PRETTY IN PINK

Most of you are already know, the entire west coast has taken up a bad habit…..smoking!

California,Oregon and Washington State all have major fires burning right now. The smoke from a forest fire once in the Jet stream can travel for thousands of miles! The smoke is composed of tiny pieces of ash. The thickness of a smoke layer varies. Basically the thicker the cloud, the less light will get through. Until its so thick that the sun is totally blocked.

Another thing that happens with forest fire smoke are surreal sunsets! The sun goes to a deep orange, than to a orangey red, than to a reddish pink and finally to a neon pink. The contrast is very muted because of the low light conditions. Exposures can be tricky.

SUNSET VIGIL

I wanted to line up those gorgeous clouds in the background with the Heron in the foreground but this Heron was wise to me!

I had to beach the boat and walk in the shallows. I am constantly taking shots as I walk. I call them “Safety” shots. If the animal takes off before I can get to that “special spot” at least I have something. Ten percent of something is better than one hundred percent of nothing.

So this Heron took off before I could reach that spot unfortunately!

WET AND WILD

This yearling was swimming when I came upon it. It climbed out of the water,shook vigorously like a dog and stared at me.

Bears are very good swimmers. They swim from island to island foraging. Actually just about every animal out there is a great swimmer and island hops as well.

When Bears get mange,they often times go into the ocean. The salt helps kill the parasites.

THE GIFT

August for many birds is molting time. Which makes sense when you think about it. If you were going to undress you’d want to do it in the hottest month!

Romeo dropped a large primary feather tonight!

As a photographer I do something most do not do. I keep both eyes open when I shoot. Watch anyone taking a shot and 99% of them will be closing one eye. My photographic instructor is the only other person I know of that shot with both eyes open. The advantage of doing this is you can see far more on the periphery! (my dominant eye is my right with my left being secondary)

I bring this up because If I had my left eye closed I would never of seen the primary feather drop! As Romeo went past my right eye was tracking/shooting him but my left eye saw that primary feather fall.

A eagle has over 7000 feathers but there are only 5 large feathers on each wing . They are called the “primaries”. There are also 12 large white tail feathers.

I’ve looked at my shots and figure the feather that fell was the second primary on his left wing.

I consider it a honour when one of my eagle friends gives me a feather but of course they do not chose to just get rid of it. It’s just shear fluke to be honest! At any rate I love recieving them!

I also play a game at this time of year. When one of my molting friends zips past there is usually a light fluffy piece of down released! It drifts downwind. The game I talk about is me trying to grab that piece of downy fluff before it hits the water! I missed two of them last night.

MY SISTER MARIANNE

I took this lame shot of my younger sister Marianne back in 74? I always called her “Boo”. I took this when I was just beginning to take pictures. We had a trampoline in the backyard so I got her to jump on and pose.

I got bad news early this morning that she had died. It was expected. She had cancer in multiple areas. She was in the Hospice in Huntsville. A small town in northern Ontario. She was seven years younger than me.

Take flight Boo and soar!

THE DAREDEVIL

I was able to get out on a evening shoot tonight. I originally wanted to go looking for bears but it turned out I left too late. I did see a bear on my way out close to town. I normally do not see any bears on Meares island but tonight there was one grazing in the tall grass. It was shallow where it was and the tide was coming up, so I wouldn’t of gotten stuck. Some flat bays empty quickly!

Only time to visit both the Daredevil and Romeo tonight. Juliette did fly over to say hello as well!

BIG BART

I found two bears tonight. I recognized this bear as one I’ve called “Big Bart”. He’s been around for a few years. He’s shy but tolerates me.

Because of there being no Bear Watching boats zipping around, the bears appear to be more skittish.

I think they get accustomed to boats being around when the bear watching boats are out. Because of this virus the boats haven’t been out this year,so the bears have gotten use to silence making it more difficult for me to get close. Fortunately many of them already know me!

LIFES A BEACH!

In this video you’ll see “Fran” standing on top of a Sea Lion carcass. Fran is a teenager about to become an adult. Eagles get their adult colours at 5 years of age. You can still see some streaking in her head feathers.Dead give away she’s around four and a half years old? She’s also the offspring of Frank and Frieda. So she is tolerated. If she was a stranger she would most likely be chased away. If she kept coming back,she probably would be attacked! But because she’s part of the family she has a life long membership to come back any time! Fran see’s her father coming over and backs off. Frank is telling her to EAT and go.

Turn the sound up and listen to the sounds Fran makes.

In this video it shows a immature eagle eating. Its early, (5:38am) so I guess its breakfast. This male eagle looks around 3 to 4 years. Another Immature comes in to attack! I recognize this eagle. Its one I’ve called “Ruffles”. I call him that because of the ruffled feathers on his back. He’s a bully. I’ve seen him do false charges at the Ravens.

In this video it shows Ruffles just a few minutes after attacking the other Immature eagle. I think the other eagle is one I’ve called “Rusty” but am not sure? There are half a dozen Immatures feasting on the carcass. Ruffles takes exception to Rusty(?) hanging around waiting for a bite…..so he chases him off!

I’m not that familiar with Frank and Frieda to be honest. What I do know is If it was Frank or Frieda they wouldn’t walk slowly up to the carcass. This male eagle is taking his time,so that tells me he’s not Frank. I suspect this male is poaching,so he’s very alert!

There is one thing I found odd with this video? This eagle did not trip the cameras motion sensor. The camera began shooting way before this eagle arrived. So what tripped the sensor?

I like the light in this video.

MY TURN!!

As some of you already know, I have been documenting the feeding behaviour of eagles on a dead Sea Lion out on Chestermans beach (Frank island). The Sea Lion is a young female Stellar Sea Lion and she was pregnant.

To help them to get at the meat I cut the carcass open. Later when I swapped the card I saw the remains of a unborn pup inside her. I could see whiskers and wondered what it was? I looked closer and realized it was the nose of the pup. Poor thing never had a chance.  I still do not know why this Lion died? I just hope it was from natural causes.

I set up a trail camera station. It took me a lot of work and about three days of figuring it out,but I think I have it now.

In this video an adult eagle has been feeding too long…..according to another eagle and It was persuaded to MOVE!

After the attack you can hear the attacker scolding the other eagle and than hop over for a bite.

BEARLY POSING

I haven’t been able to get close enough to tell if this bear is a boy or girl? I suspect a female as the fur around the head is large and rounded. She was suspicious of me as I had to beach the boat and walk on land to get closer. Whenever she bent down to get a mouthful of grass,I’d move silently towards her. When she looked up I froze.  Bears get nervous If they see movement. She’ll get use to me after a few months.

ROMEO AND JULIETTE’S FLOWER MOON

This months moon is called a “Flower” moon. You can see what happens when the clouds snuff the light. The birds are silhouettes but If it was in golden light this shot would be excellent.

Juliette was coming over to say hello! I was glad to see her up and about!

A CLOUDY ROMEO

It was sunny all day,so I thought I’d go out for a evening shoot. The almost full moon was coming up and it was low tide so I knew the bears would be out and about too!

So I headed out into the sunshine! It took me 45 minutes to get up into Fortune Channel where the bears are. I found a bear almost immediately! I got two shots off and the light went bye bye! I looked to the west and saw a huge cloud bank moving in and knew my gorgeous light was history!

If I do not have the light,I do not have the shot. Its as simple as that! So I basically made lemonade.

DINNER TIME

I was done the evening shoot,so headed back to the dock. I was pleasantly surprised to see a young River Otter chowing down at the dock! The best time to get close up shots is when a animal is eating. They tend to zone out.

Unfortunately the sun had already set so the lighting was poor! I bumped my ISO up to 1600,slowed my shutter down to 1/125 and opened the f-stop wide open and that still wasn’t enough. I hate poor lighting conditions with a excellent subject!

THE MYSTERIOUS CASE OF THE “HEADLESS LION”

I went for a ride/walk out on Chestermans beach. It was overcast so I didn’t take my camera. As usual, when I don’t bring my camera Mother Nature says something like “what can I do to make Wayne shake his head cursing that he didn’t bring his camera”?

So what do I come across out on Frank island…..a dead adult female Stellar Sea Lion……….with no head! Now I’m not a expert but I think those things usually come with heads. Someone mentioned that they had seen a mother Orca and calf in the area a couple of days ago. Suggesting that the Orca may of bitten the head off. As soon as I heard that I knew that wasn’t true. Any animal whether out in the bush or water would never turn done a gourmet meal! That would be like somebody finding a wallet full of money, throwing the money away but keeping the wallet.

Coincidentally some friends came across the carcass as well. He’s a retired surgeon and his wife is a retired GP. They both examined the wounds and thought that a sharp metal instrument had been used to cut the flesh.

So this Lion must of died and simply floated ashore.Than somebody came along and took the head off for a souvenir? Now this animal looked perfectly fine to me. It wasn’t starving and my Surgeon friend said that he thought it might be pregnant? Well If anyone is going to know that kind of stuff it would be him.

So my revised theory is that it was shot. You must remember that when Harbour Seals and  Sea Lions are shot 98% of the time they are shot in the head. Thats because the only thing poking up above the water is their head! A friend suggested It most likely was shot by a commercial fisherman? They are the only ones out there that carry firearms and they also have a hatred for Lions.

When they net Herring and have their nets pursed by the boat the Lions attack on force by the dozens! They leap into the nets to gorge themselves! This pisses off the fisherman. They have “Seal Bombs” they use to frighten them away and do also shoot them. There has been vocal support to cull the Lions on the west coast.

The basic problem here is that we as a species have collectively raped the oceans for hundreds of years! When we weren’t here (that means ALL humans) there was plenty of fish to go around but now many stocks have become depleted! Take the Northern Cod on the East coast. That stock still hasn’t come back after 30 years of moratorium!  Here in Tofino the Herring fishery was stopped decades ago! All fished out.

So these poor creatures are being forced to jump into the nets for something to eat. If you could ask one of them they would say something like “We don’t want to go near those animals but they have all the fish”!

We’re like King Midas,except instead of everything turning to gold, everything we touch, dies.