Author Topic: Shingle Spit Nest - 2014-2015 Season  (Read 15982 times)

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Offline winterwren

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Re: Shingle Spit Nest - 2014 - 2015 Season
« Reply #15 on: January 14, 2015, 12:01:46 AM »
Here's the same grebe again.
The back view tells us that for sure it's a Red-necked Grebe.
A Western Grebe would have a dark line extending all the way down the neck.

I've been noticing this because from afar the juvenile Red-necked Grebes look quite a bit like Westerns and I want to make sure I have this one right.
December 29, 2:45



Here's the same grebe again, looking very different, mantle feathers all puffed up.
I once saw a Horned Grebe do that at the end of an altercation with another grebe. I don't know what prompted this one to do it. Maybe this one simply wants to stay warm?
2:47




Offline winterwren

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Re: Shingle Spit Nest - 2014 - 2015 Season
« Reply #16 on: January 14, 2015, 12:07:18 AM »
Soon after, I was able to sneak up on some more beautiful sea birds.

These were on the sunny side of the dock, too!

Red-breasted Merganser... An adult male.
December 29, 2:51











Offline winterwren

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Re: Shingle Spit Nest - 2014 - 2015 Season
« Reply #17 on: January 14, 2015, 12:15:12 AM »
...And a Common Loon, in winter colours.
Click to enlarge!

December 29, 2:51











Offline winterwren

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Re: Shingle Spit Nest - 2014 - 2015 Season
« Reply #18 on: January 14, 2015, 07:42:47 PM »
One more loon photo I forgot I had...
The dive.

Feet visible, but very distorted by the water.

Here he goes!
December 29, 2:51




Offline winterwren

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Re: Shingle Spit Nest - 2014 - 2015 Season
« Reply #19 on: January 14, 2015, 08:05:42 PM »
Still the same afternoon.
Lots of beautiful birds by the Shingle Spit dock.

A Horned Grebe. Much smaller than the Red-necked, shorter neck, red eyes. All grebes seem to smile because of the shape of their bill and the position of the eyes in relation to it.
December 29, 2:56



Here's the same young Red-necked Grebe I saw earlier.
2:57



Back in the shade now, but interesting light and colours...
2:58





Offline winterwren

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Re: Shingle Spit Nest - 2014 - 2015 Season
« Reply #20 on: January 14, 2015, 10:20:58 PM »
At mid-day, we saw Orcas way to the south, too far for photos. The interesting thing was that a cloud of gulls were following them, together with four or five eagles. One of my coworkers thought that the orcas' behaviour was consistent with a transient pod preying on one of the hundreds of sea lions in that area. If that is so, the gulls and eagles would have been after any remnants that would have floated to the surface.

We glimpsed the orcas on and off through the afternoon, always in the area between Heron Rocks and the southern tip of Denman Island.

Then finally, at sunset, they cruised by us!
The sun was behind the mountains but the orcas came close enough that I was able to get a more detailed view of their markings. The shape of the dorsal fins and saddle patch is used for identification. I had never been close enough to see the more subtle grey markings at the base of the fins.

This first one has a scalloped line at the base of the fin. At first I thought it might be a reflection, but it shows up in a number of shots. Click the pictures for a better view of the individual markings.
December 29, 4 pm



This one has a very distinctive white marking at the base of the fin.




Here's the same orca again, a little closer.




Offline winterwren

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Re: Shingle Spit Nest - 2014 - 2015 Season
« Reply #21 on: January 14, 2015, 11:09:36 PM »
Here's the one with the scalloped pattern again, and another with a very curved, smaller fin.
I was able to get a few face shots this time.

December 29, 4 pm



Here's the big male of the pod, with his tall straight dorsal fin, together with a smaller orca. A third one is just disappearing ahead of them.
There is a nick near the base of the bull's fin, at the rear and (right side in this photo). I think I've seen this guy before. I described him to one of our local marine biologists, though, and he said there are two different males who have this marking.
Here we see more, though: again a pattern of dark grey on the fin itself, and also some crisscrossing scratch marks on the lighter saddle patch.




Here's another shot of the bull. We don't see the same grey-on-black pattern on the fin itself, so that one was, at least in part, reflected light. We have a better view of the nick and the scratch marks, however.




Offline winterwren

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Re: Shingle Spit Nest - 2014 - 2015 Season
« Reply #22 on: January 14, 2015, 11:28:28 PM »
More orcas...

The rear one is the one with the scalloped marking on her fin.
December 29, 4 pm



There is still one eagle following the pod!
Looks like a sub-adult.
4:03



A Pacific Loon hastily gets out of the way.



Offline Sandor3

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Re: Shingle Spit Nest - 2014 - 2015 Season
« Reply #23 on: January 15, 2015, 08:24:58 AM »
Winterwren, if you forward your photos to Jackie Hildering at Marine Education Research Society, she and/or Jared Towers will ID these orca for you.  Jackie is more than happy to share information and is so pleased that so many of us are interested/concerned about these beautiful animals.  Great photos as always, Wren....keep them coming....like we could stop you, hey?  hahaha

"We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have."    ~Frederick Koenig

"We aren't the only ones that live on the planet, but we act like it."  ~ Jane Goodall

Offline winterwren

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Re: Shingle Spit Nest - 2014 - 2015 Season
« Reply #24 on: January 15, 2015, 05:20:20 PM »
Heeheehee, Sandor!

I'm sending the photos to a local marine biologist who is keeping track of the orcas on behalf of the Vancouver Aquarium, so I'm hoping to have some confirmation from that.

Meanwhile, I'm also in contact with an orca enthusiast who lives in Europe and uses the published catalogue of orca fins (which is getting a bit old by now, in the opinion of my local contact) and various people's postings to keep track of the pods.

Click here to get to my photo collection on flickr. In this version the newer photos are on the right. Below some of the photos are some comments by Havannah on specific IDs. I don't know how accurate these are, but she obviously knows a lot more than I do!


Offline nan2945

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Re: Shingle Spit Nest - 2014 - 2015 Season
« Reply #25 on: January 15, 2015, 05:29:57 PM »
what a fabulous series!!

Offline Cawatcher

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Re: Shingle Spit Nest - 2014 - 2015 Season
« Reply #26 on: January 15, 2015, 05:36:36 PM »
 :eceek Woweee!! And the Red breasted Merganser male is astounding

Offline winterwren

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Re: Shingle Spit Nest - 2014 - 2015 Season
« Reply #27 on: January 17, 2015, 04:05:14 AM »
Next day... Sunrise.

December 30, 7:58 am



Later in the day, I spot what I first took for a female Red-breasted Merganser... But they don't usually wear makeup. :eclol
2:45 pm



So I think this has to be a young male, just starting to get his dark head feathers. There was another one nearby who had some dark around his eyes also but in a less tidy pattern. (That photo turned out blurry unfortunately.) Then on the bird identification group a few days later, someone posted a Red-breasted Merganser from the Atlantic coast with the same plumage pattern. The kids are growing up!

Offline winterwren

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Re: Shingle Spit Nest - 2014 - 2015 Season
« Reply #28 on: January 22, 2015, 11:45:14 PM »
Here we have the opposite: a male Red-breasted Merganser mostly in breeding plumage but with some brown feathers remaining in his crest.

He has caught a fish, probably a blenny. But catching your meal is one problem, and getting it down the hatch is another.





Looks like an easy swallow now...




Oops, not so easy.




I think he's had to let the fish go right here, but it's too stunned to go far. He's giving his head a good shake, scattering water droplets.




Picking up the fish again.




GULP!!!!




Offline winterwren

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Re: Shingle Spit Nest - 2014 - 2015 Season
« Reply #29 on: February 28, 2015, 03:17:19 AM »
Today (February 27) the ferry crew reported an extended visit by the Transient pod of Orcas!

They watched the same type of behaviour that Booni posted about here.

This time, there was apparently no eating. The adult orcas would jump on top of the unfortunate sea lion, as if to stun him, then let the youngsters have a turn at chasing him. It seemed to be all about teaching the little ones how to hunt.

It's not necessarily very pretty watching a top predator at work. Predators are important, though. Everyone who saw this seemed deeply marked by the visit.