Tag Archive | Victoria

An oasis in Crow City

IMG_7372Right in the heart of downtown Victoria, in an abandoned, excavated lot we found this little piece of crow paradise. It was fenced and secure, and had a lovely sunstruck bathing pool.


When we approached, several crows were bathing.


Here a crow ducks down in the water, splashing furiously.


Ah, that’s better!


Victoria, much like Vancouver is a city of crows. Although there are some ravens in both cities now, the predominant corvids are crows.


On Boxing Day, right next door from my mother’s house, A huge gathering of crows came down to feed of the subterranean larvae of European chafer, a type of scarab beetle.


Perched up on a power line, the crows wait for a dog to pass.


Many of the crows in Victoria communally roost on Discovery and Chatham Island, like the Vancouver crows nest in Burnaby. Here is one fresh off the morning flight from the islands.


I really enjoy watching crows, and despite their ubiquity, find them a challenge photographically.


Capturing their behaviour accurately remains one of my photographic goals. How cool would it be to get good photos at a nest? Close up views of their prey? Mating? I think I will keep watching and shooting crows for a good long while before I am satisfied!





Otters at Cattle Point


Early this morning, my brother and I watched a group of four river otters at Cattle Point in Victoria. The light was not strong enough for great photos, but it was OK for video. Check it out in HD for some otter nuzzling and defecation!


Here is another video, shot by my brother Colin:

Weekend Expedition 57: Thanksgiving in Victoria


This weekend, Catherine and I visited Victoria, for the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday. The weather was not super cooperative for outdoor activities, and Catherine was working hard on her PhD NSERC proposal, but we did manage one trip out to Island View Beach to check up on the local arthropods. I also went for a stroll in Uplands Park to get some of the following shots.


This is how the rain looked on Saturday morning…


Better to be sheltered inside, or under the eaves of a house!


Quite a few grasshoppers were out and about. This one I shot as it was hiding on a Garry Oak leaf (you can see I was holding a white card below).


A juvenile wolf spider looking odd and elegant with two very prominent eyes.


A Dysdera crocata male in Uplands Park.


An Aphaenogaster occidentalis worker carrying brood in Uplands Park. This species does well in Garry Oak meadows.


Catherine, my friend Jeff, and a borrowed golden retriever (Jackson) at Island View Beach.


The fall selection of resting Hymenoptera was much more limited than previously, with this impressively-ovipositored ichneumonid being the only example we could find.


Resting snakes were about though; this garter snake was torpid and remained in a ball rather than trying to flee when we found her under a log.


Spiders were to be found in large numbers though, this being Arachtober and all. Here is a tetragnathid backlit with a bare flash.


Here is a running crab spider, of the genus Tibellus; the same one appears at the top of the post. These are very elegant-looking little spiders, and make great photographic subjects.


Most of the creatures we found were covered by a light dew. This cranefly sparkles.


This female Araneus diadematus was particularly large. That is Catherine’s finger for scale.


Speaking of large, here is a giant! A giant house spider, formerly Tegenaria duellica, now this species is called Eratigena atrica. Since Catherine is scheduled to give an upcoming talk on spider bites (and how they are very unlikely) at the ESBC conference, we decided for an illustrative photo shoot.


Here is the same spider sinking her fangs into resting peacefully on Catherine’s nose.


Apparently, the feet tickle. Not that I would ever try this, that would be crazy. 


A female Castianeira we found under some old plywood.


A penultimate male black widow. These ones that overwinter always seem to be more robust and darker than the juveniles that develop quickly in the summer. I would imagine this is a textbook example of phenotypic plasticity; one that deserves more careful study.


Again with an eye to Catherine’s upcoming talk, we took some shots of black widow defensive behaviour. Here a female throws glue-like silk on an offending finger. This is so reliable, I might have to try this in a studio setting with some nice backlight!


Last but not least, on our final morning in Victoria, we walked on Mt. Tolmie, where we found this male Anna’s hummingbird, still defending territory. It is impressive these little birds are still nesting in the cold wet fall!

Get it while you can


A beautiful male Woodlouse Hunter, Dysdera crocata. I am pretty sure we encountered the same one last year under the same log.

Things are busy right now, as I am trying to arrange to defend my thesis, finishing up writing tasks and seeking a postdoc….But spring is still springing, and outside is so beautiful and warm! Hell, I could be dead tomorrow, so why not go out and see what I can see in the sunshine. Here are a few of the pictures from the past few days, as the warm spring sunshine activates the local fauna!


A Giant House Spider, in her house under a rock.


First (live) Polistes of the year from Victoria.


A male Anna’s Hummingbird, from Mt. Tolmie.


Off-colour commentary by a gull?


I stopped down to f18 to try to get some mountains behind this gull.



A Nomada parasitic bee, on the lookout for hosts.



This seems to be a good year for garter snakes.


These gall wasps were having an ovipositionathon on the newly sprouting Garry Oak leaves. I think these are the jumping gall wasp, Neuroterus saltatorius. 




This is the defensive posture, but it almost looks like he is casting a spell (or he has root hairs stuck in his claws).


Some spring shots from Victoria


It is a popular pastime among us West Coasters to point out our gorgeous spring weather to those of you who are freezing back East. I think that’s just cruel. Nonetheless, I can’t help but notice it is minus three in Toronto, snowing in Alberta and freezing in New Brunswick….Here in Victoria, the snakes are out, the flowers are blooming and we are expecting our first Rufous Hummingbirds any day now!

Here are a few shots from the past couple days in sunny Victoria!


A springtime cove from high above on windy Mt. Douglas.


This plump Gnaphosa didn’t mind the wind in a rocky retreat (thanks to Laura P. and Lynnette Schimming for the ID!)


This elaterid is a bit of a cheat, as I had to flip a stone to find it.


The first snakes are always how I have registered springtime…This one was just neonate sized.


A cormorant fishing in Swan Lake.


A Cooper’s Hawk from yesterday morning.



Red-tailed Hawk about to bug out!


Keeping my naturalist cred!


Ogden Point is a great place to see otters, as there is abundant food, as well as crevices between the big stone blocks forming the breakwater where they have dens. My brother got an even better shot!

Yesterday’s great post by Chris Buddle over at Expiscor highlighted the importance of natural history and the people who practice it. I have generally considered myself a naturalist, but the last few weeks have not been very active for me, as I have been engaged in a lot of writing. Luckily, I scheduled a few hours yesterday morning to go out to Ogden Point and Beacon Hill Park to do some nature photography and keep my naturalist cred!


At this time of year, a Sanderling is not an unusual sight.


Divers are also attracted to Ogden Point, as the water is clear, and the dropoff encourages lots of life.


Over at Beacon Hill Park, the herons are working on their nests.




A RIng-necked Duck looking elegant in the duck pond.


A mallard looking weird in a tree.


In BC, the Gray Squirrel is considered an exotic pest, but it seems unlikely they will go away soon.


Did I mention it was spring in Victoria? The weather has been beautiful, and the flowers are out!


Indian Plum is one of the earliest flowering trees in the forests here.

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 24: Long Weekend in Victoria


This halictid peering out of a burrow was probably the coolest shot I managed.

This Canada Day Long Weekend, Catherine and I took the ferry to Victoria to visit my mom and chill out in the record-setting heat. This was great for the party people, not so great for our skin and the photographic opportunities. Strangely enough, very hot and dry weather is not very good for nature photography, as the light becomes very harsh very quickly, and those few insects that have not retreated to shelter from the elements are zipping around like maniacs with their metabolisms in high gear.

I did get some decent shots however, it was just a lot more painful than it might ordinarily have been.


The first day, Catherine and I kayaked out to Discovery Island, just off Oak Bay, where a wolf has been living (!) since this winter.


Although the voyage over was scenic and the water calm, I did not trust my ability to hold the camera free of the salt spray to shoot the seals and seabirds we saw. When we arrived, the overheated little island yielded little photographic material. It was also ridiculously hot.


We did not end up seeing the wolf, but we did find some of its droppings, which were still fragrant and moist.


One lowly Chestnut-backed Chickadee was the best I could come up with.


Later that evening, walking on Dallas Road, we did some gull and dog shooting.


a monster!


This little guy was having a ball.


The heat created some interesting haze effects on the water.


Maggie, my mom’s dog is more sedate, but still a great model.


The cliffs at Dallas Road (in Beacon Hill Park) are  a great place to find solitary bees, including Anthophorids, Megachilids and Halictids. These sandy cliffs are great for burrowing species.


A beautiful little Halictid.



IMG_1516 IMG_1560


It was so rich with Hymenoptera, but so hard to shoot them in the sun, I came out Tuesday at dawn to try to catch them when they were less active…


Unfortunately for me, the only insects that were slowed by the dawn temperature drop were a couple crabronids. All the Anthophora shot out of their burrows pre-heated and ready to work!



I did manage one shot of Anthophora bomboides peeking out of its burrow.


Frustrated in the morning, I went out late Tuesday afternoon for some shooting at Uplands Park.


Some kind of flower-feeding scarab.


A juvenile katydid!


Small robber fly with aphid prey.

Wednesday morning walk in a Garry Oak Meadow


This morning I again took Maggie (the dog) to Mt. Tolmie, a great Garry Oak meadow ecosystem. Of course, I brought along my camera. I was not disappointed with the subjects!


Snakeflies seem to be especially abundant in this park

A Philodromid (Running Crab Spider). Genus Tibellus?

A beautiful Northern Alligator Lizard

A beautiful Northern Alligator Lizard

Northern Alligator Lizard

another beautiful Selatosomus edwardsi

another beautiful Selatosomus edwardsi


This is a moth of the genus Adela, but I am unsure what species it is. .

Weekend Expedition 18: Around Victoria, East Sooke and Saanich


A river otter chows into a large sculpin at East Sooke Park.

This weekend was the  Victoria Day Holiday in Canada, so what better way to spend it than out searching for cool things in and around Victoria? Over the course of the past four days, I traveled on the Saanich Peninsula, out to East Sooke, and around the city to various localities to take pictures of natural things. I also spent some time by the seaside in Oak Bay, shooting intertidal creatures for the Cheapskate Tuesday post to follow. I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as Catherine and I enjoyed taking them!