Strawberry island is a small island in Tofino’s harbour. You could swim to it. It’s owned by Rod Palm. A very interesting man in his own right. Rod has been the eyes and ears for whales in the Tofino area for many a year now!
On his island are two tree spires that Ernie and Ethel love to perch on. When I know there are zero clouds to the west,I sometimes come down here to try and get a few eagle/mountain shots! If there are clouds to the west,the setting suns light will be snuffed.
I went down a few nights ago and basically stood around for 1 1/2 hours and nobody came to perch? Strawberry island is about 500 yards away from me, and those mountains (Strathcona) are 22 miles north of Tofino.
I went tonight to see If anybody was home and sure enough there was! I think It was Ethel? Hard to tell at this distance? I say Ethel because she’s taken off before. It’s like she senses me looking at her and so bugs out! Ernie doesn’t do that,but she does. So I think it was her.
From the time I arrived to the point she took off was only a few minutes. I waited for 70 minutes more but nobody came home.
Glad I got her at least,even If she doesn’t like me very much.
The last few days Tofino has been getting snow. We do get it yearly but not that often. I miss the snow to be honest. I grew up with plenty of snow and always did so many wonderful things! My favorite was winter camping. Tracking animals was much easier in the snow!
Ernie and Ethel were perched on top of their Strawberry island perch. They are staying close to each other these days as its mating season. Wherever Ethel goes Ernie is always close behind.
I found Ernie & Ethel sitting side by side! I don’t see them doing that very often.It’s mating season so they tend to hang out a lot together.So much so that when Ethel took off,Ernie joined her seconds later!
I’ve noticed that whenever I take pictures of “Ernie”………he knows! When I point my lens towards him,he always knows & stares back.I’m about 750 meters away (2500 feet). I defiantly get the feeling that he can feel me watching!
Went up into Fortune Channel & Gunner inlet looking for bears tonight.Because of it being high tide,I knew the odds were against me in finding one out & about. It’s usually a 50/50 proposition ? Tonights guess was wrong.I didn’t find a single one out.During the Summers warm periods the odds of finding one out decrease. They have a thick fur coat & yes they do get hot. They prefer to keep cool & stay inside the forest.
I headed back to Tofino & stopped at Tsapee Narrows to visit with the Daredevil & Delilah. Delilah has been gone fore several weeks now & the Daredevil wasn’t around either.
So I continued on my way back to Tofino.I could see the clouds were high.I knew the sunset was going to be a good one as well.When the clouds are high like that,they light up after the sun sets.The last rich colours (violet) of the sunset afterglow can still hit those high clouds even after the sun has gone down.
I went to visit with Romeo.As soon as I came around Beck island,he flew straight over to greet me! We have a game we play……or at least,I do.I try to beat him to this rocky island I call it his “rocky throne”.I move pretty fast in my boat but he always moves faster & he’s not even flapping his wings! He’s simply gliding!
After awhile Juliette even came over.Their eaglets must be fully fledged by now or very close? The sunset was great! Took a bunch of shots of them both with that gorgeous sky in behind!
I spotted a Heron close by on a rock & decided to see If I could get some shots of it against that sky as well.Was a bit tricky but I managed to get a few good ones.I got close enough to see it had a swarm of bugs around it.
After that,I called it a night & came back in.Tonights shoot started off poorly but ended on a bang!
Wasn’t able to get out today,so I went down to see if either Ernie or Ethel were on their favorite perch? Nobody was home when I arrived but decided to wait. Sure enough one of them came by. It was Ethel taking over the best seat in the house! Glad she came by to say hi.
Ernie had taken off & all I could do was hang around waiting for him or Ethel to come back? I waited for almost a hour wondering if he would ever come back? The light was great too! I loved the soft pink on the snow!
Ernie finally showed up with his lovely Ethel too!
Eagles have territories they fiercely protect! The territories fit together like a big jig saw puzzle. Any eagle flying through another eagles territory can expect to be escorted across & out.
Eagles do not tolerate other eagles pooching in their area!
Thats why this shot is so unusual! This is Maggie. Her territory is north of here. This area is owned by Ernie & Ethel.
Because I haven’t been able to visit my girlfriend maggie in a few days,she did see me & flew over to say hi! I couldn’t believe she did that! I think the only reason she was able to get away with doing that is because she is the largest eagle in the area. I’ve never seen another eagle mess around with her.
I can’t believe for one second that Ernie or Ethel didn’t see her in their territory.
Oh she’s a funny girl sometimes!
It was high tide when I headed out tonight. Knowing that, I knew finding any bears was going to be slim.
However,I did find one lonely bruin! I looked all along the entire eastern shore of Fortune Channel & was about to end my second pass on my way back when I came across a bear way back in 2nd bay. I got a few good shots but some clouds moved in & snuffed my light. I decided that this bear was going to be my only Bruin of the night,so I was going to wait. I waited for half a hour or so listening to all the evening chirps of many birds. It’s always so relaxing to just sit back & take in all of the sounds,smells & sights! A real smorgasbord for the senses!
The light finally came back & I got a few more of my furry friend.
Thanked my furry friend & said goodnight. I needed to get back for sunset. Once I turned the SE corner of Meares & was heading westward,I could clearing see a rather large solid looking cloud system moving in! I also could see that I had only 15 minutes or so of light left before it went bye bye! I stopped at Tsapee Narrows,as per usual to visit with the Daredevil & Delilah. I knew these guys were going to be my last subjects of the night,so I stayed with them longer than normal.
After a few moon shots with them both side by side,I said goodnight & headed back. I had a change of heart & did go visit Romeo & Juliette.
I noticed something odd about some of the local eagles! On Canada Day,there is a rather loud fireworks demonstration in the harbour. A barge is pulled by a tug boat into the centre of the harbour & the fireworks are released from there.
As I said & you already know,fireworks display can be very very loud!
I noticed the day before Canada day that Maggie,Romeo & Juliette were all gone! I found that unusual & didn’t think much more of it.
I than wondered if they have a internal calendar accurate enough to know when this “loud” display was going to happen & get the hell out of dodge? I’m sure all the domestic animals must shake & hide when these loud displays happen & I bet all the resident animals must not like it either!
So,I wonder if they actually vacate the area to avoid this? Remember that any eagle with eaglets would have to stay around the nest of course,but Romeo/Juliette seem to be too old for that anymore.
Moe was hanging around true,but my girlfriend “Maggie” wasn’t & that was strange? I wonder where they go? I will try to remember to pay attention to this next year!
After taking a few shots of Romeo,I called it a night.
The sun came out too late in the day to justify me getting out in my boat. So I went out to the beach & shot a few. I saw both Ernie & Ethel chillin up their perch on Strawberry island & couldn’t resist. Strathcona mountains have a nice coating of snow on them finally! I think it’s the first time I’ve seen that much snow on them this winter!
It finally got sunny today after what seemed like a eternity! I was looking forward to getting out but was worried about the wind picking up & shutting me down!
Sure enough……..that’s exactly what happened! The harbour was kicking up some good sized waves & there was no way in hell I was going out in that stuff! I value my life!
Thus, I was grounded once again but this time with great light that I couldn’t do anything with! I almost hate these sunny days more than overcast rainy weather. It’s like Mother Nature is teasing me!!
I decided to take a few token shots anyways. Maybe tomorrow will be ok to get out? I want to see if the Lions have arrived yet in Cannery bay?
The weather & light were perfect for a evening shoot today,so I was off to the races!
Went straight up into Fortune Channel to look for some of my furry friends! Found one near Creative Salmon’s Dawely Pass fish farm. I recognized him right away. It was “Lil Jack” turning over rocks like they were books!
Li’l Jack & I spent some quality time together! I think he’s around 3 1/2 years old or so?
He wandered along the shore line & up into the forest for a nap I suppose. He probably gobbled up several hundred Rock crabs while I was watching him!
Said goodnight to him & continued along the eastern shore line looking for Li’l Jacks cousins! Found one in “Big Bay” but couldn’t get very close. The tide was dropping & the shore line in there was shallow. Didn’t recognize this one,but I got some good shots of it by some big old dead tree’s!
I noticed another boat out there for the third night in a row. He’s like me but a professional videographer! I saw him last year too. He had his hands full with another bear & I had mine.
Continued along the shore line to the north. I have a spot where I turn around & begin to head south because the shore line past this point gets steep & the bears cannot come out along the shore line.
I was about to turn when I saw a bear by the shore line! I slowly approached & soon realized it was a Sow with two cubs! I recognized her right away! It was “Streak” & she finally had her cubs out! She has always guarded them & kept them just inside the forest cover!
I had lucked out tonight! I approached slowly & watched her ears. They’re the first sign of stress!
She seemed fine,so I continued. The cubs both had little streaks down there chest just like Mum! One was wider than the other. Not sure but I think that one is a male & the one with the thin streak is a female?
I went up wind & drifted in very quietly. It worked & I was in position. Streak was cool & more interested in overturning large rocks for those tasty crab treats! The two cubs have never seen me before & so were apprehensive about me. They kept there distance but were watching me constantly. Because of all this excitement I hadn’t noticed that the sun had gone past the spot where I normally take off. I knew I’d be missing the sunset back in town, but sometimes something comes up that demands ones attention more so!
The sun went behind Meares & the shadow touched the shore where Streak & I were chewing the fat. No light,no shots,so I said goodnight to her & thanked her for introducing me to her two “Little Streaks”! (“Thick” & “Thin”)
Headed back to town but not before stopping off at Tsapee Narrows to visit with the Daredevil. Because the sun had gone in behind some low laying cloud,the best I could do for shots were silhouette’s.
Only got a few shots & took off. The clouds did look great so I wanted to take advantage of them in the harbour. By the time I got in there the clouds had totally changed & gone more to the red end of the spectrum. Not as impressive I thought but still great none the less!
Went to Deadman island to visit with Romeo. He wasn’t home when I arrived & I cursed,but the silly bugger perched just as I was thinking no shots from him tonight! Couldn’t see Juliette anywhere?
Romeo & I had a few words & than he posed a bit for me.
By this time the light was all but gone,so I called it a night & came back in.
Seeing Streak with her cubs really made my night! Had another great shoot tonight!