Even though there are only 1000 residents, Hornby Island is home to many artists. It’s located in the middle of the Salish Sea. The island has lots of wildlife and interesting sandstone rock formations. I was fortunate to spend a few days exploring the island with my camera.
This morning I spent some time photographing a Anna’s hummingbird ( Calypte anna ). They are the most common hummingbird along the Pacific coast. The males have iridescent emerald feathers and a sparkling rose-pink throat patch called a gorget. In their thrilling courtship displays, they climb to a height of 40 m and then swoop to the ground with a curious burst of noise that they produce through their tail feathers. The display dive takes about 12 seconds. I have read that the heart of an Anna’s hummingbird beats at 1260 beats per minute and they eat more insects than any other North American hummingbird.
We were treated to a spectacular total lunar eclipse this evening. The moon was at its closest point to the Earth so it was a super moon. Since it was a total lunar eclipse it was a blood moon. Because it was the year’s first full moon it was also a wolf moon. I took this photo during the total lunar eclipse with a telephoto lens.
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.
I enjoyed photographing this combination of fresh snow and ice. Clutter kills pictures—a good photographer is a master of exclusion. Clean, simple, graphic compositions work best with ice photography. Keep simplicity as your mantra when shooting ice.
This morning I was taking some images of a male Northern Harrier hawk ( Circus cyaneus ). When it flies it alternates several deep wing beats with glides. It is commonly seen gliding low in search of prey. I like this photo because it’s staring right at me with its beautiful yellow eyes. Click on the image to see a larger version.
I woke up this morning to the sound of heavy rain. Despite the unfavourable conditions I ventured out with my camera. I’m glad I did, because I was able to spend a few hours photographing bald eagles. It was quiet and there were very few people around to disturb the raptors. I really like the first photo, it’s tack sharp, with the rain in the background and how the water beads on the bald eagles feathers. Click on a photo to see a larger version.
In April the Lesser Snow Geese will begin their migration back to Wrangel Island which lies in the Arctic ocean, north of Siberia and is part of Russia. For now they continue to feed in the Fraser and Skagit river estuaries. I could see a few geese that had been individually marked with coloured neck collars which contain radio-transmitters that are used in migration and population studies. Some of these marked individuals have made non-stop flights between Alaska and the Fraser river estuary in less than 36 hours! I found this very interesting, but since no one else reads my blog, I’m probably the only one. Click on the photo to see a larger version.
The Northern Harrier ( Circus cyaneus ) is a slender, medium sized raptor with a distinctive white rump. Harriers are unusual in that there is a greater difference between male and female plumage than is typical of raptors. Females are brown ( like the one in the photo below ) and males are gray with black wingtips. Northern Harriers use their sense of hearing to help locate prey. They have an owl-like facial disk that may help with directional hearing and soft feathers for a quieter flight. I was watching this Harrier flying very fast, low and following the contours of the ground. It was harassing ducks in an open marsh area.
I came across this herd of Roosevelt elk grazing in a meadow. With the setting sun and frosted trees in the background it created a beautiful winter scene. Roosevelt elk have a golden brown coat during the summer and a longer, grayish brown coat during the winter. Their legs, head and neck remain dark brown year round. Have a wonderful Christmas and happy new year. Click on the photo to see a larger version.