Mike Yip’s interest in photography began in 2003 when he discovered an unusual, thick billed duck at Wall Beach in Nanoose Bay. Even though his pictures at that time were “a flop,” the spark was lit and Yip would soon become incredibly adept at taking striking, powerful nature photos.
“It was the combination of seeing something really fascinating in nature and the desire to try to capture its image. Even though I was unsuccessful, that was the moment that sort of got me going.”
Today the Nanoose Bay resident has published three books on Vancouver Island birds, writes a newspaper column and has a website dedicated to sharing his birding adventures with the public. It’s his goal, he said, to educate the public on the avian species, the beauty of nature and conservation.
A retired teacher, Yip said this choice was a no-brainer.
“I had all these pictures and I had to decide what to do with them,” he said. “And I guess having been a teacher all my life it was kind of natural to use them for educational purposes.”
There have been reports of over 400 species of birds on Vancouver Island, and Yip figures he seen about half. In his first few years he would bird for 30 to 40 hours a week, but today, with many other commitments, he gets out when he has time, he said, about 10 to 20 hours a week.
He loves the spring and fall when many birds can be seen migrating, and right now, during the tail end of the migration, some may be spotted with radiant breeding plumage, he said. Like a pair of loons he spotted last week in French Creek.
“They were absolutely gorgeous,” he said. “They looked like they were dressed to go to a prom.”
Yip’s favorite birds are the Albatrosses and he has been fortunate to go out a couple times on friends’ hake fishing boat to photograph the Pelagic birds — a type of bird who spends their lives at sea except to come to shore for nesting.
Yip will be presenting on Pacific Rim Pelagics at the upcoming Tofino Shorebird Festival, May 6-9. Since he photographed the birds at sea about 20 miles from Tofino, he thought it fitting.
“Most people don’t get the chance to get out there so it’s going to be a whole new thing for most people,” he said.
Yip has also recently designed a set of posters for CoalWatch to help preserve the pristine nature of Baynes Sound and he has donated 100 books to the Nature Trust of B.C. to help with the purchase of the Moorecroft property.
He’s currently working on another book, this one about Denman and Hornby Islands, to include butterflies, wildflowers and other aspects of nature, as well as the birds.
Catch Yip’s presentation in Tofino on Saturday, May 7 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Darwin Cafe at the Tofino Botanical Gardens. A $5 donation is suggested.
For more information on the festival visit www.raincoasteducation.org/tofinoshorebirdfestival.html. To view more of Yip’s photos visit his website www.vancouverislandbirds.com.