Ladner Harbour Park in Delta

A Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii) perched on a branch at Ladner Harbour Park in Delta, British Columbia, Canada.

bewicks wren in ladner harbour park

Bewick’s Wren (T. bewickii) at Ladner Harbour Park in Delta (Purchase)

Earlier this year I stopped for a walk around Ladner Harbour Park (map) in Delta, BC. I’ve been making an attempt to visit some smaller parks around here either as a full destination or as a stop along the way to other locations. Ladner Harbour Park has a few kilometers of trails, and I thought it was worth checking it out. This was a day of my least favourite kind of light – lots of high clouds gave a bright day but with lots of glare which meant I was unlikely to be shooting any larger landscape scenes. With my longer 100-400mm zoom lens birds are always an option, and I wound up using it for all of these photographs. The first photograph here shows a Bewick’s Wren (T. bewickii) which is not a species I think I have photographed before. I see them quite often, but they like the brush and shrubs in the understory of the forest, and are not a bird species that seems to sit still. They do seem to be rather noisy though, and often are making calls that help me know when to look for a small, darting, little brown bird that is too far away. Getting a clear shot of them is not easy due to their habitat, but I sat down on the edge of the trail and this one gave me a few chances to make photographs of it while it scampered around and foraged in the leaves.

The next photograph of patterns in the sand is something I might not normally have noticed, but I’m glad I did. This is a small spring or perhaps water draining out of this hole from higher ground in the tidal area. Either way, it made these interesting patterns in the sand which looks a bit like an alluvial fan. There is water coming vertically out of the ground on the left hand side of the formation which flows down into the stream of water on the right. In some ways it reminds me of this photograph of the Chilliwack River only in that it has the feeling of an aerial photograph. This view was from Mcneelys Trail and one of the new bridges in that section of trail.

sand patterns along the fraser river in delta

Patterns in the sand along the Fraser River (Purchase)

I am almost at the point where I need to stop photographing Herons. I like these birds a lot, and watching them hunt in fields or in the water like very tiny dinosaurs is always interesting. This particular Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) was wading in one of the ditches (for lack of a better word) running out from the park to the edge of the Fraser River. Since it was a bright but not a clear day, the light was harsh, but it did allow me to make a photo of a Heron unlike my others. I like the contour of the muddy shoreline behind it and the reflection as well. Herons, unlike Wrens and other birds, are a bit easier to photograph as they wade slowly or stay still hoping prey wanders near. One of the reasons I have so many photographs of them!

great blue heron along the fraser river in ladner

Great Blue Heron hunting along the Fraser River in Ladner (Purchase)

For birds that are relatively shy, it seems relatively easy to notice Spotted Towhees (Pipilo maculatus) when they are near me on the trail. Perhaps that is one reason they changed the name from “Rufous Sided Towhee” to Spotted Towhee? 😉 They are larger birds and easier to spot than the Wren in the first photograph, and are often scratching in the leaves and twigs on the forest floor in hopes of finding worthwhile morsels. They are shy though, so usually when I’ve attempted to photograph them I just see what direction they seem to be working in, and get ahead of them and just sit. This one didn’t seem to be too wary of me (it is next to the dog park and a busy trail to the southern viewpoint) and seemed to find some seeds in this particular spot.

spotted towhee foraging in the leaves at ladner harbour park

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) foraging at Ladner Harbour Park (Purchase)

For more photographs from this area visit my Delta Gallery.

Birds at Piper Spit in Burnaby Lake Regional Park

A male Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) perched in a tree over Eagle Creek near Piper Spit in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.

male wood duck perched in a tree at burnaby lake

Male Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) perched in a tree at Burnaby Lake Regional Park (Purchase)

I’m not a “Bird Photographer”, I just seem to photograph a lot of birds! I visited Burnaby Lake Regional Park on three occasions this past fall, and wound up photographing birds (along with other subjects) every time. Owning a longer telephoto lens has not only been great for my landscape photography, but has made some bird photography more successful than it was before. On my first visit to Burnaby Lake last year I went to Piper Spit. I’d driven to this location about 25 years ago but never actually visited when I lived in Burnaby and Coquitlam around that time. So when I was finished photographing at Deer Lake Park one evening, I headed to Burnaby Lake to check out this location at last. It is a nice spot to just be in but it is also a spot with a lot of bird photography potential. There are a lot of bird species at Piper Spit! The fanciest is the off course or escaped Mandarin Duck, but I think the native Wood Ducks like the one in the top photo are my favourite. They are one of the few ducks that will perch in trees, and I was lucky enough to come across a few doing just that just above Eagle Creek runs right out to Piper Spit.

long-billed dowitchers at burnaby lake regional park

Long-Billed Dowitchers (Limnodromus-scolopaceus) at Burnaby Lake (Purchase)

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I also made this panorama of a group of Long-Billed Dowitchers (Limnodromus-scolopaceus) resting around a dead tree trunk and branches in Burnaby Lake. I counted 146 Dowitchers in this photograph, but many others were foraging nearby and running around in the shallow water. This flock of Dowitchers is most likely overwintering at Burnaby Lake before departing to breeding grounds in the spring. The photo below is an individual Long-Billed Dowitcher that was foraging for various foodstuffs (mostly insects and aquatic invertebrates) nearby.

long-billed dowitcher foraging at burnaby lake regional park

A Long-Billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus-scolopaceus) foraging at Burnaby Lake (Purchase)

This Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) was amoung about 5 individuals that stopped to perch for a few minutes in a shrub next to the boardwalk at the spit. There was lots of squaking and they weren’t certainly not quiet, though they made a lot less noise than the 100’s of Mallard Ducks that were also there. The whole place descended into a bit of an unfortunate circus when someone showed up with a box of birdseed and dumped it into the water – just a few feet from a “don’t feed the birds” sign, of course. The ducks went crazy, many different species crowded into the small area, and the blackbirds decided none of this was worthy of their presence and departed.

red-winged blackbird perched in a tree at burnaby lake

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) perched in a tree at Burnaby Lake (Purchase)

This Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) was done with the bird seed bedlam and was walking around on the boardwalk seemingly interested in jumping off the other side. When it stopped in front of me briefly, I made this photograph of just its head. You can see me crouched down in the reflection in its eye. This time of the year Canada Geese are pretty relaxed so there was no hissing or honking at me, it just passed by, posed for a headshot, and carried on. I didn’t crop this photograph – this is the size the camera recorded it at, so the detail at 100% is interesting as I was only 1.24 meters (4 feet) away!

canada goose head up close photo at burnaby lake

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) Up Close! (Purchase)

This Green-winged Teal (Anas carolinensis) also seemed uninterested in the bird seed junk food buffet being offered nearby and just continued wading and foraging in the mud like nothing was happening.

green-winged teal adult at burnaby lake

Green-winged Teal (Anas carolinensis) foraging at Burnaby Lake (Purchase)

There are a lot of Great Blue Herons around Burnaby Lake. I saw this individual hunting (and catching!) small fish and other prey in the lily pads along the shore of the lake. I’ve learned that Herons aren’t that particular as to what animals they eat. If it will fit down the esophagus – down it goes! Which reminds me of the one time I saw a Heron take on a bit more than its esophagus could handle – a photo featured at the end of this post: Hogs Back Falls on Ottawa’s Rideau River. I think this moment was a learning experience!

great blue heron hunting in the lily pads at burnaby lake

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) hunting in the Lily Pads at Burnaby Lake Regional Park (Purchase)

You can find more photographs from Burnaby Lake in my Burnaby Gallery.

Birds at the Boundary Bay Wildlife Management Area

Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) foraging as the tide comes in at the Boundary Bay Wildlife Management Area in Crescent Beach, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.

greater yellowlegs foraging at blackie spit

Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) foraging at Blackie Spit (Purchase)

Earlier this year I visited two areas around Boundary Bay to try to photograph some wildlife. I made several landscape photographs as well, but I brought my 100-400 lens with me this time to try to see if I could photograph shorebirds, Bald Eagles, hawks and harriers, or any other subject I could find. When I visited Blackie Spit in Crescent Beach (Surrey) I found a small flock of Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) foraging in the wetlands of Blackie Spit as the tide came back in. I am not sure exactly what the tasty morsels they were finding were, but they did seem to find quite a bit to eat as they waded back and forth in the shallow water. They certainly don’t sit still and pose for a photograph!

short-eared owl asio flammeus flying at boundary bay

Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) flying at Boundary Bay Regional Park (Purchase)

Another species I’ve been trying to photograph for a while along Boundary Bay are the Short-eared Owls (Asio flammeus) which can often be found hunting in the grass between the dykes and the intertidal zone. They often follow the same looping hunting flight routes, and you can anticipate where they are going to be next. Chasing them up and down the dyke, as I’ve seen birding groups do, is something I’ll charitably label as “counterproductive”. Occasionally you will see them dive down into the grass and then fly away (a miss), but sometimes they disappear and you don’t see them again for a while (meal time).

This Short-eared Owl perched in a tree next to Boundary Bay after a few failed hunting attempts. Soon after it seemed to have a bit of a territorial spat with a passing Northern Harrier. The Harrier moved on and this owl seemed to have a successful hunt on its next lap of the area. While there are not many trees in this kind of habitat along Boundary Bay Regional Park, the scattered tree trunks and driftwood, along with the grass and shrubs in this photo are pretty typical of the habitat here.

short-eared owl Asio flammeus perched at boundary bay

Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) Perched in a Tree at Boundary Bay (Purchase)

A few areas along the dyke trail at Boundary Bay Regional Park have thickets of the invasive species Himalayan blackberry (Rubus armeniacus). They can be problematic in many ways but small birds such as this White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) can use it for cover, and many eat (and unfortunately distribute) the berries in the summer. This White-crowned Sparrow was with a flock of around 10-20 individuals, but they were quite active at that moment and group photos were a bit chaotic. They aren’t quite as exuberant and curious as Chickadees, but were not apparently bothered by my presence along the trail.

white-crowned sparrow at boundary bay regional park

White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) at Boundary Bay (Purchase)

You can view more of my animal and bird photography in theAnimals and Wildlife Gallery.

Godwin Farm Biodiversity Preserve in Surrey

Evening reflections on the pond at Godwin Farm Biodiversity Preserve in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada

pond at godwin farm biodiversity preserve

The pond at Godwin Farm Biodiversity Preserve (Purchase)

A few weeks ago I visited the Godwin Farm Biodiversity Preserve in Surrey for the first time. I didn’t know what to expect from this spot at all – only knowing that this was a farm the owners gifted to the City of Surrey for a park, there was a pond, and I’d seen a photograph of a row of Redwood trees. I drove out there on a weekday evening, expecting to the park to be busier than it was as it is right next to a large number of houses. There were few people there, but many seemed to be walking in from the neighborhood, not driving to the parking lot. It was nice to be in this serene spot with relatively few people.

The park was given to Surrey by the Godwin Family in 2015 through the Federal Eco-gifting program. Tom and Elaine Godwin purchased the land in 1969 and at one time it was a 120 acre farming operation. Tom Godwin planted a wide variety of tree species on the property, and dug the pond in 1975. Many of the tree species are labelled, and there are information signs indicating the history of various parts of the farm.

cedar waxwing at godwin farm

Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) at Godwin Farm (Purchase)

The park is 26 acres, so walking all the trails available is not a difficult task. The trails meander through old farm fields, and orchard, around the pond, and through groves of trees. When I was there many bird species were nearby, including these Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) that flew back and forth across the pond. At one point they clustered around a Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) who seemed a bit bothered as it was probably trying to fish in peace. I’d attempted to photograph Cedar Waxwings recently at Elgin Heritage Park, but they never landed close enough for a decent photograph. This flock were greater in number (probably about 10-15 individuals) and seemed a bit curious about me. I was fortunate to get these two photographs. While they came by quite often and perched near me, they never really sat still for all that long, so photo opportunities were frequent, but rather brief.

cedar waxwing bombycilla cedrorum at godwin farm

Adult Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) (Purchase)

For me, the pond was the most interesting part of the park, though all of it is worth walking through. There were obviously some species of small fish in the pond, as the Kingfishers kept catching them. The shore also had some small frogs, and one of the signs indicates there are turtles there as well. I photographed this Narrow-leaved Bur Reed (Sparganium angustifolium) plant along the shoreline with its interesting flowers. This was not a species I’d noticed before in the other ponds I’ve been around, though this species is native to British Columbia.

bur reed flowers at godwin farm biodiversity preserve

Bur Reed flowers in the Godwin Farm pond (Purchase)

For more of my photographs from the area visit my City of Surrey Gallery.

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)

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   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)

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   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)

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   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.

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)

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   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)

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   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.

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.