Monday 12 April 2021

Visiting Somenos Lakes for Marsh Wrens

 A couple of weeks ago I visited Somenos Lake after a few years of not visiting. In fact the last visit that I recall was in 2010 when I visited with James and Saul. It was March 6th, and the Marsh Wrens were just in the beginning stages of nest building. Here is a photo from that trip.

I remember being amazed at how the marsh wrens would dart from nest to nest trying to attract a mate, like they were saying, "hey look at this one, check out the weave job here!"

I said I was going to return some day with a camera because it seemed like it would be easy to actually get a shot since they were really strutting their stuff. 

Fast forward 11 years and I finally made it!

I actually made 2 trips a couple of weeks apart in March, the first it was fairly cold and grey but the second was cold and sunny. The winning shot of the two trips was this photo:

Really captures their personality and stunning good looks. 

Check out the video I made of the trip:

I was really happy with the sunlit images from of the sweet gale too, and I think this was my favorite:

Such an amazing bit of wetland, so glad it is treasured and protected by local stewards. I'm sure the Marsh Wrens would add their voice to the gratitude song. 

Monday 8 April 2019

Chemainus Lake

Returning from a trip to the Cowichan Valley in January for some misty morning photography, I stopped to check out Chemainus Lake. The last time I had been there was years earlier, and it had, at that time, felt sad and overused. This time, however, I found a new robust dock, excellent roadway, and fresh gravel at the put-in. I thought, "Time to bring the canoe."

So, on the last day of March, I got up early, canoe already on the roof, and head south. I arrived while it was still dark, put the canoe in the water and set out onto the little lake amid a rising mist and almost total silence.

I paddled around in the cold pre-dawn light, watching the mist swirl and listening to the birds waking up and becoming active. That time of day, on a small body of water, is perhaps the best time of all. The feeling of positive aloneness (sabi) and the feeling of connection to the natural world work to create a rich sense of contentment and hushed awe.

I drifted around, watching the sun slowly rise, painting the tree tops first, with it's golden glow, then eventually the mist, which became thicker with the change in temperature.

I surrendered to the beauty, feeling the cares of the week drifting away amid the mist. There is something about this kind of beauty, the majesty of it, the power of it, that creates an especially receptive mind. I thought about work, relationships, harmony and discord. A wetland is a place that mirrors these qualities. So much life, and with it, so much death.

I experimented with my new camera and the even newer vintage Pentax 28mm lens. It is always difficult to capture the scale of a place like this. Chemainus Lake is small, but also packed with endless views, sights, and details. There are so many nooks and gaps in a wetland and in fact this little lake has channels between the main lake and the shore, bands of water that curve around behind reed banks and a beaver store.

Then, the sun broke over the trees and the morning began in earnest. This always causes me a bit of excitement, the golden hour has begun! I race to get photos, everywhere I look a new subject, a new breath-taking image.

The first shots were of the reed banks, as the light broke across them. I paddled to two spots of the lake to get different perspectives.

As I did, the nesting geese started honking, and within minutes a flock of new geese arrived.

In the reeds, marsh wrens and song sparrows started to mill about, joined by red-wing blackbirds going from perch to perch and back again. The morning chorus, or racket, had begun.

Song Sparrow
Male Redwing Blackbird
Female Redwing Blackbird
Resident Nesting Canadian Goose
About that time, a paddling fly angler joined us on the water. I was off in a corner with my long lens, trying to get portraits of some of the smaller residents, but I snapped one of this young fellow. We humans tend to dominate the landscape, with our impressive tools, including tackle and vessel.

Young Male Human
Another angler arrived on the dock, so I headed down to the far end of the lake. Along the way I marveled at the beauty of this little spot. The shoreline from the water is truly stunning.

As more humans came onto the water the non-resident geese took flight to the air, and I retreated further into the reeds.

Canadian Geese Take Flight
My Hideout Amid the Reeds

In a shady corner I took out my other new vintage lens, the Revuenon 55mm 1.2. This bokeh master lens creates unique artistic renditions that, in some ways, capture a place better than razor sharpness ever can.

Revuenon 55mm 1.2 - #1
By that time, there were anglers arriving every few minutes. I waited against the reeds near the dock as two young fellows in kayaks, a woman in a float tube, and two older guys in a tinner made there way out. I took a photo of the men with kids on the dock. "Can I touch it?" came the call of one child as a fish was held out flopping for inspection. The curiosity and excitement in the kid's voices was a welcomed sound.

Men and Boys Enjoy the Sturdy Functional Attractive Dock
I was glad that these folks would enjoy their time, AND was also glad I was leaving. I packed up while another fellow prepared to head onto the water in a pontoon boat. I would be back to take more photos on this fantastic jewel of a lake on this special island.

Friday 14 September 2018

Loon Lake

I was heading to Dickson Lake. But then at the intersection of Ash Main and Ash 286 I encountered a sign and a gate. The gate was open but the sign said it was private land and no access was permitted beyond that point without permission. So I turned around.

Why this sign is in place is unclear. Dickson Lake, and those nearby it, have been open to the public for the last 20 years I have been bringing my children and others here. Perhaps it is now restricted because of the wildfires in the summer, or because of vandalism and dumping? I would appreciate it is any reader knows and can provide info in the comments below.

When I got to Loon Lake, there was a sign there too. This one was created by hand, presumably by a concerned citizen, saying that Island Timberlands is considering closing access to Lost Lake because of vandalism and garbage.


Here is what you look across to when you first arrive at Loon Lake:

It is a beautiful little lake, which, unfortunately, has been heavily used (and abused) for many years because of it's quick access off of highway 4A. In fact, I've come here three times over the years and each time went elsewhere because there were so many people here. 

There is a resident beaver (see lodge above), and near the beaver lodge on the day I was there a Piliated Woodpecker.

I paddled around the lake, taking it very slowly and snapping off lots of photos. It is a tiny lake really, but almost every inch of shoreline is picturesque.

The point on the far side of the lake is particularly lovely, especially in the early autumn colours.

The lake is watched over by the impressive rise of Mt Horn.

There are fish in the lake, but the lone angler I saw on the day I was there went home empty handed. I wasn't fishing myself, just repairing my soul in the tranquil setting.

The Loon Lake trail is worth a walk, it circumnavigates the lake in a large loop that includes forest, logged off areas, marshy areas, and a train track.

I wish that logging could be constrained a little more around such places of beauty, but beauty is not a valuable resource to the land owners. I feel sad about it.

Lets hope that this spot is not locked up. Maybe the yahoos who despoil such places should be instead!

Friday 13 July 2018

Sara Lake

It has been 4 years since my last post. Maybe I'm taking this Kanjaku thing a little too far? Well, with my new canoe, and camera, and Wanda I headed north for our summer vacation. We stayed at the most excellent Cluxewe Resort and Campground in cabin #3. Excellent. Right on the beach. But I digress.

Sara Lake is a little lake a stones throw from the "Eastern tip" of Marble River Provincial Park. Most people going to the park are looking to kayak or canoe the ocean. Sara Lake is overlooked. But not by us. 

I had scouted out places to paddle the day before and was delighted to find that some good soul had cut away the two large trees that previously has blocked access to the put in. The trail from the road is root-bound but easy to navigate and takes about 2 minutes to traverse. The put in is a typical muddy-bottom shallow space beside a small grounded - well what would you call it - raft? Not really a dock. But Wanda was able to get in without getting her feet wet. 

On the water it is a short paddle to the two sheltered bays surrounded by lush water plants and Sweet Gale. We idled in and out of these bays, enjoying watching the thousands of tadpoles cruising along the copper coloured bottom in the shallows. White and black winged dragon flies rattled past us and we observed a dragon fly larva eating a tadpole. Then we watched a loon dive for fish. 

A small beautiful piece of nature and calm which probably sees few visitors. A shame really, because it is a great place to while away a few hours.