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.
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)
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.
So that meant we saw lots of Canada geese and ducks.
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 juvenile bald eagle surveys the Kitimat River from a log on a sandbar. (Robin Rowland)
Once again this year I joined the Kitimat Christmas Bird Count, helping out the Kitimat Valley Naturalists. Here are some of the best shots from that day, Wednesday December 16. 2015.
Gulls huddle together on the shore of MK Bay at low tide. (Robin Rowland)
A great blue heron watches from an old stump in the Kitimat River estuary. (Robin Rowland)
A female mallard duck in flight over MK Bay at low tide. (Robin Rowland)
A scaup (duck) in intermediate plumage on a mound of reeds in the Kitimat River estuary. (Robin Rowland) (Corrected caption, duck was identified in the field as a ringed-neck but on further review of the photograph, the consensus of the naturalists was scaup)
A red-tailed hawk surveys Haisla Boulevard at the LNG Canada turnoff just as the light fades in the late afternoon. (Robin Rowland)
The next day, on my morning walk, the neighborhood’s resident ravens followed me through the bush. Ravens are intelligent and I almost think they are posing for the camera, for this is the third time that they’ve gone to the same trees, in the same sequence, when I was there with my camera.
One of the ravens directly overhead. (Robin Rowland)
And flying from branch to branch of bare alders. (Robin Rowland)
And perched on a conifer (Robin Rowland)