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Monday, September 30, 2013

All Sailings Cancelled

What a weekend! Victoria has been hit with stormy, wet weather and it has been fierce. Me and my four legged friend however braved the elements to try to capture how things look on the water. - Fern

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Autumn Is Here

I always think that whatever the current season is, it's my favorite. Maybe what's more accurate is that I love the ever changing colors and shapes that happen as we move from one part of the year to another. Take these crazy pods produced by our local chestnut trees, aren't they wild? Nature can be so extravagant. - Fern

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Mosquito Control - Swan Lake

Yes I know it looks like the birthplace of the Creature from the Black Lagoon but it's actually much more benign. There are swampy areas around the edges of Swan Lake that are perfect breeding grounds for potentially disease-bearing Culex Mosquitoes. However, mosquito larvae require still water to develop so the swampy areas at Swan Lake are aerated to prevent the growth of these insects.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Swan Lake - Blue-green Algae Bloom

Here is Swan Lake's blue-green algae bloom blown over to one shore by the wind. It really is this brilliant shade of green. Wikipedia has a good article about this fascinating ancient plant whose activities are thought to have created most of the oxygen on the planet, thus enabling other forms of life, including our own, to develop.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary

I went out the the Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary on the weekend to see if I could spot any of the birds that like to come here for the winter. I was amazed to find that the place was practically deserted by our feathered friends. It seems that most of the birds that spend the summer here have now flown south and birds from further north that like to spend the winter here have not yet arrived from their northern breeding and nesting areas. In any case I had an opportunity to enjoy the lake and its nearly fluorescent green dress of blue-green algae. We'll have a closer look at that tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Olive the Senses - Victoria Public Market 2

Here's another of the shops that have just opened in the new Victoria Public Market. This one is called Olive the Senses. This is a very specialized shop that sells only vinegar and olive oil, but it sells those two items in more varieties than you ever dreamed were possible and promises to open your taste buds to a whole new range of flavors. Click the photo to the left to read a bit more about this shop.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Victoria Public Market 1

I mentioned last week that Victoria's new public market just opened recently in the ground floor of The Hudson on Douglas Street. Here are a few glimpses of what's happening there. The directory above gives a good idea of the current tenants - a mix of trendy fast food purveyors and equally trendy condiment and deli style shops. On the left, some Pie Co. staff prepare take-away lunches for customers. On the right are a few of the delicious breads available at the French Oven Bakery. I'm going back there to get some of the pain au chocolat, fresh croissants too. Below, diners line up for Roast beef sandwiches from Roast. Other lunch stalls were just as busy. Tomorrow we'll have a look at Olive the Senses, a shop that sells only oil and vinegar.

Monday, September 23, 2013


On a recent Saturday the more adventurous members of my family took to the trees for some adventure. - Fern

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Duncan Sights

The Falcon's Nest has gone to the birds it seems. - Fern

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Hands of Time 4 - Carrying Point Blankets

Here's the final instance of The Hands of Time sculpture series, a dozen small sculptures by Crystal Przybille that depict life-size hands engaged in activities symbolic of Victoria's past. The hands above are carrying Point Blankets, a kind of blanket that was much treasured by indigenous peoples when the Hudson's Bay Company first began to trade on this coast. The placement of this particular sculpture is very fitting; it is located on The Hudson, a building that formerly was occupied by the Hudson Bay Company store, the retail descendant of the trading giant that brought these blankets to this coast. The sculpture is on one side of the entrance to what has just opened as Victoria's new public market on the ground floor of this building. We'll have a look inside the market next week. Click The Hands of Time if you want to see all twelve of these small sculptures.

Friday, September 20, 2013

In the Mist

These foggy, misty shots continue to interest me - what I like about this one is the diminishing contrast as the eye moves from the foreground to the background and the way the Shoal Point Condominium seems to float or hover in the background.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pussy on a Pole

Here's a lovely understated bit of public art in Vic West.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Vic West Community Corn Roast

The annual Vic West Corn Roast took place last Sunday and, despite a few brief showers, was enjoyed by all. There was corn on the cob, pie, music provided by the local kids group, The Colts, and others, ice cream and the traditional zucchini races.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Hands of Time 8 - Panning for Gold

Here's another in the Hands of Time sculpture series by Crystal Przybille. This one shows two hands panning for gold and is located just below the old Custom House on Wharf Street where gold seekers during the 1858 gold rush had to obtain their mining licenses. Though most of the gold was on the mainland, miners typically traveled up the coast from California and arrived in Victoria where they would obtain the necessary license and supplies before heading to the Fraser River. The modern city of Vancouver did not exist at this point in history and Victoria was the gateway to the gold fields.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Misty Morning

Who can resist the magic that happens when the rising sun sparkles through the mist? - Fern

Sunday, September 15, 2013


I came across these two phone booths down at Fisherman's Wharf and marvelled that there are still a few around. My lunch dates were only to happy to illustrate why there are almost none left. - Fern Long

Saturday, September 14, 2013


Another seasonal aspect of the forest that I noticed on my last trip out to Thetis Lake is that there are more spider webs at this time of year. I guess all the baby spiders that were born during the summer are now grown up and making their own webs. Whatever the reason, walking through the undergrowth means regularly picking the webs off one's face and clothing. It's a shame because often, like the web pictured above, they are beautiful, intricate structures.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Victoria's Second Spring

I went out the Thetis Lake on the weekend to see if the recent rains had encouraged any mushrooms to pop up. And indeed, there were a few but all I saw were very tiny ones like those above. However, while strolling through the forest I was reminded of Victoria's particular weather pattern that gives us a second "spring" in the autumn. This area tends to dry out seriously during July and August and everything turns brown and crackles underfoot. The rains of September and October, though they cannot stop the leaves turning, nevertheless bring back the green to lawns and undergrowth, especially the mosses and ferns that inhabit the lower reaches of the forest. All this fresh new green always makes me think of spring and the mushrooms that will be coming soon are like spring flowers.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Thetis Lake

Well, it's been foggy and rainy lately but on Sunday the sun broke through and it seemed that summer had returned. Here's what Thetis Lake beach looked like in the early afternoon.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Morning Sun

High in an arbutus tree above Sailor's Cove, this little Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) perches in the morning sun while waiting for breakfast to swim into view in the waters below.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Foggy Empress

Here we are looking into the Inner Harbor with Laurel Point on the right and the Songhees condominiums on the left. Usually this view frames the Fairmont Empress Hotel at the end of Inner Harbor, but with the foggy weather we've been having lately it is quite invisible.

Monday, September 9, 2013

What A View!

This is a another condo development going up in the Songees. It faces over the Inner Harbour and downtown Victoria. Don't you think that this has got to be the porta-potty with the best view in town? - Fern

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Last Call

Victorians are busy these last few weeks enjoying every last drop of summer. This is the patio of Canoe Brewpub and the view from there. Sometimes living in this city is like having won the lottery. - Fern

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)

Last week I posted a photo of a Trumpeter Swan, a species native to North America. Esquimalt Lagoon is also home to a flock of Mute Swans (Cygnus olor). While they are not native to North America they have naturalized themselves in the Esquimalt Lagoon (and also in neighboring Albert Head Lagoon) after some of their ancestors escaped from captivity in Beacon Hill Park. Mute Swans are not so large as Trumpeter Swans but the clearly distinguishing mark is that odd-shaped black lump on the upper half of their bright orange bill. The Trumpeter Swan has a pure black bill with no lump.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Esquimalt Lagoon

The old-growth forest pictured yesterday is situated on rising land above and slightly to the west of Esquimalt Lagoon and provided the above view of the lagoon. I like this view because it shows clearly the long narrow spit that separates the lagoon from the ocean. The Fisgard Lighthouse is also visible in this photo very close to the center. Though our weather continues quite warm, autumn colors are clearly beginning to seep into the palette.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Old-Growth Forest

We are lucky in Victoria to have some old-growth forest right on our doorstep, on the grounds of Royal Road University. Old-growth forest has been defined as that in which trees are older than 250 years and some of those in the photo above are probably twice that age. To walk among these forest giants is a humbling and refreshing experience.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Monday, September 2, 2013

Art Morning!

After a beautiful sunshine filled weekend, Labour Day morning dawned wet and grey and there's only one thing to do in that case; art at the kitchen table! - Fern

Sunday, September 1, 2013


This is a photo that initially I disregarded but then decided to take a second look. Why? This is interesting to me. What is it that makes me come back to this one? Let's see if I can answer my own question. I think it's a combination of things; the color and rich texture of the wall on the left that until dusk would be unnoticeable but is revealed at dusk as are the clouds which contrast so sharply from the solid lines of the buildings. It's that juxtaposition of color, light and shapes that create an interesting landscape to me. - Fern