Tag Archives: nature

Spring at East Point

Photo above: Boiling Reef, near the point, is still an encampment for Steller sea lions, harbour seals, eagles, ducks and more.

On a grey day in spring, it’s a quiet place. Few people, plenty of birds. A rare daytime low tide, too. Great for bird watching…

East Point, Saturna Island, at low tide. Photo © Andrée Fredette

Above: the long nose of East Point, and in the distance, Boiling Reef to the right (the rocks where the big critters lounge), and the tip of Tumbo Island on the left.

There is quite a bit of wildlife at East Point, on Saturna Island… Lots of birds are finishing their winter residence and will soon depart for other locations in BC and Northward.

Harlequin drake (Histrionicus histrionicus) Photo © Andrée Fredette
A Harlequin drake (Histrionicus histrionicus), handsome fellow, at the water’s edge. Waiting for the tide to come back in.

Harlequin hen (Histrionicus Histrionicus). Photo © Andrée Fredette
Not far away, his girlfriend, the female Harlequin. 

Harlequin duck female. Photo © Andrée Fredette
Above: another Harlequin female, standing right where the buffet is happening, as the tide is rising. They seemed to like spots where the returning water was flipping over the sea weeds…

Barrow's Goldeneye (Bucephala islandica). Photo by Andrée Fredette
And this handsome one is a male Barrow’s Goldeneye (Bucephala islandica). Caught him just after he surfaced, water still beading on his plumage.

Steller sea lions, Harbour seals, Bald eagle, gulls and ducks on Boiling Reef. Photo © Andrée Fredette
Above, a view of Boiling Reef, where the Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) are still lounging. They will soon leave to go to their rookery, that party place where all the mating occurs during the summer. To get that shot, I used a long lens because they are far away. The males can reach 7 to 9 feet long, and weigh 1.2 tons… 

Which is why I am all the more impressed by the sang-froid of this diver: 

 

Fresh air and The Birds

Photo above: participants in the “Round the County Sailing Race”, rounding the Lighthouse Point, Patos Island, WA. Photo taken from East Point, Saturna Island, BC, roughly 6 km away…

On Sunday afternoon, I decided to go to East Point, to get some fresh air (and oh yes, the air certainly was fresh…). Although rain was threatening, I went because someone pointed out that a major sailing race was underway in the Orcas islands. The header photo above is the best shot I could get, from 6km away…

The straggler, in the Orcas sailing race. Photo by Andrée Fredette

Above: a straggler, way behind the rest of the participants…

A good breeze was flowing through and I found a large gathering of gulls, all over the rocks.

Masses of gulls at East Point, Saturna Island, BC. Photo by Andrée Fredette

Gulls everywhere, resting while facing the wind.

Immature herring gulls at East Point, Saturna Island, BC. Photo by Andrée Fredette

Above: I think these are junior (not quite mature) herring gulls…

Gull convention at East Point, Saturna island. Photo by Andrée Fredette

It was like a gull convention. Or the prelude to The Birds (you know, the Hitchcock movie…).

And more coming…

Gull in flight at East Point, Saturna Island, BC. Photo by Andrée Fredette

And these caught my eye, because of their red beaks…

Heerman's gulls, East Point, Saturna Island, BC. Photo by Andrée Fredette

I had to look them up today: they are Heerman’s gulls, and these waters are probably their northernmost habitat on the Pacific Northwest.

Harlequin ducks, East Point, Saturna Island, BC. Photo by Andrée Fredette

There were all kinds of Harlequin ducks, fishing around the point. Above, a lovely couple. The gulls kept trying to fly close, land next to the ducks after they surfaced, to steal whatever they had caught…

Oops, the hen dove and the drake gets to pose for the camera…

Harlequin drake, East Point, Saturna Island, BC. Photo by Andrée Fredette

Here is a harlequin hen, at the shore…

Harlequin hen, East Point, Saturna Island, BC. Photo by Andrée Fredette

And then there were the little ones, the sandpipers, scurrying between the gulls. They are so tiny and quick, and their camouflage colours are so efficient that they are hard to spot…

Sandpiper, East Point, Saturna Island, BC. Photo by Andrée Fredette

Snack time…

Sandpiper finding a snack. East Point, Saturna Island, BC. Photo by Andrée Fredette

After a couple of hours, my fingers started to feel frozen (note to self: bring gloves, next time), so I decided to head home.

I leave you with a shot from the night before, a Saturday evening sunset minuet:

Silhouette sunset. Photo by Andrée Fredette

 

Mountain treasures

Above: the skyline, viewed from the Heather Trail, E.C. Manning Provincial Park, BC.

Summer, the perfect time for a road trip. A few weeks ago, I headed to the alpine meadows of the Cascades.

Meadow flowers, BC. Photo by Andrée FredetteThere were colourful treasures on that mountain path…

(Pssst: click on these photos, to view them full size.)

Indian paintbrush (Castilleja). Photo by Andrée FredetteMeet the Indian paintbrush (Castilleja), up close. All these plants are really tough guys. They have to reproduce during a very short season (I was told that snow melted in late May to mid-June, at that altitude). The soil is poor, and the elements are cruel.  And this particular plant, Indian paintbrush, is a hemiparasite, meaning that it gets some of its nutrients by living off its neighbours… Tsk, tsk.

Beginning of Heather Trail. Photo by Andrée FredetteUp on the mountain, the trail beckons.

Close-up of Lousewort (Pedicularis bracteosa). Photo by Andrée FredetteSome of the flowering plants are very ancient-looking. Meet Lousewort (Pedicularis bracteosa), with pollinators on board.

White paintbrush (Castilleja occidentalis). Photo by Andrée FredetteI spotted a white and maroon variety of Indian paintbrush (Castilleja).

Seedhead of Western Pasque flower (Anemone occidentalis). Photo by Andrée FredetteI was a few weeks too late to admire blooming Western Pasque flowers (Anemone occidentalis)… So instead, here is a close-up of a seedhead, with insect ornaments.

Tiger lily (Lilium columbianum). Photo by Andrée FredetteFor that golden touch, there were specimens ofTiger lily (Lilium columbianum).

Lupine on the mountain. Photo by Andrée FredetteThe lovely blue of Lupine (but which? maybe Large-leaved, maybe not…)

Columbine portrait (Aquilegia canadensis). Photo by Andrée FredetteAn intimate portrait of the Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis).

Spirea in bloom by the Beaver Meadow. Photo by Andrée FredetteIn a moist area near the main road, Spirea in bloom, by the Beaver pond.

And here is a landscape, featuring the Beaver pond.

Beaver Meadow, E.C. Manning Park. Photo by Andrée Fredette

And I leave you with the irony of a hiking quatuor, catching up with the news near the cell tower. Top of the mountain, at 2200 meters, where they had many bars on their cells.

Eager for updates. Photo by Andrée Fredette

 

Into the woods – Photo Wednesday

Above: true Pacific Northwest rainforest… abundant mosses draping every limb.

This post is a bit of reminiscing about past outdoor trips. And dreaming of new trips in the future.

Secret waterfall, from a forest service road. Vancouver Island, BC. Photo by Andrée Fredette

The photo above was taken from a forest service road on Vancouver Island, BC. I have no idea where I was (I leave the details to the trip leader) exactly, but I remember it with great fondness.

Big trees. Vancouver Island, BC. Photo by Andrée Fredettte

I wanted to show how dwarfed we are by the forest giants. We humans are such small creatures…

 

Big trees, hard route. Photo by Andrée Fredette

Getting to the big trees is not for the faint of heart. Hard route, uphill mostly.

 

July forest floor contrats. Photo by Andrée Fredette

The forest floor also offers interesting contrasts.

 

How tall are the firs? Very tall. Photo by Andrée Fredette

How tall are the Douglas firs (Pseudotsuga menziesii), you ask? Very tall. Look up, go ahead.

And in late spring, those fir trees are procreating. Have a look at Douglas fir female cones, in the spring…

Douglas Fir female cones. Photo by Andrée Fredette

While we are on reproduction, here is the Salal (Gaultheria shalllon) version, beautiful dainty blossoms…

Salal blossoms. Photo by Andrée Fredette

“How I go to the woods

Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single
friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore
unsuitable.

I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds
or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of
praying, as you no doubt have yours.

Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit
on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds,
until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost
unhearable sound of the roses singing.

If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love
you very much.”  ― Mary Oliver, Swan: Poems and Prose Poems

****

Me again, I will finish with a photo of an orchid that is sweetly growing in my garden… and nobody has witnessed me talking to it…

Orchid in June, Saturna Island. Photo by Andrée Fredette