 minutes looking at the various scenes around the farm and Henry Ruckle Farmhouse (built in the 1870’s). The first photograph above is of the David Henry Ruckle Barn (built in 1935) with a Jersey Cow named Alison (according to their website) grazing nearby.

barn and poultry coop at ruckle heritage farm

Barn (1935) and Poultry Barn (1930) at Ruckle Heritage Farm (Purchase)

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Ruckle Farm was started in 1872 by Henry Ruckle and continues as Ruckle Heritage farm within Ruckle Provincial Park on Salt Spring Island. The photograph above shows the David Henry Ruckle Barn (built in 1935) which is currently used for machinery and hay storage. The chicken barn on the right was built in 1930 originally as a chicken and sheep shed. It now appears to be used exclusively for the poultry – chickens and turkeys. The Ruckle Farm property was purchased by the Province of British Columbia in 1973 for the creation of Ruckle Provincial Park. A life tenancy agreement was created which gave the family the right to continue to occupy the farm area. The life tenancy agreement expired in 2019 and now BC Parks is responsible for the farm. Mike and Marjorie Lane operate the farm currently and product fresh produce, chickens, turkeys, eggs, lambs, wool, and other products.

a sheep grazing at ruckle heritage farm

A Sheep Grazing in a Pasture (Purchase)

The sheep at Ruckle Heritage Farm certainly seem used to visitors. None have seemed concerned when I photographed them from nearby, and these two below even stuck their heads through a split rail fence. Perhaps they are accustomed to attention from farm guests.

sheep looking through a split rail fence at ruckle heritage farm

Sheep looking through a split rail Fence (Purchase)

This small barn looks to to mostly be used for sheep. While many of the trees from a once large orchard are gone, some Apple trees remain.

sheep barn at ruckle heritage farm

Sheep Barn and the Surviving Fruit Trees of an Old Orchard (Purchase)

This fruit tree in the Ruckle Heritage Farm orchards is covered with what may be Common Witch’s Hair (Alectoria sarmentosa), often referred to as “Old Man’s beard”. Frequently and erroneously referred to as moss, these species are actually a lichen. I’ve seen many trees covered in similar lichen on Salt Spring, it seems rather common.

fruit tree and witchs hair lichen

Common Witch’s Hair (Alectoria sarmentosa) Covers a Fruit Tree (Purchase)

For more photographs from Ruckle Heritage Farm visit the Ruckle Provincial Park gallery.

Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola) Adult and Fledgling

A Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola) foraging in a Fraser Valley Wetland.

virginia rail rallus limicola adult wading

Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola) Adult (Purchase)

Recently I was walking through a Fraser Valley park and saw a bird run across the trail – and it was unlike one I’d seen before. It struck me as the shape of bird that I’d normally see on the shoreline near the ocean, but this was well inland and in a fresh water marsh/wetland area and had interesting orange colours going on with its chicken like gait. New species are fun to discover! While I had no idea what kind of bird this was, I stopped and hoped that I could improve on the few, hurried, photos I made as it headed into the tall grass on the side of the trail. I knew it was still just a few feet into the grass as i could hear the occasional call here and there. A horse and rider ran by (a shared equestrian/pedestrian trail) but the calls didn’t stop, so I guess this particular bird wasn’t too bothered by traffic nearby. Soon it reappeared, not lingering anywhere but wading past with its attention to the water for invertebrates to eat, I presume. I consulted my phone app for bird identification (Merlin) at the time and it seemed likely this was a Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola) which I have since confirmed.

virginia rail rallus limicola chick fledgling

Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola) Chick (4-14 days old)

My app also indicated this bird was rare. Upon further research it seems they aren’t rare exactly, but rare to see, an important distinction. While its existence is not aided with the draining of wetlands, the population remains in sufficient abundance to not be currently “threatened” (listed by the IUCN as a species of Least Concern). At any rate, I hadn’t spotted a Virginia Rail before so this was quite interesting in itself. Even more interesting was what I saw next. I’d seen a small black shape scamper around in the water/grasses near the adult, but had initially dismissed it as small rodent of some kind. Once it crossed some water and struggled to get up a small incline, I saw it flapping tiny wings during the attempt (photo above). This was a Virginia Rail chick likely quite recently out of the nest. Evidently newly hatched chicks only remain in the nest for 3-4 days before they get out and start moving around. They also molt for the first time at around 2 weeks of age, with the black feathers giving way to new ones. So this chick was likely somewhere around 4-14 days old. Another thing I didn’t expect! When the Virginia Rail parent made another pass I made the first photograph above, and left the area as there were likely more chicks around and I didn’t want to draw any attention to them.

As I walked away from the Virginia Rail family, I noticed this male Mallard Duck (Anas platyrhyncho) swimming nearby. I am not sure if it was my presence alone, or some other event, but this Mallard seemed mad. I have not heard one of these ducks utter such a cacophony of sound before. It seemed really ticked off, and flew away shortly after I photographed it. I felt compelled to name this particular photograph “Beaking Off” as a result.

mallard duck calling

Mallard Duck (Anas platyrhyncho) uhm… Beaking Off (Purchase)

You can see more of my bird photographs in my Birds gallery.