Burnaby Lake Park was an early morning. In fact two days previous to the trip, I received a Facebook PM from my former classmate at Terry Fox, Rich John Matheson, the Taiwan Photographer, who was in town with his family visiting from Taiwan, wanting to know if I was free to hang out for the morning, taking our cameras and going out and shooting. That sounded like a great plan. So we cleared it with our significant others.
The morning started with a 7:00AM wake-up for me at home in Surrey, grabbing my photography sling-pack and heading out the door to our (mine and my wife’s) Impala. I was pretty much on the road at 7:10AM heading over the Patullo towards Port Coquitlam to meet up at 8:00 AM. Not a cloud in the sky visible from Surrey, BC; so I knew it was gonna be a warm one. I was in Poco by 7:39AM and planted in the spot that we specified that we were going to meet. It was 8:00AM on the dot that Rich arrived in JT’s car (Thanks, JT Naidu). Deciding that we were going to head for Burnaby Lake Park, as agreed upon the night before, we piled his gear (camera bag and tripod) into the back of my Impala and we set off for the lake. It’s been over twenty-six years since Rich and I were at our grad at the Italian Center in East Vancouver, so we spent some time catching up on the drive over to Burnaby Lake. A side detour for some drinks (coffee for him, a 1L of Pepsi for myself) and we headed over to the lake. We’ll skip the part where I made a wrong right turn and ended up in an industrial area rather than the park entrance…but we finally made it.
Now Burnaby Lake Park is what I would call a pristine wildlife preserve nestled in the heart of a bustling city. It’s a place the people come to relax and unwind but in the mornings, especially at around roughly nine, when I shut off the engine at Burnaby Lake Park parking lot, it was pretty empty with the exception of one birder with a 600mm f/4 Canon lens and a few walkers who were going around the perimeter of the lake. Just the way that two solitary Nikonians like it.
Since we were off to see wildlife, Rich had his Nikon D800 with 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII on and I had my own Nikon D300s with my 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII with a TC-20EIII extender (we Nikonians call them teleconverters). I did bring along my wide-angle 18-70mm and my 50mm f/1.8D was buried in the my sling bag somewhere. So pulling out my bag and my Manfrotto 190XB, Rich pulled out his bag and his tripod (a Slik – all I can say was it looked way more robust than mine), we headed over to Piper Spit pier which is the place where the wood-ducks congregate.
Right off the bat we were lucky. We bumped into one wood duck and a few others sitting on top of a branch in the creek that emptied into the lake.
As I was told later by an area birder after I'd mistakenly thought he was a female...wasn't too familiar with wood ducks, this was a male wood-duck in molt hence he's not very colorful right now. To get the shots that I want of the wood-duck I'm going to have to come back in September/October just before they fly south for the winter; hopefully then, I will be able to get the shots that I'm looking for as the wood duck is the most colorful North American duck around when in full plumage, second is the Mandarin duck (native to East Asia and Japan; but can be found in North America as well) and the third being the common mallard.
While Rich was busy photographing the wood-duck, I spotted a black-capped chickadee in a tree branch and proceeded to fire off four to six frames. The black-capped chickadee Poecile atricapillus is a small non-migratory bird that winters in its breeding area. It's distinctive chicka-dee-dee-dee call is probably the most well-known songbird calls that most people know.
Periodically, I challenge myself to capture birds in flight. And of course these Canada geese Branta Canadensis obliged very nicely. This was a landing from one of them.
You do what you have to in order to get the shot, which includes getting down at eye-level with the birds. Rich with his D800 and 70-200mm VRII at eye-level with the birds. That pier moves...
This male wood-duck looks almost embarrassed to have been photographed in molt.
It was also nice to meet up with a birder knowledgeable in the area who had a chat with Rich and myself for at least a good fifteen to twenty minutes recommending when we should come back to see the birds in proper plumage and I will be back to see them. Evidently she also disclosed that there are bears and lynx in the area so it would be interesting to say the least to see one of those. It does make me wish that I had the finances to put a 600/4 back into my camera bag, but for me, a Sigma 150-600 OS Sport would do me just as well.
A mallard female peeks her head up from between the water lilies. This is a Rich Matheson suggested shot. Thanks, Rich. It came out well.
These last two shots were obtained thanks to Rich letting me borrow his AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED. He said that it was sharp and he was right. The lens is incredibly sharp and now I want one for my own camera bag. I will be tracking one down.
It was great to see Rich again after all these years and I'm hoping that we'll have a chance to get together again sometime. Thanks to my wife and Alas (Rich's wife) for letting us go play with our cameras for the morning.
More pics from the day as they're edited