City sights on a sunny Sunday

City sights on a snowy sunny Sunday – mountains, birds, the sea, the city, snow, ice, and signs of spring. Sometimes I still have to pinch myself to believe that I live here.

Winter came to the city last night, and to everyone’s surprise, the clouds parted and we were treated to a gorgeous sunny day. Maria and I wandered out for some fresh air, heading down to the beach before grabbing a hot chocolate and walking home for lunch. And a lovely picturesque walk it was too!

1) The beach between Tatlow Park and Trafalgar Street has a nice tidal shelf with a few little raised rocks. This seagull was perfectly placed with the Vancouver skyline behind it, with the peaks of Mt Seymour and the Fannin Range forming the horizon.

2) I love this view of Kits Beach, especially when the tide is out a little like today. The ripples of the incoming waves add some lovely foreground interest – spot the seagull down on the beach too!

3) A couple of the streets offer a great view of Crown Mountain. I liked this one showing the street scene with the mountain as an imposing backdrop. The original version of this image (in a vertical 3:2 ratio) looks much better though. The square crop loses too much for my liking, and I wouldn’t post it alone in this format, but it works well enough for a multi-photo post.

4) I found some witch hazel still in bloom! Yay! This tree is the same one I photographed last year, and it’s a lovely hybrid tree with a mixture of yellow and red “petals”. Most are just one colour of the other, but this one blends the two into its own little spectrum.

5) I was hoping to find a scene like this: a dot of last night’s snow perched on top of some flowers. And with the blue sky behind, how could I resist?

6) Possibly the closest witch hazel tree to home, I hadn’t noticed this one before but it was a gorgeous pure yellow complete with a little icy hat!



I guess that’s why they’re called snowdrops.

A week or so ago I saw my first spray of snowdrops in someone’s front yard, and on our neighbourhood walk yesterday, I kept my eyes open for any poking through the snow. Alas it was mostly too deep but I did find one spot where the emerging flowers were slightly sheltered from the falling snow. Even better they were just budding, which I’ve usually missed. I crouched down and pointed the camera at the flowers – I couldn’t see quite what it was focusing on so I just had to trust it was doing it right. Sure enough, it missed my target bud by a small amount, but not enough to make a big difference thankfully. I know it’s “just” Instagram, but I probably should be a little more patient.

More snow

The snow goes ever on and on…

Wait, what? Snow? Again? It feels like we only just got rid of the last lot… No way am I driving anywhere in the city today, but perfect for walking the back streets of Kitsilano.

Lions in a frame

The Lions, framed at the north summit of Black Mountain.

Last Wednesday was a gorgeous blue-sky day and I couldn’t resist getting back out in the snow with my camera. The wind that greeted us at the north summit felt almost as cold as that in the Coquihalla at New Year and we quickly retreated to a nearby bump that retained a view of the Lions at least. And that’s when I saw the picture: the famous twin peaks were framed neatly between two snow-laden trees, and I had a nice foreground of smooth sunlit snow. Even the existing snowshoe tracks serve to frame the Lions.

Tree family

Snowy tree family – another photo from our Christmas day snowshoe up Hollyburn.

Sometimes you see something and can instantly recognize that it’s a square photo. As I framed this shot I could see that the group of trees could be isolated and placed them with just enough sky above and snow below to complete the picture. I like the way the trees appear to be interacting with one another. I saw a photo on Instragram recently where the photographer thought the same, a small group of trees all leaning in and appearing to be deep in conversation. It’s the weight of the snow that does it, bending over the tops of the trees (and sometimes much more). I’ve been caught in the spring many times by trees shedding their snow and springing back up to surprise me 🙂

That snow otter

An otter in the snow. Just another day in Vancouver 🙂 I watched this otter for several minutes as it rolled and played in the snow, and was surprised at how close I was able to get.

I’ve seen otters a couple of times in False Creek – once I was able to get quite close to one munching away on a fish. I wouldn’t have seen this one had it not been for the nearby crows dive-bombing something at the water’s edge, hidden from view by the rocky embankment. Most people were just walking by, but the crows had me wandering over to take a closer look.

The otter and I saw each other at the same time. The crows fled and the otter dove beneath the water, coming up a few metres later for a moment before diving again and disappearing. I was kicking myself for being slow with the camera (and not having the faster-responding SLR), and thought that would be the last I saw of it. I watched it surface again around the corner and then it hauled out onto the snow-covered dock near the coastguard station. I took some (distant) video from here and then wondered how close I might be able to get.

As it turned out, much closer than I expected. I was able to walk along the dock almost to the last part where the otter was rolling in the snow. I stopped by one of the uprights and took more video and a few photos. It was only when my phone rang and I began speaking that the otter looked up, saw me and slunk off again into the water. A pretty good encounter in my books!

Here’s the final video:


Minimalist monochrome Monday. It made a nice change for Sunday’s enveloping grey to be associated with snow rather than endless rain. Alas, the rain has returned…

I’m so glad the snow fell on the Sunday, and not the Monday as it did a couple of weeks ago. It was fun to pull on my winter boots, wrap up and trudge down to Granville Island in the snow, taking pictures as I went. Walking through Vanier Park was an unexpected pleasure as all the sodden grass was blanketed in snow, which had the added bonus of covering up all the goose poop too!