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)

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)

A murder of crows along the Kitamaat Village waterfront

A murder of crows flies along the Kitamaat Village waterfront, Sunday, August 13, 2017, during the North West Photo Fest photo walk on the village seawall. Sony A77 with Minolta 500mm f/8 RF mirror lens(Robin Rowland)

Swallows at Whatl Creek

A violet-green swallow skims over Whatl Creek, Kitimat, BC, Wednesday July 12, 2017. (Robin Rowland)

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.

A swallow over the Whatl Creek estuary at low tide looking out over Douglas Channel. (Robin Rowland)


A swallow over the Whatl Creek estuary. (Robin Rowland)


Two swallows over Whatl Creek estuary and Kitimat harbour. One seen against the mountains and a second smaller (further away actually)  one over the ocean on the far right. (Robin Rowland)


A violet-green swallow over Whatl Creek. (Robin Rowland)


Another shot of a swallow over Whatl Creek. (Robin Rowland)

The feral parakeets of Kensington Gardens

This (female?) ring-necked parakeet is a survivor, hanging upside from a branch with just one leg and huge scar on the chest. (Robin Rowland)


A feral ring-necked parakeet in a tree in London’s Kensington Gardens. (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.

A ring-necked parakeet. (Robin Rowland)

A male ring-necked parakeet. The males have a faint blue and pink  “ring” around their head (Robin Rowland)

A ring-necked parakeet. (Robin Rowland)