In British Columbia there are two species of Otters. They are commonly confused, but Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris) live at sea and swim on their back. The River Otter (Lutra canadensis) is semi-aquatic and swims on its belly. The River Otter has a pointed head and a thick tail which is 2/3 of its total body length. The Sea Otter has a blunt head and a flattened tail which is 1/3 of its total body length. I spent some time photographing three River Otters. When they catch prey like fish, shellfish, birds, and small animals, they bring it ashore to eat. Click on the photo to see a larger version.
It wasn’t the best light and the background is kind of dull and uninteresting, but I was really excited to take images of a Peregrine Falcon ( Falco peregrinus ). This falcon is part of the Pacific ( Peale’s ) population. They eat mostly birds, some 450 North American species have been documented as prey. When dropping on their prey with their wings closed they can achieve speeds over 300 km/hr. They will grab a bird or strike it with their feet hard enough to stun or kill it. I felt very fortunate to spend some time with this elite predator.
A Bald Eagle ( Haliaeetus leucocephalus ) shows its two metre wingspan. You can see in the photo that the Bald Eagle is watching me. They have excellent eyesight and can see four to seven times farther than humans.
Being outside in the rain taking images is an enjoyable experience if you have good rain gear. The light is soft, it’s quiet and there are very few people. I like this photo of a Pacific Great Blue Heron ( Ardea herodias fannini ) because of the dark water background and the way it was perched on the log.
I couldn’t believe when I saw not one, but three Great Horned Owls ( Bubo virginianus ) this morning. They had the most beautiful yellow eyes and I could see them staring at me through my telephoto lens. When the Great Horned Owls were around all the other birds became silent. If there was a little noise in the bushes or trees the Great Horned Owl in the photos below, immediately snapped its head around to take a closer look. Great Horned Owls will eat birds ranging in size from kinglets to Pacific Great Blue Herons and will even eat other owls. I never thought I would ever see a Great Horned Owl in the wild, but to get the opportunity to photograph one, that was truly special.
Yesterday I spent some time photographing this Killdeer. To me, they look very similar to the Semipalmated Plover, which is smaller and has a single breast band. Killdeer’s exhibit a clever ‘broken wing display’ in which they appear to be struggling with a broken wing while leading the predator away from their babies. Although technically they are shorebirds, they are unusual in this group because they often nest and live far from water. They are ground-nesting birds that are famous for hiding their nests right out in the open. It will use no nesting materials and rely on distraction displays to protect their offspring. Killdeer’s emit a loud cry ‘kill-dee’ or ‘kill-deear’ and ‘kill-deeah-dee-dee’. It also makes a long, trilled ‘trrrrr’ during display or when young are threatened.
P.S. I’m still sorting and processing my images from my Haida Gwaii trip…
You can tell this is an adult male Tree Swallow ( Tachycineta bicolor ) because it’s blue-green above, white below, with blackish flight feathers and a thin black eye mask. I enjoy watching the Tree Swallows chasing after flying insects with acrobatic twists and turns.
On Saturday it was a beautiful sunny day with a blue sky. I hiked to the top of the third summit or peak of the Stawamus Chief. It’s a steep climb, with an elevation gain of 627 metres. The Stawamus Chief is the second largest granite monolith in the world. At the top, I enjoyed the breeze, my lunch and the company of a few chipmunks. There is wonderful views of Howe Sound, the Squamish estuary, Mount Garibaldi and Sky Pilot mountain, which many hikers mistakenly refer to as ‘one of the Lions’. It was getting late, so I started my descent. After hiking down and stepping from rock to rock and over roots for two hours my legs are still sore.
This adult male ( Tachycineta bicolor ) is a small streamlined songbird with a tiny bill, long, pointed wings and a short, squared or slightly notched tail. Tree Swallows feed on small, aerial insects that they catch in their mouths during acrobatic flight. During the winter they survive by eating berries. They are about the size of a sparrow and live in open habitats like fields and wetlands.
This morning I spent some time photographing a Anna’s hummingbird ( Calypte anna ). They are the most common hummingbird along the Pacific coast. The males have iridescent emerald feathers and a sparkling rose-pink throat patch called a gorget. In their thrilling courtship displays, they climb to a height of 40 m and then swoop to the ground with a curious burst of noise that they produce through their tail feathers. The display dive takes about 12 seconds. I have read that the heart of an Anna’s hummingbird beats at 1260 beats per minute and they eat more insects than any other North American hummingbird.