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Friday, February 26, 2016

Year List and Flower Macros

I figured I'd post a quick update on the year list, since I've added a few species since the black turnstone at #80 in Tofino a couple weeks ago. The next additions came at Beacon Hill Park in Victoria, where the Eurasian wigeon (81) that I added to last year's list in the fall was still hanging out. I was also surprised to find an American black duck (82) hanging out with all the mallards. They're considered rare here, but there has been a small population on Vancouver Island that they think is declining.

American black duck next to female mallard

Next stop was over at the Cowichan Bay estuary, which has quickly become one of my favorite places to bird and take photos. While there have still been some trumpeter swans hanging out there, they've been joined by some mute swans (83), another species we don't see much on the west coast in the States but that has established a population on Vancouver Island. In the distance I also picked out a northern shrike (84).

Sunset over Cowichan Bay estuary

One species I was surprised I was still missing was the northern shoveler (85) which I found on the local sewage lagoons. A nearby park also helped me pick up a herring gull (86), Brewer's blackbird (87), and ruddy duck (88), and while there I also got some great photo opportunities of some other local water birds.

Hooded merganser
American coot

It's definitely an early spring, and with lots of flowers already blooming I've been out taking macro photos with the new RicohGR. While out in the yard and neighborhood I spotted a Hutton's vireo (89), my most recent addition to the year list.

Crocus in the yard

Underside of a mushroom on a fence

Unique colored crocuses

Glory of the snow emerging from last year's oak leaves

Next up, time to shift gear's a bit, and I think I'll share some of my favorite photos from my recent efforts at trying out street photography!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Salt Spring Island

Another place I very much looked forward to visiting while over on Vancouver Island was Salt Spring Island. While the weather didn't quite cooperate as much as it did for the visit to Tofino the weekend before, we still decided to make the short trip over to Salt Spring for the day to go hiking in the rain. First up was catching the little ferry from Crofton to Vesuvius.

Crofton Harbor
Ferry crossing
Abstract look at cars on the ferry
On the way to our hike at Ruckle Provincial Park we had to pull over to check out the turkeys at Ruckle Heritage Farm. I had no idea they would come right over and check me out! It led to some awesome photographic opportunities.

You may have noticed I was busy playing with my new Ricoh GR camera. It's great for street and macro photography, and was also handy on this day because it A) fit in my pocket out of the rain, unlike my DSLR, and B) is great for black and white photography, which fit the mood of this gray day:

Oh yeah, what was I saying about macro?

The rain just started coming down harder throughout our hike, but I couldn't stop taking photos!

And a couple more mushroom shots for good measure:

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Tofino and Ucluelet

The skies were overcast, but the rain mostly held off during our full day exploring the Tofino area. We hiked a lot of the local trails and explored the remote beaches while bird-watching and taking photos.

Overlook along the Tonquin Trail

Long log on Long Beach

Taking wave photos on Long Beach

Couple on Long Beach

Down at the Ucluelet harbor, we saw some California sea lions fishing right off the docks.


Next we walked out to Amphitrite Lighthouse in Ucluelet, a short stubby little lighthouse:

We only saw about 15 bird species throughout the day, but one of them, the black turnstone (80), added to the year list.

As we approached one overlook we were stunned to see a male and female killer whale surface just beyond the breakers! These were my first orcas of 2016, and also the first time I've seen orcas in the open Pacific! Infuriatingly, they only surfaced that ONE TIME. We scanned for the next half hour but never saw them again. Here's what my face looked like at that point:

Teased by Ts!
Before it got dark, we did some tidepooling at Brown's Beach, where the most impressive sights were the abundant mussels and giant anemones.

The next day, Monday, was when we had to head back, but when we woke up to sunshine we decided to spend most of the day on the coast before driving home. Our first stop was Schooner's Cove.

While the crashing waves on the sandy beaches were the most different from the east side of Vancouver Island, the forest portions of the walks were equally impressive, especially with their macro opportunities. Check out the droplets on this fungus!

It was so beautiful we decided to do the lighthouse loop in Ucluelet again, with dreams of more dorsal fins in the back of our minds for sure. We didn't see any more whales, but it was still a very good decision to go back out there. The wave action was incredible, and the rugged coastline was that much more picturesque in the sun.

Crazy sea foam

There were lots of bald eagles about too, with some of them engaged in courtship-like behavior.

All in all the Tofino area was stunning, just as I expected it to be!