Archive For The “Photoblog” Category
Went out to Whatl Creek on Wednesday morning as the Kitimat Valley Naturalists conducted the monthly bird count. At Whatl Creek swallows were darting from tree to tree, skimming the surface of the creek and hunting insects across the estuary since it was low tide.
Normally swallows are very difficult to capture, as I have tried a few times both this year and last with little success. At Whatl Creek, however, the photography gods were smiling. With the swallows skimming over the water, it was easier to follow them (than against the sky) and the autofocus was able to keep tracking the birds. Sony Alpha711, Sony 70-300mm G lens, ISO 2000, shutter priority 1/1250.
Here in Kitimat, you hear the “cooing” of doves more frequently these days.
The naturalists say the mourning dove (zenaida macroura)more common in southern British Columbia has been moving north, enticed by the changing climate. Other members of the family Columbidae that from time to time visit the Kitimat Valley are the band-tailed pigeon and most common pigeon of all, known as the rock pigeon or rock dove (Columba livia) even when it hangs out in city streets.
UPDATE: Since I posted this, I was pointed to a Kitimat area Facebook debate about the collared dove, which some people have seen in Kitimat over the past two years or so. (and complaining about the noise). This was the first collared dove I have seen although I have seen many mourning doves in the neighborhood.
Since the spring a white dove has been active in my neighbourhood, but with it usually perched high on the power lines, I couldn’t be sure what it was until a couple of days ago when it finally landed on my deck, near my feeder.
The Eurasian collared dove on my deck. (Robin Rowland)
Clearly it’s a Eurasian collared dove (Streptopelia decaocto) which isn’t even listed in any of my British Columbia bird books. Wikipedia says the collared dove is native to “warm temperate and subtropical Asia from Turkey east to southern China and south through India to Sri Lanka” and began expanding its range across Europe and other parts of Asia in the early 20th century. The Eurasian collared dove has spread across China and into Japan.
According to Wikipedia a flock of Eurasian collared doves probably escaped from captivity in Nassau, the Bahamas in 1974 and arrived in North America proper in the 1980s with the first formal identification in Arkansas in 1989. The bird is now found all 48 contiguous US states. It appears to prefer the warmer climes of the more southern US states but with climate change it may be spreading further north.
The Eurasian collared dove prefers the same ecological niche as the mourning dove,
which if it isn’t a single vagrant or visitor (it appears to be sticking around) we may be seeing more around the valley. which likely means that like the mourning dove, the Eurasian collared dove is moving north as the climate warms.
This is how I usually saw the dove, high on the power lines. (Robin Rowland)
Walking through London’s Kensington Gardens I saw a crowd of people around some trees and a loud screeching of birds. Then I saw flashes of green as the birds flew between the trees and often landed on people’s hands and even heads, as they were (sometimes) fed.
This was a flock of what is called in Great Britain the ring-necked parakeet and in North America the rose-ringed parakeet. The species originates from both central Africa and India and has long been popular in the pet trade. A population of feral parakeets was first noticed in England in 1969 and there are now thousands in parts of the country. While in most places the feral parakeets thrive in city parks, their range is increasing in rural and wilderness areas. Because their diet includes cultivated fruit they are considered a pest by farmers. It appears that in England, the parakeets have rapidly evolved to survive the winters. As you can see at least in the summer, they are perfectly camouflaged among green leaves. As well as England, there are large numbers of feral parakeets in Japan, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, with smaller populations in southern California and Florida.
So what did I do on my summer “vacation”? I am (semi) retired, so it isn’t a formal vacation, but I did have some relaxing down time on my trip to England in June. After attending a conference in Liverpool, I went to Stratford-upon-Avon to see the Royal Shakespeare Company production of Julius Caesar, then spent some time with cousins in Oxfordshire and finally went to London to see some shows and some friends. I didn’t set out to concentrate on bird photography but that was what the photographic gods provided,
Oxfordshire Upper Thames River
Our route in the Miss Moffat II along the Upper Thames River. King’s Lock is at the beginning of the line following the route of the river and the Farmoor Reservoir is the large body of water in the lower left (where we stopped for lunch). Wytham Woods are the wooded area roughly to the right of the river.
Wytham Woods – Oxfordshire
Wytham Woods are an area of ancient semi-natural woodland to the west of Oxford, UK, owned by the University of Oxford and used for environmental research for the past sixty years, including climate change research for the past eighteen. Hiking is permitted by special permit.
The Serpentine – London
The Serpentine is a small lake between Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens in London.
Wahtl Creek flows past Kitamaat Village, home of the Haisla Nation, into MK Bay on Douglas Channel, across from Kitimat’s Rio Tinto BC Operations aluminum smelter.
You wouldn’t know it’s the end of February, except for nip in the morning air. After fellow photographer Doug Keech posted on Facebook that on Saturday morning, low tide would coincide with sunrise, I decided to go out with my gear. One thing you have to realize is that the Photographers’ Ephemeris gives sunrise at sea level, so it takes (depending on the season) about 45 minutes to an hour for the sun to rise above the mountains. That meant when I arrived 8:30 am, the tide was already rising and a (minor) snow storm was being blown by inflow winds up Douglas Channel. There were lots of birds doing their Saturday morning grocery shopping (probably for herring)
Crows on ice… the seaweed and seagrass are fed by the fresh water of Wahtl Creek, hence the thin layer of ice. (Robin Rowland)
Mallards in Douglas Channel. (Robin Rowland)
A female Barrow’s Goldeneye hunts for food in Wahtl Creek. (Robin Rowland)
Water drips from the bill of the Barrow’s Goldeneye after it grabbed a meal from Wahtl Creek (Robin Rowland)
A bald eagle skims just above the surface of Douglas Channel in Kitimat harbour (Robin Rowland)
The eagle has landed. (Robin Rowland)
The bald eagle perches on the old stump (Robin Rowland)
The mallards head out into the Channel as the tide comes in (Robin Rowland)
Mars (top center) and Venus set over the mountains of Kitimat #BC with the snow illuminated by the light of 93 per cent gibbous moon. Taken on a cold clear -23C windchill night ISO 8000 1/60 f4.5, January 11, 2017 (Robin Rowland)
The first two weeks of January in Kitimat were cold and clear as an arctic outflow stalled over the Pacific Coast. A friend back east posted a shot of Venus, and I looked out the window and there the planet was clear in the night sky.
For the next few days (except a couple of times it was too cloudy) I got out in the frigid night air
Venus and the waxing moon over the light of Kitimat, January 1. 2017.
Venus and the waxing moon now at 15.9 per cent over Douglas Channel, January 2, 2017 (Robin Rowland)’
The view a few minutes later as the sky darkened. (Robin Rowland)
The waxing moon and Venus over Kitimat, January 3, 2017 (Robin Rowland)
Venus by herself sometime later. (Robin Rowland)
The waxing crescent at 31 per cent on January 4, 2017. (Robin Rowland)
The first quarter waxing moon on January 8. Taken through my bedroom window as the skies cleared with an old Lumix FZ50 standby camera I keep there. Shot at IS0 800 and is a bit noisy (camera vintage is 2005) so converted the image to black and white. (Robin Rowland)