Fishing boats tied up at the docks at Scotch Pond near Steveston in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada. Photographed from the trails in Garry Point Park.
Fishing boats docked in the Scotch Pond mooring at Garry Point Park (Purchase)
Last fall I made a short trip down to Richmond, BC to walk around the historic Steveston area. I started by walking the Garry Point Park trails which give good views of the fishing boats entering Steveston Harbour as well as the surrounding vistas to the north and west. On the north side of Garry Point Park I made several photographs, mostly at Scotch Pond, a small inlet where several fishing boats were moored. Scotch Pond is connected to the mouth of the Fraser River by a small channel allowing boats to come and go. The water was quite calm on the day I was there which lead to some nice reflections from the fishing boats in the photograph above.
This was my first trip to Steveston in many years, and I need to go back soon to photograph more of the historic nature of the area, including buildings like the Gulf of Georgia Cannery which is a National Historic Site. On this evening I walked through town and by the Cannery but didn’t make any photographs. I headed east along Steveston Harbour (part of the Fraser River) and made a number of photographs during some great sunset and later light in a section of town called Imperial Landing. The photograph below is the bridge along the main boardwalk trail at Imperial Landing Park.
Bridge at Imperial Landing Park in Steveston (Purchase)
After sunset the sky had a nice purple tinge to it, and since I like reflections of almost anything, I photographed the above waterfront condos at Imperial Landing from the Imperial Landing Dock.
Waterfront Condos at Imperial Landing in Steveston (Purchase)
The Imperial landing Docks are pictured below, with the last bit of sunset light reflecting off Steveston Harbour in the Fraser River. You can also see the fishing trawlers tied up along the Steveston Harbour docks on the right, and even the mountains of Vancouver Island in the distance.
Sunset at the Imperial Landing Docks and Steveston Harbour (Purchase)
For more photographs from Richmond please visit my Richmond Gallery.
Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) foraging as the tide comes in at the Boundary Bay Wildlife Management Area in Crescent Beach, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.
Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) foraging at Blackie Spit (Purchase)
Earlier this year I visited two areas around Boundary Bay to try to photograph some wildlife. I made several landscape photographs as well, but I brought my 100-400 lens with me this time to try to see if I could photograph shorebirds, Bald Eagles, hawks and harriers, or any other subject I could find. When I visited Blackie Spit in Crescent Beach (Surrey) I found a small flock of Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) foraging in the wetlands of Blackie Spit as the tide came back in. I am not sure exactly what the tasty morsels they were finding were, but they did seem to find quite a bit to eat as they waded back and forth in the shallow water. They certainly don’t sit still and pose for a photograph!
Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) flying at Boundary Bay Regional Park (Purchase)
Another species I’ve been trying to photograph for a while along Boundary Bay are the Short-eared Owls (Asio flammeus) which can often be found hunting in the grass between the dykes and the intertidal zone. They often follow the same looping hunting flight routes, and you can anticipate where they are going to be next. Chasing them up and down the dyke, as I’ve seen birding groups do, is something I’ll charitably label as “counterproductive”. Occasionally you will see them dive down into the grass and then fly away (a miss), but sometimes they disappear and you don’t see them again for a while (meal time).
This Short-eared Owl perched in a tree next to Boundary Bay after a few failed hunting attempts. Soon after it seemed to have a bit of a territorial spat with a passing Northern Harrier. The Harrier moved on and this owl seemed to have a successful hunt on its next lap of the area. While there are not many trees in this kind of habitat along Boundary Bay Regional Park, the scattered tree trunks and driftwood, along with the grass and shrubs in this photo are pretty typical of the habitat here.
Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) Perched in a Tree at Boundary Bay (Purchase)
A few areas along the dyke trail at Boundary Bay Regional Park have thickets of the invasive species Himalayan blackberry (Rubus armeniacus). They can be problematic in many ways but small birds such as this White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) can use it for cover, and many eat (and unfortunately distribute) the berries in the summer. This White-crowned Sparrow was with a flock of around 10-20 individuals, but they were quite active at that moment and group photos were a bit chaotic. They aren’t quite as exuberant and curious as Chickadees, but were not apparently bothered by my presence along the trail.
White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) at Boundary Bay (Purchase)
I’ve photographed a few species of wildflowers in parks near where I live this spring and summer, and I thought I’d put them all in one post. The above photograph is a Siberian Miner’s Lettuce (Claytonia sibirica) plant I found blooming this spring at Williams Park in Langley, BC. I photographed the Miner’s Lettuce during one of my first tentative trips out to photograph after being mostly at home due to the pandemic. I’ve usually seen Siberian Miner’s Lettuce in closer proximity to each other, but this one was standing almost alone so I could isolate it in the photograph.
I photographed these Smooth Hawksbeard (Crepis capillaris) flowers this summer in a field at Campbell Valley Regional Park. I hadn’t explored this particular part of the park before, so I didn’t have any expectations. I had a close encounter with a very healthy looking Coyote while it was hunting in the field, but this came as I had a wide angle lens on my camera (of course). It stayed around long enough for me to switch to a 100-400 but when I slowly stood up again to see if it was there it ran off. However, I kept the 100-400 on for the remaining time I had in the field and photographed these Hawksbeard flowers using that lens. I stay on trails, so the longer focal length (318mm) I was able to use here came in handy. While I bought it for wildlife this lens can make a small subject like wildflowers feel pretty close even though I’m many feet away.
Tufted Vetch (Vicia cracca)
Tufted Vetch (Vicia cracca) Flowers Visited by Bumblebees (Purchase)
I photographed this Tufted Vetch (Vicia cracca) in the same Campbell Valley Park field this spring while it was being visited by a few bumblebees. This was from 2.45 meters (8 feet) away – so I was glad to have the longer lens. I made a few photographs of various Vetch plants in the field, but the bumblebees really seemed to love this one, so I stuck with it and was happy to get some photos with multiple bees at once.
Tiger Lilies (Lilium columbianum)
I have only seen Tiger Lilies (Lilium columbianum) blooming in the wild once before – and that was on Vancouver Island near Port Alberni (Stamp River Falls) in 2013. So when I found these flowers in the forest next to a trail early this summer in Aldergrove Regional Park I was glad I had my camera with me. Also known as the Columbia Lily or Oregon Lily – Tiger Lilies were eaten by the Coast Salish people usually as a flavouring or condiment. The very green maple leaves mixed in appear to belong to a young Vine Maple tree.
Tiger Lilies (Lilium columbianum) in Aldergrove Regional Park (Purchase)
Large-leaved Avens (Geum macrophyllum)
I photographed these Large-leaved Avens (Geum macrophyllum) flowers and leaves on the forest floor at Campbell Valley Regional Park while photographing the Barred Owl owlets a few weeks ago. I usually notice Avens when the velcro like hooks on the seeds grab onto my clothing and come home for a ride. This method of seed distribution seems quite effective though I am probably not the target animal for that kind of distribution. This time, however, they were flowering right next to the trail where I was photographing the owls, so I took a break from recording owl screeching sounds to photograph a few flowers near the trail.
Large-leaved Avens (Geum macrophyllum) flowers and leaves (Purchase)
You can see these and more photographs of spring and summer wildflowers in my Wildflower Photos Gallery.
Barred Owl (Strix varia) fledglings perched in a tree at Campbell Valley Regional Park in Langley, British Columbia, Canada.
Barred Owl (Strix varia) Owlet Begging Call while Sibling Looks on (Purchase)
I recently went for a walk with my Mom in Campbell Valley Regional Park. At the bottom of a hill there was a man standing in the path with his fingers to his lips, and he then pointed up into the tree canopy. These two Barred Owl owlets (Strix varia) were perched on a Cedar tree branch close to the trail. I had brought my camera, but only had my 24-70mm lens with me just in case some wildflowers or other small scene was too interesting to pass up. Unfortunately – a lens that wide (even at 70mm) is not something you can really use to photograph juvenile owls up in a tree (that are 21m / 70ft away). When I got home I immediately packed my 100-400mm lens and went right back to the park. I had no idea if the young owls would still be there, but I was lucky and they were! I was completely prepared for them to have moved on but I was back there in under an hour which helped. I’ve not seen young Barred Owls like this in the wild before, so seeing them this close (and with a clear view) was a great opportunity. I have photographed adult Barred Owls before, both in my front yard and in Campbell Valley Park. Now that I know the sound of the begging calls (watch the video at the end of this post) they make I might be able to spot other young owls in the future. They certainly aren’t songbirds!
When I returned the two owlets were still sitting a few feet apart on the branch. The first photograph above shows the one on the left in mid “begging call” which it repeated very frequently during the time I watched it. It seems likely the owlet on the left is a bit younger, or at least has a lot more of the fluffy baby feathers compared to the one on the right. I wasn’t too sure at the time of the way things work with baby owls, how quickly they leave the nest, and if they are fed by parents at all or for how long so I had to do some research.
Barred Owls are generalists – they have a wide variety of prey that includes mostly small mammals and rabbits, but they also eat other birds, amphibians, and invertebrates. While the female is sitting on the nest (for 28-33 days) the male occasionally brings prey to the nest, and the female may leave to hunt while incubating the eggs as well. After the chicks hatch both male and female owls will feed the chicks, though the male sometimes brings the prey to the female to give to the chicks. After about six weeks of being fed in the nest, the owlets leave by climbing up or down a tree (if nesting in one) or flying to other branches. For 4-5 months after leaving the nest, the young owls are fed by parents while they learn to hunt. After this period they disperse and find their own territories.
After I observed these owls for a while the older one on the right moved across the branch and snugged up with the younger one. The younger owlet continued very frequent begging calls. Perhaps it had not fed as recently as the other, or was just a bit less patient. My presence, and those of other people passing by in the park didn’t seem to be of any interest to these owls. As they have such good eyesight and hearing though, it wasn’t as though they weren’t aware of everything happening around them. At one point (photograph below) they were both looking intently at the hillside behind me. I didn’t hear anything, and turned around a few times and didn’t see anything. When they got really interested again I turned around and there was a deer in the bush about 15m (50 ft) behind me. The deer hadn’t seen me and ran back up the hill, crashing through the bush and making lots of noise. The owls didn’t move or care that much about this occurrence.
At the time I hadn’t remembered at what point baby owls leave the nest so there was some speculation with passersby regarding their flying abilities. Sometimes young Barred Owls leave the nest without flying, and climb up and down trees and hang out on the branches before flying around. Eventually the smaller owlet on the left answered the question for this pair and switched trees. The flight looked quite smooth and the landing was relatively elegant. They seemed to have moved beyond the crash landing stage.
Barred Owl Owlet Stretching on a branch (Purchase)
The remaining fledgling remained on the branch itself for a while after that, and sometimes rested its head on the branch (photo above) while stretching out its wings. It really sort of looked like it was bored waiting for an adult to show up with some food. C’mon Mom – I’m hungry!
Barred Owl Fledglings perched in a Bigleaf Maple Tree (Purchase)
Eventually the older fledgling joined the younger on the nearby Bigleaf Maple tree, though not initially on the same branch. After a few minutes it hopped around onto a few different branches and then jumped up and rejoined its sibling. I noticed in this new location that both owlets were doing an almost equal amount of begging calls (and simultaneously at times as in the photo above), so perhaps it was getting closer to the time when free food might usually arrive.
The video below is about 2.5 minutes of the ~10min of footage I recorded while viewing these fledglings. My favourite part is probably the first 20 seconds or so. The younger owlet suddenly looks at the older one, does a loud begging call, and the older one looks away. It reads a bit like a bit of a rebuke of sorts! Near the 1 minute mark a Crow can be heard cawing overhead. Crows and a few other species of birds don’t exactly get along with owls, and will harass or mob them when they can. The young owls here didn’t seem perturbed by the overhead cawing, and even let out a few begging calls while the crows were nearby. I would think crows would be smart enough to know what that sound means. Apparently the owls didn’t draw a connection between the cawing and any potential for harassment. Perhaps they haven’t learned or experienced that yet, or the crows don’t often mob fledglings.
Video of Barred Owl Fledglings in Campbell Valley Park
For more photographs of these (and other) owls visit my Bird Photos Gallery.
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!