2020-03-08: Redpolls

For two seasons in a row, I didn’t see a single redpoll over the winter, but over the last few weeks they have been in my yard in droves, jostling for position on the feeders with the chickadees and adding little flashes of colour to the otherwise rather drab winter landscape.

I still find it a bit baffling that anything would consider my area a good place to spend the winter, but I do get that in comparison to places even further north, it’s probably a bit easier to make it through the season here.

I’m enjoying their presence while it lasts, as soon bird feeding time will be over as the bears begin to emerge.  There’s still a while to enjoy the birds as we are still pretty deep in the grip of winter, despite my best attempts to will the snow to melt with the power of my mind 🙂

Here are a few images I captured a couple of days ago, when it wasn’t -20C!

I’ll keep up my mantra, spring is coming soon!  Wishing everyone a wonderful week ahead.

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2020-01-19: Barred Owl

I spotted a barred owl hanging out in the backyard a couple of days ago while I was having lunch.  It spent a bit of time trying to hunt, and the rest trying to nap.  It was -28C, so I took the photos through my window, as it was just too cold for me to get out to take a couple of pictures.  Besides, Murphy’s Law would have kicked in, and by the time I got bundled up enough to head outside and take a few images, the owl would have flown away.

Thankfully things have warmed up a little bit here; still cold, but at least not bitterly cold.  I hope your week ahead is looking up too 🙂

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Trying to catch a few zzz’s

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Puffed up against the cold.
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Scanning for something to eat.

2019-12-22: Winter

Today marks the first full day of winter, and while I am very grateful that thus far there haven’t been too many bitterly cold days in the transition between autumn and winter, I know they are coming.  I find winter a challenging time, far more so now that I am living in the north than I used to.  It isn’t just the temperatures; it is the lack of colour and the length of time that the area is carpeted in snow.  Yes, the blue sky days, with the snow twinkling in the sunlight can be beautiful, but this morning, the dull grey skies and ice crystals hanging off the branches seemed to perfectly reflect how I feel about winter.  At once both dull and sharp, beautiful and miserable.

I don’t get out to take images that often in winter; I suffer from Reynaud’s syndrome and being out in the type of thin gloves necessary to handle a camera can be a real challenge unless the day is fairly mild.  Sometimes it is worth it regardless of the temperature, but those times are definitely the exception.

I spent a bit of time this morning wandering the yard, hoping to capture what I noticed while out walking my dog earlier this morning.  By the time I got out though, most of the ice crystals hanging from the moss in the trees had dissipated from the slight rise in temperatures, but those clinging to the evergreens and willows still remained.

Here are my early impressions of winter.

Wishing everyone a fantastic week ahead.

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2019-12-08: Random photos from walks

I always take a camera with me when I go out for walks with my dog (or on the rare occasion when I go for a walk on my own).  I haven’t taken too many images in recent months, and as such hadn’t downloaded the card in quite some time.  While out on Thursday, I saw a beautiful barred owl near my house, and while reviewing those pictures, I found a few others I had forgotten that I had taken.

This is a bit of a random assortment of images taken since July, while out and about on walks.

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I see this young buck frequently around the neighbourhood now, but this was the first time that I had spotted him while out on a walk.
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A violet-green swallow seen while out on a walk on the dikes in Pitt Meadows.
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A proof shot that there are moose in the neighbourhood, even if they are seen very infrequently.
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A barred owl spotted on my morning walk last week.
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An early morning along the Pitt River.

2019-03-03: Topic of the month – Signs of Spring

This week I have really been trying to look for signs of spring.  Honest, I have.  But waking up today, the temperature was -29C with a high of -12C for the day, and it really does feel like spring is far away.  I have noticed a few things though.  I can see about a 6″ band of shingles on the roof of my house, from the days when it has been warm enough for a bit of melt to happen.  I noticed one lone willow tree, buried in about 4 feet of snow drift at the side of the road, starting to bud (despite the cold in was enveloped in).  But mostly, I have noticed the trees.

It has been stark white for a very long time in my back yard, and over the past two weeks, between the strong winds and the the (slightly) warming days, the evergreens have shed the huge cloaks of snow from their branches.  There are still bits of snow tucked into the crook of branches here and there, but finally when I look out my windows, I see a bit of green, rather than just white.

Pictures of bare branches in my backyard seemed a bit boring, but frankly, getting all bundled up to do a photo walk this weekend also didn’t hold much appeal.  So I went out for a short time to photograph some of the birds feasting on the sunflower seeds.  Today, only the chickadees were around, though usually there is a pair of red-breasted nuthatches plus the woodpeckers that pass through.  The chickadees made a steady stream from branch to feeder and back again; I couldn’t count them all as they were constantly coming in from every direction.

As a bird lover, one of the sad parts about the temperature warming is soon the birds will have to fend for themselves, once it warms enough for there to be a threat of bears visiting the feeders.  I think we have a ways to go before that is an issue though.

Here are a few chickadees for today; fingers crossed next weekend there are more signs of spring around.

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I saw this on one of the evergreens by the bird feeders; to me, it looks like the tree is giving the cold weather the middle finger.  But that’s just my interpretation.  To some, just an odd icicle that’s grown upwards, instead of down. 
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One of the many inquisitive chickadees in the yard.  They generally do not mind me being close by, and will even come to the feeder while I am standing there trying to fill it up.
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I can’t even explain how excited I am to see green.
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This one had been picking up a fallen seed from the ground; just a little leftover snow on the beak.

2018-12-30: Backyard Birds

I must apologize for the lack of posts over the last couple of weeks.  I hadn’t intended on taking any time off the blog in the run-up to Christmas, but time just got away from me.

Christmas Day saw a very unusual visitor to the bird feeder – a Blue Jay.  To those on the east coast I’m sure that doesn’t sound very exciting; but they are considered rare in my area, and I’ve not seen one since I was a kid growing up in Ontario, so I was thrilled.  The jay was very skittish though and while I have seen it a few times over the past couple of days, they are usually blink and you’ll miss it moments.  All I have to show for it are some fuzzy shots through my office window, but at least I have proof that it was here.

We’ve had a fair bit of snow the last few days, and it’s been very busy at the feeders; chickadees and nuthatches, flickers, downy and hairy woodpeckers, gray jays and even a visit from the magpies that I generally only see a couple streets over from where I live.  The ruffed grouse has also been around quite frequently.  I’ve been battling a bug with a nasty cough so I haven’t been outside much with my camera, but I did manage to capture the magpie and the grouse.  Now that I am starting to feel better I am hoping to get out and capture more of birds in the yard, and perhaps with any luck the blue jay will make another appearance.

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2018-11-22: Barred Owl

I was busy working last week and something caught my attention outside, out the corner of my eye.  I spotted this gorgeous barred owl in a tree in my backyard, and rushed to grab my camera to take a quick photo through the window.

I decided to take a chance and dash outside and hope to get a better shot.  The owl gave me a quick glance, let me snap 3 photos, and then was off, deep into the forest.

I love when beautiful creatures like this decide to make a stop in my yard 🙂

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2018-11-18: The Night Sky

Mother Nature has certainly not been cooperating with my plans to get out and shoot at night.  While I still have images from Joshua Tree that I would like to work through, I thought I would switch it up this week and edit some old images instead.

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This image was shot at Green Lake in Whistler BC.  I was in the area for a multi-day wedding celebration, and set up my camera to take images to create a star trail while I sat around a fire drinking beer and enjoying the company of good friends.  This was done with my first DSLR camera, a Nikon D5100.  I still think I am pretty lucky that I didn’t tumble into the lake when I went to collect my tripod later in the evening 🙂
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I’ve not kept up to date with it recently, but in the past I have tried checking in with a northern lights forecasting site, and if the forecast is good and the weather clear, I’d head out and with my camera and see if I could see anything.  The lights were very faint on this night, but I think the combination of the faint purple glow and the warm tint to the clouds from highway lights in the distance looks pretty.
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The best evening I have viewed northern lights I saw a proton arc form and dissolve over about a half hour period… all from my driveway.  The milky way appears faintly above as well.
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The proton arc as it was forming.
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A beautiful combination of magenta and green.
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No northern lights in this one, just a starry sky enhanced by some whispy clouds illuminated by the rising moon.

 

2018-08-18: Smoky Skies

Like last year, Northern BC has been hit hard with wildfires.  It’s actually pretty scary looking at the wildfire maps, as it looks like most of the province is currently on fire.  Thankfully, there is currently no danger in our immediate vicinity, other than extremely poor air quality from the substantial amount of smoke that has settled in the region, and the airborne ash that lately has been coating my car every night.

Yesterday morning started out normal enough for the past few weeks, a bit smoky but nothing too terrible.  But then as the morning wore on, it got darker rather than brighter, and at 9:10am it looked like we were in the midst of some type of solar eclipse event.  I went outside to try and capture a few images; it was extremely smoky, cold like it would be in the middle of the night, and all the photo sensitive lights had come on.  It was spooky quiet as all the birds had dropped to complete silence.

By 10am the darkness had passed but it remained incredibly smoky throughout the day.

I was in the middle of work so I didn’t have the opportunity to drive anywhere more interesting to take pictures; this is a view down my driveway to the road… not that you can really even see the driveway in the image.  It was just the sky I was focused on.

This shot was taken on my Fuji camera with the 18-55 lens, shot at f2.8, ISO 2000 and 1/60 sec.  I created the merged panorama in On1 Photo Raw, and for efficiency edited it in On1 (back to the Luminar processing tomorrow).  The merged panorama was a bit of a challenge because the images were so dark.  I had to up the exposure slider on all the individual images, and then reverse that on the panorama.  My camera is basically always set to auto white balance, and I changed it in editing to daylight, and that got the sky to be true to life.

Just to give some perspective, sunrise this week is around 5:55am.

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A merged panorama of 5 images shot at 9:18am yesterday morning.  A single shot definitely captured the spookiness of the colour of the sky, but having the panorama really shows the variation in different areas of the sky.

 

All of us here are praying for the safety of all the incredibly brave people working to put these fires out, and hoping that some favourable weather will be heading their way soon.