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.
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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.
The historic Annand/Rowlatt Farmhouse (1888) at Campbell Valley Regional Park in Langley, BC.
Farmhouse on the Annand/Rowlatt farmstead (built in 1888) (Purchase)
I recently returned to the Annand/Rowlatt farmstead in Campbell Valley Park and made some photographs. I’ve photographed this location a few times over the years, but had not published the results until recently. The farmhouse pictured above was built by Sarah Ann and Joseph Annand in 1888. This makes the farmhouse one of the oldest existing residences in the Township of Langley. The Annands sold the farm in 1905 and then Len Rowlatt first leased, then purchased the property and lived there for almost 60 years. The farmhouse and the surrounding farm buildings are now part of Campbell Valley Park in south Langley. This photograph of the farmhouse was made in 2019 at the same time as the first photograph of the barns below.
Gable Roof Barn (1898) and on the right the Gambrel Roof Barn (1939) on the Annand/Rowlatt Farmstead (Purchase)
-click to enlarge-
There are two barns on the Annand/Rowlatt farmstead. The Gable Roof Barn is older and has a bit more historical character, and was built in 1898. The Gable Roof Barn was restored in 1986, and is a timber-frame barn held together with wooden pegs. The siding is made from cedar planks that were split on the farm itself. The lean-to on the north side of the bard was where cows were fed, but now houses old farm equipment.
The Two Barns on the Annand/Rowlatt Farmstead (Purchase)
The larger, red, Gambrel Roof Barn (right) was built in 1939 by Len Rowlatt in order to house and milk his dairy herd. The complex Gambrel Roof design allows space in the hayloft without the obstruction of vertical timbers. This barn was restored to its original condition in 2001. The second photograph of the two barns (and the outbuilding photo below) was made in spring of 2017.
Two chairs under an Apple tree in the gardens surrounding the Annand/Rowlatt Farmhouse (Purchase)
There are a number of split rail fences around the farmstead. One encircles the farmhouse (which is currently rented and is a private area) and the garden/orchard surrounding the house. These two chairs look like an inviting place to relax under an apple tree.
One of the smaller farm buildings on the Annand Rowlatt Farmstead (Purchase)
The farmhouse and 2 barns are not the only older structures on the farmstead property. This small building is located behind the farmhouse and beyond the gardens. Originally there was a garage, workshop, chicken house, storehouse and a pigpen on the property. I am not sure what this building originally was built for, but most of the buildings have been repurposed over time for different needs.
For more of my photographs of the Annand/Rowlatt Farmstead, including some close ups of farm equipment and the barn windows/doors visit my Campbell Valley Park Gallery.
Evening reflections on the pond at Godwin Farm Biodiversity Preserve in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
The pond at Godwin Farm Biodiversity Preserve (Purchase)
A few weeks ago I visited the Godwin Farm Biodiversity Preserve in Surrey for the first time. I didn’t know what to expect from this spot at all – only knowing that this was a farm the owners gifted to the City of Surrey for a park, there was a pond, and I’d seen a photograph of a row of Redwood trees. I drove out there on a weekday evening, expecting to the park to be busier than it was as it is right next to a large number of houses. There were few people there, but many seemed to be walking in from the neighborhood, not driving to the parking lot. It was nice to be in this serene spot with relatively few people.
The park was given to Surrey by the Godwin Family in 2015 through the Federal Eco-gifting program. Tom and Elaine Godwin purchased the land in 1969 and at one time it was a 120 acre farming operation. Tom Godwin planted a wide variety of tree species on the property, and dug the pond in 1975. Many of the tree species are labelled, and there are information signs indicating the history of various parts of the farm.
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) at Godwin Farm (Purchase)
The park is 26 acres, so walking all the trails available is not a difficult task. The trails meander through old farm fields, and orchard, around the pond, and through groves of trees. When I was there many bird species were nearby, including these Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) that flew back and forth across the pond. At one point they clustered around a Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) who seemed a bit bothered as it was probably trying to fish in peace. I’d attempted to photograph Cedar Waxwings recently at Elgin Heritage Park, but they never landed close enough for a decent photograph. This flock were greater in number (probably about 10-15 individuals) and seemed a bit curious about me. I was fortunate to get these two photographs. While they came by quite often and perched near me, they never really sat still for all that long, so photo opportunities were frequent, but rather brief.
Adult Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) (Purchase)
For me, the pond was the most interesting part of the park, though all of it is worth walking through. There were obviously some species of small fish in the pond, as the Kingfishers kept catching them. The shore also had some small frogs, and one of the signs indicates there are turtles there as well. I photographed this Narrow-leaved Bur Reed (Sparganium angustifolium) plant along the shoreline with its interesting flowers. This was not a species I’d noticed before in the other ponds I’ve been around, though this species is native to British Columbia.
Bur Reed flowers in the Godwin Farm pond (Purchase)
For more of my photographs from the area visit my City of Surrey Gallery.
A park bench overlooking McLean Pond on a summer evening at Campbell Valley Regional Park in Langley, British Columbia, Canada
A Park Bench with a View of McLean Pond (Purchase)
McLean Pond is one of the areas of Campbell Valley Regional Park that seems “new” to me. I don’t believe it was part of the park when I first started visiting it in the early 1980’s. I first explored this area starting about 8 years ago as I’d seen people parking there and decided to check it out myself. The majority of the area is a grassy field, but after a short walk through the grass McLean Pond comes into view. There is a small dock on the south end and one can reserve the pond for canoeing. At the north end of the pond there is a park bench (above) which offers a good spot to view the wildlife in the area.
I visited McLean Pond a few weeks ago mostly in order to try out a new lens I’d purchased (Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS II USM) – mostly to try to get used to the new focal lengths. The wildlife I’d hoped to find at the pond was a good place to start getting acquainted with the new lens, as well as some smaller landscape scenes I was hoping to find. This particular evening had very little breeze, so I was able to get a nice reflection for the photograph below, a scene one can view from the park bench I mentioned above.
The pond (closed to fishing, btw) is home to muskrats and beavers – both of which I saw that evening. Turtles and a few frog species also live in the pond, but I didn’t happen to spot any on this visit. I did see the Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) in the photo below, as well as what I presume were this year’s crop of goslings. They were swimming around in the pond, happily picking pond weeds from beneath the surface. This particular individual had a watchful eye on me much of the time. I presume this was either the designated lookout or a parent still wary of its young’s ability to avoid dangers such as photographers with long lenses.
A Wary Canada Goose (B. canadensis) at McLean Pond (Purchase)
The photograph below of two fallen, dead trees along the shore of McLean Pond was one I’d wanted to make on a previous visit, but the conditions were never quite right. The reflection was nice this time and the water plants in the foreground (Watershield – Brasenia schreberi) added a bit to the scene – and they aren’t present in the spring when I’ve visited here the most.
On my way back to my car I heard this Dwarf Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis brooksi) singing in the bushes. I couldn’t find it, and didn’t want to move around too much, but it made it easy on me by landing on this branch within range of my longer lens. This usually happens when I have a wide angle on, but I was lucky this time, and was walking with my new lens. This was a new species for me, I’ve not knowingly seen Savannah Sparrows before, but now I’ll be on the lookout for more. The species name of this bird is interesting – sandwichensis. Was someone hungry?