This morning I spent some time photographing a Anna’s Hummingbird ( Calypte anna ). I watched it perform this elaborate swooping or diving aerial display. The male hummingbirds usually do these displays for females. The Anna’s Hummingbird does a steep, J-shaped dive, curling around at the bottom. It also produces a distinctive sound at the bottom of the dive, which I heard. Very cool.
The Bald Eagle ( Haliaeetus leucocephalus ) builds one of the largest nests of any bird. It can be 1.3 to 3 metres wide. Sticks are weaved together and they fill in the cracks with softer material like grass and moss. Both the male and the female bring materials to the nest, but the female does most of the placement. A nest can take up to 3 months to build and may be reused year after year. After laying the eggs the incubation period is 34 to 36 days. Both the male and the female take turns sitting on the eggs, but this is mostly done by the female. During this time, the other Bald Eagle is hunting for food or is perched close by to guard the nest, like in the photo. When I took this image it was windy and challenging for the Bald Eagle perched on the branch to maintain its balance.
During this period of self isolation I was looking at some of my older images. In this photo of a Great Horned Owl ( Bubo virginianus ) you can clearly see its ear tufts or ‘horns’. Roughly a third of owl species worldwide have ear tufts and these appendages are mainly used for display and visual communication. It’s also thought to play a role in camouflage, breaking up the bird’s outline against its background. The tufts are made up of feathers.
The opportunistic Bald Eagle ( Haliaeetus leucocephalus ) looks on as a huge flock of Lesser Snow Geese ( Chen caerulescens ) take off. I was amazed how calm the Bald Eagle remained despite the sudden noise and explosion of feathers.
When I spotted this Bald Eagle ( Haliaeetus leucocephalus ) in the distance, I realized the mountain range in the background, would allow me to create a beautiful animalscape, by combining the Bald Eagle, stump, marsh, ocean and mountains. Unfortunately, I was too far away for a good photo. I considered slowly approaching the Bald Eagle but that involved scrambling over slippery logs and through soggy marsh. I knew as soon as I got closer to the Bald Eagle it would more than likely fly away. Despite the slim chance of getting close enough for a good image, I decided to give it a try and started moving from one slippery log to the next. It took quite awhile to move a short distance and during this time the clouds moved in and obscured some of the distant mountain peaks. Eventually another Bald Eagle flew over top of the Bald Eagle which was perched on the stump. It wasn’t very happy with this intrusion into its space and made a weak sounding call. I quickly took the photo and made my way back through the marsh, my hiking boots and socks were soaked.
This morning I spent some time photographing a few Short-eared Owls ( Asio flammeus ). I watched one skillfully catch a rodent and then a female Northern Harrier ( Circus hudsonius ) immediately swooped in and stole its prey. This male Short-eared Owl perched briefly, allowing me to take a photo, before taking flight. There is something so beautiful, mysterious, magical and elegant about owls. I’ll never tire of taking images of them.
On the weekend it was nice to be outside during stormy weather and I enjoyed watching birds of prey hovering in the wind. A female Northern Harrier ( Circus hudsonius ) was gliding low in search of prey.
The female Northern Harrier was flying close to the ground. As you can see in the photo, she was looking down for rodents and would dive quickly to capture prey. This bird of prey has a buoyant, gliding flight and flaps intermittently.
When taking this picture of a female Northern Harrier perched on a log, the autofocus was having difficulty focusing due to the windy conditions, branches, twigs and long grass. What I did in this situation was use the Live View feature on my camera and focused manually on the eye of the Northern Harrier, which created a photo with a unique perspective.
This is a Mandarin Duck ( Aix galericulata ) and it’s not a native species in British Columbia. It’s closely related to the North American Wood Duck, the only other member of the genus Aix. Exotic species frequently escape zoos and private collections. Virtually any of the world’s waterfowl species can be occasionally seen free-flying in North America.
Taking images of this bird was a new experience for me. The Varied Thrush ( Ixoreus naevius ) is similar in habits to the American Robin, but more secretive. It has a sweet, echoing and simple song. They live in this area year round.
This is a photo of a female and male Hooded Merganser ( Lophodytes cucullatus ). When I was taking the image, I used a shallow depth of field, which made the female Hooded Merganser in the foreground, nice and sharp. The male Hooded Merganser, in the background, with its crest lowered, is slightly out of focus or soft. When viewing the photo, the emphasis is on the sharper female Hooded Merganser in the foreground. In my bird book, I read that Hooded Mergansers, in the winter, prefer smaller wooded ponds and that’s exactly where I found these two birds.