Manning Provincial Park Wildlife

A Columbian Ground Squirrel (Urocitellus columbianus) watching from a burrow at Lightning Lakes in Manning Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada.

columbian ground squirrel watching from a burrow in manning provincial park

A Columbian Ground Squirrel (Urocitellus columbianus)
in Manning Provincial Park

-click to enlarge-

   I always tend to stop at the day use area of Lightning Lake in Manning Provincial Park when driving to the Okanagan. Not only is it just off the Crowsnest Highway (map) it provides a nice view of the lake and is a good place to pause for a pit stop. The field and lake by the parking lot boat launch are home to many species including the Columbian Ground Squirrel (Urocitellus columbianus), Grey Jay (Perisoreus canadensis), Barrow’s Goldeneye (Bucephala islandica), Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus) and the occasional Common Loon (Gavia immer). I am sure there are a number of other species around, but these are the ones I’ve seen myself. So far.

a pair of barrows goldeneye swimming in lightning lake in manning provincial park

Barrow’s Goldeneye Pair
(Bucephala islandica)

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   In a post last year I shared a few of my photographs of the Columbian Ground Squirrels. Though all the ice was off the lake last week and the grass in the field was greening up quite well, their behaviour was no different this time around. I had thought that with more plentiful natural food sources they would be a bit less audacious in their approach to my backpack and other equipment, but they were just as bold. I put my backpack down and it wasn’t too many minutes before two of them had clambered up onto it. I was thinking of photographing this but chewing had started, and I chose the bag over a photo opportunity.

   Near the shore of Lightning Lake there were a pair of Barrow’s Goldeneye swimming and diving for food. Not nearly as tame as the Ground Squirrels, I had to sit and wait for them to swim back past me in order to make this photograph. This also makes photographs of them more satisfying than those of the “tame” Ground Squirrels. The female Goldeneye kept diving while the male watched me so it was a bit tough to get a good photo of the both of them on the surface at the same time. They were certainly more interesting than the ubiquitous Mallard ducks I see around Vancouver.

a common loon swimming in lightning lake in manning provincial park

Common Loon (Gavia immer)

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   Many years ago I camped with my parents at the Lightning Lakes Campground and heard the Loons on the lake but never saw one. This Common Loon was swimming past the shore just beyond the Goldeneyes and was the first one I’d ever seen. Much more wary of me than the Goldeneye pair, however, and chose to return to the other end of the lake via the opposite shore.

Canon 7D vs. 30D + Spring Macros

canon 7d canon ef-s 17-55mm f 2.8 is usm
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   I realize I may be a bit late to the party obtaining a Canon 7D – but I wanted to pass along my first impressions regardless. A few weeks ago I upgraded my DSLR from a Canon 30D to the newer 7D. The difference between the two is quite noticeable even in the first few hundred exposures I have tested it with. Better dynamic range with the 7D, larger number of frames per second. Live view, bigger, better LCD, 18 vs 8 megapixels etc.

red huckleberry - vaccinium parvifolium - leaf buds
Red Huckleberry (Vaccinium parvifolium)
Click to enlarge…

   A year or so ago I had to make a decision. Do I go for the EF-S type lenses and be somewhat more tied to a APS-C sensor camera like the xxD series and 7D lines or stick with EF lenses only? I wanted a wide angle zoom, and that seemed to be a choice between the EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM or the 17-40mm f/4 L. Both are great lenses, but I went for the 17-55mm over the 17-40mm – somewhat committing me to the crop sensor fork in the road. The other benefit to the crop sensor camera is that it would give me more reach with the telephoto lenses (the 70-200 for example) without having to pay the price for a long lens (like the 300mm L). Those two reasons are why this is not a discussion comparing the 30D to a 5D Mark II.

coltsfoot - tussilago farfara
Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara)
Click to enlarge…

   The weather here has been pretty bad, even for spring in Southwestern British Columbia – lots of rain and still cold – the “spring” monsoon. Consequently – only a few of the early to rise plants have starting budding out their leaves, and only the really early flowers are out. So I have not gone on many trips yet to photograph spring, but instead ventured into the backyard with my macro lens (Canon 100mm f/2.8) on the 7D. The world suddenly becomes a whole lot larger with a macro lens.

   What I have appreciated the most so far about shooting macro with the 7D is the opportunities the live view gives me. The 30D does not have live view, and I didn’t think it would be as useful as it is. To be able to zoom in using the screen and focus on a specific aspect of the shot is very valuable. I suspect that is more valuable to a macro photo but it will no doubt become handy with some landscapes as well. The ability to actually consider raising the ISO beyond 400 for a shot that requires a faster shutter speed without introducing a lot of noise has also been very nice. With the 7D I don’t have to be too afraid of going well over 400 ISO, though I try to stick with 100 for a non-moving subject.

weeping european larch - larix decidua - needle cluster
Weeping European Larch (Larix decidua)
Click to enlarge…

   Another plus to the 7D is the actual LCD on the back. The image of the shot I just took seems much more representative of the actual file compared to the 30D view screen. I think the only downside I can see to the 7D, and its NOT really a downside is the size of the resulting files. I have been used to 8 megapixel images which were somewhere between 6 and 9 megabytes each – and the 7D is an 18 megapixel camera with 22-24 megabyte files. This will force me to be a bit more discerning on which images to keep. Though storage is cheap, its not unlimited at the moment, so I will likely cull more than I used to. I’ll be careful to keep those “maybe” images as I never know how I will feel about an image tomorrow – or next year even. The increased file size has also made both of my 2gig CF cards seem rather small since they will only hold about 70 images each now. I do have 4 gig and 8 gig cards as well, but it might be time to finally get a 16 just so I do not run out of space.

   So I have nothing but good things to say – and am happy that I finally upgraded. Soon I will have some landscape shots of some manner to show here for further consideration. I think the monsoon might end early next week…