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BC Hydro employee snaps photo of hummingbird chicks in backyard nest

Image of baby hummingbirds in nest
BC Hydro's Bobbi Belknap used her smartphone to get this shot of newly-hatched hummingbirds in a nest her boyfriend found in the backyard of their Victoria home.

'I'm not a photographer', says Bobbi Belknap, who used smartphone for beautiful image

Bobbi Belknap started at BC Hydro as an administrative assistant, then rode a series of training stints to a position in distribution design, which is more or less about setting up work on power lines linked to homes and businesses.

She is also the member of an obscure all-girl Victoria area punk band she's not really sure she should talk about. "Umm, there are some swear words," she says, coaxing a whisper out of a voice known to scream under the lights of Victoria-area clubs.

What she is not... is a photographer, even if the evidence suggests otherwise.

"I've never had a photo shared so much, so I thought I'd send it to as a [BC Hydro] photo of the day," says Belknap, who got more than 700 comments after she originally posted the shot on the Facebook page 'You Know You're From Victoria, B.C. When."'

"I'd never seen a hummingbird nest up that close before, and I'm surprised at how low the hummingbirds made the nest – there are a lot of cats in the neighbourhood."

The good news is that, weeks after the photo was taken, the Anna's hummingbird chicks had grown enough to leave the nest, which Belknap describes as no bigger than her fist.

The nest was actually discovered by her boyfriend Bojan Bucic – who also works in distribution design at BC Hydro – while he was doing some work in backyard of the couple's Victoria home. At first glimpse, the nest only held eggs. The couple were careful to stay clear of the birds, but Belknap took the time to take a few photos with her Samsung Galaxy Note 4, including this shot of the chicks shortly after they were hatched.

"That's the big phone, and maybe it has a better camera in it because it's a bigger phone," she says with a laugh. "I'm definitely not a photographer."

Anna's hummingbirds are known for their colourful nests, which use a variety of delicate and beautiful materials including spider web and lichen.

It wasn't the first time one of Belknap's photos was selected for Photo of the Day on BC Hydro's internal website known as HydroWeb. A few years ago, she took a nice shot of turtles in a pond at Beacon Hill Park.

Belknap's persistence at BC Hydro has paid off. It took her almost five years to get a permanent job with the utility, but the training was always available for her to look for new opportunities. This week, she's at our Surrey training centre learning about underground power line design.

So what is it, exactly, that she does for BC Hydro?

"My boyfriend and I are both doing sort of the same thing, but on opposite ends of the complicated and technical scale," she says, explaining that he works on large lines to large developments while she works mainly on power lines to homes. "I create the work order packages for line crews for maintenance work, or replacing poles because they're getting old, or for customer requests for new developments, energization of small subdivisions, and things like that.

"Power to the people."

Belknap's path to her current job at BC Hydro isn't all that unusual. As she discovered early, there are training and advancement opportunities that aren't always so available at other workplaces.

"I definitely didn't expect I'd be doing this when I started," she says. "But Hydro is amazing for that. I have such a great team in Victoria, full of people who encourage you to learn, take courses and grow from there. It's been great."