Earth Day is a time to reflect! It is a wonderful world of nature that we live in, but so much is threatened. So much is at risk. What will the experiences of nature be for our grandchildren, and for their grandchildren. This post is a compilation of some of the beauty I have experienced, along with a few reflections.
From April 8-10, I participated in the Okanagan Spring Birding Tour organized by Avocet Tours. It was an exceptional tour, led by Chris Charlesworth, an extremely knowledgable and gracious leader. Over the three days, we managed to spot and identify 104 species of birds. Being early Spring in the Okanagan, the weather was unpredictable and changeable…………seemingly changing every 20 minutes or so. In fact, we were turned back by heavy snow one night, while looking for owls!
There were many highlights on this outing, which are highlighted ins some of the photos that follow. One of the most important highlights of the tour was meeting and talking with experienced and interesting people with common interests in experiencing nature. I look forward to further outings!
Since moving to Abbotsford, we have enjoyed having Anna’s hummingbirds in our yard, year round. It amazes us how these tiny creatures have adapted to survive the cold, finding enough nutrition to live on, when temperatures drop below freezing. Clearly, the number of heated hummingbird feeders in our neighbourhood helps, but it is only one factor. The other source of amazement is how early the first brood of chicks fledges. We saw our first fledgeling in early March, meaning the eggs must have hatched in February! One of the most interesting behaviours of the Anna’s hummingbird is the courtship ritual of the male, who will fly straight up into the air, then dive down at great speed in front of the female, and change direction abruptly before he reaches the ground. This causes a fairly loud “chirp” (from the feathers) that can be disturbing to dogs due to the frequencies of the sound. The following photos are a few of my favourites.
This has been a strange winter so far, and a strange January. Severe November flooding, has been followed by abnormally cold weather and snowfall. Fortunately, the last two weeks have been closer to “normal” in terms of temperature and precipitation, and it has been possible to get out and enjoy nature and the exceptional beauty of the region. The following photos were all taken in this past month.
With the snow and cold weather, and the resulting icy roads, it has been difficult to get out for birding. Instead, I have been looking over older photos. My favourites, tend to be pictures of owls. Unfortunately, far too many owls are harassed by overly “keen” photographers, who do not respect the needs of owls to be left alone. I have been fortunate in the last number of years to have encountered many owls, often without other photographers in the area. With a high resolution camera (allowing for substantial cropping), and a long telephoto lens, it is not necessary to get too close to the owls I am photographing. In the past year I have been rewarded on numerous occasions where owls have been completely relaxed in my presence. These are some of my favourite photos of owls, taken over the last ten years in Ontario, Kentucky, Indiana, Florida, Alberta and British Columbia.
Yesterday, we finally had a day of sun, after record breaking rainfalls in Abbotsford and throughout the Lower Mainland. As I have not managed to do much birding over the last few weeks, and because the Trans Canada Highway east was still closed due to flooding, I headed west to Delta. It was a good decision, as I managed to see and photograph many species. This is a sampling of what I saw.
This is the time of year when the bald eagles return to the Harrison River to feed on spawning salmon. Reputedly, the Harrison River in November has the highest concentration of eagles, found anywhere, and thousands of eagles are seen most years. The following photos were taken on the Harrison this past week.
Last week, I had the incredible experience of traveling to the Klyte River to watch grizzly (brown) bears feeding on spawning salmon. The trip started in Campbell River on Vancouver Island with a two hour boat trip, across to the Mainland, and up Toba Inlet. The Klyte River, is in the traditional territory of the Klahoose First Nation, and the Klahoose have organized guides, tours and viewing stands from which the magnificent grizzly bears can be observed. It was an exceptional experience and I think the photos that follow speak for themselves. On the way back to Campbell River, we were fortunate enough to see several humpback whales, which spend their summers in the Salish Sea. Soon, they will be heading south to warmer waters.
I can’t resist trying to take photographs of birds in flight. It is challenging, anticipating which way the bird will move, and simultaneously trying to ensure you have the correct focus, exposure, and shutter speed. Most pictures taken are failures, but if you take enough pictures, some are bound to turn out. Here are some of my favourites from the last few years.
In July, we enjoyed our favourite drive – the Ice Fields Highway between Banff and Jasper. With the good weather we had, it was spectacular. This has prompted me to put together a few of my favourite Canadian Rocky Mountain photos, taken over the last two years.
At the end of our recent Rocky Mountain vacation, we spent two days in Wells Grey Provincial Park. For good reason, Wells Grey is called the park of waterfalls, with some 38 waterfalls registered. The largest is Helmcken Falls, and with the high water runoff caused by very warm temperatures, it was impressive. It is roughly four times the height of Niagara Falls. We saw a large number of spruce grouse, the relatively obscure three-toed woodpecker, and enjoyed a hike up to the Trophy Mountain Alpine Meadows (although we should have used more mosquito repellent!). It is certainly a park we plan to return to!
On my return this week, I was able to observe two busy parents feeding their growing brood of owlets. While I suspected there were three last week, I was able to confirm that indeed there are three. The owlets are growing quickly and acquiring their flying skills. They remain totally dependent on their parents for food, and are very noisy when they are hungry!