Whonnock Lake Park in Maple Ridge is a location I haven’t visited all that much, especially considering how many times I’ve gone to the nearby Rolley Lake Provincial Park. There is a photo of me in the water at the beach of Whonnock Lake in the late 70’s, but I’m not sure I visited again until maybe 12 years ago or so. I pulled into the parking lot while doing a delivery almost next door and had a look. Compared to some locations I’ve photographed there isn’t much there – it is a lake surrounded by mostly trees and private property. So it wasn’t high on my photo list over the years. This year I did decide to stop by again during a fall foliage trip, and intended to make the above photograph of the swimming dock, if anything. My expectations were relatively low.
Tall Snags around the shoreline of Whonnock Lake (Purchase)
Unlike Rolley lake, Whonnock doesn’t have a trail that allows travel around the lake. Much of the surrounding property is private, so the only point of view (without a boat) is from the beach which gives about 220 m (722 ft) of shoreline to walk. That said, I did find these dead snags (wildlife trees) on the north side of the lake interesting, and the wind was in the mood to allow for a good reflection. I’ve tried to find cotton-grass before in Pitt Meadows with limited success. I liked the view below of the shoreline, some cotton-grass, and the small Pines. The park is very busy during warmer days in the summer when the beach is full of people swimming and picnicking along the lake edge. On this fall day, however, I had the place to myself!
Cotton-grass and Pine trees on Whonnock Lake shoreline (Purchase)
It is again time to post my favourite images from the past year. Choosing these images is always a good exercise, though I did something a bit different this year. Usually selecting my images for my yearly calendar is a good basis for my top 10 selections. This year I ignored the calendar images, and went through all the photos I have completed from 2019 from scratch. I also set aside this selection of approximately 25 images and then went through all the 2019 images again a few weeks later. Often I wonder if my selections in these lists are just my favourites from the 20 minutes it took to choose them. So this year I went through the list a few times over a longer period.
I like sharing this list each year, and viewing everyone else’s lists as well. I also make this post so I can participate in Jim Goldstein’s annual Your Best Photos project. His collection of these posts is a great place to find new photographers you may not have discovered before.
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 one from Silver Lake may be my favourite. In this moment I’m writing this at least.
I hope you enjoy this years selections and am curious to hear if you have any particular favourites.
Snow Geese (Anser caerulescens) were one species I was interested in photographing with my new Canon 100-400mm lens, and so I made 3 day trips to photograph them. The first one was to Ladner and Tsawwassen in Delta, BC. I didn’t really have a good idea as to where to find them, so I drove around Westham Island first, and saw zero Snow Geese. I then drove around Ladner looking at the various fields and saw zero Snow Geese. I decided to head to Tsawwassen, and when I was on my way down there I didn’t see Snow Geese – I heard them. I got out of the car and a large flock flew out of a field, likely stirred up by a passing bird of prey. They circled their field for a minute and then flew off. This was not a photo opportunity but at least I’d seen some at last! When I reached Tsawwassen I found another field with geese in it, and this time they stayed put for a moment. I made the second photo here at that time. The geese were feeding on the various roots and seeds of the cover crop in the field, and there were many comings and goings. Eventually a Hawk passed by and the entire flock took to the sky – and I made the first photograph above. It seems fairly clear that most of the opportunity to photograph these birds will be either a bunch of fairly relaxed birds in a field, or a bedlam of cacophony as they all vocalize their displeasure at having to leave the same field. They are not quiet when doing so!
Snow Geese breed on the Arctic tundra – and many of these migrating down west coast of North America will have come from breeding grounds such as Wrangel Island in Russia. Over 100,000 pairs breed on that island alone – one indicator the Snow Goose population is doing very well. The Fraser River Delta and the farm fields in Delta and Richmond, as well as local wetlands, are a good source of food for the geese as they migrate south. They will also make a stop here on the way back north to breed in the spring.
On my second trip to photograph Snow Geese I had little success and saw zero Snow Geese. I drove all around the south Delta area and what was really odd was I didn’t even spot a Great Blue Heron – a fairly common species to see in the farm fields and along the roadside ditches. Just not a good day for birding I guess! The next trip I made I headed to Richmond to visit Iona Beach Regional Park – a place I had never been. There were several hundred Snow Geese along the shoreline of Iona Beach, and they were not disturbed by a human nearby. The photograph above shows a flock of geese resting along the shore. Most of the geese were in a flock, a few looked to be broken off into small family groups of 3-6 geese (like the pair in the photo below), and there were a few that seemed to be relatively independent.
From Iona Beach Regional Park I drove south and visited Terra Nova Rural Park and walked along the West Dyke Trail – both places I had not been before. I’d heard there were a lot of geese here, and there were, but not really close enough to photograph. There was a lot of wildlife around though, so I think this will be another good spot to revisit in the future. When I last visited Steveston in Richmond I noticed these odd, wooden contraptions placed periodically along the shoreline. There were more near the north end of the dyke trail, and so I decided to look them up later. Turns out they are old radar reflectors – though I’m not sure if they have any use at this time, or were used by ships or aircraft. Richmond doesn’t really have much in the way of topography to bounce a radar signal off of, so I guess this was a method of getting around that. This one did add a bit of interest to the photograph below as a large flock of geese flew in from the fields nearby (I could hear them coming for many minutes) and landed in the water.
2020 Nature Calendar Cover – Silver Lake Provincial Park
My 2020 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 and nature scenes from British Columbia.
15% OFF! Use the code ONEFIVE (case sensitive) for 15% OFF at checkout through December 19.
You can view a full preview and purchase this calendar through the button below:
Fall foliage along the edge of Katzie Marsh Loop Trail in the Pitt-Addington Wildlife Management Area – Pitt Meadows, British Columbia, Canada.
Fall Foliage along the Katzie Marsh Loop Trail (Purchase)
The Pitt-Addington Wildlife Management Area is a 2,972 hectare nature reserve in the northern part of Pitt Meadows, British Columbia. Much of the reserve used to be known as Grant Narrows Regional Park, but that was dissolved in 2011 when the Katzie First Nation were given control of the area – now called the Pitt-Addington Recreation Area. I have photographed near Pitt Lake many times, but mostly from the easy to access roadside spots. There are great views of the Pitt River, Pitt Lake, and the surrounding mountains readily available without straying too far from the car. A few weeks ago, however, I wanted to see what views could be found on the trails along the various dikes that head from the roads out into the marsh. Despite the presumption that most of the fall foliage would be gone, and the fact the midday light was filtered through a lot of smoke, I wanted to see what the area had to offer regardless.
I decided to start with the Katzie Marsh Loop. From the main parking lot, past the boat launch, there is a gravel road called the Swan Dike Trail that heads straight towards the Golden Ears Mountains. The main view on this stretch of the trail is not of the Golden Ears, however, but of Pitt Lake, the mountains to the north, and the Katzie Marsh to the south. I expect I’ll be back to photograph these mountain views again when the snow blankets them in a month or so. Along this trail I saw a number of Great Blue Herons (as one would expect) but also had a few passing Osprey, Bald Eagles, and various duck and waterfowl species. Approximately 500 meters from the parking lot there is an observation tower to climb for a better view. I also photographed the marsh plants below (likely sedges or reeds – I was unable to accurately identify them from my photograph) in this stretch of the loop trail.
Wetland plants (reeds or sedges) growing in Katzie Marsh (Purchase)
On the eastern edge of this part of the Katzie Marsh Loop the road continues to a (private) boat launch and dock. The loop trail itself turns south at this point, away from Pitt Lake (approximately 2.4km from the parking lot). While the trail is no longer a well maintained gravel road, the dike is easy to walk on, and quite flat. Heading south there is a long stretch of water on the left hand side, with Katzie Marsh area on the right. There are a lot of interesting trees and patterns in the rocks along this stretch, and I think it gave a better view of the waterfowl using the marsh as well. The first photograph above shows some remaining fall foliage in the Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera) trees at the base of the mountains to the east. Looking backwards to the north along this section of the loop trail also gives good views of the mountains to the north and some nice reflections.
After walking an additional 1.6km from Pitt Lake the trail turns a bit more to the southwest. This is where I found the pond below with a nice reflection of the trees behind it. There was a lot of waterfowl in this area, but many of them left as I approached (I hadn’t seen them until they flew away). There were a few cautious herons who remained, however. From this pond the trail turns even more westward and you come to another observation tower that gave a great view north towards the mountains, Pitt Lake, and gave a good overview of the Katzie Marsh itself. There were two large Kingfishers making a lot of noise in the area. They did not perch close enough to me to photograph, but they were continually on the move and if I’d had the time I likely could have made some good photographs from the cover of the tower.
Fall foliage reflected in a Pitt Marsh Pond (Purchase)
Near the observation tower the trail narrows and is no longer a wide dike trail. The trail for the remainder of the Katzie Loop not only was narrow with blackberries reaching out to grab all my clothing, but offered very little in terms of views of much of anything. This section of the trail is also right next to the water, and eroded in a few spots, so I had to pay attention to avoid a wet mishap. This made for a relatively uninteresting 2km trudge back to the parking lot.
A Row of tree on the edge of Katzie Marsh (Purchase)
I think if I had the time and were to walk the Katzie Loop Trail again soon, I’d turn back at the southern observation tower and go back up to Pitt Lake and then to the parking lot rather than do the whole loop. The last stretch is not interesting, maybe slightly dangerous if you aren’t paying attention, and doesn’t have much in the way of any opportunity for photography or views. All in all I walked 6.8km in completing the loop. Skipping the last stretch to the parking lot would make the “loop” a bit longer at around 9km total distance. This is likely what I will do next time I visit when the snow has arrived. Some of the trip back will be facing the mountains too which will be a great view.
For more photographs of the Pitt River and Pitt Lake area visit my Pitt Meadows Gallery.
Reflections of autumn foliage and Mount Maxwell on a rainy day along the shore of Blackburn Lake on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada.
Mount Maxwell reflected in Blackburn Lake on Salt Spring Island (Purchase)
I recently made a return trip to Salt Spring Island in British Columbia to visit friends and photograph some fall foliage on the island. I’d not been to Salt Spring in the fall before, and I was hopeful about the fall leaves I might find there. The leaf colour in the Fraser Valley had been decent this year, and I’d found previously that even when it was quite bad here, it was very nice on Vancouver Island. I was hoping for the same on Salt Spring and it turned out it was very nice there as well, but it did come with a healthy dose of rain.
Like many rainy days here though, I was able to find gaps in the showers and photograph scenes like the reflection on Blackburn Lake above. The main fall foliage around the lake was the one pictured Black Cottonwood (Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa) tree that provided a nice yellow/orange color along the shoreline. The clouds often hid Mount Maxwell in the background but alternated often enough I could make this photograph while it was mostly visible. The dock I was photographing from is often a “clothing optional” area but there was nobody there this time as it was about +5°C!
The sun emerges at Saint Mary Lake on Salt Spring Island (Purchase)
During my second day on Salt Spring Island I went for a 6km hike to a small lake in Ruckle Provincial Park. I mostly wanted to scout the lake and this route also provided more shelter during a hike in the rain than the ocean side trails. This turned out to be a long trudge to a lake surrounded by dead trees and zero inspirational scenery at the time. It was also a chance to give a failing grade to my new rain jacket which didn’t measure up to the task. After lunch, however, the weather started clearing and I spotted the above scene at Saint Mary Lake. The sun only found its way through the clouds for a few minutes but while it did – this stand of Black Cottonwood (P. balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa) trees lit up rather nicely. There are some subject I tend to prefer to photograph in the shade (waterfalls/streams creeks), others in direct sun, but for fall foliage it really depends on the scene. Some fall subjects like these trees look great lit by direct sunlight, while others can look a bit washed out in full sun.
Driving further south from St. Mary Lake I visited Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park. Burgoyne Bay lies just south of Mount Maxwell and often has good views of the mountain. When I arrived, however, there were still a lot of clouds, spotty showers, and I couldn’t see the mountain. As I was interested in checking out a few subjects that did not require a friendly sky, I hiked out into the retired farm fields anyway. There are a lot of old rows of trees and shrubs on the edge of the trails I wanted to potentially photograph. It wasn’t 10 minutes after I left the car that the majority of the cloud had disappeared, and there were again great views of Mount Maxwell from the park trails. It is rare I see conditions change on me so quickly but I welcomed it this time! The photograph below is from one of the Burgoyne Bay trails looking towards Mount Maxwell (complete with a dog walker further down the path). Most of the fall foliage color in this photograph comes from the numerous Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum) trees in the area.
Mount Maxwell from Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park (Purchase)
From Burgoyne Bay I headed further down the road to the Fulford Harbour area and the Saint Paul’s Catholic Church. In a previous post I’ve written a bit about the history of St. Paul’s Catholic Church (1885) so I won’t get into that again here. The blue sky and the fall leaves (mostly Bigleaf Maples again) combine in the photograph below to make my favourite shot so far of this particular spot.
St. Paul’s Church and Cemetery at Fulford Harbour (Purchase)
Duck Creek Park is a small park in the northern part of Salt Spring where many people seem to enjoy walking their dogs. There is a small stream, Duck Creek, which winds through one end of the park which has yielded a few photographs for me in the past. In the area of the park with open fields, I concentrated on one large Bigleaf Maple tree with my longer telephoto zoom lens. The idea here was to show what these trees generally offer in the fall – yellow foliage colour with their characteristic mossy trunks. Fall leaves on the Bigleaf Maples can be tricky – some years they go mostly brown and others they can be spectacular. This particular tree showed a lot of variation – in this photo you can still see some green on some leaves and orange, yellow, and brown colours on others.
Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum) in Duck Creek Park (Purchase)
For more of my photographs of this trip to the island visit my Salt Spring Island Gallery.
The Point Atkinson Lighthouse after sunset at Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
The Point Atkinson Lighthouse (1912) in Lighthouse Park at Sunset (Purchase)
Recently I posted a photograph of the Point Atkinson Lighthouse in Lighthouse Park to Twitter and realized it had been probably 8 years since I’d been there. A few days later I drove out to the park on an initially clear day that was later infiltrated by a lot of high cloud. The glare from this kind of light is one of my least favourite light conditions, but I decided I was going to explore a number of trails I was unfamiliar with in the park regardless.
First I went to Juniper Point. From there I followed the Shore Pine Trail to Shore Pine Point. The Beacon Lane Trail is a direct route to Lighthouse from the parking lot but it is wide and easy to walk compared to some other trails in the park. Those familiar only with the Beacon Lane Trail would be well advised to pick better footwear and clothing for the Juniper Point and Shore Pine trails as they often resemble walking down a steep creek bed. Rocks, rocks, and more rocks. It isn’t difficult, but it isn’t something to attempt in sandals either. Both Juniper Point and Shore Pine Point offer nice views to the south and west of Lighthouse Park. Views of Bowen Island, the Salish Sea, and even to Vancouver Island can be found here. The trails on this side of the park can be narrow, but also offer nice views of old grown Douglas Fir trees, and there are plenty of Salal (Gaultheria shallon) and various fern species to give the location that temperate rain forest feeling.
Point Atkinson Lighthouse (1912) in Lighthouse Park after sunset (Purchase)
From Shore Pine Point I went down to the main viewpoint for the Point Atkinson Lighthouse – which is rather overgrown now and shows mostly the top of the Lighthouse. This wasn’t the view I was looking for so I went to West Beach via the West Beach Trail. This is one of the classic views of the lighthouse, but it also gives good views of passing boats and any sunset that may occur. I was fortunate that the high cloud I disliked earlier in the day stuck around, but the sky opened up a bit to the west creating a nice sunset. I tend to photograph most sunsets while facing east as I prefer the subtle colors in the eastern sky to the bombast of the sunset to the west. The light from the sunset itself is great for objects found to the east – with a nice warm glow often contrasting with a more purple/blue tint to the clouds in that direction. The first photograph in this post shows a nice glow on the rocks and a still orange light in the clouds to the east. The second photograph above shows the light as it was only 12 minutes later. A much more subtle glow on the rocks and the lighthouse with a very blue/purple tint to the clouds. A third version of this lighthouse at sunset shows both the warm glow on the rocks and purple hues in the sky.
Queen of Oak Bay (1981) on the Salish Sea (Purchase)
As with my last trip to Lighthouse Park where I visited Juniper Point, I had a goal of what to photograph but my favourite from the day is probably not one of the expected subjects. At Juniper Point I photographed this sailboat while waiting for the right light for other subjects. On this latest trip to Lighthouse Park I liked the shape of the clouds with some not overly brash sunset colours but likely wouldn’t have made the image without the ferry being present. The Queen of Oak Bay (built in 1981) was kind enough to sail into the scene returning to West Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay) from Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. While these are interesting clouds – without the ferry (or something else) present this wouldn’t be a photo that I’d share.
For more of my photographs of Lighthouse Park visit my West Vancouver Gallery in the Image Library.
I thought I’d share another batch of photographs here that don’t have enough of a story involved justify their own blog post.
Baby Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus)
Baby Eastern Cottontail (S. floridanus) Eating hawksbeard Flowers (Purchase)
I was testing out a new zoom lens in the backyard and had seen this baby Eastern Cottontail eating Hawkesbeard stems on the lawn. I sat down and waited for it to come back which it did after a few minutes. This was a rather small rabbit – the adults can be approximately 44 cm (17 in) long, but this little one was only about 15 cm (6 in)!
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) at Blackie Spit Park
Blackie Spit Park (Surrey, BC) is a favourite photography location of mine, and now that I’ll be occasionally photographing more birds I suspect I’ll be there even more. In July I photographed this Heron wading in one of the small canals in the park while searching for small fish and invertebrates. It was looking around a lot, so I was able to make photos of it facing both ways. I also made the photo below with a longer exposure, to try to get it looking both ways at once. I didn’t expect it to work out quite this well, but I like the result. I was also unable to really come to a conclusion as to whether I liked the Heron facing right or left, so I ultimately just published all three photos.
Great Blue Heron (A. herodias) foraging at Blackie Spit Park
Look both ways before you cross the marsh (Purchase)
I also photographed this decorated rock sitting atop a fence post at Blackie Spit. I take it this sort of thing is not rare in the area, but it was the first time I’d seen one. The large yellow flowers next to the post are Fernleaf Yarrow (Achillea filipendulina).
Decorative Rock on a Crescent Beach Fence Post (Purchase)
Also at Blackie Spit I photographed this Hawksbeard (Crepis sp.) plant with some seed heads on it that were nicely backlit by late day sunlight. I’ve photographed a number of interesting small plant scenes in this particular meadow – which you can find in my Surrey gallery.
Hawksbeard (Crepis sp.) Seeds at Blackie Spit (Purchase)
Water Lily Reflection
I’ve photographed these pond lily (Nymphaeacea) plants in the backyard before, but this time I was attracted to the reflection from this particular flower. I like finding subjects that are only a few steps from the back door!
Water Lily (Nymphaeacea) Flower Reflection (Purchase)
More of my newer images can be found in my New Images Gallery.