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Monday, June 30, 2014

Gonzales Beach

Is there any better way to spend a summer afternoon than down at the beach? - Fern

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Janion Hotel

I wandered down to the construction site that surrounds the Janion last night and took a few photos because while it looks pretty rough down there right now by 2016 when the new bridge and this building have been finished it will be completely different looking. The original building will be added onto right here at the back and in total there will be 110 micro lofts. There is more info here. - Fern

Saturday, June 28, 2014

HIghrock Park 2

Here's another Highrock Park scene. Here the golden grass is dotted with Bachelor's Buttons (Centaurea cyanus), not a native plant but one that has naturalized itself so successfully that it seems like it belongs here. I always like to see their bright blue flower heads because they remind me of my mother who taught me their name when I was a small boy. In the above photo we are looking westward from the summit of Highrock Park with Metchosin and the Sooke Hills in the distance.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Highrock Park

While I love spring's lush greens the landscape here is enriched when they turn to gold and copper in June. This little scene in Highrock Park captured this for me yesterday.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Cordova Bay

This is Cordova Bay Beach, a large bay on the eastern side of the island about 20 minutes from Victoria. On the right of the above photo can be seen one of the sandy San Juan Islands. Below, looking in the opposite direction we can see the northern side of Mount Douglas (Pkols), beyond which lies the city of Victoria.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Brown Creeper

Beacon Hill Park continues to provide some interesting birdwatching opportunities. It gave me my first view of a perched owl (see Fern's photo of the Barred Owl on Sunday) and on the trail out to the road I spied this modest little Brown Creeper (Certhia americana), searching for his buggy lunch in crevices in the bark.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

National Aboriginal Day

June 21 has been celebrated in Canada as National Aboriginal Day since 1996. Here in Victoria celebrations spread over several days took place this year on the grounds of the Royal BC Museum and on Ship Point Pier adjacent to the Inner Harbour Causeway. Above is one of the singers from the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation. On the left are a couple of elders from the Squamish Nation and some of their dancers performing a Wolf Dance on the right. The weather was great and many people turned out to get a taste of aboriginal life and culture.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Aliens Among Us

I was out at Esquimalt Lagoon yesterday looking for birds when I spied about three of these rabbits browsing among the thistles and blackberry canes. I have tentatively identified them as Eastern Cottontail Rabbits (Sylvilagus floridanus), a species that is not native to this area but was introduced in 1964. As well as upsetting the local ecological balance in other ways it seems that this species' browsing habits are a threat to Garry Oak Ecosystems, a distinctive feature of this area.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Barred Owls

When I heard from a friend that there were owls nesting in Beacon Hill Park I rushed to tell Benjamin. Together we went and sure enough we got to see two of them sitting up in the trees. They are such an amazing bird to look at with those eyes. Felt more like we were being watched than the other way around. - Fern

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Dave Lang and the Twin Otters

Above is Dave Lang and the Twin Otters playing on the Inner Harbour Causeway. It always strikes me as amazing how talented and sophisticated are the musicians that play on the causeway. No matter what the genre, the music is always superb and this trio is no exception. You can see them play and hear some of their music on YouTube by clicking HERE. This photo was taken barely an hour ago so you can see what kind of a day we are having here today. Hope yours is as nice.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Backyard Birding 2

While I was waiting for the Anna's Hummingbird to check in yesterday our yard was visited by a whole flock of these little Bushtits (Psaltriparus minimus). Next to hummingbirds these are North America's smallest birds. The one pictured above is marked as a female by her striking light-colored eye. On the left is a male who seems to be showing off for a female. I don't know what these Bushtits were finding to eat on the pine branches but they worked them over pretty thoroughly before they moved on.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Backyard Birding

Recently we installed a hummingbird feeder on a plum tree in the back yard. While it took the hummers a week or so to locate it, now they have taken possession and visit it regularly. So far I have only seen Anna's Hummingbird (Calypte anna), appearing in the photo above. Birding out in the forest makes a great day's excursion but birding in the back yard has its pleasures too - I can relax in a lawn chair with a cup of coffee and some cookies while waiting for the birds to come calling.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Tiger, tiger burning bright....

This is the only kind of tiger you're likely to find in the forest around here, though cougars are regularly sighted on Vancouver Island. It's a Tiger Lily, Lilium columbianum. Although it's often seen in gardens it is a bona fide indigenous wild flower and the one pictured above is growing in Highrock Park.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Vic West Annual Skateboard Competition

The annual Vic West Skateboard competition was held on Saturday and as usual, it was an inspiring event. These kids really work hard at perfecting their skills and they can do some amazing things on those little bits of plywood on wheels. It's a sport that requires a lot of concentration, coordination and practice, practice, practice. They make it look easy but it's not. Check the sequence below and imagine yourself coaxing that board up onto that rail and then riding it down - at high speed.
As well as the skill and style of the competitors I was also impressed by how they support and encourage each other. Clearly everyone wanted to win but there was no atmosphere of cut-throat competition. Here's a few more of the younger competitors.

If any of the skateboarders pictured here would like copies of their photos or would like to be identified in the text, please let me know. I will be happy to give you credit and/or a free print of your photo. I regret that I did not note the names of the skaters during the competition. My e-mail address is in the sidebar to the right.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Summer Colors

As noted on Saturday's post by Benjamin, the nice weather we've been having means that the bright greens of spring are being replaced by the golden hues of summer as things begin to dry out and go to seed. - Fern

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day

As Father's Day present this year my kids took their Dad to Western Speedway in Langford for the annual Strawberry Cup which is a special event where sprint cars from all over the Northwest come to race. My photos shown here don't do justice to the sprint cars because they are so fast that all my pictures are either blurry or in fact by the time I clicked the shutter the cars were long gone! The cars in the above photo are dwarf cars that have motorcycle engines and were the opening act so to speak. It was a nice night and the many Dads there seemed to be having a good time. - Fern
Author's note: as some of you know Benjamin is my own dear Dad and if you follow this blog at all you know a little bit about what a great guy he is. Thank you Dad for being a constant source of inspiration; I am truly lucky to have you in my life. xoxo

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Harvest Brodiaea (Brodiaea coronaria)

Because Victoria is on the Northwest Pacific Coast people often assume that (like Vancouver) Victoria is a very rainy place. It's not. It's much drier than Vancouver and by this time of year much of spring's green grass and ground cover has dried and turned a coppery golden shade. It's about this time of year that we see this lovely little purple wildflower called Harvest Brodiaea. The above-ground parts of the plant wither by the time it blooms so all one sees are these little flowers floating above the dry grass. These were photographed a few days ago in Highrock Park.

Friday, June 13, 2014


Crowds came to Willows Beach on the weekend for the Oak Bay Tea Party, the midway rides and the junk food. Some people even came to drink tea. But many just came down to sit on the beach and do those beachy things, like...dig. I figure the Bald Eagle on the right showed up to take part in the air show but since he was snubbed, he flew elsewhere. As for junk food, there was lots of pink candy floss and burgers, hot dogs and chips of every description, but there was some other good stuff too - I had a vegan tofu wrap from the purveyor below that was as delicious as it was nutritious.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Oak Bay Tea Party

The Oak Bay Tea Party takes place over the whole weekend so I went down to Willows Beach on Sunday to look at some of the events. There is bathtub racing, lots of midway rides, and an air show.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Abkhazi Garden

I spent Saturday morning enjoying the Oak Bay Tea Party Parade then I rode over to the tranquility of the Abkhazi Garden for lunch and a stroll. It's a lush garden that currently is hosting a number of wooden sculptures by Michael Dennis from a collection called "The Muses". One of these striking sculptures is pictured on the left.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Oak Bay Tea Party Parade

Every year Oak Bay holds a community celebration called the Oak Bay Tea Party that is loosely associated with the Mad Hatter's Tea Party from Alice in Wonderland. The kick-off event is the parade held on Saturday morning and I always make it a point to attend because it's always a delight. It's a very small town kind of parade with lots of kids on their bikes or scooters, a few beauty queens, a half dozen marching bands and a few clowns. I'm sure most of the population of Oak Bay is there as the parade winds its way along its mostly residential route. Those that aren't in the parade are watching from deck chairs on their lawns. Above are some of the participants from the Ross Bay Pre-school and below is a collage of other marchers.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Down By The Tracks 2

I never tire of capturing the poetry in these iron ribbons. -Fern

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Down By The Tracks

At dusk, magic happens with the light revealing beauty in the flotsam and jetsam of life. - Fern

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Mosaic Jazz Duo

Every spring the Harbours Board holds auditions for buskers who wish to perform on the Inner Harbour. There are always a few spots available and competition for them is intense. Here's a new group that made the cut this year. They're called Mosaic Jazz Duo (or Trio if their drummer is there) and I enjoyed about a half hour of their music on Wednesday afternoon. On the left above is Oscar Kempe and on the right, Noah Monckton. It's very accessible jazz, very smooth and interesting. If you're down on the Inner Harbour Causeway this summer stop and listen. Once you tune in to what they are doing you will not be disappointed. Classy! The video below, courtesy of Dave Harris, will give you some idea of their sound.

Friday, June 6, 2014


While strolling through the forest that surrounds Thetis Lake I came across this Robin fledgeling. He was not quite able to fly yet and looks as if he wishes he'd never left the nest. His parents were still bringing him bits of food but their encouraging calls made it clear that junior was expected to take care of himself soon.