And that was Once Around the Sun

Throwback to the final photo in my photo-a-day project from 5 years ago. I began the project looking for (and failing to find) these fawn lilies, and was lucky enough to find them on my final day, which made it all seem worthwhile. At least, it did at the time: I have no intention of doing another! And it just so happens that this photo could have been taken this week as these flowers are at exactly the same stage πŸ™‚

So this is the last you’ll hear about my Once Around the Sun project (aka “OATS”). I’m done with it. Again. πŸ™‚ It was certainly a handy source of inspiration for Instagram posts, though I put my own artificial constraints on the choice of photos by insisting on using photos taken the same week five years previously. That meant I wasn’t always posting my best shots from OATS, but I guess I was overly enamoured of the whole “five years ago today” kind of feel. Nostalgia can be powerful, and isn’t always rational. Maybe I’ll sift through some of the other photos in the project and post some of my favourites that didn’t make the initial Instagram cut. We’ll see.

And so I need to come up with a new source of inspiration for Throwback Thursdays, although that shouldn’t be hard: I have a ginormous backlog of photos, many on Flickr but even more that have never seen the light of day. The difficulty is going to be deciding which one to use… But that’s a challenge for next week!

Signs of spring II

It may not look like much at the moment but in a week or so this will be a beautiful white fawn lily, one of my favourite spring flowers. There was no sign of any shoots when I was in Lighthouse Park a few weeks ago, but I was inspired to go looking for them again after I saw a similar photo from @plantexplorer. I also found a few salmonberry flowers down by the lighthouse, so despite our recent weather, spring is definitely on its way!

I was wondering how soon the fawn lilies would begin to poke up through the pine and fir needles given the very wintry winter we’ve had. Turns out they’re pretty much right on schedule (unlike last year when they were ridiculously early). I imagine I’ll be making a couple more trips to Lighthouse Park to catch their peak bloom, but I also want to check out another area to see if they’re growing there too as I have an indirect suggestion that fawn lilies may grow there too.

As soon as I started taking photos I immediately lamented not bringing my tripod. Bending over in the wet dirt (on a steep slope) trying to get a compact camera to focus on the right part of the green-on-green plant was an exercise in patience and frustration. I took a couple of dozen photos in order to get just 3 or 4 that I consider to have worked! After all, I can even set up the camera and just use my phone to control when to take the picture with no need to kneel in the dirt. Next time…

Lighthouse Park wins again

Lighthouse Park wins again. Last May I remarked on my flora and fauna sightings on a visit to this park, and I was rewarded again today with a few really nice wildlife sightings. No flowers this time – it’s been far too cold recently, and the odd patch of snow still lingers even here in Lighthouse Park. (I think last year’s February sighting of a fawn lily was the exception rather than the rule – I’m sure it’ll be another month before we see those again.)

I walked down to the rocks at Point Atkinson and found a good place to sit and just take in the calm before me. I could see birds out on the water, probably surf scoters, as well as the usual woody debris. A couple of common mergansers paddled off as I approached. But having seen porpoises here before, I started scanning just in case. And – yes – was that a dorsal fin? It was, but it was far away. A kayaker out in the bay had stopped paddling and seemed to be just watching – maybe the porpoises, perhaps just the birds, or seals that I couldn’t see. A few minutes later the kayaker moved on and provided me with a great photo-op as they paddled on by.

Lighthouse Park, 14 Feb 2017

As I was sizing up photos through the lens, I heard a sharp exhale and looked down to see a smooth shape slip under the waves. A moment later the shape resurfaced and I caught a clear view of a Steller’s (?) sea lion, barely 10 metres off shore. I grabbed a photo, and though not the best it was a nice clear sighting:

Lighthouse Park, 14 Feb 2017

I haven’t mentioned the eagles yet. On the drive to the park, I saw and heard a couple, and within moments of stepping out of the car I heard their staccato cries from the treetops. They were very chatty today and I could hear at least four or five calling from different trees. A pair flew out to sea and back a couple of times, and I’ve taken enough eagle photos to know better than to bother with distant shots. However, on one of their returns, they approached on a line almost directly over me, so I sized them up hoping that I’d get a couple of decent shots as they passed.

And then they did this:

Lighthouse Park, 14 Feb 2017

Cool or what? I remember watching a pair of eagles go talon-to-talon in (ironically enough) Porpoise Bay on the Sunshine Coast many years ago.

And so onto what was (for me) the star attraction. Now, it must be said that harbour porpoises are pretty low key performers and it’s perhaps true that my best photo is a little underwhelming: four dorsal fins in close proximity. What I can’t capture is that they were close enough to hear them exhale as they surfaced. And that was magic. Plus I had the rocks to myself at this point.

Lighthouse Park, 14 Feb 2017

It was a great excuse to find a comfy rock and watch the porpoises get closer to the park as they followed the outgoing tide. I’d seen them a couple of times before, but hadn’t stopped long enough to really watch them. I estimated there were at least half-a-dozen individuals in the group I was following, and there may have been a second, smaller group nearby (with another 2-3) but it was hard to tell.

The porpoises continued out towards the strait, and I didn’t see them again after the boat from the Vancouver Police marine unit went by. Time to move on and I turned my attention to the lighthouse itself. I hadn’t actually noticed the old WW2 bunker facing across to Tower Beach at UBC before. I wandered on to the lighthouse lookout where one of the eagles was standing guard on the weather vane. Here I also encountered a huge flock of dark-eyed juncos, and stopped to watch (and listen to) a small group of nuthatches.

Lighthouse Park, 14 Feb 2017

Lighthouse Park, 14 Feb 2017

Finally I took a trail that I’d not taken before: the west beach trail. I’d noticed a lot of photos on Instagram that showed the lighthouse from the west and it makes a really nice photo. Which is how I ended up with this shot:

Lighthouse Park, 14 Feb 2017

Possibly my favourite of the day – those clouds! – though one detail I really like about the photo is the cormorant. Photographically done for the day, and after a brief visit from a river otter, it was time to head back to the car and home.


Ghostly white salal flowers. Had a relaxing walk through Lighthouse Park today, spotting Columbia lilies, starflower, coralroot, wild rose, and salmonberry along the way. Plus we saw several very vocal eagles, Anna’s hummingbirds, an Audubon’s warbler, noisy wrens, and a gorgeous Western tanager (a first!) – and a sea lion too πŸ™‚ A pretty good haul for an hour and a half’s wanderings.

Salal flowers are most often tinged with pink so I couldn’t resist getting a picture of these pure white versions. We’d seen some white ones on the hike to Lynn Peak yesterday though none were in good light and I decided to just wait, given that salal is very common around here. Turns out that I didn’t have to wait very long πŸ™‚

It’s always nice to wander around Lighthouse Park, among the big firs and cedars, and constant birdsong, even when it’s busy and you encounter noisy groups complete with unleashed barking dogs. We turned off onto a few of the less-well travelled trails and left the noisiness behind.

The beginning of a year-long journey

Throwback Thursday to the day 5 years ago almost to the day when I embarked on a photo-a-day project, which I called ‘Once Around The Sun’ (for obvious reasons…). It pretty much started on a whim as I was exploring Lighthouse Park in search of fawn lilies. I didn’t find any that day, so I started with this unfurling trillium flower instead. Little did I know just what I was taking on πŸ™‚ But, hey, now I have a year’s supply of TBT photos to choose from πŸ™‚

The project turned into a blog too if you want to find out how it all ended:

Getting closer…

Yay! The white fawn lilies are beginning to bloom; spring is really close! This is the very same flower that I photographed in bud two weeks ago πŸ™‚

I couldn’t resist calling into Lighthouse Park again a couple of weeks after spotting the first fawn lilies in bud. I was delighted to see that the same flower I’d photographed a couple of weeks ago was still there and now out in full bloom.

It’s a surprise to me to see the lilies blooming before the trillium: it took a few seconds of determined squinting to spot the single trillium bud poking through the soil. I’m sure they’ll catch up soon enough.

No bald eagles this week, but we did get a nice close up view of a cute little winter wren.

And then the clouds cleared as we sailed over to Bowen Island to meet up with friends, the spectacular peaks of the Howe Sound Crest Trail gleaming white against the now-blue sky.

Spring approaches

Spring is definitely on its way! I did a double-take when I saw this white fawn lily already in bud, and simply had no choice but to stop and take its picture πŸ™‚

It’s hard to get over how excited I was at seeing this two-inch-high bud of a flower, and even harder for most people to understand why. In short, I think they’re really pretty little flowers. They’re also quite uncommon in the Vancouver area, and much less common than they used to be. The fact that they are the lowland cousins of my beloved glacier lilies doesn’t hurt either πŸ˜‰

Back in March 2011 I began a photo-a-day project, an undertaking that was decided pretty much at about the time I took the first picture. I was in Lighthouse Park as I’d read that these lilies bloomed in the park, and I was determined to find them. My search that day came up empty (looking back I don’t think I was being observant enough) and I ended up beginning the photo project with a photo of a trillium flower beginning to uncurl.

A year later, and as I was seeking the final photo in the project I returned to the park, exploring a few of the less-travelled trails. To my astonishment and delight, I found a small patch of these flowers in bud and set about framing the project’s parting shot. Since then I’ve returned to the park every year to seek out the flowers at their peak bloom and find more and more of them each time. Back to the photo above, and I was amazed to see them in bud this early in the season: it was a month later than this that I first saw them, and they are usually in full bloom in early April. Even better, it was right by the trail at near head-height, so all I had to do to get my shot was lean on a helpful Douglas fir root. Looking around, I could see many mottled leaves poking up through the soil – and that was all I expected to see – including another half-dozen or so buds. Spring is definitely almost here in Vancouver!

One last thing: don’t underestimate how much work it is to take a photo every day through a whole year. And beware of leap years…