Friday, November 30, 2012

Dreary end to the month

The month of November is ending on a dreary note, partly due to the weather…


but more so to events witnessed during the month.  This should have been a month celebrating the natural phenomenon of the eagles arriving at the estuary to feed on the returning salmon. The eagles and the salmon arrived right on schedule but so did the people, in numbers we haven’t seen before.  This wouldn’t be so bad if all persons were respectful of the birds, the fish and the habitat as a whole.  Unfortunately, over and over again we witnessed that not being the case.

How is it all right to allow your children to splash in the water and throw stones at the spawning salmon, or to let your dog splash in the water among the fish, or probably worst of all….wade along in the water with a video camera filming the salmon as they fled in front of you!   How is it all right to stand and shout at a bird to try and get it to fly so you can get a picture?, or to tromp across the habitat to get to the waters edge so you can get ‘closer’ to a feeding bird….thus interrupting the birds meal and causing it to fly off, let alone the damage being done to the shore where salmon eggs have most probably already been laid, and disturbing any wildlife sheltering in what should be undisturbed habitat.  It was reported to me recently that at one point 30 people were lined up along an area of shoreline where no one should have been.

Then there is the issues of canoes and kayaks that have been mentioned earlier in the month.  Thankfully, it was witnessed yesterday that after being contacted, one of the local canoeing groups, honored the 100 meter space that it is suggested be left between the water craft and the birds.

In response to all the issues raised and witnessed during this past month, meetings have all ready been called to see what can be done to make sure that in future years the pressure on the area is lessened.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Here we go again…

One very short report today….

wet day

It was wet…

In the rain

it looked pretty normal out there….  but there could have been a pink flamingo over at the park for all I know because this is what greeted me…

Path blocked again

at the entrance to the park path.  As you might have guessed, I am not amused!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Now that’s better!

Not as inviting a day, weather wise….

That is more like it!

thus much less in the way of visitors, and much better in the way of lack of stress to the birds…  Started out with this scene….

Juvenile at a fish

a juvenile Bald Eagle was feeding at the edge of the water….

Green-wing Teal and pair of Mallards

Green-wing Teal were feeding on the far shore – these little birds are very flighty and don’t tolerate much human disturbance, which is probably why they hadn’t been seen for the last couple of weeks.

the log bay

Actually made it right to the log bay as it was ‘unpopulated’ for the first time in weeks!  Look how low the water levels are again!

Sleeping Trumpeters

Some Trumpeter Swans were sound asleep on the gravel bars (one lifted it’s head so I could ID it)

Three Tundras

While 3 Tundra Swans were in the water (if you click on photo to enlarge you can clearly see the yellow at the base of the bill on the two birds with their heads out of the water).  I could also see that there were a great many swans down off of the golf course.

abundance of fish

heading back, it is nice to see that there are still lots of live fish and it is also surprising how many salmon there are that are still completely untouched…


with the day being more relaxed it was possible to concentrate on some of the gulls in the area and I have a bunch now that need ID’s….like this one that seemed very pale…I won’t bore you with them here but I will be posting some pictures on some bird sites…as I try to ID them.

Gull and Bald Eagle

this, I think Thayer’s Gull, and this 4 year old Bald Eagle were sharing this salmon.

Working at it

he, or she, was still happy working on it as we headed for home.

There had been absolutely no small bird activity along the trail today, probably due more to the wind that was blowing as I only met 2 people over there today.  There has been lots of activity at the feeders, in fact have had to fill them twice…

Brown Creeper

this is a very poor picture, it was taken late yesterday afternoon, but is of a Brown Creeper…a bird that is probably around a lot, but not often seen.

Red-breasted Nuthatch

and, since I took this while trying to get creeper pictures, wanted to mention that the Red-breasted Nuthatch continue….I have at least 3, possibly more coming to my feeders constantly…the first time ever this has happened.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Time to rant….

OK, I’ve been alluding to the problem for as long as I’ve been doing this blog, but unfortunately the situation this year is out of control.  I’m talking, of course, about the amount of disturbance the birds are having to endure from the public.  Whenever you create a ‘festival’ and draw attention to a particular area or species, this unfortunately seems to happen.

Barren flats

Look out there.  This shot is the view from the viewing platform today.  Do you see a bird????  I wonder just how many people felt they had to ‘get closer’ today? 

at the park

here is as close as we got to the log bay today…too many people and more that you can’t see because they are where they shouldn’t be! (by the way that sign is back at the district having more work done to it).

Some eagles and swans way down at the end

back at the viewing platform this was the very far end of the now exposed gravel bars of the estuary…there appeared to be a lot of Swans out there too…

disturbed birds

seconds later…notice all the birds suddenly taking flight….

after the disturbance

now look at the same area – the swans are still there but not much else…and why? someone with a camera equipped with a huge telephoto lens just had to ‘get closer’!

Telephoto lens should be a means of being able to stand well back, but still enabling the photographer to get a good close shot of the subject, but what seems to happen is that, not happy to just get a picture of the bird, next they have to get a picture that is just the birds head, and then just the birds eye and on it goes.  Everyone admires a wonderful crisp clear shot of a bird….but we have to start asking ourselves, and the photographer, what did it cost the bird to get that particular picture!  This is especially true of pictures of birds in flight.  Did that bird just happen to fly right by at the perfect angle for that shot…or was that bird pressured until it flew?  and if so, is that acceptable?  Certainly from the bird’s perspective it isn’t!!!

When you are in bird habitat your prime consideration should be to not disturb those birds.  For example…

Juvenile eating a fish

when we set out on our walk this afternoon this juvenile Bald Eagle was eating this salmon.  I stood on the path and took it’s picture with my, what many would scorn, camera, that has the equivalent of a 800mm lens on it.  The bird remained perfectly relaxed, and I continued on my walk, on my return, the bird was still there, happily eating.  When I got home I downloaded the picture, cropped and enhanced it in my computer and further cropped it as it is posted here.  No, you can’t see every individual feather….but the important part was that the bird remained undisturbed while I still got a picture!

Bald Eagle

this adult Bald Eagle actually flew up into the tree at the viewing platform while I was there….one of the birds disturbed by the previously mentioned incident. 

Check out both the F.V.B.E. Festival website and the Hancock Wildlife Foundation website and you will see that it is no longer just me that is expressing concern about this problem.

Back to today…

Great Blue Heron

This Great Blue Heron was perched on a piling….almost looks like he is passing comment on the whole ‘too many people’ situation!

Spotted Towhee

got a quick picture of this Spotted Towhee before the next wave came tromping down the trail and he dove for cover….he is actually the only small bird I saw or heard today…

Trio of female Common Merganser

and finally this trio of female Common Merganser were up at the calmer end along with the usual Mallard and American Wigeon.

It looks like our string of good weather days is coming to an end, and for the birds sake, it can’t happen too soon!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Trio of beautiful sunny days

Today is the third in a string of beautiful sunny days, chilly, with temperatures down to freezing at night.  I’m not sure how the birds have been enjoying it, but the bird ‘watchers’ sure have!  We did a lot of running around on the weekend and noticed every road out in this area seemed to be lined with parked cars and people packing big cameras and spotting scopes.

Third sunny day in a row

Started over to the park today but gave up, just way too many people!


as is usually the case on nice days….not much activity out there on the flats..

Some birds way out there

although there did seem to be some Bald Eagles way over by the Harrison River.  And of course there were gulls…people don’t bother them!

Male Gadwall and ffemale Mallard

What I did spot today was the first Gadwall of the season (on left).  It had occurred to me just the other day that it was strange that we hadn’t had any Gadwall yet – and there he is!

One eagle and a gull

one brave eagle ventured down to feed and many more were flying over head…

Hiding Eagles

a quick trip to our garbage containers and I discovered where a lot of the eagles were….hiding in the dense forest on the inaccessible side of a mountain….this isn’t a great picture but there are 6 of them in it.

Song Sparrow in the leaves

there are lots of little birds about, including this Song Sparrow posing nicely in some fallen leaves.  Towhee, Junco, Chickadees, Nuthatches and Kinglets can be heard.  Speaking of being heard…the Raven have been very vocal today…have also seen a fair number of crows, in fact at one point this morning there seemed to be a mass exodus of eagles, ravens and crows flying overhead away from the estuary.  I suspect someone just had to venture out there and that was the cause.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Miserable day!

Just a miserable cold wet day today.

Not a nice day

I could hear a lot of Swans, primarily Tundra Swans out in the same area off of the log bay, but unfortunately couldn’t get close as a dog owner was allowing her very large dog to run around loose while she took photographs…not only is this against the park rules, it is extremely annoying for those of us dog owners who do keep our dogs on leads…

Swans in the rain

a couple of Trumpeter Swans had taken refuge up at our end so did manage this picture…

Eagles in the rain

and there were obviously lots of Bald Eagles in the trees down at the golf course – the above an extremely long distant shot – thank goodness for 35X zoom!

Mallards in the rain

Mallards were the only ducks I saw today.  There were lots of little birds like Bushtits, Kinglets and Chickadees along the trail, but small agile birds are difficult enough to photograph, especially on a dark wet day, couple that with having to keep an eye out for a loose dog and it is impossible.

That very large flock of Pine Siskin were flying around today as well.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Getting chilly!

A mainly dry day today but a bit on the chilly side….


maybe it was just looking at all the white stuff on the mountains that made it feel that way!  Water levels have now dropped back to last weekends levels.

Eagles on the shore

Pretty typical for Bald Eagles today.  I ‘guesstimated’ in excess of 600 out there.

14 Tundra Swans and a gull

a total of 51 swans today.  The Tundra Swans, like this group were further out and in the largest numbers…  They were being quite vocal and occasionally rather agitated, not sure why, perhaps because they are sensing it is time to move further south – we usually only see the Tundra’s early in the winter season.

Pair of Trumpeter

While the Trumpeter Swans, like this pair, were closer to the shoreline.

3 Young Trumpeter Swans and a Common Merganser

these are 2 of 3 young Trumpeter, making up one family group, for a total of about 7 Trumpeters.

There were more than that many people lined up taking pictures of them!

Glaucous Wing and not sure what else gull at a salmon

this pair of gulls, Glaucous-wing I think, although they look slightly different, were ignoring all the spectators and enjoying a salmon lunch.

Attentive Steller's Jay

Steller’s Jay and Black Cap Chickadee were mobbing something in one of the cedar groves….couldn’t spot what, but suspect a small owl, probably a pygmy.  Fox Sparrows, Song Sparrows, Towhee and Varied Thrush put in appearances and a huge flock of Pine Siskin, numbering probably several hundred kept flying about restlessly.

Female Common Merganser

these female Common Merganser were the only ducks I saw today other than Mallards.  I love how they swim along with their faces in the water, searching for food.

Eagle on the shore

There were various individual Bald Eagles scattered along the shorelines eating….sometimes being disturbed, but settling back pretty quick.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A break in the weather

This morning started out wet, but cleared up for a bit and we even saw the sun for a minute before it started raining again.

a break between weather systems

think everyone was taking advantage of the break in the weather so there wasn’t much to see along the trail or close to shore…

Eagles by the camera tower

water levels remain about the same as yesterday – that tower holds the streaming video cameras, if you haven’t checked them out, it is worth doing so – go to Hancock Wildlife Foundation and click on the camera page.

Tundra Swans on the rough river

the Tundra Swans remain but were further out today, you can see the Harrison River, there in the background was pretty choppy!

Thayer's Gull

this gull was posing nicely…I think, judging from the very pink legs, it is a Thayer’s Gull but I suppose it could be a Western/Glaucous Wing cross…I’ll try to find out.  My ID’ing of gulls is improving but isn’t a sure thing by any stretch of the imagination.

Shelter on the shore

most of the birds seemed to be hunkered down at a safe distance. 

Pine Sisken

One thing of note was a flock of Pine Siskin feeding in an alder tree – I was trying for photos but could here a bunch of voices nearing so gave up – this is as good as it got.  This time of year siskin don’t seem to come near feeders but prefer their natural food supply.  There were a number of Chickadee of both the Black Cap and Chestnutback but again, too busy to stand around trying for pictures.