Monday, November 30, 2009


He's coming for you:

It's a long way down!

He walked the railing just to share the magnificent view with you!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Bloedel Conservatory, Remembered

While our friends south of the border were getting ready to celebrate their Thanksgiving, I woke to learn that the Vancouver Parks Board voted 4-3 in favor of closing one of the most popular attractions in Vancouver, the Bloedel Conservatory. The Children's Farmyard in Stanley Park will also close - all due to a $2.8-million budget shortfall. Both are slated to close in March 2010.

In August, I visited the Bloedel Conservatory. To follow are the photographs I took to illustrate its beauty. As a child, in the third grade, I visited the Bloedel Conservatory on a field trip. I visited every year since, with my family, and now I take my own children there.

The spectacular triodetic dome capping Queen Elizabeth Park is dedicated to the wonders of the natural world, with an emphasis on plants and birds.

Over 500 different plants from tropical and subtropical areas of the world are on display.

There are also over 100 birds of various species that call the Bloedel Conservatory home, free-flying within the spacious plexiglass dome.

Where else can you take a stroll through a simulated tropical rainforest paradise and then explore the subtropic and desert climate zones, all in the same place?

The conservatory was constructed through a very generous donation from Prentice Bloedel in 1969. The same donation enabled the Park Board to cover the main reservoir atop Queen Elizabeth Park. A visit to Bloedel Conservatory has become a holiday tradition as the crowning glory of one of Vancouver’s most beautiful parks. The stunning Queen Elizabeth Park offers breathtaking views of Vancouver and the Coasts Mountains on the North shore.

40 years in Vancouver and it has come down to this. It's a sad day for me and my family.

IMO, The Bloedel Conservatory had an opportunity to educate people, young or old, about rainforest destruction, by allowing visitors to see, touch, and feel the tropical plantlife on display [and see the birds the fly among them]. In all the years I visited the Conservatory, not once was I aware of any organized lecture, tour, or workshop that focused on rainforest conservation and protection.

The motto of the '' website it as follows:
- If you are thinking 1 year ahead, sow seeds.
- If you are thinking 10 years ahead, plant a tree.
- If you are thinking 100 years ahead, educate the people.

An opportunity missed.

For more information about Rainforest destruction, visit:

If you live in Vancouver, or plan to visit, please stop by the Bloedel Conservatory...before it's gone forever.

Enjoy a virtual tour of the Bloedal Floral Conservatory here

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The November Birds of Westham Island [Ladner], B.C.

I spent Friday, November 20, out in the field at Westham Island, B.C. I found many life birds on this day and I was fortunate enough to get to know them - observe and photograph them.

When I pulled into the lot at the Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary, I was surprised to see a 'Conservation Officer' vehicle ahead of me. Once in the gate, I noticed a number of 'officials walking on the grounds, and a helicopter circling above. My birding partner and best friend, Robbie, and I figured they were conducting some sort of a survey of the area; perhaps counting birds. It wasn't long before we heard the disturbing sound. A sound one does not expect to hear so close to conservation lands....GUN SHOTS!

We continued but felt very uneasy since we didn't know exactly where the gun shots were coming from. Clearly, that was the purpose of the aerial investigation and conservation officers.

In spite of this, we saw many life birds, carrying on about their business...

[Female] Lesser Scaup:

[Male] Lesser Scaup:

American Widgeon [Pair]:

After spending some time observing the American Widgeons, I noticed how extremely protective the males are of their females:

We continued on down the trail when I felt someone, or something, looking at me. I didn't see him at first:

We stopped at a nearby blind to see what was out in the Fraser Estuary and were surprised to find a Black Crowned Night-Heron, [Life Bird #1 of the day!], and a rare find for the West Coast of British Columbia. He was perched too far off for a clear shot, but through my binoculars, I could see him perched in a tree along the waters edge. In the foreground is a Great Blue Heron:

We continued down the path to my favorite feeder where I like to observe the Black-Capped Chickadees. Almost immediately, I began to hear the theme song to Mission Impossible:

Hmm. Seems nothing is impossible for these little critters:

These black squirrels were at almost every feeding station (..and they didn't appear to be starving at all):

I saw lovely Wood Ducks [Male and Female] - this one was a real 'ladies man', flanked with two beauties:

This [Male] Wood Duck was a little more 'exclusive':

In spite of the striking color of the Wood Duck, my favorite dabbler is the majestic Northern Pintail [Male]:

[Female] Northern Pintail:

Among the sounds of the occasional gun shot, was the constant 'honking' of the Snow Geese. We finally made it to the North side, where they were roosting:

Sadly, they were a little far out to get a good look at them, but we did notice a number of predators scoping out the smorgasbord:

It wasn't long before I heard a serenade from this little songstress, perched in a tree:

Now, on to the other Life Birds of the day. Life Bird #2 was this beautiful [Male] Bufflehead:

This one was spending quality time with another [Female] species, which I found a little odd. They were all alone on this display pond:

In an adjacent pond were three [Female] Buffleheads:

Next, and Life Bird #3 of the day, was this gorgeous Hooded Merganser [Male] in the foreground, and [Female] in the background:

We topped off a great day by hand feeding Black-Capped Chickadees:

..and spending time with my favorite Mallard (I've named him Harvey). He flies up to visit me whenever we visit the lookout tower:

I worry about ' Harvey' and his other Mallard friends. The Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary is suppose to be a safe haven for these most trusting of all waterfowl, and I can't stand the thought of some lunatic picking them off as they fly in or out of conservation property.

I hope I get to share many more moments with 'Harvey' in the near future.