This past weekend, Justine and I were invited to spent the weekend on Vancouver Island, with our friends Alex and Fergus. Alex's parents live just outside Sydney, quite close to the ferry from the mainland. We've had the pleasure of staying with Joe and Rita before, so it was an easy decision to spend a weekend relaxing on the Island.

We headed over on the ferry on Friday night, and stayed through to mid-afternoon on Sunday. As always, Rita and Joe were amazing hosts, and treated us like family the whole time we were there. Friday night was pretty relaxed, hanging out in the perfect, warm summer night and catching up. We had some drinks, chatted and called it a night.

Joe and Rita have an amazing garden, full of flowers and fruit trees of all varieties. One of the benefits (for me anyway) of this is that their garden draws a ton of hummingbirds. They flit around the garden all day, back and forth between the flowers and to the huge feeder they have set-up. They chase each other around - I could watch them for hours. So, as you might expect, I brought my camera with me, with the hopes of getting some good shots of the hummingbirds around the flowers.

Saturday morning, I was up before everyone, and wandered out to scout things out. Without too much trouble, I noticed that the hummingbirds were going back and forth between a set of very bright, red flowers and the feeder. So I set-up my tripod in the garden, not too far from the flowers and set to work. It didn't take long before I was clicking away as the hummingbirds worked the flowers in the early morning light. For part of the afternoon we went out for a bit of a tour around the local area, and had a nice stop at a cidery, where we sampled a number of very interesting apple ciders. It's not normally my thing, but the location was beautiful, it was a sunny day, and we had a chance to sample some product on their very lovely patio. We also found the first corn of the season, which added to an amazing dinner that night.

While it may seem like they are always in flight, they did stop fairly frequently on the branches of the flowers, on the surrounding trees and even on the wires of some of the buildings around the property. But it was the action shots I was really interested in.

While I was most interested in them in flight, and at the flowers, I was happy to shoot them at the feeders too. When the birds were not around, there were many beautiful flowers to shoot as well, so I was pretty occupied for a couple of hours, until the nice light faded.

Once I was done with taking pictures, I went out for a bit of a run, over to the local park. It wasn't a long run, but it was good to get moving, and given how hot it was projected to get, I needed to get the exercise in early. Once I got back everyone was up and about, we had some breakfast, and lounged around a bit more. 

There isn't a lot to say about the day - it was pretty uneventful. We lounged around, went for a short hike, did a bit of shopping and generally just relaxed. Not our usual style, but nice nonetheless. I didn't really spend much more time that day shooting, but had lots of pics from the morning.

This might be my favourite shot from the whole weekend. In flight, red flowers and a nice neutral background.

One of the rare occasions where I got a shot of one with its' beak open. Kind of cool, as you don't see it a lot.

Saturday night we had a great evening sitting out in the "green house", chatting, playing cards and having a grand time. We went a little late into the evening, and finished off the night with Joe, Fergus, Justine and I playing cribbage. Haven't played that in ages, and it was a lot of fun. 

Despite the late night, I was up early again on Sunday morning, again before everyone else. So I grabbed my tripod and headed back out to the garden to see if the light and the birds would cooperate. 

As the hummingbirds went back and forth between the garden and the feeder, I noticed that they liked to perch on the metal wires over one of the small structures in the garden. While not an action shot, they gave me a good opportunity to get some shots of them at rest. It never lasted very long.

Once everyone was up and about we had another excellent breakfast, and enjoyed a relaxing morning. Later in the day, Alex had arranged to meet up with one of her friends, so Justine, Fergus and I did a tour of the local farms and did some shopping. We found some amazing local produce that we took home with us for the week.

Far too soon, it was time to pack up and head to the ferry for the trip home. We managed to squeeze onto the 5:00 ferry, which had us home at a reasonable hour to get ready for the week ahead.