THEY’RRRRRRRRRRRRRE BACK!!

I always say “when the bears go to bed,the Trumpeters arrive”! They tag team. They are flying down from the Yukon. I took pictures when one of them had a neck ID tag on. (K-18) I sent the shot and location to the National Registry for Trumpeter swans.

The researchers thanked me and in return told me their story. (K-18 and K-19) They both had been caught and tagged in Taye lake in the Yukon. They crimped a metal ring onto their left ankle and also slipped a plastic neck sock on. This plastic neck sock has the ID number on it and is designed to decay and fall off. It doesn’t restrict their swallowing.

I copied this from a Jan 2013 (January 23rd,2013) Received some info about K19 from Jim Hawkings with the Canadian Wildlife Service out of Whitehorse. This is what he had to say about K19…………….”Not sure if anyone else (Ruth??) has tracked this down yet, but this is one of the birds captured in Yukon Territory, summer 2003 during the captures for the satellite telemetry study spearheaded by Ruth Shea and Rod Drewien. The bird was captured on 22 July 2003 at Taye Lake, 37 miles NW of Whitehorse (band # 1939-01708). It was not marked with a satellite transmitter. This is the first recovery I know of from this bird, but Ruth (or other folks in Southern BC) may have other sightings that never made their way to the banding lab’s recovery database. The other banded bird in the group was likely K19’s mate, formerly marked with neckband K18.

Only two have arrived so far with 8 being the size of this wedge (air) and bevy (water). I always look forward to seeing them. They are notorious for being skittish! They prefer to winter over in deep quiet fiord like inlets.

They are the largest bird (by weight) in North America.

BEARS IN THE MIST

I went yesterday to collect my trail cameras I had set up 7 weeks ago at my favourite salmon/bear stream. I came across 5 bears but zero salmon.

Salmon spawn….and die. Their bodies either sink to the bottom or float downstream. These dead fish get stuck in certain spots along the rivers edge. The bears know this.,and so they “patrol” the river banks going from spot to spot searching for a dinner! The vast majority of salmon a bear will eat are already dead. Why run after food when Mother Nature has a great supermarket/fridge!

So when I paddled upstream I was surprised not see any morts laying on the bottom? I did see bits and pieces but just one whole fish.

When It rains hard,all that rainwater drains down into the river system, swelling the volume. What this basically does is act like a powerful hose. It flushes all those dead salmon out into the estuary, where the hungry happy Gulls await!

This cleans the system of dead salmon. So If It had just rained and flushed,I wouldn’t be so alarmed but It’s been several weeks since strong rains. That means in those two weeks there hasn’t been any salmon to die,and that’s the troubling part. It makes me wonder If there “die off” from that drought?

We won’t know the effects of this drought for 3 years?

Seeing so many bears in such a short span of time and not seeing any salmon was disconcerting.

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE FURRY KIND

It’s that time of year again when the salmon run and the bears chase after them…..and I chase after the bears!

I went up to my favorite stream to do some salmon videos. I bought a new GoPro and was looking forward to using it. It has a stabilization circuit built in that keeps the frame “steady”! I’ve had problems in the past with the video being too jittery. The surface ripples and the fish bumping into the camera made the video too jittery for me. I built a device (for lack of a better term) I call a “Drift Rig”. I attach the GoPro to it and let it drift downstream through a school of salmon! Once I let it go I have zero control over it. If It wants to turn left but the salmon are to the right,tough luck! So It’s a crap shoot each time I release it at the best of times!

I have learned that the best time to do these videos is during low tide. At high tide the salmon spread out but at low tide they all congregate in the deeper pools. They know instinctively that they are susceptible to predator attacks during low tide. So going during low tide is the best……….. but also the worst! It’s too shallow to get into the stream to begin with! So I usually tie up out front and walk in. I have a canoe hidden in the bush. I grabbed the canoe and paddled upstream. On this occasion It was more like walking upstream as the water level was really low and slow!

I got to that deep pool and sure enough there were several hundred Chum swimming slowly about in it! I got the drift rig set and released it upstream of that school of Chum salmon. The flow was so slow that one run (about a 100 feet) took 20 minutes! When It gets near the end (where it shallows up) I wade out into the stream, grab it and shut it off. I then walk back upstream to repeat! I managed to get in about 7 runs.

So when I let the rig go I basically have to wait 20 minutes. During this time my head is swivelling around like a radar watching out for bears.I am constantly looking around me as a bear could literally pop out anywhere! Sure enough on the third run I see a bear walking downstream towards me. I got my camera ready and waited for it to get close. It was in the shade and I wanted it to walk into the light…but it didn’t. Instead It saw me, crossed the stream and began to walk back upstream.

My camera bag is heavy. I cannot wear it with me when I wade into the stream. It not only would get wet but It also would make me more prone to slip as the added weight throws my balance off.  So I placed it halfway between the starting point and the end. That way If I see a bear coming I could get to it quickly……or so I thought?

It was on my 5th run when I realized that doing this was not a good idea. I was chest deep grabbing the rig when I looked over my right shoulder and saw a bear not twenty feet away from my bag and it was slowly walking towards it!

I yelled loudly at it and turned to get out of the water as quickly as possible! I made all sorts of noise splashing about and that sure enough scared off the furry interloper. I decided from that time on I would always wear my bag all the time and only took it off right beside the spot where I went into the stream. Later I thought to myself “that’s all I need is for Yogi to go galloping off with all my equipment”!

So I finished the seventh run and decided to head back downstream. The tide was beginning to rise. I do not like to leave my Zodiac alone as bears can walk over and easily damage it with their claws. So I was anxious to get back to my boat, but the first thing I had to do was put the canoe back into the forest. There is a pathway I’ve made about 100 feet long. It goes through thick bush to a small clearing. This is where I hide my canoe.

I beached the canoe, grabbed the paddles and some other gear and started to walk into the forest……and that’s when I was startled! I ran face to face with a big old bear walking in the other direction! It immediately ran like a bat out of Hell to the base of a tree, grabbed onto the trunk and stared back at me with very wide eyes!

Now remember I had a time element going on, the tide was coming in and I did not want to get cut off from my boat. I also have to get all this gear and the canoe back into the forest or it’s going to go “bye bye” with the outgoing tide!

Which meant I had to walk past this agitated and scared bear! Realizing this,It really pissed me off and I immediately yelled at the bear!

“OH GREAT,YOU JUST HAD TO BE COMING OUT WHEN I WANTED TO GO IN…….FUCKING GREAT”!

Now by this time I realized this bear was more afraid of me than me of it. So I held my breadth and marched forward! Well,that bear shot up that tree like a rocket! It reminded me of “Jack and the Beanstalk”! It went up about twenty feet and just stared down at me. It took me 3 trips to bring everything in and “Jack” was intently watching me go back and forth from on high!

Of course after putting away everything I took some shots of poor old Jack before I left. I apologized, thanked him and left.

Getting back to the boat was ok but the water was already about waist deep. Another half hour and I’d be getting wet!

After getting home I reviewed the footage. The videos were a disaster! I found there was way too much organic debris in the water for beginners and that there was saltwater in the pool! (normally at low tide the stream flushes that deep pool of saltwater)

The saltwater makes the video image fuzzy but the freshwater makes it crystal clear! The stream was flowing so weakly that It couldn’t flush this deep pool of saltwater. So all the salmon are not only fuzzy but hard to see!

The reason I explained this process in detail is to show you “one” my failures. People always say they love my shots but there is a price to pay (in behind the scenes) that you never get to hear about.

Basically, I make mistakes and learn how to do it better! I’ve always said “the person who makes the most mistakes (and learns from them!) will end up with the best shots”

Moral of the story……do not take any salmon videos during a drought!

GHOST EAGLE

Our weather is very odd for this time of year? Normally by this time of year we are having tremendous bouts of rain but we haven’t had any rain to speak off for months……and this is a Rainforest!

Which has created late season forest fires! These fires send smoke over our way, creating very interesting sunsets!

This is the Daredevil. I can always depend on him to be around. I went to visit with Romeo/Juliette but neither were there? Off to the salmon streams I bet. So It was just me and the Daredevil and a ghostly sunset!

The lack of rain has made things very difficult for the salmon. With such low water levels the salmon cannot move up into the river systems. They eventually will die and not spawn. Which means in 4 years time this run will be severely decreased.

It also means that next year there will be fewer bear cubs. The lack of salmon this year has immediate and long lasting effects.

Having said that,Nature is very resilient!

BANDIT

All the Crows look the same to me. The only differences I can see is in their personalities. There is one Crow I have named. I call him Bandit. He will only take a treat from my hand while I’m riding my bike! It’s what he does,It’s his thing I guess.

Crows have very sharp talons but Bandit is always very careful not to hurt me. I had always thought that he takes the treat with his talons but it appears he grabs it with his mouth!

He lives in a section of town I always ride through and I know he is watching for me. When he sees me he will swoop in front of me to tell me “HERE I AM”! I then get his treat ready and ride off knowing he’ll come up from behind me and very gently grab his treat!

Such a cool Crow!

“OH LOOK…..THEY DELIVER”!

I was told by a friend that a pod of Orcas (T109’s) were heading down Tofino Inlet! I quickly grabbed my gear and headed out looking for them. It took me 1 1/2 hours to find them and unfortunately by the time I did find them they were in shadow.

I was surprised to see not just one but many paddle boarders paddling out to meet the Orcas as they went past! This spot Is a long ways away from anywhere! I did see a float house off in a cove and understood where they all had come from. Must have been 10 of them.

These Orcas love coming to hunt down Tofino Inlet! I think they had made a kill just when I was arriving? Several were breaching in celebration!

It’s always exciting when they come to visit!

ROBBIE

I had full intentions of going out tonight on a evening shoot,but after looking at the lack of clouds,I decided to cancel. I was already down where I keep my boat when this revelation hit me.

“So no pictures for me today” I thought, but then you’ll never guess who dropped in to say hello,…….Robbie! Rita stayed up on a pole. She’s more skittish then Robbie.

It’s always so good when I get to talk to him. He must think I’m nuts and just feels sorry for me. He drops in to make sure I don’t need help finding my way home. Speaking of which, I can call him as I ride home and he will follow me. He will fly with me and the only time I can keep up with him is when I’m going down this long hill!

Ravens just may be the most intelligent animal out there? Their use of tools and being able to figure things out ahead of time is remarkable!

I’m very happy he dropped by!

SUNSET STRETCH

Take a close look at Romeo’s feathers. Those feathers to a eagle are like our teeth when we are young. They go bye bye and a new one grows in. Only difference is a eagle repeats this each summer.

Eagles and many birds molt during the hottest time of the year, usually August. The warmth allows them to shed feathers and not become hypothermic. Eagles try not use a lot of energy during this period. Molting zaps their energies. Most of a eagles energy goes to to keeping themselves warm. So during these hot periods they do not need to eat as often. So they can afford to stay still for longer periods of time.

In the winter they need to eat constantly as their heat output needs to increase due to the colder weather.

Think of it like a woodstove,in the summer when it’s warm out, you never use it,but in the winter when It’s cold outside,you use it all the time!

DISAPPEARING ACT

This is The Daredevil. One of my greatest joys has been getting to know him. Becoming familiar with his movements and his favorite spots to perch. Did you know that each eagle has a hidden escape route through the thick forest? Think of a tunnel but it winds through a forest. I always think of that Star Wars footage of the land speeders racing through the forest. (I actually visited that area btw.)

When a eagle has a fish another eagle can try and take the fish! The chased eagle (If close to it’s escape route?) can fly into the forest knowing when to dart left or right but the pursuing eagle does not know the route and will either give up or most likely crash and burn!

I’ve seen this happen several times. The eagle with a fish seemingly disappears into a solid wall of green,being hotly pursued by a second eagle. Then usually seconds later I hear a loud crashing noise! The crashed eagle cannot take to the air due to the dense packing of trees. So It has to hop along the ground in a desperate fashion! It makes all sorts of noise desperately trying to get off the forest floor! It knows it’s very vulnerable to ground predators and by making so much noise It can attract a nearby ground predator?

and the other eagle being pursued exits the forest tunnel victoriously with it’s prize!

NAME GAME FINAL

Well It looks like we have 17 names to choose from! Here are the choices

Lynette https://lynettedartycross.com/ ROBIN

Babsje https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com/ WISHBONE

Robbie https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ OBERON

Chris https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/ CHANCER

Annette https://annetterochelleaben.wordpress.com/ TYRONE

Liz https://lizgauffreau.com/ MERCUTIO

Noelle https://saylingaway.wordpress.com/ TYBALT

Andy https://sealandair67140807.wordpress.com/ SHAKESPEARE (SPEAR)

Jennie https://jenniefitzkee.com/ CHOCOLATE

Greg https://penumbrahaiku.wordpress.com/ TUBE (TO BE)

Emma https://emmafcownie.com/ BARRY

Array https://widdershinsfirst.com/ SHAKESPEARE

Linda https://lindaschaubblog.net/ RUSTLER

Jane https://janesheartsong.wordpress.com/ ROUNDER

Sandra https://intothelightadventures.com/ SHAKESPEARE

SRT https://srtnews.net/ PARINDA

Marsha https://alwayswrite.blog/ SAMSON

So there you have it folks,17 excellent names to choose from! I’d like to thank everyone who weighed in and for giving such creative names!

After pondering the matter now for some time,I’ve decided the name this fine young Eaglet will hold is “WISHBONE”. I liked it because of the comedy and one can never have too much laughter in ones life, can they?

So Babsje has earned a picture of this beautiful creature and I thank you Babsje for the great name!

NAME GAME

I was visiting my friend Romeo! The sunset light was fantastic! He had just caught a fish and headed over to his favorite eating spot,a small rocky islet that’s protected by shallow waters. A few minutes after ,I see this other darker coloured eagle coming from the east,from their nest island,Beck.

I instantly realized It was his youngster coming over to get some of daddy’s catch! The eaglet came in like a hurricane! Poor Romeo,It was all he could do to get out of the way! Romeo promptly grabbed his dinner and came over to where I was watching,our meeting spot,his throne.

Remember that eagles carry food with their powerful talons. So when he perched onto his throne,he did so with just one foot! The other was holding the fish! I was very impressed!

I looked back at the eaglet and it looked dejected. This is the final stage of fledging. Up to this point the eaglet would of been fed by both adults,but to get it used to not always getting what it wants,they reject feeding it. It will become hungry enough and start searching for food on it’s own, while mum and dad watch at a distance.

So in celebration of this young eagles coming of age,I would like to put up another “name game”!

This is Romeo and Juliette’s offspring and I “think” it’s a male?

The person who chooses the best name, gets a picture of this beautiful eagle!

INTRODUCING “NUTMEG”

This juvenile is Ernie and Ethel’s. (Strawberry island) I do not know the sex yet? I’ve found they need to be about one year to be able to tell. This one is being called “Nutmeg”. Thanks to Babsje for coming up with the name. http://babsjeheron.wordpress.com/

I name them but to be honest they only hang around for a few months and then they are gone. They may come back in two years time but I’d never be able to tell who it is?

PICTURE PERFECT

The full moon this month is on Thursday. It’s a Sturgeon moon. The name came from the Algonquin tribe. The sturgeon were more easily caught during August. We are closer than normal,so It will be a so called “Supermoon”.

I went out on Sunday hoping to be able to go out on either Monday,Tuesday or Wednesday as well, but the fog had other ideas! I got a few this month.

FEATHERED MISADVENTURES

I was told by a good friend that there was an injured Eagle up in Fortune Channel! So I gathered my gear, included capturing gear, and headed out.

Some tourists had reported an injured Eagle. Whenever tourists report anything I’m cautious. Most do not know what they are seeing?

It took me over a hour to get out there. So when I arrived at the spot where they had seen the eagle,there was no eagle? I expanded my search area to 3 miles and did 4 passes. Still nothing.

So here is what I think happened. An eagle had tried to get a fish but accidentally went into the water. It was close enough to shore,so it swam. They literally do a breaststroke. It made it to shore but was hypothermic and so couldn’t fly. They instinctively will climb as high as they can get (to protect themselves from ground predators) and wait to warm up. Once they feel warmer, they’ll shake to remove as much water as possible. Then once fully recovered, they’ll fly off.

The tourists had spotted not an injured eagle but a very cold eagle I bet. This is why I’m reluctant to act upon what I hear from tourists. But hey,……..I had to check to make sure one of my friends wasn’t injured.

In the process of searching I came across a bear. Looked like a 3 year old female. She was a real sweetheart! I enjoyed spending time with her.

I could see to the south the fog spilling over the ridge. That meant everything was socked in and the only pictures I would be getting would be up in Fortune. So I stayed with her for over an hour. She really loved the sea asparagus! I’ve seen them sell that stuff in the local supermarket.

When I left I bundled up as I knew the fog would be cold. Sure enough the fog was not only cold but it had sat down and I couldn’t see anything! I practice going from point to point as If I’m on a compass bearing all the time. I’m very mindful of this! So because I’m very familiar with points of land I was able to get back to town without a compass or GPS. I do have both but wanted to test my abilities…….and I passed!

I am glad there was no injured eagle and that I found such a beautiful bear!

THE DAREDEVIL

None of you would know this but It takes a huge amount of work for me to go out on an evening shoot in my boat! So to reduce the number of times I get snookered by the clouds (snuffed),I look at the radar feed as well as the Cox bay camera.

Monday night was the last night for me to be able to get eagle/moon shots! Also,I have been waiting for years to get an excellent shot of Tofino with a moon over it! Only problem with that idea is that Tofino faces north! The only way I could get a shot of Tofino with the moon over it is if the moon was rising really far south………..and it was this time around! (Buck moon)

I checked and the azimuth for the moon was around 130 degrees! Which is really far south! I’ve never seen the moon that far south before!

So on Sunday the moon rose at 6:45 pm but the next day it was rising at 8:08 pm! That is a huge jump! Remember that the sun was setting at 9:26 pm and it takes at least an hour to get high enough to be able to see. If I waited until Tuesday to go out the moon would be rising way too late! So I went out Monday but in hindsight…….I shouldn’t have!

As I was riding down to the boat shed I spotted a fog tongue far off in a distant inlet. I knew the main body that tongue came from was close by. Radar does not pick up fog btw. I knew instantly that there was a good chance the fog could advance into the harbour, snuffing the light for me and ruining my chance at getting some great shots! But because I was up against the wall on this one I “pushed” it. Pushing things is almost a guarantee to screw things up and in this case,……yep!

Once I was out on the water I headed down to Tsapee Narrows to visit with the Daredevil! He flew over to greet me and seemed perky enough! I looked to the west and saw the fog bank had already eclipsed the harbour and was advancing eastward towards me! I knew instantly the evening shoot was gone!

I stayed for a while with my friend but had to say goodbye cause the light was saying goodbye! So I decided to go up into Fortune Channel to look for bears. It’s always sunny up there even when the fog has pushed inland! Unfortunately for me I couldn’t find any bears.

I was not amused.

So I headed back and noticed some light far off to the west! I was hoping It would clear by sunset but that was being overly optimistic!

Romeo came over, true but looked sluggish. It’s almost molting season and molting really drains their energies!

I was so disappointed that I didn’t even post these on Monday night. I wasn’t going to post them at all to be honest but changed my mind as a few friends thought the shots had merit.

Maybe next month?

ROMEO

I went to visit with my friend Romeo. He did come over when I called but to be honest he seemed very lethargic. July and August are bad months for getting eagle action shots because they are preparing for or going through molting. Which zaps their energy supply big time!

I do appreciate my friend coming over to say hello even If he felt low in energy!

HAPPY CANADA DAY

I decided to do something different this year for Canada Day. I rode my bike along Chesterman’s beach towing my kite behind me. I attached a Canadian flag below the kite! Not only does it look great but also acts like a rudder. It keeps the kite from diving. (which Bat kites are famous for) I also attached a colourful fish windsock!

Now this is where I need to explain something about beaches……they are always windy! Unfortunately for me, the usually breezy beach was very calm. However the speed of my bike was just enough to counter the lack of wind and keep the everything aloft! 

FEMALE MALE?

One of the most common questions I get about eagles is “how can you tell the sex”?

It’s really easy to tell when they are side by side. The eagle that is the largest will be the female. Females are 1/3 larger. All female raptors are larger then the males.

Most of the time when you see an eagle,they are by themselves. So in this case the beak is smaller with the male as well as the head size.

In the above picture Juliette is in the foreground with Romeo in the background.

MESMERIZATION

The best tool a photographer can have is not a camera,It’s observation.

Over the years I’ve noticed something interesting. During the day people will stroll along the beaches with a friend or be out walking their dog. At sunset those numbers increase and everybody stands still. No matter what beach they almost always stand still and just stare at the sunset. Groups will form.

I think It’s primal? We soak up the last of the sunshine before darkness prevails.

MY FRIEND

I went to visit my fine feathered friend,The Daredevil. He flew out to escort me. It was at this time I had to make a critical decision! Before I left harbour a friend told me about Orca’s being spotted close by for the last two days! So, I could go looking for them but that would mean no time to visit with my friend and there was a good chance I’d come up empty handed, as Orca’s are notorious for not hanging around!

So I decided, a bird in the hand is worth two Orca’s in the water! He was great fun tonight! There wasn’t much of a prevailing wind from the west. So he easily caught me! Once he catches me he kind of hovers like a huge Hummingbird looking goofy!

It was so good to visit with my friend and I didn’t hear about any orca’s being around.

BUBBLE CONTEST

There were fourteen entries into the “Bubble” contest! I loved all of them! Very creative!

Robbie entered “Ooooh,it’s wet.Good thing I wore my second-best feathers today”

Hazel entered “I will never pass up any food because I am a foodie.More,more,more!”

Audrey entered “Make sure you get my good side,Wayne!”

Lynette entered “Everyone keeps talking about corvid 19.How ride! His name is Colby”

Annette entered “I’m ready for my close-up,Mr.Barnes!”

Chris entered “Wot,no silver platter?”

Martha entered “Would you please toast the bread slightly on both sides?”

Liz entered “Well,it’s about time! What’s a girl gotta do to get some decent food around here?”

Terri entered “Why yes,I know I’m smart,was there any doubt?”

Noelle entered “I’m posing!!!”

Adam entered “Yesterday’s bread?! I don’t think so…”

Linda entered “Who’s been ravin about snow? Wayne,find out if Amazon carries boots for birdies,okay?”

Michael entered “Two crows walk into a bar and start ‘ravin’ about the free food in Tofino their ‘cousin’ told them about!”

Widdershins entered “Snow!!…oh bugger! Where did the bit of bread land?”

The winner of the “Bubble” contest is Audrey with…….. “Make sure you get my good side,Wayne!”

Thank you to all fourteen who participated! I will be sending out 3 shots to Audrey of Rita posing in the snow!

CONTEST

We got a bit of snow a few days ago. I was about to go inside my apartment when I heard the distinct call of of a Raven! I knew there was a good chance it was either Robbie or Rita?

When Ravens call It’s called “croaking”. So I croaked back wondering If I would get a response?

Sure enough I heard some croaking just north of me in the adjacent forest! Then a few minutes later both Robbie and Rita flew over! They saw me and perched on a near by tree!

I took a chunk of bread and tossed it on the garage roof. There was about 4 inches of snow so both of them were up to their tummies in snow! Robbie came over first but was suspicious of me standing there (with my camera of course),so he flew back to the tree.(chicken)

Rita on the other hand flew right in no problem and grabbed the prize and flew off,…..with Robbie in tow!

This shot was taken when she had just landed. I want to put a word bubble coming from her.

The person who thinks up the most creative or funny thought will get a full file size of my fine feathered friend Rita!

THE CAPE ANN

I heard from a friend that a raft of two hundred Sea Otters was around! I went out looking for it but couldn’t find them? They like to raft up in a kelp bed.

I did find the Cape Ann coming in from a exercise. This boat is designed to be able to roll. All the men are strapped into their seats and the hatches are sealed when they go out into rough weather.