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.
I went down “the Channel” (the collective name for the waters of Douglas Channel and the surrounding passages, channels and canals) with friends on Monday, August 28.
We were first heading down Ursula Channel toward Monkey Beach where I was going to shoot some portraits of my friends, Before we got to Monkey Beach we saw humpbacks breaching far, far down Ursula Channel.
After we finished shooting the portraits, we went into nearby Bishop Bay for supper. We never made it to the famed Bishop Bay hotsprings. There was a pod of perhaps seven humpbacks hugging the shore, feeding. So we had supper on board and spent a couple of hours watching and photographing the humbacks.
As well the whale missing a chunk from its back, at least two others showed scarring from probable past ship or boat encounters.
Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Unit 63 alpha and bravo vessels, the “Snowflake Responders” exercise in Kitimat harbour on Sunday, August 13, 2017. (Robin Rowland)
On Sunday morning, we held a North West Photo Fest long lens photo workshop/photo walk on the seawall at the Kitamaat Village, mostly shooting birds, when the search and rescue boats came out for a training session.
Related: Kitimat christens new SAR 63 rescue vessel, Snowflake Responder III October 25, 2014.
Jay Gough of Nikon and the participants in the Kitamaat Village photo walk (Robin Rowland)
And around the same time we caught a rainbow over the harbour, putting the legendary “pot of gold” at its end right in the Rio Tinto aluminum smelter. (Robin Rowland)
A merlin (falco columbarius)a small falcon perches on a driftwood stump near the Kitamaat Village seawall during the North West Photo Fest photo walk on Sunday, August 13, 2017. (Robin Rowland)
Camera is a Sony Alpha 77 with the Minolta 500mm f8 mirror lens, which is light weight, which easily makes up for the lack of flexiblity that might come with a much heavier standard telephoto zoom or prime lens that have more adjustments.
The merlin takes off (Robin Rowland)
The merlin skims across the low tide sea grass. (Robin Rowland)
About 10 minutes earlier, a squirrel scampered along the driftwood log. Lucky the squirrel didn’t stick around.
That shot was taken with my Sony Alpha 7II with the Sony 70 to 300mm G lens, at 91mm. The little fellow came up so fast, I didn’t have time to extend the zoom.
Jay Gough, the Nikon representative who was a speaker at North West Photo Fest, put together a Nikon D500, 400mm f/2.8FL and TC-20III (teleconverter) to get a similar shot during the photo walk.
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.