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Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Rain today a bit of a shock after last week's long string of sunny days. Oh well, it'll bring mushroom season along that much quicker.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Bon Voyage!

Here goes the MV Coho on it's last trip across to Port Angeles. - Fern

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Jam Cafe

This is one of Victoria's favorite breakfast/lunch places and on a visit there this weekend we were seriously in heaven with the delicious fare. Located on Herald Street, just off of Government, there is often a line-up but it's worth the wait. - Fern

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Johnson Street Bridge Update

Here's what the bottom of Esquimalt Road looks like now. The new blacktop (that curvy bit in roughly the centre of the photo) looks like it will serve as the on-ramp to the old blue bridge. There used to be a bit of a hill there that is now a gentle rise. The new bridge is being constructed out of sight to the left of the old bridge and when completed this new bit of road will just be straightened out to lead onto the new bridge. It looks good and definitely clears up a lot of the bad sight-lines that have been traditional at that intersection where it curves around under the railroad overpass. As for the new bridge itself - it appears that due to some engineering problem it has been postponed once again for another six months - now scheduled for completion a few years from now.

Friday, September 26, 2014

From Songhees Point 4

Here's a last photo from Songhees Point earlier this week. I can't resist the rain-washed air and late afternoon sun combination. Here we are looking directly across the harbour to the Royal BC Museum, the Legislative Assembly Buildings and the Robert Bateman Centre. The little Harbour Taxi in the foreground will continue to operate until mid-October and then will close down until next May.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

From Songhees Point 3

On the rocky promontory that comprises Songhees Point itself are a couple of totem poles, a kind of art created by the First Nations on the Northwest Coast of North America. Often these poles are painted with bright colours but I like that much of these two poles is simply the naturally aged wood.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

From Songhees Point 2

Here's the view from Songhees Point looking a little more south than yesterday, towards the Inner Harbour.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

From Songhees Point

Songhees Point is a great place to take photos from, especially in the late afternoon when the setting sun lights all the colourful buildings of the Victoria's old town. The above photo was taken yesterday from the small park adjacent to the Delta Ocean Pointe Resort.

Monday, September 22, 2014


This is a kind of weather we see often. Here we are looking at the Coho, a car ferry, as it exits the Inner Harbour on one of its trips to Port Angeles, hidden beneath that cloud bank on the horizon. Poking up above the clouds are the peaks of the Olympic Peninsula. I'm happy to say that this kind of weather usually stays over there on the other side of the strait. Victoria is relatively flat and it seems these low level clouds either stay on the US side or blow over us to Vancouver where the mountains bring them up short again. That's my personal theory for why Victoria gets so many more hours of sunshine every year than its neighbours. Anyway, this kind of low cloud is called an inversion because it is the opposite (the inverse) of what we normally see - clouds up in the sky and clear air near the ground. On the left of this photo you can see the Ogden Point Breakwater.

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Here's a classic late summer image snapped yesterday on my way home from my walk along the seafront. This Sunflower (Helianthus) reminded me that autumn doesn't actually begin until the equinox on the 23rd September (next Tuesday). Then summer will officially be over. Our summer this year has been exceptionally nice. It seemed a little warmer than usual. I hope yours, in whatever part of the world you live, has been as pleasant.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Sumtember 3

After strolling through the summery September sunshine in Bastion Square many people opted for a walk down Government Street.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Sumtember 2

Here's few more of Bastion Square in our Summer in September series. Heritage buildings, sunshine, sidewalk cafes, sunshine, flower baskets, sunshine, public art and music and sunshine; what more could anyone want?

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Just when I'd begun psychologically to prepare myself for winter, along came a week of weather as good as any we had during mid-summer. Temperatures in the mid-twenties gave everyone's shorts and t-shirts another week's wear. Above, Bastion Square was packed with tourists and locals checking out the arts and crafts on their way to view the chalk art on Government Street.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Captain Cook and The Empress

Well, the challenge here was to see if I could get Captain Cook and the Empress Hotel in the same shot. Captain Cook's statue is directly across the street from the hotel but it is up on quite a high pedestal, making it difficult to get both the captain and the hotel in the same shot. I quite like the sort of minimalist view above and the headless statue, but the shot below is perhaps more representative. Cook never actually stopped in Victoria though he did sail past it a few times.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

More Chalk Art

Here's a few more entries from the Victoria International Chalk Art Festival. Some entries had a clear message, such as the one above encouraging people to think about those who grow our food. Others were environmentally focused. There were also quite a few entries that represented First Nations art and culture, such as the one below depicting the three members of the Iskwew Singers who performed on the mini-stage set up at one end of the Government Street chalk art gallery.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Victoria International Chalk Art Festival

The Chalk Art Festival was held over the weekend with a couple of blocks of Government Street available for artists to use as a canvas. There were lots of different kinds of art with those above and below as examples.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Gonzales Beach

Another sure sign that September is here is that the dogs now rule the sandy shores around town. - Fern

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)

Just to round out a birdy week, above is a photo of a Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) that I took a few days ago at Swan Lake. The stripes on its head indicate that it is a juvenile. I saw an adult of the species in breeding plumage at Swan Lake in April. To the right is a photo I took at that time. I suspect that young bird above is an offspring of last mating season. Below is an adult Pied-billed Grebe in non-breeding plumage, photo taken a few days ago at Swan Lake. Here we have the same species but in three different plumages depending on the time of year and the age of the bird.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Three's Company

Out at Swan Lake yesterday I enjoyed this trio catching some rays.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Bird Tree

A couple of days ago I mentioned that I had found a good place for watching/photographing birds, a large tree in the middle of a field. When I went back to photograph the tree I realized it is actually two trees growing close together. Anyway, here is what I was talking about. There's enough leaves to make it interesting but plenty of bare dead branches for perching. These bare branches are really valuable since one of the problems one faces when photographing birds is that there is almost always a branch or some leaves between the photographer and the bird. The photo of the little Savannah Sparrow to the left nicely illustrates the nice clear shots that are available. And while aesthetically such branch and sky shots are a little barren, they are very useful when attempting to identify a specific bird. At the right in the top photo you can glimpse the Victoria city skyline on the horizon. Below are some Brown-headed Cowbirds in this tree last April.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Snug In A Bed of Queen Anne's Lace

Well, as usual summer seems to be ending when it's hardly begun but the signs are inescapable. Here's two in a cozy arrangement. Like many flowering plants the Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota) pictured above is going to seed now. I enjoy the look of these clusters of tiny, spiny seeds and while photographing them I came across this one with a grasshopper nestling inside. There are about 11,000 species of grasshopper so I am not going to attempt to identify this one.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)

Today's photo is a species new to me though it's not an uncommon bird. It's an American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) photographed on Saturday on the northern shore Esquimalt Lagoon. This has become one of my favourite spots to look for birds. It's on the grounds of a condo development that got stalled. The development sits right on the edge of the lagoon bird sanctuary and includes large areas of blackberry bramble patches and an ancient orchard. What appeals most to me however is a very large partially dead tree standing solitary in a field of swamp grass and thistles. I've noticed that this tree is a favourite resting place and staging platform for many different kinds of birds that pass by on foraging expeditions. I've seen species such as Brown Headed Cowbirds in this tree that I've not seen anywhere else. So now what I do is set up my tripod and camera fairly close to this tree and wait. Voila! Before too long a bunch of these American Goldfinches arrived and perched in the tree while preening and resting. Then they began to make short trips foraging in the thistles and eating thistle seed before returning to rest and digest in the tree. Several other species of birds came by but the day's highlight were the American Goldfinches.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Morning on the 'Hat

There are a few spots to pull over when you are driving north up the Malahat and this is the view from the first one looking across the Saanich Inlet to the Peninsula and the Gulf Islands beyond. Spectacular! - Fern

Sunday, September 7, 2014


Here's another of my 'famous' pictures of nothing. Yet it's very satisfying somehow. - Fern

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Some Ducks

Ah, for the days when I imagined that bird identification was simply a matter of checking off significant features. What I am discovering as I plunge a little more deeply into actually trying to identify birds is that they wear different costumes at different times of the year as well as at different times during their lives. So any given species may have a a half dozen different costumes depending on its gender, age and whether it is breeding season or not. Thus I can tell you that the duck on the left above is a Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) because of its very distinctive large flat bill. But I don't know its age or gender for sure. The yellow eye makes me think it's a male but the orange-ish bill makes me think it's a female. And though I've checked with several reputable field guides I can't really tell for sure whether it is a juvenile or an adult in non-breeding season plumage. In breeding season the male's distinctive plumage makes gender id easy and there don't appear to be any juveniles around at that time of year.

On the right above is a Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) but once again, for similar reasons, I am unable to be sure whether it is a male or female or a juvenile of either gender. Thanks to the internet I can check these identifications with more knowledgeable people on a local birding forum. I'll let you know what I find out.

Both of these ducks were photographed a few days ago at Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary on the outskirts of Victoria in Saanich.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Blacktail Buck (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus)

In yesterday's post I promised we would look at ducks today but I had such a wonderful meeting with some young Blacktail bucks out at Esquimalt Lagoon yesterday I have postponed the duck post until tomorrow. I was in a deserted old orchard on the backside of the lagoon happily snapping away at either a Hairy or a Downy Woodpecker. (I haven't figured out which yet.) As usual when I am focused on photographing a bird I am pretty much unaware of anything else. So when I looked up from the camera viewfinder I was surprised to see this young buck strolling past. I just stood there and he took a good look at me then went on with his browsing, apparently deciding I wasn't a threat. A few minutes later another young buck joined him and they both nibbled the nearby greenery for about twenty minutes. These small deer are becoming so numerous around here and in some parts of the city that some people consider them pests. But whenever I see them like this I always feel like I've been given something.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Natural Framing

I've always liked the feeling of photos where the scene is framed by something within the photo itself. Here some branches arching over the path nicely frame the wooden floating walkway that crosses one end of Swan Lake. A number of unusual birds have been reported at Swan Lake recently but when they heard I was coming to see them they all took the day off. Only my good friends the duck family showed up so we'll have a look at some ducks tomorrow. Swan Lake, oddly enough, doesn't have any swans although there are lots of swans in lagoons along the coast near Victoria.
On top of the page today is a new header graphic. Hope you like it.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

New Header

If the above photo looks familiar it is because it is the photo I processed to make the header photo for this blog. It's been up there now for almost exactly three years and someone recently suggested it was time for a change. The main building pictured is now the Robert Bateman Centre but when the photo was taken the bulding had been vacant for about a year and was in the process of being transformed into its present functions. I haven't decided what to use as a new header graphic so any suggestions are welcome.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Victoria Classic Boat Festival

Victoria's Inner Harbour hosts two boat shows each year, one in the spring - the Floating Boat Show, mostly up-market boats - and the Labour Day Weekend is a boat show for those who love wooden boats of all kinds, particularly power boats such as Classic Chris Craft. The latter is the Victoria Classic Boat Festival. The photo above was taken on Friday as the boats were assembling in the Inner Harbour. There's more teak in the harbour on this weekend than an acre of Thai forest and it's all beautifully waxed and shined.

Monday, September 1, 2014

McNeill Bay

You would think that it is endless sunshine in Victoria if you only had Victoria Daily Photo to go by wouldn't you? But no, here is lovely McNeill Bay in Oak Bay on a recent rainy day. - Fern