Author Topic: Helliwell Nest - 2015-2016 Season  (Read 13907 times)

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Offline Snookums

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Re: Helliwell Nest - 2015-2016 Season
« Reply #15 on: November 08, 2015, 03:37:49 PM »
As often, there was an eagle perched on the long gravelly reef that is visible from the Hornby shore.

October 18, 12:20



We were doing pretty well that day with drifting right past critters without making them bolt.
This photo shows a few white neck feathers with delicate brown shafts. I had never seen this before.










Great photos!   :heart
'Twere not best that we should all think alike. It is a difference of opinion that makes horse races.  -- Mark Twain

Offline winterwren

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Re: Helliwell Nest - 2015-2016 Season
« Reply #16 on: November 23, 2015, 08:48:32 PM »
November 15. An off-island birder phoned me to say he has spotted a Rock Sandpiper and a Snow Bunting on St. John's Point, at the tip of the long peninsula that holds Helliwell Park.

No Snow Bunting visible by the time I got there, that's for sure. Rock Sandpipers look much like Surfbirds, but they're a little smaller and they have a curved bill. There are big flocks of Surfbirds and Turnstones and that bird is supposed to be among them. After half an hour I'm pretty sure I've got the right one but he's mostly hiding and I manage two blurry photos.
The Rock Sandpiper is on the left and turns out he's a little smaller than a Turnstone, which is smaller than a Surfbird. Also his head is greyer than a Surfbird's.
November 15, 11:15 am







Offline winterwren

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Re: Helliwell Nest - 2015-2016 Season
« Reply #17 on: November 23, 2015, 08:52:41 PM »
I also saw two eagles circling overhead at some point in there. I tried to get a photo of both of them in the same frame but it didn't work out. It's only after I got home that I saw the bright green stain on the tail of one of them. I wonder what could have made that?
November 15, 12:06







Offline winterwren

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Re: Helliwell Nest - 2015-2016 Season
« Reply #18 on: November 23, 2015, 09:10:04 PM »
About a month earlier, with the Comox Valley Birders, we had spotted some American Pipits in the big meadow. I had never seen them before and returned a few times to try for some clear photos, but I did not find them.

Well, that morning on November 15, I'm on St. John's Point looking for an elusive Snow Bunting, and what do I find right off the bat?
Two American Pipits, walking straight towards me while digging for worms here and there.
November 15, 10:52 am






Offline winterwren

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Re: Helliwell Nest - 2015-2016 Season
« Reply #19 on: November 23, 2015, 09:45:58 PM »
Amazing what you can find while looking for a bird that ain't there...

Here's a Western Meadowlark, my first. On the same outing with the Comox Valley Birders, one man spotted one near the Dunlop Nest. I had never even known that we had them on the island.
This beauty appeared on St. John's Point and I watched him on and off for an hour, eating grasshoppers and patrolling the grass with a strange upright walk.
November 15, 11:58



12:02







Offline jeavverhey

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Re: Helliwell Nest - 2015-2016 Season
« Reply #20 on: November 24, 2015, 03:01:21 AM »
The diversity of wildlife on that small island is incredible Wrennie and so are your photos.  Thank yo so much for sharing these beautiful  pictures.

Offline Faerie Gardener

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Re: Helliwell Nest - 2015-2016 Season
« Reply #21 on: November 27, 2015, 07:45:27 PM »
These photos are simply Gorgeous. Love the sweet Pipet!
"In all things of Nature there is something of the Marvelous"  -Aristotle

"A garden is never as good as it will be next year" -Anon

Offline winterwren

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Re: Helliwell Nest - 2015-2016 Season
« Reply #22 on: January 09, 2016, 07:19:14 PM »
Lots of changes in the eagle population in the past few weeks. On the Christmas Bird Count, December 16, the eagles that showed up seemed to be mostly residents, two to four per counting area, roughly equivalent to the number of nesting pairs. Near Whaling Station Bay the birders saw eleven eagles, the only instance of a larger number reported that day.

By last week things were very different.
I participated in an offshore survey, circumnavigating the island and counting all the birds we could see.
We did this over two days, passing by Flora Islet each day.

On the first day we counted 19 eagles of all ages around Flora.
On the second day we counted 23.

We also saw 6 eagles circling over Ford Cove. A few days later, on a walk around Collishaw Point, we found the trees full of eagles also. It was hard to spot them all because of the snow.

Here's a good little bunch of eagles on the south end of Flora Islet on the second day of our offshore survey.
January 3, 12:15




Offline winterwren

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Re: Helliwell Nest - 2015-2016 Season
« Reply #23 on: January 10, 2016, 08:41:11 PM »
Also on Flora Islet we saw a flock of cormorants on both days of the survey. The cormorants seem to pick favourite perching rocks and stick to them; you can find some there week after week, sometimes year after year.

In these photos we can see all three kinds of our cormorants: the Double-crested Cormorants, with a yellow bill; the Brandt's Cormorants, as large as the Double-crested and all dark; and the Pelagic Cormorants, smaller than the other two and with a thinner, shorter bill.

January 3, 12:20



Look at the difference between the one Pelagic on this picture and the surrounding Brandts.
The one on the right, with a yellow bill and pale breast, is an immature Double-crested.




Offline winterwren

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Re: Helliwell Nest - 2015-2016 Season
« Reply #24 on: January 10, 2016, 08:49:54 PM »
Nearby we frightened off a flock of Common Mergansers. Some of the males had an odd orangeish tint to their white plumage. On these photos you might think the colour is reflected from their feet, but when I first spotted them they were swimming, their bright feet out of view, and the colour stood out just as much against the blue-grey water. Not all the males had that coloration. About half of them were plain white.

I saw two more mergansers with that orangey tint today on the other side of the island, while doing my monthly survey.

January 3, 12:11



I can't get over the way sea ducks run on the water to take off!



Offline winterwren

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Re: Helliwell Nest - 2015-2016 Season
« Reply #25 on: February 07, 2016, 08:05:27 PM »
I headed this way yesterday after Booni mentioned that a lot of young eagles had been seen in the area. I first checked right near the new nest site, where I could hear a lot of calling.

This youngster was perched very close to the nest tree. Another eagle perched closer to the water was calling almost constantly. I watched for a good long while, eventually setting up my tripod and getting some clearer photos.
February 6, 4:02 pm








Offline winterwren

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Re: Helliwell Nest - 2015-2016 Season
« Reply #26 on: February 07, 2016, 08:24:21 PM »
Right near that youngster, another eagle vocalized from time to time but it took me a lot of tiptoeing around to get that one into view.
February 6, 4:04 pm



This was too much moving around on my part, however... The eagle immediately flew off.



A few seconds later, the youngster also took off... Right above my head!





Offline winterwren

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Re: Helliwell Nest - 2015-2016 Season
« Reply #27 on: February 07, 2016, 09:21:15 PM »
A little further down the beach, three more eagles. The air is full of calls from invisible flyers above the woods.

Two of the eagles share a skinny treetop. Whenever one moves, the other has to adjust his position to find a new balance point.
February 6, 4:22 pm



Just below them, a sub-adult with a surprisingly dark tail.




Offline winterwren

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Re: Helliwell Nest - 2015-2016 Season
« Reply #28 on: February 08, 2016, 08:47:30 PM »
I stood on the next little point of land and saw in the distance what was attracting all this activity: a dead seal, still fresh, lay on the beach, the head already partly eaten by the eagles and crows.

Getting off that little point, the path curved sharply into a long clearing... And right there, in a small tree fifty feet away, sat yet another eagle.

The sun was setting by then, and the eagle was in the shade, but so close!
I dropped down to my knees on the path, then slowly got my camera set up, and tinkered with settings in the tricky light. After a while I even got it on the tripod and that's when the better photos came out. That eagle must have been full of seal and somehow he stayed put.

February 6, 4:39



4:40



4:41




Offline winterwren

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Re: Helliwell Nest - 2015-2016 Season
« Reply #29 on: February 08, 2016, 08:54:15 PM »
Sunset breeze ruffles the feathers at the back of that eagle's head...

February 6, 4:41 pm