title photo - SAVANNAH TIME - The presence of Savannah Sparrows around the island coastlines, estuaries, and grassy meadows is a sure sign of fall. The Savannahs part of the annual wave of avian migration from the northern breeding grounds of the continent to the south. Some birds are quite content to winter around southwest BC while others continue to southern US.


I'm pleased to announce that I have two new prestigious and popular craft fairs confirmed for the holiday season. The first is the NANAIMO PROFESSIONAL CRAFT FAIR at Beban Park (Nanaimo) on Nov. 6, 7, 8. The NPCF is a well-established and successful fair celebrating its 25th anniversary. The second is the popular WINTERFEST on Nov. 27, 28, 29 at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre. Winterfest features live Celtic music and hourly draws for $50 Thrifty Foods cards.

I will be returning to FANNY BAY which is a small but warm and friendly gathering of crafters and artisans scheduled for Nov. 21 and 22. Regretfully, I won't be returning to DENMAN ISLAND because of more demand from local artisans which has reduced the spots non-islanders.

It is always fun to spend the rainy fall days selecting photos for my annual production of cards and giclees to go with my book sales. The standard favorites are hummingbirds and eagles, but I always sneak in a few of my favorite images even if they don't sell. Two new images on card and giclee are SPIRIT RAVEN IN FLIGHT and DESERT BEAUTY.

SPIRIT RAVEN - This Spirit Raven was photographed in Hilliers in 2012. It was a single white juvenile with three black siblings. (Quite often there are 2 white Ravens.) The original photo had a green forest in the background, but I have blacked out the background to increase the contrast and heighten the visual impact. Over the years the SPIRIT RAVENS have been one of my most interesting and popular images and requested by many to be used in art cards, book illustrations, and even quilting. In fact, the WHITE RAVEN inspired quilting artist, Virginia Greaves to create an award-winning quilt featuring the WHITE RAVE in 2013. (The White Raven, 40 x 32", by Virginia Greaves, Georgia, USA). Virginia states, "Legend holds that black ravens were kept at the Tower of London to protect the monarchy. My piece presents a rare white raven to the Tower and ask the question of what that would mean for the monarchy and the Tower." Inspired by a photo by Mike Yip of the white ravens on Vancouver Island, Virginia used machine applique and machine quilting to create this striking piece. We really admire the intricate details in the bird's feathers and especially in the creation of the Tower in the background. )

DESERT BEAUTY - Most of my photos are taken on Vancouver Island, but there are a few images from other locations that just beg to be included like the Verdin. It is a petit dessert bird I photographed in Palm Springs in 2014. The Vedin is a common desert species that feeds on insects and spiders. One of its peculiar habits is to build nests both for breeding and roosting. They are known to build multiple roosting nests which are utilized to provide warmth during the winter. (I think the pinkish red tubular flowers are from an ocotillo plant.)


It's all about timing I keep telling myself, but the reality is that bird abundance is significantly down for most species. However, it's all about access and convenience. As most of you know, my twitching days are all but over. At one time I was off to Victoria or some other distant location whenever I heard of a rare or interesting sighting. Nowadays, I find it difficult to find the time to even chase a local bird like the Lazuli Bunting on Dawson Road this summer. When I finally got around to checking it out the birds had already fledged and headed south.

Based on access and convenience, my three most common birding locations are still San Malo Mudflats, French Creek, and Admiral's Lagoon. Despite the lack of anything new or different, there's generally a few local species available for a little photo practice and enjoyment.

Sept. 10/15 - The tide was rising at San Malo when I stopped today. A quick scan with the binoculars revealed the usual handful of Killdeer and a lone shorebird strutting boldly over the muddy bay. The long yellow legs and upcurved bill spelled Greater Yellowlegs, a common visitor to the mudflats in the early fall. Because of the angle of the afternoon sun, I wasn't going to pull out my camera, but since it was heading towards me, I decided to try for a few shots.

The Greater Yellowlegs kept its distance but was quite obliging. It kindly turned its side to the sun while it was foraging for aquatic insects in the mud.

WHAT IS IT? - The Greater Yellowlegs got together with a pair of Mallards to inspect an oddity in the mud... If you believe me, I have bridge to sell ... This was just an exercise in photo-timing - waiting for the birds to get close enough for a group shot.

After San Malo I proceeded to French Creek and Admiral's Lagoon. French Creek was quiet and so was Admiral's, but I decided to spend some time with the Black Oystercatchers and Bonaparte's, my favorite gulls.

Some of the regulars at Admiral's were the California Gulls and Black Oystercatchers. Since the tide was rising, I simply set up and waited for the shoreline to come to me. The roosting birds moved towards me as the tide rose allowing for easy close-ups.

Mixed in with the Cal Gulls were a handful of Bonies. As you can see they are quite small compared to the Cals. You'll also notice that they have molted into their winter plumage - no black heads until mid to late spring.

Most of the gulls were in or beside the water except one which had discovered a very comfortable nest. The hint of brown on its head and scapulars is common for juveniles.

As the tide rose some of the gulls would fly up and land in a new position.

At high tide many of the gulls took flight and circled over the beach. It was a good time to work on flight shots.

At first I thought the birds were just enjoying some aerobatic fun but one shot revealed something interesting.

The gulls were actually fly-catching just like terns. I had heard of terns fly-catching but never made the transfer to gulls. I learned something new today.

Yes, I've spent many hours with the Bonaparte's in past years, but they are still just as much fun today.

What else was at Admiral's? The usual Black-bellied Plovers were roosting along the shoreline. As the tide rose and the shoreline got closer to me they had to decide to visit with me or fly to another roost.

Meanwhile, the Black Turnstones were busy foraging on the piles of seaweed that was heaped on the beach.

Although the turnstones are quite wary when you first approach, they soon grow accustomed to your presence. As usual, food trumps photographer.

One last beach customer - a Savannah Sparrow. It is often in the seaweed foraging for insects, but it didn't want to compete with the turnstones.


Sept. 22/15 - When it's an off year, you wonder where they are. When it's an on year, you wish they would move on. I'm talking about the Steller's Jays. They are an awesome bird, and I love seeing them - OCCASIONALLY. But like an uninvited guest with a ravenous appetite and a thirst for your best wine, enough is enough. Normally a block of suet lasts 4 or 5 days for my menagerie of Pileateds, Downies, Hairy's, Flickers, juncos, Nuthatches, Chickadees, and assorted sparrows, but with the arrival of the blue bandits, it's been one a day for the past month.

Most of the jays seem to be juveniles. Despite their enormous appetities, they are lovable varmints.

The arrival of the jays was timely for my wife who was participating in the International Fabric Art Conference in Victoria. One of her workshops was how to hook a Steller's Jay. I printed a couple of photos for her for reference. Surprisingly, the workshop presenter did not have a photo and was trying to describe the correct colour to out-of-country participants who had never seen a Steller's before. My wife was able to save the day by sharing her photos.

The nuthatches usually dart onto the feeder and dart off, but to get a photo, it's best to wait until they settle onto a branch. This happens when the feeder is busy with other birds, and the nuthatch is forced to wait its turn.

The same applies to the Downies. You can get a non-feeder shot if they are forced to wait their turn on a branch.

With a garden full of sunflowers I haven't been putting out seed. The chickadees don't mind, but the jays have been spoiled. They are still waiting by the empty feeder.


Sept. 27/15 - On the pretense that I was looking for nighthawks, I sat on Schooner Ridge to watch the Supermoon Eclipse ... this photo was taken at 8:17 pm which was about 30 minutes after the maximum eclipse. It was difficult to get a photo during the maximum eclipse because the moon was very faint. It was difficult to focus and avoid vibration during the time exposure. During the time I did not see any nighthawks.


Oct. 1/15 - Since my last beach photos three weeks ago, I've actually stopped 3 or 4 times without finding any subjects to photograph, but Oct. 1 brought about an interesting challenge. I spotted a pair of Pacific Golden Plovers foraging on the mudflats. They had been reported by Guy a day earlier. Unfortunately, it was foggy which wasn't ideal for photos, especially since they weren't going to be close. I spent an hour in the fog but gave up as the fog actually thickened around 1:00 pm.

When I returned at 5 pm the fog had lifted, but the plovers were even further from shore. Close-ups weren't possible but the sun allowed for some decent record photos.

Camera shy? Most birds are, but this gull wasn't. It stood in front of me then fluttered about a meter in the air several times just begging for a photo. I finally obliged and then the gull went about trying to open the clam.



Bird Poster

My poster is on display at: Victoria - Swan Lake Nature House. (Note: This poster has been produced in a more manageable size and is now available for $20 unlaminated and $32 laminated.)



















Port Hardy - MUSEUM


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