Hymenoptera through the day


Bombus vosnesenskii, probably the most common bumblebee in Vancouver.

Here are a series of images I shot during the course of a summer day in Vancouver. All are hymenopterans, which, in addition to being tasty, are of course the best insects out there.


A nest I uncovered of Myrmica specioides, a recent introduction on the West Coast.


A big Megachilid.


Myrmica rubra against the sky (bribed with a bit of honey).


I have always wanted to get a shot of one of these chrysidid beauties. I believe it is Pseudomalus auratus.



A gorgeous Philanthus beewolf, showing just how much they really do love flowers.


A queen and workers of Myrmica rubra, the European Fire Ant.


Myrmica rubra tending aphids, a few of which appear to be mummies.


Ammophila wasps at sunset, shot with the 300 mm lens.


Back to the beach!


Catherine and I had to make a quick run back to Iona Beach last night to retrieve a fallen Raynox DCR-250 and to search out some Micropezid flies for Morgan Jackson. It was a quick trip, but we succeeded on both counts! Of course, I also took the opportunity to do some shooting as well. Here is what we got.


A Tibellus (Philodromidae) feasts on a damslefly.


A damselfly feasts on a chironomid midge.

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Laphria are back!


I came up to SFU today to give a practice run-through of my PhD defense seminar (it is next week!). The talk went OK, given that I had not practiced it, but afterward, at lunch, I went out to see what I could see in the forest behind the lab. What I saw was this beautiful bee-like robber fly (Laphria spp.) munching down on a bumblebee! I hope you enjoy the pictures!


This fly was being very uncooperative, facing away from the camera on a high bush.


Laphria are likely Batesian mimics of bumblebees, and you can see the resemblance here.


Here is the last shot I got of the pair, as the robber takes off to find a paparazzi-free perch to enjoy its meal.


A watery world of gulls


If you have ever taken the ferry from Vancouver to Victoria, the part with the spectacular scenery is Active Pass. This narrow channel separates Galiano Island on the north from Mayne Island on the south, and is a great place to watch out for wildlife. This time of year, thousands of tiny Bonaparte’s Gulls gather in the pass for feeding prior to migration to breeding grounds inland. These gulls have molted into their breeding plumage, and are quite handsome. They are difficult to get close-up shots of, as they are small and shy, and don’t like french fries. Nonetheless, they add to the feeling of abundant life of the sea-land interface of the Pacific Coast in springtime.



When I can’t get a closeup, a shot like this emphasizing the patterns of the water works nicely too.


Here the subjects are difficult to discern, but I like the juxtaposition of the small gulls and the big ocean.


Here you can see some feeding behavior in a raft of gulls.



The gulls seem to commute from one end of the pass to the other, perhaps following the tides. These waters get turbulent, and I presume lots of organisms get churned out of either end.


Getting out on deck on the ferry for photography is a great way to spend the time. Especially so now that the weather is fine!

Wet and dry owls


The past few days have been rather different as far as weather is concerned. Wednesday night was extremely rainy, and when I went out to see the Great Horned Owls on Thursday morning, they were sopping wet! There was some excitement, with a raven flying in too close, and requiring a chase-off by both the male and female.


After the raven was safely away, the male (top) and female (bottom) owl perched together in a tree. I normally never see them together like this during daylight hours.

Here is a video of the two interacting.



On Friday morning, when I got to the nest, I found the male owl with his tail feathers soaked in blood. Whatever he killed the night before must have bled a lot!


Meanwhile, both the mother and the chick were perched on the very top of the nest stump. You can see how big the chick is already!


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I went back later in the afternoon to try to shoot in some better light, but of course the owls were mainly sleeping.

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The male got quite excited upon seeing a Cooper’s Hawk fly by the nest. This time, it didn’t require a chase. I also noted that his blood-soaked tail was now clean. 


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I found that shooting in the better afternoon light allowed for crisper rendition of the chick’s plumage, but at the cost of blowing out the sky.


Crisp rendition or no, this chick spent most of the afternoon snoozing, perhaps dreaming of large rats.