Male Anna’s Hummingbird in the Fraser Valley

A male Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) sitting on a garden post. Photographed in late winter in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, Canada.

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

Male Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)

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   Almost a month ago I wrote about trying to photograph a male Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) in my backyard. I had noticed him sitting at the top of many of my trees singing during most afternoons first song on this page. As of today he is still up there singing away, perhaps he is having some trouble getting noticed in the Hummingbird dating scene, I’m not sure. A week or so after I posted my Black-capped Chickadee photo as a sort of hummingbird consolation prize, I was able to photograph this male in the vegetable garden.

   It is rare that I am able to spot wildlife in my backyard and still have time to get in the house and grab the camera, but this Anna’s Hummingbird is pretty predictable in the order of trees he chooses to sing his love ballads from. He is also probably used to me staring up at him by now. I first photographed him at the top of the Hazelnut where he sat for a long time. I actually found making a photo of him reasonably difficult as the magnitude of light reflection from his purple gorget (the neck/throat/head feathers) was so high it would throw off my exposure. The bottom photo here shows a happy medium between the full purple/red brightness of his gorget feathers and the rather subdued reddish/brown shown in the first image.

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

Male Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) in Hazelnut Tree

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   After singing at the top of the Hazelnut for a while this male headed further back into the property and sat on a Mountain Ash tree, but only for a second. He immediately took flight again and almost got right on my face. Perhaps this was a territory thing or he was just curious, I’m not sure. Either way I was glad to see him land on a metal post very near me, and posted for just 3 photos before taking off to another frequently utilized perch in a Walnut tree. The first photograph here is that image, though I’ve cheated somewhat and cropped it to nearly 100%. You can see the uncropped version here. While I would love to get a hummingbird in flight photo seeing them perched has been pretty rare for me so I am happy to have good results. You can see a cropped version of this second photograph here. Note the very small hazelnut flowers at the end of those buds – this was the first time I had noticed them.

For more bird photographs please visit my Bird Photos Gallery.

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) sitting on a Rose branch in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley.

black capped chickadee sitting on a rose branch

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) (Purchase)

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   This is a Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) I photographed in the backyard the other day. Recently I have figured out that one bird call I’ve been hearing outside is not the usual songs from Chickadees, Juncos and other common local birds, but of a male Annas Hummingbird. I have seen it every day for the last while, and now that I’ve learned the pattern of trees it seems to use, I am trying to photograph it. Naturally it is nowhere to be found when I have my camera out, but is almost in my face when I’m out with the dog (and no camera). While trying to find it and a Golden-crowned Kinglet I’ve been seeing a lot of lately, I couldn’t resist photographing the Black-capped Chickadees and Juncos anyway. This particular Chickadee seemed even more curious than they usually are, and wasn’t afraid of sitting near me in the rose bushes. I actually had to back up at one point to make this photo as it was within the minimum focusing distance of my lens (70-200). Hoping to have the same “problem” with that Hummingbird soon. If I do I’ll be sure to post it here.

You can find more of my bird photographs in the Birds Gallery.

My Top 10 Photos of 2015

   I consider these lists more of a top 10 favourite photographs of that year than the “best”. Which of my photographs are “the best” is probably better left for others to decide. 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. His project is 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 if they exist. While these are in no specific order that first panorama of Bagley Lakes might be my favourite overall. Here are my top 10 photos of 2015:

top 10 photos - bagley lakes panorama fall
Panorama of the Bagley Lakes at the bottom of Table Mountain and Mount Herman

(Mount-Baker Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington State)
Blog post: Bagley Lakes Panorama

fall foliage colours reflecting on deer lake
Fall foliage colours reflect on the surface of Deer Lake

(Sasquatch Provincial Park, British Columbia)

Read moreMy Top 10 Photos of 2015

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.