Sunday, December 23, 2012

Birds in Winter

Every year when we have snow I make a point of getting outside to take some photos of the birds. I have a gang of chickadees that follows me around when I'm outdoors now because they know I keep peanuts in my jacket pocket. As a matter of fact, at least one chickadee has wised up to the fact that I keep the peanuts in my left pocket...during this last session of feeding them from my hand, some impatient little birds actually started digging in my pocket for peanuts!

I usually have so many of these chestnut-backed chickadees following me around that I can run out of peanuts pretty quickly so now I bring a mug full with me. I keep peanuts in a tin mug that I bought in Costa Rica. The chickadees jump in and grab peanuts for themselves whenever I put the mug down.

I love to walk around our place with the flock of chickadees happily chirping and zooming all around me. I suspect some of them of stashing their peanuts instead of eating them because there are so many birds, I figure I must be feeding some of them  twice in a row. Here's a shot of one of them waiting in a nearby cedar tree...

The Steller's Jays almost always break up the party by flying in and intimidating the chickadees. I usually feed the jays a little too just as I'm about to wrap things up. If I feed them any earlier, you can guarantee there'll be a gang of them disrupting everything pretty quickly. O.K., I admit it, I'm biased...chickadees are my favorites. But the jays are quite beautiful too...

Happy holidays to you all, and may the new year bring you many delightful surprises. I'll leave you with a Christmas message from me and the chickadees.

winter birds art

Friday, December 14, 2012

Bull Elk Sighting

I come across elk herds quite often while out hiking with my dogs but the bull elk remain elusive...until the fall, that is. Recently I came across two bull elk in one morning, which was quite exciting. You have to be careful to keep your distance though because they can be aggressive during mating season.

Here's a photo of one of my sightings. I discovered this bull grazing with two female elk. The females spotted me right away and stood there watching me.

Eventually Mr. Big raised his head and I could see that his antlers had six points. A six-point bull elk is really an impressive sight to see!

Here's another shot of him as he casually strolled into the forest. Magnificent, isn't he?

Roosevelt Elk Bull

The lighting was terrible but I did my best. I don't get the chance to photograph the males all that often, so I take what I can get!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Blue Jays and Steller's Jays

We don't usually get blue jays here on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia but right now there's a big kerfuffle (is that really a word?) because a lone jay has shown up in Gibsons, on the coast. Many birders are cruising the area where it's been spotted, trying to get a glimpse of it.

I haven't, however, made the hour-long trip down the coast because I was recently in Ontario and the place is lousy with blue jays. So I had the opportunity to photograph them and make some comparisons between them and the kind of jay we get here on the west coast, called the Steller's jay.

Honestly, I find that blue jays are much more polite and not nearly as greedy as Steller's jays. If I even dare step out on my back deck with a peanut, a gang of Stellers immediately mobs me. I suspect they even have X-ray vision, or maybe a really good nose (or beak) for the smell of a peanut. However, I noticed that sometimes I'd put a few peanuts in a shell on my parents' back deck and they'd be there for hours without a blue jay gobbling them up. Never happens around here, not with the piggy Steller's.

Another jays have quite a melodic call. Not too loud, and kind of sweet. A Steller's jay? Squawk, squawk, squawk, like metal grating. Not at all pleasant. And did I mention they travel in gangs? So there's always a bunch of them squawking all at once, especially if you happen to be holding a peanut or two.

I also must admit I prefer the look of blue jays. Maybe I'm being unfair to our B.C. jays, but I think not. I'll let you be the judge. First I'll share two pictures of blue jays, and then two of our local Steller's jays.

Steller's Jay on my Back Deck

Which do you think is the better-looking jay? O.K., I admit I used a particularly scrawny-looking example of a Steller's jay in my last photo and might be showing my bias, but please give me your honest opinion. ;~)

50% Off Sale at Zazzle

Since I've posted recently about Christmas cards and calendars, I thought you might be interested in a huge sale at Zazzle until Monday, November 12th. You can get 50% off my calendars and cards, 40% off ornaments, 30% off mugs, 20% off t-shirts, and 15% off all other products. Just use the code 50VETDAYSALE at checkout.

For my customers who I see at craft fairs locally and have been asking me when I'm getting some calendars printed, I have good news! I finally got a decent deal on printing and will have a limited quantity of my latest squirrel calendar and a chipmunk calendar available for sale at upcoming Christmas craft fairs. I photographed the chipmunk while visiting my parents back east this past September and fell in love with the little guy, who I called named Chipper.

For anyone who won't be able to meet me at a craft fair on the Sunshine Coast, I hope you'll take advantage of Zazzle's Veteran's Day sale and get up to 50% off. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Christmas Animals

I get a real kick out of creating Christmas cards from some of my animal photos. Every year I add a few more so now I've got a good collection of them.

I thought you might want to know about a huge sale Zazzle is having on cards and invitations until Sunday, November 4th. They're offering 50% off, a price which can't be beat! I recently ordered some of my Christmas cards for my parents and they tell me they were extremely happy with the quality of the cards. You can easily customize your cards with your own personal message on the front, inside, or back (or all three!)

Being bird lovers and kind of traditional, my parents wanted a Christmas card with a chickadee and snow. Here's the card they ordered:

I thought the berries made the card look especially festive, perfect for Christmas.

Or maybe you're in the mood for a little more fun. If so, here's a hummingbird that really knows how to decorate for the holiday season.

My favourite Christmas animals are squirrels. I have more than a few cards with squirrels on them. Here's a selection from my Christmas section...which, by the way, has more than just cards. There are all kinds of other products that you can have my photos or anybody else's artwork (including your own!) printed on.

If you really want to have fun you can even order matching Christmas postage!

Anyway, you get the idea. If you want to take advantage of Zazzle's 50% off sale on cards and invitations, just type in the code "CHEERSAVINGS" at checkout.
christmas animals art

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Rocky Mountains from the Air

Last Saturday there was an earthquake in Haida Gwaii (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands), British Columbia, that measured 7.7 on the Richter scale. There were tsunami warnings along the Canadian and American coast, all the way to Hawaii. On Sunday there was an aftershock that measured 6.3.

I didn't feel a thing here on B.C.'s Sunshine Coast. However, we live very close to the ocean and with all the recent talk about tsunamis and earthquakes, it got me thinking about the immense power of the elements. Just this past week, Hurricane Sandy battered the Caribbean and the east coast of the States, then tore into Canada as well. No matter the achievements of humankind, we are all at the mercy of Mother Nature at times.

Thinking about the power of the elements got me thinking about my recent trip to Ontario. Anytime I take a trip back east I marvel at the Rocky Mountains as we fly over. The Rockies stretch out about 3,000 miles (4,830 km) from British Columbia to New Mexico. The mountain range was formed between 55 million to 80 million years ago. Since that time, water erosion and glaciers have carved out incredible peaks and valleys. They are jaw-droppingly beautiful. Here are just a few shots I took of the Rocky Mountains as we flew over in a jet.

Rocky Mountains Snow-Capped Peaks

Canadian Rockies

Impressive, aren't they?

I've been nervously thinking about which of our nearby mountains we could drive to in case we ever needed to evacuate, as so many others were recently required to do. It's a very unsettling feeling.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Nature Photo Calendars

Lately a lot of my craft fair and farmer's market customers have been asking me if I have a new squirrel calendar out yet. Unfortunately I couldn't find a printer who would give me a decent price this year. I do, however, have a new squirrel calendar available in my Zazzle shop, with all new squirrel pictures.

Zazzle is a print on demand shop that has offices worldwide. I've ordered their calendars before and they're very high quality.

I also have some squirrel calendars from years gone by that I've updated for 2013. In fact, I have a whole bunch of nature wall calendars for 2013 so I'll show them all to you here.

You can get 25% off all calendars at Zazzle until November 27th. Just enter the code "CALENDAR TIME" at checkout.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Heron Photo on Canvas

Just thought I'd let you know that Zazzle is having a 50% off sale on canvas prints and posters this weekend only. Their prints are high quality and anything you buy from Zazzle is 100% satisfaction guaranteed. This sale is a great way to get started on some early Christmas shopping. Just type in the code "SWEETSAVINGS" at checkout.

The heron photo above is still one of my all-time favourite pictures...that I've taken, that is! The canvas is a steal at half price. Or have a look through my Zazzle shop, which often has big sales going on. Happy shopping!
herons art

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Happy Autumn!

Oh, I've been bad. I've let a whole summer slip away without posting anything here. So sorry! What can I say...things get hectic in the summer for a nature photographer.

I've gone on a couple of trips and of course took lots of pictures. At the beginning of September I went back east to visit my parents and to help my mom celebrate her 80th birthday. It was fun getting together with everybody...I haven't seen some of my relatives for many years.

I became entranced by a chipmunk that visited my parents' house every day. We don't seem to get chipmunks here in British Columbia, so seeing him was a special treat for me. You already know I'm squirrel crazy, but now I'm chipmunk crazy too! I named the little fellow (or girl?) Chipper. I took so many pictures of him, I ended up making a calendar.

Here are just a few of my chipmunk photos that are included in my calendar of Chipper...

Today only there is a sale in my Zazzle shop for $5 off all calendars. Besides my chipmunk calendar I have lots of others including squirrels, other animals, dragonflies, a coyote calendar, and a new inspirational calendar. Please use the code FIVEOFFDEAL4 at checkout for the discount.
chipmunks art

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Rare Bird Sighting ~ Costa's Hummingbird

The Costa's Hummingbird is a rare sight on the Sunshine Coast of British fact, in 40 years of record-keeping it has never been seen before. But a lone male Costa's has made an appearance in Gibsons, B.C. in none other than the former mayor's yard. Barry Janyk has played host to this gorgeous hummingbird since mid-July.

What's the big deal, you might ask? Well, this particular hummingbird breeds in California's Sonora desert and Arizona's Mojave desert. So he's a long way from home and he's decided to spend time in a coastal rainforest. Strange. Another male Costa's hummingbird has also been spotted in a Vancouver neighbourhood. At first it was believed that these two birds were one and the same however it has since been confirmed that they are two different Costa's.

Barry Janyk graciously allowed me to spend some time on his back deck photographing this tiny (3.5" long) hummer. Although small, this particular hummingbird was incredibly feisty, constantly chasing away a female Anna's hummingbird who was competing for nectar at the same feeder. He kept a fairly constant vigil so the Anna's only got in a few sips of sweet nectar.

The hummingbird had a couple of favourite perches. Here he is on just one of them.

It was a rare treat to be able to see this incredible hummingbird with the violet gorget and crown. I hope more of these beauties make their way to the Sunshine Coast!

hummingbird art

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Huge Sale on Zazzle!

Zazzle is having a huge sale today for up to 60% off. Use the code BDAYALLDEALZ at checkout and you'll get deals like 25% off t-shirts, 50% off buttons, stickers, and magnets, 60% off invitations, and 50% off prints, frames, and wrapped canvas prints. I've been adding lots of new nature photos to my store on Zazzle, so check it out!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Baby Hummingbirds

I recently had the amazing experience of being able to see two baby hummingbirds grow up. A customer of mine kindly let me know about a rufous hummingbird nest and I jumped at the chance to see it. One day she took me there, and I managed to get one shot of the mother hummingbird sitting on the nest.

The babies had already been born and I believe this was the last day the mother sat on the nest. (By the way, the beautiful nest is made out of lichen and moss, and lined with feathers and sometimes bullrush fluff. Often hummingbirds bind the nest with spider web, which is strong but flexible.)

The baby hummingbirds were tiny featherless creatures that reminded me of little lizards. When you looked at the nest from the side, all you could see was two beaks sticking up. (That's how hummingbirds sleep, by the way, with their beaks straight up in the air.)

Here are the baby hummingbirds a few days later.

Baby Hummingbirds in Nest

I noticed that one of the babies looked a lot smaller than the other so I did a little research. Apparently hummingbirds almost always lay two eggs, and usually the eggs are two days apart. However that doesn't explain the size difference between the two babies because hummingbird eggs usually hatch on the same day.

Knowing that it takes about three weeks for hummingbirds to leave the nest, I visited a couple of more times. Here's a shot of the two hummers when they were starting to get too big for their nest.

Baby Rufous Hummingbirds in the Nest

I returned a few days later to find that one of the hummingbirds had already left the nest. He was flying around, making peeping sounds at his mother who was also nearby.

I found the other baby hummingbird sitting on the edge of the nest.

Baby Hummingbird Sitting on Nest

The nest was in the middle of the woods but right on a trail. I had to walk past the nest to photograph the hummingbirds because the tree branches were in the way on the other side. The tiny bird calmly watched me as I passed and just seemed to be sitting there thinking things over while I photographed her. (I don't know why I think of her as a "she" but I do.)

Here's another shot of the hummingbird telling me that she'd had enough of the picture-taking...

She stuck her tongue out a few times...I'm not sure why hummingbirds do this, but they do it fairly often.

When I walked past the nest to leave I heard the unmistakable buzz of a hummingbird in flight. The baby hummingbird had left the nest! She flew to one of the cedar tree branches, was fed by her mother, then flew a little further.

I stayed for a few more minutes, watching the happy family. What an incredible feeling to be able to witness this. I'll always remember it.