This morning I spotted a Northern Saw-whet Owl ( Aegolius acadicus ) sleeping in a conifer tree. Owls are generally nocturnal predators, with hooked bills, needle-sharp talons, large eyes and facial discs. The Northern Saw-whet Owl can be found year round in this area and they hunt rodents from perches. It’s one of the smallest owl species in North America.
The province of British Columbia contains so much natural beauty. I used my drone to create this video. In the lower right hand corner is a button that allows you to view the video full screen. There is another icon in the lower right hand corner that looks like a ‘gear’. Here you can select the resolution and 720p seems to work best. There is also music which makes the video more enjoyable to watch. Comments are always welcome.
In late November Bald Eagle’s gather near certain rivers to feed on salmon that die after spawning. I was fortunate to experience some beautiful light when taking these images. Click on any photo to open the gallery and then use the navigation arrows. Comments are always welcome.
The Hooded Merganser ( Lophodytes cucullatus ) is the smallest of the three species of mergansers found in North America. The Hooded Merganser finds its prey underwater by sight, the dictating membrane (third eyelid) is clear and acts to protect the eye during swimming, just like a pair of goggles. They are extremely agile swimmers and divers but awkward on land because their legs are set far back on the body. They can be found year round in British Columbia. The bird in the photo is a male with a crest that shows a large white patch. Click on the image to see a larger version.
The Trumpeter Swan ( Cygnus buccinator ) is the largest waterfowl species native to North America. It is entirely white except for its bill, legs and feet. It spends winters in western British Columbia and feeds on aquatic plants. In the 1950’s a large population of these birds were found in Alaska and today their population is estimated at close to 16,000. Click on the image to see a larger version.
I was looking through some images I took last winter and I came across this photo of a rain soaked bald eagle. I like this image because the bald eagle is making eye contact with me and you can see its sharp and powerful talons. The bald eagle may not look its best due to the rain, but it shows this beautiful bird of prey in its element during harsh conditions. Click on the image to see a larger version.
I was fortunate to spend some time this morning with a flock of Long-billed Dowitcher’s ( Limnodromus scolopaceus ). Their bills are full of nerve endings, which are useful for sensing prey. They walk along slowly lifting their heads up and down like a sewing machine.
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’.
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.