Barred Owl (Strix varia)

A Barred Owl (Strix varia,) in Campbell Valley Park, Langley, British Columbia, Canada.

barred owl strix varia campbell valley park

Barred Owl (Strix varia,) (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   I went for a walk through some trails last week and while I wasn’t going there specifically for photography I brought the camera along. I figured that if I didn’t have it with me, an eagle would land in a tree right in front of me and well, I would be out of luck photographically. No eagles this time, but a Barred Owl (Strix varia) did land right in front of me and posed for long enough for me to get a few decent shots of it. I have never seen an owl this close before, and I’m lucky I had a camera poised to take the shot. A few weeks ago I was in the same spot on the trail taking some macro shots of Pacific Bleeding Heart flowers. If the owl had shown up then I would have had the macro lens on (instead of the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS), camera on the tripod, mirror lockup turned on, the ISO too low, and an aperture stopped down enough that a handheld shot would have been impossible. I guess what I am saying is I feel fortunate to have had all the factors work out for me this time! Getting a nice composition is difficult with so many branches sticking out everywhere though.

Rule #1 – Bring your Camera

small flock of dunlin - calidris alpini - feed along the shore of penn cove in washington state

   This is something I have learned the hard way. While I am not going to bring the SLR when I go to the grocery store, I have learned to bring it with me if there even a decent chance of finding something interesting to photograph. There have been many times when I have found something interesting – and every time this happens my camera has done me little good sitting in its bag back home. This can be a bitter pill to swallow when one comes across something spectacular.

small flock of dunlin - calidris alpina - feed along the shore of penn cove in washington state

   A few days ago I accompanied a friend on a journey to Washington State to buy a new vehicle. I debated whether I should bring the camera bag or not. It was quite likely that I would not have time to shoot anything – and also quite likely I would see nothing to shoot. I’ve had this debate before – and opted to not bring my equipment with me. Frequently this has worked out just fine, but other times I have missed great opportunities by leaving my equipment at home. So this time I brought it all with me.

   Glad I did!

small flock of dunlin - calidris alpina - feed along the shore of penn cove in washington state

   We stopped for a quick break along SR20 in San de Fuca which is just outside of Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island. Walked down to the shore and there was a small flock of Dunlin (Calidris alpina) foraging along the shore. A quick dash back to the car and I began stalking them along the shore. Not very skittish at all, but they did move along the shore away from me when I approached. I had to hide behind old timbers of a dock to get as close as possible. Normally it is much better to sit and wait for a group like this to wander back towards you, but they did not seem alarmed by my presence and I had no time to camp out. Dunlin spend their time here on the coasts of Washington State and British Columbia in the winter – fattening themselves up before a migration to their summer breeding grounds in Alaska and along the shores of Hudson Bay.

Great Blue Heron in Stanley Park

a great blue heron - ardea herodias hunts-  along the seawall of stanley park

   About a month ago I was on the seawall in Stanley Park taking some shots of downtown Vancouver at night. Last time I attempted this my relatively cheap tripod was not up to the task of holding my camera steady (in portrait position) for 30 seconds at a time. The result was some decent shots, but others had a 30 second long vertical light streak through them due to tripod malfunction. Did I mention how much I like my Gitzo tripod?

   I had not expected that I was to be stalking any sort of birds at night. Thankfully though it was a Great Blue Heron ((Ardea herodias) which luckily tend to stand still for lengthy periods of time (or until you trigger the shutter). I guess this lulls the prey into a sense of complacency, at least temporarily. This is probably one of the few species that I would be able to find at night and that would stand still long enough for me to get a clear shot with shutter speeds of 1-2 seconds. That being said, this is one of the few clear shots of the 40 that I took. I like it – not my usual sort of photograph.

Steller’s Jay in Mt. Rainier National Park

stellers jay - cyanocitta stelleri - in mount rainier national park

I had only parked my car at a pullout for a few minutes when this Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) and a flock of Gray Jays (Perisoreus canadensis) came begging. There is ample literature and signs telling visitors to not feed the wildlife but clearly this is being ignored. Photography wasn’t really the action they were looking for so they fled fairly quickly.

Chickadees in the Backyard

black capped chickadee poecile atricapillus chestnut backed chickadee poecile rufescens

I was getting the itch to shoot something a few days ago but it wasn’t really the kind of day where I could go for a drive and find much interesting. Elected to go outside for a few minutes and see how long the birds coming the the backyard feeder felt like sitting still for me. Of the half dozen or so species out there, only two really will permit my presence near them – both Chickadees. The Black-Capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus ) and the Chestnut-Backed Chickadee (Poecile rufescens) tend to be willing subjects. One almost landed on my head before deciding that perhaps that would be a mistake.

Morris Valley in the Fraser Valley of BC

great blue heron ardea herodias flies over morris valley road salmon spawning in the harrison river

Last year I went deeper into the Fraser Valley in search of spawning salmon and the Bald Eagles that would be feeding on their remains. I saw no eagles. I did manage to see a lot of seagulls and Great Blue Herons which are a bit less interesting, but subjects which would occasionally sit still for me to photograph.

glaucous winged gull laurus glaucescen flies over spawning salmon glaucous winged gull laurus glaucescen watches over spawning salmon

These are two Glaucous-winged Gulls (Larus glaucescen) feeding on salmon eggs and carcasses in the Harrison River.

Honey Bees (Apis mellifera) Drinking

honey bee drinking at birdbath

I have occasionally seen the odd honey bee drinking water from the edge of the pond, and occasionally from the edge of the birdbath – but never en masse like they have this year. I don’t know if it is the nature of the summer weather, or the fact the neighbours have a beehive – but they have been there every day in numbers for most of the last few months. I got the tripod and my macro lens in very close to them and aside from a few buzzing around my head they didn’t much care I was there. At least they sit still on the birdbath relative to on the flowers.

honey bee drinking at birdbath honey bees drinking at birdbath group

honey bee drinking at birdbath honey bee drinking at birdbath

Backyard Beetle Macro

A few more Beetle macro shots from July. Do not know the species of the first beetle which I also posted earlier. Probably part of the Genus Cantharis. The second appears to be some variety of Longhorned Beetle – probably Xestoleptura crassipes. Both are crawling on flowers from Astrantia major.

beetle on astrantia major beetle on astrantia major

longhorned beetle (xestoleptura sp. possibly) on astrantia major longhorned beetle (xestoleptura sp. possibly) on astrantia major