One of the reasons I decided to return to northwestern British Columbia is that this area is an untapped photographic paradise.
This week I came across a small wetlands bird refuge, that as far as I can find out, is not listed on any birding guide to the province of British Columbia. Of course, the big, brash Houston down in Texas may unknowingly be responsible, overshadowing the small town of the same name along the Yellowhead Highway in northwest British Columbia.
This week I drove from my base in Kitimat to Prince George, to see the premiere of the stage adaptation of Robert Sawyer’s novel, Rollback. I also arranged some business meetings in Prince George and planned to do some location scouting for my planned photographic workshops on the way back.
Houston was not on my location list.
As a little kid, when my parents drove south to the Lower Mainlaind for vacation, it was a town we just drove through, between Smithers and Burns Lake. My plans called for me to do the location scouting on the second day of my drive and since I wanted to take it fairly easy and stop in the afternoon of the first day, Houston was a convenient location. So I booked into a bed and breakfast called the Bear’s Claw Inn. A small guide to Houston I picked up earlier mentioned the local Duck Pond walking trail as a place to see birds right in the heart of town,
I settled into the B&B and my ears soon told me Houston is a place for birds, you could here the birds songs from the nearby Duck Pond.
The Duck Pond is the grey brown circle in the green in the middle of town, just northeast of the high school running track. As the sun set, Canada geese landed in the fields by my B&B (just to the west of the track).
The early morning was cloudy with drizzle. Got up anyway and by the time I had finished breakfast, the sun had broken through. Took a side trail through the woods to the pond and was immediately rewarded when I came across some mule deer looking for food. Spring always comes late in the high country of the BC interior and so food is scarce, the first green shoots are just starting.
I found the Duck Pond. The viewing platform is on the west side of the pond, so not the best location for morning shooting, but I was late enough, it was getting on for nine when I arrived, that the sun was shining, sidelighting, not back lighting, the northwest corner of the pond. There are benches on the east side and at some clear spots, so there are number of shooting locations.
For this shoot, I didn’t have much time, just 90 minutes, before I had to get back on the road. It was a very rewarding 90 minutes, where I photographed Canada Geese, mallards, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Lincoln’s Sparrow, ravens, crows, my namesake bird, the robin and just as I was about to leave, this Common Yellowthroat popped up among the reeds and marsh grass in the northwest corner of the pond, nicely let by that mid-morning sun.
The guide promised, and this time I didn’t get, Common Goldeneye, Pintail and Blue-winged Teals, not to mention reptiles and amphibians (probably a little early for the latter)
So that just means, to quote an old phrase, “I’ll be back.”
I checked my BC birding books when I got home and found none of them mention Houston (and all are generally weak on the northwest in any case), Future customers can be assured, the Houston Duck Pond will be one of the stops when I get my workshops up and running,