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.

Storm Clouds Over South Surrey

Storm clouds from an incoming thunderstorm darken the sky over farmland in South Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.

dark thunderstorm clouds over south surrey farmland nicomekl river

Thunderstorm Clouds Darken the Sky Over South Surrey Farmland (Purchase)

A few weeks ago I had a few hours to spend at Elgin Heritage Park in Surrey. I was mostly interested in photographing birds, and was not expecting a storm. Previously I’ve found a lot of birds on the marsh areas as well as along the shoreline of the Nicomekl River. At lot of the marsh plants seemed to be flatted by previous high water, so there aren’t as many old stems for the birds to perch in at the moment, but that will change as the foliage grows this spring. After looking for Red-winged Blackbirds and other birds along the shore, the darkening sky to the north and west was of some concern. I could see rain falling not too far across the river at times, so I was wary as to when I might have to head back to the car due to heavy precipitation or lightning. I made the first photograph here from the bank of the Nicomekl and from then on the sky received more of my attention than the birds. Although, I did photograph a Greater Yellowlegs which seemed to occasionally get bogged down in the mud while foraging. The Yellowlegs seemed pretty unconcerned about the potential for rain.

storm clouds over nicomekl river south surrey farmland

Storm Clouds and Rainfall over South Surrey Farmland (Purchase)

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The wide panorama below shows the amount of precipitation that was falling from these clouds at times. At one point the rain was just across the river, and I was pretty sure I could hear it. Only a few drops on the side of Elgin Heritage Park though, which I did not mind. My gear is weather sealed but I generally don’t want to test that!

bands of rain fall from storm clouds south surrey elgin

Wide Panorama of the Bands of rain falling from the storm clouds (Purchase)

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In my most recent post I wrote about not really wanting to photograph Herons anymore and then not only photographed a number of Herons, I posted 4 to that blog post alone. I should point out that while there is a Great Blue Heron in the photo below, it is not a “Heron photo”. It is a stormy cloud photograph that merely happens to have a Heron in it, in my defense. 🙂 There seemed to be some territorial jostling going on with the Herons at the river on that day – they were chasing each other off quite often. Lots of squawking and honking sounds (these are not songbirds) with some physical intimidation can help when attempting to convince a rival to move down the river, apparently.

storm clouds and the nicomekl river with heron

Nicomekl River, Storm Clouds and a Heron (Purchase)

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For more photographs from the City of Surrey visit my Surrey gallery.

Bird Photography at Tsawwassen’s Beach Grove Lagoon

An adult Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) flies overhead at Tsawwassen’s Centennial Beach in Delta, British Columbia, Canada.

bald eagle in flight at boundary bay in delta

Bad Eagle in Flight at Centennial Beach on Boundary Bay (Purchase)

In yet another example of parks I’ve been to, but not fully explored – I ventured out into Boundary Bay Regional Park north of Centennial Beach in mid February. While I was watching some ducks forage along the edge of the tidal zone a woman who was walking by asked a question about my photography (a long lens and a tripod attracts conversation). She pointed out there was a heron just down the way and I said the words that would set the tone for the rest of the evening (and this blog post). I stated that I was mostly done photographing herons at this point as I have too many heron photos. I used Bald Eagles as another example of birds I don’t seek out intentionally unless there is something new and/or interesting about the potential photograph (there are tons of Bald Eagles around Boundary Bay). So naturally a few seconds later I made the photograph above as this adult Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) flew just overhead. I don’t think I have many Eagles in flight photos, so this was something new and also worked out quite well. I should have known what was coming next.

Shortly after the Eagle incident I found this curious American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) hopping along the driftwood logs on the beach. I know Crows aren’t exactly a big target of birders, with some exceptions, but they are often doing interesting things. Previously recognized as a separate species, the Northwestern Crow (Corvus caurinus) was recently renamed the American Crow. As it turned out, via some genetic studies, Northwestern Crows were usually found to be hybrids or actually C. brachyrhynchos anyway. I wish they could have renamed it the North American Crow. This individual did eventually spy a tasty morsel in the sand and flew off to enjoy it with a bit more privacy.

american crow perched on driftwood at boundary bay

American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) Perched on Driftwood at Boundary Bay (Purchase)

Walking down the trail from Centennial Beach I approached the Beach Grove Lagoon and Spit area of Boundary Bay Regional Park and, as one might have predicted, found some Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias) in interesting light. As I’ve often seen them do at Blackie Spit in Crescent Beach, there were a number of Herons hanging out in a grassy field near the shore. Some were sleeping and having a nap but others were slightly more active. The warmer sunlight of the evening with the backlighting on the bird attracted me to this particular composition. I photographed this individual Heron as the feathers on its head and neck were nicely lit by the sunlight versus others who were resting in the shade. I guess one attractive thing about photographing these birds is they often tend to sit still and don’t move around a lot unless they are actively hunting. Probably why I have more photos of Herons than Swallows, for example. Despite declaring them a subject I’m less interested, I published 7 Heron photos from this evening, bringing the total in my Image Library to 42. Maybe I should just change my logo to a heron?

great blue heron at beach grove lagoon tsawwassen

Great Blue Heron Resting in a Grassy Field in Tsawwassen (Purchase)

Also at the Beach Grove Lagoon and Spit was this Heron sitting on a piece of driftwood. It seemed to mostly be enjoying nap time like the Herons in the field. Occasionally it would keep a close eye on a Bald Eagle or other larger bird flying nearby. It may have been resting up for the hunt I saw it begin shortly thereafter.

great blue heron perched on driftwood at boundary bay regional park

Great Blue Heron Perched on Driftwood at Beach Grove Lagoon and Spit (Purchase)

Much of Boundary Bay Regional Park is often a great place to spot a variety of shorebirds depending on the time of year. On this day in mid February there were a number of Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) foraging along the shore. This one was focusing on this one area in the water, perhaps having spied something on its first pass and was hoping to snack on it this time around. When photographing this Yellowlegs I talked to a young man (~14) who was also trying to photograph the shorebirds. When I saw the Yellowlegs I got off the trail and sat down and waited for them to walk past. His tactic was to walk quickly back and forth on the top of the dike, looming in the sky (from the bird’s perspective) which often dictated their direction of movement. I mentioned this to him and that if he stood in one spot, the birds would wander past and be more relaxed while doing so. He agreed, but lamented that he just didn’t have the patience to do that. I probably wouldn’t have had it at 14 either, honestly, and I’ve see grown adults racing up and down the dike at boundary bay chasing birds too. Also of note for this 14 year old was the lens he was using. I’m pretty sure it was a Canon 800mm which retails for around $22,000 here in Canada. Must be nice (but heavy)! My car was cheaper than that when new in 2004!

greater yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca at boundary bay

Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) at Beach Grove Lagoon and Spit (Purchase)

After I chatted about wildlife photography and Yellowlegs the Heron I photographed sitting on the driftwood earlier had flown a short distance to the edge of the incoming tidal water from Boundary Bay. I watched it catch several small fish before it flew to the other side of the dike to join those napping in the grass.

great blue heron resting at boundary bay regional park

Great Blue Heron Hunting at Beach Grove Lagoon (Wildlife Area) (Purchase)

On my walk back to the car as the light became dim there were several Herons in various trees either individually or in groups. This particular Heron was perched on top of a dead Birch tree trunk that had clearly rotted to the point of breaking off at some point. There was a Flicker poking around in one of the lower parts of the old trunk, an intrusion the Heron didn’t seem to mind. Granted this was a bit less noisy than when Flickers engage in their favourite spring pastime and bang away on metal chimneys in the early morning.

great blue heron resting at boundary bay regional park

Great Blue Heron Perched in the Evening at Boundary Bay (Purchase)

For more photographs of the Tsawwassen and Boundary Bay area visit my Delta Gallery in the Image Library. I don’t have a dedicated Heron gallery. Yet.

A Snowy Walk at Derby Reach Regional Park

Fresh snow creates an outline on each branch of this thick deciduous forest at Derby Reach Regional Park in Langley, British Columbia, Canada.

snow on the trees at derby reach regional park near the fraser river

Snow Outlines the Branches in a Deciduous Forest (Purchase)

In early January we had a light snowfall overnight here which actually stuck around through the next day. So often even a large dump of snow is a bit slushy the next day, or everything turns to rain, and there aren’t many photography opportunities in those conditions. I can often see snow on the mountains without such conditions down here closer to sea level, but snow covering the trees like in these first two photographs is certainly more elusive. As this was something I’ve been waiting for I actually made a photo from the backyard of a tree across the street that was lit by a street light in case everything was gone by morning! Luckily, that didn’t happen.

As the conditions looked promising I headed out to Williams Park which is a small local park I like to visit, often just for a walk. There is a creek running through the length of it and the sound of water is always a good accompaniment to a 2-3km stroll. It can also be nice with snow around, but the scenes there weren’t speaking to me that day so I headed north to Derby Reach Regional Park. Forest scenes can be a tough subject to find a composition with – so many branches and plants heading in different directions can create quite a mess of sorts. With some snow on the branches, however, it is a bit like a highlighter has been drawn on all the branches and they stand out in a more individual fashion. I photographed the scene above, one I’ve seen a dozen times without really noticing any distinctiveness to the flow of the branches, but the snow changed that. It was pointed out to me that this first photograph would make a good jigsaw puzzle. For those who enjoy a lot of frustration, I suspect.

snow on the trees at derby reach regional park near the fraser river

Fresh snow on branches of a tree at Derby Reach Regional Park (Purchase)

Further down the trail this individual tree grabbed my attention again due to the fringe of snow on each branch that makes the tree (a Red Alder in this case, I think)

snow on the trees at derby reach regional park near the fraser river

Tugboat Towing Barge of Sawdust Down the Fraser River (Purchase)

When I visit Derby Reach Regional Park I tend to frequent an area called Muench Bar which gives a nice view of the Fraser River and on a day of good weather – the Golden Ears Mountains. I tend to photograph these peaks too often frequently, as previous posts in this blog will attest. When I’m along a big river like the Fraser, there is usually some boating activity and I’ll often photograph them as they go past my location. Here I had both subjects available, so I photographed this Ledcor Tugboat towing a barge full of sawdust down the river – with the Golden Ears (Mount Blanshard) in the background. The clouds were frequently obscuring then dissipating from the mountain peaks but I was usually able to wait until they became visible.

snow on golden ears blanshard and ice in the fraser river

The Golden Ears and the Fraser River (with ice!) on A Winter Day (Purchase)

We don’t often have a cold snap long enough to form ice on the Fraser, but this happened a few times this winter. At one point parts of it were frozen over, which isn’t that common. During this cold spell there were again chunks of ice flowing in the river, and I included the pilings in the foreground mostly due to the nest boxes at the top. These nesting boxes are for the Purple Martin (Progne subis) I believe – though they might be used by other species as well.

snowy golden ears mountains at derby reach

Fresh Snow on the Golden Ears and Derby Reach Regional Park in Langley (Purchase)

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As I was heading back to my car from Muench Bar after sunset there were some more interesting blues in the sky and I again made a panorama from my favourite view of Mount Blanshard. I have previously photographed Mount Blanshard from this same spot in the spring. I should try to get a photo like this in every season to complete the series.

For more photographs from this snowy day visit my Langley Township/Langley City Gallery.

Views from Jericho Pier and Locarno Beach

A sailboat sails on English Bay past the West End neighbourhood of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

sailboat english bay west end vancouver

Sailboat on English Bay near the West End of Vancouver (Purchase)

While it was technically the first full day of fall, an evening I spent last September taking in the views from Jericho Pier and Locarno Beach felt like a late summer evening. There were plenty of people enjoying both the beach and the waters of English Bay. I don’t think anyone was swimming but I saw everything from yachts to sailboats down to paddleboards and kayaks all over the water. A lot of my photos from this evening either have sailboats in them or I had to wait a while until they passed. The photograph above was made of the West End and Downtown Vancouver after sunset from Jericho Pier. The two taller towers are the Paradox Hotel (left) which recently has mercifully been renamed from a previously embarrassing moniker, and the tower in the middle is a hotel called Living Shangri-La.

freighters on english bay sunset clouds

A cloud lit by sunset over English Bay (Purchase)

I don’t often find that a sunset is a subject of much interest in itself. The light at that time can be great, but I tend to be facing somewhere other than west when one is occurring. These freighters were among the many ubiquitously anchored in English bay waiting to load or offload. As seen in the photograph below, I was keeping an eye on the mountains the northwest as a good background. When this one strip of cloud lit up from the sunset I walked a bit to line it up with the two freighters. I made this photograph, like many others on that evening, from Jericho Pier. I’d not visited this pier before, but it seemed like an area that would have good views in many directions, and so after walking around Locarno and Jericho beach areas I settled on it as a spot for the later evening photographs. Unfortunately, like Cultus Lake and a few other locations I visited this fall, the storms this past fall and winter were not kind to Jerico Pier. A strong windstorm during a King tide destroyed some of the pier and it has been closed. Much like the damage to White Rock Pier when a dock and sailboats were bashed against it, Jericho wasn’t able to remain intact after high tides and winds battered it with stray logs/trees from English Bay. The pier remains closed, and I’m not sure if there are plans to repair it.

learning to sail on english bay

Students from the Jericho Sailing Centre sail on English Bay (Purchase)

As I mentioned earlier there were a lot of sailboats in English Bay on this evening. This group appeared to be a sailing class from the Jericho Sailing Centre nearby. With the Point Atkinson Lighthouse (in West Vancouver’s Lighthouse Park) and the Tetrahedron Range (Panther peak and Tetrahedron peak on the Sunshine Coast) in the background I made a photo quickly before they came into the frame. I then thought I should try one including them and I like both results.

west end of vancouver panorama english bay evening

West End and Downtown Vancouver skyline in the early evening (Purchase)

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I do enjoy making photographs of downtown Vancouver and that subject is often one that calls (to me) for a panorama. This photograph shows the buildings of the West End and Downtown areas of the City of Vancouver as viewed from Jericho Pier. On the left you can just spot the Inukshuk at English Bay Beach with Kits Point on the right. I don’t find this skyline nearly as interesting as the view of downtown from Stanley Park but with tall new buildings going up all the time the character is likely to change.

sunset downtown west end vancouver

Sunset at English Bay (Purchase)

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This is an example of a typical sunset photograph of mine – facing east! The light from sunset made a great, warm, glow on the buildings of Vancouver. You can just see the “Golden Ears” of Mount Blanshard and Blanshard Needle peeking out above Eagle Mountain in the background.

For more photographs from this evening and the City of Vancouver visit the Vancouver Gallery in my Image Library.