Being outside in the rain taking images is an enjoyable experience if you have good rain gear. The light is soft, it’s quiet and there are very few people. I like this photo of a Pacific Great Blue Heron ( Ardea herodias fannini ) because of the dark water background and the way it was perched on the log.
I couldn’t believe when I saw not one, but three Great Horned Owls ( Bubo virginianus ) this morning. They had the most beautiful yellow eyes and I could see them staring at me through my telephoto lens. When the Great Horned Owls were around all the other birds became silent. If there was a little noise in the bushes or trees the Great Horned Owl in the photos below, immediately snapped its head around to take a closer look. Great Horned Owls will eat birds ranging in size from kinglets to Pacific Great Blue Herons and will even eat other owls. I never thought I would ever see a Great Horned Owl in the wild, but to get the opportunity to photograph one, that was truly special.
Yesterday I spent some time photographing this Killdeer. To me, they look very similar to the Semipalmated Plover, which is smaller and has a single breast band. Killdeer’s exhibit a clever ‘broken wing display’ in which they appear to be struggling with a broken wing while leading the predator away from their babies. Although technically they are shorebirds, they are unusual in this group because they often nest and live far from water. They are ground-nesting birds that are famous for hiding their nests right out in the open. It will use no nesting materials and rely on distraction displays to protect their offspring. Killdeer’s emit a loud cry ‘kill-dee’ or ‘kill-deear’ and ‘kill-deeah-dee-dee’. It also makes a long, trilled ‘trrrrr’ during display or when young are threatened.
P.S. I’m still sorting and processing my images from my Haida Gwaii trip…
Approximately 45 to 60 kilometres off the west coast of British Columbia are 150 islands that form the archipelago of Haida Gwaii. The climate produces lush vegetation, abundant wildlife and the area is nicknamed Canada’s Galapagos. It’s the heart of the Haida nation and they’ve lived on the islands for 13,000 years. There is more than 500 archeological sites, a few containing totem poles and longhouse remains. Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve is located in the southern islands and is accessible only by boat or seaplane. I just returned from a 10 day trip in this area exploring the dramatic landscapes, moss-covered rainforest and ancient village sites with my camera. I’m now sorting through my images and looking forward to sharing them soon on my website.
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.
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’.
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.
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…
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.
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.