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.
Fresh snow creates an outline on each branch of this thick deciduous forest at Derby Reach Regional Park in Langley, British Columbia, Canada.
Snow Outlines the Branches in a Deciduous Forest (Purchase)
In early January we had a light snowfall overnight here which actually stuck around through the next day. So often even a large dump of snow is a bit slushy the next day, or everything turns to rain, and there aren’t many photography opportunities in those conditions. I can often see snow on the mountains without such conditions down here closer to sea level, but snow covering the trees like in these first two photographs is certainly more elusive. As this was something I’ve been waiting for I actually made a photo from the backyard of a tree across the street that was lit by a street light in case everything was gone by morning! Luckily, that didn’t happen.
As the conditions looked promising I headed out to Williams Park which is a small local park I like to visit, often just for a walk. There is a creek running through the length of it and the sound of water is always a good accompaniment to a 2-3km stroll. It can also be nice with snow around, but the scenes there weren’t speaking to me that day so I headed north to Derby Reach Regional Park. Forest scenes can be a tough subject to find a composition with – so many branches and plants heading in different directions can create quite a mess of sorts. With some snow on the branches, however, it is a bit like a highlighter has been drawn on all the branches and they stand out in a more individual fashion. I photographed the scene above, one I’ve seen a dozen times without really noticing any distinctiveness to the flow of the branches, but the snow changed that. It was pointed out to me that this first photograph would make a good jigsaw puzzle. For those who enjoy a lot of frustration, I suspect.
Fresh snow on branches of a tree at Derby Reach Regional Park (Purchase)
Further down the trail this individual tree grabbed my attention again due to the fringe of snow on each branch that makes the tree (a Red Alder in this case, I think)
Tugboat Towing Barge of Sawdust Down the Fraser River (Purchase)
When I visit Derby Reach Regional Park I tend to frequent an area called Muench Bar which gives a nice view of the Fraser River and on a day of good weather – the Golden Ears Mountains. I tend to photograph these peaks too often frequently, as previous posts in this blog will attest. When I’m along a big river like the Fraser, there is usually some boating activity and I’ll often photograph them as they go past my location. Here I had both subjects available, so I photographed this Ledcor Tugboat towing a barge full of sawdust down the river – with the Golden Ears (Mount Blanshard) in the background. The clouds were frequently obscuring then dissipating from the mountain peaks but I was usually able to wait until they became visible.
The Golden Ears and the Fraser River (with ice!) on A Winter Day (Purchase)
We don’t often have a cold snap long enough to form ice on the Fraser, but this happened a few times this winter. At one point parts of it were frozen over, which isn’t that common. During this cold spell there were again chunks of ice flowing in the river, and I included the pilings in the foreground mostly due to the nest boxes at the top. These nesting boxes are for the Purple Martin (Progne subis) I believe – though they might be used by other species as well.
Fresh Snow on the Golden Ears and Derby Reach Regional Park in Langley (Purchase)
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As I was heading back to my car from Muench Bar after sunset there were some more interesting blues in the sky and I again made a panorama from my favourite view of Mount Blanshard. I have previously photographed Mount Blanshard from this same spot in the spring. I should try to get a photo like this in every season to complete the series.
A sailboat sails on English Bay past the West End neighbourhood of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Sailboat on English Bay near the West End of Vancouver (Purchase)
While it was technically the first full day of fall, an evening I spent last September taking in the views from Jericho Pier and Locarno Beach felt like a late summer evening. There were plenty of people enjoying both the beach and the waters of English Bay. I don’t think anyone was swimming but I saw everything from yachts to sailboats down to paddleboards and kayaks all over the water. A lot of my photos from this evening either have sailboats in them or I had to wait a while until they passed. The photograph above was made of the West End and Downtown Vancouver after sunset from Jericho Pier. The two taller towers are the Paradox Hotel (left) which recently has mercifully been renamed from a previously embarrassing moniker, and the tower in the middle is a hotel called Living Shangri-La.
I don’t often find that a sunset is a subject of much interest in itself. The light at that time can be great, but I tend to be facing somewhere other than west when one is occurring. These freighters were among the many ubiquitously anchored in English bay waiting to load or offload. As seen in the photograph below, I was keeping an eye on the mountains the northwest as a good background. When this one strip of cloud lit up from the sunset I walked a bit to line it up with the two freighters. I made this photograph, like many others on that evening, from Jericho Pier. I’d not visited this pier before, but it seemed like an area that would have good views in many directions, and so after walking around Locarno and Jericho beach areas I settled on it as a spot for the later evening photographs. Unfortunately, like Cultus Lake and a few other locations I visited this fall, the storms this past fall and winter were not kind to Jerico Pier. A strong windstorm during a King tide destroyed some of the pier and it has been closed. Much like the damage to White Rock Pier when a dock and sailboats were bashed against it, Jericho wasn’t able to remain intact after high tides and winds battered it with stray logs/trees from English Bay. The pier remains closed, and I’m not sure if there are plans to repair it.
Students from the Jericho Sailing Centre sail on English Bay (Purchase)
As I mentioned earlier there were a lot of sailboats in English Bay on this evening. This group appeared to be a sailing class from the Jericho Sailing Centre nearby. With the Point Atkinson Lighthouse (in West Vancouver’s Lighthouse Park) and the Tetrahedron Range (Panther peak and Tetrahedron peak on the Sunshine Coast) in the background I made a photo quickly before they came into the frame. I then thought I should try one including them and I like both results.
West End and Downtown Vancouver skyline in the early evening (Purchase)
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I do enjoy making photographs of downtown Vancouver and that subject is often one that calls (to me) for a panorama. This photograph shows the buildings of the West End and Downtown areas of the City of Vancouver as viewed from Jericho Pier. On the left you can just spot the Inukshuk at English Bay Beach with Kits Point on the right. I don’t find this skyline nearly as interesting as the view of downtown from Stanley Park but with tall new buildings going up all the time the character is likely to change.
This is an example of a typical sunset photograph of mine – facing east! The light from sunset made a great, warm, glow on the buildings of Vancouver. You can just see the “Golden Ears” of Mount Blanshard and Blanshard Needle peeking out above Eagle Mountain in the background.
For more photographs from this evening and the City of Vancouver visit the Vancouver Gallery in my Image Library.
Black Cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) trees provide some bright autumn leaf color at Maple Bay Day Use Area in Cultus Lake Provincial Park in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada.
Fall Foliage at Cultus Lake’s Maple Bay (Purchase)
Cultus Lake Provincial Park is an area I enjoy visiting in spring and fall. I tend to avoid the area in the summer as it is one of the more popular Fraser Valley provincial parks and can be very crowded. I was at Cultus in late October of 2021 which was the perfect time to visit for a few reasons. First, there was some great fall foliage from the Black Cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) trees around the lake. Second, this was just about 16 days before a massive atmospheric river dumped roughly 200-300mm of rain in about 36 hours. There were some dramatic outcomes of this storm including large scale destruction of parts of the Trans Canada Highway in the Fraser Canyon (1), the Coquihalla Highway (5), Highway 8, Highway 7 near Hope, and the flooding of Sumas Prairie farms and farmland. Less publicized damage from this and the atmospheric rivers we had in the following weeks were impacts on parks such as Cultus Lake and Coquihalla Canyon (Othello Tunnels) Provincial Parks. There is so much damage around the Othello Tunnels I have to wonder if it will ever reopen.
The Cultus Lake area will probably look a little different when I am able to visit again this winter or spring. Maple Bay specifically had a lot of damage. When I drove on the eastern side of the lake heading towards the Lindell Beach area on the southern end, I noticed the very bright fall leaves on the Cottonwoods at Maple Bay Beach. So I parked on the other side of the campground and walked through to the Maple Bay beach. On the way I followed the creek bed for Watt Creek from the campground to the beach. This was a wide creek bed that was maybe about 2.4 meters (8 feet) deep in some spots, the edges lined with small rocks a bit larger than gravel. At this point in late October there was almost no water flowing in the creek. The photograph below shows the beach area at Maple Bay with some fall leaves lining the Cultus Lake shoreline. These are the rocks I’m referring to, and they make up much of the beach area. You can also see the area where Watt Creek drains into Cultus Lake and has carved a small channel into the beach rocks. The first photograph here shows this view from the opposite direction, and you can see the raised edges of the Watt Creek bed in the green trees behind the colourful Cottonwoods.
Fall Leaves along Maple Bay Beach on Cultus Lake (Purchase)
All this description of rock is relevant in terms of the damage suffered here after my visit. Apparently so much new rock came down the creek with the rush of water from the mountains above that it filled the creek bed entirely. Watt Creek then had to choose a new path and decided flowing down the path through the picnic area offered the least resistance. After this and subsequent storms there was a lot of damage to the picnic area from erosion by the creek as well as the deposit of roughly 1-1.5m (3-5 ft) of new rocks which in some places covered the picnic tables. I don’t know if they’ll dig it all out or just raise the picnic tables on top of that new rock but either way there is a lot of work to get that part of the park open for visitors again! I feel fortunate to have visited and photographed this area (and quite a few others) just before they were altered by these storms.
I found this video of the damage that shows what the area looks like after the storms. Categorizing this as a slide seems incorrect but it does show the area well. It looks like some excavation has occurred on the Watt Creek bed as I presume they aim to send the creek back into its old path.
These very large Black Cottonwood trees are what drew me to the area from the main road. I don’t think many recent years have had this kind of fall leaf color in the Cottonwoods – but it was great this year. After walking through the campground to Maple Bay beach I made the photograph above of the vibrant color of the Cottonwood leaves. While the fall leaves draw more attention, the trunks of these Cottonwoods were very large and interesting as well. I was trying to show how imposing they are in this particular spot (there are 6-7 large trees growing together if I recall correctly) by looking through the gap between two of them to the picnic tables just beyond.
Black Cottonwood Trunks and Picnic Tables (Purchase)
One of the views I was not expecting at Maple Bay on Cultus Lake was Mount Cheam (Lhílheqey) – and with some fresh snow on it as an added bonus. If the park reopens I’ll be back here this winter or spring to try to take in this view again, maybe with some better weather. That said, the clouds had the courtesy to not block Cheam while I was photographing that day. The building in the foreground is at the Honeymoon Bay Group Campground which is also part of Cultus Lake Provincial Park.
While the clouds did not block Mt. Cheam they did bring an interesting rain storm over the Chilliwack area that I viewed from Maple Bay just before I left. The patterns in the clouds were quite interesting and I was fortunate they were not just south of their location or I’d have been quite wet. When I drove back through the area to Chilliwack the rainfall was quite heavy and that is always better to run into after a 20 minute walk back to the car rather than before!
The Shoreline Trail boardwalk during low tide at the Port Moody Arm of Burrard Inlet in Port Moody, British Columbia, Canada.
Shoreline Trail Boardwalk in Port Moody (Purchase)
Another location I visited in search of some fall foliage in 2021 was the Shoreline Trail area of Port Moody. I’d previously visited Port Moody and photographed some nice color in Rocky Point Park to the west. The Shoreline Trail itself runs from Rocky Point Park around the Port Moody Arm of Burrard Inlet all the way to Old Orchard Park on the north side of the inlet. In the first photograph you can see the somewhat iconic view of a park bench on the boardwalk of the Shoreline Trail with some nice fall foliage provided by Black Cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) trees in the background (with fresh snow on Mount Seymour). I’ve mentioned finding fall foliage during moments of sunshine before, as that is sometimes elusive here at that time of year. This particular afternoon yielded exactly one sunny break which lasted just a few minutes but luckily I was in place already and made the first photograph above. Compared to the photograph below, the colours really light up in the sunshine!
Fall at the Shoreline Trail Lookout in Port Moody (Purchase)
The second photograph here shows the wooden viewing area near Old Millsite Park across Burrard Inlet. The pilings in the mudflats are from an old mill site that burned down in 1949. Much like the nearby Barnet Marine Park, this area shows some relics of a more industrial past here and there along the trail. Noons Creek empties into Burrard Inlet near the right side of this photograph and many shorebirds feed on the old bits of salmon and other nutritional items deposited into the inlet by the creek. Consequently, one of the exposures I made of this composition had a bit more of a Seagull element than I’d anticipated!
Last year was a great year for fall foliage and there was still some remaining when I visited Deer Lake Park in Burnaby during mid November. This was after the first damaging atmospheric river this part of British Columbia dealt with. Deer Lake itself didn’t suffer much in the way of damage though some trails were initially flooded due to the influx of water. Not much of this was visible when I was there 4 days later although some trees had fallen. I parked at a new (to me) starting point on the west side of the park and walked around the lake. While the sun made on a few short appearances wind stayed quiet so there were some great reflections much of the afternoon. The photograph above shows hints of fading fall leaves in the larger trees such as the Maples and some good foliage in the Willows near the shore of the lake. The building in the background is the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts which sits above the “festival lawn” that is used for festivals and concerts.
I photographed various people enjoying the view on the newly replaced dock/viewing area on the north side of Deer Lake, but I prefer this wider view of two seniors in this spot flanked by the nice foliage of the Willow trees. All those dark shapes you see on the festival lawn in the background are a rather large flock of Canada Goose manure spreaders roaming the area and occasionally making a racket.
Hart House (1921) vs. New “City of Lougheed” Towers (Purchase)
The Lougheed Mall area in Burnaby is undergoing a huge transition due to increased transit and with that comes a lot of new development and condo towers. It has certainly changed a lot since I lived nearby in the late 1990’s. Every time I visit Deer Lake or Burnaby Lake it bugs me a bit I didn’t visit at all when I lived fairly close! I liked the contrast in this scene between the historic Hart House (built in 1912 in the Tudor Revival style) and the “City of Lougheed” towers in the background. There are going to be many more towers there in the future but personally I’d rather look at Hart House and the other historic buildings around the edges of Deer Lake Park. Hart House has been home to the Hart House restaurant since 1988.
Metrotown Towers and Deer Lake In Burnaby (Purchase)
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The last time I photographed this scene at Deer Lake was the previous autumn, and many of these towers were still being finished an some still had cranes erecting them. A lot of the skyline around Deer Lake Park seems to be changing and I imagine the next time I’m looking at this scene there may very well be another crane in sight.
In September of 2021 I was at Deer Lake for a quick visit while on my way back from Richmond and photographed a few scenes in the gardens and along the shore of Deer Lake. While I was near the dock pictured in the second photograph above, a young couple came down with a dingy and launched into the water near that location. You can see from the photograph above there are a lot of weeds in the water near the shore, and were much thicker during that point in the season. The progress was very very slow getting through that thick weed layer with the dingy. The young lady involved seemed increasingly less impressed with the frequent off colour exclamations and oars flailing about that never yielded the joy of open water. When I left they were still about 15 feet from the edge, it was getting dark, and the audible bickering was ramping up. Hopefully they did not require rescue of any kind, though I did find it rather amusing as did others passing by on the shoreline trails.
More photographs of Deer Lake and other parks in the City of Burnaby can be found in my Burnaby gallery.
I split my writings here about my long walk along the Dikes near Pitt River and Pitt Lake into 3 parts – the first being the walk along the Pitt Polder Dike Trail, the second of Pitt Lake Dike Trail, and this is the third in that series. Earlier in the day I’d started my walk just expecting to quickly take a look my favourite view from the Pitt Polder Dike, but wound up walking a number of kilometers all the way to Pitt Lake. I’d been trying to outrun the onset of some clouds from the south, clear days being a tough situation to find this fall, and this location straight north of where I live turned out quite well. I initially used the sunshine to brighten the fall foliage, then the cloud cover to give some flatter light but without glare, still with some blue sky available. The remainder of my plan after I arrived at Pitt Lake was to again photograph the aquatic plants in Katzie Marsh. I had enough of them that I thought I’d give them their own post.
It seems clear I will have to to photograph these plant species in the spring or summer sometime so I can actually identify them. In the meantime, I’m left seeing how many variations on “aquatic wetland marsh plants” I can use as descriptions. It does pain me to not know a plant’s species name, but not knowing what these are at all is particularly vexing. The first photograph above shows the onset of cloud cover to the south. The reflection is very bright, and I used it to make a near white background to these aquatic leaves. It is a bit disorienting as to where the leaves themselves end and the reflections begin, but this was all meant to be somewhat abstract so I think it works.
The photograph above is a twin of sorts to one I made at Katzie Marsh (link) a few years ago. In a similar way to the image I linked to, I liked the appearance of two rows of plants in this area. From there I worked on other ideas, and using my 100-400mm lens for all of the photographs I made in all 3 of these posts, I was able to zoom in 400mm and make the photograph below. Just a few plants by themselves, but also a bit of subtle colour from the leaves of other plants now underwater.
Wetland Plant Reflections in Katzie Marsh (Purchase)
The photograph below is from along the Pitt Lake Dike looking southeast towards Gwendoline Peak. The dike you can see running through the background here is the Swan Dike, which is the next dike one uses to complete the Katzie Marsh Loop. Some Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera were nice enough to provide some fall leaf foliage in the background as well.
After I’d tried various compositions in the marsh I noticed from the clouds to the south it was about to rain. This was an interesting realization in light of my having left that rain jacket I mentioned in part one in the trunk of my car during my poorly planned departure. The car now sitting roughly a 3.5km (2.4 miles) walk away. I did not make any photographs on the way back to the car, and I stowed all of my equipment so I could walk with purpose back to the car. When I arrived, I could hear the rain coming, and was lucky to make it just as the rain started.
December brings the time of year where we look back on the previous year and reflect on what occurred. I was hoping 2021 would be less eventful than the situation in 2020. While it was different, and much improved in many ways, the weather decided to be a big force where I live and not in a fun way. On the plus side, I did get out a lot more this year (locally) for photography, and I think I improved on some things from the previous year, which is all one can ask for really. 2021 also brought some really good fall foliage which I was able to both enjoy and photograph.
As usual, I started working on this list when I collected images for my 2022 Nature Calendar. I’ve published new images since then, and had many others to consider as well. If you click on a photo you’ll be taken to my Image Archive. I’ve also linked to corresponding blog posts that contain these images (if available) to provide more information about the location or to see other photos from that area. As usual, choosing 10 images is rather difficult, even though these should be considered my favourites and not the “best” necessarily. These aren’t in any order really as that would be just too hard!
I hope you enjoy this years selections and am curious to hear if you have any particular favourites. What do you see in photo #5?