Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Unit 63 exercises in Kitimat harbour

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.


(Robin Rowland)

(Robin Rowland)

(Robin Rowland)

(Robin Rowland)

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 flies along the Kitamaat Village waterfront

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.

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)

There’s a new bird hanging around my backyard, a Eurasian collared dove

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)

Wahtl Creek and Maggie Point in black and white

A belted kingfisher perches on the root of an upturned tree at the mouth of Whatl Creek after days of heavy rain. (Robin Rowland)

Harlequin Ducks gather on the shore of MK Bay by Whatl Creek. (Robin Rowland)

Harlequin ducks fly past MK Bay (Robin Rowland)

A crow flies past Maggie Point. (Robin Rowland)

A Bonaparte gull flies past a red-necked grebe at Maggie Point (Robin Rowland)

A pair of red-necked grebes at Maggie Point. (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)

Moonrise over Mt. Elizabeth

A waxing gibbous moon (91 per cent) rises over Kitimat’s iconic Mt. Elizabeth on a frigid afternoon, Febuary 8, 2017.

The nearly full moon peaks above Mt. Elizabeth , Feb 8. 2017 (Robin Rowland)


The moon begins its climb into the sky near the peak of Mt. Elizabeth. (RobinRowland)


And reaches above the twin peaks. (Robin Rowland)

A wider view of the moon over the twin peaks of Mt. Elizabeth (Robin Rowland)


The moon at 83.4 per cent gibbous on February 7. 2017  (Robin Rowland)

On both days, the moon was rising as the sun was setting over the mountains to the southwest.