It was a cloudy, rainy and quiet Saturday morning in the lower mainland. It wasn’t a great day for photography, but I don’t consider it a waste of time to get up early to explore a location with my camera. It’s the experience of being in nature that I appreciate and I’m not disappointed if I return home without a great image. The photo below isn’t fantastic, but I do like the green and yellow colours of the sunflowers and how they naturally frame the squirrel. You often have to return to a location many times to get a great image. It takes patience.
This morning I spent some time photographing two beavers ( Castor canadensis ) in their pond. Fortunately, one of the beavers came out of the water to eat some grasses. The beaver soon realized I was no threat and instead of watching me, it could focus on more important matters, like eating and preening its fur coat. I really enjoyed taking images of this industrious and hard working creature.
My photographic eye is always drawn to bright colours, whether that be in nature or this Hallowe’en costume shop. As soon as I saw these brightly coloured wigs, I knew it would make a great photo. When I’m out in the city I try to bring along my camera because you never know when an interesting photographic subject will present itself.
Being outside in the rain taking images is an enjoyable experience if you have good rain gear. The light is soft, it’s quiet and there are very few people. I like this photo of a Pacific Great Blue Heron ( Ardea herodias fannini ) because of the dark water background and the way it was perched on the log.
I couldn’t believe when I saw not one, but three Great Horned Owls ( Bubo virginianus ) this morning. They had the most beautiful yellow eyes and I could see them staring at me through my telephoto lens. When the Great Horned Owls were around all the other birds became silent. If there was a little noise in the bushes or trees the Great Horned Owl in the photos below, immediately snapped its head around to take a closer look. Great Horned Owls will eat birds ranging in size from kinglets to Pacific Great Blue Herons and will even eat other owls. I never thought I would ever see a Great Horned Owl in the wild, but to get the opportunity to photograph one, that was truly special.
During my trip to Haida Gwaii we went ashore to explore an old logging camp. At the beginning of World War II they harvested high quality Sitka Spruce which was used to build aircraft, including the famous Mosquito bomber. There was a donkey engine, logging trucks, glass bottles and logger work boots.
At Mathers’s Creek there are pre 1900 burials of people who had lived in the village of Clue. This area of Haida Gwaii is isolated by today’s standards, I can’t imagine what it was like in the 1880’s. What would you do if you became ill, had a toothache or a broken bone? Below is a gravestone that read:
In Memory of
Sep. 21, 1887
at Clue Village Q.C.I
Her last words were
The Lord have mercy on me
And wash away my sins
There was also the gravestone in memory of:
Kitty M. Clew Q.C.I
I wonder about Annie and Kitty and how they ended up living in such a remote part of the world in the 1880’s. What are the stories of their lives? Where did they come from? How often would they receive supplies or mail from a passing ship? What was their daily life like in the village of Clue? The moss is slowly growing over the gravestones. I can only imagine what this place is like during the winter months when the area is hit by strong Pacific storms. You can see a gallery of my Haida Gwaii images here.
Yesterday I spent some time photographing this Killdeer. To me, they look very similar to the Semipalmated Plover, which is smaller and has a single breast band. Killdeer’s exhibit a clever ‘broken wing display’ in which they appear to be struggling with a broken wing while leading the predator away from their babies. Although technically they are shorebirds, they are unusual in this group because they often nest and live far from water. They are ground-nesting birds that are famous for hiding their nests right out in the open. It will use no nesting materials and rely on distraction displays to protect their offspring. Killdeer’s emit a loud cry ‘kill-dee’ or ‘kill-deear’ and ‘kill-deeah-dee-dee’. It also makes a long, trilled ‘trrrrr’ during display or when young are threatened.
P.S. I’m still sorting and processing my images from my Haida Gwaii trip…
Approximately 45 to 60 kilometres off the west coast of British Columbia are 150 islands that form the archipelago of Haida Gwaii. The climate produces lush vegetation, abundant wildlife and the area is nicknamed Canada’s Galapagos. It’s the heart of the Haida nation and they’ve lived on the islands for 13,000 years. There is more than 500 archeological sites, a few containing totem poles and longhouse remains. Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve is located in the southern islands and is accessible only by boat or seaplane. I just returned from a 10 day trip in this area exploring the dramatic landscapes, moss-covered rainforest and ancient village sites with my camera. I’m now sorting through my images and looking forward to sharing them soon on my website.
You can tell this is an adult male Tree Swallow ( Tachycineta bicolor ) because it’s blue-green above, white below, with blackish flight feathers and a thin black eye mask. I enjoy watching the Tree Swallows chasing after flying insects with acrobatic twists and turns.
On Saturday it was a beautiful sunny day with a blue sky. I hiked to the top of the third summit or peak of the Stawamus Chief. It’s a steep climb, with an elevation gain of 627 metres. The Stawamus Chief is the second largest granite monolith in the world. At the top, I enjoyed the breeze, my lunch and the company of a few chipmunks. There is wonderful views of Howe Sound, the Squamish estuary, Mount Garibaldi and Sky Pilot mountain, which many hikers mistakenly refer to as ‘one of the Lions’. It was getting late, so I started my descent. After hiking down and stepping from rock to rock and over roots for two hours my legs are still sore.