Feeding Time at the Osprey Nest

Two weeks ago, we had the opportunity to observe the osprey nest in Matsqui. The female was on the nest incubating eggs, when we heard and then saw the male approach with a fish. It then landed on a distant tree and started to eat the fish. The female on the nest called to the male, clearly wanting to be fed. After a while, the male approached, carrying half of the fish. It landed on the nest,and gave the half fish to the female. The female then left the nest and started to eat the fish in flight. The male stayed on the nest, presumably on the eggs.

Male with complete fish after landing in a tree about 400 metres from the nest.
Male bringing the half eaten fish to the female.
Delivering the fish.
The female leaving the nest after the exchange.
Leaving the nest.
The female, starting to eat the fish, in flight.

Eagles of the Harrison River

In November, bald eagles arrive on the Harrison River in great numbers (thousands) to feed on spawning salmon. They hang around until the dead and dying salmon are flushed down the river by high water levels. By January, most of the eagles have left. The following photos were taken in November and December. I was surprised to see a golden eagle amongst the large numbers of bald eagles, as they are a rarity in this region. This is a follow-up posting to one I made in December, with additional photos, not previously published.

Golden eagle!


The following are from a collection of photos I have taken of owls, that I will be using for a self published book. It wasn’t that long ago, I was thrilled to take a photo of a distant owl in a tree in Southern Ontario. (At first I thought it was a plastic bag that had blown into the tree). Subsequently I was thrilled to see my first short-eared owls in Southern Indiana, when we still owned a home in Kentucky. I still get the same thrill every time I manage to see and photograph an owl, and living in British Columbia, I am finding many opportunities to see owls.

Male snowy owl, Ontario.
Short-eared owl, Indiana
Barred owlet, British Columbia
Burrowing owl, Florida
Barred owl couple, British Columbia
Barn owl, British Columbia
Great-horned owl, British Columbia
Eastern-screech owl, Ohio
Great-grey owl, Alberta
Great-horned owl family, Washington

Saw-whet owl, British Columbia
Great-grey owl, British Columbia
Great-grey owlet, British Columbia
Short-eared owl, Indiana
Snowy owl, Ontario
Northern pygmy owl, British Columbia
Long-eared owl, British Columbia
Northern saw-whet owl, British Columbia
Great-grey owl, British Columbia
Northern pygmy owl, British Columbia
Long-eared owl, British Columbia
Great-grey owls mating, Alberta
Northern pygmy owl, British Columbia
Short-eared owl, British Columbia
Great-grey owl, British Columbia
Feeding time, barred owls, British Columbia
Mother barred owl and owlet
Barn owl, British Columbia
Great-horned owlets

Winter Water Birds in the Fraser Valley

The Fraser Valley is a great location to see wintering ducks, geese and swans which have migrated south from more northerly regions.The following photos have been taken over the last couple of weeks at the Cheam Lake Wetlands, Willband Creek Park and the Reifel Bird Sanctuary.

Trumpeter swans, leaving Cheam Lake in the early morning.
Common merganser. Willband Creek.

Green winged teal, Willband Creek.
Northern shoveler, Reifel Sanctuary.
Northern pintail drake. Reifel Sanctuary.
Northern pintail drake.
In stereo! Trumpeter swans lifting off from Cheam Lake.
Trumpeter swans lining up for take off. You know they are about to lift off when they all start bobbing their heads!
After lift-off, the swans normally circle the lake before taking off to graze in the farm fields of the valley.
Lesser scaup hen, Reifel Sanctuary.
Ring-necked drake. Reifel Sanctuary.
Hooded merganser hen. Reifel Sanctuary.
Hooded merganser drake. Reifel Sanctuary.
American wigeon drake. Reifel Sanctuary.
Common merganser hen. Reifel Sanctuary.
Common merganser drake. Willband Creek.
Great blue heron. Reifel Sanctuary.
Sandhill crane. Reifel Sanctuary. Normally I see there three over the winter although others pass through in the Autumn migration. Last week, I counted 12.
Thousands of snow geese. They lift off when disturbed, typically by eagles. They winter in the area, but migrate here from Siberia. This was taken at Reifel, but there is also a large flock along the US border at Abbotsford.

Hungry Herons

Over the past few weeks I have had a lot of fun photographing an American bittern and a great-blue heron, fishing in nearby Willband Creek Park.

Great blue heron, twirling a fish around to enable it to be swallowed head first.
The heron patiently watches for a fish to swim by.

When it sees a fish, it strikes quickly, fully immersing its head.

Success! Although this was a pretty small fish!

Great blue heron with a stickleback

American bittern, fishing at the same location.

Like the great blue heron, the bittern positions the fish in a manner that allows it to be swallowed head first.

Summer Variety

The following pictures were taken in July in Southern BC and in the San Juan Islands of Washington State. It has been a great summer for variety, although mid-summer tends to be a “slow” period. A recent trip to the Reifel Bird Sanctuary, resulted in the lowest number of species I have seen on an outing there, but with hot, dry weather, I was not surprised.

Western tanager. Taken at Okanagan Lake near Summerland.

Lewis’s woodpecker. Also taken in the Okanagan.

Male ruddy ducks. Tunkwa Lake.

Great grey owl. Taken near Logan Lake.

Female great grey owl with vole it had just caught.

Juvenile great grey owls. Taken near Logan Lake.

Common loon, mother and juvenile. Lac le Jeune.

Feeding time for the baby loons. Lac le Jeune.

Male California quail. Okanagan.

Peregrine falcon. Fraser Valley.

Sooty grouse (female). Manning Park.

Ospreys at the nest. Fraser Valley.

This osprey is about to fledge. When the young osprey opened its wings, the wind lifted the bird, but it did not leave the nest.

Female belted kingfisher. Reifel Sanctuary.

Heerman’s gull. Smith Island (Washington).

Tufted puffin. Smith Island.

A school of fish come to the surface near Smith Island, resulting in a feeding frenzy for gulls, puffins and auklets.

Glaucous-winged gulls feeding on the fish.

Common murre. San Juan Islands, Washington.

Rhinoceros auklet. Smith Island.

More Great Grey Owls

We were able to watch and photograph great grey owls on several occasions this past June, in both British Columbia and Alberta. Here are some additional photographs taken of the owls. (We saw nine altogether). All photos were taken with a 500 mm lens. Most were cropped, some significantly. The owls seemed unperturbed by our presence and kept up their normal activities, while we stood back and observed.

In the preceding photo, the male has just passed over a mole to the female, who in turn passes it on to one of the owlets.

Great Grey Owl Family

These photos were taken recently in the BC Interior. It was fascinating to watch the father hunting for voles, then passing the voles to the mother who selectively fed the owlets. From the photos you can see that the smaller male is greyer and darker than the female. The owlets which fledged a week or so ago, are quite brown. All photos were taken at a distance with a 500 mm lens. The hunting male took no notice of me and flew by quite frequently while hunting. We saw one of the owlets fly from one tree to another. We enjoyed watching two owlets climbing.

Northern Pygmy Owl

One of my favourite owls to find and photograph, is the northern pygmy owl. This is an owl of forests and mountains, most often seen in reforested areas of tree harvesting, adjacent to tall timber. Although it appears “cute”, it is a fierce predator and will take on birds and small rodents that can be well more than its own weight. Finding them can be like the search for the elusive needle in a haystack, but they remain more or less in the same area, year round. They typically are first spotted as a “baseball on a branch”, perched high on a small sapling or on a tree branch, from which they can look and listen for prey. They hunt in the day time and are not easily disturbed by people, as long as people don’t try to get too close. Indeed, once they perceive a low level of threat, they will fly and perch close to people, if the perch is “right”.