Birds at Piper Spit in Burnaby Lake Regional Park

A male Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) perched in a tree over Eagle Creek near Piper Spit in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.

male wood duck perched in a tree at burnaby lake

Male Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) perched in a tree at Burnaby Lake Regional Park (Purchase)

I’m not a “Bird Photographer”, I just seem to photograph a lot of birds! I visited Burnaby Lake Regional Park on three occasions this past fall, and wound up photographing birds (along with other subjects) every time. Owning a longer telephoto lens has not only been great for my landscape photography, but has made some bird photography more successful than it was before. On my first visit to Burnaby Lake last year I went to Piper Spit. I’d driven to this location about 25 years ago but never actually visited when I lived in Burnaby and Coquitlam around that time. So when I was finished photographing at Deer Lake Park one evening, I headed to Burnaby Lake to check out this location at last. It is a nice spot to just be in but it is also a spot with a lot of bird photography potential. There are a lot of bird species at Piper Spit! The fanciest is the off course or escaped Mandarin Duck, but I think the native Wood Ducks like the one in the top photo are my favourite. They are one of the few ducks that will perch in trees, and I was lucky enough to come across a few doing just that just above Eagle Creek runs right out to Piper Spit.

long-billed dowitchers at burnaby lake regional park

Long-Billed Dowitchers (Limnodromus-scolopaceus) at Burnaby Lake (Purchase)

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I also made this panorama of a group of Long-Billed Dowitchers (Limnodromus-scolopaceus) resting around a dead tree trunk and branches in Burnaby Lake. I counted 146 Dowitchers in this photograph, but many others were foraging nearby and running around in the shallow water. This flock of Dowitchers is most likely overwintering at Burnaby Lake before departing to breeding grounds in the spring. The photo below is an individual Long-Billed Dowitcher that was foraging for various foodstuffs (mostly insects and aquatic invertebrates) nearby.

long-billed dowitcher foraging at burnaby lake regional park

A Long-Billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus-scolopaceus) foraging at Burnaby Lake (Purchase)

This Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) was amoung about 5 individuals that stopped to perch for a few minutes in a shrub next to the boardwalk at the spit. There was lots of squaking and they weren’t certainly not quiet, though they made a lot less noise than the 100’s of Mallard Ducks that were also there. The whole place descended into a bit of an unfortunate circus when someone showed up with a box of birdseed and dumped it into the water – just a few feet from a “don’t feed the birds” sign, of course. The ducks went crazy, many different species crowded into the small area, and the blackbirds decided none of this was worthy of their presence and departed.

red-winged blackbird perched in a tree at burnaby lake

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) perched in a tree at Burnaby Lake (Purchase)

This Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) was done with the bird seed bedlam and was walking around on the boardwalk seemingly interested in jumping off the other side. When it stopped in front of me briefly, I made this photograph of just its head. You can see me crouched down in the reflection in its eye. This time of the year Canada Geese are pretty relaxed so there was no hissing or honking at me, it just passed by, posed for a headshot, and carried on. I didn’t crop this photograph – this is the size the camera recorded it at, so the detail at 100% is interesting as I was only 1.24 meters (4 feet) away!

canada goose head up close photo at burnaby lake

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) Up Close! (Purchase)

This Green-winged Teal (Anas carolinensis) also seemed uninterested in the bird seed junk food buffet being offered nearby and just continued wading and foraging in the mud like nothing was happening.

green-winged teal adult at burnaby lake

Green-winged Teal (Anas carolinensis) foraging at Burnaby Lake (Purchase)

There are a lot of Great Blue Herons around Burnaby Lake. I saw this individual hunting (and catching!) small fish and other prey in the lily pads along the shore of the lake. I’ve learned that Herons aren’t that particular as to what animals they eat. If it will fit down the esophagus – down it goes! Which reminds me of the one time I saw a Heron take on a bit more than its esophagus could handle – a photo featured at the end of this post: Hogs Back Falls on Ottawa’s Rideau River. I think this moment was a learning experience!

great blue heron hunting in the lily pads at burnaby lake

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) hunting in the Lily Pads at Burnaby Lake Regional Park (Purchase)

You can find more photographs from Burnaby Lake in my Burnaby Gallery.

Devon Falls at Bassani Park in Abbotsford British Columbia

Devon Falls on the slopes of Sumas Mountain at Bassani Park in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada.

Updated: I revisited Devon Falls twice since I originally made this post and have an update below.

devon falls in bassani park, abbotsford british columbia

Devon Falls in Abbotsford, British Columbia (Purchase)

Despite going to University for 3 years in Abbotsford, and driving past this location many times, I had no idea until earlier this year that Devon Falls existed. Upon learning this interesting waterfall was there, I went out and photographed the falls a few weeks ago on my way to a few other locations. It seems to be a waterfall that always has a relatively low level of water in it, but the surrounding erosion created by the different kinds of rock in the area (mostly comprised of feldspar, quartz, and sandstone) make it an interesting location. The soft sandstone has eroded and created the multiple tiers of this waterfall and the almost cave like areas behind it.

This waterfall on the slopes of Sumas Mountain was named Devon Falls in 2010 after the death of Devon Clifford. Devon was a 30 year old Abbotsford musician who died during a performance in Vancouver earlier that year. The falls were a favourite spot of his to visit.

Update: Since the fall are so easy to see, I’ve been there twice since I first wrote the above post. The next visit was in late October where I was hoping for a bit of fall foliage at the falls. There was just a small amount of foliage, but it was accompanied by a very small volume of water flowing down the falls. If I’d added a garden hose or two I probably could have doubled the flow! The water doesn’t really even show in the photographs, so it seems unless the fall has already been wet, this might not be a good viewing time!

devon falls in winter at bassani park, abbotsford british columbia

Devon Falls with high water flow (Purchase)

The next time I visited Devon Falls was in mid-December after a series of rain storms. There was much much more water flowing this time, and it made for an even more striking waterfall photo than the first photograph here. It was a dark and dreary day, which was perfect for a waterfall photograph! I’m not sure if this is a near peak flow for this falls, but I’ll probably check it out again later in the winter to find out. I did notice the addition of the large tree trunk that has fallen down into the ravine. I’m not sure if this was the natural result of gravity, or was helped by teenage shenanigans, but I can’t say it is a welcome addition to the scene!

For more photographs of the area visit my Abbotsford Gallery.

Burnaby’s Deer Lake Park Part 2 – Ceperley House and Century Gardens

Century Gardens, Ceperley House and the Burnaby Art Gallery at Deer Lake Park in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.

burnaby art gallery ceperley house deer lake park

Burnaby Art Gallery (Cepereley House – built in 1911) at Deer Lake Park (Purchase)

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In my previous post “Burnaby’s Deer Lake Park Part 1” I showed some photographs I made while walking around Deer Lake Park. On some of my repeated visits this fall I photographed the area on the northern edge of the park around the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts and the Burnaby Art Gallery. Ceperley House is the name of the mansion that has been home to the Burnaby Art Gallery since the late 1960’s. It is also often called Fairacres Mansion and has been a part of the Canadian Register of Historic Places since 1992. Ceperley House/Fairacres Mansion is a two and a half storey house in the British Arts and Crafts style. The building was built by Grace E. Dixon Ceperley (1863-1917) and Henry Tracy Ceperley (1850- 1929) in 1911. The City of Burnaby purchased the mansion 1966 and converted it into their first art gallery to celebrate Canada’s Centennial of Confederation.

arbor in century gardens at deer lake park and burnaby art gallery

An Arbor and Ceperley House at the Century Gardens in Deer Lake Park (Purchase)

In 1967 Burnaby planted an extensive garden around the gallery called Century Gardens also in celebration of Canada’s Centennial. The photo above shows some of the gardens in late fall, with the plants in fall decline but with the Rhododendrons looking good year round. The Rhododendron is the city of Burnaby’s official flower, and there are a lot of them planted in Century Gardens as a result.

flowering annuals at century gardens with the burnaby art gallery at deer lake park

Burnaby Art Gallery with Begonias and other flowers at the Century Gardens at Deer Lake Park (Purchase)

Century Gardens also is home to a lot of annuals that flower for just one season and are then removed. The first photograph and the one above show a large number of Begonias in the flower beds alongside the more permenant plants. On my second visit to the gardens this fall all of these had been removed by city crews. There are also a lot of Hydrangeas and Japanese Maples in the area.

fall foliage maple leaves century gardens burnaby

Fall foliage colour from various Japanese Maple Trees (Acer japonica) in the Century Gardens at Deer Lake Park (Purchase)

You can view more of my photos from the City of Burnaby in my Burnaby gallery.

My Top 10 Photographs from 2020

It is time once again to post my favourite images from the past year. 2020 has not been a typical year by any means, but I can’t really complain overall. I stayed closer to home this year, and photographed more wildlife than usual. Part of this was the limited locations I had at times, avoiding crowds/people, and due to owning a longer lens now. As usual, I started working on this list when I collected images for my 2021 Nature Calendar, though the criteria for that is a bit more limited than a top 10 list (I generally avoid human elements). I let this selection of images sit for a while like I did last year, but only wound up rotating one image in/out this time.

If you click on a photo you’ll be taken to my Image Archive. 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. These photos aren’t in any specific order though I think the first photograph of the fledgling Barred Owls is my favourite. The blog post below the photo outlines some of my luck involved in making the owl image. That was a photo opportunity I never imagined having and can’t really expect to again! I didn’t anticipate photographing a comet this year either, so there are always surprises.

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

My Favourite Photos of 2020:

barred owl babies snuggling on a branch
1. Barred Owl (Strix varia) Owlets Snuggling
(Langley, British Columbia)
Blog post: Barred Owl (Strix varia) Fledglings in Campbell Valley Park

waterfall on sumas mountain in abbotsford british columbia
2. Waterfall along Poignant Creek on Sumas Mountain

(Abbotsford, British Columbia)

comet neowise in the evening sky above Burnaby
3. Comet NEOWISE in the evening sky above Burnaby Mountain
(Burnaby, British Columbia)
Blog post: Comet NEOWISE (C/2020 F3) And My First Astrophotography

juvenile bald eagle sitting on driftwood with mount baker
4. A juvenile Bald Eagle next to Boundary Bay with Mount Baker (Washington) in the background.
(Delta, British Columbia)
Blog post: Viewing Bald Eagles at Boundary Bay

devon falls in abbotsford british columbia
5. Devon Falls
(Abbotsford, British Columbia)
Blog post: Devon Falls at Bassani Park in Abbotsford British Columbia

greater yellowlegs looking for food at blackie spit
6. Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) foraging at Blackie Spit
(Surrey, British Columbia)
Blog post: Birds at the Boundary Bay Wildlife Management Area

golden ears mountains sunset at derby reach park
7. Golden Ears and sunset light at Derby Reach Regional Park

(Langley, British Columbia)

short-eared owl asio flammeus at boundary bay
8. Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) flying at Boundary Bay Regional Park
(Delta, British Columbia)
Blog post: Birds at the Boundary Bay Wildlife Management Area

lummi peak on lummi island from boundary bay
9. Lummi Peak on Lummi Island (in Washington State) – photographed from Boundary Bay

(Delta, British Columbia)

male wood duck on a tree branch
10. Male Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) on a tree branch

(Burnaby, British Columbia)

You can view my favourite photographs from 2019 here: My Top 10 Photos of 2019.

Burnaby’s Deer Lake Park Part 1

Burnaby’s skyline of apartment, commercial, and condo towers above Deer Lake Park on an early fall day.

burnaby skyline above deer lake park

Burnaby’s Skyline above Deer Lake Park (Purchase)

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A few months ago I came across an online photograph of Deer Lake Park and realized it looked like a good destination for photographs. Despite living in Burnaby (north Burnaby) years ago I’d not visited there recreationally. I did visit on a cold fall Saturday morning when I was in University for a field trip of sorts learning to use various underwater instruments from canoes. I mostly remember that day for the moment where I threatened the grad student TA with an oar if he wasn’t going to keep his butt in the center of our canoe after multiple suggestions/warnings. He complied.

On three occasions this past October I visited Deer Lake Park in Burnaby to see what photographs I could make. I planned out a few things on the various maps of the many trails in the area, but ultimately Covid-19 restrictions chose my route for me – the majority of the trails are now one way. So I started at the boat launch area parking lot, and walked clockwise around the lake, with one added loop at the west end. The trail starts along a small street passing a few lakeside houses (including the Baldwin House shown below) before moving to a smaller gravel trail heading west. This was a nice walk, and ultimately I completed about 7km of trails including the main loop. I enjoyed exploring around the lake and eventually stopped at the area where Deer Lake Brook flows out of the northeast corner of Deer Lake where it continues on into Burnaby Lake. The area I photographed below is fenced off as it is a recovering ecological area – I’m sure people trample the stream bank otherwise.

deer lake brook in deer lake park burnaby

Deer Lake Brook in Deer Lake Park (Purchase)

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The photograph below shows the “Baldwin House” on the south shore of the lake. The Baldwin House was built in 1965 for Dr. William and Ruth Baldwin and was designed by renowned architect Arthur Erickson. Most around Vancouver will know Arthur Erickson as the designer (along with Geoff Massey) of Simon Fraser University. The Baldwin House is valued as an example of Burnaby’s post WWII modern heritage, progressive architectural style, and was added to the Canadian Register of Historic Places in 2005.

Arthur Ericksons Baldwin house on the shore of deer lake park

Baldwin House (designed by Arthur Erickson) on the shore of Deer Lake in Burnaby (Purchase)

On my third October visit to the park I photographed this scene looking down towards Deer Lake. I was photographing the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts (photo below), the Burnaby Art Gallery (Ceperly House) and the Century Gardens – and liked the sunny and colourful view down the path towards the lake. When the surrounding Maples really light up in a good year for fall foliage I’ll hopefully be visiting and be able to make more photographs of the area.

autumn leaves over a path down to the lake at deer lake park

Fall Leaves over a path down to Deer Lake (Purchase)

The last photograph here shows the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts at Deer Lake Park. The Shadbolt Centre for the Arts is a popular venue for live performances, art programs, community events, and festivals.

shadbolt centre for the arts at burnabys deer lake park

The Shadbolt Centre for the Arts at Deer Lake Park in Burnaby (Purchase)

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Part II of my blog posts from Deer Lake can be found here: Burnaby’s Deer Lake Park Part 2 – Ceperley House and Century Gardens.

2021 Nature Calendar Now Available!

My 2021 Nature 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.

30% OFF! Use the code BFCM30 (case sensitive) for 30% OFF at checkout through November 30th.

cover for 2021 british columbia nature calendar

2021 Nature Calendar Cover – Juvenile Barred Owls

index for 2021 british columbia nature calendar

2021 Calendar Index

Comet NEOWISE (C/2020 F3) And My First Astrophotography

Comet NEOWISE (C/2020 F3) photographed in the skies above Burnaby, Abbotsford, and Langley, BC.

comet neowise in the evening sky above Burnaby Mountain

Comet NEOWISE in the evening sky above Burnaby Mountain (Purchase)

Comet NEOWISE was first discovered on March 27, 2020 and was visible in the night sky throughout much of July 2020. Since NEOWISE was going to be visible with the naked eye, and not long after sunset, I made a number of attempts to photograph it. I have never really done any photography of the sky at night, so I had do to some research as to how these sorts of photographs were accomplished. The first photograph above was made from the top of Burnaby Mountain at Simon Fraser University. I had thought that the nearby Burnaby Mountain Park would be a good location, but it was crowded. Not wanting to try to figure this all out while trying to socially distance from people, I moved up to SFU on the top of Burnaby Mountain. Seems this was a good call as the police showed up after sunset at the park to deal with some car rally people who were misbehaving in the parking lot. SFU was certainly a bit more serene – though it was weird being up there with every building closed (they are typically open 24/7). The photo above is a combination of 9 images made over a period of about 45 seconds. I thought the clouds that were rolling through would have been a big problem processing this one, but I rather like the outcome – it has a bit more going for it than just a comet in the sky. I had been trying to think of a good location where I could work something into the foreground for NEOWISE but never really came up with many promising ideas that weren’t likely around a lot of people. These clouds do make a foreground of sorts I guess!

Learning what sort of settings to make these photographs with, find a location, and get some decent weather was not my only obstacle in creating these images. I later had to learn how to “stack” the photographs using different software than I was used to. I tried several but by far had the best results from a program called Sequator. Stacking photographs like this together brightens up the dim stars (without creating the star trails of a long exposure) and also cancels out some of the noise that is created by the camera sensor.

comet neowise in the night sky above abbotsford

Comet NEOWISE in the night sky above Burnaby Mountain (Purchase)

For the next opportunity to photograph Comet NEOWISE I went to a viewpoint in Abbotsford that looks over Glen Valley and the Fraser River. While on Burnaby Mountain the comet wasn’t all that easy to see with the naked eye which was probably a combination of light pollution and where NEOWISE was positioned in relation to the sun. On this second attempt the tail was very easy to see. There is less light pollution out there and it is also likely that the comet and tail was simply brighter at that point in its journey. I could easily spot it just glancing out the car window! I picked up quite a few mosquito bites making the above photo, but this night turned out to be the best conditions I had photographing NEOWISE.

comet neowise in the night sky above langley

Comet NEOWISE above Langley

The last photograph of Comet NEOWISE here is not very good, but it is interesting in that the comet’s core appeared quite green. The tail was quite faint, and I was actually never able to see the comet with my eyes – even through the camera lens. The green color was nice though. I photographed this at Glen Valley in Langley, amid the blueberry and cranberry fields. What was probably the more interesting even that evening was when I saw a few Coyotes on the side of the road. One was clearly this years crop and was considerably smaller than the others. A few kilometers from where I saw the pup is where I photographed, and there was a pack of Coyotes rather close by howling and singing away while I made my photographs. I clapped my hands a few times just to make my presence known, but they weren’t overly concerned with this and never seemed to cease the celebration over a rabbit hunt or whatever they had going on. Perhaps they were enjoying the comet.

Walking Through Steveston and Imperial Landing

Fishing boats tied up at the docks at Scotch Pond near Steveston in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada. Photographed from the trails in Garry Point Park.

fishing boats scotch pond garry point park

Fishing boats docked in the Scotch Pond mooring at Garry Point Park (Purchase)

Last fall I made a short trip down to Richmond, BC to walk around the historic Steveston area. I started by walking the Garry Point Park trails which give good views of the fishing boats entering Steveston Harbour as well as the surrounding vistas to the north and west. On the north side of Garry Point Park I made several photographs, mostly at Scotch Pond, a small inlet where several fishing boats were moored. Scotch Pond is connected to the mouth of the Fraser River by a small channel allowing boats to come and go. The water was quite calm on the day I was there which lead to some nice reflections from the fishing boats in the photograph above.

This was my first trip to Steveston in many years, and I need to go back soon to photograph more of the historic nature of the area, including buildings like the Gulf of Georgia Cannery which is a National Historic Site. On this evening I walked through town and by the Cannery but didn’t make any photographs. I headed east along Steveston Harbour (part of the Fraser River) and made a number of photographs during some great sunset and later light in a section of town called Imperial Landing. The photograph below is the bridge along the main boardwalk trail at Imperial Landing Park.

bridge at imperial landing park in steveston

Bridge at Imperial Landing Park in Steveston (Purchase)

After sunset the sky had a nice purple tinge to it, and since I like reflections of almost anything, I photographed the above waterfront condos at Imperial Landing from the Imperial Landing Dock.

waterfront condos in steveston

Waterfront Condos at Imperial Landing in Steveston (Purchase)

The Imperial landing Docks are pictured below, with the last bit of sunset light reflecting off Steveston Harbour in the Fraser River. You can also see the fishing trawlers tied up along the Steveston Harbour docks on the right, and even the mountains of Vancouver Island in the distance.

sunset steveston harbour imperial landing docks

Sunset at the Imperial Landing Docks and Steveston Harbour (Purchase)

For more photographs from Richmond please visit my Richmond Gallery.