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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Sea Pink

Here's another little flower that starts to bloom about this time of year but continues to brighten our rocky sea shores right through to autumn. It's called Sea Pink or Thrift. I suspect it gets the latter name from its remarkable ability to thrive in the tiniest cracks of large boulders or in places where there is about as much soil as you would find under your fingernails after a day's gardening. This vigorous clump is growing on the eastern side of Clover Point, overlooking Ross Bay.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Highrock Park

Highrock Park, like many of Victoria's little parks, is not an area of carefully cultivated flower beds, lawns and hedges but is rather a bit of the original landscape preserved. Right now Highrock Park is at its most beautiful and I defy any gardener to match its range and richness of color and form. The purple flowers below are Camas Lilies and give some idea of the lush palette that is on offer now.

Monday, April 28, 2014

After A Walk in the Woods

Climbing up Bear Hill such as we did on Saturday, we developed a fairly healthy appetite. So on the way home we stopped at The Red Barn Market on Vanalman to have one of their amazing sandwiches. This one pictured above had everything on it including their house smoked meat and cheese. The place was packed, as it almost always is and well worth stopping in. - Fern

Sunday, April 27, 2014

In The Woods

We went out to Saanich for a hike up Bear Hill and it was lovely, as usual. So much so that the only way to cope with the incredible exuberance of spring was to switch to black and white. In this way you can zero in on the little details of what make this time of year magical. - Fern

Saturday, April 26, 2014

TheView from Beacon Hill

Victoria is blessed with a lovely little park right on the edge of the city center, Beacon Hill Park. The "hill" rises above Finlayson Point and Dallas Road and is graced on both the south and north sides with Camas meadows and bits of Garry Oak woods. At this time of year the Camas are blooming and the hillsides are dusted with their deep purplish blue. In the view above we are looking southwards across the Strait of Juan de Fuca towards the Olympic Peninsula in the USA. On the left is a spindle whorl that marks this as one of the locations sacred to the Native Peoples of this area.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Spring Bouquet

This little House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) looks perfectly at home amongst the blossoms on this old apple tree. As one wanders among the bushy overgrown areas on this coast the remains of derelict orchards are often encountered. The early settlers' houses and gardens may have completely disappeared but the orchards remain. Not so long ago everyone had an orchard or at least a few fruit trees on their property to provide fruit that could be eaten fresh and preserved for the winter. It's a good idea.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bewick's Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)

Though I often drive through or past Beacon Hill Park I don't stop there too often, a habit I intend to remedy since I noticed that it does have a few areas of relatively untouched forest. They are very small but when I walked through one earlier this week I spotted this little Bewick's Wren (Thryomanes bewickii) who kindly stopped his foraging and posed for me. Apparently there are owls in that bit of forest as well though I didn't see them. Next time!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


We're getting lots of April Showers these days but after winter's long doldrums spring is forging ahead. The Maple blossoms above and Apple blossoms below are testament to that. They were photographed at Swan Lake last week. I think one of the reasons we like spring so much is because there is so much young, new growth, like babies, and who can resist that fresh, newly minted perfection? It's like we all were before life marked and wore us.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Dunlin (Calidris alpina)

I'm still new enough to birdwatching that I encounter species new to me fairly often and it is always a thrill no matter how common they may be. Above are a small group of Dunlin (Calidris alpina) who were trying to catch a snooze near the shore of Clover Point a few days ago. Like the Brant Goose I pictured on Friday, they are not uncommon but I had never noticed them before. As well as differences in appearance due to gender, many birds wear different plumage during breeding season. The bird on the far left of the above photo is wearing the rich brown Dunlin breeding plumage. The bird second from the right is just beginning to show breeding plumage. The others are not yet in the mood, I guess.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Miracle of Rebirth

This is the closest I'll get to an Easter theme this year but I think it's a fitting one. Last fall I planted garlic bulbs in my garden and slowly over the winter they have emerged from the soil until today they stand tall and positively glowing green. I know it's not anything unusual really but to me, it's trully amazing. - Fern

Sunday, April 20, 2014


We went for a beautiful walk along Esquimalt Lagoon and came across this rusted out piece of equipment that has developed an amazing patina of rust and barnacles. - Fern

Saturday, April 19, 2014


Birds are not the only thing in the waters off Clover Point these days. When the sun broke through on Friday the blustery winds attracted some kitesurfers, one of whom is pictured above. Now this looks like fun but this guy must have been cold. Despite the lovely aquamarine tinge of the water, the wind was icy. Kitesurfing is on the verge of becoming an Olympic sport. People have kitesurfed across the Atlantic.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Brant Goose

Here's another common bird species that I don't remember ever seeing before I took up birdwatching. This is a Brant goose (also known as Black Brant), Branta bernicla nigricans. I saw this one and a half-dozen others grazing in the sea lettuce near the shore at Clover Point. I've seen Brant there before but never so close to shore. While I was mentioning the differences in appearance between male and female birds the other day, I didn't mention another fairly common phenomenon - cases such as the Brant where there is little or no difference in appearance between the genders.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mourning Cloak

While the topside of the wings visible here is a deep russet shade, this butterfly is named Mourning Cloak because of the dark underside of its wings. People used to wear black to indicate they were mourning the death of a loved one. I suspect this is a custom that is dying out. I always associate butterflies with hot weather so I was pleased to see this one at Swan Lake recently though our weather is still a bit cool.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


This is the season for Giant White Fawn Lilies here. Every bit of wild land that's left in or near the city is a riot of these splendid white blossoms. Those above were photographed at the Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary but most of the other city parks are similarly decorated.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


We're all aware these days of the many ways that the genders are treated differently amongst humans. Similarly, I have noticed lately that bird photographers also tend to treat the genders differently. Google "Red-winged Blackbird" and take a look at the images. Nineteen of the first twenty photos that come up are of male Red-winged Blackbirds. This is much the same with other birds; the brightly colored and patterned males are much more likely to be photographed and identified than the less ostentatious females. It is possible to ascribe this imbalance to a natural preference for bright colors and sharp contrasts but this begs the question as to why that should be the case. Anyway, to redress the balance a little here are two photos of female birds: above is a female Red-winged Blackbird and below is a female Northern Flicker.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Rite of Passage

There is something so utterly timeless about sitting in a grassy field on a sunny day with your friends, surrounded by a sea of daisies. - Fern

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sea Blush

It wouldn't be spring or Victoria Daily Photo without sea blush in all of it's lovely pink and green. - Fern

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)

Here's a little bird I often see at our backyard feeder but this one was photographed at Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary in Saanich. It is a Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla), so-called because of that bright yellow stripe on his head. That stripe is not just for decoration - how big and bright it is marks this bird's place in the flock hierarchy.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Dave Harris

Just as there is a predictable sequence in natural events as spring turns towards summer, so is there a sequence as the city wakes up out of winter. For me one of the best signs of spring is that the Inner Harbor Causeway stirs into life once again. One of the perennial performers there is Victoria icon, Dave Harris, one man band extraordinaire. Dave's been singing and playing there for 37 years now and has made memories for millions of visitors to this city. People who heard him first as children now return to the city bringing their own kids to share their experience. Click here to see some Dave Harris videos on his YouTube Channel.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Shooting Stars

We tend to be clock and calendar oriented when it comes to the passage of time. It's interesting to consider that many cultures existed that had no accurate means of keeping track of time or dates, and when activities were organized around natural, more organic events or cycles. Since I've begun to notice the various plants and animals in my environment I've become more aware of natural cycles such as the progression of blooming wildflowers in the spring. These are not quite predictable since they happen in relation to the weather for the last year or so. However, what seems predictable is the sequence of which flowers come first and which come later. Here's another early one, these lovely little Shooting Stars (Dodecatheon). I've been waiting for these to bloom and was rewarded during a visit to Highrock Park earlier this week.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


There's more in the air these days than birds. I spotted this machine flying over Esquimalt Lagoon a few days ago. It seems like a cross between a kite and airplane since the man is suspended from what appears to be a giant wing and has a propeller attached to his back on a harness. It looks like fun though it makes a lot of noise. If any reader knows what this thing is called please inform me.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)

While at Highrock Park in Esquimalt yesterday I was pleased to see this Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus). These birds are easier to see at this time of year before the leaves have come out because they like to hop around in the undergrowth. In the summer they always seem to be hiding behind some leaves.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Just One More of Old Blue

I have to admit this bridge is well documented here and elsewhere but it is bittersweet now that it's demise is imminent. Change is a fact of life of course but in the meantime I try to stop and enjoy these things while they are still with us. - Fern Long

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Favorite Viewpoint

Here's a look at downtown Victoria from across the Harbour on the Songhees side of the Johnston Street Bridge. I always like to stop here and admire our little city from this vantage point especially now when the blossoms are at their loveliest. - Fern

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Mount Baker

In the winter it's too cold for me but as the temperatures rise here I head for the summit of Mount Douglas, a favorite spot to sit and wait for birds. I have seen birds while sitting on my favorite rock there that I have not seen anywhere else in this area. When I was up there a few days ago there were surprisingly few birds visible but Mount Baker was looking as majestic as usual. And when I lowered the camera down a few inches I was rewarded with the Raven below who was also enjoying the view.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Marsh Wrens

Another bird I look forward to seeing every spring is the diminutive Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris). These little birds, fittingly, like to live amongst the bull rushes and reeds at the water's edge of Swan Lake. One can't help but admire them - they are so busy building nests and singing out to define their territory and attract spouses. In an attempt to attract females the males build many nests.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Here's a couple of photos of a Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata). It's a bird I always think of when I think of birdwatching (or "birding" as the current term is). These birds are quite common but I never saw one before I took up birding. When you are birding, you look with concentrated attention and so you see a lot more. The bonus is that a lot of what you see is interesting and beautiful.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Lazy Days

The cruising Mallard Duck and the snoozing Western Painted Turtle above perfectly embody the scene these days at Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary. Time to lie down on a log and get toasted!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)

With the return of warmer weather I am visiting some favorite spots for birding and seeing some birds I don't normally see along the West Bay Walkway. Above is one such, a Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris), seen swimming at Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary on Saturday. I like this photo because the coppery ring around the neck that gives this bird its name is very visible here and it is often hard to see.