Birds at Piper Spit in Burnaby Lake Regional Park

A male Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) perched in a tree over Eagle Creek near Piper Spit in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.

male wood duck perched in a tree at burnaby lake

Male Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) perched in a tree at Burnaby Lake Regional Park (Purchase)

I’m not a “Bird Photographer”, I just seem to photograph a lot of birds! I visited Burnaby Lake Regional Park on three occasions this past fall, and wound up photographing birds (along with other subjects) every time. Owning a longer telephoto lens has not only been great for my landscape photography, but has made some bird photography more successful than it was before. On my first visit to Burnaby Lake last year I went to Piper Spit. I’d driven to this location about 25 years ago but never actually visited when I lived in Burnaby and Coquitlam around that time. So when I was finished photographing at Deer Lake Park one evening, I headed to Burnaby Lake to check out this location at last. It is a nice spot to just be in but it is also a spot with a lot of bird photography potential. There are a lot of bird species at Piper Spit! The fanciest is the off course or escaped Mandarin Duck, but I think the native Wood Ducks like the one in the top photo are my favourite. They are one of the few ducks that will perch in trees, and I was lucky enough to come across a few doing just that just above Eagle Creek runs right out to Piper Spit.

long-billed dowitchers at burnaby lake regional park

Long-Billed Dowitchers (Limnodromus-scolopaceus) at Burnaby Lake (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

I also made this panorama of a group of Long-Billed Dowitchers (Limnodromus-scolopaceus) resting around a dead tree trunk and branches in Burnaby Lake. I counted 146 Dowitchers in this photograph, but many others were foraging nearby and running around in the shallow water. This flock of Dowitchers is most likely overwintering at Burnaby Lake before departing to breeding grounds in the spring. The photo below is an individual Long-Billed Dowitcher that was foraging for various foodstuffs (mostly insects and aquatic invertebrates) nearby.

long-billed dowitcher foraging at burnaby lake regional park

A Long-Billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus-scolopaceus) foraging at Burnaby Lake (Purchase)

This Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) was amoung about 5 individuals that stopped to perch for a few minutes in a shrub next to the boardwalk at the spit. There was lots of squaking and they weren’t certainly not quiet, though they made a lot less noise than the 100’s of Mallard Ducks that were also there. The whole place descended into a bit of an unfortunate circus when someone showed up with a box of birdseed and dumped it into the water – just a few feet from a “don’t feed the birds” sign, of course. The ducks went crazy, many different species crowded into the small area, and the blackbirds decided none of this was worthy of their presence and departed.

red-winged blackbird perched in a tree at burnaby lake

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) perched in a tree at Burnaby Lake (Purchase)

This Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) was done with the bird seed bedlam and was walking around on the boardwalk seemingly interested in jumping off the other side. When it stopped in front of me briefly, I made this photograph of just its head. You can see me crouched down in the reflection in its eye. This time of the year Canada Geese are pretty relaxed so there was no hissing or honking at me, it just passed by, posed for a headshot, and carried on. I didn’t crop this photograph – this is the size the camera recorded it at, so the detail at 100% is interesting as I was only 1.24 meters (4 feet) away!

canada goose head up close photo at burnaby lake

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) Up Close! (Purchase)

This Green-winged Teal (Anas carolinensis) also seemed uninterested in the bird seed junk food buffet being offered nearby and just continued wading and foraging in the mud like nothing was happening.

green-winged teal adult at burnaby lake

Green-winged Teal (Anas carolinensis) foraging at Burnaby Lake (Purchase)

There are a lot of Great Blue Herons around Burnaby Lake. I saw this individual hunting (and catching!) small fish and other prey in the lily pads along the shore of the lake. I’ve learned that Herons aren’t that particular as to what animals they eat. If it will fit down the esophagus – down it goes! Which reminds me of the one time I saw a Heron take on a bit more than its esophagus could handle – a photo featured at the end of this post: Hogs Back Falls on Ottawa’s Rideau River. I think this moment was a learning experience!

great blue heron hunting in the lily pads at burnaby lake

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) hunting in the Lily Pads at Burnaby Lake Regional Park (Purchase)

You can find more photographs from Burnaby Lake in my Burnaby Gallery.

My Top 10 Photographs from 2020

It is time once again to post my favourite images from the past year. 2020 has not been a typical year by any means, but I can’t really complain overall. I stayed closer to home this year, and photographed more wildlife than usual. Part of this was the limited locations I had at times, avoiding crowds/people, and due to owning a longer lens now. As usual, I started working on this list when I collected images for my 2021 Nature Calendar, though the criteria for that is a bit more limited than a top 10 list (I generally avoid human elements). I let this selection of images sit for a while like I did last year, but only wound up rotating one image in/out this time.

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. These photos aren’t in any specific order though I think the first photograph of the fledgling Barred Owls is my favourite. The blog post below the photo outlines some of my luck involved in making the owl image. That was a photo opportunity I never imagined having and can’t really expect to again! I didn’t anticipate photographing a comet this year either, so there are always surprises.

I hope you enjoy this years selections and am curious to hear if you have any particular favourites.

My Favourite Photos of 2020:

barred owl babies snuggling on a branch
1. Barred Owl (Strix varia) Owlets Snuggling
(Langley, British Columbia)
Blog post: Barred Owl (Strix varia) Fledglings in Campbell Valley Park

waterfall on sumas mountain in abbotsford british columbia
2. Waterfall along Poignant Creek on Sumas Mountain

(Abbotsford, British Columbia)

comet neowise in the evening sky above Burnaby
3. Comet NEOWISE in the evening sky above Burnaby Mountain
(Burnaby, British Columbia)
Blog post: Comet NEOWISE (C/2020 F3) And My First Astrophotography

juvenile bald eagle sitting on driftwood with mount baker
4. A juvenile Bald Eagle next to Boundary Bay with Mount Baker (Washington) in the background.
(Delta, British Columbia)
Blog post: Viewing Bald Eagles at Boundary Bay

devon falls in abbotsford british columbia
5. Devon Falls
(Abbotsford, British Columbia)
Blog post: Devon Falls at Bassani Park in Abbotsford British Columbia

greater yellowlegs looking for food at blackie spit
6. Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) foraging at Blackie Spit
(Surrey, British Columbia)
Blog post: Birds at the Boundary Bay Wildlife Management Area

golden ears mountains sunset at derby reach park
7. Golden Ears and sunset light at Derby Reach Regional Park

(Langley, British Columbia)

short-eared owl asio flammeus at boundary bay
8. Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) flying at Boundary Bay Regional Park
(Delta, British Columbia)
Blog post: Birds at the Boundary Bay Wildlife Management Area

lummi peak on lummi island from boundary bay
9. Lummi Peak on Lummi Island (in Washington State) – photographed from Boundary Bay

(Delta, British Columbia)

male wood duck on a tree branch
10. Male Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) on a tree branch

(Burnaby, British Columbia)

You can view my favourite photographs from 2019 here: My Top 10 Photos of 2019.

2021 Nature Calendar Now Available!

My 2021 Nature Calendars are now available! I have put together some of my favourite recent photographs into a 11″x17″ (28cm x 43cm) calendar. Included are 12 photographs of landscape, wildlife, and nature scenes from British Columbia. As the purchase website no longer has a preview available, take a look at the index below for a small preview of the images contained in the calendar.

30% OFF! Use the code BFCM30 (case sensitive) for 30% OFF at checkout through November 30th.

cover for 2021 british columbia nature calendar

2021 Nature Calendar Cover – Juvenile Barred Owls

index for 2021 british columbia nature calendar

2021 Calendar Index

A Few Spring and Summer Wildflowers

Spring and Summer Wildflowers – this Siberian Miner’s Lettuce (Claytonia sibirica) was found blooming at Williams Park in Langley, British Columbia, Canada.

siberian miners lettuce claytonia sibirica flowers

Siberian Miner’s Lettuce (Claytonia sibirica) Flowering (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.

Smooth Hawksbeard (Crepis capillaris)

smooth hawksbeard crepis capillaris flowers

Smooth Hawksbeard (Crepis capillaris) Flowers (Purchase)

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 with bumblebees

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 blooming flowers

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 flowers geum macrophyllum

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.

Snow Geese (Anser caerulescens) Migration at Fraser River Delta

A flock of Snow Geese (Anser caerulescens) take flight from a farmers field in Tsawwassen, British Columbia, Canada.

snow geese flock flying in delta bc

Snow Geese Taking Flight (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 landing in a farmers field

Snow Geese Landing in Farm Field (Purchase)

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.

snow geese flock resting at iona beach

A Flock Rests at Iona Beach (Purchase)

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.

a pair of snow geese at iona beach

Pair of Snow Geese at Iona Beach (Purchase)

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.

snow geese flying at the fraser river delta in richmond

The Fraser River Delta in Richmond (Purchase)

For more of my photographs of animals visit my Animals and Wildlife Gallery.

2020 Nature Calendar Now Available!

cover for 2020 british columbia nature calendar - silver lake provincial park

2020 Nature Calendar Cover – Silver Lake Provincial Park


   My 2020 Nature Calendars are now available! I have put together some of my favourite recent photographs into a 11″x17″ (28cm x 43cm) calendar. Included are 12 photographs of landscape and nature scenes from British Columbia.

15% OFF! Use the code ONEFIVE (case sensitive) for 15% OFF at checkout through December 19.

You can view a full preview and purchase this calendar through the button below:

Fall Foliage on Salt Spring Island

Reflections of autumn foliage and Mount Maxwell on a rainy day along the shore of Blackburn Lake on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada.

reflections on blackburn lake on salt spring island in the fall

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!

sunlight on fall foliage at st mary lake salt spring island

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.

fall foliage and mount maxwell from burgoyne bay provincial park

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 pauls church and cemetery at fulford harbour on salt spring island

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.

fall foliage of bigleaf maple on salt spring island

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.

Random Photos Volume II

I thought I’d share another batch of photographs here that don’t have enough of a story involved justify their own blog post.

Baby Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus)

baby eastern cottontail sylvilagus floridanus eating hawksbeard stems

Baby Eastern Cottontail (S. floridanus) Eating hawksbeard Flowers (Purchase)

I was testing out a new zoom lens in the backyard and had seen this baby Eastern Cottontail eating Hawkesbeard stems on the lawn. I sat down and waited for it to come back which it did after a few minutes. This was a rather small rabbit – the adults can be approximately 44 cm (17 in) long, but this little one was only about 15 cm (6 in)!

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) at Blackie Spit Park

Blackie Spit Park (Surrey, BC) is a favourite photography location of mine, and now that I’ll be occasionally photographing more birds I suspect I’ll be there even more. In July I photographed this Heron wading in one of the small canals in the park while searching for small fish and invertebrates. It was looking around a lot, so I was able to make photos of it facing both ways. I also made the photo below with a longer exposure, to try to get it looking both ways at once. I didn’t expect it to work out quite this well, but I like the result. I was also unable to really come to a conclusion as to whether I liked the Heron facing right or left, so I ultimately just published all three photos.

great blue heron foraging in water at blackie spit

Great Blue Heron (A. herodias) foraging at Blackie Spit Park

great blue heron searching for food and looking both ways

Look both ways before you cross the marsh (Purchase)

I also photographed this decorated rock sitting atop a fence post at Blackie Spit. I take it this sort of thing is not rare in the area, but it was the first time I’d seen one. The large yellow flowers next to the post are Fernleaf Yarrow (Achillea filipendulina).

decorated rock sitting on a post at sunset

Decorative Rock on a Crescent Beach Fence Post (Purchase)

Also at Blackie Spit I photographed this Hawksbeard (Crepis sp.) plant with some seed heads on it that were nicely backlit by late day sunlight. I’ve photographed a number of interesting small plant scenes in this particular meadow – which you can find in my Surrey gallery.

hawksbeard plant with seed heads backlit by sunset

Hawksbeard (Crepis sp.) Seeds at Blackie Spit (Purchase)

Water Lily Reflection

I’ve photographed these pond lily (Nymphaeacea) plants in the backyard before, but this time I was attracted to the reflection from this particular flower. I like finding subjects that are only a few steps from the back door!

water lily flower reflection

Water Lily (Nymphaeacea) Flower Reflection (Purchase)

More of my newer images can be found in my New Images Gallery.