Tag Archive | photography

Wet and dry owls


The past few days have been rather different as far as weather is concerned. Wednesday night was extremely rainy, and when I went out to see the Great Horned Owls on Thursday morning, they were sopping wet! There was some excitement, with a raven flying in too close, and requiring a chase-off by both the male and female.


After the raven was safely away, the male (top) and female (bottom) owl perched together in a tree. I normally never see them together like this during daylight hours.

Here is a video of the two interacting.



On Friday morning, when I got to the nest, I found the male owl with his tail feathers soaked in blood. Whatever he killed the night before must have bled a lot!


Meanwhile, both the mother and the chick were perched on the very top of the nest stump. You can see how big the chick is already!


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I went back later in the afternoon to try to shoot in some better light, but of course the owls were mainly sleeping.

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The male got quite excited upon seeing a Cooper’s Hawk fly by the nest. This time, it didn’t require a chase. I also noted that his blood-soaked tail was now clean. 


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I found that shooting in the better afternoon light allowed for crisper rendition of the chick’s plumage, but at the cost of blowing out the sky.


Crisp rendition or no, this chick spent most of the afternoon snoozing, perhaps dreaming of large rats.

Portrait session with a hummingbird


Yesterday my brother and I got up to the airport to see if we could shoot some planes with his new (to him) 300 mm f4. We ended up photographing a much smaller bird: an Anna’s Hummingbird male! This little guy was pretty cooperative, as he was just perched on his favourite territorial lookout, so we had some good opportunity to mess around. Almost all these shots were taken in the shade of a cedar, so the light was not too dramatic, but nonetheless it was fun!




Very rarely, the little guy went into a sunny spot. The full glare of his gorget was a bit too much, so here it is only partially shining.






Weekend Expedition 44: French Beach Bugs


This weekend Catherine and I finally got out for an outing in the woods. Her knee is still bad, so it had to be somewhere with not much hiking involved, so we chose to go to French Beach. This park out past Sooke is getting out farther into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and thus has a bit more of the character of a wild west coast beach than those closer to Victoria. Unfortunately for us, the weather had taken a turn for the worse, and the temperature was much chillier than the previous day. We did manage a bit of arthropod hunting, and had lunch before a spat of freezing rain sent us back to Victoria.


The beach was a bit dreary and cold, but that is pretty normal this time of year. If we had managed to get out on Friday it would have been much nicer.


Our first arachnological find was this remarkably still wolf spider. Here is an example of a “naturally chilled” arthropod that retains a normal posture.


We did some excavation under the bark of a downed Sitka Spruce, and found this svelte centipede.


We were delighted to find a lovely Pseudoscorpion under the bark. I am sure the diminutive creature was less happy to see us.


Of course, some lovely Amaurobiids were to be found as well.


Royalty: a formerly-winged reproductive Pacific Coast Dampwood Termite.


At the end of the day, the weekend expedition was a success, as it got us out and active and showed us that there is a life beyond thesis writing!

From the skies above the Rockies


As mentioned in the previous post, and here at SpiderBytes, Catherine and I are temporarily leaving the field for rest,  recuperation, and riting (?) back in Canada. We had to make an emergency medical landing in Denver, so I purchased some internets to warn Antonia (who is picking us up) that we would be a few hours late, so here is a post from the skies north of Colorado.

When it became evident that we were leaving Honduras for the colder regions of the world, with surely far fewer active insects and spiders, I took the opportunity to do some last-minute shooting for both this blog and for Catherine’s. I had not been doing very much until then, as we were still getting used to the country and our work schedule. So the following is a small selection of insects and spiders found in our last few days in Gualaco, all found within 20 m of our apartment.  I found the shooting a bit difficult, not being in good practice, and worried about our project, but I did manage some adequate documentary shots. Coming up, I will discuss the second field trip and more about the caracaras and the problems facing them in Central America. Until then, enjoy these shots!


Looks like some kind of Wood Nymph.


This egg mass has an unwelcome visitor.


This is a Lyssomanes jumping spider, doing their freaky eye thing, where the eyes go from green to black. I am not sure what it is all about, but probably some kind of focusing.



I tried to get this “creamier”, but did not get the f-stop low enough. Illuminating the background sometimes makes the composition harder to control.




To me, this jumper definitely looks “tropical”


1st instar stinkers clustered around their eggs.

Ibycter 2013: a year of photos and blogging


2013 has been a great year for shooting as well as for getting my images out to people who are interested, via this blog! There are so many decent images to choose from, and I am a bit pressed for time right now, so I  will organize the pictures that stood out for me phylogenetically.



One of the beautiful Ammophila featured in Ibycter Illustrated. Photographing sleeping Hymenoptera at sunrise gave me a new appreciation for mixing ambient and flash.


I love the way the dew sparkles on this Lycaenid.


In 2013, I got to indulge myself with many opportunities to shoot Coelioxys, my favourite Megachilid.


Using flowers as colourful backdrops was something I explored in the gardens this year.


Not the best technically, but it was great to come upon this scene of predation between Laphria and Apis. Productive slacking indeed!


Another Laphria found on a window provided a good long photo session so I could explore lighting against the sky.


The end result of a syrphid rearing experiment! Feed your syrphid well!


Some time spent in Victoria in the spring was a good time to revise papers and look for beautiful snakeflies!

This was my favourite of the bunch, with the water droplets adding to the interest.

After this shot, I resolved to shoot more ants, but unfortunately I did not follow through. This was the best ant I shot all year.


I explored a bit of underwater photography with micro-aquaria, but could use some more practice.


I got to use the Monster Macro Rig to good effect in lush grasses, where it excels.


And more Coelioxys!



This was a great year for spider photography, and I shot many species, such as this uloborid, Hyptiotes gertschi.


Although I worked out a hypothetical method for better jumping spider photos, I never put it to use. I got some decent jumper pics nonetheless,


While exiled in Port Moody, we managed to witness some dramatic spider action.


Fieldwork at Island View Beach provided a good excuse to shoot black widows and other great animals.


I managed more than my fair share of crab spider shots, like this one during some time in the community garden.


This dramatic shot of a Woodlouse Hunter was a big hit.


Some of the studio shots I took of jumpers at Iona were also pretty dramatic. This Habronattus ophrys male was pretty on black.


Jumpers also stand out on white.


I found several long philodromids this year, which look elegant stretched out in their concealed mode.


Following a gravid Cellar Spider was a great lesson in spider reproduction.

Starting to harden up and recover movement.

This molting clack widow was a great treat to see.

(non-human) Vertebrates


Shooting seals underwater was a highlight late in the year, thanks to aquiring a GoPro.


Getting out to YVR with the Wildlife Control people was a really fun experience. This molting Peregrine tiercel was one of the better shots I ever got of a peregrine.


I indulged my crow photography habit more than a little in 2013


A family of raccoons provided entertainment and photo ops all through the year

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This snapshot of an injured duck led me into some community activism, and was ultimately used in newspapers and at council meetings.


I git some decent shots during feeding time for some barn swallows.


This eagle in a cottonwood highlights the gentle light you can get on a bright summer day under the shade of a tree.


Probably my favourite bird shot this year, this male Annas hummingbird was spectacular in the evening light.


A studio session with Jasmine the cat provided some ammunition in the war for equality.


These trumpeter swans emerging out of the clouds were also a favourite.


Sandhill Cranes up close are kinda crazy looking!


I lost my good friend and adventuring partner this year. Maggie was an awesome dog and I will miss her greatly.



I got out several times with Wild Research on birding trips. This shot of Paul Levsque channeling Steve Zissou was fun.


The most fun I had with people was some of the outreach we did bringing insects and spiders to kids.


Antonia with maggot art at the Halloween Spooktacular


Meeting Alex Wild and others at the ESC in Guelph was an unexpected boost.


Attending Alex Wild’s insect photography workshop with Mike Hrabar was a great way to start the conference.


Sometimes going out mushroom hunting with friends is the best cure for the fall blues.


Catherine Scott, my scientific collaborator and fellow member of Team Caracara has a great smile and killer stats insight.


Getting out and speaking up for what matters is important. This was shot at the “Stand Up For Science” rally in Vancouver.


OK, here are several more shots of kids with bugs. What could be more awesome?




People gathered together for Moth Night. A great way to spend a summer evening!



Doing Barn Owl work with Sofi was pretty fun. We managed to capture several owls.


A butterfly outing!

Tavi and Viorel

Tavi and Viorel


Antonia with a great stonefly!

Weekend Expedition 41: Reifel Sanctuary with Wild Research


I realize that the Weekend Expedition is getting a bit repetitive, and I resolve in the New Year to shake things up a bit. In fact, I make you a promise. Starting in January, things will be different around here!

I did get away again this weekend, and it was back to Reifel Bird Sanctuary, again with Wild Research.This time, it was not as productive WRT raptors as previous visits, but we did see a Peregrine, some eagles, a Cooper’s Hawk, and a Rough-legged Hawk. The main attraction of Reifel is the ridiculously human-acclimated birds. Cranes feeding from your hand, chickadees landing everywhere…It is like a meetup group for bird flu lovers!


The cold winter air has moved on, and the canals and ponds are melting. The atmosphere was very much like standing in front of a cool mist humidifier.


Mike Hrabar captured this shot of some artistic use of the GoPro to record feeding pigeons.


Mike shooting with his new 300!


The reflection from the ice really makes these ducks pop.



Paul Levesque channeling Steve Zissou.


incoming cranes!


I just love the calls of these elegant birds.


After Reifel, Mike and I headed down to 64th St. (On Boundary Bay) to check out some Long-eared Owls. This one was the only one there, and not very active. Pretty though!

Weekend Expedition 39: Winter begins at Burnaby Lake Park


Breeding season is long over, but the eagles still hang out at their nest on the south shore.

I have been super busy this weekend, up at the lab doing work. The semester is coming to an end and I still have so much to do! This weekend expedition was just a couple hour jaunt to Burnaby Lake before heading up to the lab. I hope you enjoy the shots!

We are down to the winter bird fauna now, and Song Sparrows are hanging tough.

This female Wood Duck adds a splash of colour to the wintry scene.


The remains of spawned-out salmon were pretty common out at the mouth of the creek.


Goose bath!


A scaup was diving down and scavenging on dead fish, as were the mallards.


Another Song Sparrow, who was feeding on seeds near the lake.

Fisherman’s Wharf, Victoria BC


Yesterday was my birthday, and after wandering around town for a bit, Catherine, Jeff and I went down to Fisherman’s Wharf to check out the gulls and seals. This is a good place to go to see the harbour fauna, as folks feed the seals, and there are often sea ducks of various kinds hanging around.

We are now headed back to Vancouver, to face dreary skies and a large amount of work.


Action on the wharf as a kid tosses herring to the seals.



Harbour Seal, doing its seal thing in the harbour.


Blue sky reflecting on water makes a great background for thr gulls.



Gulls are another of my favourite birds, loud, opportunistic and graceful, they seem to be a real jack-of-all-trades kind of seabird.



The local domestic fauna. Watch out for this guy in the springtime, as he gets a little crazy.


Weekend Expedition 38: Over Victoria


Uplands Park, a favourite place of mine to take pictures.

This weekend, Catherine  and I came over to Victoria to celebrate my birthday in Victoria with my family. As a present, we went in a flight in a Cessna 172 with my brother, who is a pilot with the Victoria Flying club and a photographer as well. This was Catherine’s first flight in a small plane (although she has been in a helicopter), so we gave her the grand tour of Victoria from the air.



Checking the fuel for water and debris.


Victoria on a hazy fall day. This is typical light for this time of year, and you can see the Olympic Mountains across the Juan de Fuca Strait. .


HMCS Regina (foreground) and HMCS Ottawa (behind) at dock in Esquimalt. They have material laid around them to protect the ocean from fuel spills, but I wonder, given our current government’s stance on oil spills on the coast, why they bother.


The Gorge Waterway.


My mom’s house, and where I grew up!


Clover point, where later in the day we attended a large protest against the pipeline.


Chain Islets, a good place to see breeding birds and resting seals.


Island View Beach, from the air.