Spawning Salmon at Weaver Creek

Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) at the Weaver Creek Spawning Channel in British Columbia, Canada

male sockeye salmon jumping in weaver creek spawning channel

Male Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) jumping in the Weaver Creek (Purchase)

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   One of the best places to see spawning salmon near the Metro Vancouver area is the Weaver Creek Spawning Channel in the Fraser Valley. Weaver Creek runs through the District of Kent from Weaver Lake through to the Harrison River. In the fall Fisheries and Oceans Canada opens the channel area to the public to view the spawning salmon. I first came here as a kid, but have returned a number of times in the past few years to photograph the salmon.

sockeye salmon swimming in weaver creek spawning channel

Male Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) swimming upstream (Purchase)

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   Without an underwater housing and other special equipment most of the photographs one will be able to create will be looking at the salmon in the water, or jumping out of it. Photographing fish under water, from above, just leads to distorted salmon photos that don’t really work most of the time. After a few years of failed attempts at salmon photography I worked within these limitations and imagined a photograph with the salmon backs out of the water, with a glow from sunset or some other sort of reflection on the water. I did manage to create that salmon photograph eventually but it remains a bit more abstract than the images on this page.

sockeye salmon swimming in weaver creek spawning channel

Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) on an aeration plate (Purchase)

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   Throughout the channel there are “aeration plates” that add oxygen to the water but also likely prevent erosion of the small rises in elevation between the sections of the channel. The first image in this post shows a male Sockeye leaping into the air to get over one of the higher jumps to get into the channel. The aeration plates in the upper part of the channel are considerably lower. One of those is shown in the image above. Sometimes the salmon don’t quite have enough momentum or strength in order to get over the plates. This one came close, was swept back into the lower level but made it on the second attempt.

sockeye salmon swimming in weaver creek spawning channel

Salmon spawning in the Weaver Creek Spawning Channel (Purchase)

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For more photographs of salmon and other wildlife please visit my Animals & Wildlife Gallery.

Mountain Goat in the Mount Baker Wilderness

A Mountain Goat (Oreamnos americanus) climbing the southern side of Table Mountain at the Mount Baker Wilderness in Washington State, USA.

mountain goat below table mountain in the mount baker wilderness

Mountain Goat Below Table Mountain (Purchase)

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   In my last post I mentioned walking a few kilometers out on the Chain Lakes trail from Artist Point in the Mount Baker Wilderness. I made several landscape photographs at sunset while out there, including my previous post showing the panorama of Mount Shuksan. When first heading out on the trail I stopped and was going to wait for a hiker (wearing a lot of white) further out on the trail to pass though one of my compositions. As it turned out, this was a Mountain Goat (Oreamnos americanus) which I had forgotten were even a species I might discover here. Apparently they are fairly common in the Ptarmigan Ridge area but there are only about 2 800 in Washington State overall. Last year in a nearby location on the Table Mountain Trail I photographed a small flock of Sooty Grouse which I had also happened upon by chance. I was quite happy to find wildlife there two years in a row – especially in the case of the Mount Goat as I had never seen this species before. I don’t have any super telephoto lenses, so I made do with my 70-200mm lens and the 1.4x extender I keep in my bag for occurrences just like this one. Animal portraits are nice, but sometimes I prefer photographs of wildlife in the context of their environment. Headshots don’t show the environment animals live in. Perhaps I have partly formed this opinion because I lack the long telephoto lenses that most wildlife photographers carry with them. I bought a car instead!

   Usually when I am in an area where I expect to run into wildlife I review what one should do when you encounter it – so I am familiar with how to deal with Bears and Mountain Lions but not Goats. I stayed well back on the trail as it was walking along the trail towards me initially. I don’t believe Mountain Goats get agressive for no reason, but I stayed out of its just in case (and my bear spray was in the trunk of my car where it is not that useful). After it walked up the slope briefly I continued up the trail, got into a better position, and made this photograph. He or she was nice enough to pose for a few minutes (while watching me warily) while I made some images.

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

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) Singing

A Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) singing in the marsh at Elgin Heritage Park near Crescent Beach, British Columbia, Canada.

alpenglow on hope mountain by silver lake provincial park

A Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) singing near Crescent Beach (Buy Print)

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   I photographed this Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) singing along the boardwalk over the marsh at Elgin Heritabe Park in Surrey, BC earlier this spring. I visited this park several times to photograph the Red-winged Blackbirds and on this occasion had this Song Sparrow sit on a branch right in front of me and start singing. I was able to make several photographs, and record two videos (see below) before the inevitable foot traffic of other park visitors caused it to fly away. Still, having a sparrow land that close and start singing was a great opportunity, one that I was only able to capitalize on as I was walking around with my longer lens (70-200mm) on the camera at the time. Landscapes do not tend to catch me by surprise nearly as often as wildlife, so when walking around on trails I often have the long lens on my camera instead of my favorite landscape lens (17-55mm). This way I am not trying to change lenses in order to photograph a bird or other animal close to me which is an activity that usually results in a missed opportunity.

   The video linked below was recorded with my Canon 7D and its internal microphone which leaves a bit to be desired as it picks up all sorts of background noise. In the video you can hear the Song Sparrow singing, but you’ll also likely notice other birds singing, the flock of geese flying overhead, frogs, and the sounds of a speed boat accelerating up the nearby Nicomekl River.

song sparrow singing video

For more of my photographs of wildlife and animals please take a look at my Animals and Wildlife Gallery.

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelalus phoeniceus)

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelalus phoeniceus) in the marsh at Elgin Heritage Park in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.

red-winged blackbird in the marsh at elgin heritage park in surrey bc

Male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelalus phoeniceus) in the marsh at Elgin Heritage Park in Crescent Beach

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   I have made a few trips to Crescent Beach’s Elgin Heritage Park recently, usually on my way to Blackie Spit. On this trip I set aside some time specifically to try to photograph Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelalus phoeniceus) in the marshes along the Nicomekl River. The males were quite active, singing and jumping from stalk to stalk in the Bulrushes. There were even some territorial squabbles where they would chase each other through the foliage like jet fighters. The females were not nearly as noticeable, though I had a few that stayed near me long enough to photograph as well. As the female Red-winged Blackbirds are drab in comparison, the males were really the more vibrant photography subject.

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

Baby Eastern Cottontail Rabbit

A young Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) hiding in the weeds in a Fraser Valley backyard garden.

baby eastern cottontail rabbit hiding in a backyard garden

Baby Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) hiding in the weeds

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   This baby Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) was hiding in the weeds in my backyard this afternoon. The adult rabbits can be approximately 44cm (17 in) long – and a few that forage in my backyard seem even larger than that, but this little one was only about 15cm (6 in). Very small, and hard to see even when you know where it is. I initially came across this baby crouching down on some barkmulch, but when I came back with the camera it was in the weeds. While it is obviously keeping an eye on me, I tried to minimize my impact on it by putting on my longest lens and watching its behaviour for any stress. Other than some nose twitching, I never saw it move much at all. This kind of Rabbit – the Eastern Cottontail is an invasive species here in British Columbia and even so are rather abundant.

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

Great Blue Heron at Coal Harbour

A Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias fannini) hunting in a small pond at Devonian Harbour Park, near Coal Harbour and Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

great blue heron sitting on a log in vancouver bc

Great Blue Heron ((Purchase)

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   In mid March of this year I went to Stanley Park to photograph the cherry blossoms and a few other things. After I was finished photographing cherry blossoms I walked along the seawall to the Convention Center. On the way, in Devonian Harbour Park (between Stanley Park and Coal Harbour) I saw this Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias fannini) fishing in a small pond. One of the largest urban colonies of Great Blue Herons reside at Stanley Park – so seeing herons here was not really a surprise. I made this photograph not only because I was already standing close to the Heron, but because of the reflection of the buildings in the background. This pond is right next to the Stanley Park Causeway, which is a bit like a highway most of the day, and just beyond that are very expensive apartment buildings in the “West End” of Vancouver – so this is a wild animal in an urban environment. As is usual for Herons, this one made a good subject by standing still most of the time I was there. One of my favourite Heron photographs was just across the harbour in Stanley Park – a Heron fishing at night.

You can view more of my Bird Photography in my Bird Photography Gallery in my Image Library.

My Top 10 Photos of 2014

   I tend to consider this list more of a top 10 favourite photographs of 2014 than the “best”. Choosing the images for my Nature Calendars always helps me narrow these things down a bit ahead of making my final list below. Once again, I am making this post so I can be a part of Jim Goldstein’s annual Your Best Photos project. Look for his post early in the new year with all the entries from a wide variety of photographers. Always a great place to find new photographers and their work.

   I hope you enjoy the following photographs and I am curious if you have a favourite. Clicking on each photograph takes you to my Image Archive but below you’ll also find links to corresponding blog posts. In no specific order here are my top 10 photographs of 2014:

trout lake creek moss and rocks
Trout Lake Creek flows through the rainforest in Sasquatch Provincial Park

(Harrison Hot Springs, British Columbia)
Blog post: Sasquatch Provincial Park

lions gate bridge and downtown vancouver from ambleside beach
The Lions Gate Bridge and downtown Vancouver

(West Vancouver, British Columbia)
Blog post: Lions Gate Bridge from Ambleside Park

Read moreMy Top 10 Photos of 2014

2015 Nature Calendar Now Available!

2015 nature calendar british columbia washington mountains

2015 Nature Calendar Covers – Canadian/US Holidays (Calendars use the same interior images)

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30% OFF! Use the code NWC30 (case sensitive) at checkout and get your for 30% off! Code valid through January 26, 2015.

   My 2015 nature calendars are now available! I have put together some of my favourite images made in the past year into a 11″x17″ (28cm x 43cm) calendar. Included are 12 photographs of landscape and nature scenes from British Columbia and Washington State. There are two versions of this calendar – one with Canadian holidays and one with US holidays. The Canadian Calendar’s cover photograph is from British Columbia, the US version has a photo from Washington state – but all the images within the calendar are the same.

You can view a full preview and purchase this calendar through the links below (be sure to choose the correct version!)