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Author Topic: Heron Rocks Nest - 2013-2014 season  (Read 23033 times)
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winterwren
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« Post / Reply #30 on: May 05, 2014, 09:33:00 PM »

Thank you, Deb and Faerie!

There was a little more to that adventure...
Just across from that first Harlequin was a small flock of them... See how the background has all the colours of his feathers? But anyway I got close enough for a few nice shots of him preening.
April 13, 6:04 pm







I'm kicking myself for not noticing in the field that the bird right next to him had not just one, but two bands!


 
Heidi Regehr did a study on Harlequins from 1994 to 2001, and used this combination of leg bands, a US Fish and Wildlife Service band on the left and a laminated plastic band on the right. The metal bands used prior to 1999 were aluminum and reportedly dulled down very quickly. Thus this bird was probably marked sometime in '99, 2000 or 2001; the band looks shiny enough to be stainless steel. The coloured plastic bands had a 2-digit code engraved on them but this one looks like it is very worn, with a lot of black showing and the red colour darkened.
BNA Online cites cases of banded Harlequins recaptured and aged at respectively 10+, 15+ and 17+ years old, so this is possible. Interestingly, all three of those cases were documented during some of the studies on Hornby Island.

Edited to add: Well look at that, this bird has the bands reversed, metal on the right and plastic on the left. Different study? I've sent a few emails around and hope to find out more.
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winterwren
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« Post / Reply #31 on: May 06, 2014, 10:46:16 PM »

Different study indeed.
I had an answer from one of the biologists with whom I worked on the Harlequin project in September 2012. He wrote that a Dr. Dan Esler did another study on the Harlequins in the early 2000s; he thinks that the orange and black bands were placed as part of this study. I don't yet know the exact year or how old the banded birds were at the time.
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winterwren
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« Post / Reply #32 on: May 06, 2014, 10:59:24 PM »

There was only one eagle on Norris Rocks while I was around, and he or she stayed on the same perch, on a big driftwood log at the summit of the largest islet, the whole time I was touring the area.

I'm guessing that this would be, as Booni called them elsewhere in this thread, a "spare eagle". (I like that a lot.  mhihi )

April 13, 6:14 pm


Here is the same eagle with some unidentified gulls and with Mount Arrowsmith, one of the highest mountains of Vancouver Island, in the background.



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winterwren
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« Post / Reply #33 on: May 06, 2014, 11:10:24 PM »

In a small lagoon at the north end of the largest islet I drifted close to some beautiful shorebirds again.

Another Black Turnstone let me take his photo.
April 13, 6:21 pm







Another Dunlin... How could I resist? I love their beautiful downcurved bills.




And yet another Dunlin, this one almost completely in bright summer plumage.
6:22



Look at his black belly! It seems to strange to me, because I'm used to seeing them in their pale winter colours.





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OpieK
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« Post / Reply #34 on: May 06, 2014, 11:19:12 PM »

such detail in their feathers, thank you, Wren!
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boonibarb
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« Post / Reply #35 on: May 07, 2014, 09:13:36 AM »


wren, i am LOVING all your documentations of the Hornby shorelines!
Those water Birds are absolutely fabulous.
i never knew they changed feathers for breeding season like this.
It is fascinating, & makes me love Birds even more.
Your fotos of all of them are just wonderful.

One foto, that to me is outstanding, is THIS one!
What a fabulous view of Mt. Arrowsmith, covered in snow like that, with the clear outline against the sky, absolutely stupendous!
& an Eagle in the foreground with Gulls, what*s not to love?



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wooohoooo!
winterwren
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« Post / Reply #36 on: May 07, 2014, 08:00:50 PM »

Thanks for your kind words, Booni and Opie!
If I can share and pass on my love of these birds, then the effort is more than worthwhile.

Returning toward Ford Cove, I checked the Heron Rocks nest again.
Now there is an adult perched on the nest tree itself; I still can't tell if someone is on the nest.

April 13, 6:48



A little further along, not quite half way between the Heron Rocks nest and the Ford Cove nest, I find a gulling eagle again.
I'm thinking she may be the same one who was perched on Toby Islet on my way over. Same sound (I do have almost perfect pitch) and the collar line seems pretty similar. There is a second eagle a few trees to her right, just sitting and not interacting in any way.
6:56


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winterwren
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« Post / Reply #37 on: July 06, 2014, 01:29:17 PM »

June 24. I surveyed several nests that day; this one was among them.

On the way down the path to the beach, the woods were full of birds. I spotted this beautiful Yellow Warbler, who stopped just long enough for a photo.
June 24, 3:33 pm



I also heard the now-familiar sound of a House Wren. It didn't take me too long to spot the singer. From the observation of my nest at home, I'm guessing that this is a male and that the nest is very near.
3:45



I spent a while looking and listening at the nest; no adult eagles were nearby and I heard and saw no sign of life.

Moving down to the beach for a different angle, I saw some strange activity on Toby Islet.
3:45


I was curious about these people and their gear. I heard later that they are doing research on the impact of boat traffic noise on the neighbouring seal population.

From there I moved to the Olsen Farm territory. I will be posting that part of the story on the Olsen Farm nest thread.

On my return, I checked the nest again. The clouds had moved in and it looked rather forlorn and lifeless. This was my second visit here; this did not look at all promising.
5:10 pm



But this is not quite the end of this story...   duck
Stay tuned for the next part, which happened over a week later and which I will post in due course.

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winterwren
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« Post / Reply #38 on: July 28, 2014, 10:24:46 PM »

July 4. Another visit to this area.

I try several angles to the nest again.
Down on the beach, below the western edge of the Olsen Farm, I spot this eagle with a stained beak.
I have often seen eagles on that row of scraggly fir trees.

July 4, 7:22 am



From this angle too, the Heron Rocks nest seems as empty as ever.
7:23



I head over to the Olsen Farm nest to check it once again. One eagle is perched on a rock offshore. Another is on the rocky point just off the Olsen Farm nest, and flies off at my approach. He or she joins the eagle on the offshore rock. So there is a reasonable chance that these are the Olsen Farm pair. I'm posting this here because the conclusion of the story I'm about to tell assumes that the Olsen Farm eagles are accounted for.
7:41



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winterwren
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« Post / Reply #39 on: July 28, 2014, 10:58:40 PM »

Nothing at the Olsen Farm nest either. I return, in low spirits because I'm finding so many empty nests.

To distract myself, I try panning shots of Barn Swallows in flight. They are hunting low over the green marshy area at the top of the beach. It's way harder than anything I've ever photographed in flight. They move so fast. But it comforts me to see them, so beautiful and healthy.
Here are my best efforts.
July 4, 8:39 am











So then I continue on my way back toward Heron Rocks.

Until...

Hey, where ya going with that!
8:47



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winterwren
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« Post / Reply #40 on: July 28, 2014, 11:15:31 PM »

The eagle disappears inland, seemingly a little bit east of the old Heron Rocks nest. I hurry to where I can get a better view.

On my way I find this eagle again. Same trees as an hour and a half ago, same stained beak.
July 4, 8:59 am


From there, as before, I can see the Heron Rocks nest. It is as empty as ever.

I look further into the scraggly trees and here's another eagle. Did he just land here or was he here all along?
8:59 (actually my first photo of these eagles was at 8:54, but this set is better)


So.
Either one of them has just delivered a big fish to someone (they're obviously not eating and this was not a one-gulp meal), or else a third adult has flown inland with a fish right under their noses, with no comment on their part whatsoever.
Which one is it?
I take a few more photos of these eagles and then walk on. But 'on' happens to be right below the larger eagle, the one with the stained beak.
9:04


And she says...

"Huck, huck."

Which in most contexts is eagle language for "Don't worry my little one, Mom is right here."

And then I hear the sound I'd been despairing of hearing all morning.

I hear a screep.
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winterwren
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« Post / Reply #41 on: July 28, 2014, 11:36:18 PM »

A new nest.
This is what's going on. The Heron Rock eagles have moved again!

Now this is going to be very confusing, because the new Heron Rocks nest is on Olsen Farm. The Olsen Farm nest is also (still) on Olsen Farm... Way at the other end. It has seen some use this season, judging by all the poopshots below it. So I'm fairly confident that this is indeed part of the Heron Rocks territory, though of course I could be wrong.

There was a nice stairway off the beach right there... What else could I do? I went up, promising myself not to cross any fences.
I didn't need to.
After about 5 minutes more the eaglet started screeping again and soon after I found him.

The new nest is a short way inland, in a copse of tall old firs.
It is at the very top of a tree.
July 4, 9:17 am



In the nest was one little screeper, difficult to see but easy to hear once he got going.
(Click the picture for a better view.)




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winterwren
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« Post / Reply #42 on: July 28, 2014, 11:44:10 PM »

At the top of the bank, I'm almost nose to beak with the eaglet's Mom. Who really looks as if she's had something interesting to eat lately.
July 4, 9:23 am


She's huck-huck-hucking at her eaglet and probably not too keen on having me around. So a few more photos and I make myself scarce. They've made my day already, what more could I possibly want!








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OpieK
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« Post / Reply #43 on: July 29, 2014, 05:33:45 PM »

great sleuthing Wren!
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winterwren
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« Post / Reply #44 on: August 10, 2014, 11:23:49 PM »

Back on July 26, after searching for the injured eagle on the beach nearer the Olsen Farm nest, I passed near this nest again and saw Mom Heron Rocks launching from a tree, disturbed by my presence.

July 26, 7:09 pm



On the nest, the eaglet stands tall.
7:13



Making my way on through Heron Rocks, I get my first-ever picture of a Band-tailed Pigeon.
7:19


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