This is the moment I was waiting for (with Romeo)……….but a interloping eagle from a northern territory decided to invade and trespass! Which made both Romeo and Juliette take off in hot pursuit to intercept!
Eagles guard their territories to the death! I’ve seen this eagle flying into Romeo/Juliette’s territory many times. I suspect Eagles are constantly testing neighbouring boundaries? One day, there may not be any eagles to intercept …… and they now own the territory!
I saw Juliette coming back but not Romeo. He probably perched in a tree close by to the interloper and just stared at him. At any rate, just when I wanted Romeo to be around he was busy elsewhere taking care of business.
The camera didn’t record the light colour accurately. The true colour can be seen in the waters reflection. It was a pinkish orange.
I ran into a friend who drives Bear Watching boats the other day. He was in a hurry as he had a boat load waiting for him so I couldn’t chat too much. He’s out there far more than I am,so has a good idea of whats going on. So I quickly asked him how this years cub count was? He told me he hadn’t seen a single one!
I found that alarming! I suspect I know why? The last two years we’ve had poor salmon returns. When the female doesn’t get enough protein she will not get pregnant. It’s Natures way of controlling the numbers. Last thing you want to do is have more mouths to feed when the cupboards are bare!
Why are there fewer salmon…………us. Far too many salmon are being harvested out in the ocean. They don’t get a chance to return. It’s that simple.
So because we are raping the oceans the effects of that action trickle down. One of the effects is that fewer cubs are being born this year (and last).
Having said that I ran into another friend a few days later and without me asking she told me she saw a Sow with two cubs playing on her property down by the water! The cubs were smaller than normal but I suspect that was because of the mother being smaller than normal. Probably her first cubs?
Another effect of fewer salmon is that the Southern resident Orca’s are starving! A beloved Orca K-21 (Cappuccino) has gone missing and is suspected to of passed. Now having said that his death is suspected to be more old age than loss of salmon. There are very few Southern Residents to begin with. (74)
As most of you already know……I have a thing for moon/eagle shots. Don’t ask me why,I just do.
There are 12 times each year I can “try” to take them and inside each of those times there are three days that are the best. The three days leading up to the full moon. You can’t shoot on the day of the full moon. The sunsets as the moon rises snuffing out all that golden light! Plus the moon rising times vary. Tonights full moon rises at 9:41 pm while the sunsets a little under half a hour earlier at 9:14 pm. Making any shot a silhouette. Now don’t get me wrong I’ve seen some pretty nice shots of eagles silhouetted but I prefer the gold. I have a saying “I always hunt for the Gold”. Like the Olympics I always try for the Gold,silhouettes for me win the Silver.
You can count on cloudy weather screwing up at least 6 of them. Like tonight!
This leaves only 6 times you can go and roll the dice.
Each photographer has their own preferences of course. I prefer to capture eagles in golden light with the moon in it’s “time window”. The moon rises In the east and is always faint (leading up to the full moon). As the sunsets the moon will get brighter and brighter. Until it’s nighttime and the moon is at it’s brightest point. I’ve found the moon is too faint when It rises in the east and too bright after the sun goes down. I figure there’s about a 20-30 minute “time window” in there where the moons brightness/contrast is perfect! The Goldi-Loks period!
Of course If you do find the moon during this perfect time window there is a 50 – 50 chance you might not find a eagle? The trick is finding both at the same time.
The eagle has to be perched “perfectly”. I’ve found a eagle needs to be perched at the very top of a tree spire or in another place where there is nothing behind them.
This months moon is a Buck moon. Because of weather (clouds) I couldn’t shoot this Buck moon. So I found some archival pictures.
I love visiting Romeo! The sunsets can be fantastic! To me clouds are just about as important as the subject with sunset shots! I never know what the sunset is going to be like? It’s like a roll of the dice! What I want are Goldi-Loks clouds,not too many and not too few.
When the magic comes it’s like I’m teleported to another world!
I was downtown chatting with a few friends when another friend joined us. 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 are a species that is unsustainable. Until we can limit OUR numbers and live within Natures bounds we are destined to fail and thus perish.
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.
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?
In this shot the Bull was inverted. A Orca is about 25 feet long and weighs in at 5 tons. It also has one of the largest penis’s in the animal kingdom at 8 feet. The Bull (T069C) must of had sex with his partner? How do I know……….when he rolled over he was smoking a cig.
Researchers have found the best way to ID a Orca is to look at it’s “saddle patch”. The saddle patch is at the base of the dorsal fin. Each is as unique as a fingerprint. They also show unique scaring. Sometimes chunks are taken out of the dorsal making them easier to ID.
Light is a critical element for me! Finding the right subject for the right light is hard! I spend half my time searching and the other half shooting.
In the above pictures we have the same subject but different lighting. The upper is warm while the ones below are cool. I only go out If I think the light/clouds are going to be in the ball park. Once out, I roll the dice and see what comes up? No matter what the light is,I try to make it work. I take advantage of what Mother Nature serves up.
The last shot is of a Heron with the moon in behind. Finding a Heron perched right on the very top of a tree when the moon is out doesn’t happen every day. Having said that,I do not consider this shot to be the best. I would of preferred to have the Heron bathed in golden light. Gold light would show more detail in the contrast and colour! Unfortunately by the time I found this Heron the sun had already set! So I had to rolled with it and shot silhouettes! (10% of something is better then 100% of nothing)
So when I go out on a evening shoot I’m searching more for the light then the subject. Great light makes bad subjects better and great subjects look excellent!
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!
A Grey resident whale has taken up just off Chesterman’s beach! Actually it’s a Cow and calf. They seem to be ping ponging back and forth between Frank island and the Wickinnish Inn!
Normally surfers on their boards are pointing landward but as you can see in the last shot they are turned around to watch as the whales go gently past them.
The Grey whale migration is on right now. They are swimming en masse from Mexico to the Bering sea. Think of it like one big aquatic super highway! There are thousands that swim past Tofino but a few see the sign saying “Tofino next right” and ramp off! They eat and rest for maybe 2 weeks or so and continue their journey northward!
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!
I found two bears tonight. This was the first one. A older male. Unfortunately he was a 100 meters feet from shore. Tide was coming up, no chance of getting stuck,so I tied the boat up and walked around. The trick to doing this is to hold the camera right up to your face whiling look down (and at the bear) so you don’t step on anything that would make noise! You can only move when the bear isn’t looking at you. If it see’s you moving it might get spooked and take off?
Then as your approaching If he looks at you, stop and shoot. I watch for tell tale signs that the bear is getting nervous……the ears. This guy seemed fine with me hanging around but had a grumpy look on his face. See how the forehead muscles are drawn tight. First sign of a bear feeling uncomfortable. I got a few shots of grumpy and left.
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!
Both Romeo and Juliette came out to do a fly by when I arrived! By the time I got to Romeo’s place the sun had set. I had spent too much time with The Daredevil….but who could blame me! Time flies (no pun) when I’m with my friends!
Tofino’s premier beach is Chesterman’s beach. If you’ve been here,you most likely have walked along it. From the air it looks like a huge “L”. The length of the “L” is about a mile. It has a rocky island at the bend of the “L” called Frank island. You can walk out to this private island during low tide but not at high tide. The connecting sand bar is called a Trombolo. A trombolo is defined as a bar of sand or shingle joining an island to the mainland.
I’ve heard stories of old timers landing their planes on this beach way back when. The beach provided a great opportunity for a plane to land. The military constructed large wooden crosses along this beach during WWII to stop a Japanese invasion! You can still see a few of them at low tide.
I like to go to the south end of Chesty and climb up on top of the rocks there. Better vantage point. I’ve shot this beach thousands of times in different weather! So much so I’ve come to the conclusion that each sunset is unique! If you could some how of had a sunset picture taken from the same spot each day of your life,you would find like snow flakes,no two are the same. Some may be alike,but they would defiantly not be the same.
I have now expanded that theory to include everything! For instance, no two grains of sand on this beach are the same. They may look like there are at a distance but close up you would see slight differences! This “uniqueness” applies to absolutely everything in this Universe and I suspect this uniqueness goes right down to the atoms?
So rejoice in knowing that there never has been,nor is there,nor will there ever be anybody like you ever again! We are all grains of sand in this BIG beautifully beach we call the Universe!!
At sunset the Hummers always go into a feeding frenzy! They are like feathered piranha!
I placed my finger by the feeding port and a male Rufous promptly perched on it and began to sip away merrily! (It’s like last call at a bar!) A female Rufous then decided that she wanted that spot to sip away merrily herself, but I imagined the male said “GET LOST”! So her response was to perch on top of HIM! GIRL POWER RULES!
When I saw her do that I laughed away merrily myself!
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!
I found this female at the south end of Fortune Channel! I had gone past this spot not 10 minutes before but she wasn’t there then? She seemed apprehensive of me,so I didn’t push my luck! Maybe she had just woke up and hadn’t had her coffee yet?
This is a new eagle for me. It’s a male. He has the territory just north of Romeo/Juliette. I’ve never seen a eagle with feathers/hair(?) under their chin before? So I am going to call him Mr.Whiskers.
It was near sunset and the Hummers were coming by for their last drink of the night.( Sort of like humans at last call). So I see this one female Anna’s perch and take a few sips. It straightened up…..and then promptly fell backwards! It was still holding onto the perching bar so it was hanging totally upside down like a bat! It held on for a few seconds and then dropped to the concrete below! (6′)
I was obviously very alarmed to see one of my feathered friends fall,so I instantly got up and slide the balcony door open. Sure enough there she was laying on her back not moving and just looking up to me. I very gently picked her up and began talking to her asking “what was wrong”? I could feel her little heart beating very fast but thats normal for Hummers. We looked into each others eyes for a few seconds and then I gently turned her over to right her and as soon as I did that she flew away!
(I swear I heard her laughing! I think my fine feathered friend had pulled a April Fools joke on me!)
I told a friend of mine who is a birding expert (Adrian Dorst) and he said he had never heard of anything like this ever happening before? I read up on this a bit and the closest thing I could find was that Hummers do drop from their perches because of cold weather/ and not having enough energy.
It wasn’t that cold out,maybe 8 C at worse and I know It had been coming all day for drinks so It wasn’t a lack of sugar water.
I think my little friend was playing a big joke on me but I do hope there isn’t anything serious!
I sometimes slide the balcony open and just lean against the frame to watch them coming around for last drink. The feeder is only a few feet away. If I had been doing that at the time I bet I could of done the Hollywood Superman save by quickly catching my friend in mid air!
It happened so fast that there was no way for me to get pictures of this.
Btw,the header and this shot are from my archives.
My fine feathered friend looked like he was playing with the rainbow!
I’ve always loved rainbows………..who doesn’t? They always seem to happen rather suddenly. So the statistical odds that your in the right place at the right time to take a “good” picture is slim to none …….and Slim just left the building! Basically you need two elements to make a rainbow,light and water. That water needs to be in droplet form. Then just add sunshine, shake vigorously and enjoy the show!. This scenario usually happens when I rainstorm has a well defined rear end and has just passed overhead. The rain cloud has billions of rain drops in it that act as tiny little prisms. This rain cloud is moving away from you. A rainbow as you all know is fleeting.
We all remember the local Drive In’s…..I hope? We’d watch the latest flick up on a huge screen!
A rainbow is kind of the same thing. The screen Mother Nature uses to show us a beautiful rainbow is made up of billions upon billions of tiny rain drops! Which of course is very mobile making rainbows short in duration.
We’ve each seen the cover design to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon album. It shows a prism breaking up light into it’s individual colours. The colours are separated because of different wavelengths. The order from longer to shorter is ROYGBIV. Red,Orange,Yellow,Green,Blue,Indigo and Violet. I made up my own saying to remember the sequence.
My saying is “Roy Goes Ballistic In Violence”. It screams out loud enough that you won’t forget it!
Btw,when you see a double rainbow the water droplets have to be 1/2 the size and the colour sequence is reversed of the first rainbow.