Archive for the ‘Wildlife Photos’ Category

Ganges Harbour on Salt Spring Island

Boats in Ganges Harbour on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada.

ganges harbour on salt spring island boats yachts

Ganges Harbour on Salt Spring Island (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   Earlier this year I made my second trip to Salt Spring Island – one of British Columbia’s Southern Gulf Islands. During my last trip I also had limited time, so I was able to check out some new areas this time around and more thoroughly explore some others. One area I spent more time in on this trip was Ganges. Ganges is an unincorporated town on Salt Spring Island and has most of the shopping and small businesses on the island. Ganges is also known for the Salt Spring Island Market in the summer. Ganges Harbour has a lot of marinas, boardwalks, and small shops along it’s waterfront. I spent a few hours there making photographs the morning of the second day on this trip. The first photograph here shows some of the small yachts and boats in one marina, with Moby’s Pub and a few waterfront homes in the background.

boarding harbour air seaplane at ganges harbour

Boarding a Seaplane at Ganges Harbour (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   In addition to boats and marinas Ganges Harbour has a small Seaplane Aerodrome used by Harbour Air and Seair Seaplanes. I don’t know where this Harbour Air Single Otter flight was departing to, but it likely was heading to Vancouver or YVR (the Vancouver area’s main airport).

purple sea star Pisaster ochraceus in ganges harbour

Purple Sea Star (Pisaster ochraceus) in Ganges Harbour (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   This Purple Sea Star (Pisaster ochraceus) and the Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) were both in the intertidal zone below the boardwalk. I do enjoy photographing Herons as they tend to move slowly when hunting and make goods subjects. I didn’t have to worry about the Sea Star moving around either! I watched the heron for about 20 minutes, and recorded some video of it hunting as well. Apparently if being filmed, Herons know to grab their snack and immediately run out of the frame to eat it. I saw this Heron catch a number of small fish, but it always walked out of the frame before swallowing them, unfortunately. While photographing the Heron I was switching to different subjects such as various boats and the Sea Plane taxiing for takeoff before switching back to the Heron.

great blue heron hunting at ganges harbour

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) Hunting at Ganges Harbour (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

Stay tuned for a number of other blog posts with photographs from Salt Spring but if you can’t wait – you can see all my photographs from the island in my Salt Spring Island Gallery.

Bee Hives in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley

Bee hives in an Abbotsford, British Columbia apiary.

bee hives in a fraser valley abbotsford apiary

Bee Hives in Abbotsford (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   I was photographing a scene with farmland and Mount Baker the other day in Abbotsford, BC. This was to be my first stop of many on the way through Mission, the Harrison area and Agassiz. Some horses came over to the fence to say hello, but wandered off after they realized I didn’t have any treats or anything for them. With the horses came the flies, which was annoying. I made this photograph of the bee hives in the field (probably 60 feet away from me) soon after. I made 3 exposures. The first two were like this, and the third is very blurry. As I was making the 3rd exposure a bee flew partly up my nose (I thought it was a fly). After a failed “one nostril push” maneuver to get it out I grabbed it with my fingers. The result of this was a bee stinger lodged in that space between my upper lip and my recently invaded nostril.

   I had not been stung by a bee since I was a kid, and it is still the unpleasant experience that I recall. It felt a bit like I’d been hit in the teeth with something. I quickly got in my car (I’d been standing next to it) and looked in the rear view mirror. Sure enough, there was a bee stinger in my face. I tried to flick it out with a fingernail but it stayed put. I then remembered reading that you can get them out with a credit card or something flat like that. If you grab a stinger with your fingers, the round part above the surface will act a bit like a turkey baster – and you’ll inject all the venom into the wound. I wished to avoid this, and a quick flick with a credit card got the stinger out of my face. All in all it was probably only in there for 10-15 seconds. Not having had a sting for 25+ years, I wasn’t sure how my body was going to react. Things like this can swell quit a bit, so I cut my trip short (after only about 25 minutes) to go home and endure whatever messy aftermath was to befall me rather than it playing out in public. I didn’t want a golf ball sized swelling on my face when I was trying to photograph either. So I grabbed the freezer pack from my cooler, stuck it on my face, and drove home. As it turned out I only had some minor swelling and it all settled down after about 30 minutes (the ice probably helped). I went out again to shoot a local park after dinner. I guess it was a relatively good outcome that the worst of this was that I had to postpone my trip one day. I’m also glad that I managed to complete shooting Mount Baker and the farmland successfully so I won’t have to return to that spot!

For more photographs of bees and other critters take a look at my Animals and Wildlife 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.

barred owl strix varia fraser valley

Barred Owl (Strix varia) (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   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)

-click to enlarge-

   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)

-click to enlarge-

For more photographs of owls and other birds visit my Bird 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)

-click to enlarge-

   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)

-click to enlarge-

   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.

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) Singing

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

male spotted towhee in cherry blossoms tree

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.

male spotted towhee

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) looking cautious (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   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.

Dark-eyed Junco Nest With Eggs

Dark-eyed Junco nest (Junco hyemalis) with eggs in a ground level nest in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, Canada

dark eyed junco nest - junco hyemalis - eggs in a ground level nest

Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) Eggs (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   In late April I was mowing the grass growing between the raised vegetable garden beds and discovered this Dark-eyed Junco nest, complete with eggs, on the ground underneath a small overhang. This is a common place for Juncos to place their nests, I’ve come across a few others on the ground in tall grass in previous years. I try not to disturb these junco nests when mowing, but I did flush out the female that was sitting on the it at the time. She did sit on the nest again about 5 minutes later, however. A week later I did take a look at the nest (from afar, at first) and the eggs were gone. We have a lot of Black Squirrels (invasive species) that love to snack on bird eggs, so that might have been the fate of this particular clutch. Crows are another likely candidate, though they are not the only other bird species that would look at these as lunch.

For more photographs of birds visit my Bird Photos Gallery.

2017 Nature Calendar Now Available!

cover for 2017 nature calendar - hatzic lake rainbow

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:

Female Anna’s Hummingbird in the Fraser Valley

A Juvenile, Female Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) perched in a tree. Photographed during the summer in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, Canada.

female anna's hummingbird - Calypte anna - in the fraser valley of british columbia

Female Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   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 flicking her tongue - Calypte anna - in the fraser valley of british columbia

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!

For more of my wildlife photos please visit my Animals and Wildlife Gallery.