Category Archives: Pacific Northwest

Eagle Bugged by An Annoying Osprey

Mum and I took a trip down to Juanita Bay to see what sort of wildlife was out and about.  There was plenty of activity with both eagles and ospreys flying over the water looking for their next meal.  At one stage, an eagle had caught a small fish and took it to a log in the water to enjoy.  It seems that one of the ospreys decided that this could not stand and that the eagle should give up its catch.  The osprey swooped down repeatedly at the eagle trying to get it spooked and to maybe leave the fish behind.  The eagle was definitely annoyed by the osprey but was not inclined to move.  This went on for a while but eventually the osprey realized it was futile and moved on.

Indian Rafales Testing PNW Weather

I may have worked on the Typhoon/EF2000 in my younger days and have a strong affinity for that plane, but I have always appreciated its competitor from next door, the Dassault Rafale.  The Rafale is a very elegant-looking airframe, and it has recently started to sell very well on the export market.  One of those customers is India and the Indian Air Force brought some of its jets to Alaska for an exercise.  They routed across the US with an overnight stop at McChord AFB (JBLM) before continuing on to Alaska.

I went out with a bunch of friends to see them arrive.  They came in two waves and the first arrived in some quite poor conditions.  This resulted in them making straight in approaches to the field.  This was a bit of grey jets and a grey sky, but it was still worthwhile.  There was a fair time between them showing up and the second wave and, by that time, the weather had improved considerably.  This allowed them to do a run in and break to landing.  Four jets came in but one was clearly offset – presumably getting some shots of the others.  They tightened up before the break, though.

The final turns varied in how tight they were but, since the earlier jets had allowed me to get some more standard side-on shots, I decided to get closer to their approach path.  I moved in a way for the first jet and then proceeded to sprint closer between each arrival in order to try and vary the angles a bit.  If there had been more jets or time, I might have gone for directly on the centerline to get a head on shot but that wasn’t possible.  What fun catching something very different to the norm for this area.

Struggling with Bee Photography

The flowers were out on some of the plants in our front yard and they were attracting the bees, so I decided to try again to get some bee shots.  Rather than try and follow the bees around the flowers, I decided to see the camera up on a mount aligned with one flower and wait for the bees to come there.  I used a cable release so I could sit back a bit and wait.  This did require the plant to stay steady which, when the wind was blowing, was far from guaranteed.

I was sitting so still for a long time as I waited that a rabbit came walking across the yard to nibble some leaves that were by my feet.  Since I wasn’t moving, it was totally oblivious to me.  Rather than spook it by trying to get my phone out to photograph it, I let it eat in peace.  It wandered off soon enough.

The bees dutifully showed up in my flower from time to time.  I wasn’t sure how well the shots were coming out since I was just triggering with the cable release when things were in roughly the right place.  I didn’t know whether the autofocus was going to choose the bee or part of the plant.  There were plenty of misses, but we did get a few good shots where the bees were in shot, in focus and interesting enough.  I was pleasantly surprised how many shots actually worked out.  I had been quite pessimistic when taking the shots, so this was more successful than I had expected.

This Bridge is Getting Very Advanced

A work-related post for today.  One of our projects is a light rail expansion and part of it involves the construction of a long span bridge.  This was not the original plan, but it is what we ended up having.  It is constructed by having forms for pouring a section of the bridge in one place and then, when that section is cured, a traveler moves out with the forms to pour the next section.  This is all done from a central column so the weight balances out as the bridge expands in each direction.

It is now very close to the final pours, and they will soon be done.  I got to go and see the progress recently and that included looking at the center section of the bridge where the gap between the two sections coming from each direction are close to meeting.  The bridge section is hollow, and you can see across and into the other half.  The final pours involve joining each end to the rest of the right of way and then, when they have been post-tensioned, this center section will be poured.  There will be more to do but this is a major milestone in the project.

Nanaimo Bastion

The hotel we stayed in while in Nanaimo was called the Coast Bastion.  I didn’t think about why other than it was on Bastion Street, but Bastion Street was so named because it ends at Nanaimo Bastion.  Bastion is a word that I have heard at various times and know but that I had never really thought about.  This was a building erected when the settlers were building their outposts so they could protect themselves and their stuff.  A mini-fortress I suppose.  From our room we had a view down onto the bastion, but it was a short stroll across the road to look at it.  I understand that they open it up as a museum at some times, but it was sealed while we were there.

Vistara Flying at Last

With so many stored 787s at Everett in recent years, I have seen a bunch of Vistara jets on the ground.  However, I hadn’t really done very well in catching them moving.  Not very well is generous – I hadn’t got anything worthwhile.  Then I was up at Paine Field earlier in the day for something else and a Vistara jet taxied out for a test flight.  Thankfully it ran reasonably long on its takeoff roll and I was able to get some good shots of it.

Otter Foraging

I have been meaning to post some more otter shots for ages, but various things came first, and I have postponed this one a number of times – when I say postponed, I mean postpone even writing something as opposed to postponing the actual posting.  This otter was busily moving around Juanita Bay as it searched for its next meal.  I initially saw it coming across the water towards me.  It swam around the inlet before heading to land so I could see it closer up in the water.

It then went back around the headland, and I thought it might be continuing off into the main bay, but it turned around and came out of the water onto the land near us.  A quick shake to dry off and then a bit more of searching the ground for any hint of a snack.  It didn’t last long.  Soon it was back in the water and out towards the open water hunting for something tasty.  I hope it found something good.

Checking Out Seattle from the Air When Coming Home

A previous post included some aerial photos that I got when coming back into Seattle courtesy of an Alaska Airlines 737.  They were of some of the islands in Puget Sound.  As we got back to the city, we turned back towards the approach with a nice view of the locks at Ballard and the waterways into Lake Union.  A close-up view of the north end of Lake Union with Gasworks Park in the foreground and the university campus in the background came next and then a view of the south side of the city and off towards the east side of Lake Washington before we were back on the ground.

My Quest for the Cormorants is Finally Successful

The AW101 is a helicopter I really like.  I saw the early development airframes when I was young and have photographed Merlins of the Royal Navy and the RAF as well as an Italian example.  Living in the Pacific Northwest, I have really wanted to photograph the Canadian CH-149 Cormorants.  I have a desk model of one that I bought in California and figured I would have seen one fly by now, but I have had rotten luck.  The Abbotsford show last year was another time when I didn’t see one fly despite it having been a principal reason for me going.

CFB Comox is a base for the Cormorant and their show this year, while interesting overall, really had me figuring they were bound to fly there.  If they had a serviceability issue, there would be a spare airframe.  If someone got called out, there would still be another airframe available.  Surely it had to work out.  Fortunately, yes, it did.

Early in the show, a Cormorant was launched and flew patterns around the airfield, initially quite high up.  I grabbed the long lens to get shots of it.  Gradually it got lower, and the shots got better.  If everything else went wrong, at least I now had a shot or two of one flying.  The show opened with a Cormorant flying in with the Canadian flag suspended beneath it (with a crew member hanging on the flag too).  Then there was a SAR demo which it was a major part of.

I shot so many images of this helicopter.  I really went overboard.  I did play around with slower shutter speeds since I was able to get lots of shots.  I tried getting down to 1/40th of a second shutter speeds and have discovered that the rotor speed of the 101 is really low.  Even at that shutter speed, the blades are pretty distinct.  Something I noticed as I was taking these shots was just how stable the Cormorant is in the hover.  I have seen plenty of rotorcraft operations and hover stability is usually pretty good for larger helicopters but the 101 really did seem to come to a halt and then sit immobile.  Very impressive.

So glad to finally have time to photograph this lovely looking airframe.  I even got the best of the sun from the day, so the yellow paint was popping.  A trip to Comox was well worthwhile.

Horseshoe Bay

Our trip to Nanaimo meant a ferry ride with BC Ferries.  Normally we end up going from Tsawwassen but, because reservations were already getting hard to find, we took the ferry from Horseshoe Bay.  It has been a while since I departed from there and I didn’t remember much about it.  The waiting area was rather busy and not the most relaxing spot to wait for a ferry.  However, once on the boat, we got a nice view of the bay and the surrounding coastline.  It was a rather picturesque spot.  Figured I would share some shots of it here.