Saturday, November 10, 2012

A walk around Burnaby Lake

I forgot to post this "N" shape (last post), takenTuesday through the archway at the side of the entrance to Bill's house.   
Same view but slightly different perspective.  I guess there is a broad "N" formed by the two trees that meet over the little Red Maple.

But, I'm making a bit of an effort to stick to mostly just one topic today.  Our hike around Burnaby Lake on Wednesday yielded all kinds of surprises.  The first shot was taken from the truck as we drove between BC Place and the casino.  I am always excited as we set out on our adventures and these fluffy clouds added to my sense of anticipation.

When we arrived, one of the first sights to catch my attention was Burnaby Lake Archery Range.  I have since learned that this was the site of the Seniors Games 2012.

The hike is described in the link, but I think we did it in the opposite direction.  Bill is the navigator and Black-Jack-caretaker on all of our hikes.  Although I manage to find my way places if I have to, the truth is that my sense of direction isn't great.  There is nothing I like better than to follow along, playing with my camera, listening to Bill's observations and completely trusting his excellent sense of direction.  This is the aptly named Still Creek.  

The fluffy clouds stayed around most of the day and were enjoyed on many levels.

The trail began just to the right of this pedestrian/bike overpass. 

It was 10 kilometres, perfectly flat with comfortable footing, and had enough variety of terrain to keep us (and Black Jack!) happy.
Bill had his work cut out for him.

He allows just enough leash so that Black Jack feels hopeful but all wildlife remains safe.
As Bill noted, Black Jack chooses to smell the leaves rather than the roses.

We didn't see the Rowing Pavilion but did see some scullers training.  I have since learned that the 1973 Summer Games were held on Burnaby Lake, but apparently there has been too much vegetation in it for any serious events since that.

On most of our hikes, we choose spots here and there where Black Jack can run freely between us.  Bill is about to let her go in this shot.  As you can see, she is enthusiastic and already anticipating her treat.
Sometimes, a tiny bird high in the sky will fly over and I swing my camera up, never really expecting to catch it.  We had no idea if this was a crow or a pigeon, but something told me it just might be a hawk.  It was neat to discover when I arrived home, first that the picture came out at all, and second, that it was indeed a hawk.  It wasn't clear enough to positively identify, but I'm thinking it could perhaps be a Red-tailed Hawk.    

Bill knows I love woodpeckers and always keeps his eyes peeled in the hopes of spotting one.  We both thought the area looked like perfect habitat for them.  

We climbed the steps to a wooden lookout over Piper Spit and noticed this tree with many roosting pigeons.  

We figured this one must be the head of the family.

There were just a few people around and lots of ducks.  The view from the lookout was so inviting, and that fellow looked so content, we decided to head down the steps, find a park bench and eat lunch.  Great decision!

I finished my crackers and almond butter quickly and began watching the ducks!  

At first, I thought they were mostly Mallards, but then I spotted a couple of little brown heads.  

I was thrilled because this was definitely a duck that I don't see very often.  My first thought was that it might be a Eurasian Wigeon.  Then, I thought perhaps it was a Green-Winged Teal.  I learned when I checked my book later that evening that both guesses were wrong.  The green stripe on the wigeon's head is framed by a much lighter colour, and on the Green-Winged Teal, it is outlined in white.  My next guess was Falcated Duck.  The picture in my book seemed close, and I thought this photo showed the sickle-shaped tertials that are supposed to overhang the tail. 

I think it was the changed angle of light that seemed to turn the green stripe to navy blue.
There were Wood Ducks as well; this male's red eye..

and brilliant colours made quite an impression.

Oh dear, on looking at the bright green patch under the wing feathers, I'm thinking all of my identification guesses are wrong.  No such patch is mentioned for Falcated Ducks.  Help...

Well, at least I can say for sure this is a seagull.  

My mystery ducks' expressions and cute, chubby bodies in flight made me smile.

There's that seagull again.  Maybe a Ring-billed?  I think identifying seagulls must be the PH.D of birdwatching.  

I become mesmerized watching seagulls.  Bill didn't complain, but mentioned with a smile that he was sort of hoping to arrive back at the truck that day rather than the next. 

Good point!  We continued on and i wondered why many of the bird houses had a large and small apartment back to back.  Wouldn't a large bird tend to prey on its smaller neighbour?

Reflections made some of the grasses appear very, very long.
Behind this lovely fence, you can see a bridge across the Brunette River dam.

We stood on it and watched three salmon hesitate (just two in the photo)..

in front of the ladder that was built to help them over the dam.
They had come around the bend in the river that you see here.  Although we waited for a few minutes, they didn't venture across while we were there.
There was a dividing wall under the centre of the bridge.  
with salmon sculptures on the other side of it.  I found this a bit strange but, overall, seeing the salmon had been an unexpected and much appreciated surprise.

It was Bill who pointed out these wispy clouds over the fluffy ones as we continued on.

This is Bill making me laugh when I asked him to pose.
Coming across these horses was another fun surprise.

Since we did hope to reach the truck that day, there wasn't time to change to my smaller lens, but it was fun to get these extra close shots of them.  We learned their names were Donelly (on the right) and Minty.

They were nuzzlers and that sure did make my day.  Neither of us had realized that Unicorn Stables was in the area.

More reflections caught my eye as we continued along the other side of the Brunette River.
This lovely "bird-branch sculpture" fascinated Bill.  No matter from what angle we looked, the bird seemed to stare back at us.

Another of Bill's finds.  Not quite small enough to be a hummingbird nest..  maybe the size of a grapefruit, beautifully constructed, and with grass still looking freshly green.

This was the only wild flower we saw.  Sweet Pea, perhaps?
Here, we stopped and looked across the river to the area where we had eaten lunch.

I suddenly spotted this eagle, quite a long distance away.  While I was taking pictures of it,

Bill whispered excitedly that a woodpecker had landed right in front of us.  No time to change the exposure or lens.  I snapped one photo and then it was gone.  When I looked in my viewfinder, I saw only black and thought I had completely missed the shot.  However, iphoto shadow-reduction brought it back to life.  Yay!

These grasses and reflections were surreal on the unbelievably still water.

At first, I focused on the tree reflections from the other side, and then..

noticed the buildings and water towers reflected frm the top of the mountains far off in the distance.  Amazing, to me, that the river and my camera were able to show them.

Believe it or not, we made it back to the truck that day.  We were walking across the field by the archery range when these geese flew by, apparently on their way to roost for the night.  What a great day.  Thank you, Bill!

I have so many photographs going back forever, but have decided to make an effort to do shorter posts.  Tomorrow, my google storage plan kicks in for the next year, so I will not have to copy photos into facebook and then transfer them here.  Yay!  In the meantime, I leave..

you with a cute squirrel and its snack, taken a couple of weeks ago..

in Stanley Park.  Black Jack froze in stunned shock as this critter displayed not one..

iota of shyness.  It did live to tell the tale, thanks to the fact that I stopped taking its photo and quickly picked up Black Jack.

We are off this evening to hear the Mozart C Minor Mass ("The Great") at The Orpheum with the Vancouver Symphony, Bach Choir, and four soloists (Karina Gauvin soprano, Katherine Whyte soprano, Gordon Gietz tenor and Phillip Ens bass).  If I can just stick to my blogging plan, I'll be telling you all about it tomorrow.   

I hope you are in the middle of a very happy week-end.  Tomorrow is Remembrance Day in Canada, so if you are Canadian, perhaps you will take a few minutes to think about the heavy price of war and thank those who gave up their lives for our freedom.  I know Ron will be doing that.  You can read his beautiful post here.  And, for all of us, wherever we are, keeping that goal of a peaceful world at the front of all of our actions is probably the best thanks any war veteran could hope for. Thanks so much for stopping by. 


  1. definitely a green-winged teal. my crossley i.d. guide shows both versions of the adult male - one w/ white line edging the eye mask and another w/o the white line. :)

    blackjack is cute among the leaves. like those big clouds and the reflections, too.

  2. i guess they don't show the distinct white line during eclipse phase (jul-nov) or during their 1st winter. sheesh! technical stuff!

  3. According to the Vancouver Sun -- those were among the first salmon to go up still creek in *decades* ...

    What a timely post... lucky you to witness such a momentous occasion!

  4. Wow! Peter, I had no idea. Thanks so much for the link to that wonderful article. I feel truly privileged!

    And TexWisGirl.. you are amazing. I really appreciate the ID help! Thank you so much!

  5. Many of these photos are truly outstanding and I really don’t know where to begin. You’ve covered land, sea and air … the ducks, top-of-the-clouds photo and the shot of Bill bending down at the water tap flow with light and shadow reminiscent of a painting.

  6. Gorgeous photos Carol, as always!

    I second the green-winged teal vote. Check out the photos here:

    Some definitely don't have the white line.