Turkey Vulture

Early one morning, I was out exploring with my camera and telephoto lens, when I spotted the large brown bird in the photo below, which I thought, judging by its size, must be a bird of prey. However, after taking a closer look, I noticed it had a red, featherless head and I said to myself, “What is that?”. It was a turkey vulture which I had previously never seen in this area. Unlike most birds, the turkey vulture finds carrion by using its sense of smell and is protected from disease associated with decaying animals by a very sophisticated immune system. The turkey vulture only comes this far north during the summer months. There was a raven following it around as the turkey vulture flew from tree to tree and it seemed quite comfortable with the raven’s presence. Click on the photo to see a larger version.

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A Fog bow

I just returned from a week of exploring a remote area of Vancouver Island and came home with a greater appreciation for the natural beauty of British Columbia. There was an abundance of marine life to photograph which included humpback whales, killer whales, minke whales, pacific white-sided dolphins, dall’s porpoise, steller sea lions, harbour seals, sea otters, river otters, bald eagles, black turnstones, pelagic cormorants, common murres, rhinoceros auklets and kingfishers. Each morning there was coastal fog and one morning, as it began to burn off, it created this beautiful fog bow. At first I couldn’t understand the faint vertical line that appears in the middle of the photo shown below, but I think this is the shadow of the mast of the ketch I was on. To see more of my images visit The Salish Sea gallery and click on ‘View Slideshow’.

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The Surfer

Early in the morning I noticed this lone surfer further down the beach coming out of the surf. I like this photo because of its simplicity and it conveys summer in the Pacific Northwest. The trees and mountains in the distance are barely visible through the mist. Click on the image to see a larger version.

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A Mysterious Language

On the west coast of Vancouver Island I was walking on the beach early one morning, keeping an eye out for bears and wolves, when I noticed a large number of strange markings in the sand. There were thick lines, spirals, curves and even circles. The Purple Olive Snail (Olivella biplicata) are beautiful little creatures that create these markings. Close to the dynamic edge of the ocean they plow through the sand looking for animal and plant matter to eat. Males find females for mating by following their tracks.

Looking at their tracks reminded me of the movie Arrival where a linguistics professor and her team tries to find a way to communicate with extraterrestrial visitors who use a written language consisting of complicated circular symbols. The Purple Olive Snails may have been just looking for food to eat or perhaps they were trying to tell me something…

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The Mink (Mustela vison)

The daily rhythm of coastal minks depends on the tide cycle. I was photographing this mink while it was exploring the intertidal zone during a low tide. It was very shy, elusive and I had to stand very still while it became comfortable with my presence. This small mammal never stops moving which made it difficult to capture a good photograph. The mink was foraging in a bay where there was lots of boulders, rocky crevices, and marine plants, which provides cover for prey. The coastal mink eats shellfish ( mainly crabs ) and small fish. After the mink disappeared into the trees, I felt fortunate that I was able to spend some time with this solitary and efficient hunter.

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Happy Canada Day

It’s July 1st today and this year is Canada’s 151st birthday. It’s also a time to celebrate living in a peaceful nation that is at peace with many countries. Canada has nice cities that lead the world in quality of life. An abundance of clean water, universal healthcare and universities that are world renowned for quality education. Click on the image to see a larger version.

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Feathers

The Pacific Great Blue Heron is a patient hunter who often stands perfectly still for several minutes. This morning there was cloudy weather and scientific studies have shown that the clouds make it ideal for herons to look for fish. I watched this heron catching a few sculpin, which it swallowed, even though they were wider than its narrow neck. I like this photo because it shows its beautiful feathers. Click on the image to see a larger version.

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Common Yellowthroat

The Common Yellowthroat ( Geothlypis trichas ) is a wood-warbler that lives in marshy or brushy vegetation near water. The bird in the photos is a male, with a bright yellow throat and broad black mask which crosses the forehead. They eat grasshoppers, dragonflies, beetles, butterflies, spiders and sometimes seeds. I sat listening to its beautiful song that sounds like whichity-whichity-whichity.

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American Bittern

The American Bittern ( Botaurus lentiginosus ) is a medium sized marsh bird with a stout body, neck and relatively short legs. What is really neat about bitterns is that they won’t flush like herons when approached, instead they prefer to freeze and even sway from side to side as if imitating the waving reeds. They have a remarkable, though rarely seen courtship display, where the male arches his back, shortens his neck, dips his breast forward and ‘booms’ at the female. Both birds engage in complicated aerial displays. Click on the image to see a larger version.

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Spring

I enjoy being outside early in the morning. Often there is no wind, little traffic, sweet light and I usually have a wonderful start to the day, while most of the city is still sleeping…

I captured this image of a Pacific Great Blue Heron foraging and feeding in a marsh. Click on the photo to see a larger version.

It’s Spring and many Canada Geese have new goslings. In ten weeks, this ball of fluff will become a full grown Canada Goose. This little gosling was busy exploring and eating grass while its parents kept one eye on it and the other eye on the guy with the camera. The gosling had proportionally large legs and feet. It reminded me of a cute and tiny little dinosaur. Click on the image to see a larger version.

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