Kitimat Christmas Bird Count 2019

Robin Rowland 
A red-tailed hawk surveys the bush just outside Kitamaat Village, BC, Dec. 14, 2019. (Robin Rowland)

For the Christmas Bird Count in Kitimat, there’s usually a lot of ground to cover in a very short period of time–that’s because here in the northwest daylight hours are limited as we get closer to the Winter Solstice. So we started before dawn, which is OK for those who are counting but not so good for photography.

A belted kingfisher is seen on a snag near the Kitamaat Village dock in the pre-dawn light on Dec. 14, 2019. (Robin Rowland)

The highlight of my day came at what is known as the Maggie Point trail to a gazebo overlooking Kitmat harbour built by members of the Haisla Nation. The problem is as you get older, hiking a trail in icy weather can be quite dicey, especially for me who has had minor hip problems since I was a kid. So with ice on the trail, I decided to stay by the cars and wait while the rest of the gang went to see what they could see from the gazebo. Then a swift flying bird landed on the branch not far from the parking area. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I began shooting with my SonyRX10iii which is 24 to 600 mm 35mm equivalent.

I wasn’t sure what the bird was, but I guessed it was a raptor since it sat there for almost ten minutes, surveying the area. At one point a crow flew by and the raptor didn’t budge. Then it swooped down over my head and into the bush. It was only then I checked the display to see the yellow rimmed eyes. The birders debated whether the raptor was a merlin or a sharp-shinned hawk and then came to the conclusion looking at the eyes that it was a dark red-tailed hawk.

The red-tailed hawk perching on a branch, watching over the trail. (Robin Rowland)
The red-tailed hawk. (Robin Rowland)
The red-tailed hawk looking down at me and the trail. (Robin Rowland)


And here are some other views from the Christmas Bird Count 2019.


Two bald eagles fly low over Kitimat harbour. (Robin Rowland)
A bald eagle high over Kitimat harbour. (Robin Rowland)

A bald eagle takes a traditional perch on an old snag at MK Bay. (Robin Rowland)
Mallards fly by Kitamaat Village. (Robin Rowland)
Mallards fly “in formation” over Minette Bay. (Robin Rowland)
Mallards flying over the wetlands at Minette Bay. (Robin Rowland)
Canada geese and mallards in the wetlands of Minette Bay. (Robin Rowland)

All the images were taken in the morning up until about 11 a.m. I went home for lunch, ingested the morning images and then we went out again. But with heavy cloud cover, fading light and fewer birds, the afternoon session was a bust. No photos worth posting.


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