Saturday, June 26, 2010

Living in paradise

One sight from my recent boat trip to the San Juans.

This is the view looking south east from the mouth of Reid Harbour (good name huh?) on Stuart Island.

I grew up in northern Manitoba, and like every landscape, it has its own beauty, but I never get over the combination here of ocean and snow-peaked mountain.

Or the forests that range from temperate rain to dry Mediterranean.

Here's some prickly pear cactus growing on Patos Island where we spent the first night. Cactus. Just a few metres above the Pacific Ocean.

Patos marks the northern limit of the American portion of an archipelago divided by the Canada-U.S. border (drawn in the water). On the Canadian side the chain continues and we call them the Gulf Islands. On the American side they are the San Juans.

The Spanish explorers Galiano and Valdez named this little island Isla de Patos in 1792. It means island of ducks. Coincidentally, I'm posting this in a hurry as I'm off to the Gulf Island Galiano. You can probably guess who that's named for.

But the most breath taking of all. Orcas leaping in the air just outside the marina at Point Roberts, Wash. You know when you see a killer whale breach within the first 20 minutes of the trip, it's going to be a good one.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Campus sweethearts

To say I'm happy with my new camera outfit would be a bit of an understatement. I resisted as long as I could, in loyalty to my old 20D, but I have to admit that five years in digital technology time makes a noticeable difference.

Once my 70 to 200mm lens arrived I practically ran up to the University of Victoria to snap the pair I've been following up there.

These two have opted to nest on a light standard stuck between the soccer pitch and the track and field facility. That means it's a busy place, not only home to the uni athletes, but also the site of competitive sports between people much younger and older than that.

And the funny thing is that the osprey kind of squawk through the commotion. Like they didn't choose to nest in a busy urban environment, for at least the second year running.

The good thing about osprey is that they can fledge chicks just as well from a nest in a grocery parking lot as they can from one over a remote boreal river. In fact maybe the squawking isn't even a complaint (as it sounds to my human ears) but a greeting.

On this day, the fields were empty. Here, the male delivers a fish to his mate, whose posture suggests she's dealing with chicks. Right on schedule.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Birds of a sort

Still waiting on a long lens, I took my new set up out to the navy fleet review on Saturday.
The Canadian Navy celebrates 100 years of service in 2010 and CFB Esquimalt hosted an international fleet review as one of the events.

Fleet reviews are pretty rare and used to be a way of showing one's marine military might. Now it's more of a bragging contest. Victoria hasn't seen a review in more than 50 years.

Coast Guard and navy ships attended from Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. Canada's Governor General Michaelle Jean inspected and the Snowbirds air demonstration squadron paid a visit.

Many of the eight thousand sailors (hello) from those ships took to the streets of Victoria making for an eventful weekend.

Throw in a couple of cruise ships, Buccaneer Days and the Naked Bike Ride and, well, there was plenty to point a camera at.

I even resisted the temptation to post the much racier picture of the fellow on the right.

Really, the long lens I'm waiting for would have been more suitable for that assignment.

In all other ways my new photography kit performed wonderfully.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Fonder heart

If you're wondering about my absence in the heart of both osprey and hummingbird season, it's because my camera gear was stolen.

This has caused enough hurt to silence me.

Thanks to a system I've always distrusted – thank you insurance – I have a replacement. A bright, shiny, newer, faster model. I have had very little interest in testing it.

Also, I'm still waiting for my big lens to arrive. Then this summer's osprey stories will continue.

And my grief will go away.