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 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
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.
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.
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.
It’s been a great week for bird watching and wildlife, though I don’t have a ton of images to show for it. As I expected, the hummingbirds are slowing down dramatically, with only around a half dozen birds remaining, but the purple finches, nuthatches, chickadees and pine siskins remain in force, clearing out two seed feeders every couple of days. I had a pair of western tanagers through the yard on Thursday, but sadly they flitted through so quickly I couldn’t get any images. I’ve only had three very brief sightings of the tanagers this year.
After the sadness of finding the destroyed robin’s nest the previous week, I was a bit surprised to find a robin (I assume the same mama, but perhaps a different one) building a nest feet from where the previous one was destroyed. Fingers crossed she is more successful this time and the cats stay away.
The star of the week though was the bear cub that visited the yard Thursday around lunchtime. It was on it’s own, and frankly seemed a bit small to be away from its mama, but I never caught sight of any other cubs around or the mom. He was in the grass near some of my potted plants, making for some nice images out of my dining room window.