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Thursday, June 30, 2011


I spend a lot of time photographing flowers and when I get mindful enough I look with an unprejudiced eye at local weeds and invasive species. But I have seldom paid any attention to grasses. One reason is their lack of colorful flowers. Another is that those long slender stems are so sensitive to the slightest breeze that they are very difficult to photograph. Grasses have been around for a long time - traces of them have been found in fossilized dinosaur dung. While they are generally pretty inconspicuous they are an important plant family with about 3,500 different species. Click HERE to read what Wikipedia has to say about grasses.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Victoria's Harbour is small and doesn't play host to a multitude of container ships and freighters but it is a very busy place during the daylight hours. While I don't often see simultaneously quite so many vessels as are pictured above there is a lot of traffic on and above the water.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Us and Them

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Yates Street Wetlands

On the 700 block of Yates Street, between Blanshard and Douglas, sits a vacant lot. Over the years it has slowly been returning to nature, and personally, I kinda like it. The Times Colonist reported recently however, that condos will be built soon. Here's another example of one of Victoria "wild lots." This one is between Pandora and Fisgard, and it too is slated for, you guessed it, condos. - Fern

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Friday, June 24, 2011


I'm addicted to color. It's one of the reasons I am fond of photography but it also explains why I love spring and summer so much. Then the landscape, winter-cloaked in brown and gray suddenly begins to shimmer with blues and pinks and purples against a field of vibrant green. I came across the pretty pink above while on a walk in Bear Hill Regional Park.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Shelley Vaags

Here's a musician who's returning to the Inner Harbour after a 15 year hiatus, Shelly Vaags. Both her voice and her demeanor are reminiscent of Dolly Parton and she sings country and western with the same vivacity and sincerity. I never saw her back in the day but I'm glad she has returned. Below is a brief video sample of her music.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

You Saw It Here First

Here's a photo that was first published here almost exactly a year ago. I'm proud to say it has gone on to a more widely read venue, a Canadian Geographic special edition on our national parks (above). In case you missed it first time around, below is the original.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Filmed on Location

I am pleased to introduce you to Arion rufus, commonly known as the Giant (or European) Red Slug. Though it is now common here it is an introduced species not native to this area. In the video below you may notice it appears to be dragging something from its tail. This not an accident. This is the site of its caudal mucous pit, a cunning anatomical structure that re-absorbs the slime that the slug secretes to make its passage smoother.

Monday, June 20, 2011


To tell the viewer what is "really going on" would take away the mystery wouldn't it? So you decide. -Fern

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Railroad Tracks

Until recently, Vancouver Island had train service running daily from Victoria to Courtenay. Sadly, we no longer hear the whistle blow on it's way through our neighborhood. There doesnt seem to be any good news on the web as to whether it will be restored either. On a positive note, they are beginning to build a commuter path along the line. The E&N Rail Trail Project will a wonderful addition to the city. -Fern

Saturday, June 18, 2011

"Somewhere Saturday" - West Africa

The photos above and below were taken in an African village so small it doesn't appear on any map. But its location in the Sahel region just south of the Sahara Desert is not what's important here. Though discolored by age and hard traveling, what shines through in these photos is the character and beauty of the young girls above and the grandmother below.

Somewhere Saturday? Every Saturday I post a photo I've taken somewhere NOT in Victoria.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Bald Juvenile

This is a young Bald Eagle, spotted one morning a few weeks ago perched above the West Bay Walkway. He looks like a scruffy teenager though he's not more than two or three years old since the white head and tail of the adult bird comes with maturity around four years. Though he looks quite imperturbable, he was being buzzed mercilessly by a couple of crows and finally took off in search of a quieter place to take a break.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Oak Bay Panorama

Last week after enjoying the Oak Bay Tea Party parade I rode along the beach front past the Oak Bay Marina and I had to stop when I looked out over the water and saw this panorama. I realized that it was the perfect time to try out the panorama feature of my new camera. This is the result. If you click the photo above you will be taken to the half size original which, 6400 pixels wide, is still pretty big. You may have to click it again to see it full size since it may be larger than your screen. I'm pretty pleased with this feature. It's easy to use (just pan the camera with the shutter release held down) and the stitching between frames is invisible. That perfect snowy peak in the distance is Mount Baker, an extinct volcano about 80 km east in the USA.

As visitor Paul in Powell River points out, Mount Baker is NOT an extinct volcano but is in fact the second most active volcano in this area, the most active being Mount Saint Helens. My thanks to Paul for this correction. See this entry in Wikipedia for more information about Mount Baker. If you want to see some beautiful photos of the Sunshine Coast, take a look at Paul's photoblog, A Powell River Photo Blog. I am particularly fond of his header photo of some Harlequin Ducks in flight.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

John McCallum

If you look carefully just left of center in the photo above you'll see one of my favorite Causeway Artists, singer/songwriter John McCallum. I've enjoyed John's music for years now both on the Inner Harbor Causeway and on Fisherman's Wharf where this photo was taken. As well as tuneful, his songs are thoughtful and often wryly humorous. If you get a chance to hear him, sit down and listen closely. You won't be disappointed. Below is a clip of John's version of Folsom Prison Blues. The audio doesn't do justice to John's sound, which is much better in person, but the video may give you some idea of what Fisherman's Wharf looks like from a busker's perspective.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Look Ma, No....

Sunday afternoon saw the finals of the Dirt Jump Invitational tournament featuring some of the world's best riders. These bikronauts (cycrobats?) are fantastic and have taken cycling into places we never even dreamed of when I was a kid. In the photo above that's a local boy 15 years old - I don't know his name but if any of my visitors do, please let me know. He deserves a lot of credit and though he landed hard after this stunt, he was back for more fifteen minutes later. It all took place on a barge moored in the Inner Harbour at Ship Point. An incredible event.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Outside of Victoria, in Langford is Western Speedway, a local racetrack. On Sunday mornings in the summer they hold a swap-n-shop and on a recent trip out there, just past the track I found a bit of a junkyard. There are boats, cars, bits of machinery, and some old school buses, which I love. It's always a bit sad too though, to see them all beat up. -Fern

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Shadow Play

This almost becomes abstract but not quite, which is just the way I like it. -Fern

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Somewhere Saturday - Madhya Pradesh, India

I had the privilege of living for three months in an ancient village in the center of India in the state of Madhya Pradesh. While I had some duties, most of the time I was free to wander around the countryside. One morning I came across this caravan of camels. Having been bitten young by the travel bug I have a special fondness for nomads who slowly take shape in the dusty distance and then disappear silhouetted against the sun.

My apologies for the aged quality of the photos but these prints have crossed deserts, jungles and oceans with me and have lain in forgotten closets for years. Still, it seems appropriate that, like me, they show the ravages of time.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Banana Slug (Ariolimax columbianus)

Some time ago I received a request for a photo of a slug. I don't know how common these animals are in other parts of the world but we have some very large ones here. Those pictured in this post (Pacific Banana Slugs [Ariolimax columbianus]) are one of the largest varieties in the world, reaching lengths of nearly 10 inches (25 centimeters). They also, despite their close relationship to snails, move quite rapidly - up to about 6 inches (16.5 centimeters) per minute. This plus their penchant for lurking in damp cool dark places makes them a bit of a challenge to photograph. Usually, if they're not moving they tuck those interesting looking antennae out of sight as in the photo below.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Oak Bay Tea Party

Last Sunday Fern posted a photo here of this beach (Willows Beach) at sunrise. Eight hours later this is what it looked like, crowded with spectators for the Air Show. Behind me when I took the above photo was the midway - cotton candy, hot dogs, French Fries, cold pop and ice cream and, because it's the Oak Bay Tea Party, you could also have a nice cup of tea. And after stuffing yourself with junk food, what could be more refreshing than to be thrown about at high speed on one of the many "rides" (below). My favourite ride this year was "The Zipper" because it produced the most screams per minute. Below is a video of the Zipper in action. It's not a long video but if you just want the high point there are some particularly full-throated screams at about 18 seconds.

If you missed the midway at the Oak Bay Tea Party, don't despair. There's another local celebration this weekend with a parade and midway amongst other events - Esquimalt Buccaneer Days. The parade's on Saturday at 10 am but there are events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Click HERE to find out more.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Blue Skies

Though it's been a long gray spring, it seems that summer's finally arrived.

If you watch the video below you will be humming the melody all day long. But don't worry - it's a happy tune.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Oak Bay Tea Party Parade 2011

What most of us think of as "Victoria" is actually a cluster of smaller entities that are so close together that they are indistinguishable except on paper. One of these is the city of Oak Bay. Oak Bay holds an annual celebration called the Oak Bay Tea Party, unlike its more famed namesake in Boston in that it is so named in honour of the especially tea-drinking, British nature of the city and has a Mad Hatter/Alice in Wonderland theme. It's a very much more neighbourhood style of event than the Victoria Day Parade and the marching bands are local. Below is a taste of the Lambrick Park Secondary School marching band in case you missed the parade. The Tea Party is a two day event that also includes a carnival midway, an air show and bathtub races. We'll see some more of it here later this week.

Monday, June 6, 2011


I see these Great Blue Herons catching their food almost every day and I am always impressed by how seldom they miss. When they make that stab into the water they usually come up with something wriggling. However, until recently I haven't had a camera that could capture video as well as still photos. The Sony a55 I am now using does both. If you want to watch a Great Blue Heron catching his breakfast in High Definition video, the clip below is only 20 seconds long. Often the waiting and watching is five or ten minutes of concentrated immobility.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Who Could Resist?

This morning, just before dawn we made our way to Willows Beach, cameras in hand. We got there just in time to witness the most beautiful sunrise so you'll have to forgive me for today's very cliche picture, but I couldn't resist. -Fern

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Bu Halima Enclosure "Somewhere Saturday"

This is the gate that opens into the tomb garden of Bu Halima in the same park as Humayun's Tomb. The gateway dates from the 16th century. I don't know if the gate above is that old but it looks like it. This is in New Delhi, India, from my visit there in March of this year.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Salal (Gaultheria shallon)

Like the Mallard Duck I pictured recently, here's another local beauty I often don't pay much attention to because it is so common in this area, Salal (Gaultheria shallon). Florists prize the plant for its green foliage but I have a special fondness for its clusters of small hairy flowers.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bastion Square Grand Prix

On Sunday while the yachts competing in the Swiftsure were racing towards the finish line, these racers were speeding around the streets encircling Bastion Square in the Bastion Square Grand Prix, one of a series of cycling races held last weekend.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mr. Mallard

Above is probably the most common duck in this area and a year-round resident. Consequently I often ignore them because they are so tame and ubiquitous. Nevertheless Mallard Ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) of both genders are very attractive ducks. Above is a head and shoulders portrait of a Mallard drake.