Tag Archives: beaver

Sometimes You Get Lucky With Timing

One evening after work, I decided to head back down to Juanita Bay to see if I could get more shots of the beavers.  I had been pleased with my first encounter and wanted to see whether there was a chance of getting some more shots.  The weather wasn’t so nice but I had nothing on for the evening so decided to hang out for a while.  I was there with nothing happening and the light gradually fading so set myself a target of 7pm.  If nothing happened by then, I would go home.  With about a minute to go before the top of the hour, a guy came out on to the deck I was on.

I figured I wouldn’t leave as he arrived since it would look like he had driven me away.  I would wait to give him time to get bored and leave.  Instead, a couple of minutes after I had planned to leave, out came a beaver.  It swam straight towards me along the shore eventually coming right under where I was standing.  I only had the long lens so it ended up way too close.  I should have used my phone to be honest.  I would never have seen it if it hadn’t been for his arrival.

I had a repeat a couple of days later.  I had seen a pair of beavers swim by – not so close this time – and they had gone around into the inlet and I hadn’t seen them return.  I was beginning to think I was not going to see them again but got a message from Nancy (who was traveling) to say she could chat.  We had a call for a short while when I noticed a tree shaking not far from me.  I told her I would call her back.  One of the beavers had come across the land and was chomping on the tree.  A little while passed and then it came down to the water, dropped in to the lake and swam right past me.  I was ready for it to be so close this time.  Another lucky break that I would have missed if it hadn’t been for the call.

Finally Catching The Beavers

I had been chatting with the photographers I meet down at Juanita Bay and they kept telling me about the beavers that come out in the evenings.  I could see the marks they had left so knew they were active but I had not had any luck seeing them.  The timing of their foraging was not ideal since it matched quite well with my own dinner.  With Nancy taking a trip, I decided to commit some time to trying to get some photos of them.  I didn’t have to try too hard!

My first evening down at the bay, I had barely got there when I saw my first beaver.  The head out of the water was easy to spot when the water was calm.  It was slower than the otters which we see there often and noticeably larger.  The lily pads are growing quickly at the moment and this is a snack of choice for the beavers.  They don’t need to come ashore to eat and instead float around the inlet stuffing as many lily pads in to their mouths as they can.

I decided to move from the end of the trail around to another deck area in the hope that the beaver would come that way.  Predicting the path of wildlife is a tricky game but this time I got lucky and it came right in to the spot I was standing.  A couple with a screaming child approached the deck and I feared the beaver would scram but it didn’t seem to care about us at all.  It was happy chewing on its dinner.

After a while, it swam across to the bank and disappeared – presumably to digest the huge amount it had just eaten.  The question was how long would it be gone?  The light was getting very nice but much later and the sun would be behind the trees.  I thought we might have a long wait but it didn’t take long before it popped out again.  Swimming around in front of us and then heading back across the bay meant I was very pleased with my luck.

Stop By The Floatplane Base

I was riding around Lake Washington on my bike and Renton is approximately halfway around.  I wasn’t in any particular hurry so figured a few minutes down at the float plane base were justified and that I can get a bit of a break before continuing the ride.  The phone was the only camera I had with me but it would do to get a photo of this Beaver on floats that was moored there.  There wasn’t a huge amount of activity during my visit but it was still a good place to pause and have a drink.

Turbine Beaver

There is no shortage of DHC Beavers in the PNW, even of the turbine variety.  Plenty of them are on floats, too, so even that doesn’t make it particularly special.  However, when you haven’t been able to shoot much aviation for a long time, one is a welcome sight.  Even better when it switches to the closer runway when on approach.

How Could I Avoid Stanley Park?

I had a work day up in Vancouver.  I finished up in the office at the end of the day just when rush hour traffic would be at its worst.  The sun was out and the temperature was still nice so I figured I might delay my drive home for an hour or so and head to Stanley Park.  It is a nice place to hang out, there is always plenty going on in the harbor and the floatplane departures might have factored in to my decision making.

There is a bit of an evening rush of departures but, with the days getting shorter and floatplane operations being a very visual thing, I figured they wouldn’t be going out too late if they were to be back before dark.  I was actually pretty lucky as there was a wave of departures shortly after I got there and then, when I thought it had all wrapped up, another burst of flights headed out.  Meanwhile, there were arrivals coming overhead for landing.  It killed a bit of time and made for an easier drive home when I headed back south again.

Odd Beaver Fin

Parked up on the ramp at Renton was what appeared to me to be a de Havilland Canada Beaver on floats.  However, it looked different to every other Beaver I have seen.  This one seemed to have a fun that was cut right down.  Initially I figured it needed a repair but then I realized that there was a large dorsal extension to the fin.  This would compensate to some extent to the missing top but whether it is a good configuration, I can’t say.  It didn’t look good to me but it looked airworthy so maybe it flies fine?  Has anyone seen more about this and can share with me some of the history?

Floatplanes from the Space Needle

While the Space Needle is a great place to view the city of Seattle, it is also good for seeing floatplanes.  Lake Union is a base for many floatplane operations and the routes take the planes close to the Needle.  On the day we were there, the wind was quite strong from the south so the planes were water taxiing to the other end of the lake before taking off.  We had quite a procession with a stream takeoff from a couple of them.

Once airborne, the commenced a turn towards Elliott Bay which took them just north of us and pretty close.  I wasn’t well set up to get shots but I managed to get a few.  I tried my best to shoot through the gaps between the glass panels but sometimes I shot through the glass which was surprisingly good.  You get the feeling of being air to air, even while standing on something solid.

Lake Union Departures

The floatplane activity on Lake Union is fun to check out, not just for an aviation geek like me, but for plenty of visitors to the city too.  I have previously gone down to the lakeshore to check them out but, one evening, while driving into the city to drop a friend off, I was coming down the road on the hill overlooking the lake when a plane took off giving an interesting alternative perspective on its departure.  I figured this needed to be explored further.

The question was where to go.  The road I had been on was not one on which stopping was practical.  Parallel roads exist but there are buildings along most of them so the view is obscured.  However, I did find a location that had a clear view of most of the lake (aside from one building that was right in the touchdown zone!  I wasn’t around for much of the traffic but I did get to see a few arrivals and departures.  Looking down on the flights and having some scenery behind them including the cityscape rather than the sky is a nice change.  I may have to try this out again at a busier time.

Kenmore Rush Hour

The floatplane activity of Kenmore Air is busy on Lake Union in Seattle.  The end of the day means a lot of planes are moving from Lake Union back to the home base at Kenmore.  It makes for a rush hour of planes coming back in good light.  I wandered out to the pier at Log Boom Park which gives a great view of the incoming planes.  Then I just waited.  You know they are all going to be back before sundown so it is pretty predictable.

The inbound traffic is a combination of Otters and Beavers.  De Havilland Canada’s finest show up further down the lake as they come across from Lake Union and then they head up the lake.  On this occasion, the wind was from the north so they made straight in approaches, landed and continued straight in to the base.  On another day I was there without a camera and the wind was a southerly.  They then overflew the base and made a tight turn coming back onto the lake with the evening light on the nose.  I will have to try and get that before too long!

Floatplane Fest

I was in Vancouver for a few days for work and I managed to catch up with my buddy Mark when I arrived.  He suggested to me a good opportunity for shooting the floatplanes is at the end of the day from Brockton Point in Stanley Park.  I had only shot them from the shore near the convention center (other than an opportunist shot or two while walking in the park and that doesn’t count) so I was interested to see how this location worked out.  I managed to get out of work at a good time one evening and the weather was looking very nice so it was off to the park for me.

This location is a lot of fun.  In the evening, the light is well positioned and, at this time of year, the sun is lower and the light is nice and just gets better and better as the evening sets in.  The aircraft were arriving from the east so they were very distant but it is the departures that we were after.  The planes head along the shore from the base and then turn towards you and start their run.  Often, they are pointing straight at you for a while.

Depending on the type and the pilot, they can climb steeply or can keep it nice and low as they come by.  Sometimes, there might be a boat on their preferred take off run and, since they have to divert to one side which can result in a nice turn back towards you as they round the point and head to Lion’s Gate.  The Otters are the most common type with the Beavers coming second.  There are still some Twin Otters but they are a lot less common than they used to be so they end up being more interesting when they show up.  How can it be that I get complacent about seeing Otters on floats?  (The fact we have them in Seattle too probably doesn’t help!)

Mark certainly called this one correctly.  Brockton Point is a nice place to hang out on a sunny fall evening in any circumstances but the addition of a steady stream of floatplanes to this makes for a wonderful combination is you are someone like me.  What’s more, it is a reliable option.  Until the winter light stops flying at the end of the afternoon, you have scheduled departures to rely on so this is not a case of turning up in the hope of seeing something.  You will definitely get plenty of planes.