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Author Topic: Nest #22 - Helliwell Park - 2013-2014 season  (Read 19157 times)
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winterwren
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« on: January 03, 2014, 07:55:17 PM »


This thread is to post information about Nest 22 and its territory, which is in Helliwell Provincial Park.

This is a beautiful area, with a preserved old-growth forest, seaside meadows, some rocky islets that form a huge intertidal zone, and an abundance of sea birds.

For the last  two summers, the eagles of this nest occupied and defended their territory but did not have any offspring.
The year before, in the summer of 2011, they had one eaglet, who ended up in rehab at MARS and was nicknamed Shredder Helliwell. Shredder was severely emaciated, but survived and was released in the wild!

Click here to view the postings from 2012-2013

Click here for the ones from 2011-2012

Click here for 2010-2011

And... Click here to see the postings from the 2009-2010 season.

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winterwren
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« Post / Reply #1 on: January 03, 2014, 08:13:40 PM »

On December 31 I decided to end the year with a paddle to Flora Islet, which is part of Helliwell Park and part of this nest's hunting grounds. What I really wanted to know was whether the Elephant Seal was back!

On my way over, I saw pairs of eagles perched in each territory: a pair near Middle Beach, home of Nest 20; another on the big flat fir on Cape Gurney, near Nest 21; and I heard a third pair in the direction of Nest 22, in the forest near the boundary of Helliwell Park. The eagles all called out in turn whenever any other eagle flew along the shore, but birds perching on the outer rocks and islets did not get chased off.

This nice individual, for example, peacefully resting on the rocks just offshore from Nest 22 while the owners give heck to whoever flies over their trees.
December 31, 1:42



Some wet feathers down below, and a bit of undershirt showing through at the breast... This eagle seems to be having a good day...
1:43
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winterwren
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« Post / Reply #2 on: January 03, 2014, 08:49:34 PM »

On toward Flora Islet.

Flocks of Common Mergansers, Common Goldeneyes and Buffleheads take off at my approach. Here are a few of the Buffleheads...

New Year's eve, 1:49 pm



Ok, so I'm supposed to learn my gulls... These ones are all Thayer's Gulls, mostly adults, one younger one at upper right, and one Glaucous-winged at the very top, with the grey wing tips.
This is on the big gravelly islet northwest of Flora.
1:55



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winterwren
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« Post / Reply #3 on: January 03, 2014, 09:23:19 PM »

As soon as I approached the islet, I knew that the elephant seal wasn't in the area. His favourite beach was full of sea lions! They seem to avoid the area when he is around.

You might want to play some of Booni's Sea Lion videos for atmosphere, to get an idea of what it was like when I approached... Deafening!

I gave them even more elbow room than we did with the Big Canoe but still some of them came out after me, spyhopping and breaching between me and the shore.

Usually I like to drift by the outer rocks to look for obscure little shore birds... And sure enough I spotted a nice flock of Surfbirds... (With, I can see now, one little Dunlin in the middle by the water's edge...)
December 31, 2:05


...But with a dozen lions on my tail, I was feeling shall we say a tad nervous?

So I paddled on, still deciding to circle Flora.


The first of the outer islets was a little quieter... So I approached this handsome sub-adult, who still has just a little bit of dark streaking on the head feathers... And is that a stained beak or some remnant of dark colouring?
2:06



Ok, that was close enough.
\






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winterwren
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« Post / Reply #4 on: January 03, 2014, 09:51:08 PM »

I'm back at the same gravelly islet where I photographed the gulls... Closer to a youngster I had not been able to approach on the way in. He's been there at least half an hour, and meanwhile on the shore the Nest 22 pair still call out to every passerby... But more and more it seems to me that these islets are neutral ground.

December 31, 2:17







Suddenly all the gulls take flight! You can see that their primaries are darker on the outer half than on the inner, and that's one way to tell the Thayer's from the other large gulls.
2:18







Not a bad way to say goodbye to 2013...
Happy new year everyone!
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Cawatcher
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« Post / Reply #5 on: January 03, 2014, 10:13:21 PM »

Super series of photos and adventures, Winterwren.. Thank you!!  thumbup
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Tigerlady105
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« Post / Reply #6 on: January 03, 2014, 10:45:52 PM »

Wish we could paddle there with you!  (I'd be quiet.)  Luv your close-ups. Wren. thumbup
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« Post / Reply #7 on: January 04, 2014, 11:05:34 AM »


wren, what a gorgeous sub adult in that second to last foto.
& i LOVE the caught-in-action flying flock of Gulls!
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« Post / Reply #8 on: January 04, 2014, 11:20:11 AM »

What a great trip & super photo's.  Thanks wren.
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passerine
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« Post / Reply #9 on: January 04, 2014, 03:21:16 PM »

This Eagle reminds me of Dad Hornby, maybe a relative or not.

1:43


Love the expression on the Sea lions face in the photo you say "close enough".  They're such characters a lot of fun to hang out with. smile
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winterwren
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« Post / Reply #10 on: March 01, 2014, 04:53:50 PM »

I just spoke with someone who lives near this pair's territory. He reports the same kind of herring activity I described in this post. He said there were "an unbelievable number of eagles" fishing for the herring.
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winterwren
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« Post / Reply #11 on: March 16, 2014, 09:32:19 PM »

On March 9 I finally went for a paddle in the area of this nest.
I posted here about the first part of that outing.

It was a windy day, and I hadn't had much success drifting into the flock of Scoters... I headed for Flora Islet, fighting my way into the breeze. There seemed to be some fresh spawn in patches along the way. I keep being surprised by how the milt changes the texture of the water, enough to flatten out the waves! It's as if it makes the water thicker.

There were 6 eagles on the gravel bar northwest of Flora, but the wind was such that I could not get my camera to focus on them. I turned back, using the lee of the island, and returned skirting the shore, looking for fish; I saw a few jumpers but nothing on the clear edges of the opaque turquoise milt. Some of the birds seemed to be catching herring. A few seagulls were after floating bits of seaweed with roe attached  to them.

There was a group of eagles on the shore and trees near the boundary of Helliwell Park. I drifted closer.
March 9, 12:55


There must have been a carcass of something just beyond the rocks, out of my view. When I have approached those from land, the eagles scattered, but they didn't seem to mind my boat... So I let the wind push me closer, back-paddling whenever I drifted too close to the rocks.

A fly-over by a young eagle... Coming to four years old?
12:57:07

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winterwren
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« Post / Reply #12 on: March 16, 2014, 09:45:29 PM »

I think this is the same eagle.
March 9, 12:57:18


But the younger one is not the same as in the last post. There were three of them around.
12:57:19



12:57:19



12:59. The 4-year-old has the carcass and the younger one waits behind.



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winterwren
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« Post / Reply #13 on: April 15, 2014, 07:15:34 PM »

2 days ago I went paddling around this territory with a friend. There is always so much going on around Helliwell Park, especially at this time of year with migrating birds flying through and the wildflowers coming into bloom.

The open waters between Whaling Station Bay and Flora Islet are busy with sea birds that are difficult to approach: scoters, loons, grebes, harlequins... I try to catch them with my lens, if just to identify them.

These two birds seemed unusual; they looked light-coloured while they swam ahead of us but dark with white patches as they flew away. It's not until I enlarged the photos that I picked out the amazing orange crests. These are Horned Grebes, in breeding plumage. I've never had any luck approaching them when they're all dressed up like this. Any sighting at all is an event for me.

Believe it or not, this is also the first time I see Grebes in flight. Their favourite mode of escape is by diving. Look how their feet with their big lobed toes trail out behind them.
April 12, 4:24 pm



This is what Horned Grebes look like in the winter. Subdued, but very lovely.
Taken near Ford Cove, December 21 2011



As we approached Flora Islet, I spotted over a dozen eagles on the big gravel bar. That spot seems to be a favourite stopover for wandering eagles, but there sure seemed to be a lot of them.

It turned out there was a dead seal they were feeding on.

Look at all the white fluffy feathers sticking out or the left eagle's body. I wonder what that is about.
4:24 pm



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winterwren
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« Post / Reply #14 on: April 15, 2014, 08:00:14 PM »

So here I am, drifting on a strong current by the gravel bar, which holds all these eagles.

April 12, 4:26 pm



Full crop!



So, I'm in a boat, trying to focus a telephoto lens on moving eagles, minding the current and the little bit of surf in the shallows just ahead, when my paddling companion shouts out.
"Look on the other side!!!"

On the other side, just a couple of boat lengths away, was what looked like a tall stump. It had not been there when I surveyed my drift trajectory.
Then that stump moved.
4:27


It was the Elephant Seal.

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