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)

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)

Icy nights, Venus, Mars and the moon

Mars (top center) and Venus set over the mountains of Kitimat #BC with the snow illuminated by the light of 93 per cent gibbous moon. Taken on a cold clear -23C windchill night ISO 8000 1/60 f4.5, January 11, 2017 (Robin Rowland)

The first two weeks of January in Kitimat were cold and clear as an arctic outflow stalled over the Pacific Coast.  A friend back east posted a shot of Venus, and I looked out the window and there the planet was clear in the night sky.

For the next few days (except a couple of times it was too cloudy) I got out in the frigid night air

Venus and the waxing crescent moon (9.1 per cent) over Kitimat on New Year’s Day, January 1, 2017. (Robin Rowland)

Venus and the waxing moon over the light of Kitimat, January 1. 2017.

Venus and the waxing moon now at 15.9 per cent over Douglas Channel, January 2, 2017 (Robin Rowland)’

The view a few minutes later as the sky darkened. (Robin Rowland)


The waxing moon and Venus over Kitimat, January 3, 2017  (Robin Rowland)


Venus by herself sometime later. (Robin Rowland)

The waxing crescent at 31 per cent on January 4, 2017.  (Robin Rowland)


The first quarter waxing moon on January 8. Taken through my bedroom window as the skies cleared with an old Lumix FZ50 standby camera I keep there. Shot at IS0 800 and is a bit noisy (camera vintage is 2005) so converted the image to black and white. (Robin Rowland)

The 93 per cent gibbous moon that illuminated the mountains to the west on January 11, 2017. (Robin Rowland)

A driftwood stump alongside a sea monster

The root side of a driftwood stump creates a wonderful pattern, January 1, 2017, at Minette Bay Lodge. (Robin Rowland)

While this stump, emerging from the icy waters of Minette Bay, sort of looks like a sea monster. January 1, 2017 (Robin Rowland)

Kitimat River estuary Christmas bird count 2016

Canada Geese on a take off run in the Kitimat River estuary, Dec. 17. 2016. (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.

Parts of the estuary were completely or partially frozen in the cold snap (Robin Rowland)

So that meant we saw lots of Canada geese and ducks.


Canada Geese flying over the frozen wetland (Robin Rowland)

And up into the trees. (Robin Rowland)


A northern shoveller. (Robin Rowland)

An American coot with a bit of a plant in its beak. (Robin Rowland)

A bald eagle looking through the gloom. (Robin Rowland)

A gull at the end of a snowy log. (Robin Rowland)

A Christmasy scene, ducks and geese by two evergreen trees. (Robin Rowland)