This weekend, Catherine and I went to Victoria to spend the weekend with my family and managed to get out for photography on both Saturday and Sunday.
The Plethodontidae, or lungless salmanders, are a remarkable successful group of Northern Hemisphere amphibians. Unlike many other amphibians, these animals have direct development in the egg, and have freed themselves from the need for an aquatic larval stage. They are abundant and easy to find in the forests of coastal BC, where we have two very common species, the ensatina (Ensatina eschscholtzii) and the western redbacked salamander (Plethodon vehiculum).
After a remarkable unproductive photographic outing this Sunday, I decided to try for a portrait session with a pretty organism I was sure of finding. I turned over rotted logs in the forest of Stanley Park, and the first plethodontid I found was a Plethodon. Here are the resulting shots.
The weekend was not all fun times with spiders. We also had to say goodbye to our friend Taiko, the large, and surpringly tough and worldly rottweiler we had known for many years. Taiko suffered a stroke on Saturday, and when we went to see him in the evening, he could no longer walk. He stayed with his beloved owner Buffie through the night, and on Sunday a veterinarian made a house call, and we said goodbye as he was euthanized. He was happy and comfortable at home during his last moments, surrounded by loved ones. He will be missed.
Saturday was Catherine’s birthday, and a very beautiful spring day to boot. Catherine and I spent the morning shopping for a house (yes, the dream finally came true for us! 15.99 at Wild Birds Unlimited!), and then accompanying our labmate Antonia as she conducted rodent experiments at the Bloedel Conservatory, a large dome full of tropical plants and birds. I put out some ant baits, but most of them were eaten by the birds….Not too different than baiting outdoors really.
After the tropical tour, Catherine and I took the show on the road, exploring Queen Elizabeth Park for spiders!
So all in all, a really fun birthday outing, and definitely spidrous! Happy birthday Catherine!
This past weekend was another work weekend, and in addition, I had a nasty cold. This precluded me from getting out for photography, but Catherine and I did expand our balcony bird buffet!
First off, we decided to see who would come for peanuts:
Second, a different position on the hummingbird feeder results in much better light! This female seems pretty pleased.
And a male to show off his nice gorget.
Here is a homemade suet ball that Catherine made, with all kinds of nuts and grains. The chickadees seemed pretty happy with it.
I also bought a bird feeder at the dollar store, which is not a bad little unit! Very low volume, but seems sturdy enough!
You can see in the photo above, and also in the reflection on the window the video setup. I am just using a light stand to hold the camera, weighed down by a jug of ethanol in a bag.
I have been rather busy these past few weeks working on top secret government stuff, so I have had not had much opportunity to get out and shoot. I was not such a big deal this week, as we have had miserable rainy weather for most of it. But yesterday turned out to be beautiful, so it was killing me a little to stay in and work. Luckily, interesting things have been happening at the hummingbird feeder, so I took a bit of time to set up some video. Since it it right on the balcony, I did not have to go far!
First of all, some HD video of various hummingbirds feeding.
Next, some less beautiful footage showing a female feeding. Any guesses what she might have been doing just previous to this?
Anyway, the hummingbirds were a nice treat on a working Sunday. I will try to get some more material on them when I get the chance!
It is a wonderful thing to give a talk to an enthusiastic audience, especially when comes with a chance to travel and meet new people. I was very lucky to have had this opportunity last week when I went to Houston Texas to give a talk on Red-throated Caracaras to the Houston Audubon Society.
Mary-Anne Weber, along with Juanita Perkins arranged for me to travel to Houston to give this talk, and were my most gracious hosts during my trip. I did not have to stay in a hotel, but instead stayed with my friend Cullen Geiselman, a bat researcher who I met at the Nouragues Station.
I am very grateful to have had this wonderful opportunity, and I thank all of the people who came out to hear me talk.
Sometimes the light of a cloudy day is beautiful for photography, making features soft and creamy, eliminating harsh shadows, and enhancing colours. But this is a bright cloudy day we are talking about, not a gloomy, dark and depressing day like we tend to get around Vancouver this time of year. On a day like that, the photographer can only do one thing: eat Cheetos and veg out.
But wait! There is something you can do to get nice defined images of wildlife despite the terrible conditions and your way-too-old, way-too-noisy Canon sensor. Of course! Supplemental light!
I tested out throwing some hard light from trigger-controlled flashguns on a few species at Stanley Park this Saturday, and I am pretty pleased with the results!
Overall, I like this method of shooting, but would prefer natural light. For a gloomy day, when all I would get otherwise is a noisy mess, this is a good thing to try. With an actual lighting assistant, I am sure it could be even more fun.