Category Archives: British Columbia

A Mysterious Language

On the west coast of Vancouver Island I was walking on the beach early one morning, keeping an eye out for bears and wolves, when I noticed a large number of strange markings in the sand. There were thick lines, spirals, curves and even circles. The Purple Olive Snail (Olivella biplicata) are beautiful little creatures that create these markings. Close to the dynamic edge of the ocean they plow through the sand looking for animal and plant matter to eat. Males find females for mating by following their tracks.

Looking at their tracks reminded me of the movie Arrival where a linguistics professor and her team tries to find a way to communicate with extraterrestrial visitors who use a written language consisting of complicated circular symbols. The Purple Olive Snails may have been just looking for food to eat or perhaps they were trying to tell me something…

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The Mink (Mustela vison)

The daily rhythm of coastal minks depends on the tide cycle. I was photographing this mink while it was exploring the intertidal zone during a low tide. It was very shy, elusive and I had to stand very still while it became comfortable with my presence. This small mammal never stops moving which made it difficult to capture a good photograph. The mink was foraging in a bay where there was lots of boulders, rocky crevices, and marine plants, which provides cover for prey. The coastal mink eats shellfish ( mainly crabs ) and small fish. After the mink disappeared into the trees, I felt fortunate that I was able to spend some time with this solitary and efficient hunter.

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Happy Canada Day

It’s July 1st today and this year is Canada’s 151st birthday. It’s also a time to celebrate living in a peaceful nation that is at peace with many countries. Canada has nice cities that lead the world in quality of life. An abundance of clean water, universal healthcare and universities that are world renowned for quality education. Click on the image to see a larger version.

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Feathers

The Pacific Great Blue Heron is a patient hunter who often stands perfectly still for several minutes. This morning there was cloudy weather and scientific studies have shown that the clouds make it ideal for herons to look for fish. I watched this heron catching a few sculpin, which it swallowed, even though they were wider than its narrow neck. I like this photo because it shows its beautiful feathers. Click on the image to see a larger version.

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Common Yellowthroat

The Common Yellowthroat ( Geothlypis trichas ) is a wood-warbler that lives in marshy or brushy vegetation near water. The bird in the photos is a male, with a bright yellow throat and broad black mask which crosses the forehead. They eat grasshoppers, dragonflies, beetles, butterflies, spiders and sometimes seeds. I sat listening to its beautiful song that sounds like whichity-whichity-whichity.

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American Bittern

The American Bittern ( Botaurus lentiginosus ) is a medium sized marsh bird with a stout body, neck and relatively short legs. What is really neat about bitterns is that they won’t flush like herons when approached, instead they prefer to freeze and even sway from side to side as if imitating the waving reeds. They have a remarkable, though rarely seen courtship display, where the male arches his back, shortens his neck, dips his breast forward and ‘booms’ at the female. Both birds engage in complicated aerial displays. Click on the image to see a larger version.

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Spring

I enjoy being outside early in the morning. Often there is no wind, little traffic, sweet light and I usually have a wonderful start to the day, while most of the city is still sleeping…

I captured this image of a Pacific Great Blue Heron foraging and feeding in a marsh. Click on the photo to see a larger version.

It’s Spring and many Canada Geese have new goslings. In ten weeks, this ball of fluff will become a full grown Canada Goose. This little gosling was busy exploring and eating grass while its parents kept one eye on it and the other eye on the guy with the camera. The gosling had proportionally large legs and feet. It reminded me of a cute and tiny little dinosaur. Click on the image to see a larger version.

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A Pacific Rainforest

We get a lot of rain in the Spring on the west coast of Canada. It creates this lush green forest. Click on the image to see a larger version.

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Stay Out Of My Territory

The Red-winged blackbird is best known for the males’ distinctive red shoulder patches called epaulettes. It is believed to be one of the most numerous land birds in North America. The male will aggressively defend its territory during breeding season against intruders. This particular bird was a little annoyed by me and my camera. Click on the image to see a larger version.

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Red-Winged Blackbird

It is Spring and the displaying male Red-Winged Blackbirds ( Agelaius phoeniceus ) are trying everything to get noticed. Like the bird in this photo they spread their wings and puff out their orange and yellow shoulder patches while singing and calling. The conk-la-ree is a classic sound in a wetlands area.

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