Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Spider and the Fly

The Spider and the Fly
“Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly,
'Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I've a many curious things to shew when you are there.”

“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair
-can ne'er come down again.”

- by Mary Howitt, 1829
Returning from a run I was looking at the flowers in the back alley and I noticed a fly sitting still on a flower. That seemed a little odd, flies don't normally sit still like that. Here's what I saw: (click on the photos to view larger)


The fly was still because it was dead. If you look close you can see the well camouflaged hunter. I ran home, grabbed my camera, put on the macro lens and headed back.  I figured it would still be there since spiders inject digestive enzymes into their prey and then suck out the resulting mush, a relatively slow process. On the positive side, it does allow eating prey bigger than you are!


Originally the spider was on top of the flower, but of course when I started taking photos it retreated to the underside, even though I promised not to steal its fly. This made it a little more challenging to take photos.

I ended up crouched in the long grass, at which point I became the mosquitos' prey and they did their best to suck my juices. So I didn't stay as long as I would have otherwise!

This was taken with the K3 and the 100mm Pentax macro lens which, as you can see, does a great job. I like how it captured the other tiny insects on the flower, even though I didn't notice them when I was taking the photos. As usual, focus was an issue, but I shot lots and picked the best. I probably should have tried setting a smaller aperture (larger f-stop) to get a bigger depth of focus.

It's very cool how the spider is colored perfectly to blend in with the flower. I don't know if these are native flowers, but presumably there must be some native flower with the same color that it evolved to hide on. Does anyone know what kind of spider it is?

See all 5 photos as a slideshow or overview

Update: I think it was a Goldenrod or flower crab spider. They can change color and are hunters rather than web builders.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Final Images

A few last photos from our trip. We didn't get many colorful sunsets in the Okanagan, but our last evening was quite nice.

Penticton sunset

The Kettle Valley Rail Trail goes right through the campground (Wrights) where we were staying and our last morning there we took a walk along it. There were quite a few Canada geese with their goslings.

alert momma

And of course, I can't resist the flowers and bees. (And the ants which I didn't notice until I looked at the photographs later.) Anyone know what these flowers are?

bee on flower

On our drive home we stopped in Field because we were planning to do a climb beside Takakkaw Falls. As we got our gear ready in the evening the women in the next campsite asked what we were planning to do and when we told her she said "oh, is the road open?". It turned out it wasn't, so much for that plan! On the positive side, we hadn't expected much in the way of places to eat in Field, so we were pleasantly surprised to find the Truffle Pig Bistro - recommended.

When we came out of the restaurant there was a black bear on the hill behind. It appeared to be eating, but I'm not sure what since it was just a grassy area. Maybe just salad :-)

black bear

And there was nice evening light on the mountains.

evening light on mountain

We decided to climb at the back of Lake Louise the next day. We hadn't been here for a few years and we enjoyed the climbs, but it was a sunny Sunday and the crowds of tourists and climbers were a bit much for me! The next day we climbed at Kid Goat where it was much quieter.

View all 7 photos as a slideshow or overview

Monday, June 23, 2014

8 out of 10 ain't bad

We've climbed 8 out of the last 10 days. (Missed one day due to rain and one day to driving.) It's been great but I'm beat! My hands hurt, my feet hurt, not to mention my collection of bumps, scrapes, and bruises. Could also have something to do with age :-) On the positive side, we're climbing as well as we ever have, not that that is saying much relative to current standards! Doesn't hurt to get in more time on the rock than when we were both working full time.

Time to go back to work and recover!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Skaha Wildlife

To most people, "Skaha" is the lake south of Penticton, but to climbers it's the Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park. It's a great climbing area, but it's also a beautiful place to hike and see the wildlife. We were busy climbing so I didn't spend much time on photography, but I still managed to grab a few shots. The chipmunks are common and the young ones are always entertaining, chasing each other over the rocks and up the bushes. The trick is to catch them when they're actually sitting still for a few seconds.


There were lots of big swallowtail butterflies flying around but they seldom landed. I had just told Shelley that I was giving up on photographing them when one of them stopped to feed on some thistles right in front of me. It even continued to feed as I got closer, allowing me to get some good shots of it. I think it's a Two-tailed Swallowtail.

Two-tailed Swallowtail

Sometimes when you're climbing you run into frogs. It can be disconcerting when you stick your hand in a crack and you feel something moving, especially since there can also be rattlesnakes in the cracks. We found this one frog on a boulder beside the cliff. I think it's a Pacific Tree/Chorus Frog. They vary in color from grey to bright green and can change color - this one had perfect camouflage for the rocks it was on.

Pacific Chorus Frog

See all 5 photos as a slideshow or overview

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Okanagan Wineries

After the one rainy day the weather improved and we were back to climbing. On Wed. we took a break from camping and splurged with a night at Burrowing Owl Winery near Oliver. Pretty fancy, but at least they are quite environmentally conscious. We had a great dinner at their restaurant. We didn't actually take a break from climbing though since we climbed both Wed. and Thurs. with only slightly shorter days so we had a little time to enjoy Burrowing Owl. Shelley claims she knows how to relax, but she doesn't like to overdo it :-)

Burrowing Owl Winery

I usually leave the food photos to Penny, but I couldn't resist this one.


Beautiful views as we ate dinner in the late evening sun.

After dinner walk through the vineyards with Shelley proving she has more than just climbing clothes!

Burrowing Owl Winery

In the morning the bees were busy on the flowers.

flowers & bees

See all 22 photos as a slideshow or overview

Monday, June 16, 2014

Penticton Rainbow

Despite the clouds, the rain held off for two days of climbing around Kelowna. But sitting in the Hooded Merganser restaurant we watched the clouds rolling around the lake and the rain alternate with sunshine (sometimes both at once). Driving back to the campground after supper there was a fantastic rainbow. By the time we arrived it had faded a bit but we still managed a few photos.




We awoke to steady rain this morning - no climbing today. We hung out at The Bench for most of the morning. (Didn't want to start tasting wine till at least after noon!) Lunch was at Hillside Winery & Bistro and afternoon coffee at Cafe Nevermatters in Naramata. It's finally stopped raining and the sun is even trying to shine so maybe we'll get in some climbing tomorrow.

See all 5 photos as a slideshow or overview

Kelowna Japanese Gardens

Before leaving Kelowna we stopped at the Japanese Gardens. It's small but nice - worth a visit if you're nearby.


There were sparrows flitting about catching insects, probably for their nestlings.


bees on the rhododendrons


turtles in the pond


A lot of the flowers were already past their peak but there were still a few nice ones left


See all 22 photos as a slideshow or overview

Saturday, June 14, 2014


Pouring rain in Canmore so we headed for the Okanagan. There was rain forecast there too, but we figured it probably wouldn't be as bad, and at least it would be warmer. It wasn't raining when we arrived in Kelowna so we set up camp at Willow Creek campground (right in town). We went up to the Summerhill winery bistro for supper and by the time we got there it was socked in and pouring rain. Not much to see of the normally wonderful view across the lake but that didn't stop us from having a great meal.

The ducks were enjoying the puddles in the campground:


This morning it was still very cloudy, but not actually raining so we headed up to climb. There was a good chance of rain forecast for the afternoon, but it ended up clearing and turning sunny, and we had a good day at the local crags.

Waiting for Shelley to rappel down from a climb I took some photos of the flowering bush beside me:


There was a marmot in the rocks near where we were climbing. It ran away when it saw me, but its curiosity got the best of it and it poked its head up to check me out.


See all 8 photos as a slideshow or overview

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Beaver Creek

The sun was shining when I woke up and the forecast said it would be sunny for the morning so I grabbed a quick breakfast and headed to Beaver Creek since I haven't been out there for several years.

At 7:30am on a Sunday morning I don't expect a traffic jam but that's what I got. It seems a little incongruous that some sort of fitness run meant people spent more time in their cars than out running. Eventually I made it out of town where I realized that black clouds had gathered from somewhere. I drove through the resulting downpour wondering whether I should just turn around and head home.

Luckily, by the time I got to Beaver Creek the rain had stopped. Of course, the gates weren't open yet but I didn't feel too guilty about hopping the fence. We have become so divorced from nature that we either rape her or we put her in a box with fences and rules and hours. We want kids to learn to treasure nature, but is that likely if what they encounter are signs saying stay on the path, don't walk beside the creek.  If you want to protect a place, just don't build any roads into it. Of course, that's the first thing we do.

A squirrel ran out to greet me soon after I got there and came right up to sniff my shoes. By the time I got my camera out it had retreated to a branch. It was still a little damp from the rain.


There were yellow warblers flitting around in the bushes but they were frustratingly hard to photograph. They seldom sat still and were usually deep in the bush where it was difficult to get a clear view and tricky to focus. With patience and lots of shots I ended up with a few decent ones.

Yellow warbler

I hung around on a bridge across the creek taking photos of the birds and hoping to see a beaver. Eventually I was rewarded with some ripples down the creek that in the telephoto sure enough turned out to be a beaver. I got a few distant shots and then it disappeared. I figured there was a good chance it would return so I waited patiently. Sure enough it reappeared. I crouched behind the railing on the bridge so I wouldn't be so obvious. It swam closer and closer and eventually paused just below where I was to pose for it's portrait.

spot the beaver
spot the beaver


Just after the beaver disappeared upstream a chickadee landed on the railing beside me. I managed to snap a couple of shots before it flitted away. People sometimes feed the chickadees here so it might have been coming to see if I had any handouts.

Black-capped chickadee

There were still a few trees flowering.


This next one is actually two consecutive shots of the same bird Photoshop'ed into one. I think it's an Eastern Kingbird. I also got a couple of fuzzy shots of what I think was a Northern Harrier - a first for me. I was looking and listening for Kingfishers but didn't find any.

Eastern Kingbird

Just after taking this next shot of the sun sparkling on the raindrops on the grass, the black clouds reappeared and the rain chased me back to the car.

raindrops sparkling on grass

View all 18 photos as a slideshow or overview

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Flowers & Bees

I had my camera out after photographing the coyote so when I passed some new flowers with the sun on the dew I couldn't resist taking a few shots. As usual, click on a photo to view it larger.


flower with dew


As I was taking photos of one of the flowers I realized there was a bumble bee hanging underneath it. Bees need an internal temperature of 35c to fly, and this one looked cold and wet. But as I photographed, it started crawling around and into the sun, and soon it looked drier and presumably warmer. They will also shiver to raise their temperature but this one didn't appear to be doing that.

cold wet bee

bee on flower

bee on flower

And yes, I was a little later than usual getting to work :-)

Monday, June 02, 2014

Coyote Morning

Just after I turned onto the path into Innovation Place I saw something across the field. It could have been a dog, but I couldn't see any people. I thought it might be a coyote since it was about the right size and color, and I have seen them around here before.

spot the coyote
spot the coyote
So I pulled out my camera and headed across the muddy field (to the detriment of my dress shoes). I only had the little RX100 and it doesn't have much of a telephoto, but I started taking photos anyway since I figured the chances were good that it would take off when it saw me. If nothing else I might be able to enlarge the photos enough to confirm what it was.


I got close enough to tell it was indeed a coyote. It noticed me, but it didn't seem concerned. I thought it would head for the cover of the river bank, but instead it wandered up the dirt road and onto a landfill/snow dump site. I followed over onto the landfill (more mud!) but lost sight of it. Again, I thought it would head into the bush of the ravine where the old ski jump used to be, but it didn't and I spotted it emerging onto the grass on the far side of the landfill. It paused in the grass and pounced on something - a mouse perhaps? But it was unsuccessful.


I was fairly close by this point and it looked at me again. It still didn't seem too concerned but headed back across the landfill and trotted down the road, finally heading for the river and concealment. It passed quite close to several people on the Meewasin trail but they didn't notice.

I wonder what it's doing in this area first thing in the morning. Hopefully not returning from a night of scavenging food waste from the university. Although it's probably safer in the city than outside since in our wonderful wild west culture the government still pays you for killing coyotes.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Spring Color

From my home office window I can see several blossoming trees, one white, and one a beautiful pink. This morning I couldn't resist capturing a little of it. These were taken from my window with the long telephoto lens.



In case you think I'm living in a flower garden, here's the more mundane view without the telephoto. You can see the flowering tree beyond the shed. There's beauty everywhere if you look for it.