A male Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) singing in a flowering Kanzan (or Kwanzan) Cherry tree during a spring day.
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) Singing in a Flowering Cherry Tree (Purchase)
-click to enlarge-
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.
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 from the new viewing platform at Derby Reach Regional Park (Houston Trail) in Langley, British Columbia, Canada.
Langley Bog from Derby Reach Park Viewing Platform (Purchase)
-click to enlarge-
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.
I have visited Mill Pond on Dewdney Trunk Road in Mission, BC a number of times, but not usually for photographs. Fall is one of my favourite times of year to photograph and so I try to get out as much as possible during the fleeting time fall foliage is available. Last year had nearly constant fall rain (600 mm/23.6 in during October/November) and was dubbed the “dreariest on record” by Environment Canada’s weather forecasters. 2016 had relatively poor fall foliage colours too, so I didn’t always find what I was looking for in spots I’d targeted. I was heading back from a “failed” trip one afternoon and stopped at Mill Pond to see if there were any interesting reflections on its surface. I was not disappointed – there were a few trees and shrubs that had some decent foliage colors and the lack of wind made for some good reflections. The first photograph here of the pond is actually the last one I put together from 4 separate exposures. These had to be a bit longer in duration (15 seconds) than those earlier as it was almost dark when I made this photograph. I am not sure what species make up most of the colours in the first photo but the second is primarily from Vine Maple (Acer circinatum) leaves.
Once again it is time to post my 10 favourite photographs from the past year. I do this yearly as it is a worthwhile exercise, and to take part in Jim Goldstein’s annual Your Best Photos project. His collection of these posts is a great place to view photographs and find some new photographers to follow.
I hope you enjoy my selections here and am curious to hear if you have a favourite. If you click on each photograph you’ll be taken to my Image Archive. Many of these photographs have corresponding blog posts that I’ve linked to underneath the thumbnails here. These aren’t in any specific order, but I did place the photograph “Rainbow over Hatzic Lake” at the beginning as I think this is the first time I’ve photographed a rainbow (successfully at least) outside of my backyard. I was also shielding the camera from a rainstorm with my body, so the photo deserves extra points for that. 😉
2017 Calendar Cover – Rainbow over Hatzic Lake and Hatzic Island
-click to enlarge-
My 2017 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 and Washington State. Most of these photographs were made in 2016, though a few are from earlier years but previously unpublished in my calendars.
30% OFF! Use the code 10THDAY20 (case sensitive) for 30% OFF at checkout through Dec 16, 2016.
You can view a full preview and purchase this calendar through the button below:
The last direct sunset light reflects off of Hope Mountain at Silver Lake Provincial Park in Hope, British Columbia, Canada.
Sunset on Hope Mountain from Silver Lake (Purchase)
-click to enlarge-
Silver Lake Provincial Park is one of my favourite provincial parks in British Columbia. Whenever I drive through Hope, BC I usually stop here even if I don’t plan to photograph anything. A few weeks ago I was checking out some other locations near Hope and ended the day at Silver Lake. I have photographed Silver Lake quite often, so much so that “new” takes on the subjects there are somewhat hard to come by.
The first idea I had for something different was to explore the view looking west towards the lake from Silver Skagit Road. From that perspective, Mount Stoneman and Silver Peak both make a nice backdrop to the lake. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of logging between the borders of Silver Lake Provincial Park and Mount Stoneman, and that angle is no longer all that photogenic. The view towards Silver Peak is clear of logging, but the light conditions I had at the time were not conducive to photography. This was still useful information though, I know what conditions I’ll want before I drive up that side of the lake again. So that option for “new” photography exhausted I headed toward the day use area parking lot at Silver Lake, but hoped to hike down a new trail to get a new angle on things.
The photograph above shows the view of Hope Mountain from the south end of Silver Lake. There were near perfect reflections on the lake (as usual) but I opted for this composition as I wanted to show some of the foliage around the shoreline. Many of the trees at this end of the lake are Red Alder (Alnus rubra) but these foreground horsetails are more interesting. There are many patches of these Swamp (aka Water) Horsetail (Equisetum fluviatile) in Silver Lake – especially near the boat launch and the south end of the lake. While most of my previous photographs have been made between the day use area and the boat launch, this area is about 500 meters (1640 feet) south of there along the lakeside trail. The trail continues off into the bush from there, but I was running out of light and had no idea where the trail ended up so I will have to explore that another day.
The second photograph here shows the usual reflections you can see at Silver Lake. This time it isn’t Hope Mountain I’ve chosen, but the forest at the northern end of the lake and a large boulder on the shoreline. I photographed this from the Silver Skagit Road near the outflow of Silverhope creek from Silver Lake. You can see some more of that Swamp Horsetail at the right of the boulder.
The tidal marsh at Crescent Beach (Blackie Spit) with the skyline of Burnaby and the North Shore Mountains in the background.
Burnaby Skyline in Winter from Crescent Beach (Purchase)
-click to enlarge-
New Years Day 2016 was rather chilly at about 1°C, but was a clear and sunny day so I thought it was a good opportunity to photograph Crescent Beach in a different season than I had before. I also assumed that since it was rather cold there would not be many people out on the trails and the paths near the beach. I was very wrong, it was more crowded than I’d normally seen it. I couldn’t argue with the conditions though, I had some nice light at sunset and earlier when I was photographing the shorebirds at Crescent Beach along with this skyline photograph of Burnaby from Blackie Spit. I’ve photographed this view of Burnaby, BC before, but it takes on an extra dimension at sunset with some snow on the mountains. I would like to photograph the tide marsh at Blackie Spit during high tide as well, but found during an earlier day that my favourite vantage point is not accessible at high tide! I do like how the foreground works here without water, and again with the photo of Mount Blandshard below. In the first photo above the mountains are (L to R) Mount Strachan, Unnecessary Mountain, The Lions, Brunswick Mountain, Cobug Peak, Beauty Peak, Dam Mountain, Goat Mountain and Mount Fromme. The ski area on the right is Grouse Mountain.
Silhouetted Tree Branches at Blackie Spit (Purchase)
-click to enlarge-
One of my favourite spots at Crescent Beach is the Blackie Spit Wildlife Refuge Area. At the entrance to this area there is a sign asking people to keep their dogs out and away from the wildlife. I find that there are often a lot less people in this part of the park. While I was photographing there on New Years Day my main landscape lens died and I started looking for scenes suitable for other lenses. This silhouette from a maze of tree branches stood out, and I made this photograph with my longer 70-200mm lens. Photographs are often stronger when they isolate the most interesting part of a scene, but in this case everything was so chaotic I made a photograph illustrating that apparent disorder. I’ve actually made a number of photographs purposefully of seemingly chaotic scenes, I should make those into a series one day after a shoot some more of them.
The Golden Ears after sunset at Crescent Beach (Purchase)
-click to enlarge-
This photograph looks northeast from Blackie Spit over the tidal flats, the mouth of the Nicomekl River, and towards Mount Blandshard (the Golden Ears Mountains) and Mount Robbie Reid. I have usually seen the most pronounced Belt of Venus (Earth’s Shadow) effect while up in the mountains, but on this evening the blue to purple band was quite distinct at sea level. I had to make this photograph a number of times to avoid all the flying Canada Geese flocks taking off in the evening. I made another photograph with these Canada Geese in the photograph later on, though I had to experiment with shutter speeds to get the right amount of blur (while keeping them discernible as birds).
As I was walking back to my car I noticed the waves from a passing boat created these fairly evenly space waves on the shore at Blackie Spit. The pilings here are the remains of the Crescent Oyster Company buildings which were built on pilings above the water. The Crescent Oyster Company was bought by a competitor in 1957 after which the buildings were removed, but these pilings remain.
Earier this year I was able to photograph a male Calypte anna in my backyard. Once I learned the calls of these birds I was able to find them much more often. Turned out there were at least 3-4 males in my backyard at various times. I was happy to get that photograph of one sitting on a fence post in my vegetable garden (they don’t tend to sit still for long). Since then I’d been able to watch some mating display dives as well as a lot of small skirmishes over territory, but none came close enough for me to get a good photo.
A few days ago I was walking the dog in the backyard when this hummingbird landed next to me in an Apple tree. I quickly put the dog back in the house and went back outside with my camera – and I was fortunate that the hummingbird was still around. She landed in the tree next to me and started preening which seemed like a decent indication I wasn’t considered much of a threat. I made these two photos during the 90 seconds or so she sat there, and was quite happy with how close I was and the tongue flicking I was able to photograph.
Female Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) Flicking Her Tongue (Purchase)
-click to enlarge-
I had looked at a lot of photos trying to determine if this was fact a female Anna’s Hummingbird or a juvenile male. Turns out it is a juvenile female, as indicated by James Pike in the comments below. He goes into the reasons why it is a juvenile female, and clearly has a lot more experience identifying these birds than I do!
I have put together some of my favourite images made in the last year into this 11"x17" (28cm x 43cm) nature calendar. Included are 12 photographs of landscape and nature scenes from British Columbia and Washington State.
I am a landscape and nature photographer based in Langley, British Columbia, Canada. Most of my subjects are in Southwestern British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest's Washington State. My photography is available for licensing as stock, fine art prints, and giclée canvas wraps.