The varied thrush – one of my favourite local birds in Kitimat

One of my favourite birds in here in Kitimat is the Varied Thrush (Ixoreus naevius).  There were a lot more than usual this spring for one reason or another. So here is an album of  images.

A varied thrush on my back deck.  (Robin Rowland)


There was still snow in a hollow in a small woods near my house in mid-April. (Robin Rowland)

The snow in the hollow which lasted for about a week after all the snow had gone elsewhere attracted varied thrushes almost every day. (Robin Rowland)


The spring melt advances on the last patch of snow.  A pair of varied thrushes.  (Robin Rowland)

As the spring buds come out in the nearby woods. (Robin Rowland)


And in my backyard.

And on an old log in the same hollow a couple of days later. (Robin Rowland)


In early May on the waterfront at the Minette Bay Lodge. (Robin Rowland)

A closer shot of the varied thrush at Minette Bay. (Robin Rowland)

On an driftwood stump at the mudflats of Minette Bay at low tide. (Robin Rowland)

A closer view (Robin Rowland)

Devil’s club and skunk cabbage

Devil's club  (Oplopanx horridus)

Devil’s club (Oplopanx horridus) (Robin Rowland)

There’s beauty in the forests of the Kitimat Valley, even if you’re a plant with the Latin name horridus. It’s also called the Devil’s Club and has very nasty spines on both the stem and the leaves. It’s related to the ginseng family and was used by coastal First Nations as a medicine for arthritis and dozens of other ailments.


The other appropriately ill-named plant that is common in wetter areas is the skunk cabbage (Lysichiton Americanum) because it stinks. Here the skunk cabbage is pictured alongside the Devil’s Club near Minette Bay.(Robin Rowland)
Found frequently in swampy, boggy areas and on stream beds. First Nations used it as “wax paper” to line baskets and steaming pits. Can be eaten if steamed or roasted–but only in early spring in time of famine.

Splish, splash, the pine grosbeak are taking a bath

Female and male pine grosbeak in a drainage ditch

On my morning walk, there are lots of small birds flying around and they’re often hard to catch with a camera. Today, walking down Haisla Hill in Kitimat, the birds settled into a muddy drainage ditch. Here you see a female, left, and male, right with the bright red feathers, enjoying the flow of water in the ditch.They’re pine grosbeak (Pinicola enucleator) members of the finch family.

Four pine grosbeak in the ditch

A second pair of pine grosbeak join the others in the muddy ditch.

Grosbeak splash in a ditch

Splish splash, the pine grosbeak are enjoying their bath.

Male pine grosbeak in a tree

After his bath, the male pine grosbeak, looks down from a tree with the first spring leaf buds.

Female pine grosbeak on a spring branch

Here’s the female.

Female pine grosbeak

You lookin’ at me?

The Skeena, the oolichan and the frenzy of the gulls

Gulls feed on oolichan on the Skeena

The oolichan, the tiny oil rich fish that sustained the First Nations of British Columbia for millenia come up the rivers in the early spring. At least they come up those rivers where oolichan (Thaleichthys pacificus) still survive. Like the salmon, the oolichan live their adult lives in the ocean and then return to their native streams to spawn and die.

One of the rivers that still sees an oolichan run is the Skeena. Gulls, eagles, ravens, seals all come to feast as the oolichan migrate upstream. The gulls, sensing a feast after a long, harsh winter, are almost in a frenzy, circling and diving over the spot in the river that the oolichan migration has reached.

On Friday, March 8, I was driving to Prince Rupert for an assignment and stopped at the Telegraph Creek rest area. I was lucky, for it was at Telegraph Creek, a great spot for photographs, that the oolichan had reached. There were a few naturalists at Telegraph Creek watching the show. It was an elderly couple who first clued me in to what was going on. Thank you.

Mostly gulls. An eagle flying overhead. Seals or sea lions just upstream.

If I didn’t have that assignment I had to get to in Rupert, I would have stayed at Telegraph Creek most of the day. But as it was, I did manage to get a few shots of the hundreds of gulls circling, wheeling and swimming. I got a couple of not very good shots of an eagle overhead (not very good which is why they’re not here) and the seals or sea lions weren’t anywhere close. So I stayed as long as I could, then it was back in the car for work.

Gulls feed for oolichan on the Skeena

Gulls feed for ollichan on the Skeena

Gulls feed on oolichan in the Skeena River at Telegraph Creek, March 8, 2013 (Robin Rowland)

A spring walk in the woods with an Android camera II Retrocam B&W

Another selection of images from my Android Galaxy camera phone.

These were taken at the same time as the Vignette photos in the last blog but using the black and white setting for the Retrocam.

My favourites for black and white are the Fudgecan (circa 1961 when I was growing up in Kitimat.) which have a sort of silvery sheen to the images.



A couple with the “Xolaroid 2000” settings, a Polaroid emulator circa 1972.



And the Bärbl setting,  from a camera produced in Leipzig in 1951.


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