As we approach the end of 2022, I thought it would be fun to look back at each month and pick my favourite photos. It wasn’t an easy task — some months I edited hundreds of photos, and others had significant lulls where I wasn’t feeling “it”.
It’s fun to look back at your photos and see what was a big accomplishment at the time and see how your style has evolved. It’s less fun to see some of your shots and wonder what you were thinking with those editing choices.
January started off strong with a trip to Tofino, British Columbia, but I wasn’t lucky in my search for wildlife. Back home, I got one of the only forest photos I’m happy with, got a sunset photo I haven’t stopped thinking about, and photographed my first merlin.
February was a good month — I found my first confirmed barred owl pair (the male brought the female a deer mouse!), got my favourite shot of a pacific wren, and saw my first sanderling.
This month definitely set me on track to observe the barred owls living in my area as much as possible. Before this, owl sightings were random, and I could never tell if I was photographing the same owls or different owls (spoiler: I mostly photographed the same four parents and the same four babies!)
The most exciting part about March was probably the return of the Rufous Hummingbirds. in 2021, I couldn’t get a single picture of them with my smaller zoom lens. In 2022, not only had my skill improved, but I also had the gear I needed to finally get the shot. It also allowed me to get this little Wilson’s Warbler and this Northern Harrier taking off.
In April, I got my first indication that I had an owl nest on my hands, though I couldn’t be 100% certain (that certainty comes next month!). I was thrilled to see this Barred Owl, Helen, step out of this tree hole, and couldn’t wait to watch the nest all summer.
I also managed to get my first red-tailed hawk in the woods. Before this shot, I only ever saw them flying overhead, but never managed to see them land anywhere.
Another highlight of the month was a photo of a Yellow-Rumped Warbler, which until this point had proven to be a bit of a challenge. The warblers never stayed down in my range long enough to get a good shot.
After seeing a Barred Owl enter a nest in May, I was pretty sure there had to be babies. But I didn’t know for sure until I saw Helen catch an earthworm, and fly it back to the tree hole. This was probably my most exciting moment of the year so far until I got my first look at the Barred Owlets later in the month.
I also had a surprise encounter with a Sharp-Shinned Hawk as I was leaving the woods for the day. After watching my favourite robin’s nest, I was heading back home when I saw something glide silently overhead. I rushed back in time to see the neighbourhood of robins go wild over this intruder, and for the intruder to catch a robin. I then followed the hawk over to the creek, where it held the robin in the water for what seemed like forever before dragging it back onto land. For this shot, I actually got stuck in the mud while filming, and I thought I might have to call for help.
June 2022 brought me more owls, sandhill crane colts, and one angry-looking rabbit. This month, I was out as often as I could be. I would wander the forest in the evenings in my usual spots looking for owls, and stay out as late as I could.
June was also when I started to try and get on the same level as my subjects, to see the world from their viewpoint. I think the bunny photo especially paid off.
July brought me a couple of mean-looking animals. This owl, for example, looks pretty peeved I took her photo. Really it was just a big yawn in the sun, but with the right lighting, the story looks a little bit different.
The coyote was actually a funny story — I was really looking for deer near my sister’s house since she had seen one recently, and while cruising by a meadow, and instead of getting a wide-eyed innocent deer, I got this coyote.
The osprey photo, which is something I look forward to trying to get every summer, was not a fun story. I went to the spot where this bird likes to drop by, and as usual, it had lots of people out for their post-dinner walk. Once I picked where I wanted to wait for the bird, I sat down, getting my ass bit by mosquitos. I guess that’s just part of the gig though. But what shouldn’t be part of the gig is men who decide that they just need to talk to you right now, ask you questions, and generally not leave you alone while in public. Because of this man, I almost didn’t get the shot.
In August I had the pleasure of visiting the Fraser River Lodge, and getting to see the baby bison, known as ‘red dogs’. These cuties trailed along with the herd, sometimes getting the zoomies, and generally just being really cute.
I also got to spend time with a gorgeous female Rufous Hummingbird. To be honest, I can’t remember any specifics of this photo, other than the forest where I took the photo, but it was just too great a photo to not be in the list.
I had a series lull in September — these three images are actually the only images I edited from that month. Still, it was nice to actually get a picture of a deer mousse. Normally if I do actually see them, it’s either as food or as a quick blur on the path. This particular mouse was not shy at all, and I was able to watch it on the path for a little bit before it finally left.
There was nothing particularly special about my favourite photos in October. In fact, every creature I photographed is exceptionally ordinary — a Douglas Squirrel, a Red-Breasted Nuthatch, a Song Sparrow, and a Fox Sparrow. But sometimes the ordinary is comforting. And the ordinary creatures we see every day are a great opportunity to practice our skills.
November got me up close and personal with a Red-Tailed Hawk that was eating its lunch right on the ground, right on the path. The conditions for this photo weren’t 100% ideal — the sun was actually behind the hawk which meant I had to go around and off the path a little bit to get a good shot.
I also got to see my first snow bunting, which I almost missed. I couldn’t figure out why all the other photographers were standing in a semi-circle, until my sister saw the little bird hopping around.
I think 2022 had a strong conclusion — seeing my first Northern Shrike, getting a great photo of a Rough-legged Hawk, and getting a great shot of a Northern Harrier coming in for a landing. It was nice to return to Boundary Bay after so long, and be rewarded.