Last year I discovered a naturalist tour
of Beaver Lake to hear and maybe see a beaver. I discovered it a
few days after it happened. Ever since, I've been trying to see a
beaver. My Mom was in town so I could leave early and go for
a walk. The park was really quite so I can understand how
you could hear a beaver slap it's tail on the water, but I didn't
see or hear a beaver.
It was a beautiful evening so instead of
driving straight home, I stopped at the totem poles for some city
view photos. After my eyes adjusted, I noticed the Great
Blue Heron still fishing in the dark. He flew off shortly
after I took the photo.
Helen was working for the weekend so my Mom
graciously came over to help take care of the kids. Nara
really likes strawberry jam so we decided to pick some
strawberries ourselves to make Jam. We packed in to the car
and drove to Westham Island in Delta. We went to Emma Lea
farms (good reviews online and the fruit I have bought there was
good). Parking was okay, we walked out to the field and
Sadly, they don't mark
the rows that have been picked so it can be kind of hit and
miss. I noticed one family was only picking large berries (we
were after Jam berries so it was a different thing) so maybe marking
rows isn't that functional. They do have a sign asking you not
to eat the fruit you are picking. The kids picked and picked
until we filled our buckets and then we went home to make Jam.
Grandma brought some equipment (a favorite pot) and Claira went to
bed. We made 7 jars of jam.
After Nara's Chinese class on Sundays we
like to do something a little special. Because Grandma is
here, we went with Ice Cream! I picked a place pretty close
to home I had never been to - Tangram. They made excelent
ice cream, but at first I was a little shocked to see they had
fewer than a dozen flavors on offer. They had the only two
that my kids eat though - chocolate and vanilla.
While Nara was in Chinese class, we stopped by Richmond Nature
Park with Claira. The place was buzzing with Dragonflies so
I thought I would try again in the evening when they were moving a
little slower. I came out after dinner and the activity
level was way reduced, but I did manage to find a Four Spotted
Skimmer perched on a nice grass stem. I went for a short
walk around the park and found a Garter Snake. I had my long
lens out so I was able to watch it from a distance - if it got too
close, I couldn't focus on it!
Iona Beach Regional Park
Iona Beach Regional Park is my new go to
spot - it's pretty quick to get to from Vancouver and it has a
wide variety of birds in large numbers - if someone scares away an
individual, there is probably another one in the next set of
bushes. Today I walked the opposite of my usual route - I
started with the ocean side and walked clockwise around the North
Pond. I've seen online that Purple Martin's have returned
and found them quite quickly looking over a possible home. I
don't really get how the tree swallows haven't taken over every
possible nesting box - the tree swallows seem to be on to their
second brood of the season.
I don't know why, but the hummingbirds were fighting more than
usual. I saw lots of pairs but sometimes as many as four
birds diving and chasing, sometimes below knee height.
Sometimes you get lucky and a bird stops moving quite close to
where you are standing. Today luck favored females - I saw
both a female Anna's and a female Rufus hummingbird.
Speaking of luck, I stumbled upon three Cedar Waxwings flying
by. They paused in a tree long enough for my to raise my
camera, but were gone before I got focus on them. I walked a
little further and found two more - and they didn't fly.
After watching them for a while, I found a nest! This pair
was putting a fluffy layer in, taking multiple trips to do
so. This is the closest I have been to Cedar Waxwings.
I'm currently hunting for American Goldfinches. There are
two that frequently visit the power lines outside the window where
I work. They are too far away to photograph, but their
bright yellow flashes really draw my attention. I heard them
on my walk today, but never got a chance to see one. I did
see a very productive female Red-Wing Blackbird (I wonder where
they are getting all the bugs from) and a Common Yellowthroat
closer than I have seen them before.
A great few hours of walking!
Beaver at Stanley Park
There is clearly a beaver (or two) living in
Beaver Lake in Stanley Park. Their house is prominent (if a
little overgrown) in the pond and they work hard to make the lake
flood more. The people maintaining the park are trying hard
to prevent more flooding and large trees from being felled.
I've been to Beaver Lake lots of times, but this is the first time
I have actually seen a Beaver.
The beaver never got out of the water - he seemed to be swimming
in different deeper parts of the lake.
Caitlin and Family Visit
Caitlin has graduated UVic and off to
travel. Congratulations! Her family flew into town to
help celebrate the big day. When Caitlin first came to the
west coast, her family came to visit and we went out to Sandbar on
Granville Island. We decided to repeat the event four years
After dinner at Sandbar we walked home to a cake Helen made and
decorated. Caitlin has a Gluten free diet so sometimes it's
easier to make deserts than it is to find them.
It was great having you on the wet coast Caitlin, don't be a
Lightning Over English Bay
We don't get much thunder and lighting in
Vancouver - the coastal mountains seem to break up storms before
they get large enough. Each year, we might get one or
two. This years storm was early enough in the night that we
noticed it so I set my camera out on the deck hoping to record
some lightning strikes. I was in luck - the camera did see a
Iona Beach Regional Park
Friday night was nice, but it was forecast
to rain all weekend. After I gave the kids a bath, I drove
over to Iona. I was really hoping to see the Cedar Waxwings
that were making a nest the previous weekend.
straight to the nest, but it was empty - something had moved from
the core of the tree to the outer branches. It wasn't a great
place to raise chicks (too close to the walking paths) so hopefully
the waxwings just made a nest somewhere a little more secure.
We poked around the pond - I was quite surprised to see a Pied Grebe
with a chick - a shocking looking young bird. It was the first
time I had see one.
weekends bad weather was arriving soon which lead to dramatic skies
and a fiery sunset. I tried my hand a bit of landscape
photography - something I have done less of now that I am doing so
HDR seems to be the name of the game - the contrast is so high, I
often needed multiple exposures to get a satisfactory image.
Claira and Nara are in Gymnastics on
Saturday afternoons. One class a year they have a photo
day. Because both kids have photo day on the same day at the
same time, it's a rush to try and get photos of both of
them. I've learned a few tricks over the years - gymnastics
means moving so generally I shoot way faster than the 1/50mm rule
would suggest - 1/200th or better is a good idea. I didn't
get much time to shoot Nara (the class ended early) but next
semester we have the kids in different time slots so we should be
Happy Birthday Claira!
Nara had a birthday at the Kerrisdale
community centre and we had a good time - nice space, volunteers
and nearby Pizza place to cater. We were originally going to
Claira's birthday at Granville Island community centre but the
dates conflicted so we were back at Kerrisdale.
At Kerisdale they have a party room (with a
kitchen) and then a small gymnasium with a bouncy castle.
The provide some decorations and kids appropriate
furniture. Nara and Claira both like helium filled
balloons so they first thing they do is going ripping around the
room with balloons trailing. The volunteers help setup the
room (thanks!) and Helen got out the decorated cupcakes she had
hour window is basically gym - eat - gym. Four kids at a time
can play in the bouncy castle (a volunteer acted as a gatekeeper and
timer) and the rest of the gym is setup with toys for various
ages. Claira spent a lot of time in the bouncy castle with
friends while Nara did more of the sports related activities with
the older siblings that were there.
We had delivered pizza
for lunch (the volunteers help herd the kids to the bathroom to wash
their hands). After lunch (everyone ate some vegetables),
cupcakes and more gym time it was sadly time to say goodbye.
Thanks everyone for joining us!
Granville Island Waterpark
The kids seem to really enjoy a run around
the waterpark on a warm day. It's not to much for me to take
both kids down (we can walk) while Helen takes a few hours to
herself. This time I brought my waterproof camera so I could
bring the camera into the spray zone.
I haven't really figured out how to take a good video of
the waterslide experience. It seems just wrong to do it with
a self stick (not that I own one).