A soggy day in Kitimat harbour as the spring migration comes north

On Thursday, April 19, was a soggy, to say the least, with wind-driven, cold, pouring rain when I went down to Kitamaat Village and Kitimat harbour to photograph the spring bird migration.  The highlight were the snow geese I saw both at MK Bay  (above) and at the Kitamaat Village soccer field. (Robin Rowland)

A bald eagle, drenched in the pouring rain, at the mouth of Whatl Creek near MK Bay Marina. (Robin Rowland)

A crow takes off from the sea grass in pouring rain near Kitamaat Village. (Robin Rowland)

Snow geese feed at the Kitamaat Village soccer field (Robin Rowland)

A snow goose at the Kitamaat Village soccer field. (Robin Rowland)

Snow geese fly past MK Bay. (Robin Rowland)

An Oregon junco on the waterfront. (Robin Rowland)

Mallards take to the wing as a bald eagle passes overhead (Robin Rowland)

 

A gull passes two bald eagles in the low tide puddles of Whatl Creek near Kitimat Harbour (Robin Rowland)

Two bald eagles in the low tide puddles of Whatl Creek near Kitimat Harbour (Robin Rowland)


Raindrops fall on the head of an American robin who posed on a log beside my car just as I was getting ready to leave. (Robin Rowland)

 

Bald eagles battle over a duck

Two bald eagles battle over a duck at Kitimat harbour. Images taken off the shoreline of Kitamaat Village.

A bald eagle flies over Kitimat harbour (Robin Rowland)

(Robin Rowland)

Another bald eagle watching from above. (Robin Rowland)

Splash!  The first eagle swoops down and grabs a duck (hard to see in this image) (Robin Rowland)

The second eagle heads skyward with its eye on the first (Robin Rowland)

The first eagle is heading away with his catch (Robin Rowland)

 

The second eagle swoops down to attack.  (Robin Rowland)

 

But the attack is unsuccessful and the first eagle escapes with its meal still in its talons. (Robin Rowland)

Birds in the fog on a sunny morning in Kitamaat Village

Fly past. A bald eagle passes some mallard ducks in flight over Kitimat harbour. (Robin Rowland)

 

A flock of mallards fly over Kitimat harbour. (Robin Rowland)

A “murder of crows” fly toward Kitamaat Village from the Kitimat harbour. (Robin Rowland)

 

A crow comes in for landing on the shores of Kitamaat Village. (Robin Rowland)

 

The beach at Kitamaat Village as the tide begins to recede with the sun shining on the fog in Kitmat harbour. (Robin Rowland)

A pair of bald eagles find perches on a old snag on the Kitamaat Village waterfront. (Robin Rowland)

 

A sparrow hides in the long grass and wildflowers in the Kitamaat Village seawall (Robin Rowland)

Cackling Geese at Whatl Creek and more

Cackling geese skim over the mouth of Whatl Creek, MK Bay, Kitimat, BC (Robin Rowland)

Cackling geese (Branta hutchnisi) make look like Canada Geese, but they’re a separate species, smaller (close to the size of a mallard duck) with a shorter neck, rounder head and a stubbier bill. The west coast species often spend summers in the Aleutian Islands and then fly south to the Central Valley of  California, so these probably stopped in Kitimat on their way south.

 

A cackling goose. smaller than a Canada goose, hides in the grass along Whatl Creek. (Robin Rowland)

 

A bald eagle keeps an eye on the flock of cackling geese at Whatl Creek (Robin Rowland)

The bald eagle at Whatl Creek. (Robin Rowland)

 

A raven flies over Kitimat harbour (Robin Rowland)

A flock of about 50 mallards along the waterfront of Kitamaat Village. (Robin Rowland)

Saturday morning at Wahtl Creek

A pair of bald eagles perch on an old log at Wahtl Creek overlooking Douglas Channel as mallards fly by. Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017 (Robin Rowland)

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)


Looking across Wahtl Creek down Douglas Channel, Feb. 25, 2017 (Robin Rowland)

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)

Kitimat River estuary Christmas bird count 2016

Canada Geese on a take off run in the Kitimat River estuary, Dec. 17. 2016. (Robin Rowland)

 

I made the annual trip with Walter Thorne into the Kitimat River estuary on Saturday,  Dec. 17 for that leg of the Kitimat Christmas Bird Count.

We didn’t see as much variety as in previous years because the region had been the grip of an icy -15 C at least cold snap for the previous ten days. That meant many of the creeks and wetlands that were open in previous years were totally or partially frozen over.

Parts of the estuary were completely or partially frozen in the cold snap (Robin Rowland)

So that meant we saw lots of Canada geese and ducks.

 

Canada Geese flying over the frozen wetland (Robin Rowland)

And up into the trees. (Robin Rowland)

 

A northern shoveller. (Robin Rowland)

An American coot with a bit of a plant in its beak. (Robin Rowland)

A bald eagle looking through the gloom. (Robin Rowland)

A gull at the end of a snowy log. (Robin Rowland)

A Christmasy scene, ducks and geese by two evergreen trees. (Robin Rowland)

 

North West Photo Fest Douglas Channel tour

The early morning sun shines down on Coste Rocks, a small provincial park in Douglas Channel near Kitimat, August 7, 2016. (Robin Rowland)

The early morning sun shines down on Coste Rocks, a small provincial park in Douglas Channel near Kitimat, August 7, 2016. (Robin Rowland)

 

On the morning of August 7, North West Photo Fest took out our out-of-town special guests, Andy Clark, Paul Colangelo and Ali Ledgerwood on a tour of upper Douglas Channel, including the Kitimat Arm, Coste Rocks, Jesse Falls and the Kildala Arm, including the Dala and Kildala estuaries.

Our host was Rick Thompson, proprietor of the floating Tookus Inn.

A seal crawls on to one of the smaller Coste Rocks with the mountains and Douglas Channel in the background. (Robin Rowland)

A seal crawls on to one of the smaller Coste Rocks with the mountains and Douglas Channel in the background. (Robin Rowland)

A bald eagle skims over the tangled roots of driftwood in the Kildala River estuary. (Robin Rowland)

A bald eagle skims over the tangled roots of driftwood in the Kildala River estuary. (Robin Rowland)

 

Photographer Andy Clark on board the North West Photo Fest Douglas Channel tour. (Robin Rowland)

Photographer Andy Clark  on board Rick Thompson’s Hourston 26 foot sportsfisher, The Only Way,  during the North West Photo Fest Douglas Channel tour. (Robin Rowland)

 

Andy Clark watches as Paul Colangelo shoots as we approach Jesse Falls. (Robin Rowland)

Andy Clark watches as Paul Colangelo shoots as we approach Jesse Falls. (Robin Rowland)

 

Ali Ledgerwood enjoys the view as we leave Coste Rocks for Jesse Falls. (Robin Rowland)

Ali Ledgerwood enjoys the view from The Only Way as we leave Coste Rocks for Jesse Falls. (Robin Rowland)

Paul Colangelo on board the xxxxx (Robin Rowland)

Paul Colangelo on board The Only Way. (Robin Rowland)

 

Andy Clark, Paul Colangelo, Robin Rowland and Ali Ledgerwood at Jesse Falls. (Rick Thompson)

Andy Clark, Paul Colangelo, Robin Rowland and Ali Ledgerwood at Jesse Falls. (Rick Thompson)

 

A black bear mother and her cub on the shores of the Kildala estuary, (Robin Rowland)

A black bear mother and her cub on the shores of the Kildala estuary, (Robin Rowland)

 

A loon in the waters of the Kildala Arm (Robin Rowland)

A loon in the waters of the Kildala Arm (Robin Rowland)

 

A great blue heron lands on a tree near the Kildala estuary. (Robin Rowland)

A great blue heron lands on a tree near the Kildala estuary. (Robin Rowland)

 

Pigeon Guillemots line the top of Coste Rocks. (Robin Rowland)

Pigeon Guillemots line the top of Coste Rocks. (Robin Rowland)

Harbour seals regard a passing boat from the edge of Coste Rocks. (Robin Rowland)

Harbour seals regard a passing boat from the edge of Coste Rocks. (Robin Rowland)