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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Harrison Bay and a rare bird....

With the water levels being so high there isn't really anywhere to walk right now close to home so we decided to head over to Kilby for a walk - all still part of the same IBA...but before we head over there.....had a rare bird sighting right here at home....


a White-throated Sparrow!  This is the eastern cousin of the White-crowned and Gold-crowned Sparrow, very common the other side of the Rockies....not so common here but a few individuals show up regularly during spring and/or fall migration.

So now lets head over to Harrison Bay....


sure a difference between this year and last year at the same time.  On this day last year we were actually camped here and were walking the beach right at the base of those pilings out there!


but getting to the birds....certainly there were some Bald Eagles around like this one feeding on a spawned out salmon....


and this four year old perched overhead....


and there was even a pair over at the nest.


Eagles weren't the only ones feeding on salmon....this Herring Gull was busy feeding as they floated down the river.


Smaller birds were busy too.  There were a pair of Downy Woodpeckers busy working on trees growing on the beach along with a large amount of Black-capped Chickadees...didn't manage a picture of them.

Quite a few Steller's Jay and then another surprise....


the first Varied Thrush (at least that I've seen) of the season.

Then back at the water....


another surprise...a Pacific Loon.  Not a first....one spent the winter before last here at Harrison Bay.

All in all it was an enjoyable day with some good bird sightings!


Some nice fall colours too!

Monday, October 27, 2014

First Swans of the season!....and an environmental situation

First the good news!


The first Trumpeter Swans of the season arrived today.  It was funny, we had been in Abbotsford for appointments and on the way home I was scanning Harrison Bay and said that I was going to have to check my records because it seemed that we should be starting to see swans.  We got home, went to take the dogs for a walk and there, out on the estuary..there they were!

Now, the not so good news.  Morris Valley Road runs along the west edge of the estuary and in recent years that road has had more and more traffic, especially truck traffic.  Well last night the inevitable happened...a truck went off the road and almost landed in the water. At first it was thought it was a gravel truck, but it turns out it was even worse....


it was a load of urea fertilizer....you can just make out some of it on the rocks.   Ministry of Environment vacuumed most of it up today and hopefully not much got into the water, but what did get in the water was the diesel fuel as the tank ruptured.  There is a fair sheen on the water, not just in this area where the accident happened but even as far from that site as our boat launch....


So not the best timing but then there is never a 'good' time for this sort of thing to happen.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Northern Pygmy Owl!

So I should mention first that the water levels are finally starting to reverse and go back down....


The above was taken two days ago and that is pretty much where the water levels are right now, although more heavy rain is forecast for tonight so we shall see.

Today we put out another bird feeder, this in preparation for Project Feeder-watch which starts up again in a couple of weeks.  Shortly after putting it out I looked out to see if the birds had found it yet and did a double take.....


when I saw this Northern Pygmy Owl and nailed a Spotted Towhee!  The above photo was taken through both a glass and screen patio door.

The owl picked the towhee up and flew across the road and perched on a neighbour's fence....


you can see the towhee is as large as the owl, although I've seen one of these tough little guys take down a Steller's Jay....which is even bigger.  


after a while he dragged his prize under a hedge and presumably ate dinner.  This is the earliest in the season that I have ever seen one of these little guys.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

It just keeps coming!

Water levels continue rise.....


of course after the amount of rain we've had in the past 24 hours I guess it isn't that surprising now.  Notice those two chairs out there.  Three days ago I was sitting in them.  Water came up so fast they were stranded.  I guess the question now is, how high can it get?


There are a few white heads out there where ever there is somewhere to perch.  Probably a lot in the trees too but with the leaves still on them they are high to see.  Have noticed quite a few ducks and geese, especially when an eagle flies over.


Only other thing we saw was this Great Blue Heron out there on a piling.  If weather and a few other things permit we might try getting out in a canoe - something we've never done this time of the year.

Monday, October 20, 2014

What is going on!

I didn't get down to the estuary today at all but I hear it is now impossible to walk the path over to the park.  Water levels just continue to climb.


I took this photo yesterday....pretty much all of the gravel bars have disappeared.


as a reminder....this is the sort of activity we should be expecting on this date.  This photo was taken in 2012  which was also a high water year but not quite as high as we have right now.


this photo, taken on this date last year shows the estuary the way one expects it to look on this date.


with all that water there are quite a few Canada Geese around but not much in the way of eagles.


Did spot this juvenile Bald Eagle sitting drying his wings.  There was also a large flock of Bushtits in the bushes at the edge of the estuary but didn't manage a picture.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Too much water

In my last post I stated that water levels were just about perfect.  Well not anymore.  I don't know where it is all coming from but....


today the water's have risen right up over the path!


There isn't much 'estuary' left out there!


Some Canada Geese, Mallards and American Wigeon....seen today.  

We thought we would walk over at Kilby today but to our shock it was so busy we couldn't even find a place to park so I'm afraid this is a very short report.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

They're back!....and don't think it couldn't happen here.

We are back....and 'they' are back....the Chum Salmon are returning and with them the eagles....


to set the scene....it is very green out there.  Not only does it seem greener than normal, the water levels are higher than normal for this time of the year, in fact the current level is just about perfect, it would be nice if it stays that way but of course  that won't happen.  Levels are always fluctuating either up or down.


here is the first bay and see those swirls in the water?  Those are created by spawning Chum  Salmon.


further along we're at the log bay....those high water levels are really noticeable here.  Another noticeable thing is that top log out there.  Those logs have been there since early the past century but that top one seems to in danger of toppling...will be interesting to see how that all plays out.


way out there, over by the Harrison River, you can make out a few eagles and gulls



The Bald Eagles are just starting to return, their numbers will depend on how many  fish return and how quickly bad weather comes up country.

Of course it isn't just the eagles that are returning...


those are American Wigeon out there grazing on the exposed gravel bars....


on land more and more Song Sparrows are showing up, some of course have been here year round.....


more surprising were the number of Fox Sparrows seen today.  It almost seems a bit early for these guys to be showing up.


a lot of Dark-eyed Juncos have shown up the last few days too.  Again, a few have been with us all summer.

Now I want to share something very upsetting that happened where we were camped in a provincial park.  All bird lovers need to know that this sort of thing happens 'out there' and we would be naive to think that the same thing couldn't happen right here in our IBA.

The particular park is a relatively new one.  Prior to being designated a provincial park, it had been one of those free for all, anything goes forestry recreation sites, so as a conciliatory measure duck hunting was, and still is, allowed in this park but only in certain sections at certain times....


 so on the first of 3 consecutive evenings, just as the sun was setting (read the above sign), 2 pick up trucks sped through the campground and parked just adjacent to this location.  Several people got out, shot guns in one hand, beer in the other and proceeded to start shooting.  This continued until well after it was so dark that there was no possible way they could actually see anything.  The next morning....


this Mallard duck was floating dead in the pond....upsetting but....   Next evening the same two trucks once again showed up, this time earlier and although there was some shooting it appeared to be within the time limits.  I should note that the above Mallard wasn't the only injured or dead duck found.  A Ring-neck was found by another concerned camper, we found a Barrow's Golden-eye with it's head shot off and another, sadder situation where one was still alive but suffering as only it's lower mandible shot off.....but the worst was yet to happen...   On the third night the same two trucks arrived, this one of the trucks left, while the other stayed and the shooting commenced...


while I was sitting not that far away taking pictures of this Great Blue Heron, one of a pair that had spent the summer in the park....


these so called 'hunters' shot it's mate.  Now between ourselves and the other camper both the R.C.M.P. and Conservation officers were contacted and supplied with numerous photos and other evidence but the sad part is that because no one witnessed the actual shooting the chances of anything happening are minimal.  The conservation officer asked to be called immediately if we saw the trucks again (which we never did) - but consider this....the conservation officer that attended the scene came from Pentiction, a 2 1/2 hour drive away...even if the trucks did return and we called immediately what were the chances of someone arriving in time. The other sad thing is the fact that this officer also said this sort of thing happens a lot more often than you'd think.