Christmas bird count 2018 in a snow storm

Trumpeter swans, signets and canvasback ducks in the Kitimat River estuary, Dec.15, 2018. (Robin Rowland)

 

My portion of the Christmas Bird Count in the Kitimat River Estuary (courtesy Rio Tinto) was in an afternoon blizzard which cut visibility by up to about 80 per cent at times and was no help to the cameras, whether or on auto focus or manual.

A killdeer hunts for food on a patch of wetland grass as the tide rises (Robin Rowland)

 

A rare sighting of a Wilson’s snipe out in the open on the river estuary. (Robin Rowland)

 

A bald eagle overhead. (Robin Rowland)

 

Another shot of the killdeer. (Robin Rowland)

 

Another shot of the Wilson’s snipe. (Robin Rowland)

 

The Wilson’s snipe getting a last shot at a meal as the tide rises. (Robin Rowland)

 

The trumpeter swans, signets, canvasbacks and mallards. (Robin Rowland)

A great blue heron huddles against the snow storm. (Robin Rowland)

Another great blue heron. (Robin Rowland)

A loon in the choppy waves of Kitimat harbour. (Robin Rowland)

Shore birds in Kitimat; Gulls in feeding frenzy

Shots from the November shore bird survey.

A Western grebe off the Maggie Point gazebo. (Robin Rowland)

Common mergansers off Maggie Point. (Robin Rowland)

We spotted gulls in a feeding frenzy off the Kitamaat Village soccer field. (Robin Rowland)

Another shot of the feeding frenzy. (Robin Rowland)

Detail of the feeding frenzy in the above shot. (Robin Rowland)

 

Common loons off Kitamaat Village (Robin Rowland)

A flock of starlings off Kitamaat Village. (Robin Rowland)

A song sparrow off at Kitamaat Village. (Robin Rowland)

A red neck grebe off Maggie Point (Robin Rowland)

A raven, the rain and some berries

The weather here in Kitimat on Saturday, November 3, 2018, was miserable, with heavy rain. I don’t often get ravens in my backyard but on Saturday morning, one landed in the mountain ash tree in my backyard to sample the berries. You can tell just how wet it was from the drips on the berries.

The raven gulps down two mountain ash berries.

Sony Alpha 55 (the camera I always keep by my backdeck) with a Tamron 70- 300.

A song sparrow in sea grass

Shortly after I shot the crows chasing the juvenile bald eagle, on the drive home, I stopped at an old dock. I clearly could hear a bird, probably a sparrow, but wasn’t sure where it was. It was low tide and then I spotted the bird in a small “cave” created in the sea grass when the tide went out.

It’s a large song sparrow. The blue/grey tones are what I was with my eyes and the images are correctly white balanced. It may be the large, grey Alaska variant of the song sparrow which are more common farther north than the north coast of British Columbia, but the expert opinion I consulted was divided, with some saying it was the “merilli/montana”  subspecies that is also found in the BC and US interior.  Problem is that in most, there is a lot more brown than grey.

A murder of crows mob a juvenile bald eagle

There were more crows than usual Sunday morning at the Kitamaat Village waterfront.  Crows perching on old driftwood roots….

 

…or in the air along the shore line.

Suddenly all the crows took to the air….that murder of crows (or as one of the other birders said “it looks like two murders”).

It was soon clear that they were mobbing a juvenile bald eagle.

 

The eagle escaped the crows.  And we saw it about 20 minutes later, a little further away over the mouth of Whatl Creek at MK Bay, flying over some gulls skimming the water.

Summer wildlife and nature photos in and around Kitimat

Summer photography in Kitimat and down Douglas Channel.

Images from walking around Kitimat, hikes, and from North West Photo Fest at Minette Bay Lodge and down Douglas Channel.

The most amazing event was when we were off Coste Rocks and witnessed three humpbacks up Amos Channel. One did not dive, but floated on the ocean, asleep. The currents slowly sent the whale toward us while the winds pushed the boat toward the whale.

A sleeping humpback floats in Douglas Channel near Coste Rocks Provincial Park on August 13, 2018. (Robin Rowland)

Watch the encounter on Youtube.

 

 

A newly fledged American robin hides in the undergrowth in Kitimat, August 4, 2018. It was just beside the sidewalk as I walked by. About 10 minutes later as I walked back to the location it finally flew away. (Robin Rowland)

Another fledgling American robin munches on #berries in the undergrowth of Kitimat, August 4m 2018. (Robin Rowland)

A female surf scoter at Pine Lake, near Terrace, BC, August 6, 2018. (Robin Rowland)


A lesser yellow leg flies over seagrass at Minette Bay Kitimat BC during a North West Photo Fest photowalk, August 10, 2018. (Robin Rowland)



Two lesser yellow legs perch in the tidal streams of Minette Bay, August 10, 2018. (Robin Rowland)

A light in the forest.  Light on a tree during a photo walk at Minette Bay Lodge, August 11, 2018. (Robin Rowland)

The largest Coste Rock on August 13, 2018. (Robin Rowland)

A flock of juvenile surf scoters fly over Douglas Channel south of Kitimat. (Robin Rowland)

Harbour seals look out from Coste Rocks, August 13, 2018. (Robin Rowland)

Two marbled murrelets take off near Coste Rocks in Douglas Channel south of Kitimat, August 13. (Robin Rowland)

A marbled murrelet swims in Douglas Channel south of Kitimat, August 13. (Robin Rowland)

 

A barn swallow feeds its young under the rafters of the Tookus Inn floating lodge anchored in Clio Bay, south of Kitimat. (Robin Rowland)

A rufous humming bird coming in to flowers at Minette Bay Lodge Kitimat, BC, August 13, 2018. (Robin Rowland)

 A rufous humming bird coming in to flowers at Minette Bay Lodge Kitimat, BC, August 13, 2018. (Robin Rowland)

Moon, Mars and a meteor over Minette Bay (plus other celestial wonders)

The moon and Mars rise over Minette Bay, Kitimat, BC, as a meteor streaks over head. You can see Saturn on the far right (Robin Rowland)

This week is a stargazer’s delight. Mars is at its closest approach to Earth, and that means the Red Planet is the brightest it will be from July 27 to July 31 (the latter date is when Mars is actually the closest). Although North America missed the solar eclipse earlier this week, the moon is actually at its smallest, sometimes called a Buck Moon. The giant planets Saturn and Jupiter are high in the southern sky this week. Earlier in the month, Venus was visible as the Evening Star and for those with the proper gear it was possible to get a glance of Mercury.

Kitimat is in the midst of the summer heat wave that is gripping most of North America. Nights are mostly clear although there is some high haze from smoke in the atmosphere stemming from the forest fires in both Siberia and North America.

With all that I drove out to the Kitimat Viewpoint late Saturday July 28,  to capture it all.

Gear
Apps (for Android)
The Photographer’s Emphemeris
– told me when the moon will rise and the angle of location. Note: TPE gives moonrise at sea level. That means moonrise in Kitimat is usually between 50 and 70 minutes later depending on where it comes up over the mountains.
A compass app. To check the compass direction of the moonrise as predicted by TPE.
Sky Map. Android app originally developed by Google. Hold up you phone and see location of stars, planets, nebulae, satellite etc.

Camera
Heavy duty Manfrotto tripod
with
Sony Alpha 77, Minolta 17 to 35mm wide angle lens
Mounted with Cokin P121L Neutral density filter (to reduce the glare from the moon)

Handheld
Sony RX10iii

Jupiter and Saturn over Douglas Channel

Jupiter over the Rio Tinto aluminum plant (right) and Saturn (left)  over the mountains above Kitamaat Village, about an hour after sunset (Robin Rowland)

The late summer dusk lingers for more than hour after sunset, so even the distant mountains of Douglas Channel can be seen.  Jupiter is bright over the Rio Tinto plant at 10:50:33

Sony Alpha 77 ISO 4000 F2.8  1/2.5 of a second

Moonrise

Moonrise over Minette Bay. (Robin Rowland)

 

The moon is about to rise above the mountain (Robin Rowland)

 

The first arc of the moon peeked over the mountaintop at about 10:57:40.

The first image in the photoblog was taken at 11:00:23 and the second at 11::02:27

Sony RX10iii, handheld, ISO 4000 f4 1/1000 of a second

The RX1oiii is a high-end carry everywhere point and shoot. Moon was shot at 600mm on manual focus.

 

The moon reaches for the zenith. (Robin Rowland)

Same settings on the RX10iii at 11:06:50.

 

Mars rises

 

Mars rose to the west of the moon at 11:17:08 This image showing the moon, Mars and Minette Bay Lodge was taken 11:18:35.

Sony Alpha 77, manual focus,  ISO 2500, f5 at 2.5 seconds

At 11:23:31 same settings

 

 

I was bracketing shots, working with different shutter speeds and other settings, still on manual focus.  The meteor streak is in just two frames. This was taken at 11:37:05. (The other at 11:36:58 by 11:37:00 the next frame it was gone. I did not notice the meteor streak until I got home.

Alpha 77 ISO 1600, f3.2 at 2.5 seconds

A last look at Jupiter

Jupiter over the Kitimat mountains and the Rio Tinto plant. (Robin Rowland)

At 11:34:02 Jupiter is setting over the mountains behind the Rio Tinto aluminum plant.

Sony Alpha 77  ISO 1600  f2.8 2.5 seconds