Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) Singing

A Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) singing in the marsh at Elgin Heritage Park near Crescent Beach, British Columbia, Canada.

alpenglow on hope mountain by silver lake provincial park

A Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) singing near Crescent Beach (Buy Print/License)

-click to enlarge-

   I photographed this Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) singing along the boardwalk over the marsh at Elgin Heritabe Park in Surrey, BC earlier this spring. I visited this park several times to photograph the Red-winged Blackbirds and on this occasion had this Song Sparrow sit on a branch right in front of me and start singing. I was able to make several photographs, and record two videos (see below) before the inevitable foot traffic of other park visitors caused it to fly away. Still, having a sparrow land that close and start singing was a great opportunity, one that I was only able to capitalize on as I was walking around with my longer lens (70-200mm) on the camera at the time. Landscapes do not tend to catch me by surprise nearly as often as wildlife, so when walking around on trails I often have the long lens on my camera instead of my favorite landscape lens (17-55mm). This way I am not trying to change lenses in order to photograph a bird or other animal close to me which is an activity that usually results in a missed opportunity.

   The video linked below was recorded with my Canon 7D and its internal microphone which leaves a bit to be desired as it picks up all sorts of background noise. In the video you can hear the Song Sparrow singing, but you’ll also likely notice other birds singing, the flock of geese flying overhead, frogs, and the sounds of a speed boat accelerating up the nearby Nicomekl River.

song sparrow singing video

For more of my photographs of wildlife and animals please take a look at my Animals and Wildlife Gallery.

Cowlitz Chimneys and the Sarvant Glaciers

The Cowlitz Chimneys and Sarvant Glaciers at Mount Rainier National Park in Washington State, USA.

cowlitz chimneys and the sarvant glaciers in mount rainier national park

Cowlitz Chimneys and the Sarvant Glaciers in Mount Rainier National Park

-click to enlarge-

   I have most often viewed the Cowlitz Chimneys in Mount Rainier National Park from the eastern side of the park near Tipsoo Lake. I photographed this panorama of the Chimneys from the Sunrise area of the park along the Silver Forest Trail. The Cowlitz Chimneys are the remains of a rhyolite plug at Mount Rainier and the highest Chimney (South Chimney) has an elevation of 2318m (7605 ft). I had thought when I made this photograph that the patches of snow and ice below the chimneys were just that – the remaining snowfall from the previous winter. However, upon some research it seems that these are the Sarvant Glaciers and are “permanent”. From comparison photographs it seems these glaciers may have melted beyond their usual ebb and flow in recent years due to lower snowfall levels in the winter and warmer temperatures.

You can see more photographs from this area in my Mount Rainier National Park Gallery.

Silver Lake and Hope Mountain

Alpenglow on Hope Mountain at Silver Lake Provincial Park near Hope, British Columbia, Canada

alpenglow on hope mountain by silver lake provincial park

Alpenglow on Hope Mountain from Silver Lake (Buy Print/License)

-click to enlarge-

   Approximately 10km up the Silver Skagit road from Hope, British Columbia you’ll find the entrance to Silver Lake Provincial Park. The park contains a boat launch and a 25 spot campground, but as I live within an hour away in Langley I have mainly visited here on the way back from the Thompson Okanagan or as a day trip. The photograph above was made on an evening where I was lucky to have a near perfect reflection and some great fall foliage colors. Fall color is somewhat hit and miss in the Fraser Valley, but in 2013 there were some pretty great colors in the foliage of the Vine and Bigleaf Maples. Silver Lake is a great fall destination at all times of the year, but my favourite time here is in the fall. After turning up Silver Skagit road you will see several great views of Silverhope Creek, as well as Eureka Falls just before the turnoff to the park.

For more photographs from this area please take a look at my Silver Lake Provincial Park Gallery.

Harbourfront Walkway in Nanaimo

The Harbourfront Walkway, boat docks and Nanaimo Water Harbour Airport in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada

nanaimo harbourfront walkway in nanaimo british columbia

The Harbourfront Walkway and Fishing Boats in Nanaimo Harbour (Buy Print/License)

-click to enlarge-

   I was lucky to spend a week photographing Nanaimo, British Columbia and other parts of Vancouver Island in 2013. I made this photograph on one of several evenings where I walked along the Harbourfront Walkway past many small shops and marinas. I previously shared a different view of Nanaimo Harbour but I think I prefer the wider field of view in the above photograph as it shows more of the fishing and other boats in the marina.

Lower Falls Trail in Golden Ears Provincial Park

Lower Falls and the emerald pools of Gold Creek at Golden Ears Provincial Park in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada.

lower falls and emerald pools of gold creek in golden ears provincial park

Lower Falls in Golden Ears Provincial Park

-click to enlarge-

   One of the easier hikes to do in Golden Ears Provincial Park is the Lower Falls Trail (map) along Gold Creek. The trailhead is easy to find at the northwest end of the parking lot (the grey spot just after the Gold Creek Bridge on the map linked earlier). This hike is only 5.5km (round trip) and has minimal elevation change which makes it much more accessible than some of the other trails in Golden Ears Park. The trail has also been upgraded in recent years, so much of it is crushed gravel. Personally I dislike walking on crushed gravel and prefer a natural trail even with tree roots, slugs and the occasional puddle. I guess the resurfacing does have some benefit in initial parts of the trail that were often filled with puddles and mud in the spring and fall, but I would have preferred they left the rest as is. I have previously hiked to Alder Flats on a number of occasions, and while that is a nice hike, it doesn’t have the scenery one gets to enjoy along the much easier Lower Falls Trail.

   After walking about 1km up the trail from the parking lot I came to the first spot where I stopped for photography. There are many small side trails down to the creek along the entire Lower Falls Trail (be sure to follow those instead of making your own). My first stop was only about 5 meters from the trail and showed a nice summer view of Gold Creek. This looks to be a good spot to stop during fall foliage colors as well.

   My next stop was probably the most famous spot along the Lower Falls Trail – the viewpoint where one can see Gold Creek and parts of Mount Blandshard. Just before this viewpoint you’ll see a number of side trails to a beach which is a great spot to stop and eat lunch or just relax.

lower falls and gold creek with a flowering streambank arnica

Lower Falls and Streambank Arnica

-click to enlarge-

   After a 10-15 minute walk from the viewpoint I arrived at my ultimate destination: Lower Falls itself. The water levels shown here are probably more typical in late August, but were this low in late June due to our lack of winter snowpack in the mountains and a drought this spring/summer. In normal years this waterfall will be a raging torrent in fall, winter and spring – and can be quite dangerous. I was able to get up on a rock and photograph Lower Falls from a nice vantage point but only due to the lower water levels and lack of strong currents (and depth) in the water below. In far too many of the past years people have fallen into the water at various points in Gold Creek and died as a result.

   Many of the cracks in the rocks near Lower Falls had Streambank Arnica (Arnica lanceolata) growing in them. I was lucky that one of the Arnica plants was in a good position to include in the above composition along with the waterfall. On my way back to the main viewing platform I photographed one of the other Streambank Arnica plants growing in a crack in one of the boulders beneath the falls.

streambank arnica growing out of rocks near lower falls

Streambank Arnica (Arnica lanceolata) flowering next to Lower Falls

-click to enlarge-

For more of my photographs from the Golden Ears area visit my Golden Ears Provincial Park Gallery.

Kalamalka Lake Viewpoint in Vernon

Evening view of Vernon and Coldstream looking over Kalamalka Lake in Vernon, British Columbia, Canada

view of vernon coldstream and kalamalka lake at night

Kalamalka Lake Viewpoint near Hwy 97

-click to enlarge-

   Kalamalka Lake and other areas around Vernon are among my favorite places in British Columbia’s Thompson Okanagan region. The above view of Kalamalka Lake, Vernon, and Coldstream was made on the same evening as another photograph of mine: a Panorama of Kalamalka Lake. Unless I am in a hurry, I always seem to stop at this lookout to stretch my legs and look at the view. On this day I was coming back from Kelowna at just the right time for some blue hour photographs.

lakeside property in vernon british columbia

View of Kalamalka Lake from Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park

-click to enlarge-

   This second view is from Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park along the Corral Trail. In the larger version of this photo you can just see the viewpoint from the first photograph above on the hill in the upper left hand corner.

For more photographs of Vernon, Coldstream and the surrounding areas please visit my Thompson Okanagan Gallery.

Gold Creek and the Golden Ears Mountains

Gold Creek winds through the mountains and forests of Golden Ears Provincial Park in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada.

gold creek in golden ears provincial park

Gold Creek along the Lower Falls Trail in Golden Ears Provincial Park

-click to enlarge-

   If one were to point to an “iconic” composition from Golden Ears Provincial Park most would choose the second image here, showing some of the peaks of the Golden Ears mountains. While this may be the most popular scene, I decided to feature a slightly different composition in the photograph above. Even without the mountains in the background, I still like the impact of this scene. I have a few different compositions of this, but I think the wider panorama above shows off the area more effectively. In conditions where there were clear skies and/or some snow on the mountains, I think the bottom scene might prevail.

   I have previous photographed this area, but never really have encountered “perfect” conditions for doing so. I had planned on photographing this area in the snow last winter, but snow wasn’t really part of our 2014/2015 winter unfortunately. I headed to Golden Ears Park a few weeks ago on a cloudy day, as I knew my main goals were wildflowers, waterfalls, and Gold Creek itself. When I reached this view, about half way to Lower Falls along the Lower Falls Trail, I decided that the iconic view was worth a photograph regardless. The slight haze in the sky and the clouded background still allowed for enough contrast to photograph Evans Peak (left) and Edge Peak behind the foreground of Gold Creek and the many Red Alder (Alnus Rubra) trees lining the edge of the forest.

emerald green waters of gold creek in golden ears provincial park

Emerald waters of Gold Creek in Golden Ears Park

-click to enlarge-

   Which one of these compositions do you prefer? Do you think the second composition here is effective despite the imperfect conditions in the sky?

For more of my photographs from this area visit my Golden Ears Provincial Park Gallery.

Golden Ears Provincial Park – Gold Creek

Gold Creek winds through the trees and rocks at Golden Ears Provincial Park in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada.

gold creek in golden ears provincial park

Gold Creek near the Lower Falls Trail in Golden Ears Provincial Park

-click to enlarge-

   Golden Ears Provincial Park in Maple Ridge, British Columbia has almost all I want in a photo location – everything from tall mountains and forests to creeks, lakes and waterfalls. A few weeks ago I spent an afternoon and evening hiking and photographing in Golden Ears Park, mostly along Gold Creek. The first photo above shows Gold Creek along the Lower Falls trail in a spot where I had intended to stop and take a water break, but ended up photographing as well.

   Downstream from Gold Creek Bridge the bed of Gold Creek narrows into a rock lined “canyon” with fewer boulders to stir up the surface of the water. The emerald green pools of the creek are on full display in this stretch up until it empties into Alouette Lake at North Beach. The colours here are from minerals suspended in the water from its journey down from the mountains. This photograph was made along the North Beach Trail in one of the few pools I was able to find not filled with swimmers and boaters. The water levels here are what you would typically see in late August, but due to drought were at this level in late June. This did make for my best time shooting at Lower Falls, but I’ll make that its own blog post coming soon.

emerald green waters of gold creek in golden ears provincial park

Emerald waters of Gold Creek in Golden Ears Park

-click to enlarge-

For more of my photographs from this area visit my Golden Ears Provincial Park Gallery.