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)

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)

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)

“I’m here for lunch” and other spring bird shots (plus a salamander or two)

One of the at least three families of stellar jays that live in the cedar trees at my house is bolder and smarter than the rest.  Or maybe it’s a “point bird.”   If I go out with a bag of seeds to refill the feeder, there is the harsh call of the stellar jay and in a few moments,  the bird is close by (often on my deck) and watching me pour the seeds into the feeder.

Stellar jay flies to the feeder

So a couple of days ago, the stellar jay was sitting  on my fence, watching, as I filled one feeder.  Went back in the house to get a different bag, for a second feeder.  Brought my camera along this time and caught the jay as it took off, heading right for me.  Bold or what?

Stellar jay on my deck

Here’s the stellar jay just a few seconds later on my deck.

Yellow-rumped warbler

A yellow-rumped warbler, a “common migrant” along the BC coast, sits on a branch on the new trail to Maggie Point near Kitimat harbour.

Mallards on Douglas Channel

Mallards flying over  the choppy ocean of Douglas Channel near Maggie Point.

Male harlequin duck on Douglas Channel

A male Harlequin duck skims the choppy waters.

A Savannah Sparrow another “common migrant” along the BC coast, sits on my neighbor’s roof.



A robin checks out a Robin on my front lawn.

Golden crown sparrow

Golden-crowned sparrows are also regular lunch guests at my feeder.

bird at feeder

Not sure who this little guy is.  He was determined to get seeds and was good at finding the best spots in this feeder.


When I went out with the Kitimat Valley Naturalists, we went to special protected sites at Pine Creek, near Kitimat, to look for salamanders, part of a province-wide salamander count.  Taken with a macro lens, but not exactly the best light. Next time I go out I will bring a small reflector.