The backyard vines had a particularly vigorous crop of Concord Grapes (Vitis labrusca) this year and I made a few photographs of them. The Concord Grape is mostly known for juice, and not a grape that one hears about often in conversations about wines. It can be used for wine, but is much more often used for juice and grape jellies. The Concord Grape was first produced in 1849 by Ephraim Wales Bull in Concord, Massachusetts, which gives a good idea where the name came from. This particular photogenic bunch was growing in the backyard, and hadn’t yet been harassed by hungry wildlife or grazing humans. Normally I just eat a few fresh off the vine when outside, but this year I decided to harvest some.
I left the majority of the grapes on the vine, and picked what looked to be the ones in the best shape. I had a sizeable bucket by the time I was done, and put about 3/4 of them in the freezer where they are still waiting. My intent is to juice them and then make some jelly, but I’ve done neither before, so we shall see how that goes. The process of using the steam juicer here doesn’t seem difficult. There may be some potential errors to be made in making the jelly though. I’d imagine that not quite getting things right could result in something syrupy instead of jelly-like but we will see.
Ambleside Beach, Ambleside Pier, and the newer retail and residential buildings in the Ambleside neighborhood of West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Ambleside Beach and Pier in West Vancouver (Purchase)
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I’ve been meaning to spend a bit more time in West Vancouver and in early November I spent an afternoon there looking for scenes to photograph. I started at Horseshoe Bay, but I had not heard the shoreline/beach park was closed, so I headed over to Whytecliff Park instead. They were filming a movie there, so it was a challenge to find parking. I had a look around and then left for various spots along English Bay. Ultimately I wound up at Ambleside Park next to the beach, and photographed this first panorama above just after the peak of sunset. This area has changed a lot in the past few years since I last visited. A lot of the retail/condo buildings around the Ambleside Pier were still being built or weren’t around yet last time I visited.
Highrise apartments and condos in the Dundarave neighborhood of West Vancouver (Purchase)
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My first stop after leaving Whytecliff was near the Dundarave Pier at 25th street. I was unaware that the January 2022 storm that destroyed the Jericho Pier across English Bay in Vancouver had also caused so many problems in West Vancouver. The Dundarave Pier remains closed for repairs. The West Vancouver Centennial Seawalk had been repaired from the storm and can be seen along the edge of English Bay in the photo above. It was quite busy with people walking its 1.7 km length near various condo and apartment towers. I made a few photographs here and headed east along the water.
John Lawson Park in West Vancouver BC’s Ambleside neighborhood (Purchase)
My next stop was in the Ambleside neighborhood of West Vancouver at John Lawson Park. John Lawson Park does have its own pier, aptly named “John Lawson Pier”, and it had been repaired and was open. The path here is just past the end of the West Vancouver Centennial Seawalk, but continues on all the way to Ambleside Park to the east. John Lawson Park has some nice views of English Bay, Stanley Park, and the Lions Gate Bridge.
Sunset at Ambleside Beach and Pier in West Vancouver (Purchase)
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From John Lawson Park I went to Ambleside Park for sunset. The sunset wasn’t very interesting itself, but I don’t use it as a subject very often. I usually prefer to see what that warmer light is going to with other subjects, and in this case it warmed up the look of the buildings in Ambleside quite a bit. Compare to the first photograph here that was made 20 minutes later. Still a bit of glow on the windows from the horizon but not on much else. I also made this photograph (Link) kind of in between the two.
Likewise you can see some glow in the windows of Ambleside and Dundarave but not on much else in this last photograph. Some of the buildings here are the same as in the second photograph here but from around the corner. The pier here is the John Lawson Pier and you can see the seawalk heading west from the park.
Sunset light falls on the Ambleside and Dundarave neighborhoods of West Vancouver (Purchase)
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For more photographs of West Vancouver visit my West Vancouver Gallery.
Lynn Canyon Park is a popular area in North Vancouver for tourists and locals alike. I had visited briefly a few years ago but hadn’t got onto the trails to walk around since 2013 when I photographed Twin Falls. I intend to go back soon, and visit trails I’ve never seen before, a few other bridges, and likely Rice Lake. Hopefully this will be part I of a pair of posts soon.
Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge
Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge and Lynn Canyon Falls (Purchase)
The Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge is the main attraction in Lynn Canyon Park which opened to the public in 1912. The bridge is in a very scenic canyon, next to a waterfall, nearby parking, and is free (compared to the nearby Capilano Suspension Bridge). The suspension bridge hangs about 50 meters (160 feet) over Lynn Creek, and offers a nice view of Lynn Canyon Falls. The bridge was recently closed for a period of time so the “deck” could be replaced, and you can tell the difference between 1) an older photograph I made in 2013 and 2) the current surface of the bridge. The new surface is very “grippy” on ones feet and doesn’t feel like you are in danger of sliding on it which is comforting in this location. The bridge doesn’t bounce very much either, though those uneasy with looking down that great of a distance to a rocky canyon below may not wish to linger and complete the crossing quickly.
As you can see from the first photograph here showing the bridge and Lynn Canyon Falls (photo), this isn’t an easy spot to photograph a waterfall! Even though the park wasn’t busy, the bridge vibrates a bit after someone walks on it, so finding a steady perch for a longer exposure wasn’t going to happen. I combined two exposures to get this wide of a view, and you can see some effects of that in the poor overlap in the walking surface tiles. Someday I may be able to do a long exposure of the waterfall on this bridge, but that wasn’t possible on my last visit.
After photographing the suspension bridge I hiked down a number of stairs on the trail to Twin Falls. Like the bridge above, I’d photographed Twin Falls before. I had somewhat forgotten the rather precarious position one has to get in to shoot over the fence there. I remembered the fence, I didn’t remember the yoga position required! Most of the foliage here is provided by evergreens, but I appreciate that one small Vine Maple that is hanging onto the rock on the left and has turned a nice yellow. You can barely make it out in this photo, but there is a bridge just above the falls that crosses Lynn Creek. I saw a few photographs and videos online that showed this location less than 24 hours after this photograph was taken, and after an atmospheric river had passed through. Southwestern BC had a drought this summer and fall, and apparently the new rain couldn’t soak into the ground as easily as it might usually. As a consequence, the water coming over Twin Falls the next day looked more like a canyon wide fire hose! This version is certainly more photogenic.
The Baden Powell Trail was opened in 1971 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of British Columbia’s entry into Canada. The Baden Powell Trail is a 48km (30 mile) trail that runs from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver to Deep Cove in North Vancouver. Along the way, it cuts through Lynn Canyon Park, and I made a few photographs along the trail within the park.
Stairs and boardwalk along the Baden Powell Trail in Fall (Purchase)
While the trail itself is many kilometers long, this small section between the suspension bridge and “30 foot pool” is familiar to many who venture here with less ambitious hiking goals. The first of these photographs above comes from a spot on the trail just north of the suspension bridge. The drought and other challenges have made fall foliage a bit scarce this year, but I did find some nice displays from the Vine Maple (Acer circinatum) trees along the way. These were creating a nice canopy while overhanging the boardwalk and stairs along the trail.
Moss Covered Trees on Baden Powell Trail (Purchase)
These conifer trees are heavily covered in moss which is relatively common here in the temperate rainforest of North Vancouver. Some nearby Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum) trees have shed their leaves and created this orange and brown carpet amoung the rocks along the trail. The ferns on much of the forest floor are mostly Sword Ferns (Polystichum munitum) in this location.
On the way out to 30 foot pool I noticed this Vine Maple with some of the more unusual fall foliage colors in this part of the world – deeper reds. On my way back I photographed it with Lynn Creek providing a nice foreground.
A male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) singing in the marsh at Iona Beach Regional Park in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada.
“Song Spread” display by male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) (Purchase)
In early June I visited Camosun Bog in Vancouver’s Pacific Spirit Park but found myself with enough of the evening available to visit another location. I chose to visit Iona Beach Regional Park, in order to take a look at getting some better bird photographs than the last time I visited in the Winter (photographing Snow Geese). Iona Beach Regional Park is well known for the 4km long Iona Jetty that includes a walking/hiking trail. There are also two ponds that are popular with bird watchers and photographers. A lot of long lenses at this park!
The primary bird species I was expecting here in large numbers were the Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) and I was not disappointed. I’d not seen “tame” individuals before, but I guess enough people visit Iona and feed them next to the parking lot, that some resort to begging when new people show up. One male Red-winged Blackbird even got so close to me on a boardwalk railing I had to back up in order to photograph it. There was a possibility of seeing a Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus) at Iona Beach, but I didn’t manage to spot it. What I did see was a display by the male Red-winged Blackbird shown above. This posture of hunching forward and spreading the tail (while singing) is called a “Song Spread” display. As with a lot of other bird displays, this one is largely for territory defense and to attract females.
Male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) in Mountain Ash Tree (Purchase)
While walking around the various ponds at Iona Beach, I photographed this singing male in a Mountain Ash tree. The marsh/pond area there is not a quiet place, with a lot of different species singing and calling. There was also periods of quiet when a Bald Eagle would fly over. The birds here didn’t seem as concerned with the Osprey that kept showing up, fishing in the ponds. I saw it drop down and pick out a fish at one point, and heard it hit the water a few more time after that. It likely had a nest with hungry mouths nearby.
A Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) calls at a passing swallow while perched on a Blackberry branch (Purchase)
There are a lot of Swallows at Iona Beach Regional Park darting around catching insects. The park also has quite a number of nesting boxes available the Swallows use, so that likely adds to its popularity. The photograph above shows a Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) perched in some Blackberry bushes, calling to another Tree Swallow that periodically joined it. At the time I was unaware we were standing right next to one of the nest boxes and once we backed up, these two went back to tend to their nest inside. Ooops!
An immature Tree Swallow has a rough landing (Purchase)
At another nesting box further up the trail I noticed this juvenile attempt a landing on top of the box a number of times. It would land on the top edge, then slide off the back on its initial attempts. The photo above shows the first successful, if a bit shaky, landing on the top of the box. I presume the other adult swallow present is one of the parents supervising flying and landing lessons soon after this one has fledged.
Group of Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) Perched in the Blackberries (Purchase)
I have photographed Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) before, but never this many in one frame. These birds were fairly elusive when I visited, preferring to stick to the top of some nearby Cottonwood trees versus anywhere I could photograph them. Then I noticed one in the blackberry bushes in front of me. Then another, and another. Can you spot all 5 Waxwings in this photo?
The London Farmhouse at London Heritage Farm in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada.
London Farmhouse (1898) at London Heritage Farm in Richmond (Purchase)
On the first full day of Summer in 2022 I found myself in Richmond, BC after a quick visit with Peter West Carey at Garry Point Park. It was a bit early for good light at Garry Point, and so I did what I usually do in such situations, drive around and explore. I first came across Finn Slough which I had never photographed before. I’d heard of London Heritage Farm, but only had a vague idea of its location. When I drove past just by luck I stopped for a visit. I do like heritage buildings, especially on farms.
The London Farmhouse was completed in 1898 by Charles Edwin London. In 1921 London’s eldest daughter, Lucy, purchased the farm and owned it until 1948. The farm primarily produced milk and various produce items. The city of Richmond purchased the London Farmhouse and land in 1978 before converting the site to a park and heritage site. The London Farmhouse has been fully restored with furnishings and other items from that era of farming and living in Richmond. The photograph above shows the front door of the London Farmhouse as seen from the Gazebo in the nearby picnic area. The grounds around the house also contain gardens and a restored barn with a display of old farm equipment.
English Gardens at London Heritage Farm in Richmond (Purchase)
Walking to the east side of the farmhouse, there is an old style English garden with many flowers in bloom (in June, at least). The photo above shows Peonies in full bloom, as well as some other plants including Pinks, Iris, Astrantia, and a Japanese Maple. I also noticed Lady’s Mantle, Foxglove, Calla Lilies, Iris, Snapdragons, and Roses in bloom at the gardens. In the background of the above photo is a small garden shed which holds tools that the volunteers use in the gardens and a small greenhouse.
Peony in the English Gardens at London Heritage Farm (Purchase)
Some of the brighter coloured flowers in the London Farm gardens were these Peony flowers. This photo also shows the Lady’s Mantle (bottom left) and Astrantia, middle right. The building in the background is referred to as “The Workshop” on the farm maps.
Restored Spragg Family Barn at London Heritage Farm (Purchase)
This small barn is referred to as the restored “Spragg Family Barn” in most of the information I’ve found about London Heritage Farm. I couldn’t find any other details about it, but I presume it was built after the London Family no longer owned the property. A display of old farm equipment and tools including a Fordson Tractor are housed on the side of the Spragg Family Barn.
Ripening Red Currants at London Heritage Farm (Purchase)
These Red Currant berries were ripening on the vine along the edge of the English gardens with some other small fruit bushes. Initially I confused these Currants with Gooseberries. You can tell a Currant bush from a Gooseberry bush as there are no thorns on Currants. Also, the fruit on a Gooseberry is individually attached along the main stem, not in groups as seen in these Red Currants.
For more photographs of the City of Richmond visit my Richmond Gallery.
Round-Leaved Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) at Camosun Bog in Pacific Spirit Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Round-Leaved Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) at Camosun Bog (Purchase)
In June I’d seen a number of people on Twitter talking about Camosun Bog in Pacific Spirit Park as a good spot for various flowering bog species at the time, so I decided to head out there and see what was still in bloom. I was also thinking a lot about the possibility of seeing Sundews again, a species I haven’t seen in person since a University trip to Burns Bog back in 1999 or so. I visited Camosun Bog for the very first time last September. As this followed the Heat dome natural disaster earlier that year and a relatively dry/hot summer, things were pretty crispy in Camosun bog then. After a lot of rain this winter the bog looked replenished and relatively healthy this spring. I was a bit too late for a good flower display from the Bog Laurels, but there was more than enough species of interest to spend over an hour making photographs.
The first plants I looked for were the Sundews which were easy to spot and fairly plentiful. The photograph above shows a rather large group of them mixed in with some Sphagnum moss and decaying leaves from last year. This particular species is the Round-leaved Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia). Like other Sundews, the Round-leaved Sundew is a carnivorous plant, and more specifically an insectivore. The photograph below is a zoomed in version of another Sundew plant I photographed, and shows the sticky red tentacle-like hairs that tempt insects both with their red colour and nectar in order to trap and then digest them.
Round-Leaved Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) at Camosun Bog (Purchase)
The next species I photographed were these flowering Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) plants. I’ve seen Bunchberry before in person and in other photographs, but had not made images of them myself until now. I’d always thought they looked like miniature Pacific Dogwood Flowers (Cornus nuttallii) and there is good reason for that, they are in the same genus – Cornus. Bunchberry, unlike its larger cousin, grows as a relatively short ground cover in fairly moist forest floor/bog environments. The flowers mature into glossy red berries.
Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) flowers at Camosun Bog (Purchase)
I also made several images of Northern Starflower (Trientalis arctica) plants, which were mostly blooming when I visited Camosun Bog. I am not entirely sure which is the preferred name for this species, but it is also often listed as Arctic Starflower (Trientalis europaea ssp. arctica).
One of the most recognizable species in a bog, Labrador Tea (Ledum groenlandicum). Labrdor Tea isn’t as flashy as a lot of the other species such as flowering Bog Laurels, but does have these very nice white flowers in the spring. As the name suggests, the leaves can be used to make a tea (steeped, not boiled) which is described as “floral” in flavouring. Labrador Tea resembles a rhododendron, and for good reason – an alternative name for it is Rhododendron groenlandicum.
The most commonly thought of plant in a bog is likely Sphagnum Moss (Genus Sphagnum). I am unsure as to which species this photograph below illustrates, as there are roughly 12 species of Sphagnum in Camosun Bog alone! I do try to ID every species/place/mountain/building I feature in a photograph, but sometimes I have to draw a line!
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 (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 (Anas platyrhyncho) uhm… Beaking Off (Purchase)
You can see more of my bird photographs in my Birds gallery.
Storm clouds from an incoming thunderstorm darken the sky over farmland in South Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.
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 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!
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.
Nicomekl River, Storm Clouds and a Heron (Purchase)
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For more photographs from the City of Surrey visit my Surrey gallery.