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Friday, January 31, 2014

Eurasian Wigeon

I've pictured American Wigeons here here recently and occasionally they are accompanied by Eurasian Wigeons normally resident in Asia or Europe. Above is a Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)recently encountered at Esquimalt Lagoon. He was swimming around with a large number of his American cousins who are pictured to the right for comparison.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Trial Island Lighthouse

When I lifted my eyes up from looking at the Mergansers pictured yesterday I could see the Trial Island Lighthouse. The fog we experienced last week is clearly visible here as an offshore bank obscuring the mountains of the Olympic Peninsula.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Red-breasted Mergansers

Above is a photo of a Red-breasted Merganser couple, the only one I've seen this year. As usual with ducks the male is the brightly patterned one. While I have not seen Red-breasted Mergansers earlier this year, there have been many Common Mergansers here and I've posted photos of them before. For comparison, a pair of males and a single female Common Merganser are pictured to the left. All of these birds were swimming around offshore from Clover Point on Sunday.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sunny Sunday

Fern captured some nice foggy shots over the weekend but we've had some sunny days too and surprisingly warm (temperatures around 8-10 degrees C). Victorians like to get out and walk around when it's like this and Sunday at Clover Point was no exception. Above are some fathers and sons flying kites. Clover Point is a favorite spot for this since it almost always has a bit of wind.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Enjoying the View

My walking partners enjoyed the walk on the breakwater as much as I did. - Fern Long

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Ogden Point

With a kind of backwards logic I thought it would be interesting to go for a walk last night on the breakwater while it was so foggy. Guess what? We couldn't see much really. The water was absolutely calm and these tugs looked quite cozy tied up for the night. All the same it was lovely to be out surrounded by the sound of the foghorns and the distinctly metallic tang of the fog. - Fern

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Trumpeter Swan

A beautiful warm, sunny day yesterday so I decided to go out to Esquimalt Lagoon again. I was lucky to find the resident Trumpeter Swan on the shore preening himself (or herself). That's the Trumpeter pictured above. To the left I've posted the photo of the Mute Swan I published a few days ago so that you can see the most distinguishing physical difference - the shape and color of the beak. They're both beautiful birds but unlike the Mute Swan the Trumpeter is a native North American bird. It is also slightly larger than the Mute Swan, a European species. In fact, the Trumpeter Swan is the "largest extant waterfowl on earth" according to Wikipedia.

Friday, January 24, 2014


Driving anywhere within a few blocks of the Johnson Street Bridge for the last few months you will likely be flagged through slowly because of the construction related to the new bridge. Lower Johnson and Pandora and the intersection with Wharf and Store streets are constantly being dug up in different ways. Of course this is one of the oldest parts of Victoria and has always been the busiest area so there are no doubt all sorts of gas and electricity lines underground that must be re-routed. The same kind of work is being done on the Vic West side of the bridge. And since the bridge approaches will be re-configured because the rail link is no longer used, there will be lots more obstruction/construction before the project is complete. I'm not complaining - if we want a new bridge then this has to be done and the construction crews are certainly working to keep traffic flowing while they do the work.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Awkward Adolescent

When I first saw this duck I wasn't too sure what it was. Then I saw that distinctive long flat bill and knew it was a Northern Shoveler Duck. However, it seemed to have some of the characteristics of both the male and the female of this species so I asked for advice from a local birdwatchers website. I was correct in my identification of this bird as a Northern Shoveler; it's an adolescent male - and he certainly does have that adolescent gawkiness. The photo was taken at Rithet's Bog in Saanich.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

More Esquimalt Lagoon

When I listed the birds I saw on Monday at Esquimalt Lagoon I forgot to mention the Bald Eagles (3), the Brewer's Blackbird flock and the numerous Canada Geese. These last make good practice "birds in flight" shots since they fly fairly low and slow when they are around the lagoon.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mute Swan

I went out to Esquimalt Lagoon yesterday to see what kinds of birds are wintering there. It was really a wonderful assortment - Goldeneyes, Buffleheads, Scaup, Mallards, Pintails, American Wigeons, Common Mergansers, lots of Seagulls and a flock of pigeons - but my favorite photo of the day is of one of the Mute Swans that live in the lagoon year round. While not an indigenous bird they have naturalized themselves many generations ago and are a pleasure to see.

Monday, January 20, 2014

And Another One

I thought I'd picked my absolute favorite yesterday but then, on second thought I really like this one too. - Fern

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Fleming Beach Just After Sunset

Benjamin posted a fabulous photo of the sun just setting a couple of days ago and this is one of my favorite pics from that foray. - Fern

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Quiet Corner (in winter)

In summer this corner overlooking the causeway is full of people enjoying the Inner Harbour. The Empress Hotel is off-camera to the left, the Legislative Assembly Buildings are in distant background, the Visitor's Centre is ready to help and Government Street and its sidewalk cafes and souvenir shops are behind us. Right now it's all pretty quiet but spring is just around the corner.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Red-letter Day

A couple of days ago Fern and I went to Macaulay Point at sunset to capture the full moon rising over the city. Unfortunately the rising full moon was hidden by a low bank of cloud. Nevertheless, the sunset was dramatic enough to make the trip worthwhile. But what really made the day for me was the little dim, blurry photo to the right, taken after sunset. It's not a clear photo but it's clear enough to enable identification of a bird that is new to me. This is an adult male Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata). Despite the poor quality of the photo the distinctive head markings identify this bird clearly. When even the Surf Scoter was no longer visible I turned the camera to the skyline to capture the lighted dome of the Legislative Assembly Building towering above the houses of James Bay.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church

Here's a building whose lofty towers and turrets always give the Victoria Skyline a particular flavor. It's St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church on Douglas Street. It's a relic of Victoria's early days in the 19th century when churches were still of central social importance. Of course, more people lived downtown those days too so churches were built near what in those days were residential areas. Nowadays this church's neighbors are shops and businesses.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Black Oystercatcher (Haematopus bachmani)

Rain, rain, rain for the last three or four days, mostly that Pacific Coast specialty we call drizzle. However, it let up yesterday afternoon long enough to encourage me out for a walk along the West Bay Walkway. There I was happy to find a pair of Black Oystercatchers (Haematopus bachmani), one of which is pictured above. I suspect these birds are monogamous since they almost always seem to move around in pairs. I was particularly happy to get the photo above because I have just started a new project - collecting photos for my Birdwatchers Life List. Enthusiastic birders compile such lists where all the species they have seen are named. Of course I have seen Black Oystercatchers before this; they are quite common here. But this is the first photo I've taken of them that meets my criteria for my Life List. I still have several hundred species to go before I have even covered local birds....

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Fisgard Lighthouse

On January 2nd I posted a photo taken from Macaulay Point with the Fisgard Lighthouse just visible in the far distance. Here from nearly the same vantage point but with a much more powerful lens is a closer look at my favorite model. To the left of the lighthouse one of the gun emplacements on Fort Rodd Hill can be seen.

Monday, January 13, 2014


We had a family gathering and now that my children are all grown up its not so often I can get them together for a picture. While I may have gotten them in the same room, getting them all to behave is another thing. - Fern

Sunday, January 12, 2014


This is the kinda of thing that for me, transforms photography into something else entirely. I passed this window on my way down a flight of stairs in an apartment building and almost passed it right by without a second thought and then something about the light caught my eye. I backed up and pulled out my phone and snapped a few hurried shots not knowing if there was anything worthwhile until I got home. That's when it gets interesting. Sometimes all the post processing tools feel like cheating but then again, when the results make you smile, there's nothing disingenuous about that. - Fern

Saturday, January 11, 2014


Here's a local animal I've seen several times over the last few years but have never succeeded in capturing in a clear photograph. It's a Mink, the same animal that is used to make those fabulously expensive fur coats. Those I've seen have usually been creeping among large rocks on the shoreline as in these photos, often disappearing behind or beneath a large boulder. This one was photographed on Clover Point. I've also seen mink along the West Bay Walkway, and at Saxe Point and Esquimalt Lagoon. However usually the mink (always alone when I've seen one) was moving rapidly from one place to another. The one pictured here, for instance, was only visible for ten or 15 seconds.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Harlequin Ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus)

Sometimes it doesn't take much to make my day. While out for a dull, gray winter's day walk, amongst the seabirds poking around on the shore I spied the pair of Harlequin Ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus) visible in the center of this photo. While they are not a particularly rare or an endangered species, I haven't seen any on the West Bay Walkway since 2012 and even then they were shy and few in number. Of course they are also a very attractive duck with instantly recognizable markings and colors. The trio on the right are Hooded Mergansers and a Black Oystercatcher is visible on the left.

Thursday, January 9, 2014


I am often thankful that I have spent most of my life in locations that did not experience extreme natural disasters or weather. Victoria is no exception (imagine the sound of me knocking wood here). While the rest of the continent/planet seems to be plunged into blizzards, tornadoes, droughts, floods, tidal waves and earthquakes, Victoria remains pretty much the same as usual - weather that generally ranges from mildly uncomfortable to fairly pleasant. And, although the volcano pictured above (Mount Baker) seems to be looming over the city rather ominously, it's actually about 80 kilometers (50 miles distant). It looks closer through the 400mm telephoto lens I was using a few days ago when I took this photo from the summit of Highrock Park in Vic West.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Belmont Building

Before Christmas I posted a photo of the Belmont Building from the corner of Government and Humboldt Streets. Above is another photo of this historic building taken from the corner of Humboldt and Gordon Streets. This building was originally constructed to serve as a hotel butnever opened as such due to an economic slump. It opened later as an office building. Below is another photo (from 2011) of the Government/Humboldt Street corner with a line-drawing treatment I like. The Belmont Building has some interesting features not visible in these photos that we will look at later in the week.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)

Just as I was packing up to leave Fleming Beach last week I spotted this duck near the boat ramp and snapped this quick shot (above). This is a female Common Goldeneye. I don't see them very often and this is the first I've seen this year. They are so different from the male of the species that I always think I've come across a duck new to me. Below is a photo of a Common Goldeneye drake (from last spring) so you can see how much the genders differ.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Jack Frost Nipping At Your Fronds

Here is another example of the interesting things one can find in the backyard with a some poking around and a little help from the weather. - Fern

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Winter Light

While we haven't had any more snow, there has been some crisp mornings with the soft light hitting the lacy tendrils of frost just right. - Fern

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Bottoms Up!

The title of this post would probably have been more appropriate for New Year's Eve but this is also a typical view when dabbling ducks are nearby. This is of course how they feed, tipping themselves like this and scrabbling around on the bottom for insects, small fish and crustaceans. While I almost always post an annual photo of our most common dabbling ducks, the Mallards, I often ignore the American Wigeons pictured here. They are almost as common as the Mallards and spend the winters here quite contentedly. In the photos below the male is on the left and the female is on the right.

Friday, January 3, 2014


Earlier this week I was down at Clover Point and was able to photograph this nice group of shorebirds, two Black Turnstones and three Black Oystercatchers as well as the ubiquitous seagull.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Looking Westward

Yesterday's photo was taken from Macaulay Point looking east towards the city. Today's photo is also taken from Macaulay Point but looking west towards Esquimalt Lagoon and Metchosin. In the foreground you can see the Fleming Beach Breakwater. A bit beyond that the red and white Canadian flag identifies Saxe Point. Beyond that and to the left you can see the Fisgard Lighthouse, also red and white.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


We'll start off the new year with a photo from a few days ago of the Victoria skyline seen from Macaulay Point, just west of the entrance to the Inner Harbour. The rocky area in the left foreground is Work Point. The two red and white ships are Canadian Coast Guard ships moored at the Coast Guard wharf. The tallest building near the center of the photo is the Sussex Building and below it can be seen the red brick towers of St. Andrew's Church, both on Douglas Street. If you click on the photo you can see a much larger version (3,000 pixels wide).