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.
Comet NEOWISE (C/2020 F3) photographed in the skies above Burnaby, Abbotsford, and Langley, BC.
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 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 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.
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 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 (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 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 at the Imperial Landing Docks and Steveston Harbour (Purchase)
For more photographs from Richmond please visit my Richmond Gallery.
Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) foraging as the tide comes in at the Boundary Bay Wildlife Management Area in Crescent Beach, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.
Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) foraging at Blackie Spit (Purchase)
Earlier this year I visited two areas around Boundary Bay to try to photograph some wildlife. I made several landscape photographs as well, but I brought my 100-400 lens with me this time to try to see if I could photograph shorebirds, Bald Eagles, hawks and harriers, or any other subject I could find. When I visited Blackie Spit in Crescent Beach (Surrey) I found a small flock of Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) foraging in the wetlands of Blackie Spit as the tide came back in. I am not sure exactly what the tasty morsels they were finding were, but they did seem to find quite a bit to eat as they waded back and forth in the shallow water. They certainly don’t sit still and pose for a photograph!
Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) flying at Boundary Bay Regional Park (Purchase)
Another species I’ve been trying to photograph for a while along Boundary Bay are the Short-eared Owls (Asio flammeus) which can often be found hunting in the grass between the dykes and the intertidal zone. They often follow the same looping hunting flight routes, and you can anticipate where they are going to be next. Chasing them up and down the dyke, as I’ve seen birding groups do, is something I’ll charitably label as “counterproductive”. Occasionally you will see them dive down into the grass and then fly away (a miss), but sometimes they disappear and you don’t see them again for a while (meal time).
This Short-eared Owl perched in a tree next to Boundary Bay after a few failed hunting attempts. Soon after it seemed to have a bit of a territorial spat with a passing Northern Harrier. The Harrier moved on and this owl seemed to have a successful hunt on its next lap of the area. While there are not many trees in this kind of habitat along Boundary Bay Regional Park, the scattered tree trunks and driftwood, along with the grass and shrubs in this photo are pretty typical of the habitat here.
Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) Perched in a Tree at Boundary Bay (Purchase)
A few areas along the dyke trail at Boundary Bay Regional Park have thickets of the invasive species Himalayan blackberry (Rubus armeniacus). They can be problematic in many ways but small birds such as this White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) can use it for cover, and many eat (and unfortunately distribute) the berries in the summer. This White-crowned Sparrow was with a flock of around 10-20 individuals, but they were quite active at that moment and group photos were a bit chaotic. They aren’t quite as exuberant and curious as Chickadees, but were not apparently bothered by my presence along the trail.
White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) at Boundary Bay (Purchase)
I’ve photographed a few species of wildflowers in parks near where I live this spring and summer, and I thought I’d put them all in one post. The above photograph is a Siberian Miner’s Lettuce (Claytonia sibirica) plant I found blooming this spring at Williams Park in Langley, BC. I photographed the Miner’s Lettuce during one of my first tentative trips out to photograph after being mostly at home due to the pandemic. I’ve usually seen Siberian Miner’s Lettuce in closer proximity to each other, but this one was standing almost alone so I could isolate it in the photograph.
I photographed these Smooth Hawksbeard (Crepis capillaris) flowers this summer in a field at Campbell Valley Regional Park. I hadn’t explored this particular part of the park before, so I didn’t have any expectations. I had a close encounter with a very healthy looking Coyote while it was hunting in the field, but this came as I had a wide angle lens on my camera (of course). It stayed around long enough for me to switch to a 100-400 but when I slowly stood up again to see if it was there it ran off. However, I kept the 100-400 on for the remaining time I had in the field and photographed these Hawksbeard flowers using that lens. I stay on trails, so the longer focal length (318mm) I was able to use here came in handy. While I bought it for wildlife this lens can make a small subject like wildflowers feel pretty close even though I’m many feet away.
Tufted Vetch (Vicia cracca)
Tufted Vetch (Vicia cracca) Flowers Visited by Bumblebees (Purchase)
I photographed this Tufted Vetch (Vicia cracca) in the same Campbell Valley Park field this spring while it was being visited by a few bumblebees. This was from 2.45 meters (8 feet) away – so I was glad to have the longer lens. I made a few photographs of various Vetch plants in the field, but the bumblebees really seemed to love this one, so I stuck with it and was happy to get some photos with multiple bees at once.
Tiger Lilies (Lilium columbianum)
I have only seen Tiger Lilies (Lilium columbianum) blooming in the wild once before – and that was on Vancouver Island near Port Alberni (Stamp River Falls) in 2013. So when I found these flowers in the forest next to a trail early this summer in Aldergrove Regional Park I was glad I had my camera with me. Also known as the Columbia Lily or Oregon Lily – Tiger Lilies were eaten by the Coast Salish people usually as a flavouring or condiment. The very green maple leaves mixed in appear to belong to a young Vine Maple tree.
Tiger Lilies (Lilium columbianum) in Aldergrove Regional Park (Purchase)
Large-leaved Avens (Geum macrophyllum)
I photographed these Large-leaved Avens (Geum macrophyllum) flowers and leaves on the forest floor at Campbell Valley Regional Park while photographing the Barred Owl owlets a few weeks ago. I usually notice Avens when the velcro like hooks on the seeds grab onto my clothing and come home for a ride. This method of seed distribution seems quite effective though I am probably not the target animal for that kind of distribution. This time, however, they were flowering right next to the trail where I was photographing the owls, so I took a break from recording owl screeching sounds to photograph a few flowers near the trail.
Large-leaved Avens (Geum macrophyllum) flowers and leaves (Purchase)
You can see these and more photographs of spring and summer wildflowers in my Wildflower Photos Gallery.
Barred Owl (Strix varia) fledglings perched in a tree at Campbell Valley Regional Park in Langley, British Columbia, Canada.
Barred Owl (Strix varia) Owlet Begging Call while Sibling Looks on (Purchase)
I recently went for a walk with my Mom in Campbell Valley Regional Park. At the bottom of a hill there was a man standing in the path with his fingers to his lips, and he then pointed up into the tree canopy. These two Barred Owl owlets (Strix varia) were perched on a Cedar tree branch close to the trail. I had brought my camera, but only had my 24-70mm lens with me just in case some wildflowers or other small scene was too interesting to pass up. Unfortunately – a lens that wide (even at 70mm) is not something you can really use to photograph juvenile owls up in a tree (that are 21m / 70ft away). When I got home I immediately packed my 100-400mm lens and went right back to the park. I had no idea if the young owls would still be there, but I was lucky and they were! I was completely prepared for them to have moved on but I was back there in under an hour which helped. I’ve not seen young Barred Owls like this in the wild before, so seeing them this close (and with a clear view) was a great opportunity. I have photographed adult Barred Owls before, both in my front yard and in Campbell Valley Park. Now that I know the sound of the begging calls (watch the video at the end of this post) they make I might be able to spot other young owls in the future. They certainly aren’t songbirds!
When I returned the two owlets were still sitting a few feet apart on the branch. The first photograph above shows the one on the left in mid “begging call” which it repeated very frequently during the time I watched it. It seems likely the owlet on the left is a bit younger, or at least has a lot more of the fluffy baby feathers compared to the one on the right. I wasn’t too sure at the time of the way things work with baby owls, how quickly they leave the nest, and if they are fed by parents at all or for how long so I had to do some research.
Barred Owls are generalists – they have a wide variety of prey that includes mostly small mammals and rabbits, but they also eat other birds, amphibians, and invertebrates. While the female is sitting on the nest (for 28-33 days) the male occasionally brings prey to the nest, and the female may leave to hunt while incubating the eggs as well. After the chicks hatch both male and female owls will feed the chicks, though the male sometimes brings the prey to the female to give to the chicks. After about six weeks of being fed in the nest, the owlets leave by climbing up or down a tree (if nesting in one) or flying to other branches. For 4-5 months after leaving the nest, the young owls are fed by parents while they learn to hunt. After this period they disperse and find their own territories.
After I observed these owls for a while the older one on the right moved across the branch and snugged up with the younger one. The younger owlet continued very frequent begging calls. Perhaps it had not fed as recently as the other, or was just a bit less patient. My presence, and those of other people passing by in the park didn’t seem to be of any interest to these owls. As they have such good eyesight and hearing though, it wasn’t as though they weren’t aware of everything happening around them. At one point (photograph below) they were both looking intently at the hillside behind me. I didn’t hear anything, and turned around a few times and didn’t see anything. When they got really interested again I turned around and there was a deer in the bush about 15m (50 ft) behind me. The deer hadn’t seen me and ran back up the hill, crashing through the bush and making lots of noise. The owls didn’t move or care that much about this occurrence.
At the time I hadn’t remembered at what point baby owls leave the nest so there was some speculation with passersby regarding their flying abilities. Sometimes young Barred Owls leave the nest without flying, and climb up and down trees and hang out on the branches before flying around. Eventually the smaller owlet on the left answered the question for this pair and switched trees. The flight looked quite smooth and the landing was relatively elegant. They seemed to have moved beyond the crash landing stage.
Barred Owl Owlet Stretching on a branch (Purchase)
The remaining fledgling remained on the branch itself for a while after that, and sometimes rested its head on the branch (photo above) while stretching out its wings. It really sort of looked like it was bored waiting for an adult to show up with some food. C’mon Mom – I’m hungry!
Barred Owl Fledglings perched in a Bigleaf Maple Tree (Purchase)
Eventually the older fledgling joined the younger on the nearby Bigleaf Maple tree, though not initially on the same branch. After a few minutes it hopped around onto a few different branches and then jumped up and rejoined its sibling. I noticed in this new location that both owlets were doing an almost equal amount of begging calls (and simultaneously at times as in the photo above), so perhaps it was getting closer to the time when free food might usually arrive.
The video below is about 2.5 minutes of the ~10min of footage I recorded while viewing these fledglings. My favourite part is probably the first 20 seconds or so. The younger owlet suddenly looks at the older one, does a loud begging call, and the older one looks away. It reads a bit like a bit of a rebuke of sorts! Near the 1 minute mark a Crow can be heard cawing overhead. Crows and a few other species of birds don’t exactly get along with owls, and will harass or mob them when they can. The young owls here didn’t seem perturbed by the overhead cawing, and even let out a few begging calls while the crows were nearby. I would think crows would be smart enough to know what that sound means. Apparently the owls didn’t draw a connection between the cawing and any potential for harassment. Perhaps they haven’t learned or experienced that yet, or the crows don’t often mob fledglings.
Video of Barred Owl Fledglings in Campbell Valley Park
For more photographs of these (and other) owls visit my Bird Photos Gallery.
Devon Falls on the slopes of Sumas Mountain at Bassani Park in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada.
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.
For more waterfall photographs visit my Waterfall Gallery.
The Golden Ears (Mount Blanshard) and Derby Reach Regional Park at Meunch Bar in Langley, British Columbia, Canada.
Golden Ears and sunset light at Derby Reach Regional Park (Purchase)
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This spring hasn’t been a time where I’ve managed to make a lot of photographs. Due to the pandemic situation I’ve been staying home, and the few times I’ve gone to a local park it has been without my camera. Earlier in the year, however, I did manage to get a few of my desired locations/subjects photographed (it’s a very long list). The three most interesting visits were to Golden Ears Provincial Park, Pitt Lake, Derby Reach Regional Park. One thing all 3 locations have in common is they have great views of different angles of the Golden Ears Mountains (Mount Blanshard). The Golden Ears are one of my favourite mountains – and one I grew up looking at outside my bedroom window. So I thought I’d make a post here with a number of Golden Ears photographs made recently.
The first panorama of the Golden Ears above shows some sunset light shining on the trees in the foreground at Derby Reach Regional Park. I’d walked these trails for the first time the previous year and thought this might be a good location to photograph the mountain with some snow on it. I had been hoping for some sunset glow on the mountain followed by blue hour. I didn’t get that glow, but the sunset did light up the trees in the foreground quite nicely at an area of the park called Meunch Bar. The photograph below shows the same location after sunset. The nesting boxes in the foreground are mostly utilized by swallows I believe, but I haven’t confirmed that yet this spring.
Early Evening light at Derby Reach Regional Park (Purchase)
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The next photograph below shows a perspective on the Golden Ears that I have photographed in the past. Actually, I made this photograph as an alternative to another panorama I shot in the same spot – one that I sold a rather large canvas of in early March. The client and I had gone through a few potential images before deciding and I wanted to throw a few more possibilities (at higher resolution too) for the next client. The is the view of the mountain from the farmland areas on the way north to Pitt Lake.
The Golden Ears Mountains – Mount Blanshard, Edge Peak, Blanshard Peak, and Alouette Mountain (Purchase)
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Anyone who has visited Pitt Lake will be familiar with the view below of Mount Blanshard from the west. This is McPhaden Peak (part of the Mount Blanshard Massif) with a lot of fresh snow and some sunset light. I made this photograph from the edge of the Pitt River near Pitt Lake in Pitt Meadows, BC.
Sunset lights up fresh snow on Mount Blanshard (the Golden Ears) (Purchase)
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In mid-February I visited Golden Ears Provincial Park and walked along Gold Creek to Lower Falls and then to North Beach. The photograph below shows a familiar site to all who have stopped and looked at Alouette Mountain’s Blanshard Peak which is part of the Mount Blanshard Massif. Gold Creek winds its way through the foreground on many photographs from this area, but I wanted to photograph just the mountains and snow for this panorama.
Evans Peak and Alouette Mountain (Blanshard Peak), Edge Peak of the Mount Blanshard Massif with some fresh snow in Golden Ears Provincial Park (Purchase)
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As with the photograph above I wanted to concentrate on the mountain peaks and the snow in the photo below. This is Alouette Mountain’s Blanshard Peak with fresh snow on it and a fringe of sunlight along the southern edge.
Fresh snow on the rock and trees Alouette Mountain’s Blanshard Peak (Purchase)