My fav. kind of winter - cold and sunny; biking to the dyke

Today, my dad bought me a few things for me to prepare the harsh winters of Ontario - winter jacket, snow boots and a warm pair of jeans. Not the kind of things I usually use here in B.C.

In the afternoon, I biked to South Dyke Trail, almost to Finn Slough, then back home. Today's my favorite kind of winter - cold but sunny, and almost cloudless too. Great day for a photo outing, except that my digits get cold very quickly.

Beautiful day at the dyke trail. Many dogs and their humans out enjoying the nice weather.

Mount Baker against a cloudless sky


Biked to Terra Nova

Today begins a string of several pleasant days. Time for a bike ride to Terra Nova and try out my new bins. It is definitely an improvement - brighter and clearer images that allowed me to see some birds that weren't photographed by my camera, e.g. a male Common Merganser, a female Red-breasted Merganser and a Pied-billed Grebe.

Today's bike trip took me over five hours, I was exhausted by the time I got home, especially since I skipped lunch.

Here are some photos from Coots and Mallards photo from Steveston, as well as a female Brewer's Blackbird - one of those common brown birds that I don't normally pay attention to until this afternoon.

Pretty Female Mallard


My new bins: Vortex Diamondback 10x42

After relying on work binocular for the last two field jobs and my own cheapo bins at other times, I decided to improve my observation equipment and got myself a nice, useful and quality bins on this Boxing Day.

Behold my Vortex Diamondback 10x42 binocular! It's a beauty - costing me almost $280 (after tax, from Lens and Shutter). I was originally going to buy the 8.5x50 but it was out of stock, but this is just as good.

I was debating (and did researching) among other brands (Bushnell and Nikon) at similar price ranges, but Vortex seemed to receive the most positive comments, perform well against bins at higher prices and the attractive feature of the unconditional lifetime warranty.

Can't wait for the crappy weather systems to stop visiting B.C. so that I can have one (or two) decent days to test it out.

Other than getting this, my mom and I just wandered around the stores in Richmond Centre (after returning from Vancouver) and bought some after-Christmas chocolates. Man, is there a lot of shoppers today!

Hope everyone had a relatively relaxing Boxing Day.


Have a Merry One!

No snow here in Richmond, instead we have been having gray clouds and rain for the last three days now.

My family doesn't really celebrate Christmas, but to those does, have a merry one!

Merry Christmas!



Gloomy day brightened by special X'mas gift (thanks to The Frog Bag)

Two days into winter but still no signs of snow for the rest of the year, I think.

Today, I went to UBC to take care of some business, i.e. print some documents for my grad studies application, download and print my/our research paper that was published a few weeks ago and do more literature searching regarding pollinators.

Every time I come back to UBC, it is guaranteed that I will see another construction taking place on campus. One of the many reasons that UBC frustrates me so much.


Flock of Coots, Ho Ho Ho House and Moon watch

I had quite a busy afternoon today. First up, biking to the dyke.

Nice weather today.

Resting heron.


Visiting Minoru Park - Junco, Mallards and Rabbits

I got a couple of errands done today at the city centre - returning library books, walking and photographing around Minoru Park (not really an errand), getting a haircut and buying tasty treats to celebrate my mom's birthday today (but we went out for dinner tonight and were too full for the treats - they'll have to wait tomorrow).

These photos below were taken from Minoru Park.

A Dark-eyed Junco calling loudly and looking around.

Dead But Not Gone
Most of the vegetation is bare, except for this. Are these petals...or leaves?


Last day of work

Today is the last day of my temporary work in Downtown Vancouver. Time to start preparing my grad school application to Trent University and finding the research and school mindset.

The weather was very nice today.

Sunrise from the morning commute.

Morning Song

Polaroid version.


Unknown Bug from Ontario solved, sort of.

This summer, in Carden, we had periods when our cabin was shared with lots and lots of flies. A fly swapper was used but its effectiveness was limited, and so was the fly tape. So we basically just learned how to live with them.

Nevertheless, we were amazed when we found this critter below that was hunting the flies! We didn't know what it was but was grateful for it - until we found it upstairs where we sleep. Then the feeling became quite cautious about this dangerous-looking fly-killer.

Unidentified Robber Fly species (Family Asilidae) with prey

Well, I just came across this post (by Ben Cruachan) this morning that tells me what I saw was a Robber Fly (Family Asilidae)! Good to have some idea now...but I don't think I will ever find out what species it is.

Merry Christmas from Christmas Market

Today, my mother and I went to the Vancouver Christmas Market to check this interesting even out. My thoughts? It's smaller than I thought (but when you are comparing it with the authentic Christmas Market in Germany or any types of outdoor markets in Taiwan, it's unfair for this first-timer). In addition, it is not cheap either - $5 gate fee for an adult (for an outdoor event) without any gifts, memorabilia, promotions, etc. Food is quite pricey too - $8 for a Bratwurst and $8 for an Apple Cinnamon Spice drink ($4 is refundable if you return the mug), and so are the crafts sold in the market too, at least $20+ with many over the hundred dollar mark too.

The good things about this event? Food is good (to someone who never really had Germany food before) and the authentic German crafts/ornaments are quite nice too, except for some with labels saying "Made in China". Oops.

Merry Christmas from Christmas Market
The only good shot from today.


Yaletown Night Light

Yesterday evening was our office holiday dinner/party at a restaurant in Yaletown. It was a strange choice of having it on a Friday because I was exhausted from working in the morning. Nevertheless, the food was delicious and I had a good time.

There was some free time between getting off work and attending the dinner, so I wondered around the waterfront in Yaletown and took some night photos. I didn't bring my tripod, so I stabilized my camera on whatever steady surface I could find.

Bridge crossing
Decrease the aperature (i.e. increasing the f number) to get the light rays I was hoping for.


Photos from my birding Sunday

These photos were from Sunday when I biked to Terra Nova to do some bird watching. It was cloudy with some sunny breaks but at least it wasn't raining.

Risen Above
The background and the silhouette really caught my attention and deserved a photo.


Birding Saturday

On this sunny Saturday, I biked to South Dyke Trail and then to Finn Slough.

Not a cloud in sight.

After taking the photos of the view above, I got a feeling that someone was looking at me. Turned out it was this hawk - not completely sure if it is a Sharpie or a Cooper's.


Festive mood

Took some random shots during my lunch break and after work. It feels more like the holiday season everyday.

Woodward's Windows: Santa’s Workshop
This is one of the six windows in Vancouver with Woodward's Window displays (more info here). I am not a big fan of these things, but there is a contest asking about each location and you can win a prize from BC Ferries, which was mainly why I was walking and looking around for answers.


Pooped on by a Bushtit (or two)...

I was pooped on by at least one Bushtits this afternoon when I was out photographing during my lunch break.

This is probably what it was trying to express...

Had a nervous moment when I thought my new lens wasn't focusing. Turns out it was switched to MF mode. Phew...


Skywatching of the day

I went out too late again today. Only had time to take photos of the sky and then to the Steveston library and back home.

Panoramic shot of the view from South Dyke Trail using the Pop Art filter on the camera.


Cityscape and bird-watching from Jericho Beach

Today I went to Vancouver to pick up a reference letter from one of my old professors for my application to Trent University. Since she lived close to Jericho Beach, I decided to walk down to it and take some pictures.

It was a cloudy day with raining clouds gathering together, and so it seemed more appropriate to have black-and-white photos to tell a more interesting story.

Peaceful North Shore Mountains.

Vancouver City
The city from afar.


Basset Hound, Building, Ice, Ramen and Lights in Vancouver

Here are some photos taken during my lunch break and after work.

Junior waiting for its master to come out of the coffee shop and howling every few seconds or so.


Snow-capped North Shore Mountains

A Privilege of Living in Beautiful British Columbia
When I saw this scenery through the buildings, I was amazed. Beautiful British Columbia indeed.


Fall Full Blue Moon

Taking photos of astronomical events is probably the only thing that can persuade me to go out in the middle of the night, especially on a cold night like today when I just had my warm shower.

I also biked to the dyke late in the afternoon wanting to get some moon photos, but after not taking photos of the moon for so long, I forgot all the critical techniques, e.g. a relatively small aperture (f5.6-8) and a faster shutter speed (meaning a high ISO) and a tripod if you have one.

My photos from the dyke were terrible and my face and fingers were freezing!!!

But my photos from just outside my house were much better.

Full Moon on 2010-11-21

Full Blue Moon
Did you know that today's moon is a "Blue Moon"? I didn't until I saw this photo. According to Farmers' Almanac, a Blue Moon is the third full moon in a season of four full moons, and today's one! The next one won't be until August 21, 2013. Hope I remember to take photos then...

Earlier this afternoon, I watched the documentary/movie "The Cove". Throughout the movie, I had tears in my eyes and my hands clenched in a tight fist. It really pains me to see this despite knowing that there are inhumane and indecent things happening to animals everyday in this world... I definitely recommend this movie to everyone.


Wandering around the parks in Richmond...

The surprising but much anticipated snow finally arrived last night. This morning, the entire region is covered in the good white stuff.

After procrastinating about going out and do some wildlife-watching, I hopped on the bus in the afternoon and headed towards Richmond Nature Park. When I approached the second bus stop for the transfer to RNP, the bus drove away from me. So I slowly walked along No. 5 Road and took out my camera just in case.

Long behold, there was something walking in the snow covered field. It was a Coyote!

Coyote (Canis latrans)

Coyote (Canis latrans)
Haven't seen these beautiful animals in the longest time. This one looks in good condition - no mangy furs. I watched it hunt unsuccessfully a couple of times before it disappeared behind the trees.


Maple, pigeon and waterworks in the rain

The weather in the morning was decent, so I figured I would go out for a walk and take some photos during lunchtime. But when I got to the lobby, it was raining!

Oh well, I am not heading back to the office to stare at the computer again.

Maple in soft focus
I found a nice dry spot outside a building with this golden maple tree. Without the structural backgrounds, it is easy to forget that I am in the city. The image didn't come out so well, so I made it into a soft focus image. Definitely going to come to this spot again when the lighting is better.


First and last images of the day

Image taken while waiting for the bus in the morning. The sunrise was behind me and the sky was partly clear and the clouds were painted with a beautiful glow. Brought the medium lens with me so not everything was captured.

Image taken while walking from hotel to the SkyTrain station. Too much colorful lights to not to try out a bokeh shot. Not the best, but still worth a try.


A break in my cloudy future...

This past weekend had been quite depressing. I tried to go out, and then it started to rain. And then when it looked it was going to rain, it never did. Being coup up at home sucks.

And right now, wind is blowing outside my window rustling the trees, I imagine it is raining but not heavy enough for me to hear it.

I went out during lunch break today to take some photos. Not the best condition to take photos when it was pouring, and I tried to take photos best representing the rainy weather while holding the umbrella.

This was probably the best shot of the day. I used soft focus art filter on my camera, and it was at a weird angle so I leveled it, but then I like the tilted framing and so I kept it and added a frame over it.

Now the real reason for this post. Long story short, I had been applying for many summer jobs lately, as well as contacting potential professors (which I think I mentioned more than a few times). Anyways, one of the research projects I applied for was this. I had a phone interview last Wednesday, and today I received the e-mail saying they would like to offer me the project position! So I am in the process of figuring out what kind of information I need to the formal application, but if everything goes well, I will be in Algonquin next summer studying bees and flies and butterflies!

There is a break in my cloudy future and I can see the sun through it!


No Franklin. And no lens cap.

It was a sunny Sunday and I headed out to Steveston again to try and see if I can find the Franklin's Gull again.

On my way to Steveston, I stopped at the dock to see if I can spot some eagles.

Then I heard an eagle calling, and so I quickly took out my new lens, opened the lens cap, accidentally dropped it on the ground, and watched it rolled through the cracks onto the platform below.

And there it lays on its new home now. Gosh darn it!!! These squeeze lens caps are always a nightmare of mine, it's so easy to fell off that this is just waiting to happen.


Nelson Park and Bute Street

I had to work today and I didn't take photos for the last few days so this would be photos from Thursday, when I had to go to a hotel during lunchtime and put away some stuff for our seminars. Afterwards, I went to Nelson Park again and then walked along Bute Street to head back to the office. I must say Bute Street is an amazing colorfulittle gem in Vancouver for photography. What a nice spot.

Nelson Park (playing with the Pin-Hole effect in the camera)

There is a stretch of community gardens (I think) along the sidewalk and the park. What a great use of urban green space. This "guard bear" is doing a good job.

Ashby House Bed & Breakfast
Ashby House Bed & Breakfast, adjacent from the park.

Then it was turning onto Bute Street. Love the colours in all these photos.

Brick and leaves

Street Photo

Bute Street

How many colours can you see?
Back to urban end of the street.


November first and second combined - old friend, food, art, car, life

This post won't be as organized as the previous ones since I don't really have time after work to organize and edit the photos that I like and upload them individually and immediately. I just uploaded photos from my camera, did a quick organization (by date), and picked out the ones I like from each day and put them together in a collage.

This first collage is from the first day of the month when my co-worker/friend from Ontario came to Vancouver and we met up after my work had finished and he drove around the city, first to see Vancouver from Kitslano and then trying to find a good (and inexpensive) teriyaki restaurant. It was a good night - good to see an old buddy, finally met his lady friend, and hear about their journeys for the past month. I really hope I will get a chance to visit him in Pemberton after this work season has finished.

On Tuesday, I walked around the city searching for food and good photo spots. I came across Nelson Park and heard many birds singing, including a few Cedar Waxwings bathing and drinking from a man-made pool. It is a nice park that I visited it again today (photos to come in other times). Then I had a quick burger at Triple O's and then saw the awesome "I AM EH" Car. Definitely one of the most unique cars I have ever seen. The car has a very deep message behind it too - check out this post for a video and some of the messages in an handout by the side of the car (I took one too but haven't got a chance to fully read and appreciate it yet).


What happened on SkyTrain this morning

The woman sitting next to me on Canada Line folded one of the many free newspapers on her lap and stuffed it in the crack next to her seat and the side of the SkyTrain. And then she opened up the next newspaper and began reading the front page.

Sigh, aren't they all the same? I thought, and then I returned back to reading my novel about the journey of a young African woman being captured in Africa and brought back to America to work in indigo planting.


Twenty minutes later, when we approached the Vancouver City Centre station, I returned back to reality and put my book into my backpack when...

An Asian man standing beside my seat said, "Excuse me, you should take the newspapers away with you."

"Huh?" I thought and looked up to him and then realized he was talking to the woman.

"What?" The woman did not seem to hear the man as she was getting ready to stand up.

"I said, you should take your newspapers with you," the man repeated in a calm manner. Oh man, I thought, this is not going to be good, especially with me stuck between them.

"Hmm, the newspapers were already there when I sat down," the woman answered with an irriated tone. Unlikely, I thought, but I can't say for sure since I wasn't paying attention when I sat down next to her.

The train door opened and people started to rush out of the train.

The woman stood up and I shoved my backpack aside to make room for her to pass, but the man put his hands on adjacent bars and prevented the woman from leaving.

The woman gave the man a light shove, but the man resisted and pushed her on the shoulders.

"Hey, don't touch me!" The woman yelled.

"Take your newspapers with you!" The man insisted.

The woman pushed away his hands resting on the bars, or something like that, and passed successfully but without voicing her frustration one final time, "asshole."

The man walked away from situation but also replied, "bitch." I wonder if the woman heard.

And me? I stayed in my seat waiting for the final station to arrive. But also thinking about what just happened.

What a way to start the day.


Franklin's Gull, where are you?

I rarely, if ever, dedicate my outing just to see a rare bird or a lifer. That would involve too much effort and time, which is something I do not want to do during a relaxing free day. However, last week when I saw photos and a blog post that there is a Franklin's Gull somewhere in Steveston (here and here), I decided to go out one of these days to check it out myself. But it seemed that I underestimated the gulls' population in Steveston (or overestimated my ability to find a gull which is sometime I don't do) and couldn't find it today. Oh well, maybe it was not meant to be.

On the other hand, I did saw other birds...

Saw my first two eagles since coming back to BC!

Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)
A super cute-looking Pied-billed Grebe.


Gulls and Yellowlegs on a cloudy afternoon

The weather was quite nice this morning - sunny with some blue skies. Unfortunately, I wasn't ready to go out until the afternoon, which by then was cloudy and windy. I ended up just biking to South Dyke Trail and part way into Steveston before heading back home.

Across from London Farm, there is a little beach where you can wander into. There were some gulls resting on the logs, so I thought it was a good opportunity to get some bird-in-flight shots. I took a lot of shots, but only these ones were presentable.

Glaucous-winged Gull (Larus glaucescens)
Like its yellow bill and pink feet.


Bloedel Floral Conservatory - Part 8

The last bird to show from Bloedel is this Guinea Turaco (a.k.a. Sierra Leone Turaco) (Tauraco persa), which is probably one of the most cool-looking birds I have ever photographed. I was really lucky too because this bird seemed to prefer hiding in the foliage than out in the open. They belong in the family Musopagidae (meaning banana-eaters) and are found in the tropical forests of West Africa.

Guinea Turaco (Tauraco persa)

Guinea Turaco (Tauraco persa)

Guinea Turaco (Tauraco persa)

Guinea Turaco (Tauraco persa)

Now onto the weekend...
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