THAR SHE BLOWS!

I was downtown chatting with a few friends when another friend joined us and he was very excited! He said he had just come off of the water and had come across a pod of Orcas! I immediately got excited myself and asked where he had seen them and how many? He said there were 10 and they were heading around Meares island!

I had to go around to 4 different whale watching companies to find out where they were exactly at that moment? I finally found out their location and knew where they were heading. They were in the north and about to go south around Meares island,so I got all my gear together and headed out! I decided to go eastward and then turn northward to intercept!

I figured they’d be in Fortune Channel by the time I caught up to them and sure enough that’s exactly where I found them! The best way to find a whale is to watch for slow moving boats but because of the pandemic there were no Whale watching boats trailing behind. So the only way I could spot them was to keep turning my head from side to side like a human radar looking for the blows!

When they surface they blow which puts a fine mist up into the air. That blow will “hang” and give away their position BUT If it’s windy (which seems to be more often then not) the wind will sweep away that blow concealing their location! I’ve had entire pods go right underneath me and not seen them at all! So If you go looking for whales hope that it’s a calm day or just look for the whale watching boats trailing behind.

I stayed with them for over 2 hours. The light wasn’t great but hey……they were Orca’s! One of them spy hopped (coming up vertical) to see what was going on around but because I was moving fast to catch up, I missed the shot.

This pod is known as the T069’s. It’s a category system for identification of Orca’s. This pod loves to come around Tofino! They are Transients,meaning they eat warm blooded animals,Seals, Lions etc The other group of Orca’s are called the Residents (Southern) and they eat salmon exclusively.

The Souther Residents are few in numbers (76?) because humans are eating all of their food! They eat just about nothing but Chinook salmon which is also a prized salmon for anglers. Many Resident Orca’s have died because of malnutrition over the years! Researchers can tell when they are starving because of the shape of their head. They get what is called “peanut head”. The fat reservers deplete creating this odd shaped head.

The only way to stop this group from dying out is to limit the salmon catch of all fisheries but as per usual so many fisherman cry foul! They want money in their pockets and don’t give two shits about any damn Orca’s!

Homo Sapiens as a species are unsustainable. Until we can limit OUR numbers and live within Natures bounds we are destined to fail and perish.

MAKING A KILL

The bull caught a Harbour Seal! The family would come in and take turns feeding. Even the Gulls and Eagles take turns as a Harbour Seal has a high fat content to protect them from the cold. That fat is lighter then water and so floats to the surface. When you see Gulls massing over the water and diving in that’s a defiant sign that there was a kill.

INTRODUCING THE LUCKIEST HARBOUR SEAL ON EARTH!

I have to tell this story!

When following Orca’s it’s proper to follow from behind and to the side. I was the only boat following them. We were heading southward in Fortune Channel about to pass through Dawley pass. Dawley pass is a narrow passage between Fortune Channel and Tofino inlet. It’s probably about 500 feet across.

I was on  the right hand side and decided to hug the rocks as I passed with them through Dawley. I was only 10 feet away from the rocks when the Matriarch came up right beside me!! I just about crapped myself! Then to make sure I did, another Orca breached right beside me as well! I put the engine in neutral and just held my breath! I know Orca’s are very gentle creatures and very intelligent creatures! I knew they would not harm me but that still didn’t calm me! Both Orca’s sounded and joined the rest of the pod going through Dawley.

I exhaled and wondered what the hell that was all about? It took a few seconds but I spotted the reason off to my immediate right…….It was a Harbour Sea! It had hauled Itself out onto the rocks to stay out of an Orca tummy! It must have seen or heard the Orca’s (they are a chatty bunch at times). I could clearly see it was trembling and with good reason!

I suspect the rest of the pod must have caught it’s friend as there was lots of splashing and tail slapping! An indication of a kill.

I was able to get close to this lucky Seal cause there was no way it was going to be going back into the water any time soon! I’m calling this guy “Lucky”.

It took me a few minutes to figure it out but I do believe I accidentally saved this little guy’s life!! By me keeping so close to the rocks when the Orca’s came calling my boat was inadvertently between them and the Seal. There really was nothing stopping an Orca from lunging out of the water and grabbing this Seal ……except my boat. As I already mentioned, Orca’s are very intelligent. I think they knew that If they had lunged at this Seal they most likely would have hit me as well. So they took a pass and said to the Seal…..eat ya later!

This might be an older Harbour Seal as I believe it has either a cataract or glaucoma in it’s left eye?

One of my more interesting moments.

CONTRAST

The majority of our greatest inventions have come from observing and duplicating Nature.

For instance,the shape of all airplane wings come directly from the shape of a birds wing! The leading edge is rounded. Air flows over the top edge faster then the bottom edge. Creating a lower pressure on top,which in turn creates lift…..flight!

Eagles are masters of flight!

FINE FEATHERED FLIGHT

A eagle has over 7000 feathers. The largest are the primaries (the 5 feathers at the end of the wing) and the Tail feathers of which there are 12.

Finding a Tail feather is suppose to bring good luck to the finder. Once you find a tail feather put it in a place where nobody else can touch it. It needs to have just your energy on it.

SCREAMING IN

The Daredevil’s new nest is up much higher then the last one. So when he comes down he is coming in at high speed! He has to slow down so he turns his wings on a angle and drops his legs to increase the surface area!

I was very happy to see that Delilah actually flew over to be with me! I think she’s getting use to me! It’s only taken 1 1/2 years.

I went looking for bears tonight but I couldn’t find a single furry butt anywhere? I originally went out because the cloud structure looked great but by the time sunset came around those beautiful clouds had gone bye bye.

So I was skunked on two fronts tonight but my feathered friends once again saved my non-furry butt!

THE DAREDEVIL

I was surprised to find that The Daredevil/Delilah had built a new nest on another island! About the only reason why that happens is because the old nest fell down. Probably during a windstorm?

The good news is that If it did fall down It didn’t happen while they were nesting! I saw the Daredevil take a fish up to the nest. Which means he has hungry mouths to feed! I could just barley see where the nest is.

He seemed very animated and very active! He hasn’t had eaglets for several years,so he must be excited!

TOO EARLY

When the moon rises in the east it’s always pale or faint. It will continue to rise and to get brighter and brighter. It will be it’s brightest when night has fallen. To take a good picture of the moon the brightness and contrast must be in the ball park. It’s too faint when it just rises and too bright when it’s dark out. So I’ve found there is about(?) a 30 minute time window when the moon is just perfect for shooting! The Goldi Loks time,not too little and not too much.

I took this shot (of a eagle I do not know) because the eagle was perched just right but my timing was off. I was too early. I tried to shoot two other eagle friends but couldn’t because of the angle. Trees got in the way with both of them! Rats! Good thing I got this safety shot!

WHERE EAGLES DARE

I went to visit my feathered friend Romeo. We have a routine. When I come around the corner in my boat I always look at Beck island (nest island) to watch for when he see’s me? When he does he immediately flies over to me and does several circles around.He then glides (his gliding is faster than my boat) to our meeting spot,a rocky islet I call his throne.

However……..on this occasion he came out from the north catching me off guard! Silly eagle. I wonder what he was doing over there and that’s not his territory? At any rate it was good to see him. I chatted with him for a while and then noticed that Juliette came over to do a fly by! I always like it when she perches here as well because she almost always sings me a song! She may have a egg and just wanted a excuse to get some exercise?

The mountains had a beautiful snowy appearance to them! A great background only enhances the subject!

A RAVEN’S VALENTINE GIFT

Tofino got a rare dump of snow! I love to get snow shots but hardly am able to. So when It snowed I grabbed my gear and headed out for a snow shoot! While getting the boat ready (my boat is out of water,I have to haul it down to the shore by hand. It has wheels on the rear end) I noticed my two Raven friends Robbie and Rita had flown over to say hello! Of course they came over because I normally toss them a few crackers. Once I was eating a cinny bun when Robbie wanted some! How did I know he wanted some……he left the cracker on the ground and gently cawed to me! If you have ever heard a Raven’s call it is a very distinctive sound. So I shared my cinny with him….which was a mistake because now he wants just sweet treats!

So while getting my gear together I realized I hadn’t anything for them? But then I realized I had brought “for me” a sweet treat! A lemon flavoured Danish! I said what the hell and tore off half and threw it to him! What I didn’t realize was that there was a Gull close by watching as well! Once I threw it onto the snow that Gull was on it immediately! Robbie saw this and grabbed that Gull and fought for the Danish! He kicked the crap out of that Gull! He always does,Rita is far less aggressive.

With his hard fought prize in his mouth I was amazed to hear Rita very gently cawing in short bursts. She hopped over (due to the snow depth) to Robbie and he promptly placed it in her bill!

I found the moment very touching to be honest! I rewarded Robbie with the other half of the Danish and you can bet your last dollar not a Gull stirred! Robbie rewarded me with some gently soft cawing as well!

Raven’s hold a very special place in my heart! True I love Eagles but a Raven is something almost mystical to me! When they look at you It feels like they are seeing with human like eyes! I enjoy talking to them but rarely do they talk back.

A WOLF EAGLE MOON

This month the full moon is called a Wolf moon. I walked Long Beach with a friend and being the ever diligent photographer I took along one of my cameras………just in case?

As we walked towards Greenpoint (Park campground) I noticed the moon was at a perfect angle and contrast to do a eagle/moon shot! I only get a handful of these moments each year! So as we walked and chatted I kept a close eye on the tree line for a perching eagle! We walked for over a hour and never saw a single one. Than as we reached Greenpoint I noticed one drying it’s wings out! An eagle will open it’s wing downward to allow the air to dry the wings underside. Being wet means it’s heavier. Being heavier means the eagle will have to expend more energy. Which in turn means they’ll need to eat more often.

So they dry themselves off to be lighter. The feathers are more responsive to the air currents when they are dry.

WALTER FISHING

I set up a trail camera station for Trumpeter Swans. Fingers crossed that they’ll do the Tofino two step for me!

This is Walter. I disturbed him while he was searching for dinner. He tolerates me.

We all know about 2020,so no need to flog a dead horse. I find we are such an optimistic species! With each coming year we hope it will be better than the last………….having said that…..It won’t take much to beat this year! So HAPPY NEW YEAR!

THE TRUMPETERS ARE BACK!

I was so happy to find my big feathered friends back in their normal spot! I’ve watched this group grow from 2 to 9 over the years! I know they lost one of them to a predator 2 years ago. (probably a Wolf or Cougar) I found the carcass or what was left of it. They spend their summers up in the Yukon and their winter’s in Tofino! Like a lot of people these days.