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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Early Blossoms

On the right side of yesterday's snowy photo you can see the branches of a small tree. If you look very carefully you can see they are bursting with tiny pinkish flowers. Despite the continued cold weather there are lots of other blossoms beginning to appear. Here are some that were braving yesterday's brisk winds along the West Bay Walkway.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


...back in Victoria, to celebrate Fern's return from sunny Mexico as well as her birthday, we arranged a truly Canadian welcome home snowstorm for her. To enjoy this spectacle to the fullest, her uncle took the whole family the one of Victoria's favorite Sunday Brunch venues, the Oak Bay Marina Restaurant. It's a magnificent all-you-can-eat buffet - Eggs Benedict, croissants, shrimps, beef and a cornucopia of other good things to eat (click HERE to see the Sunday Brunch menu). Even a vegan like myself went back to the buffet twice and had to loosen my belt. The snowstorm only lasted about 15 minutes and was little more than a pretty reminder than winter is not over yet

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mexico Monday

Forgive me folks for another day of Mexico but I am still adjusting to being back and haven't gotten out to take any photos. These I picked for their beautiful warm colors which we are all in need of at this time of year I think.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Somewhere Sunday

My family and I escaped the wet pacific northwest for two lovely weeks in Mexico and these are a few of the 1000+ pictures I took. I challenged myself to try to capture some candid portraits and there was no lack of interesting people doing interesting things including these here. They were participants in a local parade celebrating 'Sayulita Days' which included a fair and other festivities. - Fern

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Staples Building

To continue with our look at Victoria's downtown, here is one of our skyscrapers, the Staples Building. It's on Fort Street opposite Russell Books less than a half block distant from the intersection of Fort and Douglas Streets.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Chestnut-backed Chickadee (Poecile rufescens)

This handsome little fellow is a Chestnut-backed Chickadee. They are not the easiest bird to photograph since they flit around a lot moving from branch to branch in search of the insects they eat. They also spend a lot of time upside down and jerk themselves about as they scan crevices in the bark. So, I have a great collection of photos of branches where one of them perched a few seconds ago, or a blur with some chestnut patches in it.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Russell Books

Despite my conviction that the golden age of books is past I am happy that Victoria has some good book stores. The three biggest and most impressive are Munro's, Chapters, and Russell Books, pictured above. All three are located downtown. Munro's sells only new books but has an immense selection and is probably the most beautiful book store in Canada. Chapters, one of a Canada-wide franchise, is also huge and sells gifts and toys as well as books. Russell Books is featured here today because it is only a few steps from the intersection of Douglas and Fort Streets, the subject of posts a few days ago and bills itself as Canada's largest used book store. If you're the sort of person that likes to get lost browsing in the back aisles where the books start at the floor and go up to the ceiling you will love Russell Books. As well as a vast collection of used books they have a helpful and knowledgeable staff. Victoria also has a wealth of smaller bookstores and some day here I hope to do a series on Victoria's book stores.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus)

When I was making posts about winter residents of the feathered kind I was aware that I hadn't included any Harlequin Ducks this year. The reason was that I had not seen any. However, some have shown up recently and here they are with their wonderful markings and colors. These ducks seem quite shy but I was able to sneak up on them for this photo. However, as you can see, they were churning the water to gain some distance from me when I stood up to snap the picture.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Unwelcome Visitor

I could hear the gulls' angry cries long before I reached the shore and saw the eagle they were harassing. Eventually he tired of the in-air chase and landed on this small island. Gulls perched on telephone poles and trees along the walkway continued to broadcast their danger signals as long as he rested there. The Canada Geese didn't appear to be worried by his presence but as soon as he took off the gulls were after him again.

Monday, February 20, 2012


Yesterday's photo was of the southwest corner of the Douglas and Fort Streets intersection. Today's photo is of the southeast corner of that intersection. These photos make me realize anew how important money is in our culture, not just as a means to get other things but in itself. I'm sure lots of profound things could be said about money but I'll leave that to people better informed than myself.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Downtown Street Scene

I usually photograph Victoria's downtown from some distance since I don't spend much time there in the city's businessy heart. Consequently I realized that visitors to this blog may get the impression that Victoria is all seaside walks, interesting birds, lovely parks, and that all life revolves around the Inner Harbour Causeway and its wonderful collection of Buskers and craftspeople. So, here is one of the busiest intersections in the city, where Douglas and Fort Streets cross. While it's not the most exciting downtown in the world, it does have the virtues of being comfortably safe (you can walk around anywhere without any problems) and more human in scale than other city downtowns (no buildings higher than 20 or 21 stories).

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Red-winged Blackbird

I mentioned a few days ago that I had enjoyed the rich whistles of the Red-winged Blackbirds while out at Swan Lake. Here is a photo of one of them resting between songs. If you click HERE you can hear a recorded version. It is not, however, anywhere near as rich and melodious as our Swan Lake Blackbirds so, if you live in Victoria, I suggest you go out to the lake and hear them live.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Yellow-rumped Warbler

It's always a red-letter day for me when I can identify a species of bird that is new to me so I am happy to share with you these photos of a Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata). I saw at least a half-dozen of these out at Swan Lake the other day. It was a good day for birding though not for photography since most of the birds I saw were too distant to photograph well. They included Bald Eagles (a pair), a hawk (I don't know what kind it was), Red-winged Blackbirds (tuning up their rich whistles for the spring mating season), Spotted Towhees, wrens and sparrows, ducks and geese and several other small birds I couldn't identify.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cold Old Friend

Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary is still in winter mode though a few green buds are swelling. When I was out there yesterday there was a chill wind blowing and this Great Blue Heron was tucked up against the cold. I wish I had this Heron's sharp and beady eye this morning because I had intended to post a photo of one of the many other birds I saw there. However, my bird field guides are apparently still unpacked and until they are found....

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I love to see these Snow Drops (Galanthus) blooming. It makes it seem that spring is right around the corner.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Fragrant Concubine

Those of you who visit here regularly may be wondering how the photos in this post reflect Victoria Daily Photo's mandate to be both current and local. So, here goes: the photo on the left is my tip of the hat to the day's significance as Valentine's Day in that it has a romantic story attached. Also, it is one of the star pieces at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria's exhibition called "The Enduring Arts of China." The photo to the left is not mine. It is from the the Art Gallery's website. It depicts a young woman known as Xiang Fei, who became consort to the Chinese Quianlong Emperor during the 18th century. She was renowned for her beauty but captured the emperor's heart because of the enchanting fragrance she emanated. She was given to him as a gift but he had to struggle for many years to win her love. There is another legend associated with her that is full of passion and intrigue. Those of you who prefer a little more blood in your valentine hearts can read it on Wikipedia.
Doing a little research on this topic reminded me how little we still know of China, despite the opening up of the last few decades. The legend of the Fragrant Concubine is still a popular story in China.
To the left and right are some examples of how she is portrayed today. I came across these during the last few years. These are not antiques or museum pieces though I suspect both are copies of older works. These are items that normal people might use to decorate their rooms.
"The Enduring Arts of China" has many other fascinating and beautiful artworks from China's long, rich history. If you're in Victoria, it's something you should see. It's on until May 6, 2012.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

I was at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria on Sunday to see an exhibition entitled "The Enduring Arts of China." It's an interesting exhibition and we were ably guided through it by one of the gallery's docents whose name I neglected to collect. I'll write more about the exhibition in a forthcoming post. Today's photos are of a Japanese Shinto Shrine that is located in a small garden at the rear of the Gallery. It is not a part the current exhibition but is permanently on display. The blurb below is from some information plaques in front of the shrine.
Japanese Shinto Shrine (1899-1900)
from Togo Village, Japan

This village shrine represents a very fine example of Meiji era shrine carpentry. It is the work of a miydaiku or shrine carpenter who probably laboured for more than a year to complete it. The building has a copper-shingled gable roof, on a wooden structure which rests on a hand-hewn kamachi sandstone base. The elegant building fits together in a complex joinery of interlocking beams and posts. Made of keyaki, a dense hardwood, the shrine is highly resistant to rot and insect damage. The powerfully carved, lavish decorations show remarkable skill and are crucial to the shrine's impressive appearance.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Lesser Scaup (Aythia affinis)

As I mentioned yesterday I failed to get a usable photo of the Northern Shoveler Duck while at Beacon Hill Park on Friday but amongst the ubiquitous Mallards and Wigeons I saw some other winter residents of the park, Lesser Scaup (Aythia affinis). These are diving ducks rather than dabbling ducks but unlike the other common overwintering diving ducks (such as the Mergansers, Buffleheads and Goldeneyes) these prefer fresh water, as does their relative, the Ring Necked Duck. Believe it or not though I've been a casual bird-watcher for many years I'm only now beginning to pick up on various species' preferences for habitat. Some ducks, like Mallards and Wigeons, can be found happily dabbling along the seashore as well as in local ponds and lakes. But I've never seen others, like the Lesser Scaup above, in salt water.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Regular visitor Cheryl kindly informed me that a Northern Shoveler Duck was hanging out in Beacon Hill Park lately so I went down there yesterday. I saw the duck but he persisted in doing his dabbling on the opposite side of the lake from me no matter where I stood so no pictures worth posting. However, this rhododendron was blooming....

Friday, February 10, 2012

Bufflehead Ducks

Here's a little closer look at those Bufflehead Ducks that were swimming around in yesterday's photo. This is a male and two females.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


All that rain we had in January has done a good job of washing the air clean so that when the sun comes out now everything looks crisp and shiny like it's brand new. This shot of Victoria's modest skyline was taken a few days ago from the West Bay Walkway in Esquimalt.The ducks in the foreground are Buffleheads.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Saxe Point

Just around the corner from the location of yesterday's photo is Saxe Point Park and here is a photo taken from the point looking southwards towards the Olympic Peninsula. It's a popular place for weddings - there is a special lawn area designed for outdoor weddings. But many Victorians visit this park simply to enjoy the sunsets. During the spring and summer there is usually a pair of Bald Eagles in residence as well.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sunset at Fleming Beach

Fern recently shared some lovely dawn colors with us (scroll down to Sunday's post) and here are some colors of sunset from a visit I made to Fleming Beach late yesterday afternoon. This young family were walking along the breakwater that protects the boats that moor there. (This breakwater is also a good place for silhouettes....)

Monday, February 6, 2012

It's a Sign

I love neon signs and this is one of my favorites. I hope to one day soon take pictures of them all. - Fern

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Dawn Colors

Victoria has been enjoying clear bright days the last little while. The sun came up this morning with lots of lovely pinks, yellows and oranges. - Fern

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Feeding Frenzy

So I was standing on top of this large rock trying to get a nice skyline picture of Victoria that was a little different from the last hundred I've posted and I noticed a lot of querulous cries from seagulls. A few seconds later the woman in the photo to the right appeared with her bag of goodies. Clearly the seagulls had seen her coming and knew what was in the bag. I was standing on ground zero so I removed myself to watch the show. I like to see people feed wild animals, particularly when they are focused on not particularly loveable animals like seagulls. I know there is some doubt as to the political/ecological correctness of feeding wild animals (encouraging dependency, etc.) but it seems to me to be a nice acknowledgement that we share our world with other species.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Monochrome Mood

One of the satisfying aspects of living next to the ocean is the wide range of changes the seascape goes through, not just seasonally but daily and sometimes even hourly. The above is a fairly common winter mood, almost monochrome.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

St. Saviour's

This is an Anglican church called St. Saviour's. It was built in 1891 and is located in Victoria West on the corner of Catherine and Henry Streets. The style is described as Gothic Revival. It's an attractive old church and though I lived for some years nearby and photographed it often I've not posted any photos of it before because the many power lines and telephone poles tend to distract from the church regardless of where one stands to take a photograph. However, it seems those urban features are not going away in the near future.... Someday soon I'll attempt to go inside the church since it is reputed to have fine stained glass windows.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The "Veteran Sailor"

In early January I posted a photo of "Homecoming," a statue group depicting the moment a father returns to his home shore and family after serving overseas. It's a dramatic composition and it's easy not to notice another sculpture a short distance away, a much more meditative statue of a seated veteran watching the scene portrayed in "Homecoming." Though separated by some twenty or thirty feet, the interaction between the seated veteran and and the Homecoming trio is powerful and dynamic. If you're down at the Inner Harbour you'll find it rewarding to spend a few minutes with this group. Below is a plaque set into the pavement near the "Veteran Sailor." This statue, like the "Homecoming" composition is by local sculptor Nathan Scott.