Archive for the ‘Nature Photos’ Category

Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park in Chilliwack BC

Bridal Veil Falls at Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada

bridal veil falls provincial park

View of Bridal Veil Falls (Purchase)

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   A few weeks ago I went back to Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park (in the Popkum area of Chilliwack, BC) for the first time in many years. I had last visited the falls in 2011 and it was time to go back and see how things had changed and make a few new photographs. Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park is one of those spots I avoid all summer as it is often very busy with tourists as many tour buses stop there. I prefer to walk/hike/photograph without crowds so my last trip there in mid September was good timing as there were only two cars there when I arrived. I always laugh a bit at the sign on the way up there that suggests the “hike” to the top takes about 15 minutes when 5 minutes is more accurate. I guess it depends on your fitness level, but I don’t exactly run up that hill. I was also wondering if there would be enough water in the falls to get a good photograph as we’d had many months of almost no precipitation this summer. It turned out the water level was just about perfect.

waterfall on bridal creek in bridal veil falls provincial park

Small Waterfall on Bridal Creek (Purchase)

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   There are several small waterfalls on Bridal Creek just downstream from Bridal Veil Falls – and this one (second photo, above) was my favourite with lots of foliage around it to make it interesting. The breeze was quite strong at this point and you can see the trees and shrubs in the forest were blowing around while I made this photo.

bridal veil falls and small waterfalls downstream

Small Waterfalls and Bridal Veil Falls (Purchase)

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   Just downstream from the main falls there is a rocky area with lots of fallen trees. I wanted to get a photo from this spot as the creek flows through this area in a random sort of way with small falls forming over tree trunks, rocks, and other temporary topography. Downstream from this point Bridal Creek does form back into a more organized creek before heading down towards the parking lot.

You can view more of my photographs of the falls and Bridal Creek in my Bridal Falls Provincial Park Gallery.

Adult Barred Owl (Strix varia)

A Barred Owl (Strix varia) looks down from its perch in a backyard forest in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, Canada.

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Barred Owl (Strix varia) (Purchase)

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   I have described myself before here as a “wildlife opportunist” in that I seldom seek out animals to photograph, but happily do so when they are nearby – as was the case with this Barred Owl a few days ago. I came home from some grocery shopping and decided to check out why the Northwestern Crows (Corvus caurinus) and Steller’s Jays (Perisoreus canadensis) were going a bit nuts in the forest next to my house, and found they were harassing a Barred Owl. I immediately went inside and grabbed my camera. As with any wildlife encounter, my camera had the widest angle lens on it at the time, so I had to switch to my 70-200, replace the battery, and put in a new memory card. Luckily the Barred Owl was still in the trees when I returned. The crows and jays seemed more worried about my presence than they were motivated to harass the owl, so they moved on pretty quickly. I made a few photographs of the owl but as usual with the owls I see, there were plenty of branches and leaves in the way. I did what I could, but then another bird species actually helped me out – an Annas Hummingbird (Calypte anna).

barred owl strix varia fraser valley

Adult Barred Owl (Strix varia) (Purchase)

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   Hummingbirds can be quite aggressive and territorial, and this one was living up to that reputation. A group of hummingbirds is called a “troubling” which makes sense in this context. Another name – a “charm” of hummingbirds doesn’t seem quite as relevant. This summer I saw a Bald Eagle fly over the house – without the usual assortment of crows etc harassing it. What was after the eagle was a small swarm of Hummingbirds orbiting it like angry wasps. The Hummingbird in this case would strafe the owl, hover, move off, and then repeat. Occasionally it would perch nearby before continuing the harassment campaign. What worked out in my favor was that the Hummingbird actually ran into the back of the owls head at one point, and so the owl moved to a different location about 20 feet away. Also lucky for me was that this actually put the Barred Owl in a better position for me to photograph it without (as many) distracting branches and leaves in the frame.

   When I photograph wildlife I try to make sure I am not disturbing their normal behaviour as much as possible. This owl seemed much more interested in what was happening on the ground below it with the occasional glance at me or to track the latest strafe from the Hummingbird. This was maybe an hour before sunset so perhaps it was starting to think about hunting. I’ve found a few owl pellets on the ground near here this fall, and found a number last winter, so there is a chance I’ll see this individual again.

barred owl strix varia fraser valley

Barred Owl (Strix varia) in the Fraser Valley (Purchase)

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For more photographs of owls and other birds visit my Bird Gallery.

A Summer Evening at Steelhead Falls

Salmonberries and Ferns surround Steelhead Falls at the Hayward Lake Recreational Area in Mission, British Columbia, Canada

steelhead falls in missions hayward lake recreation area

Steelhead Falls on a Summer Evening (Purchase)

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   A few weeks ago I returned to Steelhead Falls in Mission’s Hayward Lake Recreational Area to make some photographs. The first time I photographed Steelhead Falls was an overcast day in late spring – quite different conditions than I found on this sunny day in mid August. To get to the falls you must first find the parking lot at the top of the hill (just to the east of the Stave Lake Dam). From there the falls can be found after a short hike along the Reservoir Trail heading south. There is a short trail down to the viewing platform and the falls after you cross the bridge over Steelhead Creek – which is the second creek you’ll cross.

   This first photograph here is the main view of the falls you see from the viewing platform. You can see some direct sunlight in the upper right corner. I usually photograph waterfalls on an overcast day as direct sunlight can be pretty difficult to deal with. An alternative to this is waiting until the sun starts to set and the direct sunlight is no longer falling on the falls. The effectiveness of this will depend on the location. This worked out quite well at Steelhead Falls though I had to wait until those spots of sunlight made their way up the hill and were no longer shining on the water.

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Upper Half of Steelhead Falls (Purchase)

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   You can see quite a difference between my photographs of Steelhead Falls a few years ago and these ones even though some of the locations and compositions are similar. The overcast days tend to lead to more saturated colors while the conditions I had a few weeks ago cast a warmer glow over everything – and I quite like that effect (best seen in the last three photographs here). You may also see a bit of a difference in the amount of foliage around some of the spots I photographed. It seems in the few years since I was last there Steelhead Falls has become a bit of an Instagram place to be seen and has attracted a lot of people who could learn a bit about “leave no trace”. “The shot” people are after seems to be from the bottom of the falls, so there is a “trail” down there now and a lot of the foliage (mostly Salmonberry and various fern species) are trampled or have died. When I was there clearly someone had used a machete or something similar to hack a trail along the edge of the creek towards an upstream area. The area isn’t totally defoliated like I’ve seen at some sites, but if the popularity here remains, I’m sure that will be the eventual outcome.

steelhead falls in missions hayward lake recreation area

Uppermost Falls at Steelhead Falls on Steelhead Creek (Purchase)

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   This last photograph shows the very top of Steelhead Falls that you can’t see from the angle of the viewing platform. There are a lot of different tiers to this series of falls and together they make a good photography subject as there is no shortage of composition possibilities. Trampling foliage off the trail to get the Instagram shot from the bottom of the falls just isn’t necessary.

steelhead falls in missions hayward lake recreation area

Upper Half of Steelhead Falls (Purchase)

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For more photographs of this location visit my Waterfall Gallery.

Young Eastern Cottontail Rabbit – S. floridanus

A young Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) eating the dandelion leaves in a backyard garden in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, Canada.

young eastern cottontail sylvilagus floridanus

Baby Eastern Cottontail Rabbit (Purchase)

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   On occasion I do not have to venture too far for some wildlife photography. Earlier this year I photographed a young Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) rabbit munching on dandelion leaves about 20 feet from the house. I’d noticed this small rabbit emerging from the lavender bushes a few times, but I was always across the yard and wasn’t in any position to go get a camera and come back. So on this occasion I saw him active there, and decided to actually treat this like I would other wildlife. I got my camera gear together, walked outside and, sat down, and waited. One of the ways to ensure that you aren’t disturbing wildlife is to have them come to you, or stay put and see how they react. Not only do you avoid freaking them out or disturbing their routine, you get more natural photos at the same time – and often they’ll come closer if they don’t feel threatened. The most agitated this one got were a few apparently dirty looks in my direction. This method is not something to try with potentially dangerous animals though such as bears, moose, cougars, or killer rabbits.

baby eastern cottontail sylvilagus floridanus

Young Eastern Cottontail Rabbit (Purchase)

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   After about 5-10 minutes the young rabbit emerged and after looking me over for a while, started eating dandelion leaves in the lawn. I was surprised how many leaves this rabbit ate – I photographed it for about 15 minutes and it never stopped vacuuming up dandelion leaves the entire time. Young rabbits leave the nest when they are rather small, and I’ve seen ones smaller than this navigating their way through the yard in search of new lands to conquer. I guess once they are a certain size all there is left to do is find a nice quiet spot, stay away from predators, and eat as many leaves as you can in order to grow larger. This cottontail was only about 15cm (6 inches) long though the adults around here tend to be around 44cm (17 inches) long. I’ve never had them eat anything I am growing in the garden (that I know of), but there are also plenty other plants around to much on in the all you can eat dandelion buffet.

   I shot a number of photographs together in a sequence which nicely formed a very short timelapse of the consumption of a dandelion leaf which you can view below (on Vimeo).

baby rabbit eating dandelions video

For more wildlife photographs visit my Animals and Wildlife Gallery in the Image Library.

Rainbow at Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park

A Rainbow over Chilliwack Lake with Mount Redoubt in the background. Photographed from the beach at Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada.

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Rainbow at Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park (Purchase)

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   A few years ago I would have categorized this photograph of a rainbow at Chilliwack Lake as “lucky”. The day I made this photo I had slowly worked my way towards Chilliwack Lake while exploring and photographing various points along the way in the Chilliwack River Valley. I’d run into the odd patch of rain, and that was okay as this was supposed to be a day of photographing rivers and those “in the forest” photographs that benefit from a lack of direct sunshine. When I pulled into the day use parking lot near the boat launch at Chilliwack Lake I was hungry – I really wanted to just sit and eat my soup for dinner. The sky had dark clouds and it was raining lightly. My soup beckoned from the thermos in my car’s trunk. Instead, I got my tripod and gear together and walked down to the shore of the lake just to make sure I wasn’t missing something. I jogged at the end of that walk. The way these things used to go is I’d sit in my car and enjoy some soup or whatever I was eating for dinner. I’d get my gear, head down to the water and I’d run into a few people walking back up asking if I’d witnessed the rainbow. I hadn’t – I’d only witnessed soup. So this photograph exists because I’ve learned soup can wait but meteorological phenomena won’t. It also helps curtail the sting of people asking if I’d seen that Bald Eagle fishing, one cloud lighting up way after sunset, the double rainbow – all things I’ve missed in the past by not just getting out of my car and having a quick look around.

   Now I categorize photographs like this one as a success due to learning to look around and make sure there isn’t something I might be missing when I would rather be eating instead. There were actually 3 rainbows here when I came within sight of the lake. A double rainbow so the south (the one I photographed, but it had faded by then) and another to the east. It was quite a sight – but I had to decide quickly what to photograph. I made one wider shot of the lake trying to get both rainbows in the same photo. That might have succeeded, but it wouldn’t have been a good photo, so I switched to a longer lens and made this photo which had the most important subjects. The lake, the rainbow, and one of my favourite mountains. With the dark clouds the rest of the scene was somewhat gloomy, but the rainbow helps balance that I think.

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Spotlight on the Forest at Chilliwack Lake (Purchase)

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   The second photograph here was made 2 minutes after the rainbow photograph. The rainbows had all completely faded but this one spotlight of sunshine lit up the forest and dead snags on the hillside below Mount Webb, but only for a minute or so. If I hadn’t had the longer lens on my camera for the first photo here I might have missed this. I think this part was a a bit of luck.

   This photograph (as well as the first) bring to mind another piece of advice I often hear for photographers – if it is suddenly stormy, that is when to go out and photograph. This isn’t bad advice, but I do believe some of the accuracy is predicated by where one lives. I’ve always lived in this corner of British Columbia, so weather patterns elsewhere are a bit of a mystery. Here, however, once it starts raining you can wait days (or weeks) until it stops or a spot of sunlight makes its way through the clouds. I imagine in other places storms come and go quickly, so getting out when a storm starts is perfect timing. Here, rushing out to photograph when it starts raining here may just get you wet. If I were to make a BC rainforest amendment to that “rule” I’d say the perfect time to go out is on a day when there are expected intermittent showers and maybe some sunny breaks. That is the kind of day where the above photographs were created, and when I’ve seen most of these kinds of scenes. So there.

For more photographs of Mount Redoubt and Chilliwack Lake visit my Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park Gallery.

Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park Farm Buildings

The fieldstone Root Cellar (built in 1901) – one of the historic farm buildings in Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada.

root cellar built by richard maxwell at burgoyne bay provincial park on salt spring island

Richard Maxwell’s Root Cellar at Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park (Purchase)

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   Two weeks ago I arrived on British Columbia’s Salt Spring Island to visit friends and do a bit of photography. I had a few hours to spare before meeting anyone so I headed from Ganges towards Fulford Harbour with no specific destination in mind. I saw the sign for Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park and drove in to see what I would find. I had only done a small amount of research as to what I’d find on Salt Spring so this was really a random exploration kind of trip. Just as with Ruckle Provincial Park that I would explore the following day, much of Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park was used for farming before being turned into park land.

   Burgoyne Bay was named by a British Royal Navy surveyor after Commander Hugh Talbot Burgoyne who was an officer on the HMS Ganges, another name familiar to those who know Salt Spring Island. Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park is adjacent to Mount Maxwell Provincial Park, which was named after John Maxwell. Maxwell registered a claim in 1861 to a parcel of land near Burgoyne Bay and together with partner James Lunney established a cattle ranch in the area. The first photograph here shows a root cellar build by John Maxwell’s son, Richard, in 1901.

barrel-roof storage shed built by richard maxwell at burgoyne bay provincial park on salt spring island

Richard Maxwell’s Barrel-Roof Shed at Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park (Purchase)

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   Just down Burgoyne Bay Road (photo of both buildings) from the “Richard Maxwell Root Cellar” is the Barrel-Roof Shed which was also built by Richard Maxwell (between 1900 and 1910). A fieldstone and wood structure, this shed was used for storing larger farm equipment which explain the two large access doors at the front. This building and the root cellar are two of the only remaining buildings from the Maxwell era, the other buildings were built by subsequent owners of the farm area, most notably the Larsons who purchased it in the 1940’s. Much of the history of the park and Burgoyne area are outlined on the park page on the BC Parks website – click on the Burgoyne Bay Park Management Plan pdf link for that information.

sailboat in burgoyne bay at burgoyne bay provincial park on salt spring island

Sailboat at Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park (Purchase)

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   With a name like Burgoyne Bay the photo above shows a bit more of what I was expecting when heading into the park. There were a number of boats moored at the dock at the end of the bay, with this sailboat being the only one in use at the time. The “Makai” sailed into the bay and I made this photograph as it left. The cliffs and forest you see in the background are on Vancouver Island near Duncan, BC.

fallen garry oak tree at burgoyne bay provincial park on salt spring island

Fallen Garry Oak (Quercus garryana) at Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park (Purchase)

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   There are a number of trails that head through the farm fields and up Mount Maxwell that I plan to explore in the future. I am sure there are a number of features of the park that will be great photo subjects on a subsequent visit. One landmark of note that I did visit was the spot where two Garry Oaks (Quercus garryana) had previously grown together in a field next to Burgoyne Bay Road. In early 2016 these two trees fell over in opposite directions – and the trunks and branches have been left. As Salt Spring is not a particularly large island I figured these trees falling might be noteworthy enough to have made the local paper. Sure enough there was a mention of the demise of these trees in the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper.

For more photographs of the trees and farm buildings in the Burgoyne Valley visit my Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park Gallery.

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) Singing

A male Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) singing in a flowering Kanzan (or Kwanzan) Cherry tree during a spring day.

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Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) Singing in a Flowering Cherry Tree (Purchase)

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   One of the more elusive bird species found in my backyard is the Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus). They are easy to find, and are around frequently, but are also rather shy and tend to forage on the ground, scratching beneath shrubs, trees, and vines. It seems that they are easier to photograph in the spring – perhaps building nests and finding mates requires a bit more boldness than usual. Both of these male Spotted Towhees were fairly easy to photograph as they sat higher up in the trees than they would normally be found. The first photo here shows a male singing (in the rain) up in a flowering cherry tree in full bloom (Kanzan or Kwanzan variety). The second Towhee is a bit more cautious and seems to be feeling a bit vulnerable in a relatively open area of the forest.

male spotted towhee

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) looking cautious (Purchase)

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   When I was learning about local birds many years ago this Spotted Towhee species was referred to as the “Rufous sided Towhee”. The Spotted Towhee and the similar Eastern Towhee were once considered the same species (and probably were, long ago), but now are known to be separate. One male Spotted Towhee in my neighborhood seems to love to stand on window ledges and jump up and attack his reflection. This results in noise that causes the dog to bark, and the smearing of bird poop all over the windows. He has since expanded this behaviour to my car’s side view mirrors with similar, messy results. It could be worse though, my neighbor reports that one attacks their bedroom window at dawn (likely the same bird). At least he is letting me sleep!

For more of my bird photographs visit my Bird Photos Gallery.

Langley Bog in Derby Reach Regional Park

Langley Bog from the new viewing platform at Derby Reach Regional Park (Houston Trail) in Langley, British Columbia, Canada.

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Langley Bog from Derby Reach Park Viewing Platform (Purchase)

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   A few weeks ago I went to the Langley Bog for the first time as there was a new viewing platform off of the Houston Trail in Derby Reach Regional Park. I had never walked on the Houston Trail but was aware of it and the bog (which is generally closed to the public) on my many drives past the trailhead. While the Langley Bog is a very interesting place biologically, I didn’t find all that much insight into that via the viewing platform (built by the Derby Reach Brae Island Parks Association). Granted, everything was frozen solid at the time and spring/summer may yield more wildlife viewing and other interesting things. This may be a good spot for birding in the future. I also hope that this is not the end of construction. Burns Bog has a lot of trails and boardwalks (via the Delta Nature Reserve) where you can walk, with relatively low disturbance of the bog itself. It would be nice if this kind of thing could be incorporated into Langley Bog in the future.

For more photos of the Langley area visit my Fraser Valley Gallery.