Thursday, September 30, 2010

Water is even higher!

Not going to post a picture today, it looks pretty much like it did yesterday.  It is another beautiful sunny day with a warm wind blowing from a direction we don’t normally get wind….and the water level is even higher than it was yesterday…my ‘walk route’ is now completely underwater from one end to the other and apart from 50 or 60 Canada Geese that are enjoying all this water, there just wasn’t much of anything else in sight!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The water is still rising!

Beautiful sunny morning today!

Sept29 002

calm and quiet.

Sept29 003

The amazing thing is that the water is still creeping up.

Sept29 004

These chairs have been sitting at the end of our boat launch path for several weeks now.  This morning, when I took the top two pictures, they were still ‘high and dry’ ~ now at mid-day the water was too deep for me to wade in (was wearing runners) and rescue them.

Sept29 006

Canada Geese still hanging around out there.  My husband said that last night when he was doing his evening walk he watched literally hundreds of them fly in to spend the night.  There were a few Mallards around and a couple of Heron, but that was about it.

Sept29 009

The shallow water where it is creeping up over the gravel is alive with baby fish ~ I have no idea what kind.

Sept29 011

Wanted to mention this little guy ~ a Townsend’s Chipmunk.  In the 13 years I’ve lived here I have never seen such a healthy population of Chipmunks as we have this year.  They, along with the little native Douglas Squirrels are everywhere!  This time of the year they are all very busy stashing away food for the winter.  The other day there were 3 of these little guys at the same feeder, busy stuffing the bird seed into their cheek pouches.  I haven’t noticed any Chipmunks in the park itself, but we sure have them in the residential area.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Path under water…..

Well I won’t be doing my usual walk over to the park any time soon!  Here is what the path looks like today…

Sept28 008

All that rain in the past few days continues to flow down the hillsides and the water levels here continue to rise.

Sept28 006

It’s now way up our boat launch…

Sept28 007

and there isn’t a gravel bar in sight!

Sept28 005

This was one of 4 Great Blue Heron I saw today….they’re having trouble finding fishing spots.  Only saw 7 Bald Eagles, they were busy harassing what appeared to be several hundred ducks, way out.

There were lots of Black Cap Chickadees in the bushes, also spotted one Yellow rump Warbler.  Up near the bird feeders there was this

Sept28 002

Band Tail Pigeon.  There are also a lot of Sparrows around right now including Song, White Crowned and a few Gold Crowned, and several dozen Evening Grosbeak are making quick work of the bird seed!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Foggy start to the day….

You know it must be fall when you get up to fog!

Sept27 002

Fog lends a surreal atmosphere to the estuary….Canada Geese and Mallards can be heard, but not seen in the mist.

Sept27 005

You have to fight your way through dew covered cobwebs just to get down the path.  Eagles can be heard and this morning, coyotes were calling as well, way off in the distance….

Sept27 007 

Water levels seem to have crept up even higher….such was the scene this morning.

I didn’t get for my usual mid-day walk, the reason being one of my pet peeves and something I am going to ‘rant’ about every time it happens.  Dogs – or more specifically, dog owners….who refuse to obey the sign that says ‘Dogs on leash at all times’.  I have nothing against dogs, I own two of them and have been involved in almost every aspect of dog activity there is during my life time but I will never understand why some owners have to give all dog owners a bad name by not obeying leash laws!

I did manage to get a count of Bald Eagles though – 33!  The highest number so far this season.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Blustery, wet night….

Yesterday’s beautiful day was followed by a blustery night, where temperatures rose until it was 23 degrees (that’s Celsius) at 11 o’clock at night.  When the winds finally died, the rain began….

Sept.26 001

this picture, taken in the afternoon between ‘system’s’ shows that the water levels are now creeping back up….again.

Sept.26 002

It was pretty quiet all along the trail….the lowest of the 4 logs is now almost submerged – again.

Sept.26 006

Just out from the log bay there were quit a few Canada Geese, some Mallards and not visible in this picture, quite a large raft of American Widgeon Ducks.

Sept.26 009

It looked just as stormy looking south towards Chilliwack.  On the way back, at the first bay, a Killdeer flew by, at face height  and so close we ducked, with a raptor of some sort in hot pursuit!  It happened so fast I’m really not sure what the bird was…it was light gray in color, so could have been a male Northern Harrier, or even a Peregrine Falcon.  We did see two female or juvenile Northern Harrier and there were quite a few (as in about a dozen) Bald Eagles either out on the flats or soaring over head.  ‘Quite a few right now, doesn’t compare to what ‘quite a few’ will be in another 6 weeks or so ~ then ‘quite a few’ will mean several hundred!  All going as it should of course!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

another kind of ‘bird’

What a beautiful day!  We must have flipped back to summer.

Sept25 008

The most obvious feature on the flats today, apart from the glorious summer like weather, was a helicopter that spent the better part of an hour examining the region.

Sept25 010

Air traffic in this area is a growing concern….sometimes it seems like we live beside an airport, rather than a wild life habitat….but although I don’t have any basis in fact to make this assumption, I am hoping that in this case, it might have been a good thing.  Today, the B.C. Watershed Society, in conjunction with tomorrow being World River’s Day, held a rally in near by Deroche and I’m hoping that this plane had something to do with that rally.

Sept25 011

Hard as it is to fathom…this area that is ‘internationally’ recognized as an important bird area, doesn’t get the same respect here at home.  For many years this incredible place has been on the books as a ‘proposed’ wildlife management area ~ and, despite the fact that a couple of other areas in the general vicinity were granted this designation last year, the Chehalis Estuary is still just that ~ ‘proposed’

Sept25 013

What is even more disturbing is the fact that this area is zoned for gravel mining!  The estuary itself has a lower rating as to desirability than do other area’s in the immediate area, but all are a concern given the sensitive habitat ~ hence the rally that was held today, which I am ashamed to say, I didn’t attend.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Another gray day….

No pictures today as the place looks pretty much like it did yesterday, just a little wetter and with no birds in sight!  Well there was one dejected looking Heron and in the residential areas there were lots of Steller’s Jay, some Evening Grosbeak, White Crowned Sparrows, Junco, Towhee and even a couple of Song Sparrows….one of our commonest birds in the winter.  Robins are also very busy….we have a lot of Dogwoods that are now covered in fruit and the robins are loving it!

As you can see, I have, with help of a friend, added some ‘gadgets’ to this blog.  The map is live so you can zoom in or out on it.  I will be making future pictures ‘smaller’ so that they won’t over lap the items on the side bar (you’ll be able to make them bigger by clicking on them and then using the return button)….we’ll get this thing working right yet!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

First day of Fall

So here we are, the first day of fall and I could use the cliché that it looks like it!

Sept23 001

Pretty dull and gray and wet out there today…..

Sept23 003

as so often happens though, there was a lot of bird activity.  In the immediate area of the boat launch there were about 30 Mallards, some in their typical green headed breeding plumage (like those above), but some still in their ‘eclipse’ plumage….before I insert a photo demonstrating ‘eclipse’ plumage ~ look carefully in the above one, you’ll see 4 white heads belonging to Bald Eagles…way over there across the flats.

SLR 062

The above picture obviously wasn’t taken today on the Chehalis Estuary ~ I took it on August 28 ‘10 at Tunkwa Lake, B.C. and am using it to show the plumage stage that male Mallard go through after the breeding season.  When Mallards are in this stage it is pretty hard, from a distance, to figure out what they are, however, since they are the only duck species to ‘quack’ when they fly, they are still pretty easy to identify.

Back to today’s report…there were also about 15 or so Green Wing Teal ducks…also in eclipse plumage….Green Wing Teal are the smallest of the dabbling ducks….so again, easy to identify, even out of breeding plumage.

Another species, this time of shorebirds, that is easy to identify by their sound, are Killdeer and today there had to be a couple of dozen all sounding quite hysterical which is typical of Killdeer.  They were too far away to get a decent picture today, but since I’ve mentioned Killdeer a few times now, decided to post another picture, not taken on the Estuary, but again, at Tunkwa Lake.

SLR 078

I will do this from time to time as getting good pictures of birds is always a challenge….especially good pictures at a specific location!  Also seen today was a small flock of about a dozen small shorebirds…I think, due to the fact they ‘flew as one’ they were Dunlin….but can’t be absolutely positive.

Sept23 005

back to today, there was major activity in the bushes…..Robins and Towhee on the ground, but also many Ruby Crowned Kinglets mixed with Black Cap Chickadee in the vegetation and I even spotted a late juvenile Common Yellowthroat…at least I think that is what it was.  Hard to see through binoculars when rain is running across the lens!  Thank goodness they are waterproof!

Sept23 006

Here is the area by the log bay…a far cry from how it looked yesterday!  One last ‘bird’ note….I haven’t seen it, but I’ve been hearing a Varied Thrush out behind my place today.  Weather like today is typical ‘Varied Thrush’ weather, but it does seem really early for one to be here.  They usually don’t show up until early December, although I have known them to be here in early October ~ they love berries and fruits like crab apples and there are a lot of those sort of things in the area right now, so I guess not really surprising that one showed up.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Last day of summer

Today, being the last day of summer, I figured I would make sure to post something ~ anything…..

Sept22 001

It was a beautiful day, as this picture, taken on our morning walk, shows.  I should mention though, that as I’m doing this posting, cloud is moving in.  Note too that the water level has dropped again, less than yesterday’s level but not yet back to where it was prior to the rains.  That is the way it will go….up and down and up and down depending on what the weather does.

Sept22 003

We’re over at the first bay now….still with water but not quite so much….and it is so quiet ‘bird wise’ that I am beginning to wonder if I’ll have anything to post!

Sept22 006

But then….a Ruffed Grouse ran across the path in front of us.  I’ve spotted Ruffed Grouse in the park before, but this was the first time I’ve been able to actually get a picture of one.

Sept22 007

and unfortunately it chose a place of dense shade to stop in and I only had my ‘small’ camera so any closer shots were blurry….this was the best of the bunch.  I should explain I guess, I use 3 different digital cameras.  The ‘small’ one is an Olympus with 18x optical zoom and 7.1 megapixels.  This is the camera I have with me most of the time as I can tuck it inside a jacket or vest and I don’t worry about it so much if the weather is bad.  All of the pictures in the first two postings were taken with my Canon Powershot with 20x optical zoom and 12.1 megapixels.  I actually really like this camera and use it when ever I’m not rushing through a walk or think there might actually be something to take a picture of, and lastly, if I’m not having to hold a dogs leash…and it isn’t raining….I’ll take my Pentex DSLR camera with 300 mm telephoto lens.

Sept22 009

So back to today, this is off of the log bay and you can see the gravel bars are starting to emerge again.  Besides the Ruffed Grouse I spotted a Ruby Crowned Kinglet….couldn’t get a picture of the active little guy…could hear some geese way out there and there was one lone heron, but that was about it.  Some days are like that.  Some days there just isn’t much of anything and other days there are so many birds you don’t know where to look first!

So the summer of 2010 ends at, I think, sometime around 8 pm tonight…..

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

September 21 ~ rising water

You’ll be forgiven if you think it is always a beautiful sunny day at the Estuary.  I can assure you that is not the case!  The past few days have brought torrential rains with them.  It isn’t that I don’t venture out in inclement weather, in fact I prefer it ~ but I’ve just been so busy I haven’t had a chance to get down there until today….

Sept21 003

here we are in the boat launch area.  Compare this picture to the one in the previous entry and you will see the water level is much higher than it was….thanks to all that rain.

Sept21 004

I’m standing right on the path and there is water in this low area right up to the path…but fortunately, not on to it.  This is one of the lower spots and is the first place to fill up with water and the last spot to dry out after water events.

Sept21 006

There was a lot of carrying on as I took the water level picture.  I could hear Killdeer but I also spotted these 4 shorebirds at the edge of the water.  Even with my binoculars I couldn’t be absolutely positive, but I think they are Pectoral Sandpipers.  I have seen Pectoral Sandpipers out on the estuary in the past, a few seem to pass through most years.

Sept21 009

By now we’ve reached the first bay and you can see that the gravel bars have pretty much disappeared and the bay itself, that was dry, is now full of water.

Sept21 011

Here is looking back into the bay itself.  The viewing platform isn’t visible behind all the vegetation but it is there, and take note of those big Poplar Trees ~ we call them the ‘Eagle Trees’ and the reason for the name will become obvious over the next few months.

Sept21 010

Just another look….at where the water level stands…

MPSept.19-10 002

I’m tossing this picture in at this point…this is called ‘King’s Cup Gentian’ and I can honestly say I’ve never seen it growing anywhere but the grasslands here at the Chehalis Estuary.  I’m sure it must grow in other similar habitats  in the general area, but the problem is that there aren’t that many similar habitats, which is why this area is so special.  King’s Cup Gentian are just coming into flower now and will flower into October.  The flower never opens any further than what you see here.

Sept21 014

While at the first bay, I watched a flock of about 20 American Pipits land…there are at least 3 of them on the foreshore of this picture ~ American Pipits are commonly found out on the flats, especially during the fall.  I will try and dig out some better pictures of them to post, but for today, this was the best I could do.

Sept21 015

So now we are at the log bay.  Remember how I said those logs made good water measuring sticks?  well compare today with the last entry and you’ll see what I mean.

Sept21 016

The area directly out from the log bay was high and dry….today it had Canada Geese swimming on it.  The Harrison River is no longer an invisible entity along the base of Mt. Woodside (hill in the picture), but has now spread right over the entire area.

Sept21 017

The geese were having a wonderful time splashing and bathing….but didn’t manage to capture any of them actually in the act!

Sept21 018

There had been one Great Blue Heron in the area, fishing, when another flew in….this resulted in the ‘fishing dance’….this is ‘my’ area! not yours!  The other one flew a bit further along where he also huffed and puffed and strutted about.

No pictures of them but I should mention that there is a fairly large flock of Evening Grosbeak in the area right now, there has been 1 Band Tail Pigeon hanging about for a few days and the numbers of Dark Eyed Junco are on the rise while the Barn Swallows and Swifts that have been around for the past few weeks seem to have headed south.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I would like to introduce you to internationally recognized Important Bird Area, B.C. 033.  This Important Bird Area, or IBA consists of the Chehalis Estuary, the lower part of the Harrison River and Harrison Bay.  Situated in the upper Fraser Valley of British Columbia, I have had the privilege of living beside the Chehalis Estuary for the past 13 years.  For many of those years I posted a blog of this area on the website for the Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival Society, under the name of Kathy’s Korner.

The Chehalis Estuary is a unique habitat.  Formed where the Chehalis river joins the Harrison River, this area, for at least 4 months of the year, forms a shallow ‘lake’, the rest of the year large expanses of grasslands and gravel bars are exposed.  The estuary is bordered by a mix of deciduous and coniferous forest as well as residential areas all of which contributes to a growing list of bird species.  That number is closing in on 175 at this point.

New blog 001

I walk this area a couple of times every day, so let me introduce you to various spots that you will see again and again.  The above is what I call the ‘boat launch’ ~ this is how it looks on a beautiful sunny, late summer day. 

New blog 002

If you look just a little to the west of the ‘boat launch’ you can see the road that forms the western boundary of the estuary.

New blog 003

Looking eastward, you see Mt. Woodside which forms the eastern boundary.  The Harrison River runs along the base of Mt. Woodside.  You can see that water levels are low this time of the year….although they will get lower yet…

New blog 005

Eagle Point community park is a linear park that protects the estuary from the residential areas along the western edge.  This area is in Eagle Point park and I call it the ‘log bay’.  You will find I refer to this area quite often….especially those 4 logs to the right of the picture…they make great water measuring sticks!  During high water, that topmost log will be submerged.

Egret SLR 037

Of course the whole point of this blog is to share with you the natural wonders of this unique spot.  Today, there were a number of Greater Yellowlegs poking along the shoreline….

Sept.14 007

and since September 6th until a couple of days ago, we had this exciting visitor ~ a Great Egret!

Sept.14 024

That is one of the wonders of this area ~ you just never know what will show up!

New blog 009

This time of the year, Pacific Water Parsley is in full bloom throughout the grassland areas….this plant is much loved by an assortment of insects.

New blog 016

Douglas Aster also give colour to the landscape during late summer and into Fall.

New blog 014

Here is a close up view of the Douglas Aster.

Now I have introduced you to this area, I hope you will  come back, as I share the wonders of the estuary with you throughout the seasons and in all sorts of weather.  In a few weeks Chum Salmon will be spawning attracting hundreds of Bald Eagles…Trumpeter Swans will be arriving in late November to spend the winter with us……