Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) Singing

A male Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) singing in a flowering Kanzan (or Kwanzan) Cherry tree during a spring day.

male spotted towhee in cherry blossoms tree

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) Singing in a Flowering Cherry Tree (Purchase)

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   One of the more elusive bird species found in my backyard is the Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus). They are easy to find, and are around frequently, but are also rather shy and tend to forage on the ground, scratching beneath shrubs, trees, and vines. It seems that they are easier to photograph in the spring – perhaps building nests and finding mates requires a bit more boldness than usual. Both of these male Spotted Towhees were fairly easy to photograph as they sat higher up in the trees than they would normally be found. The first photo here shows a male singing (in the rain) up in a flowering cherry tree in full bloom (Kanzan or Kwanzan variety). The second Towhee is a bit more cautious and seems to be feeling a bit vulnerable in a relatively open area of the forest.

male spotted towhee

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) looking cautious (Purchase)

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   When I was learning about local birds many years ago this Spotted Towhee species was referred to as the “Rufous sided Towhee”. The Spotted Towhee and the similar Eastern Towhee were once considered the same species (and probably were, long ago), but now are known to be separate. One male Spotted Towhee in my neighborhood seems to love to stand on window ledges and jump up and attack his reflection. This results in noise that causes the dog to bark, and the smearing of bird poop all over the windows. He has since expanded this behaviour to my car’s side view mirrors with similar, messy results. It could be worse though, my neighbor reports that one attacks their bedroom window at dawn (likely the same bird). At least he is letting me sleep!

For more of my bird photographs visit my Bird Photos Gallery.

Frozen Fraser River and the Golden Ears

Ice on the Fraser River with the Golden Ears Mountains in the background – photographed from Brae Island Regional Park in Fort Langley, British Columbia, Canada.

frozen ice fraser river winter golden ears langley british columbia

Ice on the Fraser River with the Golden Ears Mountains in the background (Purchase)

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   Winter is usually a fleeting concept for much of Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. We get the odd snowfall, a few cold spells below zero, and it doesn’t always have a lot of impact (easy for me to say, usually working at home). Sometimes we have extended cold snaps with snow that lead to interesting conditions we don’t see all the time. In late December and early January we had almost a foot of snow on the ground and temperatures were getting down to -12°C at night, which is more winter than we are used to! I headed to the Fraser River in early January to see if I could get some good photographs of the ice on the river and the snow on the mountains – not conditions I get to see all that often.

   Brae Island Regional Park is a location I have photographed before for its good views of the Fraser and the mountains to the north. The best view is often from Tavistock Point though there are other northern facing spots as well. Unfortunately, most of those had fallen trees and brush from the winter storms blocking them. In the few spots I could get down to the water without going off the trail the river ice had ridden up the bank making venturing further a bit too risky not knowing if there was sand or water below. The above photograph was made at Tavistock Point after sunset. As this was facing north, there was only a slight “Belt of Venus” effect in the sky which isn’t really noticeable here. The approximately 2.5 km of trails to get to this point normally takes me about 25 minutes to walk, but as there was snow this trip took me about 50 minutes. Many people had walked the trails in the previous days since the last snowfall, and we had one above zero day in between, so the trail was sheer ice or very slippery. The frozen river conditions made this well worthwhile but if you have similar conditions and aren’t up to falling on your butt a number of times on the way I’d skip it for warmer days!

frozen ice fraser river winter golden ears langley british columbia

Golden Ears Reflections (Purchase)

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   The photograph above was made slightly earlier in the evening than the panorama. This was photographed near one of the spots I mentioned with fallen trees, but I was able to get near the water enough to make this photo, though I had to edit out a small tree branch I just couldn’t get out of the way. The frozen Fraser River was enough of a subject to keep me busy, though I do wish that I had been able to find more spots with mountain reflections in the water. The Golden Ears Mountains (Mount Blandshard) themselves are a great subject, and consist of McPhaden Peak, Edge Peak and Blandshard Peak. The mountain that is reflected in the Fraser on the right hand side (in the first photograph) is Mount Robbie Reid.

For more of my Panoramas please visit my Panoramas Gallery.

View of Glen Valley Farmland and the Fraser River

View of Glen Valley farmland, the Fraser River, and Coquitlam/Burnaby Mountain from Bradner Road in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada.

panorama of glen valley farmland and the fraser river in langley abbotsford

View of Glen Valley Farmland in Langley and Abbotsford (Purchase)

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   This view of Glen Valley’s farmland is one that I had forgotten about for many years. I remember looking out the car window and seeing this view as a kid from the backseat of my parents’ car. On a rare, non rainy day last fall I remembered the viewpoint when I was nearby, and decided to drive up to Bradner Road to see if it was still there. I was happy to find it hadn’t been overgrown by trees and still offered good views of Glen Valley below. It wasn’t the clearest day but I think I will be back there in the spring to see if sunset offers any interesting light from this vantage point.

view of glen valley farms in abbotsford and langley

View of Glen Valley (Purchase)

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   One of the common crops farmed in Glen Valley are cranberries and blueberries. The bottom left of the above photograph shows one of the many partially flooded cranberry field after harvest. The fields are flooded in the fall so that the berries float to the surface (after a bit of a beating) for easy collection.

glen valley farmland and the fraser river

Glen Valley Farmland and the Fraser River (Purchase)

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   The third photo here shows Glen Valley, The Fraser River, Macmillan Island, Coquitlam, and Burnaby Mountain beyond. I was a bit surprised how far I could see from this elevation. The top of the Port Mann Bridge and many taller buildings in Surrey were also visible.

For more photos of Glen Valley and the surrounding region please visit my Fraser Valley Gallery.

Moving my blog to a new URL

   You might have noticed that the url of this photoblog has changed. The old url of photoblog.mrussellphotography.com has changed to:

https://www.mrussellphotography.com/blog/

   Just over 9 years ago I started this photoblog as a place to share my photography online. Back then I did some research on the SEO benefits of using a subdomain vs. a subdirectory. At the time a subdomain was the better place for something like my blog over a subdirectory. A lot can change in 9 years on the internet, and for several years now subdirectories have been better for search rankings. So I’ve moved the photoblog from my old subdomain (photoblog.mrussellphotography.com) to the /blog subdirectory. Hopefully this location remains a solid SEO choice because I always find moving a website to be a bit of a pain, especially wordpress and databases in the mix.

   I have also added https to the site as that is another factor that is now part of search result rankings. Your browser may soon start to kick and scream a bit if a site you are visiting isn’t https, even when not submitting important info like usernames and passwords. This time it didn’t take me years to catch up to the new way of doing things at least!

Langley Bog in Derby Reach Regional Park

Langley Bog from the new viewing platform at Derby Reach Regional Park (Houston Trail) in Langley, British Columbia, Canada.

langley bog viewing platform and the coast mountains from derby reach regional park

Langley Bog from Derby Reach Park Viewing Platform (Purchase)

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   A few weeks ago I went to the Langley Bog for the first time as there was a new viewing platform off of the Houston Trail in Derby Reach Regional Park. I had never walked on the Houston Trail but was aware of it and the bog (which is generally closed to the public) on my many drives past the trailhead. While the Langley Bog is a very interesting place biologically, I didn’t find all that much insight into that via the viewing platform (built by the Derby Reach Brae Island Parks Association). Granted, everything was frozen solid at the time and spring/summer may yield more wildlife viewing and other interesting things. This may be a good spot for birding in the future. I also hope that this is not the end of construction. Burns Bog has a lot of trails and boardwalks (via the Delta Nature Reserve) where you can walk, with relatively low disturbance of the bog itself. It would be nice if this kind of thing could be incorporated into Langley Bog in the future.

For more photos of the Langley area visit my Fraser Valley Gallery.

Mt. Erie Park Moonrise Over the North Cascades

The moon rises over North Cascades mountain peaks just after sunset. Photographed from the top of Mt. Erie Park in Anacortes, Washington State, USA.

panorama of moonrise over the north cascades range from mt erie park

Moonrise over the North Cascades from Mt. Erie Park (Purchase)

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   In September I went on a day trip across the border into Blaine, Washington and eventually ended up at Mt. Erie Park in Anacortes on Fidalgo Island. The plan had been to follow the coast and hit a lot of different spots on the way to Fidalgo Island and Anacortes with Mt. Erie Park being the last destination. It turned out this was a bit overly ambitions so when I arrived in Anacortes it was already early evening. I’ve learned from experience that when time gets short to have a plan for the final destination in place, and so after visiting Anacortes I drove up the narrow road to the top of Mt. Erie. This was a park that seemed like it had a decent chance at good views – and they turned out to be great views. This first panorama photograph here shows several peaks I photographed from the park – mainly (from L to R) Round Mountain, Mount Higgins, Glacier Peak, White Chuck Mountain, Whitehorse Mountain Three Fingers, and Liberty Mountain.

moonrise over the north cascades range from mt erie

Moonrise over the North Cascades and Similk Bay from Mt. Erie (Purchase)

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   I’d like to say I had planned my timing with this moon rise perfectly, but it was just a pleasant surprise. Many photographers determine sunrise and sunset paths before photographing an area but I don’t often do this – especially on a relatively unplanned day such as this one. There are plenty of great views from the top of Mount Erie – from Mount Baker and a number of other notable peaks in the North Cascades to the view south towards Whidbey Island, The Olympic Mountains and the Straight of Juan de Fuca. The three photos here show the view to the east and southeast of the North Cascades, and the farmland on the mainland.

moonrise over the north cascades range in black and white

Moonrise over the North Cascades in B&W (Purchase)

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   I thought I’d try this last photograph in Black and White, and I think it works (more so with the enlarged view compared to this thumbnail). You can view the colour version for comparison. The peaks in this photograph include (L to R) Round Mountain, Mount Higgins, Skadulgwas Peak, White Chuck Mountain, Glacier Peak, Disappointment Peak and Whitehorse Mountain.

For more photographs from the North Cascades visit my North Cascades Gallery.

Mill Pond Reflections in Mission, British Columbia

Fall foliage and Birch trees reflected on Mill Pond in Mission, British Columbia, Canada.

fall foilage reflection on mill pond in mission bc silverdale

Fall Foliage in Mission at Mill Pond (Purchase)

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   I have visited Mill Pond on Dewdney Trunk Road in Mission, BC a number of times, but not usually for photographs. Fall is one of my favourite times of year to photograph and so I try to get out as much as possible during the fleeting time fall foliage is available. Last year had nearly constant fall rain (600 mm/23.6 in during October/November) and was dubbed the “dreariest on record” by Environment Canada’s weather forecasters. 2016 had relatively poor fall foliage colours too, so I didn’t always find what I was looking for in spots I’d targeted. I was heading back from a “failed” trip one afternoon and stopped at Mill Pond to see if there were any interesting reflections on its surface. I was not disappointed – there were a few trees and shrubs that had some decent foliage colors and the lack of wind made for some good reflections. The first photograph here of the pond is actually the last one I put together from 4 separate exposures. These had to be a bit longer in duration (15 seconds) than those earlier as it was almost dark when I made this photograph. I am not sure what species make up most of the colours in the first photo but the second is primarily from Vine Maple (Acer circinatum) leaves.

fall foilage on mill pond in mission bc silverdale

Fall Foliage Reflected in Mill Pond (Purchase)

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For a few more photographs from Mission’s Mill Pond please visit my Lakes & Rivers gallery in the Image Library.

Mount Rainier Sunset from Mt. Erie

View of a Mount Rainier sunset (elevation 14409 ft / 4392 meters), Whidbey Island, and Similk Bay at sunset.

view of a mount rainier sunset from mt. erie in anacortes

Mount Rainier at Sunset – from Mt. Erie in Anacortes (Purchase)

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   In my Top Photos of 2016 post I showed a previously unpublished photograph of the moon rising over the North Cascades I made from Mt. Erie in Anacortes, Washington. The Mt. Erie Park viewpoint(s) offer great views in many directions of the surrounding countryside, mountains, coastlines and ocean. One of the sights I was not expecting up there was the rather decent view of a Mount Rainier sunset despite it being 188km (117 miles) to the south. I have made a number of trips to Mount Rainier National Park, and it remains one of my favourite places in Washington State. This view from Mt. Erie Park was quite welcome. I’ll be posting a few of the other photographs from my trip to Anacortes soon – mostly of the view from Mt. Erie in other directions.

For more photographs of Mountains visit my Mountains Gallery.