Devon Falls on the slopes of Sumas Mountain at Bassani Park in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada.
Devon Falls in Abbotsford, British Columbia (Purchase)
Despite going to University for 3 years in Abbotsford, and driving past this location many times, I had no idea until earlier this year that Devon Falls existed. Upon learning this interesting waterfall was there, I went out and photographed the falls a few weeks ago on my way to a few other locations. It seems to be a waterfall that always has a relatively low level of water in it, but the surrounding erosion created by the different kinds of rock in the area (mostly comprised of feldspar, quartz, and sandstone) make it an interesting location. The soft sandstone has eroded and created the multiple tiers of this waterfall and the almost cave like areas behind it.
This waterfall on the slopes of Sumas Mountain was named Devon Falls in 2010 after the death of Devon Clifford. Devon was a 30 year old Abbotsford musician who died during a performance in Vancouver earlier that year. The falls were a favourite spot of his to visit.
For more waterfall photographs visit my Waterfall Gallery.
The Golden Ears (Mount Blanshard) and Derby Reach Regional Park at Meunch Bar in Langley, British Columbia, Canada.
Golden Ears and sunset light at Derby Reach Regional Park (Purchase)
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This spring hasn’t been a time where I’ve managed to make a lot of photographs. Due to the pandemic situation I’ve been staying home, and the few times I’ve gone to a local park it has been without my camera. Earlier in the year, however, I did manage to get a few of my desired locations/subjects photographed (it’s a very long list). The three most interesting visits were to Golden Ears Provincial Park, Pitt Lake, Derby Reach Regional Park. One thing all 3 locations have in common is they have great views of different angles of the Golden Ears Mountains (Mount Blanshard). The Golden Ears are one of my favourite mountains – and one I grew up looking at outside my bedroom window. So I thought I’d make a post here with a number of Golden Ears photographs made recently.
The first panorama of the Golden Ears above shows some sunset light shining on the trees in the foreground at Derby Reach Regional Park. I’d walked these trails for the first time the previous year and thought this might be a good location to photograph the mountain with some snow on it. I had been hoping for some sunset glow on the mountain followed by blue hour. I didn’t get that glow, but the sunset did light up the trees in the foreground quite nicely at an area of the park called Meunch Bar. The photograph below shows the same location after sunset. The nesting boxes in the foreground are mostly utilized by swallows I believe, but I haven’t confirmed that yet this spring.
Early Evening light at Derby Reach Regional Park (Purchase)
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The next photograph below shows a perspective on the Golden Ears that I have photographed in the past. Actually, I made this photograph as an alternative to another panorama I shot in the same spot – one that I sold a rather large canvas of in early March. The client and I had gone through a few potential images before deciding and I wanted to throw a few more possibilities (at higher resolution too) for the next client. The is the view of the mountain from the farmland areas on the way north to Pitt Lake.
The Golden Ears Mountains – Mount Blanshard, Edge Peak, Blanshard Peak, and Alouette Mountain (Purchase)
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Anyone who has visited Pitt Lake will be familiar with the view below of Mount Blanshard from the west. This is McPhaden Peak (part of the Mount Blanshard Massif) with a lot of fresh snow and some sunset light. I made this photograph from the edge of the Pitt River near Pitt Lake in Pitt Meadows, BC.
Sunset lights up fresh snow on Mount Blanshard (the Golden Ears) (Purchase)
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In mid-February I visited Golden Ears Provincial Park and walked along Gold Creek to Lower Falls and then to North Beach. The photograph below shows a familiar site to all who have stopped and looked at Alouette Mountain’s Blanshard Peak which is part of the Mount Blanshard Massif. Gold Creek winds its way through the foreground on many photographs from this area, but I wanted to photograph just the mountains and snow for this panorama.
Evans Peak and Alouette Mountain (Blanshard Peak), Edge Peak of the Mount Blanshard Massif with some fresh snow in Golden Ears Provincial Park (Purchase)
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As with the photograph above I wanted to concentrate on the mountain peaks and the snow in the photo below. This is Alouette Mountain’s Blanshard Peak with fresh snow on it and a fringe of sunlight along the southern edge.
Fresh snow on the rock and trees Alouette Mountain’s Blanshard Peak (Purchase)
A juvenile Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) perched on a fence post near Boundary Bay in Delta, British Columbia, Canada.
Juvenile Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) perched on a fence post near Boundary Bay (Purchase)
In early January I made a few visits to the dyke trail along Boundary Bay in Delta, BC. These Boundary Bay trails are a great spot for a short (or very long) walk while taking in the views and the wildlife. I’ve previously photographed a number of species here, most notably Snowy Owls back in 2012. Certain spots can be crowded with birders and photographers, so I tend to avoid those locations. I always photograph from the trails, and if I can’t “reach” a subject from there, well, maybe it will sit closer next time. The juvenile Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) in the above photograph was a very easy subject to work with. It was relatively still, had some personality, and I happened upon it in fairly decent light. During January I don’t think the breeding has really started to get going so there are a lot of eagles loitering around on various trees and posts in the area making for good viewing.
Adult Bald Eagle (H. leucocephalus) perched on a tree branch at Boundary Bay (Purchase)
Further along the trail I came upon this adult Bald Eagle perched in a tree. So often when I find eagles in trees there are branches in front of them which makes for a difficult photograph. This one was reasonably close and was also not very high up in the tree. There were two other things that made photographing this eagle interesting. The first can be seen in the photograph below. There are a lot of Bald Eagles in the area, and they would occasionally fly over and land in nearby, taller Cottonwood trees. There were a number of times this eagle stretched its wings and preened itself, but it was also not quiet when the other eagles were nearby. The photo below shows this eagle while it was making a fair bit of noise while also stretching. I presume this was some level of warning that this was its tree or something similar. Maybe this was just a particularly cantankerous eagle? This video shows the full sequence of 20 images I made put together of the eagle stretching: https://vimeo.com/396230790.
An adult Bald Eagle (H. leucocephalus) stretches while on a tree branch near Boundary Bay (Purchase)
The other interesting thing I noticed when photographing this eagle was the large number of small insects flying around it. I could see these on my camera’s LCD screen and zoomed in as I was initially alarmed this might be a lot of dirt on my camera sensor. The eagle didn’t seem at all bothered by this, even though they were buzzing quite close to its head much of the time. I don’t know what attracted the insects, but considering what eagles often eat in the area, this may have been a particularly smelly individual.
An adult Bald Eagle (H. leucocephalus) perched on a tree branch (with a small cloud of insects)
While I almost always see and photograph a variety of wildlife on a trip to Boundary Bay – the scenic surroundings are well worth the trip too. On a clear day Mount Baker (3286 m / 10780 ft) in Washington State offers a great view along with Lummi Peak on Lummi Island that can be seen from the bay. This photograph has both a juvenile Bald Eagle as well as Mount Baker all in one photograph – something I’ve been looking for from any of the larger bird species in the area on the clear days I’ve visited.
A juvenile Bald Eagle on a piece of driftwood next to Boundary Bay. Mount Baker (Washington) in the background. (Purchase)
For more of my photographs of birds visit my Bird Photos Gallery.
A Black Cottonwood (Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa) at Silver Lake Provincial Park in Hope, British Columbia, Canada.
Black Cottonwood (P. balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa) at Silver Lake Provincial Park (Purchase)
Someone asked me recently why I would go back to a location where I have already made a lot of photographs. I’m not quite sure why this is a question I see asked on occasion, but perhaps it is related to the “trophy hunting” mentality of some photographers. They’ve got “the shot” at that location so it is done now? Just because you have visited and photographed a location a few times, doesn’t meant that it won’t yield new ideas and photographs on subsequent visits. Looking for the compositions that are beyond the obvious or “iconic” is much of the point. Subjects look different at different times, though personally it can just be the mood I’m in that likely makes some of the difference in spotting what I’ve missed before. I’ll use the above photograph as an example.
I made this photo at one of my favourite Fraser Valley locations – Silver Lake Provincial Park near Hope, BC. I’ve been here many times, and am usually treated to a nice reflection of Hope Mountain in the water of Silver Lake, even when photography conditions are otherwise poor. I wasn’t really expecting to see something completely new at this park considering how many times I’ve visited it – but I was looking anyway. Then I noticed this small tree growing out of a stump/deadhead in Silver Lake. I’ve been by this spot many times, but just never noticed it – and this subject isn’t exactly hidden or hard to find!
I think one of the reasons that repeated returns to a location are worthwhile is, at least for me, first visits are a bit more “big picture” than later ones. Silver Lake, for example, has an immediate appeal due to the reflections in the lake and the surrounding mountains. So these are the sort of subjects I pick up on initially. In some locations this might be the “iconic” location or simply the easiest to get to. I try to look for everything but that isn’t always possible. Repeated visits to any location are going to yield new ideas if nothing else because you may be there at a different time of day, during a different season, or simply while in a different mood. Time constraints often limit what I can explore in a single visit as well, even for relatively small parks like Silver Lake. I often have a mental checklist of things I notice at a location (which I’ve started to write down) and I’m hoping to find them in better light/conditions when I return. So it isn’t always about seeing new things, but photographing the ones you have already spotted in conditions that have of more appeal.
It isn’t always changes to a location or attempting to spot new subjects that are reasons for my return visits either. I have some older photographs that I like, but could use some improvements. Sometimes I am overcoming limitations of older equipment (sensors in 2007 weren’t quite up to 2020 standards). My level of experience in 2007 could be categorized as an equipment limitation as well! As we evolve as photographers, or buy a wider/long lens, the possibilities at a location change. I know my newer 100-400 lens has added to the possibilities of what I can photograph almost anywhere. I also occasionally update a photo (or just add it to my library) if I can now make a photograph with a higher resolution than before. Having to point out a file that someone is interested in for a wall mural (or a larger paper print) isn’t quite up to the task is something I’ve had to do, and that is always disappointing!
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)
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.
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.