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.

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

 

New Year’s Day at Minette Bay

Photos from the annual local photographers’ walk around Minette Bay. The deepest cold passed, leaving ice everywhere. There was a heavy overcast and occasional fog.

A female bufflehead duck in the tidal flats of Minette Bay. (Robin Rowland)

Previous New Year’s walks

January 1, 2017
January 1, 2016

A New Year’s photography party on the mudflats of Minette Bay, Kitimat

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As the tide goes out, the ice  covering a briny tidal creek collapses, leaving  patterned cracks. Minette Bay, Kitimat January 1. 2016. (Robin Rowland)

I spent New Year’s Day on the mudflats of Minette Bay, near Kitimat, with other local photographers.   At low tide,  of course.   Ruth and Howard Mills who run the luxury B&B the Minette Bay Lodge invited us for the photo walk on the ice and mud followed by  hot soup and great New Year’s snacks.

Most of my images look best in black and white.  There are few in colour at the end of the blog.

Instagram
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Looking across Minette Bay with Kitimat’s iconic Mt. Elizabeth in the background.  Just after noon the water was just a couple  of centimetres deep, covered in thin layers of ice.  The cold made the mud solid enough so that it wouldn’t be boot grabbing ooze you experience in the summer. January 1, 2016 (Robin Rowland)

minettebeach_1bwThe beach, covered in seaweed, snow and old logs looking west from the trail,  January 1, 2016. (Robin Rowland)

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Looking west toward Douglas Channel, and the Rio Tinto aluminum plant with the winter sun low over the hills to the south. January 1, 2016. (Robin Rowland)
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The twisted roots of a dead tree lying on the beach in some ways reminded me of the Iron Throne. Game of Stumps, anyone? (Robin Rowland)

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Walking back to the lodge along the creek trail. January 1, 2016. (Robin Rowland)

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Another angle on the creek from a bridge a little further along the trail. (Robin Rowland)


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Ice on a chunk of rotten log on the mudflats. January 1, 2016. (Robin Rowland)

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An ice crystal floats on the thin layer of water on top of the frozen mud. (Robin Rowland)

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The winter sun shines through the rain forest. January 1, 2016. (Robin Rowland)

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Happy New Year! Kitimat’s photographers celebrate in the middle of a day on the ice. (Robin Rowland)

Great Blue Heron at Minette Bay, Kitimat

Great Blue Heron

A Great Blue Heron flies over Minette Bay, Kitimat, on the morning of June 5, 2014. (Robin Rowland)

I was assigned by CBC News to shoot stock images of Kitimat in anticipation of the federal government approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline and terminal project later this month.

So as well as my video camera, I took along my DSLR. I shot video of the Great Blue Heron as it waded along the shore for a few minutes. Then as I switched to the DSLR, it took flight.

 

Minette Bay

Wide shot of Minette Bay, looking toward the Silja Festival aka The Delta Spirit Lodge and the Rio Tinto Alcan aluminum smelter.

Minette Bay

Minette Bay from the same spot, the old dock, looking toward the log sort and the Minette Bay marina.

 

Great Blue Heron wades in Minette Bay

 

Great Blue Heron

The Great Blue Heron wades in Minette Bay casting a glance at the cruise ship.

 

Great Blue heron flies over Minette Bay.

It takes flight.

Great Blue Heron flies

It flies past the old dock toward the logs.