June 19, 2014

Kudos to City of Burnaby Enviro Engineering for Spill Response

Kudos to City of Burnaby Environmental Engineering for their swift response after cans of hydraulic fluid fell off a transport truck near the corner of Griffiths and Southpoint. They used sand to soak up fluid and a vactor truck to suck out fluid that made it into the nearby street drain - catch basin. All drains lead directly to local waterways.

Burnaby Now story and video:
http://www.burnabynow.com/news/truck-spills-hydraulic-fluid-in-burnaby-1.1136841

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Posted by Paul at 02:40 PM

Kudos to City of Burnaby Enviro Engineering for Spill Response

Kudos to City of Burnaby Environmental Engineering for their swift response after cans of hydraulic fluid fell off a transport truck near the corner of Griffiths and Southpoint. They used sand to soak up fluid and a vactor truck to suck out fluid that made it into the nearby street drain - catch basin. All drains lead directly to local waterways.

Burnaby Now story and video:
http://www.burnabynow.com/news/truck-spills-hydraulic-fluid-in-burnaby-1.1136841

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Posted by Paul at 02:40 PM

Kudos to City of Burnaby Enviro Engineering for Spill Response

Kudos to City of Burnaby Environmental Engineering for their swift response after cans of hydraulic fluid fell off a transport truck near the corner of Griffiths and Southpoint. They used sand to soak up fluid and a vactor truck to suck out fluid that made it into the nearby street drain - catch basin. All drains lead directly to local waterways.

Burnaby Now story and video:
http://www.burnabynow.com/news/truck-spills-hydraulic-fluid-in-burnaby-1.1136841

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Posted by Paul at 02:40 PM

Kudos to City of Burnaby Enviro Engineering for Spill Response

Kudos to City of Burnaby Environmental Engineering for their swift response after cans of hydraulic fluid fell off a transport truck near the corner of Griffiths and Southpoint. They used sand to soak up fluid and a vactor truck to suck out fluid that made it into the nearby street drain - catch basin. All drains lead directly to local waterways.

Burnaby Now story and video:
http://www.burnabynow.com/news/truck-spills-hydraulic-fluid-in-burnaby-1.1136841

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Posted by Paul at 02:40 PM

Kudos to City of Burnaby Enviro Engineering for Spill Response

Kudos to City of Burnaby Environmental Engineering for their swift response after cans of hydraulic fluid fell off a transport truck near the corner of Griffiths and Southpoint. They used sand to soak up fluid and a vactor truck to suck out fluid that made it into the nearby street drain - catch basin. All drains lead directly to local waterways.

Burnaby Now story and video:
http://www.burnabynow.com/news/truck-spills-hydraulic-fluid-in-burnaby-1.1136841

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Posted by Paul at 02:40 PM

Kudos to City of Burnaby Enviro Engineering for Spill Response

Kudos to City of Burnaby Environmental Engineering for their swift response after cans of hydraulic fluid fell off a transport truck near the corner of Griffiths and Southpoint. They used sand to soak up fluid and a vactor truck to suck out fluid that made it into the nearby street drain - catch basin. All drains lead directly to local waterways.

Burnaby Now story and video:
http://www.burnabynow.com/news/truck-spills-hydraulic-fluid-in-burnaby-1.1136841

hydfraulic_spill_se_burnaby_20140619_1_500

hyfraulic_sill_se_burnaby_20140619_2_500

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Posted by Paul at 02:40 PM

Kudos to City of Burnaby Enviro Engineering for Spill Response

Kudos to City of Burnaby Environmental Engineering for their swift response after cans of hydraulic fluid fell off a transport truck near the corner of Griffiths and Southpoint. They used sand to soak up fluid and a vactor truck to suck out fluid that made it into the nearby street drain - catch basin. All drains lead directly to local waterways.

Burnaby Now story and video:
http://www.burnabynow.com/news/truck-spills-hydraulic-fluid-in-burnaby-1.1136841

Posted by Paul at 02:40 PM

Kudos to City of Burnaby Enviro Engineering for Spill Response

Kudos to City of Burnaby Environmental Engineering for their swift response after cans of hydraulic fluid fell off a transport truck near the corner of Griffiths and Southpoint. They used sand to soak up fluid and a vactor truck to suck out fluid that made it into the nearby street drain - catch basin. All drains lead directly to local waterways.

Burnaby Now story and video:
http://www.burnabynow.com/news/truck-spills-hydraulic-fluid-in-burnaby-1.1136841

hydfraulic_spill_se_burnaby_20140619_1_500

hyfraulic_sill_se_burnaby_20140619_2_500

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Posted by Paul at 02:40 PM

Kudos to City of Burnaby Enviro Engineering for Spill Response

Kudos to City of Burnaby Environmental Engineering for their swift response after cans of hydraulic fluid fell off a transport truck near the corner of Griffiths and Southpoint. They used sand to soak up fluid and a vactor truck to suck out fluid that made it into the nearby street drain - catch basin. All drains lead directly to local waterways.

Burnaby Now story and video:
http://www.burnabynow.com/news/truck-spills-hydraulic-fluid-in-burnaby-1.1136841

hydfraulic_spill_se_burnaby_20140619_1_500

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Posted by Paul at 02:40 PM

June 02, 2014

Nature Photos Near Parksville, Coming Home from SEHAB Meeting

After the SEHAB meeting, I took a few hours to do some shooting around Parksville, including the beaches and Englishman River Falls Provincial Park. I then caught an evening ferry back to the mainland.

Beaches north of Parksville

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Englishman River Falls Provincial Park

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On the ferry heading home

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Posted by Paul at 03:01 PM

SEHAB Meeting in Parksville, BC–Photos

The Salmon Enhancement and Habitat Advisory Board met in Parksville, BC, over the last weekend. We had a Friday Night Forum at which nearly 60 local stewards heard a presentation on the new DFO Fisheries Protection Program. The SEHAB board then met for a full day of working meetings on Saturday, and a half-day on Sunday. I am board Secretary and Chair of the Communication Committee, and I love these opportunities for intensive sharing of knowledge and information about salmon-related stewardship activities from across British Columbia. It's also great to get out of the lower mainland and learn about stewardship projects in other places, and meet the volunteers and local champions who get things done.

Here's some photos of the trip:

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Leaving Horseshoe Bay

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The beautiful BC coast

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Volunteer representatives from across BC hard at work

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A post-dinner walk on the seashore

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Photo: Zo Ann Morten

As the communication guy, I point out that "You are here!" Um, somewhere in
Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park.

Posted by Paul at 02:14 PM

May 29, 2014

Choco the Cat Shows How to Stay Hydrated

Choco is an adult rescue. We got her when she was about three years old. But this behaviour makes me suspect that she had special forces survival training in her past. That, and her wicked right hook, when she doesn't like my moustache wiggling at her.

Posted by Paul at 09:39 PM

May 24, 2014

Katzie Slough Tour in Pitt Meadows, BC

Took part in an interesting tour of Katzie Slough in Pitt Meadows, BC, today. Some history, some watershed lore, some personal recollections, and fighting the good fight to preserve and enhance urban biodiversity. Thanks to Watershed Watch Salmon Society organizer Lina Azeez and tour leader Scott Magri.

I have an album of tour photos on Flickr available here.

Posted by Paul at 09:32 PM

May 21, 2014

Leafy Byrne Creek Ravine Park

On today's photo ramble I kept a 70 - 300mm zoom on my Nikon DSLR (105 - 450 mm equivalent), and concentrated on isolating leaves in the forest.

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Posted by Paul at 07:40 PM

Birds, Bugs, and Bees on Byrne Creek Walk

My circumnavigation of the Byrne Creek trail in SE Burnaby this afternoon produced several animal photos.

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This pileated woodpecker was using the metal top of this light standard to drum up
a girlfriend and/or warn off territorial encroachers.

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More and more millipedes are steadily appearing in the 'hood. An inquisitive ant circled
this one several times before finally giving up and leaving.

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Bumblebee hanging out on the job.

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A brace of bees a'buzzing.

Posted by Paul at 07:26 PM

May 20, 2014

Young Mallards Eat Dead ‘First-Flush’ Coho Smolts on Byrne Creek

Unfortunately we had yet another "first-flush" kill of juvenile coho smolts on the creek in SE Burnaby, BC, over the last day. Whenever we release hatchery coho smolts, we're always on edge, hoping there is no rain for a week or so following. That's because the first rain after release that washes all the crap off our roads and into the creek tends to kills a significant proportion of the newly released fish. Indigenous coho and trout appear to survive just fine, so it seems to be an acclimatization issue with a certain proportion of the hatchery fish. Today I counted 40 dead smolts following yesterday's shower. That's not bad -- in previous years we've enumerated as many as 400-500 morts. This year's batch had six days to acclimatize and start moving downstream before the first flush of accumulated pollutants such as gas, oil, antifreeze, brake-lining dust, pesticides, and whatever other toxins that make it onto our urban streets.

I should point out that I also saw lots of live fish ranging from fry to smolts, so they are likely coho and cutthroat trout that hatch and and are resident in the creek.

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On happier note, in contrast to the dead "first-flush" coho juveniles, I was pleased to see that the mom mallard and ducklings that have been hanging around the Byrne Creek habitat seem to be doing well. She still has six ducklings, and they're getting to be of a size where predation is gradually becoming less of a worry. I dunno about the little ones, but I wouldn't be surprised if Mom hasn't scarfed a good feeding of dead coho smolts. Yes, I've seen mallards eat dead smolts before.

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And then, as I was going through my photos, I noticed something dangling from a duckling's mouth. I did a massive crop on the photo, and yep, even the ducklings are scarfing the dead coho yearlings!

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Posted by Paul at 02:32 PM

May 18, 2014

Tiny Fry Spotted in Burnaby’s Byrne Creek

Yumi and I saw two distinct size groupings of fry in Byrne Creek on a walk today. There were dozens in the 5 - 7 cm range, and then there were a few smaller ones in the 3 - 4 cm range. I would guess that the larger ones are salmon, likely coho by appearance, and the smaller ones may be cutthroat trout, since the salmon spawn Oct - Dec and the trout spawn Feb - May. Incubation time for trout is 6 - 7 weeks, so that would be about right if they spawned a couple of months ago.

Here's a shot of one of the smaller ones:

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Posted by Paul at 06:26 PM

May 15, 2014

Touring Students on Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby

I led three tours of art students from Byrne Creek Secondary in SE Burnaby today over to Byrne Creek. We didn't have oodles of time per tour, but we spent time at Griffiths Pond looking at the fish ladder and talking about streamkeeper activities, and then went over to the old homestead and talked invasive plants, etc. It was a great day, almost verging toward too warm. But I got my exercise walking back and forth three times : -).

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Talking about the Stream of Dreams installation on the Skytrain pedestrian overpass near
Edmonds Station.

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Scrambling down to Griffiths Pond to view the fish ladder and talk streamkeeping.

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Posing for photos near the old homestead. Kids click everything and everywhere
these days!

Posted by Paul at 03:34 PM

May 14, 2014

Manning Park Beasts and Birds

Saw mammals large and small at Manning Provincial Park. I stayed in the car for the bear photos. The ground squirrels were way more aggressive, because they expect a constant flow of handouts. Not from me, though.

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Black bear

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Black bear butt - this is the end that you want to see moving away from you,
particularly if you're not in your car

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Too darn cute for their own health!

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A turkey vulture on the prowl.

Posted by Paul at 07:38 PM

This butterfly/moth has both camo and party modes

Not sure if this is a butterfly or a moth, but it's very cool. When its wings are spread it's vivid orange with black spots and trim, and when it closes them, it blends right into the ground.

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Posted by Paul at 07:13 PM

May 11, 2014

Sunny, Busy Day in Steveston, BC

Steveston was bustling today with families eager to get out in the sun and celebrate Mother's Day. There was lots of action on the Fisherman's Wharf, and restaurants were packed. Yumi settled for bargain hunting in a local thrift store, while I picked up a few books at a new/used bookstore.

It was definitely shorts and sandals weather, at least for me. Yumi found the breeze a bit cool : -).

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Posted by Paul at 06:18 PM

May 07, 2014

South Burnaby Photo Ramble

I took a walk down Byrne Creek Ravine in SE Burnaby this afternoon to enjoy the sunshine. I didn't feel like lugging my DSLR gear, but ended up taking lots of shots with my pocketable Canon Elph 520HS.

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Salmon fry - possibly chum released last week with schoolkids

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A tree-climbing snail. At certain times of the year you see lots of snails climbing
trees in Byrne Creek Ravine Park.

Posted by Paul at 04:37 PM

April 27, 2014

Lovely Walk Along Spanish Banks, Vancouver

Yumi and I took advantage of the sunshine to take a walk along Spanish Banks beach in Vancouver today.

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Posted by Paul at 06:10 PM

April 24, 2014

Set Up CamRanger Today

I set up my new CamRanger today. Took about five minutes following the clear instructions. I can now see what my Nikon DSLR is seeing, and control all its settings and focus, etc., wirelessly with my iPod from up to 150 feet away.

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Here you can see how the iPod accesses the CamRanger WiFi signal. The CamRanger is plugged into the DSLR's USB port. All of the camera settings can be wirelessly manipulated with the iPod (or iPad or Android device. There are also apps for Macs and a beta for Windows).

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Here you can see the iPod viewing what the DSLR is viewing. Cool!

Posted by Paul at 04:54 PM

April 22, 2014

CamRanger Arrived Today

I ordered a CamRanger wireless camera control unit a week or so ago, and it arrived today. Too late to play with it, just plug in the battery and get it charged up for upcoming adventures.

What's a CamRanger?

It's a small wireless device that plugs into many models of Nikon and Canon DSLRs, and enables remote control of most camera functions via a smartphone or tablet. Cool!

It's been highly recommended by several photo mags for closeup and nature photography.

It also functions as an intervalometer, so it will be fun to play with blossoming flowers, growing plants, etc.

Posted by Paul at 09:13 PM

April 18, 2014

Getting Increasingly Frustrated with Aging Windows 7 Box

I've been getting frustrated with my Windows 7 box over the last few months. It seems to be slowing. I bought the current tower about 5-1/2 years ago, which means it's approaching senior status in computer years : - )

Computers tend to slow over the years as the programs and data pile up, and despite good care and attention, eventually one has to upgrade.

I've upgraded the box to two larger HDs over the years, a primary 1.5TB and a secondary 2TB, but the other specs have stayed the same.

It's the system RAM, at 6 GB, that's one factor in this machine starting to feel cramped and slow, and with a maximum configuration of 8GB for this motherboard, I don't think adding 2 GB will make a huge difference. The other factor is the 512 MB video card. That's also constraining my photo and video work.

I bought a refurbished Mac Mini about half a year ago, and topped it up to 16 GB of RAM, and it blasts through stuff. So I think there will be a new Windows 8.1 box in my not-too-distant future, with a state-of-the-art processor, at least 16 GB of RAM, and likely dual 4 TB HDs.

Posted by Paul at 07:51 PM

February 25, 2014

Snowy Photo Ramble in Ron McLean Park, Byrne Creek

I took a 1-1/2 hour walk through the snow this afternoon in SE Burnaby. Lovely day!

Photos here.

Posted by Paul at 08:37 PM

January 03, 2014

Landscapes, Birds along Fraser Foreshore Park in Burnaby

Been fighting a bad cold for nearly a week, and finally felt good enough to get out and walk the cameras in the rare west coast sunshine this afternoon. Created two Flicker sets:

Landscapes

and

Birds

Posted by Paul at 07:50 PM

December 27, 2013

My Pictures Folder Surpasses 1 TB

The "My Photos" folder on my main Win7 box has surpassed 1TB. As of today, it has 132,414 images in it, in 1,983 folders, for a total of 1.05 TB. Yikes!

I always do a quick review whenever I import images from an SD or CF card and delete on the fly any shots that are out of focus, unflattering to individuals, poorly exposed, and poorly framed. I also have gone back on occasion and purged hundreds of shots in marathon review sessions. Yet, there it is: 1.05 TB. 130,000+ photos.

That's about three times as many photos and five times the disk space (higher megapixel cameras over time) as I had in this post just over four years ago.

Posted by Paul at 08:56 PM

December 26, 2013

Gulls Chow Down on Salmon at Tenderfoot Hatchery

Yumi and I celebrated Boxing Day by driving up to Squamish BC to look for eagles and spawning salmon. Saw only a couple of eagles, but there were hordes of gulls chowing down on expired salmon that had returned to spawn near the Tenderfoot Creek Hatchery.

On our way back home we stopped and explored some of the Squamish estuary.

Posted by Paul at 06:25 PM

December 25, 2013

'My Girls' Play with Xmas Stocking Stuffers

Choco the Cat got a laser toy in her stocking, while Yumi got a whirly thingy : -).

Yes, Midori got some presents, too, calcium blocks for her tank, but she pretty much sleeps all day on top of a hot-water bottle in a basket in the winter.

Posted by Paul at 11:30 AM

December 24, 2013

Pre-Xmas Walk Around Icy Rice Lake

Yumi and I took a walk around a frozen Rice Lake in North Vancouver today. The foggy atmosphere made for some interesting shots.

Posted by Paul at 05:20 PM

December 08, 2013

Icy Byrne Creek

Ice forms amazing patterns in flowing water. A few shots taken in Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby as I was checking for spawning salmon.

Posted by Paul at 12:36 PM

September 23, 2013

Wonderful Afternoon Photo Ramble in South Surrey, BC

http://www.flickr.com/photos/82399097@N00/sets/72157635827189974/

Posted by Paul at 09:17 PM

September 18, 2013

Canon ELPH 520HS for C$119!

I saw a Canon PowerShot ELPH 520 HS on sale today for C$119 with a 4GB card, and couldn't resist. I've long owned shirt-pocket sized Canons that I carry pretty much all the time, and my present 780IS was getting a bit long in the tooth. The 520 now lists for C$259, and I think when it was originally released it was over $300. It sports a 12X zoom starting at the 35mm equivalent of a 28mm wide angle, well over the 780's 3X starting at 35mm. Also a more sophisticated image chip and computing engine, and full 1080p HD video. It's a bit thicker than the 780, but the features make up for that.

I don't always carry my DSLR gear, and the pocket PowerShots have served me very well over many years.

Posted by Paul at 08:26 PM

July 28, 2013

Lonsdale Quay, Canada Place, Vancouver Photos

Yumi and I took the opportunity of using her monthly transit pass (I get to ride with her for free on Sundays and holidays) to take a jaunt to Lonsdale Quay and downtown Vancouver. A few shots on a sunny, blue-sky day:

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Posted by Paul at 08:01 PM

July 26, 2013

Drinking Wasps, Blackberry Bees near Byrne Creek

Lots of insect life along Byrne Creek on a walk over lunchtime today. Saw lots of wasps drinking from the creek. They'd land on a stone, and edge down toward the water and then their tails would twitch as they drank. Also lots of bees on blackberry blossoms.

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And some cool-looking algae

Posted by Paul at 08:20 PM

July 12, 2013

Glorious Lunch on Burnaby Mountain

Noticing sun outside, I grabbed my camera and climbed out of my basement office. Picked up some takeout sushi (don't tell my wife!), and headed up Burnaby Mountain for lunch. It was a good idea:

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Tancho crane eco-sculpture. Kushiro, Japan, is Burnaby's sister city.

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Kamui Mintara - Playground of the Gods - these Ainu "totem poles" are
another of Burnaby's connections to Japan.

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And not to worry, I will get the last four days of our Alaska cruise
posted here in awhile.

Posted by Paul at 08:09 PM

July 09, 2013

Burnaby Fraser Foreshore Pond Life

Whenever I have an hour to spare, I love going down the hill for a stroll in Fraser Foreshore Park in south Burnaby with camera in hand. Water attracts so much life!

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Posted by Paul at 08:50 PM

June 21, 2013

Alaska Cruise–Sea Views, Ship Views

I loved doing lap after lap around the Volendam as we cruised the waters, taking photos of distant scenery, and exploring views of the ship and its equipment.

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Posted by Paul at 09:05 PM

Seven-Day Vancouver-Alaska Cruise, Day 3

Juneau and Mendenhall Glacier

Our first port of call was Juneau, Alaska. Deciding against an organized excursion, Yumi and I wandered the town on our own, and took a bus out to the Mendenhall Glacier.

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The Volendam

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Disney and Princess ships

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Float planes are everywhere in Alaska

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Juneau

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Sarah Palin's old house (Governor's Mansion)

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Cruise ships and float planes - yep you see a lot of those in Alaska

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And salmon fishing

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Approaching the Mendenhall Glacier

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Yumi on the trail

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Cool rock

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Nugget Falls

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Porcupine taking a snooze

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Mendenhall Visitor Center

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We saw no bears, but we did see bear poop, which was close enough

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The park has an arctic tern nesting area

Posted by Paul at 03:03 PM

June 20, 2013

Seven-Day Vancouver-Alaska Cruise, Day 2

Apparently I didn't take many photos on day 2, which was mostly cruising up the Inside Passage
during the night toward our first stop at Juneau, Alaska. But here are some of our stateroom,
and a whale and some other wildlife.

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Our cosy stateroom

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We liked the location, speed, weather, and other data tracking on the TV.
For me, a bottle of Jim Beam to sip before retiring to bed; for Yumi, a bottle
of white wine. If you look closely, you may see an upside-down photographer in the
makeup mirror.

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Yumi checking out the interior

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Yumi with Uncle Stefan

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And the highlight of the day, a minke, no, a humpback, a minke,
no, the consensus ended up a humpback whale! One of a pod of
several. Would that ghostly whiter shape alongside be a youngster?

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Porpoises, no, dolphins, no, porpoises, oh, heck, frolicking beasties
splashing in the water

It's when you encounter photography situations like this that you
want an even longer lens!

Posted by Paul at 08:10 PM

June 19, 2013

Seven-Day Vancouver-Alaska Cruise, Day 1

Yumi and I did our first-ever cruise this month, joining a group of six more relatives for a 7-day Alaska sojourn with Holland America on the ms Volendam. While we had a few overcast days, and saw lots of rain in the distance several times, we experienced just a few drops of rain during the entire week, and plenty of warm sunshine. The sea was smooth all the way, even in the less-sheltered stretches, and neither of us experienced any seasickness.

Long story short? We loved it. We'd do it again tomorrow. We're hoping to win the lottery so that we can indulge in the well over 100 pages in the Holland America cruise-planning booklet.

I'll be posting day-by-day photos here retroactively as I have time. It's tough to come home from most vacations. Now I know it's even tougher to come home from a cruise!

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Looking aft toward Vancouver while still docked

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The "sails" of Canada Place from near the bow

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Out at the bow. This was to be one of our favourite places to view
surroundings - assuming it wasn't too windy

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Yumi entering the bow area

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Under way! Passing beneath the Lion's Gate Bridge

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Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver. We've hiked there many a time, but this was only
the second time we've seen the lighthouse from the water

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A passing tug

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Downtown Vancouver begins to shrink in the distance

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Revving up the engines as we're well clear of the harbour.

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Yumi at the stern

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The view straight down from the stern

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Checking out some of the interior. Beam me up, Scotty!

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We noticed this elevator rug the first day, and yes, they do change
it every day. After a few days we realized why - you can get discombobulated
very easily on a cruise as the full service kicks in and the days flow by

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As evening comes on, a last shot from Deck 3, the Promenade where
folks take their daily walks, and watch for wildlife

Can't wait for tomorrow!

Posted by Paul at 09:34 PM

June 10, 2013

Cruising Victoria BC’s Beach Drive, Mt. Doug

I've loved Victoria for decades. One undergrad year at UVic decades ago, and an MA at Royal Roads a few years ago. I don't get enough chances to visit. A few photos from one morning on my way back from a 3-day working meeting on the island:

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Posted by Paul at 08:48 PM

June 02, 2013

Commemorative Pavers for Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Founders

The Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society purchased commemorative pavers in the courtyard of Burnaby City Hall awhile back to honour our four founding "elders." Yumi and I checked them out today when we met at City Hall to go on a birding tour around Deer Lake.

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BTW, the spelling on the third paver is LLOYD, not LLYOD.
We did submit the proper spelling on the form, so we'll ask for
a free correction.

Posted by Paul at 05:20 PM

May 31, 2013

What? No More SATA Power Leads in my Tower Computer?!

Dontcha just hate it when you run out of SATA power leads in your tower computer, and it's 10:30pm and you need a 2" 4-Pin IDE Molex to SATA Power Adapter Cable?

So I bought a PCI USB 3.0 card for my tower the other day, along with a USB 3.0 HD dock. I open up the case tonight, and, gasp, horrors, no more SATA leads are available off the power supply to power the card!

I've had a USB 2.0 HD dock for years, one of the best gizmos ever for hot-swapping SATA hard drives for backup and other purposes. But I'd really like to upgrade to the much faster USB 3.0, because at this point I have 824 GB of photos and video to back up, which takes ages over USB 2.0.

Posted by Paul at 10:42 PM

Turtle Exhausted After Laying Clutch of Eggs

Midori, our red-eared slider, has been laying eggs off and on over the last month. Usually it's one or two at a time, but the other evening we found her with half a dozen on the carpet and a few in her tank.

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Folks are bound to have questions about this so let me attempt to anticipate a few:

  • Are turtles good pets? No, not really. They are a lot of work and are a long-term commitment. We've had Midori for over 15 years now, and she could live another 30 years. They are also potential carriers of salmonella. Dori is probably clear, but we wash our hands after touching her, or changing the water in her tank (which we do at least once, and sometimes two or three times a day, depending on how much she eats and poops.) Like I said, a lot of work. . .
  • Aren't red-eared sliders invasive in BC? Yep, they are. When we moved to BC from Japan (which at that time, and perhaps to this day, has no pet turtle regulations), we had to get an import permit from the federal government, and a possession permit from the BC government. We are not allowed to breed her, or set her free in the wild. Yes, I know that sounds crazy as hundreds of unwanted pet sliders have been released all over the lower mainland over the years.
  • Why is she laying eggs if she has no mate? When she reached sexual maturity, she began producing eggs in numbers varying from a dozen to three or four dozen every year. They're just not fertilized.
  • Why is she dropping her eggs willy-nilly wherever she happens to be? We've tried to provide more "natural" spots for her, like boxes of dirt, or sand, but she's never used them.
  • More on keeping reptiles as pets here.

All that said, we got Midori when she was so small that she appeared to almost imprint on us to some degree, and she's very cuddly for a turtle. After that last batch of eggs, she fell asleep in her tank for a day. When she came out, she immediately crawled over to us, wanting "uppie." She fell asleep wrapped in a towel on Yumi's lap yesterday evening, and then we put her in a basket with a warming gel pack. She slept for 14 hours straight, and didn't appear until almost lunchtime today.

Posted by Paul at 11:13 AM

May 24, 2013

Lush Spring Colours Paint Byrne Creek

A photo ramble along Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby this afternoon. . .

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We are so fortunate to have Byrne Creek in our "back yard."
When working and volunteering gets crazy, and I'm feeling overwhelmed,
there's nothing like a photo ramble to exercise the body and mind.

A 3-hour photo hike is like 3 hours of Tai Chi:
up, down, stretch, squat, balance on rocks and slopes. . .

And, er, focusing on photography engages a whole 'nother part of my mind.
It's refreshingly exhausting!

Posted by Paul at 10:49 PM

May 21, 2013

Selling a Nikon, Gasp!

I placed one of my old Nikon 35mm film cameras and a Vivitar Series 1 zoom lens for sale on Craig's List Vancouver today:

http://vancouver.en.craigslist.ca/bnc/pho/3820966560.html

I've never sold any of my old Nikon gear before, but I'll likely never use any of my film cameras again. This is the one I can part with most easily, as it was the most recent Nikon film camera I bought. I'll hang on to my Nikon F2 for sentimental reasons forever, and am still dithering about my "second body" "backup" Nikkormat FT2. They've sat unused for decades, but they have so many memories attached to them that it's not worth giving them up for the few dollars they'd still command today.

I started out with a Mamiya 500DTL that I bought in NYC around 1970 with money I saved from babysitting. I added to the screw-mount collection in those early years with an ancient Pentax, whose model number I don't even remember, and several lenses.

I sold all those over 30 years ago when I finally got my dream machine of that era, the Nikon F2, along with several top-notch Nikkor lenses: the 24mm/2.8, the 50mm/1.4, the micro 55mm/3.5, and the 80-200 zoom. The F2 in those days would be like a $6,000 D4 today - the pro camera enthusiasts aspired to own.

Anyway, I hope some aspiring young photographer who still has to go through the film, and film developing and printing, process, lands this camera.

Posted by Paul at 09:26 PM

May 20, 2013

Reifel Ramble on Victoria Day

The Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary was crowded this holiday Monday, but we still saw lots of birds.

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A series of shots of a blackbird chasing away a crow:

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Heron in flight

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Sandhill cranes in flight

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My how puffed up and handsome am I. Hey! I said. . .

Posted by Paul at 09:32 PM

May 06, 2013

Nikon D300 Starts 5th ‘9,999’ Shutter Cycle

Since I bought my Nikon D300 in August of 2008, I've shot over 40,000 photos with it. I just started a fifth 0001 cycle the other day. Seeing as the shutter is tested to 150,000 cycles, I doubt I'll ever wear it out before the camera is considered obsolete. That's the build quality of a semi-pro camera.

Well, I dunno if it'll ever be "obsolete", it will just be replaced with more capable models. The D300 was discontinued several years ago, and it appears there may never be a "D400." The D7100 now seems to be Nikon's flagship in the DX-format category, and it sounds like a very capable replacement. Perhaps not quite as tank-tough as the D300, but close.

UPDATE: Well, of course it will be obsolete some day. . . Perhaps it already is for those willing and capable of upgrading every year or two. I think what I meant to say was that I'd continue using it until the day it dies. Even in its dotage, it would make a great macro camera, since it can operate just fine with my 30-year-old all-manual 55mm Nikkor Micro lens and extension tubes..

Posted by Paul at 09:48 PM

May 05, 2013

Tiny Spider Nabs a Fruit Fly

I noticed a bit of action near the door to my office when I entered a few minutes ago. A tiny spider was chasing a fruit fly, and I was rooting the spider on - we've been invaded by fruit flies the last day or two (one just went merrily skipping across my computer screen as I was typing). Not sure if they're from our worm compost out in the garage, or if they came with some potted plants purchased recently.

Go spiders!

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That's the tip of my index finger to give some indication of how small
the hunter and prey are.

Posted by Paul at 08:32 PM

Burnaby Rhododendron Festival at Deer Lake

It was a gorgeous, warm, sunny day for the Rhododendron Festival at Burnaby's Deer Lake Park today. It felt like summer!

It's a great place to take photos, and the counter on my Nikon D300 cycled back to zero today, the second time that's happened, so I've taken over 20,000 shots with it.

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Posted by Paul at 02:25 PM

May 04, 2013

Streamkeepers Fill Dumpster at Edmonds Community Clean Sweep

It was a gorgeous sunny morning for a Clean Sweep in SE Burnaby! Byrne Creek Streamkeepers filled one entire dumpster heaping full, with a tire, shopping cart, rebar and other assorted large items leaning against it. Streamkeeper volunteers worked the area around Edmonds Skytrain Station, on both sides of the tracks, nearby streets, and the ravine park. Thanks to all the volunteers!

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MLA Raj Chouhan (2nd from left) came by to thank volunteers.

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No, we didn't dump the wheelbarrow! It had been filled with lot of
broken glass which we tipped in.

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A full dumpster = a job well done!

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Volunteers get drinks and hot dogs served up by the Burnaby Firefighters
Charitable Society in the parking lot of Gordon Presbyterian on Edmonds
Street where the community association had its signup area.

Posted by Paul at 02:57 PM

May 03, 2013

Honking Spider Sparks Excitement

I came across an intimidating spider in the garage this evening. After taking a deep breath, I caught it in a glass jar, and then Yumi and I transferred it to a square glass case for better photos. Sure hope it's not in my dreams tonight!

After shooting a few photos, we released it outside.

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Posted by Paul at 09:22 PM

April 28, 2013

Alice Lake Spring Stroll

To take the edge off of my increasing wanderlust as spring progresses and the roads and trails call, we headed up to Alice Lake Provincial Park just north of Squamish, BC, today. We had only a few hours, but it was enough to get out of town for a bit, and take a stroll around the lake. From June through September this park is crowded, and sometimes the road is closed when the parking lots fill up. But in April we saw only half a dozen other people on the lake trail.

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Posted by Paul at 08:05 PM

April 25, 2013

Cherry Blossoms in SE Burnaby

We lost "our" cherry tree recently, one that graced our balcony in our townhouse complex in SE Burnaby, because its roots were causing damage. We still have some along the path in front of our place, though. Today Choco the cat was crying for a walk, and a nibble on the grass. She's an indoor cat, and has the harness routine down pat - she knows if she goes out that she has to wear it. She meows by the door, and then waits patiently as we snap it on.

Today as she meandered around near the front door - - she never goes far - - I took a few shots of the lovely blossoms.

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Posted by Paul at 02:56 PM

April 09, 2013

Burnaby City Hall Cherry Blossoms

Leaving Burnaby City Hall after an Environment Committee meeting tonight I snapped this quick photo of the lovely cherry blossoms in the evening dusk.

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Posted by Paul at 08:12 PM

April 01, 2013

Deer Lake Circumnavigation on Sunny Easter Monday

Yumi and I walked around Burnaby's Deer Lake today, enjoying the sunshine, and the flora and fauna.

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From the northeast with Metrotown and towers along Kingsway off in
the distance.

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Deer Lake Brook.

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Heron taking off at Deer Lake rookery.

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Towhee - these shy birds can be difficult to photograph.

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Playing "spot the pheasant in the bushes."

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Posted by Paul at 09:14 PM

March 31, 2013

Elgin Heritage Park Walk

One of our favourite places to walk and watch birds is Elgin Heritage Park in South Surrey. The combination of forest, meadow, ponds and estuary makes for a lot of varying habitat in a small area.

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Note: this flower was not plucked, just held and tilted momentarily
to display the insects inside.

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We saw three garter snakes in one small area. Perhaps a den nearby?
They seemed a tad less spooked than usual at the sight of humans - -
perhaps it was their first foray into the sun this year?

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Posted by Paul at 07:37 PM

Herons Roosting Near Burnaby City Hall

A few years ago herons began roosting in a forest near Burnaby City Hall, and they're back building nests again this year. It's amazing watching these large, wading birds take to the trees with awkward grace.

NOTE: These shots were all taken at a respectful distance so as not to disturb during this key season. We never left the sidewalk.

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They're not quiet going about their business.

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There are lots of nests.

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Coming in for a landing. One of a couple brings twigs to a nest.

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A crow was also getting in on the nest-building action.

Posted by Paul at 07:08 PM

March 30, 2013

Lunch in New Brighton Park

We were out and about today running errands and ended up at Fujiya where we loaded up with ten musu (deep fried tempura prawn wrapped in sesame-oil flavoured rice and nori), chicken kara-age (breaded deep fried chicken), and a box of two of sushi.

We headed over to New Brighton Park to picnic in the sun, but it proved to be cold and windy.

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Looking across to the north shore mountains

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A lovely bee/waspy thingy - a yellowjacket?

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Looking west from the park

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Looking east toward the Ironworkers' Bridge

Posted by Paul at 08:50 PM

March 24, 2013

Sunday Ramble in West Vancouver’s Lighthouse Park

Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver is one of our favourite place to get away for some rambling in deep woods near the sea. Yumi loves to explore the tidal pools, and there are lots of opportunities for photography.

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Posted by Paul at 07:10 PM

March 17, 2013

Chum Fry Identified on Sunny Spring Stroll Along Byrne Ck.

Yumi and I took advantage of this sunny day to look for fry - salmon babies - in Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby where we volunteer as streamkeepers. Pina, another volunteer, had seen fry nearly a week ago, so we knew they were popping out of the gravel where they'd been laid as eggs by spawning salmon last fall.

Please note that it is illegal to net fry, and streamkeepers do so for ID purposes only with permission from Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Here are few shots of the chum fry we saw today, and the burgeoning spring colours.

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My heart soars to see the creek running clear and bright.

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A sighting of the blue-earmuffed, red-gloved, rubber-booted
Japanese-Canadian streamkeeper!

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And there they are, a school of chum fry. Whew! This is so rewarding
to streamkeeper volunteers to see the salmon life-cycle perpetuated
in a troubled urban creek.

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Posted by Paul at 09:39 PM

February 13, 2013

Byrne Creek Observations in Upper Watershed Feb. 13, 2013

I took a wander around the upper part of the watershed of Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby today. It's an area I don't get to that often, as streamkeepers tend to focus on the lower, larger ravine park. There was a major slide on the bank of the creek on 18th some time ago, so I checked out the remediation work. They've done a major retaining wall, but the slope itself is still in progress. The matting is temporary and will eventually be replaced with planted native vegetation. I was surprised at the new stony "beach" though. Dunno if that's permanent to help prevent further erosion. . .

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The retaining wall along the street, looking toward Edmonds Skytrain Station.

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The matting and the "beach".

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Another view of the matting and beach.

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A rain garden near the corner of Edmonds and Griffiths. What's with the plastic?
I sure hope the whole thing isn't lined with it, that defeats the purpose. . .

UPDATE: City staff say the plastic is just along the edge.

Posted by Paul at 09:09 PM

January 23, 2013

SAD Cat?

Are cats susceptible to SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)? As the relentless rain drags on, she's taken to sitting on a blankie on my desk right under the lamp as I work. Yeah, I know, she loves me and wants to be with me. OK, the lamp is warm even though it's a CFL. All of the above?

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Posted by Paul at 02:45 PM

January 21, 2013

Foggy Byrne Creek Walk

It was foggy across the Lower Mainland of BC today, and SE Burnaby was no exception. My lunchtime walk of the Byrne Creek ravine loop near Edmonds Skytrain Station was a phantasmagoria of eerie, soft, lighting.

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Swings at Ron McLean Park

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Ron McLean Park

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Sun barely visible just above the tree line at bottom

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In Byrne Creek ravine

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Playground equipment at Taylor Park

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The opaque "view" from Taylor Park

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Stairs at the Green development

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Japanese walnut on the old homestead

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Looking north across Byrne Creek ravine toward our townhouse complex

Posted by Paul at 08:51 PM

January 04, 2013

Mushrooming Photo Files

Back on Oct. 19, 2009, I wrote on this blog that I had 45,330 files in 960 folders under the My Photos directory, for a total of 221GB.

As we get into the new year, as of today, just over three years later, I have 107,860 files in 1,716 folders under the My Photos directory, for a total of 777GB. Yikes! That means that over the last three years I've been adding over 20,000 photos a year!

And I never did get around to culling and tagging photos, as I was supposed to start doing over two years ago. I guess that's a project that must get underway in 2013, as I begin importing photos into Lightroom.

But before I start amassing a gigantic Lightroom database, I wonder if I should cull some of those 107,000-plus photos. Though I immediately trash bad photos after transferring them, I'd guess that somewhere between 5 - 20% of those 107K shots wouldn't be missed, if not more. . .

Posted by Paul at 07:58 PM

January 01, 2013

Foggy Foray to Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary

On a foggy New Year's Day afternoon, Yumi and I took a 3-hour tramp around the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary in Delta, BC. Lots of waterfowl and other birds, and the highlight was a tiny saw-whet owl tucked into an evergreen. There were lots of sandhill cranes - over a dozen spread out in several groups around the sanctuary.

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Is that ringwraiths I hear?! I was looking for birds!

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Wood duck and doppelganger

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Posted by Paul at 08:35 PM

December 30, 2012

Bountiful Birds at Boundary Bay

We zipped down to Boundary Bay to check out the snowy owls. There were still a few to be seen, but they were far off from the dike, so few shots to make. I was dismayed to see that some photographers are still heading way out into the marsh off the dike. Shame. These birds are starving, barely surviving, and thousands of people come down to see them. Ninety-nine percent respect the signs to stay on the dike. . . There is too much pressure on snowy owls, so please stay on the trail!

There were lots of smaller owls, and plenty of other raptors to photograph. One little owl on a fence pole attracted dozens of photographers, and every time it turned its head, shutters buzzed like rattlesnakes!

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Mt. Baker in Washington State in the distance

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Posted by Paul at 06:54 PM

December 19, 2012

Snow Falling in SE Burnaby

Here's a short video I shot around noon today of snow falling over our townhouse complex in SE Burnaby, BC, with the majestic trees of Byrne Creek Ravine Park in the background. Days like this really make me appreciate working from a home office!

Nothing fancy here, just my teeny Canon SD780IS pocket camera handheld with live narration.

Posted by Paul at 12:29 PM

December 18, 2012

Melting Snow, Byrne Creek Ravine Park

I wasn't able to get out for a creek ramble until after lunch today, so I missed the best of the snow in SE Burnaby.

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Ron McLean Park is the best thing we have nearby for tobogganing.
It isn't much of a slope, but enough to have fun!

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Predictions of more snow look accurate as dark clouds loom.

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Blue sky to the south.

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Someone made a cute snowman near the back gate to our complex.

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I love how melting snow beads on foliage.

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You can see an upside-down forest in this droplet.

Posted by Paul at 04:40 PM

December 09, 2012

Eagles, Salmon, Dippers Near Squamish, BC

We took a drive up to the Squamish BC area and back today, looking for eagles, salmon and other wildlife.
It was rainy and snowy, but we had a great time.

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One of our first stops was the bridge over the Cheakamus River on the way to the Tenderfoot Hatchery,
where we spotted this dipper, likely searching for salmon roe. We admired its hardiness against the
near-freezing water.

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A huge spawner.

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Eagle flying along the Cheakamus

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Masses of dead spawners near the hatchery

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And an eagle taking a break from foraging on the dead fish

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There were plenty of gulls taking advantage of nature's buffet, too

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There were around 100 eagles visible from the Brackendale site

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Wishing for a longer lens! : -)

Posted by Paul at 09:51 PM

December 08, 2012

Fallen Leaves, Tai Chi in Ron McLean Park in Burnaby

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Posted by Paul at 02:39 PM

December 07, 2012

Cat Moves In After Turtle Vacates Sun Lamp

I just went upstairs from my basement office to check on the "the kids." And who did I find under the sun lamp? Choco looks toasty, while Dori is heading back to her tank. I suspect Dori left on her own after sunning for several hours, and Choco took advantage of the situation. Earlier in the day, Choco had been sleeping on a register : -).

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Posted by Paul at 04:04 PM

Morning Moon Peeks From Behind Clouds

I happened to glance out the balcony window this morning and saw a lovely moon peeking out from behind dark clouds. I ran and grabbed my camera, ran outside, and fired off half-a-dozen shots before it disappeared.

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Posted by Paul at 08:33 AM

December 01, 2012

Blogs and Copyright

I wrote a post awhile back, and I think it's worth re-posting in its entirety again. Because people are still ignoring the copyright notice that's sitting there, clear as day, that TEXT AND PHOTOS on this blog that I have created are copyright me. Legally, I don't even have to post such a notice, my blog is automatically covered by copyright.

Folks, the Internet is not a free for all. Just because you can copy some text, or snag a photo, doesn't mean it's free and in the public domain.

Here's the post I wrote back on June 18, 2012:

There was a good session by a copyright lawyer at the recent Northern Voice social media and blogging conference in Vancouver. What too many people do not realize, is that when you post original stuff on your blog, be it text, or graphics, or photography, or video, that material is automatically covered by copyright, unless you specify otherwise.

So even if you don't notice, or read, my copyright blurb (right there, at the top left corner of my blog), my material is covered, and you have to ask my permission to use it.

I've had material, both text and photos, lifted from my blog without my permission. Some folks have credited the source, but they still failed to ask permission in the first place. Chances are if you'll be using the material in a non-profit manner, I'll readily grant you permission as long as I'm cited. And if you want to make money from original material on my blog, well, we'd better do some negotiating. It's only fair, eh?

So it was refreshing to receive an email today from a staffer at the University of Victoria who wanted to use a photo from my blog in materials given to foreign students for free. I was so pleased that someone had actually asked, that I went back years into my photo archives and dug up the original shot, and sent her a higher resolution version than the tiny one on my blog.

While I'm a great fan of open source, folks gotta make a living, too. Or simply want to, and ought to be recognized.

Posted by Paul at 08:03 PM

November 23, 2012

Finally Upgraded Home Office LAN to Gigabit Ethernet

Dust bunnies!

Yes, discovering dust bunnies is just one of the benefits of upgrading your local area network (LAN).

Over two years ago, I got a D-Link DNS-323 NAS (network attached storage) unit, with a couple of 1.5 terabyte HDs. The 323 was capable of 1Gb network speeds, as was my main computer, so I began watching for sales to upgrade my network gear (router/switch) from 100Mb. I eventually got a Linksys E4200 wireless router and a D-Link DGS-1008D 8-port gigabit network switch. And then the new gear just sat in my office for many months, until today.

Aside from crawling around in dust bunnies under my computer desk, the installation was fast and smooth. LAN setup technology has truly become automagical. As I write, I'm synching my ~800GB of photo folders to the NAS, and the process is noticeably faster. I highly doubt it'll be 10X faster, due to network overhead and other factors, but even 3X or 4X faster is a huge difference.

Posted by Paul at 04:27 PM

October 18, 2012

Botched Print Job Results in, ah, Art?

Objet trouve : this is what happens when you print a photo of autumn leaves in Byrne Creek, and you put the Epson Ultra Premium Photo Paper Glossy into the printer upside down. You throw the resulting wet piece of paper in the trash, and then a few minutes later you glance over and notice that the runny result is quite nice. Offers? :-)

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The original photo was framed vertically, so here's that perspective:

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That's not bad, either!

And, ta-da, here's the original shot:

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Posted by Paul at 09:17 PM

Video of Chum Salmon Spawning in Byrne Creek

I shot this video on Oct. 16 of the two chum spawning in Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby in the lower ravine area.

Posted by Paul at 04:35 PM

October 16, 2012

Byrne Creek Oct. 16 Spawner Patrol Turns Up 6 Chum Salmon

When the sun popped out today, I had to drop everything and head out on Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby to check on spawners. I'd spotted two chum on Oct. 15, so I knew they were moving upstream from the Fraser River.

I saw a total of six chum today, and four of them were paired off in two "couples". One pair were working on a redd (nest) in the lower ravine, and the other pair were courting in the sediment pond.

It's a glorious time of year to be out, and the fish make it especially exciting.

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The pair in the lower ravine. The female was slowly digging a depression into
the gravel and cobble with her tail, while the male stayed close by to protect his mate.

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This is what happens when you inadvertently nearly step on  a salmon.

I knew there was a chum male hiding just above the culvert at the lower end of the ravine,
because I'd seen him pass under the footbridge earlier and then retreat back downstream.
As I inched along the bank I spooked him before I saw him. I instinctively pointed my camera
in the fish's direction as it exploded downstream, and hit the shutter release several times without
even trying to frame the action. This was the best of a bunch of blurry shots!

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Here's the above fish about half an hour earlier, swimming under the footbridge.

Posted by Paul at 08:31 PM

Autumn Colors Make For Gorgeous Salmon Patrols

We're lucky that the salmon run in Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby from mid-October, when the autumn colours are still vibrant. A few non-fishy shots from my spawner patrol today.

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Now isn't that a nice path to amble along?

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Posted by Paul at 07:50 PM

August 24, 2012

Me with Burnaby 2012 BC Seniors Games HQ Photo Staff

After several days of taking thousands of photos as a volunteer at the Burnaby 2012 BC Seniors Games, I had the presence of mind to hand my camera to someone to shoot me and the always cheerful and helpful photo gals at Games HQ, Ellen and Arielle. Thanks!

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Posted by Paul at 09:07 PM

Slo Pitch at Burnaby 2012 BC Seniors Games

After my volunteer photography assignment to cover ice curling at the Burnaby 2012 BC Seniors Games, back on Wednesday, Aug. 22, I decided to go and shoot some slo pitch, too. It was a gorgeous day to be out having fun in the sun, but I tell ya, these are competitors!

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Posted by Paul at 07:47 PM

Ice Curling at Burnaby 2012 BC Seniors Games

One of my volunteer photography assignments at the Burnaby 2012 BC Seniors Games was ice curling, back on Wednesday, Aug. 22.

I had never shot curling before, and it proved to be a challenge, as I was not allowed to access the ice during play, but only during warmups. So I ended shooting live action mostly through the glass in the upstairs lounge. I pushed ISO as high as 2500, but even then I was having trouble getting action-stopping shutter speeds in the relatively low light.

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Posted by Paul at 02:50 PM

August 23, 2012

Burnaby’s Korean War Memorial With Haunting Moonlight

As we were walking back to the parking lot after the Burnaby 2012 BC Seniors Games Opening Ceremony, I noticed that a crescent moon was dancing about the statue commemorating BC soldiers who gave their lives in the Korean War.  A bit of walking to and fro, a bit of flash to bring out the form, and I got the moon cupped in the hand of the female statue. I wonder how often soldiers in the mud, the blood, the cold, and the heat of the conflict looked up at the moon, and thought of loved ones far away. . . There may have even been a veteran or two of that war at the ceremony tonight. . . and certainly many who personally knew boys who died over there, in the fight to preserve freedom.

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Posted by Paul at 10:44 PM

Great Fun Shooting Photos at Burnaby 2012 BC Seniors Games

It's been a blast being a volunteer photographer for the Burnaby 2012 BC Seniors Games.

The official photo stream is at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bcsg/

I haven't seen any of my photos up there yet, but volunteers are super busy!

Here are a few shots from the Opening Ceremony on Aug. 22. My job was to be up in the stands on the right side
with a long telephoto to cover things from that angle. Other photographers were high centre and several were roving.

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RCMP sergeant, RCMP horse, and RCMP dog were a great hit
on the way in from the parking lot!

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Start of parade

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Athletes on parade

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Marching band

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Choir

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Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan and other dignitaries

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Competitor in the crowd

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Singer Stephanie Standerwick

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BC Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development
Ida Chong lights the flame at the Opening Ceremony

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Competitors with flame

Posted by Paul at 07:33 PM

August 19, 2012

Picked up Photographer, Volunteer Accreditation for BC Seniors Games 2012 in Burnaby

I picked up my volunteer and media accreditation for the Burnaby 2012 BC Seniors Games starting this week. I volunteered to join the photo team, and have been assigned several events later in the week. However, the media pass gets me into all events, so if I have time, I may poke my lens into other activities : -).  This should be great fun. Apparently over 2.000 folks have volunteered in various capacities.

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Note that public entry to all events and the opening ceremony are free, so check out the website above and come and cheer the participants on! A message from the organizers:

Greetings and Salutations!

You are cordially invited to the Burnaby 2012 BC Seniors Games Opening Ceremony this Wednesday! The BC Seniors Games will celebrate 25 years of seniors sportsmanship on August 22, 2012 at Swangard Stadium (3883 Imperial St, Burnaby) from 7:00pm-8:15pm.

This community celebration is open to everyone free of charge to showcase the diversity and skill of over 3600 senior athletes from all over British Columbia. For this fun-filled evening of dance and live music, we are pleased to announce that the legendary musician, Dal Richards, will be our Master of Ceremonies. Get your first look at the competitors as they march in the colorful parade of athletes.

Come out to start the Burnaby 2012 BC Seniors Games off right! Please also keep in mind that you are invited to all the Games sporting events free of charge from August 22-August 25, 2012. See our website for more event details for over 20 different sports! www.2012bcseniorsgames.org

Join us for this momentous, family-friendly occasion to celebrate our active senior community and athletic camaraderie. Forward this invitation to your family and friends so that we can fill the entire stadium and have the seniors look up to the stands with pride!

Posted by Paul at 04:58 PM

August 01, 2012

Dragonflies & Frogs in Burnaby’s Foreshore Park

After working with a client for a couple of hours this morning, I skipped out this afternoon for several hours of "shooting" pond life in Burnaby's Fraser Foreshore Park. It was a gorgeous sunny day. I love ponds and wetlands for their biodiversity. Water truly is life.

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For the photographers out there, all shots handheld with a
Nikon D300 and 70-300mm zoom lens. Aperture priority
at f8 to f11, with exposure compensation ranging from -0.3
to + 1.0, depending on the background. ISOs in the 400 - 1,250
range despite the bright sunshine to ensure shutter speeds
fast enough to stop motion. No post-processing aside from
cropping.

Posted by Paul at 07:52 PM

July 31, 2012

Post-Work Stroll in Fraser Foreshore Park in Burnaby

I picked up two three-piece chicken dinners from KFC with a discount coupon today. Yeah, not the healthiest choice, but what the heck, it's my birthday tomorrow, and I always celebrate by eating badly for a couple of days : -). I intercepted my wife at the skytrain station on her way home from work and we drove down to Burnaby's Fraser Foreshore Park for an impromptu picnic.

After we had our romantic meal watching tug after tug towing log booms up the river, we stretched our legs by walking over to the mouth of Byrne Creek, and the Glenlyon pond just west of the outfall. The pond is a great place to see waterlife, unfortunately much of it invasive, including non-native pumpkinseed fish and possibly bullfrogs, judging the occasional massive croak one hears. There are also smaller native frogs, and lots of assorted dragonflies.

A few shots taken with my pocket Canon SD780IS today.

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There are two little frogs in this "where's Waldo" picture : -)

I was amazed at how relaxed a couple of these frogs were. The SD780IS
maxes out at the equivalent of a 105mm lens on a 35mm film camera,
but I managed to get the camera within a meter of these sun-stunned beauties.

I haven't been down by the foreshore ponds for months, so I may
play hooky tomorrow on my birthday after I take care of a client
meeting in the morning. I'd love to go back with my DSLR and
telephoto zoom. . .

Posted by Paul at 09:12 PM

July 28, 2012

Flora ’n Fauna Fotos from Campbell Valley Regional Park

Yumi and I spent a wonderful afternoon at Campbell Valley Regional Park today. It's part of Metro Vancouver's fabulous regional parks system. We visit Campbell Valley several times a year, but today we tried a couple of trails that were new to us. The park has a great variety of mini ecosystems to explore: ponds, marshy river, forest, meadows, etc. The "walk" turned into more of a "trek" but we emerged back the parking lot after several hours tired, but happy.

Here's a bunch of photos:

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The pond and gazebo near the nature house

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Lots of different kinds of bees in the nature house flower garden

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Posted by Paul at 08:56 PM

Byrne Creek Crayfish, Ladybugs, Invasive Plants

Yumi and I tackled some invasive Policeman's Helmet along Byrne Creek this morning. Over about four summers, streamkeepers have managed to battle the plant to near victory in one stretch in the lower watershed. We've focussed on this stretch because the prolific plant would literally suck the creek dry around here. This summer we found just a few plants, and bagged them before they could spread their thousands of seeds. After completing that volunteer task, we checked out some other parts of the creek and were gratified to see hundreds of gradually growing salmonid fry - and a crayfish.

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Yumi is about 5 1/2 feet tall, so those Policeman's Helmets
behind her must be pushing 8 to 9 feet, or well over 2 meters

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There were hundreds of ladybugs near where we were working.
Some were just out of the larval stage, with husks around. Many
of the ladybugs were hanging out on stinging nettle - obviously
it doesn't affect them like it does us!

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Here's the crayfish. It was a good size and very active.

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And a cool green bug

Posted by Paul at 01:31 PM

July 01, 2012

Volunteering at Canada Day in SE Burnaby

Despite some iffy weather forecasts, it turned out to be a lovely Canada Day in Ron McLean Park in SE Burnaby today. Byrne Creek Streamkeepers had our booth up, with aquatic bugs for kids to view, and we had a steady flow of interested folks throughout the event. Kudos to City of Burnaby staff who had the event running like clockwork, as usual. Job well done.

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The Byrne Creek Streamkeepers booth

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Kids love the bugs!

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The RCMP are always a big draw : -).

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And the politicians show up in force: L-R Kathy Corrigan, MLA; Raj
Chouhan, MLA; Peter Julian, MP; Sav Dhaliwal, Councillor; Burnaby
Mayor Derek Corrigan

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Cutting the cake

Posted by Paul at 07:57 PM

June 18, 2012

All Blogs are Covered by Copyright

There was a good session by a copyright lawyer at the recent Northern Voice social media and blogging conference in Vancouver. What too many people do not realize, is that when you post original stuff on your blog, be it text, or graphics, or photography, or video, that material is automatically covered by copyright, unless you specify otherwise.

So even if you don't notice, or read, my copyright blurb (right there, at the top left corner of my blog), my material is covered, and you have to ask my permission to use it.

I've had material, both text and photos, lifted from my blog without my permission. Some folks have credited the source, but they still failed to ask permission in the first place. Chances are if you'll be using the material in a non-profit manner, I'll readily grant you permission as long as I'm cited. And if you want to make money from original material on my blog, well, we'd better do some negotiating. It's only fair, eh?

So it was refreshing to receive an email today from a staffer at the University of Victoria who wanted to use a photo from my blog in materials given to foreign students for free. I was so pleased that someone had actually asked, that I went back years into my photo archives and dug up the original shot, and sent her a higher resolution version than the tiny one on my blog.

While I'm a great fan of open source, folks gotta make a living, too. Or simply want to, and ought to be recognized.

Posted by Paul at 09:16 PM

June 12, 2012

Morning Birds at Lac La Jeune Provincial Park

I didn't realize until I was breaking camp this morning that I'd slept within meters of a downy woodpecker nest at Lac La Jeune Provincial Park. I caught a flicker of motion out of the corner of my eye as I was getting ready to roll out, and saw a pair of adults passing food into a tree cavity. I waited for an hour, but the closest I got to getting a decent shot was when I was coming back from a bio break - take your camera everywhere! : -)

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Next up was a mountain bluebird

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Posted by Paul at 08:55 AM

June 11, 2012

Tunkwa Provincial Park–Yellow-Headed Blackbird

Saw this stunning yellow-headed blackbird as I was leaving Tunkwa Provincial Park.

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Family of Canada Geese

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Posted by Paul at 09:00 PM

108 Mile Ranch

On my drive home from northern BC, at one point I stopped for a rest and snack at 108 Mile Ranch, where a number of pioneer buildings have been collected at a beautiful site. The ranch dates to a post house on the Caribou Trail in 1867.

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Posted by Paul at 08:51 PM

May 06, 2012

Walking BMO Vancouver Half Marathon 2012

I set a goal earlier this year to walk the BMO Vancouver marathon - more precisely the half. The other part of the goal was to lose 10kg, or 22lb, in training for the event. I used to do a fair bit of running, but haven't for nearly ten years due to a fused spine with limited lower back mobility that has resulted in some painful nerve/muscle spasms and lockups when attempting too bouncy exercise. Walking is fine, though.

I missed my weight-loss goal by a kilo, but still lost 9 kilos, or nearly 20 pounds, which ain't bad.

The marathon took place on a gorgeous sunny morning. Here are a few shots taken along the way:

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Waiting in Coral 5, the last coral for the slowest runner/walkers

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Me with a few of the hundreds of porta-potties. Note to organizers - please ensure
that potties are installed on level ground - one bunch was very rocky resulting in
trepidation, and admittedly, some hilarity!

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And, half an hour after the lead runners left, our group is finally off and moving
toward the start line!

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The newly re-roofed BC Place

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Heading into Chinatown

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Beautiful views

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Thanks to all the staff and volunteers who cheered us on!

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A quick peek at the Lion's Gate Bridge

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Musical entertainment along the route

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Brockton Point

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Looking back at the finish line.

I walked the half (21km) in 3:23. When I got home and got my shoes off, I found massive blisters on the balls and heels of my feet. No wonder my feet hurt! Dunno what happened, as I'd trained with the same sock/shoe combo for distances up to around 10K. Perhaps I tied them too tight, not allowing for the natural swelling.

But it was a great experience, and I may do it again. I could still stand to lose another 10 kilos : -)!

Posted by Paul at 07:50 PM

April 22, 2012

Deer Lake Ramble Sees Mink, Birds, Beauty–and Death in the Afternoon

Yumi and I took a two-hour ramble around Burnaby's Deer Lake Park this afternoon. We were amazed to see a mink snag a frog in broad daylight just a few feet away from us. That was the highlight of the afternoon, but there were plenty of other great views in this gem of an urban park.

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Starting the lake-round trail clockwise from the beach area

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Fishing from the comfort of a chair!

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We've still got some great blossoms around

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We saw several raptors patrolling the park. An osprey?

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The north shore Lions in the background

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Tree-climbing snail

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OK, not a great shot, but I had to prove that we did see the elusive
pheasants that you can often hear, but rarely see, in the park. We
saw two today, a couple skulking in the bush.

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The invasive red-eared sliders were out in force enjoying some rays

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And here's the mink. Little one, but lethal. . .

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Hard to see, but the mink bounced into the water and came up
with a frog that it carried under the log. We heard a soft crunch
or two, and saw no more.

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Another frog, further down the lake

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Awwww. Mallard duckling, one of eight out cruisin' with mom.

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Mother and child of another species enjoying the park : -)

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A handsome crow at the end of our circumnavigation of the lake trail

Posted by Paul at 06:23 PM

April 20, 2012

Byrne Creek Ravine Flowers, Plants, Bees

We are in the midst of a kitchen reno, and the other day I placed my Nikon D300 DSLR and 18-200 lens on top a cabinet that I had assembled. Choco the cat chose that moment to jump up and investigate said cabinet, and slid into the camera, knocking it 39 1/8" onto a carpeted floor. The camera seems to be OK, but the front element of the lens was loose, so I took it in to the Nikon Canada service centre in Richmond, BC. $199 + tax to fix. Ouch, but better than laying out some $800 for a new lens.

So today I was "limited" to my 70-300 (105-450mm equivalent) zoom on my lunchtime creek walk, but I had fun seeking opportunities to capitalize on the telephoto zoom's shallow depth of field, perspective flattening, and ability to narrowly isolate elements in scenes. A few of today's shots:

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These are all hand-held, natural shots, with no flash, and no
artificial backgrounds. Just "normal" manipulation of exposure.
ISOs in the 400-1,000 range, because I don't like lugging a tripod
around. But that may change when I try to blow shots like these
up to 11 X 14 and beyond. Lugging that tripod will be critical then . . .

Posted by Paul at 01:48 PM

April 10, 2012

My Annual New Westminster, BC, Flower Foto Extravaganza

Yes, folks, it's that time of year again, when flowers on the promenade near the New Westminster, BC, Quay, are in full bloom. The gardeners always do a wonderful job of planting. Check it out soon if you're in the hood.

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Posted by Paul at 09:39 PM

April 02, 2012

Coho Fry Spotted in Byrne Creek

My wife Yumi spotted some coho fry in Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby, BC, on March 24. She carefully netted, photographed, and released a couple of fry. Note that streamkeepers do this with permission from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans - otherwise it is illegal to net fry.

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Posted by Paul at 08:36 PM

March 31, 2012

Los Angeles, Western States Road Trip–Part 2

Another day on the road heading south to LA. Note that we did this trip in mid to late March, and I'm posting photos now starting a couple of weeks later.

One place we greatly enjoyed along the way despite the poor weather was MacKerricher State Park in Northern California. We spent several hours walking the boardwalks, watching birds and seals, and even passed through the mouth of a whale!

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Posted by Paul at 08:40 PM

March 30, 2012

Los Angeles, Western States Road Trip–Part 1

Over ten years had passed since our last road trip to LA where my sister lives with her husband and kids. It was well past time to visit them, so we cobbled together a little over a week for my wife, and two weeks for me. The plan was to drive down the coast, taking five days to get there, including a couple of days in San Francisco, then Yumi would fly home after a couple of days in LA. I'd spend a few more days with my sis, and then drive back.

Unfortunately, we hit one of those wet patches that now and then covers the entire west coast. We had rain, snow, and wind all the way down, but still enjoyed being on the road.

We left one evening after work, and made it as far as Olympia, WA, the first night. The next day was the first of a couple on the coast. Unfortunately is was rainy, foggy, and cold, and let me tell you, though I generally love driving, it was a bit nerve-wracking on some parts of the narrow, twisty coast road, particularly in fog.

But here are a few shots of some fun along the way. The Avenue of the Giants.

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Posted by Paul at 08:25 PM

March 05, 2012

Choco the Cat Enjoys Dori the Turtle’s Sun Lamp

Well, who should I find sneaking a few rays under the reptile lamp? Not a reptile, that's for sure!

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Ah, nothing like some warmth and brightness!

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Yeah, yeah, I know about tanning beds! Just a few more minutes. . .

Posted by Paul at 02:55 PM

February 29, 2012

Milky Green Substance Enters Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby

When I went for my afternoon walk today, I was dismayed to see Byrne Creek in southeast Burnaby running a whitish-green color. We'd had rain and snow, but the "normal" color of wash off the road following rain is brown. There was no noticeable smell, and I didn't observe any fish dead or in distress.

I called my observations in to City of Burnaby environmental staff.

I first saw the discoloration when I reached the bottom of the stairs into the ravine around 3:30 today. I checked the forebay of the rain garden on Southpoint Dr. and the water there was clear. Then I checked Griffiths Pond near the Edmonds Skytrain Station around 4:05 and the discoloration was evident there, though diminished.

I also posted the news to the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers mailing list, and another streamkeeper, Garnet, traced the greenish flow all the way upstream to where the creek now comes to light from storm pipes in the Edmonds area.

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Photo I took in the ravine

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Photo sent by streamkeeper Garnet where the creek daylights

Posted by Paul at 09:06 PM

February 22, 2012

Power Walking White Rock Promenade

In my quest to lose weight I've been out power walking or cycling 45 minutes to an hour nearly every day. To get a change of scenery, I went down to White Rock today, and brought my camera along.

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Posted by Paul at 08:46 PM

February 19, 2012

Campbell Valley Chickadees

One of our favourite places to interact with birds in the lower mainland is Campbell Valley Regional Park, part of Metro Vancouver's lovely park system. The chickadees in this park are handfed regularly, so it's great fun to feed them and take photos.

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Posted by Paul at 08:33 PM

February 11, 2012

Streamkeepers Collect GPS Reference Points on Byrne Creek

Volunteers from the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers were out again this weekend, collecting GPS reference points on Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby, BC. We installed reference tags along the creek over a decade ago so that we had set geographical points to relate our data collection to. Some of those tags had disappeared over the years, and some were badly faded, so last weekend we began installing fresh tags, and also taking GPS coordinates at each tag.

We have approval from the City of Burnaby to refresh the tags, since much of the creek is in a municipal park.

It's quite strenuous working one's way up the ravine as there are no trails in a good portion of it. We locate the old tags, install new ones, take GPS readings, and also take a set of photos at each tag so we can compare views over time. We want the GPS coordinates so that we can easily share our data collections online through GIS applications such as the Community Mapping Network and Google Earth.

Today's highlights were coming across a heron and a raccoon.

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I am always amazed at how these awkward-looking birds
are so graceful and balanced when perching in trees

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This raccoon came ambling along right up to our group. I don't know
if it simply didn't hear us, but it was comical when it suddenly realized
it had walked within a few meters of us, and beat a hasty retreat.

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We ran into it again a hundred meters or so up the creek,
where it had taken refuge in a tree.

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Yumi doing a pH sample.

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Garnet GPS-referencing a photo on his iPhone.

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John holding an old hub cap. Wonder if it's an antique?
People used to use ravines as convenient places to dump garbage
and get rid of unwanted appliances and vehicles. Thankfully we've
cleaned up most of it over the last decade or so, but we still run
across "archaeological middens."

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Yumi collected six bags of garbage along the way.

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Me taking a reading with my trusty Garmin 60Csx. Even in the depths of
the ravine with lots of tree cover, I could usually get 5-6 meter accuracy,
though occasionally that drifted to 7.

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L-R: Garnet, Dave and John collecting data at a reference point.

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Posted by Paul at 08:02 PM

February 07, 2012

Lovely Afternoon at Historic Stewart Farm in South Surrey

I took advantage of the sunshine to head down to the Historic Stewart Farm in South Surrey for some rambling exercise and photography.

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There were lots of golden-crowned sparrows, if I've got my ID right:

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A kingfisher

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Towhee

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Posted by Paul at 08:17 PM

February 05, 2012

Snowy Owls, Other Birds at Boundary Bay

Yumi convinced me to go to Boundary Bay today to see if there were any snowy owls left. I'd been in a boycotting mood after hearing about the masses of photographers, some of whom appeared to be overly eager to get a good shot and were harassing the birds. . . But though there were a lot of people out there today, 99% were respectful, with only the odd one or two encroaching on the mud flats. There were enough owls left to get some good shots from the dike.

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The following individual entertained us for half an hour with
grooming activities

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That was hard work, time for a nap. . .

There's something so engaging about a yawn. We yawn. Dogs and cats
yawn. Our turtle yawns. . . So nice to see an owl yawn.

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For the photographers out there, all of these were shot handheld with a Nikon D300 and an AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm lens at around ISO 1,250. Yeah, shoulda brought a tripod. The Boundary Bay area is a good place for "lens envy." :- ) There were plenty waaayy bigger than mine!

Posted by Paul at 08:26 PM

February 04, 2012

Quick Walk in Burnaby’s Foreshore Park

I took advantage of the sun today to take a quick walk in Burnaby's Foreshore Park. There were lots of people out enjoying the late afternoon rays.

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Posted by Paul at 08:21 PM

February 01, 2012

Sony Digital 8 DCR-TRV460 Joins Photo/Video Family

I bought a used Sony Digital 8 DCR-TRV460 camcorder on EBay a few weeks ago and it arrived the other day. It works, but the package needs a few AV cables that I've got on order.

Why would I want to purchase such "ancient" technology? I have a pile of analog Hi-8 tapes recorded back in the first half of the 1990s on a Sony camcorder that bit the dust a decade ago, and the 460 can not only play those back, it can also digitize them with its built-in analog-to-digital conversion capability. Plug it into a computer with a Firewire cable, and transfer away. Then burn those old clips to DVD. Cool.

I haven't reviewed much old tape yet, but the first one I popped in had clips of Midori, our turtle, from 18 years ago when she was a third of her present size. Wow.

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At least 20 hours worth of recordings dating to the early 1990s

Posted by Paul at 09:48 PM

January 23, 2012

The Three Lovely Ladies in my Life

The wife, the turtle, and the cat snuggle up together while watching TV.

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What had them all so engrossed? Cesar Millan's dog show on TV : -)

Posted by Paul at 10:00 PM

January 19, 2012

Ah, Kodak, You Changed Society & Influenced Generations

I think this is the oldest Kodak camera I have. A Brownie Target Six-20 "Made in Canada by Canadian Kodak Co. Ltd." I gather it's circa mid-1930s to 1941. I'm not even sure whose it was. My late Dad's? My late Mom's? One of my grandparents on either side?

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Kodak was an iconic company.

Photography was/is (think of more recent incarnations such as YouTube, Flickr) a socially revolutionary technology, and Kodak got it into the hands of the masses. Not to mention Kodachrome and other Kodak films being the basis for Life, Time, National Geographic, and on and on...

Later, following up on FB: These were/are memory machines. Families could afford to "freeze" snaps of their collective selves, and their worlds for nearly the first generation in history. Aside from aristocrats of the previous hundreds, perhaps thousands of years of recorded history who could afford artists, sculptors, etc.

Posted by Paul at 10:23 PM

January 15, 2012

Snow in South Burnaby, Jan. 15, 2012

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Ron McLean Park

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Trees are confused this year as these alders are prepared to pollinate,
only to be hit by snow

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More budding plants in the snow

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Heading down into the ravine

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An old stump from logging many decades ago

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Byrne Creek looks even more lovely, dusted with snow

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Yumi checks out a pool in the creek

Posted by Paul at 09:27 PM

December 30, 2011

Soap Enters Burnaby’s Byrne Creek

Here's a simple video I made when I ran across soap coming into Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby via a street drain today.

Posted by Paul at 07:07 PM

December 27, 2011

Low Eagle Counts Near Squamish

Despite the rain, Yumi and I went up to the Squamish area to look for eagles today. Glad we went for while it was pouring in the lower mainland, it was only drizzling around Brackendale.

Unfortunately, the volunteers at the eagle run pavilion said numbers were low yet again so far this year, continuing several years of declines. The eagles depend on salmon that return to spawn, and while apparently spawner forecasts are up this year, the volunteers said that hasn't been reflected on the ground, or, er, in the water, so far.

Here's a shot taken today:

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Unfortunately is was overcast and raining, so not much snap, tonally or colour-wise. Also had to juice the ISO on my Nikon to 3200 to enable handheld shots at 300mm (450mm equivalent on a 35mm film camera).

Posted by Paul at 07:13 PM

December 22, 2011

Vancouver’s VanDusen Gardens Xmas Light Show

Vancouver's lovely VanDusen Botanical Garden is putting on its annual Festival of Lights, with reduced energy due to thousands of new LED lights. It's an amazing event, fun for the family, and though lines can be long, they move along at a good pace.

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Posted by Paul at 10:00 PM

December 18, 2011

Burnaby Mountain Sunset

Sun setting over west Burnaby and Vancouver as seen from Burnaby Mountain. The "totem poles" in some of the photos are Kumui Mintara, or the "Playground of the Gods." They are Ainu creations from northern Japan.

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All shots taken with my wee, pocket Canon SD780IS, because it was supposed to be a romantic evening with the wife so the Nikon DSLR gear was left at home. Needless to say, the wife, too, was soon snapping away with her matching SD780IS. Now that's romantic! : -)

Posted by Paul at 08:04 PM

December 17, 2011

Huge Shelf Fungus Found in Byrne Creek

While we were patrolling for spawning salmon on Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby, Yumi came across this huge shelf fungus. It had fallen off, or been washed off, some tree it had been growing on, and was on a small gravel bar in the creek. After a few moments admiring its size, we placed it in the forest to continue what was left of its life cycle, and its contributions to the environment around it. It might be "dead", but no point in taking it home as a trophy, when its own decay will contribute to the riparian zone.

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Posted by Paul at 10:40 PM

Gulliver’s Travels in Japan

My wife Yumi likes to call these the "Gulliver" photos. That's me with her dad, and me with her mom on our last visit to Japan in October this year.

Yes, I need to lose a few dozen pounds. That's why I'm signed up for the BMO Vancouver Marathon next May. My goal is to power-walk the half-marathon, and to lose 10kg (about 22 pounds) as I train.

Here we go:

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Posted by Paul at 10:17 PM

December 10, 2011

Rainy Refractions Through Car Windshield

I was in the car in a mall parking lot, waiting for my wife, when I took these shots of raindrops on the car windshield with my pocket Canon SD780.

Note: Aside from some cropping, these images have not been post-processed.

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Posted by Paul at 09:02 PM

December 07, 2011

Japan Trip—Day 8 of Photos—Aomori

More photos from around Yumi's hometown in Aomori prefecture in northern Japan, taken in late October.

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Yumi with Eito, the family pup

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Eito on an access road out in the rice fields

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Early morning sun breaks over a forest edging the fields

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Colors get richer as the morning progresses

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Meito, the goat

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Reaching out for a nose scratch

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Papi the cat and I, love at first sight : -)

OK, a big, warm lap.

Something that strikes me about these animals is how they all instantly accepted me.

Yumi went to Japan earlier and spent a week with her folks and relatives before I followed, so she got to know these animals, all of them new additions since our last visit. Now, I know many animals are good judges of character, of whether or not someone is comfortable with them, or is a threat to them, or to their "family." But they are also fast judges of relationships. They're Yumi's parent's pets, but obviously they quickly grasped Yumi's place in the hierarchy, and then when I came along, they immediately understood my relationship to Yumi.

So there was no fear, no anxiety, no protectiveness.

Now I'm a nice guy, but I suspect I'd have gotten a very different reception if I'd walked into the yard the first time all alone.

Posted by Paul at 08:47 PM

December 05, 2011

Japan Trip—Day 7 of Photos—Hirosaki

A few photos from the small city of Hirosaki in Aomori Prefecture in northern Japan, where my lovely wife Yumi went to university. I'm getting confused myself as to the numbering of these blog posts! I guess it's the 7th "day" that I've posted photos to this blog, but it doesn't correspond to the days of our October trip to Japan.

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The old library, constructed Western style in 1906

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Interior staircase

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Yumi by a display of Hirosaki historic buildings at miniature scale

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And moi by another model

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And here I am in front of the actual preserved building just a couple
of blocks away from the miniature display.
I love these perspective changes.

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Heading toward Hirosaki "castle." I put that in quotation marks
because while it's a lovely sight, it's not really a castle. It's one defensive
tower.

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Still looks imposing, and beautiful

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Posted by Paul at 09:17 PM

December 04, 2011

Japan Trip—Day 6 of Photos—Aomori Fall Colours

Continuing photos from our Japan trip in October, we finally made it up to Yumi's parents' place in Aomori, near the northern end of Japan's main island. We borrowed their car, and headed out to explore the autumn colours of the famous Oirase area.

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There are usually a couple of swans hanging around in this river near
Yumi's parents' place

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Yumi on the bank of the stream

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Two bees, or not to bee : -)

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A raptor soars near Lake Towada

Posted by Paul at 08:26 PM

December 03, 2011

Japan Trip—Day 5 of Photos

Back to posting more photos of our Japan trip in October. These are from Kakunodate, a town in Akita Prefecture that is known for its preserved samurai homes and thick-walled "kura" storehouses.

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Posted by Paul at 08:01 PM

December 02, 2011

Fraser Foreshore Park in Burnaby

Late afternoon ramble along Fraser Foreshore Park in south Burnaby.

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Posted by Paul at 07:27 PM

November 30, 2011

Byrne Creek Spawner Patrol Nov. 30

It was a glorious morning to patrol for spawning salmon on Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby today. Clear and sunny, with the air crisp and clean, the water clear. When you get focused on finding fish, you almost forget you're in the middle of a city.

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A huge redd, or nest of eggs, laid by spawning salmon. It may be hard
to imagine, but three older farts in their 50s & 60s stood in awe at this
beautiful sight for a couple of minutes. This represents success-to have
salmon return to the creek against incredible odds, and lay the seed for
a new generation.

Posted by Paul at 02:53 PM

November 25, 2011

Japan Trip—Day 4 of Photos—Part 2

OK, I'm finally getting back to posting more photos of our Japan trip in October. I'd left off with shots from Nikko, a World Heritage Site that I'd visited several times when I lived in Japan. It was great to be back, and as I mentioned, my wife Yumi and I arrived on the day of a biannual parade that re-enacts the transfer of the remains of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu to the site hundreds of years ago. While folks in the thousands gathered for the parade, Yumi and I explored remoter parts of the beautiful shrine complex, then trotted back in time to catch the parade.

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Posted by Paul at 08:39 PM

November 19, 2011

Autumn Colors Lend Poignancy to Dead Salmon Spawners

Late autumn is a visually glorious time. For many runs of Pacific salmon, it's also a time of death, and laying the seeds of rebirth, in a natural cycle.

While I accept death, it upsets me when salmon make it all the way back to where they were born, yet die before they can spawn, and lay the basis for a new generation in "my" creek, the creek that I and dozens of other streamkeepers devote thousands of volunteer hours to.

Today my wife and I saw nine salmon in the creek that flows through our urban watershed--Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby. One chum, spotted with fungus and near death, stolidly guarding her redd, the nest that she'd carved out of the gravel in the creek. Several expired coho, unfortunately most not spawned before death. And five live coho attaining their magnificent spawning colours, and still full of life, though they too, will expire soon.

I've got cans of salmon in my cupboard. I've got a couple of pink salmon in my freezer that I caught while fishing this summer. But I still hold a nearly reverent sense of wonder for these lovely fish that have travelled so far to come back to this struggling, oft polluted little creek in a big city.

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Leaves and remnants of snow in Ron McLean Park near the tennis courts

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A striking coho male

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A coho female. We knew as soon as we pulled her body out of a pool
that she had not spawned. The bulge evident in her belly indicated
she was full of eggs

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The stoic chum mum, nearly dead, but still watching over her redd

As always, I NOTE that it is illegal to interfere with spawning salmon,
and that streamkeepers have training, and permission from DFO, to
monitor and collect data on spawners.

Posted by Paul at 10:13 PM

November 18, 2011

Vestiges of Autumn Leaves, Dripping Water Along Byrne Creek

As I did a patrol for spawning salmon along Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby today, I kept stopping to take shots with my teeny Canon SD780Is pocket camera.

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Posted by Paul at 02:14 PM

November 17, 2011

Coho Salmon Dying Before Spawning in Burnaby’s Byrne Creek - Again

The following photo shows a gorgeous male coho in full spawning coloration found in Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby this morning. There was a female coho, dead and full of eggs, just a few dozen meters away. Unfortunately, yet again we're seeing coho dying before they can spawn. Can't get the timing right? Urban pollution?
NOTE: It's illegal to disturb spawning salmon - volunteer streamkeepers are trained to patrol creeks and collect data for DFO.

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It's so sad to see these lovely fish unable to fulfill their natural life cycle. They have travelled from creek to ocean, and back to creek, over several years and perhaps thousands of kilometers. They have overcome incredible odds - on the order of a thousand to one - to survive from egg to alevin, from alevin to smolt. To move out into the ocean as smolts and survive predation and fishing, and grow from perhaps 10cm to 60cm or more, and  make it back to the creek where they originated.

Posted by Paul at 03:35 PM

November 14, 2011

Feline Editorial Assistant

Choco wandered into my office meowing plaintively while I was
editing another Language Lanterns Ukrainian - English translation today.

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Hello? Can't hear me? How about I jump on the desk?
I need some attention and affection, eh?

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Hah! Can't ignore me now!

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A folded towel - how nice of you. I'll catch a few winks while
I supervise from over here.

Posted by Paul at 08:33 PM

November 09, 2011

Japan Trip—Day 4 of Photos

This next set of photos finds us in Nikko, Japan, a World Heritage Site, and a place were a few of Japan's founding shoguns are enshrined. It's a lovely place, with flamboyantly carved and decorated shrines, lush forests, and, often, crowds of people. Little did we know that we arrived on the day of a biannual recreation of a parade re-enacting the transfer of the remains of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu to the site. That actually proved to be beneficial, as we wandered the further reaches of the lovely grounds in peace while most folks congregated along the parade route. No worries, I'll have parade photos up in my next post.

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Me in front of a fabulous gate

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The famous monkeys

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A lovely little rest area

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Yumi getting ready to board the bullet train : -)

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Nikko is famous for its water, and there are many public fountains
along the main road between the station and the shrine area

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Nikko Station

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And what's Japan without Hello Kitty?

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Mount Fuji from the bullet train as we zoom off back to our hotel
in Utsunomiya. Eerie scene is the result of a tiny pocket camera from
a train doing over 200kph at dusk.

I think this was my third or fourth time in Nikko. I believe my sister and I visited together when we first went to Japan in 1985, and then I went there at least once, if not twice, during the 14 years I lived in Tokyo.

There were gaggles of Japanese high school girls in their short plaid skirts on the local train from Utsunomiya to Nikko the morning Yumi and I went. It occurred to me that the first time I went to Nikko was well before they were born. And I had not a single white hair. Sigh. I whispered to my wife "would you like to be a high school girl again?" No way! The cruel awkwardness of youth is behind, and our best days are yet to come, eh?

Posted by Paul at 07:44 PM

November 08, 2011

Japan Trip—Day 3 of Photos

As mentioned, I am not giving exact dates to these photo collections. They are from my trip to Japan from Oct. 10-24. These are from Osaka.

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Approaching Osaka Castle

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Me, by a gate

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The canon is a signal piece from a later era

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The reconstruction shows the gaudy style preferred by Toyotomi Hideyoshi

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There are many massive stones in the moat and base, some weighing
over 100 tons. What's amazing is that often they came by ship from
hundreds of kilometers away, donated by vassal daimyo. Remember,
we're talking late 16th C technology here!

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A more modern building with fire/quake practice underway. Must
be quite the slide down one of those chutes!

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An electric Nissan Leaf that we passed on the street at a rental car place.
The proprietor was very friendly, giving us a tour of the car inside and out.

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It was our first time in Osaka, and in the evening we went to Osaka Station City to look for a place to eat. Took the escalator up ten floors to the restaurants. Each floor was 85% young women out shopping. Everything on the restaurant floor was $25/person and up. Not our style. We took the train one station over to Temma, figuring a smaller station would have cheaper eats. Found an amazingly long shotengai, or shopping street. Ended up eating too much for about $9/person. I had a Nagasaki sara udon set that came with five side dishes, while Yumi had champon noodles.

Posted by Paul at 07:45 PM

November 07, 2011

Japan Trip–Day 2 of Photos

As mentioned earlier, I am not assigning exact dates to these photo collections. They are from my trip to Japan from Oct. 10-24. These are from Izumo and Matsue.

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Yumi near the bottom entrance to Izumo-Taisha, one of the most
revered Shinto shrines in Japan. Unfortunately the main building
was under renovation, but we still enjoyed the trek up the hill, the
huge straw "ropes", and the other buildings.

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There is a series these "torii" or gates along the way

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The old Taisha train station is wonderfully preserved and evokes
memories of a bygone age.

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A fanciful, and somewhat phallic, turtle decoration on the roof tiles.
Turtles symbolize long life.

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And on to Matsue to visit the castle. Unfortunately is was raining steadily
but we persevered.

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Part of the moat

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The lovely keep

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View from the top

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Just starting to get some autumn colors

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Samurai helmet with devil motif. There's an excellent collection of armour
in the keep

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Though I've seen lots of samurai armour, I'm always surprized
at how small these fighters were. Few appear to be over 5'4" to 5'6"
or so. And slender - so the armour could weigh nearly half as much
as the man wearing it. No wonder some accounts of battles describe
mass slaughter when exhausted forces encountered fresh opponents.

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And one little bird with one big bug on the keep's roof!

We enjoyed Matsue, despite the steady rain. Ironically, the city is known for the wonderful sunset views toward the Sea of Japan. So tourist info centres, kiosks, hotels, etc., have signs showing sunset time, and the probability of clear weather - which was zero percent during our visit. I'm sure the scene below must be lovely during a gorgeous sunset!

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Izumo and Matsue are off the beaten tourist path, because it takes a good four to five hours to get there by train from the more populated and well-known Pacific Ocean side of Japan. But it was well worth the trip, and I hope some day we will personally experience a Matsue sunset!

Oh yes, it was also fun recognizing locations in Matsue used for photo shoots of Japan's NHK "Dan Dan" drama series, which we watched some time ago on TV Japan in Canada.

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Passing the time on trains is a lot easier when you pick up bento boxes
of delectable food : - ) Most major stations have "eki-ben" or "station
bento boxes," often featuring local delicacies.

Posted by Paul at 08:56 PM

October 30, 2011

Japan Trip–Day 1

Here are photos from the first day in Japan on our Oct. 10-24 trip. We walked and walked, from our hotel near Ochanomizu, around the Imperial Palace, past the Diet building, Roppongi, and to Shibuya. From there we walked to Meiji Jingu and Shinjuku, where we finally hopped a train back to the hotel.

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A view of the Imperial Palace moat

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Nijubashi at the Imperial Palace

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Sakuradamon

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Yumi by the massive gate

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Yumi in front of the Diet

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There's always a hefty police presence near the Diet to deter fringe elements

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Shibuya, famous for fashion

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Moi with Hachiko, the famous dog that always waited for its master at the station

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And in the Land of Cuteness, a Hachiko bus stop

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And a Hachiko bus

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Approaching Yoyogi from Shibuya

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Yoyogi National Gymnasium designed by Kenzo Tange for the 1964 Summer
Olympics. It has held up remarkably well in appearance.

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Entering Meiji Jingu from the Harajuku side. This shrine was one of my
havens when I was resident in Japan, and I walked through its grounds once
or twice a week on the way to work for several of the 14 years I lived in Tokyo.

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Donations of casks of nihonshu (sake) to the shrine from all over Japan

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The NTT Docomo Building as seen from Meiji Jingu

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Pond in Meiji Jingu grounds

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We love turtles!

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One of Tokyo's impressive jungle crows

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There were some pretty amazing spiders hanging about

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And a grasshopper.

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And some sort of wasp

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Walking toward Shinjuku. Contrast between NTT Docomo
tower and one of the few remaining old buildings around

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Our final destination on this day - Takashimaya Times Square in Shinjuku

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Where this Wako tonkatsu outlet was my destination :-)

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A happy Paul chowing down after a loooong day of rambling

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On our last several visits to Tokyo over the last 12 years since
we moved to Canada, we've always stayed at a reasonable business
hotel near Ochanomizu Station. There used to be one holdout, lovely,
w0oden house on this corner lot. We often wondered how long it
would last in a sea of hulking business towers.

Posted by Paul at 07:47 PM

October 29, 2011

Photo Stats from Japan Trip Oct. 10-24

The final photo tally from my Japan trip from Oct. 10-24 is: Nikon D300 DSLR - 1,604 shots; Canon pocket SD780IS - 465 shots. I will start selecting and posting photos to this blog over the next week. Rather than attempting to match blog entries to the actual Japan dates, I think I'll just use a "2011 Japan Trip - Day X" format.

Posted by Paul at 10:07 PM

October 08, 2011

Paradise Valley Road

After spending the morning editing, I had to get out and clear my head, so I took a quick jaunt up to the Squamish area. I like checking out a few creeks and rivers up that way for spawning salmon, and sure enough, I could smell them before I could see them.

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Spawner seen through the Tenderfoot Creek Hatchery fence

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Paradise Valley Road

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Posted by Paul at 07:31 PM

October 01, 2011

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Assist in Edmonds Clean Sweep

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers participated in the biannual Edmonds Clean Sweep yet again. This event is sponsored by the Edmonds Business & Community Association in SE Burnaby the first Saturday in October, and the first Saturday in May every year. There was a bit of confusion this year as to organizational matters, but it all came together in a great event.

Thanks to Joyce Rostron, past prez of the Edmonds group, and Jim and Lindy McQueen of Gordon Presbyterian Church for pulling it together. The church did a great job of hosting the community with hot dogs, buns and condiments donated by Save-On Foods, and drinks provided by MLA Raj Chouhan.

At "our" end of the event, streamkeepers pulled in 37 volunteers! Thanks to all the Scouts Canada groups that participated.

And of course thanks to the City of Burnaby and its crews who provide this community cleanup with dumpsters and other support. Not to mention Burnaby RCMP and Community Policing volunteers who are always out in force for these events! And Translink security staff who help us out with our volunteer vehicles in the parking lot.

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Signs pointing to our booth at the Edmonds Skytrain station

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Filling the City of Burnaby provided dumpster to overflowing

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Thanks to all the Scouts Canada volunteers!

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Volunteers shoulder heavy loads to clean up the hood!

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Streamkeepers and RCMP at the post-event social. No, the two
groups are not shunning each other, we get along great! Just didn't
grab a better photo. . .  The police know streamkeepers are eyes on
less-travelled parts of our wonderful parks, ravines, and creeks.
Burnaby has a great community policing program.

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Edmonds Association past prez Joyce Rostron thanks sponsors and volunteers

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Gordon Presbyterian Church volunteers feed the crowd

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Moi center, with streameepers stalwarts Dave and Frieda

Posted by Paul at 10:51 PM

September 21, 2011

Stealth Bomber Moth

Saw this cool-looking moth on our garage door yesterday.

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Posted by Paul at 04:01 PM

September 09, 2011

Caught My First Salmon

I've never been an avid fisherman, but it's something that's always suited the camping / canoeing / hiking portfolio of activities that I love. I did some fishing as a kid growing up in Saskatchewan, mostly for perch and pike. I've lived in BC for over ten years now, and while my wife and I have done some lake fishing from shore and from canoe, we've never caught anything.

We've both volunteered as streamkeepers for around ten years, so we know and love salmon. We do eat them, though, so I figure there's nothing wrong with catching and killing a few salmon myself, given buying the license and having the opportunity.

I've been fortunate this summer that a cousin who is a focussed, experienced fisherman, and who has a boat, has taken us fishing several times on the Sumas and Fraser Rivers. Thanks, Stacy! He's also a great coach. I caught my first salmon, a pink, yesterday, and today I threw it on a cedar plank on the BBQ. Yum!

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Me with my first pink.

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Stacy with one of three he caught that day.

The other factor that makes such days wonderful, is that we both love to be out of the city, and on the water.

P.S. All you folks out there who buy salmon steaks, or beheaded & gutted carcasses, I encourage you to get a whole fish and have it bleed all over your kitchen sink while you eviscerate it. You can have your own "reality" experience without turning on the TV. Very educational for any kids around, too.

Posted by Paul at 09:05 PM

September 04, 2011

Long Weekend Fishing on Fraser River

Cousin Stacy took us fishing today in his jet-drive river boat. He'd taken me out a couple of days ago, and today Yumi joined us. It was a glorious day, albeit slightly frustrating, as people all around us were hauling in salmon, and we brought nary a one into the boat. I had three on line, but lost them all. Keep that line tight! I don't fish often, and am not used to playing fish on single barbless hooks - they can shake them right quick if you slack up just a smidge. Most of my fishing was done as a kid in Saskatchewan where treble barbed hooks were usually used - at least a few decades ago. . . Yet I appreciate the single barbless, because you're way more likely to accomplish a successful "catch and release" than with any barbed hook, much less a treble.  Anyway it was great to be out on the water! Thanks cuz!

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Me in front of the boat

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Posted by Paul at 08:08 PM

September 03, 2011

Funky Old Kyocera Digital Camera Sports Floppy Disk

Yumi was cleaning some drawers and ran across this old digital camera that her Dad had given her years ago. We never used it. I suspect it was obsolete a few months after it was released : -). But it's kinda cool because it used a floppy disk. Say what? Yep, it's called a Video Floppy Disk. The disk measures roughly 6 X 5 cm. Dunno if these ever made it outside Japan. . .

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Posted by Paul at 08:23 PM

August 23, 2011

Chris Isaak a Blast at Vancouver’s PNE

We caught Chris Isaak at the PNE two years ago (photos here) and loved the show. So we were back for more fun tonight. This year's concert was also great, with excellent music and an appreciative crowd. The band is super tight, the original tunes are great, and we even got some Orbison, Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis thrown in tonight.

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For the photographers out there, all shots were handheld with a
Nikon D300 with ISO set to 3,200. Most shots with EV -.7 to -1.3
so as not to overexpose the subjects against the dark background.

Posted by Paul at 08:50 PM

August 20, 2011

Vancouver Big Bus Tour, Canada Place

I picked up half-price tickets for the Big Bus hop-on, hop-off, tour bus in Vancouver on Groupon, and today Yumi and I played tourists in our home city - well, next-door city, in that, you know, suburb of Burnaby : - ). It was great fun to just sit back in the "topless" bus in the glorious sunshine.

Here are a few photos taken from the bus, and from a wander about the Canada Place cruise ship terminal.

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A flattering shot with wide-angle distortion :- )

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Some flying lions

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Canada Place sails reflected in the new convention centre

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Paul and Yumi reflected in Canada Place

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The Zuiderdam leaves the harbour. We thought she looked big.

Until we walked around to the other side of the pier and gaped in wonder
at the Diamond Princess.

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The bow area

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Midships

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Looking toward the stern

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The, er, starship, feature

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Off into the gulf, and the Pacific

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Posted by Paul at 10:06 PM

Final Summer Bug Count on Byrne Creek Reveals Some Beauties

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers finished a third and final summer weekend of bug sampling this morning, with samples from the last three of nine sites that we've been sampling twice a year for at least ten years.

These bug surveys give an indication of water quality, using a standard methodology in The Streamkeepers Handbook, which can be downloaded from the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation. Unfortunately, Byrne Creek rarely rises above the "poor" level, as it receives a lot of polluted runoff from its urban environment.

Here are a few of the more rare aquatic bugs (larval stage) that we found in the creek this summer:

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Crane fly

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Caddis fly

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Dragonfly

Posted by Paul at 08:10 PM

August 07, 2011

Burnaby, Hope, Lytton, Lillooet, Duffy Lake Road, Whistler Daytrip

Lovely day for a trip up the valley, up the canyon, back to the coast via the Duffy Lake Road, and home down Howe Sound. I love how you can travel just a couple of hours in BC and come across such distinct biological & geographical zones.

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The blue Thompson enters the muddy Fraser at Lytton

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Naxwit Picnic area near BC Hydro Seton Lake Recreation Area

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Seton Lake

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Duffy Lake

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Posted by Paul at 07:35 PM

August 06, 2011

Smart Little Bunny

We've caught glimpses of this rabbit several times over the last months in our townhouse complex. I'm assuming it's the same one as it's always around the same area. I find it interesting how it seems to survive right next door to an urban ravine, while outdoor cats disappear left and right.

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Posted by Paul at 08:06 PM

August 01, 2011

Evening Clouds from Balcony in SE Burnaby

A lovely show this evening as seen from our balcony.

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Posted by Paul at 09:25 PM

July 31, 2011

Mine’s Smaller than Yours ;–)

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The 225' Attessa (foreground) and the 330' Attessa IV near Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver.
Sure glad I've been married to a lovely woman for 18 years who has been just as happy with a 16' canoe as I have
;-).

Posted by Paul at 08:09 PM

July 19, 2011

Coyote Kits in Byrne Creek Habitat

When I was down in the Byrne Creek habitat checking the sediment flow from the broken water main on Southpoint Dr. in SE Burnaby, I ran across a family of coyotes sunning themselves. The mom took off immediately, but the kits were curious until she called them away.

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I continued home back up the ravine.

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Posted by Paul at 08:42 PM

Southpoint Water Main Blowout Dumps Sediment in Byrne Creek

The City of Burnaby called me this afternoon to let streamkeepers on Byrne Creek know that a water main had blown out on Southpoint Drive in SE Burnaby, and that a significant amount of sediment had entered the creek through the storm-drain system. I went to check it out, and was relieved to find no dead or distressed fish. While sediment is not good for the creek, at least it's not toxic, and fish can usually find refuge in tributary creeks. When I got there, I'd missed the main action. Crews were doing a good job of cleaning the roads and patching holes.

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I presume the above was the site of the break.

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While much of the road had been cleaned up,
the flow down the hill was still evident.

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It must have been quite the flow, because it deposited
gravel over the curb a hundred or more meters away.

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Here you can see the flow where it had hit the new rain garden
at the Southpoint cul-de-sac.

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The top of the rain garden looking downhill
toward Southridge Dr.

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Some of the flow bypassed the rain garden
and caused some significant erosion along the path.

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You could even see where water had flowed
along Southridge Dr. toward Byrne Park Dr.

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This is the sediment pond in the Byrne Creek artificial spawning
habitat. The hole at the top is where the sediment flow entered the
creek through stormwater pipes.

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A reverse view from the one above. As of around 4:00 pm,
the water entering the pond was clear.

Posted by Paul at 05:04 PM

July 12, 2011

Russian Guns in Kingston–Tracking a History Mystery

I ran across some mysterious guns (cannons) when visiting Kingston, Ontario, in June 2009. Intrigued by what I thought were Imperial Russian markings on them, I went on a quest to discover how they had come to Canada.

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A close-up of one of the guns in Macdonald Park. The double-headed eagle caught my eye. . .

So as we continued visiting historic sites in Kingston, I kept asking about the guns.

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I had no luck at this nearby Martello Tower. The student on summer duty did his best, even searching the Internet, but came up with no information. Also had no luck at the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes not too far away, though it was fascinating in its own right.

Later we were out at Old Fort Henry, and that's where I hit pay dirt. Touring the fort was a wonderful experience, especially watching the re-enactments of drill, musket firing, and big gun firing.

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It occurred to me to ask for the curator's email address, and I sent him my question. He had the grace to respond quickly, while I didn't even get around to posting on my blog until two years later. Sorry! Here's his answer:

Dear Paul,

Mark Bennett, our Supervisor of Programs passed along your request for information regarding the two guns with double-headed eagles in front of the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald, our first Prime Minister.

The guns are Russian, hence the Czarist, double-headed eagle emblems. Following the Crimean War, 1854-55, an offer was made by the government in London England, for guns captured at the great naval base of Sebastopol in the Crimea to be displayed in cities throughout the British Empire. The fortifications were taken by assault and the abandoned stores were captured and returned to England at the conclusion of the war. Many cities in the Empire applied for these trophy guns and they were subsequently delivered in the following years. The City of Kingston received two of these guns, whereas most locations received only one. I know of several cities in Canada that have Crimean Guns.

The Sebastopol guns are famous for another feature. Queen Victoria instituted a new medal for gallantry at this time. It is known as the Victoria Cross and has become the most sought-after decoration for gallantry arguably in the world. The simple bronze crosses are made of bronze from the cascables of guns  that were captured at Sebastopol (identical to the ones you saw in Kingston).

I hope that this answers your question. Thank you for visiting Fort Henry and we hope you will visit us again soon.

Regards,
Ron Ridley
Curator
Fort Henry National Historic Site of Canada
St. Lawrence Parks Commission
Ontario Ministry of Tourism

Now that's what I call service. Thank you Ron, my apologies for my tardy post, and hope everything at Fort Henry is going well!

Posted by Paul at 09:35 PM

July 10, 2011

Saving Dragonfly from ‘Indoor’ Cat

Yes, Choco the cat is supposed to be a completely indoor cat. That's to protect her from the coyotes in the ravine just outside our back gate, and to protect birds from her natural instincts, well-fed as she may be. Cats are cats, and love to chase. . . But we do let her out on the balcony, and in an unsupervised moment today, she managed to snag a lovely dragonfly.

Yumi soon rescued the dragonfly, which wasn't too worse for wear. In the photo below, one wing appear off kilter, but after the shock wore off, it straightened out, and the lovely little darling buzzed off into the ether. Fly, fly my dragonfly - and catch, and eat, as many mosquitos as you can : -).

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Posted by Paul at 08:56 PM

July 09, 2011

Korean War Monument in Burnaby’s Central Park

Yumi and I have been getting out cycling more. Today we went from our place in SE Burnaby to Central Park. We did several trails in the park and then returned home. While we were in the park I wanted to visit the relatively new Korean War Monument, which I had not been to yet. The Korean War was my Mom's generation - as I recall she knew young men who fought and died. She was about 17 when Canada entered the war as part of the UN forces.

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I also noticed that one of the names on the memorial was that of "Takeuchi Takachi," as sh0wn below. That struck me as odd, because I spent over a decade in Japan, and the name just did not ring right.

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I naturally turned to Google, and quickly found the site of the 2RCHA, or Canadian Horse Artillery. Under the Regimental History link, there is a section called "Off to Korea" where the name is spelled Gunner Takashi Takeuchi, which makes more sense (at least in the Western order of given name, followed by family name). I hope this can be rectified, for this is one of those strange confluences in history. There was no love lost between Japanese and Koreans for centuries. To have a Japanese-Canadian die in the Korean War on the side of freedom and democracy has a certain poignancy to it. . .

Posted by Paul at 07:57 PM

July 04, 2011

Firefighting Foam Enters Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby Again

Late afternoon today I saw an email from a fellow Byrne Creek Streamkeeper that there was a car on fire near his apartment and that firefighters were responding with foam. I had just come home from a walk around the creek and had not noticed anything. I pulled out my stormdrain map of the Byrne Creek watershed and noted that the area he referred to was right on the edge of the escapement. So I ran back outside and checked Griffiths Pond near the Edmonds Skytrain station. Sure enough, there was lots of foam coming down the fish ladder, spreading over the pond, and flowing downstream.

Here's how it looked at 5:15 p.m.:

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Now we streamkeepers are a bit sensitive because runoff from a house fire in the watershed back in November 201o did kill a lot of fish in the creek. That was attributed to chemicals stored at the house, as firefighting foam is said to be non-toxic.

I did not see any dead fish at 5:15, and resolved to check again later in the evening. Here's how the pond looked at 7:15 p.m.:

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Much of the foam had dissipated. I checked carefully in and around the pond again, and did not find any dead fish, or any in distress. I saw one alive, swimming just fine. I worked my way slowly down the creek about 75 meters, and also did not see any dead or distressed fish, and saw several darting about alive.

I'll check again in the morning, but, knock on wood, perhaps we have escaped yet another kill in our creek.

UPDATE [July 5, 2011]: I checked the pond this morning at 7:30 a.m. and it was clear. I am pleased to report that I did not see any dead or distressed fish. I also checked the sediment pond near Meadow and Southridge in the artificial spawning habitat, and again saw no dead or distressed fish. I did see several dozen live ones, ranging in size from about 8cm to 30cm. I should also acknowledge that I did not have time to backtrack the flow of the foam, so it is an assumption on my part that it was related to the fire in the upper watershed. I am assuming it was from the fire due to the timing of the foam's appearance, and its quantity.

Posted by Paul at 09:12 PM

July 03, 2011

Reifel Bird Sanctuary Ramble

Yumi and I went to the Reifel Bird Sanctuary this morning - one of our favourite places around BC's lower mainland.

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Barn swallow

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Barn swallow tail feathers

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Cowbird

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Damselfly

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Ducklings

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Heron with fish

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House sparrow

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Otter

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Posted by Paul at 08:03 PM

July 02, 2011

Mom Black Bear & Cubs

Saw this mom black bear and cubs grazing at the side of the road on northern Vancouver Island on the May long weekend. Needless to say, I took all my photos from inside the car.

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Posted by Paul at 07:18 PM

Campbell River Estuary Shorebird

These shots are from a tour of the Campbell River estuary on Vancouver Island the May long weekend. The tour was part of the 2011 SEP Workshop (BC Streamkeepers' Conference). Even with my bird books, I'm not sure exactly what this is.

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Side view

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Front view

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In flight

Posted by Paul at 07:04 PM

Seattle Space Needle

I'm way behind on getting photos up on this blog! Here's a teaser from a trip we took to Seattle at the end of April this year. I took nearly 100 shots of the Space Needle and the fountain.

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Posted by Paul at 06:52 PM

Steveston Walk

Yumi and I headed down to Steveston on this sunny Saturday. It's one of our favourite places to ramble around. Great waterfront walks, interesting shops, good places to eat.

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Near Fisherman's Wharf

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Yumi using her binoculars to check out a pair of young eagles
in a nest across the river

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Dappled sunlight resulted in this shot of a rose bush

The above photo was not manipulated in any way in
post-production, and the camera was a nearly "auto-
everything" pocket job. The dramatic effect is simply
from the pinpoint of sunlight on one blossom on a large,
green bush, with the auto-exposure capturing the highlights
and everything else thrown to black.

Cool, eh?

Posted by Paul at 06:12 PM

June 27, 2011

OK, 1 More ‘Missing Pet’ Added to this Blog

I'm adding "missing pets" to this blog. I used to have entries for them on my old website that I took down years ago, and am finally transferring those pages here.

Toto the Cat in Aomori Prefecture, Japan.

This entry on my old website was posted around 1995-97???

"Here I am with a *verrrry* relaxed Toto, in Yumi's parents' place. Toto and I were the greatest of pals, though we didn't meet that often. He passed away awhile back, and I still miss him..."

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2011 comments: Toto was the most relaxed, laid back cat I ever met, and I've known lots of cats! An unfixed male, he was incredibly cuddly. Yumi and I would visit her parents in Aomori, and we'd hear Toto caterwauling in the hood. . . He'd be putting on a huge display of bunched up muscles and throaty wails. Then Yumi would call out in Japanese, "Toto! Come here!" and just like that he'd be trotting over and rolling over to expose his tummy for a rub, all the while pumping out happy "neowks". . .

My kind of guy - a warrior with a soft side : - )

Yumi and I speak of Toto still, ten or more years after he died. We have shared memories that we will cherish forever.

Posted by Paul at 09:05 PM

June 26, 2011

White Rock Walk

It almost seemed like summer for several hours today in the lower mainland of BC! Yumi and I went down to White Rock to walk the promenade and the pier.

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Posted by Paul at 07:57 PM

New Glasses with Progressive Lenses

Warning, my posts may be somewhat hallucinatory for a week or two as I get used to my first progressive lenses.

As I sit in front of the monitors and keyboard with the new glasses on, whenever I turn my head I feel like I'm watching an old "this is your mind on drugs" health-class movie, or a flick from the 1960s with Dennis Hopper in it. As I pan my head from side to side to shift from monitor to monitor, I get lovely ripples of distortion. While it will take awhile to "get used to the zones," so far I'm not feeling as woozy as some people warned me I might be.

I got the top end, cutting-edge HD lenses that supposedly offer the widest reading area and least amount of distortion. Wonder what the heck the cheapest ones are like!

These glasses have three zones: near, mid and far, and once I get used to them, I think they'll help with my editing productivity. I can use mid for the monitors, and near for reference books. Just tried it and it works great. I'd been at the point where I had to keep flipping my old glasses off and dragging my nose along a page to look in a dictionary, or a style guide, or a reference book, or whatever....

The other option would have been laser surgery, which the optometrist told me I'd be eligible for even with my major myopia and astigmatism. That would be like being correct for mid-to-far, and then having a pair of reading glasses for closeup work, he said. Still might try that someday, as I do a fair bit of hiking, canoeing, camping, etc. and it would be nice not to have to wear glasses for such activities.

I know lots of folks who rave about laser surgery, but I figured if I'd still have to wear some kind of glasses 40-50+ hours a week working at the computer and reading, I'd try the progressive route first.

Me with my new specs:

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And for those who haven't seen me in awhile, that's not a playoff beard, that's a "forgot my razor when I went to a conference in Campbell River over the May long weekend" beard. So far my significant other seems intrigued, so I guess I'll let it go awhile longer. The last time I grew a beard was during summer vacation a couple of years ago, and I was dismayed at how white it came in. I guess now that I have accepted progressives, and am fairly comfortable with my white beard, I'm aging more gracefully : - ).

Posted by Paul at 07:46 PM

June 25, 2011

A Few Smartphone Photos

Though I've had my Acer Liquid E Android smartphone for almost exactly a year, I've rarely used its camera feature because I nearly always carry at minimum my tiny Canon SD780, or other, more advanced, photo gear. But the other day I was in downtown Vancouver for a seminar and got to Canada Place with some time to spare so I tried a few shots. Not bad.

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Posted by Paul at 07:24 PM

June 18, 2011

Ladybug, Bee on Byrne Creek Walk

A couple of nice close-up shots with my tiny Canon SD780 on a Byrne Creek walk today:

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Posted by Paul at 06:27 PM

June 11, 2011

Sharing Sunlight: A Recipe for World Peace

My recipe for world peace: cross-cultural, even cross-species sharing of a patch of sunlight. Midori the turtle and Choco the cat show how it's done:

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We found them like this near the sliding doors to the balcony
when we got home from a volunteer event today.

Posted by Paul at 09:18 PM

May 08, 2011

Kenko Auto Extension Tube Set DG

For Mother's Day, I bought myself a set of Kenko Automatic Extension Tubes for my Nikon DSLR gear. The tubes enable close-up macro shots with most Nikkor lenses. I'm sure Mom would have approved : - ).

Here are a few quick sample shots taken handheld at ISO 1600-3200 at f8 under my desk lamp just to give an idea of what these can do. The camera is my Nikon D300, the lens is my ancient manual-everything 55mm/3.5 Micro-NIKKOR-PC. Each photo shows the closest that I could get, and there was no cropping.

Note that autofocus and auto-exposure does work with these tubes with modern lenses.

First shot of a Canadian penny with the lens only:

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Next shot with the lens and the Kenko 36mm extension tube:

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And the next shot with all of the Kenko tubes (36 + 20 + 12), or 68mm total:

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These shots would have looked better colour-corrected and with the camera on a tripod, but they give a good idea of what extension tubes can accomplish.

And here's what the setup looks like with all the tubes and the lens mounted on the D300
(the camera is on an 8 1/2 X 11 notebook with the penny):

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Posted by Paul at 07:56 PM

April 25, 2011

Mega Bugs, Cool Stones in Chilliwack River

The day being overcast and gloomy, I checked the weather up the valley, and it was supposedly sunny near Hope, BC, on this Easter holiday Monday. So we saddled up our Subaru and headed out. Unfortunately, we never got out of the rain, but we did have a great time looking at cool aquatic bugs and rocks with all sorts of permutations of colours at the Chilliwack River in the drizzle. When I see stones like these, I wish I'd taken a geology class or two. . .

Can you imagine what sorts of forces and processes created such patterns? Mind boggling. As I wrote to a geologist friend of mine:

It's so exciting to be out in nature and drinking in the sights. There is so much to see at every scale ranging from micro to macro... I dunno why so many folks are so oblivious and/or so uncaring! While I may feel ignorant, at least I also feel awed and intrigued, and am always eager to learn more :-).

 

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Whenever we stop by a creek, stream or river, Yumi has to
start turning rocks over to see who is living underneath.

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A caddisfly

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A stonefly

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Another stonefly, big and fat. We never get bugs this big
in our pollution-prone, urban Byrne Creek, where we
volunteer as streamkeepers

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OK, now we get into the cool stones and rocks, which I
know nothing about!

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And this was the coolest of the bunch. What looks
like water, or snow, or ice, is some kind of solid rock
"flowing" into the other rock

Posted by Paul at 09:54 PM

April 17, 2011

Herons Nesting Near Burnaby’s Deer Lake

Yumi and I had a great time observing great blue herons nesting near Burnaby's Deer Lake this afternoon.

Here's one carrying a twig to shore up a nest:

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And what I think is a female northern harrier:

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Little ones may not be as impressive, but they sure are cute:

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And a fuzzy wuzzy bee:

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And another kind of bee:

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And here's the gorgeous urban park in Burnaby where you can see
these sights:

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Posted by Paul at 08:57 PM

April 10, 2011

My wife will dance, unseen, on Kodachrome Super 8

So I'm unpacking boxes that have been in storage for decades, and what do I run across but a Bauer C50XL Super 8 movie camera. Yes, I'm talking "movies" here, nothing digital about this piece of equipment. This camera wasn't even mine. As I recall, a cousin bought it, used it once or twice, and then lent/gave it to me, the photographer in the family. And at most I ran only a cartridge or two of film through it, some 35 years ago.

So I unzip the case, and there it is. What's this? It's even got a cartridge of film in it, with a few feet unexposed. Whoa! I find some AA batteries, slot them in - and nothing. I figure the film is jammed after two or three decades sitting untouched, so I pop out the cartridge, shake it a bit, pop it back in, hit the trigger, and yowza! Trrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

I run upstairs where Yumi is preparing her lunch for Monday in the kitchen, point the camera at her, and say "dance!"

She stares at me, "what is that thing?"

"It's an old movie camera, shake it, baby!" Smile

So she shakes it, and the camera goes Trrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, for about nine or ten seconds, and . . . silence.

Kodak no longer processes Kodachrome film. So Yumi is immortalized "shaking it" on film that will never be processed, never viewed. . . Until some advanced space culture comes along and develops it, and wonders about those weird Earth customs. . .

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The film cartridge was originally inserted some 35 years ago
when I was still living in the family home in Saskatoon!

Posted by Paul at 10:26 PM

March 31, 2011

Tree-Climbing Snails Appear Again near Byrne Creek

Though I've been walking the Byrne Creek trails in SE Burnaby for about ten years now, I did not notice tree-climbing snails until last year. Well, they're back at it again, with a tree-climbing slug thrown in for good measure.

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All of the above were around 1.5 - 2 meters above the ground.

Posted by Paul at 10:59 AM

March 26, 2011

Trillium Crime Scene in Byrne Creek Ravine

I'm sorry to report that someone cut off one of the rare trilliums known to flower in the lower ravine. Cut it off clean and took it away, leaving just the stem.

I don't understand such selfish, inconsiderate behaviour. Even if someone didn't know that trilliums are protected in BC and are not to be removed from public or private land, wouldn't they notice that there was only ONE flower as far as the eye could see, not a whole field of them? Sheesh.

So much for the enjoyment of many who would have seen the flower go through its lovely colour stages...

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The trillium starting to bloom on Tuesday, March 22

It was still there on Wednesday, March 23, when I led a tour of the creek
looking for salmon fry popping out of the gravel.

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All that was left on Saturday, March 26

Posted by Paul at 01:36 PM

March 25, 2011

Video of Coho Fry in Burnaby’s Byrne Creek

Here's a rough video of coho fry born in Burnaby's Byrne Creek. The filming was done handheld at 640 X 480 with an old Canon S5IS digital camera, and edited with Windows Live Movie Maker.

Posted by Paul at 10:05 PM

March 20, 2011

Yay! We Have Coho Fry in Byrne Creek!

Well, Mother Nature has snookered us again. Against all odds - a very low spawner return last autumn, no coho females found spawned, and fish kills from toxins flowing down street drains and into the creek - we have coho fry in Byrne Creek.

Yumi and I spotted and netted fry in several locations, and all were identified as coho. Please note that it is illegal to net salmon fry, and streamkeepers do so with the permission of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for ID purposes only. All fry are returned unharmed to the creek.

I feel elated. I really wasn't expecting much this spring what with the lowest spawner return since streamkeepers began keeping records some 12 years ago after the creek was reconnected to the Fraser River. Plus we had a toxic spill in November 2010 that killed hundreds of fish, but obviously some redds (nests of eggs laid by salmon) survived.

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Posted by Paul at 02:50 PM

March 18, 2011

Changing Your Driving with the Seasons

I ran across an advert today in which a few photos had been flipped with likely unintended results:

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The headline read: As The Seasons Change; So Should Your Driving!

From the photos, it appears to me that we should drive on the right side of the road in winter and autumn, and on the left side of the road in spring and summer. . .

Posted by Paul at 02:34 PM

March 06, 2011

Cates Park Stroll

Cates Park in North Vancouver was lovely as usual on a Sunday afternoon. It's always fun strolling the beach.

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Great views!

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Interesting things on the beach - a heart-shaped, encrusted stone

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A flock of Barrow's Goldeneyes was sifting through seaweed at the waterline

Posted by Paul at 08:04 PM

Spring Peeks Out in North Vancouver

A stroll in the North Vancouver cemetery found some spring blossoms peeking out this afternoon.

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Posted by Paul at 05:18 PM

March 02, 2011

Photo Similarities

About eight months ago I snapped a quick photo of a Canada flag pin in the palm of my hand to illustrate a post on this blog. Today I saw a similar photo on the Globe & Mail website. The concept of holding a flag pin in one's hand is likely a common one.

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Posted by Paul at 09:38 PM

February 25, 2011

There’s No Shame in Reading Manuals

I was taking a few shots of cat 'n wife cuddling in my office this evening, when I realized that I really needed to re-read my Nikon D300 manual. That's no slight to Nikon, or to technical writers. These modern semi-pro DSLRs are so powerful and feature-laden that there's no way one can learn to fully utilize all their features on one's own, or with a single skim of the manual. Or at least not unless you're a pro who uses all those features regularly day in and day out. I use my D300 a lot, but there's still the odd option or setting that I forget about.

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Posted by Paul at 09:11 PM

February 23, 2011

My Nikon D300 is Spotless Again

I took my Nikon D300 DSLR in for cleaning at the Richmond service centre for Nikon Canada yesterday. The sensor had developed a couple of distinct spots that I was loath to try to remove with my limited gear and experience. For $50 they turned my camera around in 24 hours, clean and ready to roll again.

A lovely, full-frame shot of--nothing. Yay!

I pointed the camera into the dull sky outside the service centre and snapped this shot
to confirm that the irritating blemishes were indeed gone.

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In the photo below, you can see the previous spots at the left edge just
below centre, and at the right edge just above centre in this cropped shot.

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This is one "weakness" of DSLRs-when you change lenses, there is always the possibility that dust may settle on the imaging sensor. Though I used the D300's cleaning function several times, it couldn't get rid of them, and I wasn't going to take any chances with accessing and cleaning the sensor myself.

Posted by Paul at 07:57 PM

February 20, 2011

Vancouver Waterfront Walk

Though I felt a bit under the weather--achy late yesterday and a tad feverish this morning--we decided to head into downtown Vancouver and put a few miles under our shoe leather. Nothing like fresh air and exercise to clarify if one is actually ill, or not!

We walked Robson St., which is always fun, and followed it all the way to Denman, stopping in at Hon's to fortify ourselves with potstickers and noodles in soup, and then along the shore to Stanley Park.

We love the Lost Lagoon area.

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I doubt if processed white bread is good for raccoons. . .

Sez Paul, while chawing down on some fresh, home-made
French bread, washing it all down with a nice glass of red
wine. . .

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Savouring cups of coffee and latte after a long walk

OK, Yumi insisted that I look cute, too, so I should include the following foto:

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I think that's wife talk.. Smile

Posted by Paul at 09:42 PM

February 13, 2011

White Rock Still Pretty on Grey Day

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The pier

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Bald eagle

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Hey, wait for me!

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Ah, together again : - )

Posted by Paul at 07:11 PM

February 12, 2011

2010 Olympic Flame Re-Lighting 1st Anniversary

Yumi met me in downtown Vancouver today. I was at an Editors' Association of Canada workshop on editing narrative, which I greatly enjoyed. We found each other around 4:30p and headed over to see the re-lit Olympic flame, celebrating the 1-year anniversary of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Brought back some great memories!

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Posted by Paul at 06:18 PM

February 09, 2011

Sea to Sky Jaunt

A lovely sunny day enticed me up the Sea to Sky from Vancouver to Whistler.

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Scene from a viewpoint along the highway

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Chopper passing by some peaks

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Shannon Creek downstream of Shannon Falls

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The pier at Porteau Cove

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Grazing gulls

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A group of Barrow's Goldeneyes

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Heron at the end of the pier

Posted by Paul at 08:21 PM

February 08, 2011

Byrne Creek Signs of Spring 2011

A Byrne Creek Ravine Park ramble revealed signs of spring today, though technically it's still winter.

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For all you allergy sufferers : - )

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Moss overgrows sandbags at Byrne Creek footbridge

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A pileated woodpecker. Love these flashy birds!

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Sunset approaches as kids and parents play in Taylor Park

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A view of mountains on the north shore as seen from New Westminster

Posted by Paul at 08:00 PM

February 01, 2011

Sundog From Taylor Park in Burnaby

I can't remember the last time I've seen  sundogs, but I saw the phenomenon from Taylor Park in Burnaby just before sunset today. I grew up in Saskatchewan, and I recall spectacular sundogs, usually most prominent in winter, I believe.

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You can see the faint sundog near the left edge of the photo.

Taken with my teeny Canon SD780IS.

Posted by Paul at 11:23 PM

January 30, 2011

Day 2 of SEHAB Meeting in North Vancouver Nice & Sunny

I've been attending my first meetings this weekend as a rookie alternate member of the Salmon Enhancement & Habitat Advisory Board that works with Fisheries and Oceans Canada on the west coast. The second day of meetings was sunny, cold and clear, a sharp contrast to yesterday's damp haze. I got a few more shots from Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver on my way from the SeaBus this morning.

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By the time I was heading home I believe I had volunteered
for a couple of SEHAB committees!

Posted by Paul at 08:04 PM

January 29, 2011

Foggy Vancouver on Day 1 of SEHAB Meeting

I was recently named an alternate on the Salmon Enhancement & Habitat Advisory Board that works with Fisheries and Oceans Canada on the west coast. The first meetings that I attended were held this weekend, and I got a few shots from Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver on my way from the SeaBus on Saturday and Sunday morning.

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The view looking south at downtown Vancouver from the quay.

My first full day of meetings proved to be educational and interesting. It's a great bunch of people and I look forward to working with them.

Posted by Paul at 07:57 PM

January 22, 2011

Salmon Hazard Sign at Walmart in Bellingham, WA

On a cross-border jaunt to Bellingham, WA, I was surprised, and heartened to see this sign in a Walmart:

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I know some folks have issues with Walmart, and while I have my qualms about big boxes and rampant consumerism, I have to say that Walmart is progressive on many green & sustainability issues.

I don't know if this particular signage is a Walmart policy, or a State of Washington policy for any retailers of pesticides. Anyone know? You can reach me at paul@cipywnyk.com.

Oh, if you're having trouble reading it, it says:

Use in urban areas of pesticides containing the active ingredients 2, 4-D, carbaryl, diazinon, diuron, malathion, triclopyr BEE, or trifluralin may harm salmon or steelhead.

Help keep our water resources clean. Apply pesticides only to your lawn and sweep any product which lands in the driveway, sidewalk or street back onto your lawn. Rinse applicator over lawn or garden area only.

Posted by Paul at 10:11 PM

Larrabee State Park, Chuckanut Drive

Another shopping jaunt into Washington State got  side-tracked into more rural, nature-focused exploration, resulting in a few nice shots in Larrabee State Park and along Chuckanut Drive. We really have to explore more of the NW United States - some gorgeous areas and what looks like great camping!

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Not exactly hiking gear, but we hadn't planned to hit any trails, and
weren't expecting to get too far off road. But we couldn't resist. . .
My wife Yumi is cajoled into striking a pose : - )

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From the beach at Larrabee State Park.

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A sunset view from Chuckanut Drive.

Posted by Paul at 10:05 PM

January 21, 2011

Hawk Couple Pops Up in my HD Search for Printable Photos

Here's a nice shot taken nearly two years ago that I'd forgotten about. A pair of hawks on a nest near a rural highway in southern Alberta.

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And the following is what happens when you stare too
long at a hawk's nest. . .

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You get the hint real fast as a parent hovers, screeches,
and swoops, in "gonna take your scalp if you don't back off" mode. . .

You may snort and say that one of these birds is only a kilo or two, max. But I have a healthy respect for all raptors. They fight way above their weight classes. I've seen bald eagles take seagulls at least their weight, and carry them for hundreds of meters. I've read articles by nature photographers much more accomplished than I am - who treat raptors with extreme respect. . .

Not to mention, of course, that you really, truly, ought nought to disturb the nest.

Posted by Paul at 09:21 PM

January 16, 2011

Enlarging Photos Gains New Perspective

I had fun this weekend selecting and printing a couple of dozen of my photos at 8 1/2 X 11". It gave me a new perspective on some of my work. I haven't printed much at all the last decade or so, save for 4 X 6" family photos to share, much less done any enlargements. A far cry from the days when I had my own B&W darkroom several decades ago. . . While I've been printing on an inexpensive multifunction Epson Artisan 710 inkjet, I've been using Epson Premium Photo Paper Glossy, and the results impressed me. I wonder if there's a $ or 2 to be made from my photography? It's been at least 30 years since I did any photography for $. Here's just over half of them, spread across the kitchen table. Sorry for a tish of glare at bottom centre, I don't have any lighting gear aside from the bounced SB-600 Nikon Speedlight.

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Posted by Paul at 06:11 PM

January 09, 2011

A Cheer of Chickadees at Campbell Valley Park

OK, I don't think you call a bunch of chickadees a "cheer," but darn if these teeny, bold little birds don't cheer you up!

Yumi and I traipsed through Campbell Valley Regional Park for several hours today and had a blast.

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We ran into some folks hand-feeding chickadees, and
one lady was kind enough to spot us a bag of seeds.
Yes, you're not supposed to feed wildlife in the park,
and while as a rule we don't, we ease up when it comes to
overwintering birds.

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This chickadee has just tossed a dud seed - they're
quite particular!

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The corn has gotta go, too! Where's the nice, plump sunflower seeds?

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OK, I'm going to bury my face in there and find something I really like!

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Whoa! Something spooked this one as feathers flare
and seeds go flying. . .

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This striking Stellar's Jay swooped in and out,
snatching the odd seed.

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All shots handheld with a Nikon D300 and the AF-S Nikkor 18-200mm
3.5-5.6 G ED zoom lens. ISO 400, 1/320 to 1/640 shutter speed at f7.1.

Posted by Paul at 08:49 PM

January 03, 2011

Eagles Near Squamish, BC

The Brackendale bald eagle count was way down this year - another of several bad years in a row - likely due to poor returns of chum salmon to area rivers. Yumi and I tracked down a few eagles near the Tenderfoot Hatchery. Here are a couple of shots. I'll add more details later.

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Posted by Paul at 07:50 PM

December 24, 2010

La Conner, Whidbey Island Day Trip

The day before Christmas, we headed down across the border into Washington State for a daytrip and some shopping. As a Canadian citizen it's relatively easy for me, but my Japanese national wife Yumi needs to get a visa, along with fingerprint and eye scans. We hadn't been across the border since the new technology was implemented, and we were impressed by the new facility, and the efficiency and courteousness of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel at the White Rock/Blaine I5 crossing.

We drove to La Conner for lunch, and wandered around the quaint town which we had last visited some ten years ago. By the time we got there, the rain had stopped, making us pleased with our choice to head south across the border away from Vancouver's forecast of a week of rain. We continued south on highway 20 at a leisurely pace, going as far as Ft. Ebey Washington State Park on Whidbey Island. I chatted with a park ranger, and it seems like a great place for camping when it's a bit warmer.

We headed back north, stopping at Bellis Fair for some shopping, and got home late in the evening. Somehow it stayed dry in the States, but as we crossed the border back into Canada we ran into pouring rain again.

There were several cool salmon sculptures on the shoreline. I thought I'd snapped a photo with info about the artist, but I can't track it down. Anyone who knows can contact me at paul@cipywnyk.com so I can make proper attribution.

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Love this gas-mask salmon -- that's how I envision the fish
must feel going up the Fraser and my troubled local creek.

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One of the 6" gun emplacements at Ft. Ebey.

Set up as defense against the Imperial Japanese Navy,
the WWII-era battery never fired a shot in anger,
though it won artillery contests against floating targets.

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Part of the excellent field of fire over the Strait of Juan de Fuca,
er, I mean a lovely view!

Posted by Paul at 07:06 PM

December 16, 2010

Xmas at Burnaby Heritage Village

What a deal! Half-price entry to Burnaby's beautiful Village Museum, with all proceeds going to the  Burnaby Christmas Bureau.

Yumi and I couldn't pass it up. On a cool, clear evening, we rambled the grounds, enjoying the Christmas lights and the carols. We checked out Urby - Interurban 1223, so lovingly restored by so many volunteers - and found our friend Eleanor aboard, giving tours.

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Yumi on the bridge from the entrance.

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The gorgeous, restored tram. How I wish they'd never stopped running!

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Eleanor and moi. As befits the 1920s-era atmosphere,
I had a hat, as every gentleman should - one of my Australian Akubras.

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Yumi entranced by the bakery display.

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Rides on the restored carousel were included with admission
on this special evening. Yumi couldn't resist.

Posted by Paul at 09:45 PM

December 04, 2010

Frosty Leaves in Ron McLean Park

While waiting near the Ron McLean Park parking lot in SE Burnaby, BC, early this morning for fellow streamkeepers, I was entranced by the frost on the grass and autumn leaves. I pulled my tiny Canon SD780 out of my pocket and paced the area looking for angles in the low morning sun:

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Posted by Paul at 01:29 PM

November 28, 2010

Fish Die in Byrne Creek

UPDATE [Nov. 29]: Just interviewed by Burnaby Now - Burnaby Firefighters say their foam is environmentally benign, and it appears other chemicals were stored at the site of the fire. Initial Burnaby Now story here. And a more detailed story now here.

 

A couple of Byrne Creek Streamkeepers called me just after 9:00 this morning about foam in the creek. They were down at the wooden footbridge in the lower ravine near Southridge Dr., and asked us to check out Griffiths Pond further upstream near our home (near Choices in the Park). Yumi and I headed over and the pond had lots of foam in it, and a steady stream of foam was coming out of the fish ladder. We counted about a dozen dead smolt-size trout and coho around the edge of the pond. An environmental services officer from the City of Burnaby arrived as we were there and collected water samples and some of the dead fish.

Three other streamkeepers were out in the lower creek patrolling for spawning salmon.  They noticed "stunned-looking" small fish in the lower ravine, and eventually joined the crew at Griffiths Pond.

Three of us backtracked upstream. Bubbles were evident all the way up to where the creek daylights (first becomes visible from the storm drain system) in SE Burnaby. Even that far upstream, if you stirred the water, it foamed readily. We continued further up the streets, and saw a fire truck, so we followed it up to Kingsway and 16th, where there had been a house fire. We asked the firefighters if they'd used foam, and they said yes, a full load from one of their trucks. The drainage flow from the site of the fire into storm drains was evident.

Obviously it is unknown if it was firefighting foam or if other chemicals at the house were also involved. And streamkeepers are certainly not going to question firefighters for doing an outstanding job in ensuring the safety of the community. It's just unfortunate if this is confirmed as the source of the kill.

We headed back to Griffiths Pond, and five of us began counting dead fish. At this point we discovered there were some still barely alive, so we scrambled to get buckets and fresh water, and tried to save some of them, but most expired even in clean water.

The count between Griffiths Pond and Tag 535, a distance of about 350 meters or so, was 80 dead, so nearly 100 were tallied today. Some were beauties: we found one dead trout 36cm long and one 29cm. When factoring in the entire length of creek, there must be at least several hundred dead.

I suspect we're looking at yet another total or near-total kill of the entire creek.

As of 1:30 p.m., the fish ladder at Griffiths Pond was still foaming heavily.

And, to make things worse, we're in the middle of spawning season, when salmon are returning from the ocean, up the Fraser River, and into Byrne Creek, to lay their eggs. Last year was our worst spawner count in over a decade, and this year was shaping up just as bad, even before this incident. . .

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The fish ladder and Griffiths Pond near Edmonds Skytrain station

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Trying to save some fish that were still barely alive. Most expired. . .

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Streamkeeper Yumi with a gorgeous 36cm trout

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Closer look at the big fish

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The 29cm trout

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Another streamkeeper lives near the scene of the fire and was awakened
at 4:00 a.m. this morning. She got this shot of the blaze. She was 
troubled by all the stuff going down the street drains and into the creek,
but of course didn't say anything for she knew the safety of the
community was paramount. Turns out she knew at least one of the residents.
So sad.

Posted by Paul at 03:18 PM

November 20, 2010

Snowy Photo Ramble in South Burnaby, Nikkei Place

There was a crafts fair at Nikkei Place today, so Yumi and I wandered up the hill to see it. Along the way I got a few shots of the fresh snow.

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Posted by Paul at 08:59 PM

Salamander On Snowy Byrne Creek Trail

It snowed in Burnaby overnight, and Yumi and I did a loop of Byrne Creek Ravine Park to enjoy the fresh views. We were surprized to come across a salamander on the trail. Dunno what the frozen little thing was doing out and about in the snow!

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Yumi gently picked it up and moved it off the trail and into some natural cover.

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I don't think we'd have noticed it but we had slowed to let another walker get by on the trail, and that's when a twitch of motion caught our eyes. At first we thought it was a huge worm. As you can see, it blends right in, and it wasn't moving very fast, particularly when it was only 5C, so it was in some danger on the trail. We could easily have stepped on it ourselves, and never known, if we hadn't happened to stop right at that spot.

Posted by Paul at 08:27 PM

November 08, 2010

Heron Stalks Byrne Creek

A heron has been hanging around the lower ravine in southeast Burnaby's Byrne Creek the last several days. I first surprised it while on a patrol for spawning salmon with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers. It gave a Jurassic-like squawk and mightily flapped its way up into a perch in an evergreen.

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The next day on another spawner patrol I saw it before it saw me, and so I hunkered down to observe it slowly Tai Chi its way along the creek, looking for lunch. It wasn't long before it struck, and swallowed a small cutthroat trout or juvenile coho salmon.

The linkages in nature never cease to amaze me. It's the season for spawning salmon to come up our creeks in the lower mainland of BC, and that attracts other animals like clockwork. The trout start gathering in expectation of stray eggs as the salmon dig their nests and spawn, various species of birds like American Dippers suddenly start frequenting the creeks also looking for stray eggs, and herons and other fishing birds come to stalk the trout who in turn are stalking the female salmon. . . Not to mention the increased number of paw prints of various sorts in the soft sandy or muddy banks: coyotes, racoons, skunks. I've seen even squirrels get excited about spawning salmon, though I've never seen them actually take an egg or feed on a carcass.

Posted by Paul at 06:31 PM

October 23, 2010

Metropolis Express Fundraising for Stream of Dreams

All aboard to save salmon!

The Stream of Dreams Murals Society is taking part in a charity event at Metropolis at Metrotown in which donations to ride the Metropolis Express train go to several charities. Today was the Stream of Dreams "challenge day" - - one day to try to raise as much $$ as possible to potentially receive a bonus donation from Metropolis.

Stream of Dreams founders Louise and Joan were out, along with a fantastic crew from the Byrne Creek Secondary Leos. Kids got to colour small foil fish that were attached to the train to create a "salmon run."

In addition, local elementary schools were encouraged to join another Stream of Dreams-sponsored competition to win blank Dreamfish to do an environmental education and community art project at their school.

Thank you Metropolis at Metrotown, and Byrne Creek Leos!

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Posted by Paul at 05:25 PM

October 09, 2010

Adams River Sockeye Run – Day 2

The Adams River sockeye salmon spawning run is in a dominant fourth year, and after a relatively quiet visit on Friday, Yumi and I went back on Saturday for more viewing. The Adams River Salmon Society's Salute to the Sockeye event draws a lot of people on weekends!

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The Adams River attracts chinook in addition to sockeye.
You can see how massive they are, with my size 12 shoe
next to one.

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This time we wandered down to Shuswap Lake on the cloudy,
moody Saturday morning.

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The shores of the lake were covered with expired salmon.
It looks wasteful, but each carcass carries a crucial load of
nutrients with it.

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A sockeye moves past a spawned out cousin.

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A biology lesson in the main event area.

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Vehicles pouring into the grounds late Saturday morning.
The event draws folks from around the world.

After lunch in Kamloops, we hit the road homeward. We decided
take the slower 5A south to Merritt through the ranch country.

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Posted by Paul at 04:37 PM

October 08, 2010

Adams River Sockeye Run – Day 1

The Adams River sockeye salmon spawning run is in a dominant year, as happens every four years. Yumi and I headed up to the Shuswap to take in a dominant run for the third time since we moved to BC. The event keeps growing and the Adams River Salmon Society's Salute to the Sockeye keeps getting bigger and bigger.

Yumi and I were glad that she had a Friday off so we could attend when the crowds were a bit thinner! :-) We drove from Burnaby up the canyon on the No. 1 to take in the autumn scenery:

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Thompson River

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Canadian Northern last spike

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Kamploops Lake from the highway lookout

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Yumi on the hill above the lookout

We arrived at Roderick Haig-Brown Park early in the afternoon
and spent hours wandering the trails. While the sockeye were not
quite "bank-to-bank" as we've seen them in other dominant years,
it was still a moving, beautiful sight to witness.

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Viewing platform over the Adams River

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A bridge on the loop trail

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A male and female sockeye pair off

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A female sockeye flips sideways to dig in the cobble with her tail

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Closer view of these gorgeous fish

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It's amazing to watch the sockeye congregate

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Fins highlighted as the sun begins to set

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This sockeye's journey is done

Posted by Paul at 04:07 PM

October 06, 2010

Byrne Creek Fall Colors

A ramble along Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby, BC:

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Posted by Paul at 05:30 PM

September 17, 2010

When I Grow Up I’ll Wear Shoes Like Mommy’s

Choco the cat has recently taken to playing with Yumi's slippers. This photo was not faked or posed in any way, it's all Choco's doing.

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Posted by Paul at 10:29 AM

September 10, 2010

A Few Sample Shots

I've been so busy, but I've also shot some great photos recently. Here are a couple, more to come as I have time.

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White Rock Crescent Beach Sunset

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Stanley Park Seawall

Posted by Paul at 09:55 PM

Hard Disk Cloning Adventures with Windows 7

Close to a year ago I bought a new tower computer with a 640GB HD and Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. A year later, due to prolific photo shooting, free space on the HD was down to less than 30GB. So I bought a new 1.5TB drive, with the aim of cloning the old drive onto the new one.

First I tried my Acronis True Image software, which worked great on upgrading the HD in my IBM notebook computer awhile back. When the copy was done - the new HD wouldn't boot. Mutter mutter.

So I tried cloning the drive with Terabyte's CopyWipe. Still wouldn't boot. And each of these cloning operations took many hours. Grrrrr..

I kept getting messages from Windows 7 that something or other was missing, and that I should try the Windows 7 Recovery Disc. Duh. It often helps to follow error messages :-).

After several whacks with the Windows 7 Recovery Disk, interspersed with some playing around with boot order in the computer's BIOS, I now have a beautifully cloned system with 812GB of free space.

That ought to hold me for a couple more years of photo shooting! :-)

Posted by Paul at 08:50 PM

September 01, 2010

Early Autumn Colours, Inquisitive Snail

A quick morning loop of Byrne Creek Ravine Park found autumn colours progressing, and a cute snail.

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Posted by Paul at 10:35 AM

August 29, 2010

Sockeye Salmon Dying Unspawned on Harrison River & Lake

Yumi and I went as far up the  Fraser Valley as Kilby today looking for spawning salmon.

We were surprised to see lots of dead sockeye on the banks of the Harrison River -- many of them just barely starting to show their spawning colouration, and looking good enough to eat. We could also see lots of big silver fish belly up out on the water. Strange.

On our way home we stopped in at Kanaka Creek to poke around the hatchery, and talked to the manager. He said he'd heard stories of people out fishing on Harrison River & Lake who said they'd seen lots of silver floaters.

I also found a thread on the Fishing with Rod website with similar reports, and plenty of speculation as to what the cause could be -- high water temps? disease?

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The above had the most advanced spawning colouration that we saw.

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The beach at Kilby.

In several shots I took of the water, you can count a dozen or more dead
floaters per picture, but I've not posted any here because at this size of photo
the fish are just white dots.

Posted by Paul at 06:21 PM

August 28, 2010

Buntzen Lake Hike

We hiked around Buntzen Lake today for the first time in several years. It was not crowded at all, and we met fewer than a dozen people on the loop around the lake.

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Posted by Paul at 08:05 PM

August 23, 2010

Double-Yolk Egg

Ran across a double-yolk egg today. They're not that uncommon, but I don't recall cracking one before:

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Posted by Paul at 06:28 PM

August 15, 2010

Sampling Japadog, Hanging with ZZ Top at Lonsdale Quay

We headed into downtown Vancouver today to check out Japadog, a sausage and hot dog vendor with a Japanese twist. The dogs were great, but the fries were a bit wimpy and wayyyy over-salted. I had the "Okonomi" pork sausage  with Japanese mayo, Okonomiyaki sauce, fried cabbage and dried bonito flakes. Yumi had the "Oroshi" Bratwurst with grated daikon radish, soy sauce and green onion. Both were delicious!

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After the dogs, Yumi followed up with a green tea cream puff from the Beard Papa outlet almost next door to Japadog. Now here's a happy Japanese gal :-)!

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Our appetites sated, we took the SeaBus over to Lonsdale Quay. To my delight, a pretty good ZZ Top cover band was playing in the square, so we took in some tunes before the hot sun prompted us to take a walk in breezier spaces.

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I am impressed with how the area is developing with an eye to the local shipbuilding history.

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Restored moveable crane.

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Some brightly painted gear on the old pier.

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And a wee little yacht with its own helicopter :-)

Posted by Paul at 08:26 PM

August 10, 2010

Southpoint Rain Garden in SE Burnaby Underway!

It's so exciting to see construction underway on the Southpoint Rain Garden in SE Burnaby, BC. The rain garden is being created on a dead-end cul-de-sac, and will bridge Taylor Park and Byrne Creek Ravine Park.

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers brought the site to the attention of the City of Burnaby's planning, engineering and parks departments, and all immediately understood the site's potential. It not only links the green space of the two parks, it will provide natural filtration of rainwater that comes down Burnaby's south slope and that roars unfiltered into Byrne Creek. Streamkeepers have noted for years the oily flow off the streets that accumulated into the rain drains (storm drains) along Southpoint Drive and was visible way down below, exiting pipes into the creek whenever it rained.

The site will also be a gorgeous outdoor nature lab for elementary school students from nearby Taylor Park School. The principal, staff and students have already been involved in discussions and developments. The school has also been so kind as to hold an event with streamkeepers, and everyone appears excited about monitoring the new rain garden and how it will affect local urban biodiversity.

And last, but not least, the site is right by Adera Development's "Green" townhouse development. As part of its ethos of sustainable development and giving back to communities, Adera provided a substantial donation to the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers several years ago. We thank Adera for its patience in waiting to receive full public acknowledgement for its efforts, as the streamkeepers decided to use the funds to support the rain garden - a project that took some time to come to fruition.

I can almost feel the earth heaving a sigh of relief as the asphalt is stripped away, allowing the soil to breath and to absorb rain again!

Way to go Burnaby! I hope this project stimulates more of its kind around our beautiful city.

You're doing good, we heartily appreciate it,  let's see more! :-)

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Posted by Paul at 08:42 PM

August 08, 2010

What Camera Do You Use?

I've had this question posed to me several times, and while you could poke around this blog for awhile and figure it out, I thought I'd consolidate some of the info in one post.

The answer is, several cameras.

My present active camaraderie of cameras includes a Canon SD780IS, a Canon S5IS, and a Nikon D300. I'd have several more, if I had the budget!

The SD780 is a teeny, pocket-size camera that I carry nearly all the time, even when I have one of my bigger units along. It's an excellent basic point-and-shoot, and its limitations come mainly in its narrow-range zoom (about 35-105mm in 35mm equivalent) and its poor performance in low light. Aside from that, it's an amazing unit for its size.

The S5IS is a "superzoom" point-and-shoot. It does not fit in a pocket, but it's a heck of a lot smaller and lighter than a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex). Compared to a DSLR its main limitations are poor low-light capabilities, lack of RAW file capture, and much slower "reaction time" when it comes to powering up and shutter lag. I carry it when I don't want to lug my heavy DSLR around, and also use it in situations (like canoeing) in which I don't want to risk my DSLR!

The D300 is a big, heavy, amazingly customizable machine. It takes high-quality shots all over the spectrum from bright days to nearly lightless nights. But, I don't necessarily want to lug it around all the time - though I probably should! :-). A DSLR's big advantage is that you can change lenses, and you have a lot more manual control of f-stops and shutter speeds. I have an 18-200mm zoom mounted on it most of the time (about 27-300mm equivalent on a 35mm camera), and have a couple of other lenses (longer telephoto and close-range macro) that I can swap out as I please.

Do megapixels matter? My humble opinion is that once you reach 8MP or so, you're pretty much covered up to 8 X 10 prints. The SD780 is capable of 12MP, but I have it set to 8MP because its tiny sensor simply doesn't provide 12 *quality* megapixels. The S5 tops out at 8MP and that's where I leave it. The D300 is a 12.1MP machine, and I shoot everything on it at that setting, capturing RAW files.

So why is the SD780 a couple of hundred bucks and the D300 is over $1,500 when they both top out at around 12MP? The Nikon's sensor is a lot larger, with a greater range of tonal values captured per pixel for much better performance, particularly in low light. The D300 is also a tank, well-sealed against inclement weather, and with a wealth of customizable shooting features.

So if three cameras are not enough, what's on my wish list? A newer superzoom. The lens ranges have gotten wider, at both the wide-angle and telephoto ends in newer cameras, and low-light performance and responsiveness (shutter lag) have also improved. I'd also like an "all-weather" pocket camera that can take dunking in water to 20 or 30 feet. . .

And, of course, a high-end DSLR like the Nikon D3X - mind-blowing 24MP image quality and low-light capability, but you're looking at C$7,500 for just the body! :-)

P.S. Oh yeah, at the resolutions of the photos output as 70% quality JPEG files on this blog (usually in the 350 X 250 pixel range), it would be nearly impossible to tell which of those three cameras a particular photo was taken with! So the bottom line is, it's (mostly) not the equipment, it's the photographer. A good eye can produce amazing photos with the most basic of gear.

Posted by Paul at 09:43 PM

Rain Refreshes White Rock Scenes

We finally got some much-need rain in BC, and the misty, damp afternoon
provided for some lush shots in South Surrey/White Rock.

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The pier.

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All other photos taken at Stewart Heritage Farm

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Posted by Paul at 08:20 PM

August 02, 2010

Long Weekend Bicycle Ride Around Burnaby

We did a four-hour bicycle ride on this holiday Monday from our home in SE Burnaby near Edmonds Skytrain Station, all the way over to Cariboo and the Central Valley Greenway around Burnaby Lake. We took a break at Piper Spit and watched some wildlife, then headed over to Kensington and eventually huffed and puffed our way up Royal Oak and back to the BC Parkway and home. Whew!

There's a great cycling map available online here.

A few shots from Piper Spit:

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And me with bicycle helmet hair:

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Posted by Paul at 07:18 PM

August 01, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me – New Photo Backpack

Lens and Shutter was celebrating my birthday with a 25% off sale on Lowe camera bags and backpacks. :-)

So I picked up a Nature Trekker AW II for my birthday.

Seems like a lot of bag to carry, but the important part for me is the well-engineered suspension system, and in particular the padded hip belt that takes the weight off the shoulders, seeing as I have a bad back.

I've accumulated a fair bit of Lowe gear over the years. Here's a shot with three Lowe camera bags with the latest acquisition at the right. I've also got a couple of Lowe hiking backpacks. Great gear! I've used it hard, some of it for 25+ years and it's still going strong.

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This shot is missing my classic Lowe shoulder photo bag that I carried for some 15 years. Along with my 35mm film Nikon gear and loads of Kodachrome (may you rest in peace) and Fujichrome film. That bag finally succumbed to jungle rot, well, actually some sort of mould that was impossible to get rid of, from hot and humid Asian weather years ago.

Posted by Paul at 10:39 PM

July 31, 2010

Powell Street Japanese Festival Rocks!

Yumi and I took in the Powell Street Festival in Vancouver today and had a blast. It gets better and better over the years. It's so wonderful to revive "Japantown" for at least a weekend each year. The Issei and Nissei ancestors who used to populate this area of Vancouver would be proud!

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The main stage

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Love this recycling banner done traditional Japanese style

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Bring on Sawagi Taiko - Canada's first women-only taiko group!

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And now, the thrilling, exhausting Mikoshi!

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Posted by Paul at 08:42 PM

July 30, 2010

Midori the Turtle Falls Strangely Asleep

Midori enjoyed the sun streaming through the windows today, basking for hours. As the rays gradually diminished, she fell asleep in this odd position on the wooden stairs that surround her tank. My wife built the stairs so Midori could get in and out of the water as she pleases.

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Oooo! Damn I woke up with a crick in my neck!

OK, all fun aside, this is an excellent example of why not to release pet turtles into the wild, or even to keep them as pets. Aside from the invasive species problem, as you can see, Midori is so acclimatized to human presence that she zonks out in a totally vulnerable manner which no healthy wild turtle would ever be lulled into. . .

Posted by Paul at 08:06 PM

July 26, 2010

Sunset at Spanish Bank in Vancouver

The lovely clear sky was too good to pass up tonight, so we headed out to Spanish Bank in Vancouver to watch the sun set.

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The sky was absolutely clear with no clouds to work with,
so I concentrated my shots on this tree, the mountains in
the background, and the changing light.

Posted by Paul at 10:25 PM

July 20, 2010

Choco the Cat Loves Her (Human) Mom

Our SPCA rescue cat, Choco, gets really upset if Yumi heads out somewhere in the evening after coming home from work. She's like a little puppy, moping all day long after Yumi leaves (I do my editing work from home). As the afternoon rolls by, she emerges from one of her sleeping havens and sits near the steps leading to the front door in expectation of greeting Yumi.

So when Yumi heads out again in the same day to an event, or an exercise class in the evening, Choco feels crushed. When Yumi came home tonight from a class with her pack on her back, and we began chatting about how our day went as she skimmed one of the local papers while sitting on the floor, Choco took advantage of Yumi's low pose to do a bit of "you ain't leaving me again" domination :-).

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Choco has expressed her frustration at me leaving the house as well: here and again here.

Posted by Paul at 08:57 PM

July 17, 2010

First Walk in Delta’s Watershed Park

We've zoomed past this park many times, and today we decided to dismount our trusty '98 Outback and spend some time on the trails.

It was a good decision, for it's beautiful. Congrats to Delta for preserving this forested watershed.

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A couple of observations, though: there are vast swaths of invasive
Policeman's Helmet ( Himalayan Balsam) in sections of the park
that ought to be dealt with, along with lesser stands of Japanese
knotweed. . . And it would be great to have a toilet facility or
three around this large park. Dunno if we missed them, but we
did not see any on the kiosk maps, or the map we had printed
off the web.

Posted by Paul at 10:27 PM

July 04, 2010

Lovely Afternoon at West Vancouver’s Lighthouse Park

It was a gorgeous day to explore parts of Lighthouse Park that we hadn't checked out before. It had been several years since our last visit, and we'll certainly have to go more often.

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Posted by Paul at 08:59 PM

Byrne Creek Bug Count Yields Baby Crayfish

Twice a year, Byrne Creek Streamkeepers count bugs - the fancy name is "aquatic invertebrate surveys" - to assess the quality of the water in the urban stream. We sample the same locations year after year so that we have comparable data. The bug counts usually run for three weekends in a row.

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The crew hard at work - we are fortunate to have members
who let us use their china and dining room tables so that we
can  count in comfort after collecting the samples from the creek.

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To our surprise, we found three baby crayfish in our sample.
Here's one of them next to a dime for size comparison.

Posted by Paul at 01:31 PM

July 02, 2010

Developing Thunder Thighs. . .

I spent over four hours on my new bicycle today, and my thighs are aching to prove it. This was only my third ride of the year, and perhaps my enthusiasm carried me away too much.

I cycled from home to Burnaby City Hall to pay our property taxes. Needless to say, going downhill was thrilling, chugging back up the considerable and lengthy slope from the Deer Lake valley to the top of the Kingsway ridge was another matter. But I recovered, and went on to check out the trail all the way to the New Westminster Quay and back to our home in the Edmonds neighbourhood in south Burnaby. By this time I was being routinely passed by svelte young female gazelles as my 50-ish body began to realize its (current!) limits :-).

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The lovely new overpass that gets you over the traffic and
down to the New Westminster Quay area.

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It truly was a gorgeous day. A view of the mighty Fraser River.

Posted by Paul at 09:01 PM

June 19, 2010

Bountiful Bugs Near Byrne Creek

This morning we walked Byrne Creek Ravine Park in southeast Burnaby, and came across lots of cool bugs.

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Note: All of these shots taken with my teeny Canon SD780 pocket camera,
so the lens was just a couple of centimetres away from the bees and bugs.
Stay relaxed, move slowly, and they're very tolerant.

Posted by Paul at 09:35 PM

June 12, 2010

Ugly Bug Ball 2010

DFO Community Advisors in the lower mainland of BC and the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation host a free volunteer appreciation event called the Ugly Bug Ball every two years. For the last several times, the event has been held at the A Rocha facility in South Surrey, a gorgeous old farm that's been turned into an environmental education venue.

A few photos of this year's event, with a concentration on the beautiful natural setting :-):

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DFO Community Advisor Mark Johnson sets the stage

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PSKF's Zo Ann Morten shows what it means to be a stakeholder :-)

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Bribing volunteers with cake!

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The wine/whine session where everyone gets to beef in good company!

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One of the gorgeous salmon moulded at an Ugly Bug Ball several years ago.

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Participants hang out in the orchard.

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Looking up at the sun through the orchard trees.

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The beautiful pond on the A Rocha property.

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Another water feature with snails enjoying the spattering flow.

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Some of the gyotaku (Japanese-style transfer images) people created.

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It truly is a gorgeous property!

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Posted by Paul at 10:35 PM

White Rock on Solar-Supercharged Day

We dropped in to the White Rock, BC, pier on a sunny Saturday on our way to the Ugly Bug Ball in South Surrey. It was packed, and we were surprised to snag a parking stall just a few meters from the pier.

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Yumi on the pier

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Some impromptu sand sculpting  going on

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A kayaking class adding colour to the scene

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Posted by Paul at 01:27 PM

June 07, 2010

Baby Spiders

We've had a bunch of baby spiders hanging around the front door. They're kinda cute, and, kinda creepy :-). But we're being careful not to disturb them as much as possible until they make their own way in the world.

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Posted by Paul at 08:21 PM

June 05, 2010

Busy Burnaby: Farmer’s Market, Hats Off Day, Deer Lake Ramble

It was a glorious Saturday with great weather - sunny but not hot - after several weeks of cool, rainy days here in Burnaby, BC. We celebrated with a grand tour of several places: the farmer's market at City Hall, the Hats Off parade and celebration along the Heights, a ramble all the way around Deer Lake, and topped if off with a balcony BBQ back home.

The Farmer's Market:

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Beekeeping is now allowed in many yards in Burnaby. Yay!

On to Hats Off in the Heights. We missed the parade but walked the street festival from end to end:

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A & W carhop mannequin on roller-skates :-)

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OK, I'm an environmentalist now, but in my youth
I skinned plenty of knuckles on V-8 engines - this one's
a beaut!

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We dropped by Deer Lake on the way home and walked a complete loop:

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The songs that burst forth from little balls of fluff are amazing!

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This young Canada Goose is starting to fill in with an adult's patterns

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An osprey soaring over the lake looking for a meal.
It's wonderful to see such magnificent birds right in the city!

Posted by Paul at 10:25 PM

May 30, 2010

Camping, Canoeing, Bears at Birkenhead Lake

Friday:

The first camping trip of the year was met with rainy weather, but we forged on regardless and had a great time. We headed up to Birkenhead Lake Provincial Park, one of our favourite parks because it's only about a 3-hour drive from Vancouver, yet it's remote enough that it tends to be fairly quiet, especially early in the season.

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And quiet it was! Of the nearly 100 sites in the campground, several walkabouts over the weekend showed only a few dozen were occupied. We had reserved a nice site up against Phelix Creek,  and the sound of the rushing water also helped to muffle any human noise.

Rain regardless, we put our canoe in the water on Friday afternoon and paddled for several hours until we were soaked and tired. Trolling a line behind produced a single bite, and no catch.

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Fortunately we had been able to set up the tent and rope up a tarp over the table before the rain hit, so were fairly comfortable on Friday evening with a cosy fire.

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A 15-minute shot of sun through the clouds!

Saturday:

Saturday resulted in more rain off and on, and blasts of wind. We headed out in the canoe again, but there can be substantial winds with occasional heart-quickening, canoe-heeling and spinning  gusts on the  mountain lake, so we headed back in after only an hour or so out on the water.

The next bit of entertainment came as Yumi was washing some of the mud off our trusty '98 Outback at our campsite (15km of access road to the park is "gravel," or in other words, potholed, stony washboard, packed dirt :-). As she went to refresh her pail of water from a pool just off the edge of the tent pad, I saw a black shape silently lumber past through the woods just a few meters beyond her.

"Yumi, get back! Back to the car, right now! There's a bear!"

Poor Yumi didn't see a thing, but scampered back nonetheless. It was amazing how silently, and how fast, that black bear rambled by.

I immediately ran out into the road because I knew some kids had been bicycling up and down the campground, and sure enough a wide-eyed little boy zoomed off to his dad as I barked at him, "look sharp, there's a bear right in there!"

The father spotted the bear, policed his family, and then the two of us monitored the beast, while spreading the word to other campers, blowing our car horns, etc. The fellow said he'd heard from park staff that the bear had recently gotten into a cooler that some irresponsible camper had left unattended. The word was to make as much noise and be as uninviting to the little bruin as possible, in the hope that it would move on, and not get itself shot.

The bear moved back down the campground between tent sites and the creek, and disappeared. Half an hour later as Yumi and I set out to hike up to the Goat Trail Lookout, the bear burst out of the bush, ran across the road, and hightailed it into the forest on the other side with park staff in a truck hot on its heels, horn blaring madly. The attendant got out, hollered he was going to set off a bear banger, and, BOOM!

We saw no more of the bear, but we sure made a lot of noise as we climbed up to the Goat Trail Lookout!

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Crossing high, fast, Phelix Creek on the Goat Trail

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Now that's some head banging!

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The lookout

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Yumi scoping the lake and mountains

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An hour of sunshine, wow!

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There is canoe rental at the lake now, but we're glad we
have our own

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A red-breasted sapsucker that let me get to within two meters
or so to get this shot with my teeny Canon SD780 pocket camera

Instead of canoeing the choppy lake, we decided to try the trail on the north side to where the wilderness campground used to be (now shut down due to hazard trees).

Not far down the trail we ran across a big pile of fresh green scat - OK, at least the bear's a vegetarian. Another dozen meters and lots more fresh scat, dark in colour, but at least no bear bells in it :-).

We ventured a bit further, but as our pace slackened and doubts increased, we decided that common sense outweighed valour, and turned back.

Sunday:

It still being cloudy and drizzly, we packed up in the morning, thought about another jaunt in the canoe, took one look at the cold, choppy lake and decided to head south. Coffee in Pemberton, a walkabout at Alice Lake, lunch in Squamish, and a leisurely drive home.

Posted by Paul at 06:41 PM

May 24, 2010

Glorious Day Photographing Birds at Reifel Sanctuary

What better way to spend a long-weekend Monday than wandering around for three or four hours at the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary.

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My favourite shot of the day - hummingbird in flight

For those curious the tech specs are: Nikon D300,
handheld Nikkor AF-S 70-300 VR zoom at 300mm
(35mm equivalent of 450mm), ISO 1250, 1/500 @ f9.
Aperature priority, +1.0 EV.

No post-processing aside from cropping.


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Hummingbird with tongue sticking out

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Chickadees are pretty darn cute, too

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Red-winged blackbird letting a crow know its not wanted

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Crow stares at nattering blackbird

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Mom in convoy

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A mass of cuteness

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Awwww!

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Swallows are way cool

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And way pretty

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Yumi surrounded by goslings

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Parents keep a sharp eye out

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When they're not snoozing

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A pintail

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A shoveller

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A junco

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A grosbeak

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The ubiquitous heron

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The rare sandhill crane

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Some sort of finch? I'm still not good at my small birds

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A bunch of bee and wasp shots

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Posted by Paul at 08:14 PM

May 23, 2010

A Photographic Jaunt Along Vancouver’s Waterfront

Rode the SkyTrain and SeaBus today, and had a blast walking around and taking photos.

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These cormorants like to hang around the SeaBus terminal

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What's this?

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A cool hunka modern art!

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My ghostly reflection in the piece

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Goose on the green roof of the new convention centre

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Orca block sculpture

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The Winter Olympics 2010 cauldron - apparently the plan
is to spruce up the site and light it on special occasions

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Posted by Paul at 09:52 PM

May 16, 2010

First Fry Born in Byrne Creek Since March 4, 2010, Toxic Kill

A few days ago some Byrne Creek Streamkeepers reported seeing fry in the creek - - the first since someone poured a cleanser down a street drain on March 4, 2010, killing everything in the creek. Streamkeepers and local schoolkids have released chum salmon fry and coho salmon smolts provided by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans since the kill, but these are the first native-born fry we've seen.

They are likely cutthroat trout fry, spawned after the kill, incubated in the gravel for 7 - 8 weeks, and just starting to pop up now. It's great to see life coming back to the creek!

Posted by Paul at 07:58 PM

May 15, 2010

Rice Lake, Lynn Canyon, Newts

We hiked around Rice Lake in North Vancouver this afternoon, followed by another loop to the Lynn Canyon suspension bridge. We were enchanted by dozens of rough-skinned newts in Rice Lake. We'd never noticed them before, but today we watched them for nearly an hour. They're so cute!

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They sit on rocks under the water and come up to
the surface every few minutes

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Posted by Paul at 08:09 PM

May 14, 2010

Exotic Fish Identified in Burnaby Pond

Several times over the last couple of years we've seen strange fish in a pond in Fraser Foreshore Park in Burnaby near Byrne Creek. I finally got some photos that were good enough to ID one of the species, though it's difficult shooting through the murky water even on a bright, sunny day.

Unfortunately, a biologist has identified them as pumkinseeds,  a species introduced to the lower mainland, likely by people who like fishing for them and eating the pan fish. Unfortunate, for several reasons: if they spread they can compete with native species, they may not have natural predators here, etc. City of Burnaby staff helped with the ID process and are aware of the problem. I have no idea how it can be resolved, but whoever is dumping alien fish in this pond, please stop! Native fish like coho and chum salmon, and cutthroat trout, have enough to contend with in our urban watersheds without having to compete with alien species.

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Posted by Paul at 07:32 PM

May 13, 2010

Pond Life in Fraser Foreshore Park

I love this pond near the outlet of Byrne Creek into the Fraser River in SE Burnaby - despite its unfortunate populations of alien fish (see above entry). It's a magnet for all sorts of bugs, amphibians, reptiles and birds.

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Posted by Paul at 07:44 PM

May 09, 2010

Steveston Stroll

One of our favourite places to go for a stroll is down in Steveston. The picturesque remnants of the fishing village and canneries offer lots of photo opportunities. Here are a few shots from today:

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Baby bird in old cannery building begging for food

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Same photo edited with high saturation and low gamma applied

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Same shot with high saturation and low gamma applied

Posted by Paul at 07:21 PM

May 06, 2010

Clinton Schoolkids Release Coho in Byrne Creek

Kids from Clinton Elementary in southeast Burnaby helped streamkeepers, DFO community advisors, and City of Burnaby staff release coho smolts (yearlings) into Byrne Creek this morning. Clinton School has been involved in several Byrne Creek activities this year - - good on them!

Thank you DFO for bringing these young coho all the way from the Bell-Irving Hatchery at Kanaka Creek. All life in Byrne Creek was wiped out in March when someone unthinkingly poured a cleanser down a street drain, so we're rebuilding the creek from scratch, yet again.

Here are a few photos of today's uplifting event.

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Setting the scene: the gorgeous lower reaches of the ravine park

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Maurice of the DFO chats with the kids

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Yep, that's how big the coho will be when they
come back to spawn in a year or two :-)
Maurice is passionate about his calling,
and we streamkeepers and kids love his style!

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The kids' eyes light up as they see the fish they will release

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There they go - thanks Clinton kids!

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Giving a few confused laggards a gentle poke to move them on

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Beautiful young smolts acclimatize to their new, temporary
home before they head out to the ocean soon.

Hope to see at least a few of you back spawning in our creek in
a year and half, when you're nearly as long as my arm!

Posted by Paul at 10:06 PM

May 02, 2010

CBC: Burtynsky's Oil images win photo book prize

"In 1997, I had what I refer to as my oil epiphany," Burtynsky said in a statement accompanying the book and exhibits.

"It occurred to me that the vast, human-altered landscapes that I pursued and photographed for over 20 years were only made possible by the discovery of oil and the mechanical advantage of the internal combustion engine. It was then that I began the oil project.

"Over the next 10 years I researched and photographed the largest oil fields I could find. I went on to make images of refineries, freeway interchanges, automobile plants and the scrap industry that results from the recycling of cars. Then I began to look at the culture of oil, the motor culture, where masses of people congregate around vehicles, with vehicle events as the main attraction."

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/arts/artdesign/story/2010/04/30/burtynsky-oil-photo-award.html#ixzz0mpghwHoJ

Posted by Paul at 08:18 PM

Photographer vs Volunteer

I was asked to photographically document a community cleanup the other day - an event that I was also involved in coordinating and actually getting out and working on.

Now that I am reviewing the photos, I have quickly realized that by splitting my attention among so many roles, the photography suffered. I was rushing here, rushing there, trying to cover all the bases, both event coordination and photography. It simply can't be done!

While I'm not a professional photographer, I am pretty good, but the photos I got of the event were not that great. I also did not get the accompanying information that is required for publication: names, permissions, etc.

Why? I was distracted. As I said, I was also an event coordinator, a volunteer organizer, and supposedly a garbage collector. Part of the time I was pitching in on the ground, part of the time I was coordinating various groups, part of the time . . .  I was taking photos, as requested.

You simply can't do it all. To take good photos you have to be in the zone. The viewfinder has to be your only focus.

Posted by Paul at 08:00 PM

April 25, 2010

Corona, Birds on Boundary Bay

Spent a lovely Sunday afternoon down in Tsawassen on Boundary Bay.

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Driftwood on the beach

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An amazing corona around the sun

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Yumi examining the wee creatures

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Blackbird taking off

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A wren of some sort - marsh?

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Heron in flight

These birds are so cool. They seem to come from another
era, with their ungainly flight and raucous vocalizations.
But they are very efficient stalkers and killers, as they have
to be to survive.

When I startle a heron, I often feel a "velociraptor" chill down
my spine, and I'm happy that in this stage or our evolutions, I'm
a lot bigger than they are  :-).

Posted by Paul at 08:31 PM

April 22, 2010

Clinton School Releases ‘Salmon in the Classroom’ Fry in Byrne

Clinton Elementary School kids in SE Burnaby released their "Salmonids in the Classroom" chum fry into Byrne Creek today. My wife Yumi and I accompanied them, representing the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers. It was a gorgeous Earth Day!

Thank you to teacher Elaine Jaltema who had the kids very well organized. She also had a slew of additional science and observation activities lined up, so the kids were testing water temperature, pH, etc.

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Getting everyone organized up near Ron McLean Park before
heading down into the ravine

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Kids release the chum fry they raised in their classroom

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A budding scientist records data

Posted by Paul at 02:43 PM

April 20, 2010

Chum Fry Released in Burnaby South Slope Creeks

Kids from Suncrest Elementary helped Kaymar Creek Streamkeepers, the City of Burnaby, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans release chum fry (babies) in to Kaymar Creek in southwest Burnaby this morning, followed by a release with kids from Nelson Elementary into Byrne Creek in southeast Burnaby.

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DFO Community Advisor Maurice Coulter-Boisvert speaks to kids

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Kids release fry into Kaymar Creek