Author Topic: Doug's Updates  (Read 175130 times)

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Offline Mary Jane

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Doug's Updates
« on: November 09, 2009, 10:55:37 AM »
Written by Doug Carrick - October 3, 2009

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Eagle Returns - on schedule! As Boonibarb reported, the eagle returned from migration in the late afternoon of October 2, just as it was supposed to do. It is amazing! They seem to have a built-in calendar.

They do most things on schedule (more or less - say, within a week or two), but the return from migration is uncanny in its precision, generally within a day or two, generally around October2. Today, at noon, Boonibarb knocked on our door. "Guess who is in the Babysitting Tree?" The eagle of course. It has now been sitting in the same perch for three hours. Not a sound has come from her - (nobody to talk to, yet). I think it is the female. Its head has an uncombed look.

As many of you know, it is only the adults that return from migration in early October. Throughout October, November and December hardly an immature eagle can be seen around Hornby Island. They are still following the salmon spawning until early February, then on to the herring spawn in March when we see the immatures once again in large numbers.


BOTH EAGLES BACK! At 5 pm the male eagle joined the female on the Babysitting Tree. While the female was perched on a branch fairly near the top of the tree, the male landed on the very tippy top of the tree. At 5:30 pm they are still in the same positions. Neither one has talked to the other. I have the mics up high on both cameras and haven't heard a sound so far.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2010, 10:35:32 AM by emc »

Offline Mary Jane

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Re: Doug's Updates
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2009, 10:57:03 AM »
Written by Doug Carrick, October 11, 2009

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The male and female are both around again today, so all appears to be well.

I've been working on a theory which may help to identify which is the male and which is the female when it is difficult to identify them clearly. In the Peters' Tree, for example, they both perch on the same branch, but each has its own favourite spot on the branch. The female's spot is out further on the branch and the male's spot is in nearer the tree at the junction with another branch.

This morning at 10:30 I saw an eagle in the male's spot, and when I looked in the telescope, it was the male. It's easy to identify the male now. As well as the immaculately groomed head, he has a very noticeable white stripe down his chest. At 3:00 this afternoon I saw an eagle in the female's spot - and it was the female.

This could be a technique used to assist in the identification of eagles anywhere in the world. Study where they perch! I use a similar "behaviour method" to identify the two eagles in the nest. The one threatening to peck the other is the female (the mean one).

The above theory needs a lot more observations before becoming a dependable instrument of identification, but it has possibilities.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2009, 02:22:47 PM by Mary Jane »

Offline Mary Jane

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Re: Doug's Updates
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2009, 10:59:39 AM »
Written by Doug Carrick - October 15, 2009

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We are seeing both eagles every day now, so our worries of a potential divorce seem to be over. I see them mostly in the Peters' Tree and the Babysitting Tree (the perches nearest their nest). I have also seen them in the Leaning Tree at Sandstone Point (their southern boundry) and today I saw the female in the His and Hers Tree at Grassy Point (their northern boundry).

The His and Hers Tree is a fir tree that half way up has split into two tops about 8 feet apart. Sometimes they perch in the separate tops - hence "His" and "Hers". I have never observed closely which exactly is "His" top and which is "Hers". Today, the female was perched in the northernmost top. But this is my first statistic. I need two observations to make it a law - is that scientific or what?

I threw a salmon head out on the beach this morning but they weren't interested. They must be getting plenty to eat. I'll save the halibut until Saint Valentine's Day.

They haven't once landed in the nest yet, which is normal. I consider October 18 the likely beginning of nest building, although last year I recorded a visitation from 6:30 pm until 7:00 pm (dark) on October 10 - "the male right in the nest and the female on top of the lower camera. Didn't adjust any branches, just looking it over."*****
« Last Edit: November 09, 2009, 02:23:08 PM by Mary Jane »

Offline Mary Jane

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Re: Doug's Updates
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2009, 11:01:51 AM »
Written by Doug Carrick - October 19, 2009

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EAGLES' FIRST VISIT TO THE NEST - At 6:15 pm the male eagle dropped into the nest for the first time this year. The female soon followed. They were digging into the bottom of the nest, getting dirty-faced in the process. They diddled around with a few twigs but no serious nest building. They stayed until 6:35 pm.

The theme of my studies this year seems to be the consistent habits of the eagles. I'm throwing out another as yet unproven theory - that the eagles first visit to the nest in October occurs in the early evening hours, just before dark. Here are the first visits in the last few years:

2009 October 19 - 6:15 pm to 6:35 pm

2008 October 10 - 6:30 pm to 7:00 pm

2007 October 16 - 6:20 pm to 6:35 pm
« Last Edit: November 09, 2009, 02:23:25 PM by Mary Jane »

Offline Mary Jane

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Re: Doug's Updates
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2009, 11:02:54 AM »
Written by Doug Carrick - October 21, 2009

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While telling Mary Jane about an article I have prepaired about "Hornby Island", I mentioned on the side how the two eagles have been much more active around the nest today and was about to say "but they haven't brought any new branches yet". Having another look at the TV cameras, I was taken aback. There was the mother of all branches lying across the nest - a new one. How they ever flew such a big branch to the nest, I don't know. I have never seen the two eagles flying one branch to the nest before and I am sure this wasn't the case now.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2009, 02:23:42 PM by Mary Jane »

Offline Mary Jane

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Re: Doug's Updates
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2009, 11:04:01 AM »
Written by Doug Carrick - October 31, 2009

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The two eagles are constantly in the neighbourhood and often in the nest, now adding new branches. They are looking in good condition, ready for their 21st year of nesting - 18 eaglets in the previous 20 years.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2009, 02:23:58 PM by Mary Jane »

Offline Mary Jane

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Re: Doug's Updates
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2009, 11:05:11 AM »
Written by Doug Carrick - November 3, 2009

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The time here is 11 am, November 3. One of the eagles was down at the water's edge eating something fairly substantial in size. After a time it stopped eating, washed off its beak and talons and flew away - the rare time I've seen an eagle leave a meal before it is completely consumed.

Being curious about what it was eating, I went down to the beach to check. Two ravens were now working it over, but flew away as I approached, then a gull, probably George, got in a bite or two. It was an octapus with tentacles about two feet long (four feet across from tip to tip) - something to think about when swimming in the summer. It was a reddish brown colour on top and white on the undersides. The circular suction cups ranged from very small near the tips to 3/4 inch across near its body.

The eagles are busy adding to their nest, a mixture of larger branches encircling the outside and smaller branches, green with needles, dropped into the middle. These smaller branches are left there for a week or two until the needles fall off - a soft lining to the nest.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2009, 02:24:14 PM by Mary Jane »

Offline Mary Jane

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Re: Doug's Updates
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2009, 11:20:01 AM »
Written by Doug Carrick - November 8, 2009

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Danny (Raptorman) just left for the 10 am ferry, will be on Vancouver Island at 11 am and down to the Duke Point ferry just south of Nanaimo by 12:15 pm and right home again  sometime this evening. He was here for 6 days and it was a fun time, candle-light dinners, Boonibar, Dooki and all.

How lucky we were to have Danny to do this job. He is incredibly knowledgeable in this business of computers, transmission of live streaming and whatever is involved. Numerous problems came up but he methodically analysed each issue and solved it. He left here one evening with an unsolved problem, the light bulb went on sometime in the night and the next morning he made the correct adjustment. Danny has been valuable to us, beyond my words to express it.

In his enthusiasm for the eagles, like all the rest of us, he is only too pleased to help. I think his enthusiasm has increased by the awareness of what a fine group of people he is working with. Surely nothing but good can come out of this rare group of people.

Danny was looking forward to see these eagles in their surroundings and he wasn't disappointed. When the eagles were nowhere to be seen, I blasted out my three whistles and the eagles immediately appeared in the Peters' Tree. The eagles cooperated completely for the occasion. George and the Cormorants were generally sitting on the big rock. George is our gull (a longtime neighbour) and there are about 15 cormorants (3 larger double-crested cormorants with yellow bills and 12 smaller pelagic cormorants) . Danny is quite pleased to be getting to know the local trees, rocks and points. It has been a pleasure having him here and he wants to come back to Horanby next summer.

Danny has now done all he can do here and understands that Peter Braat can do the rest when he gets time to do so, hopefully in the next two or three days.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2009, 02:24:31 PM by Mary Jane »

Offline Doug

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Re: Doug's Updates
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2009, 03:52:07 PM »
SEA LIONS -   some of you have already heard the sea lions barking.  A few swim by in November, more in December, reaching a peak by the early March herring spawn.  Their numbers are related to the arrival of the herring, who also come in from the Pacific in November.  A Fisheries officer told me, "they follow the fish".

As the herring arrive they stay down deep in the Georgia Strait and so aren't noticeable.  In mid-winter I get reminders of their presence.  A long string of gulls can be seen a mile or two out in the water.  This is where the herring are.

Looking in my telescope, I can see more than gulls.  There are cormorants, loons, mergansers (fish eating duck), grebes and other diving birds.  Diving down, they frighten some of the herring to the surface where the gulls are waiting.  Circling above will be eagles - out to get their share.  This only happens once in a while, but any food is welcome.

Sea lions can get at these herring any time they want to, so they can spend many hours resting on beaches or rocks, or simply sleeping in the water.  When sleeping, they often lie on their sides with one flipper up in the air.  The head slips under water and then bobs up for a breath of air - all done automatically.  The head comes up on average every 30 seconds but sometimes as long as 45 seconds and sometime after only 15 seconds.

Offline Tigerlady105

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Re: Doug's Updates
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2009, 05:20:13 PM »
Thank you for sharing this with us, Doug.  We are all learning so much about life on and around Hornby Island from you!  Natural history is one of my favorite interests so I really appreciate anything you tell us about.   :eclove
Commit random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty.

"When one tugs at a single thing in nature; he finds it attached to the rest of the world". ~John Muir

Offline beans

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Re: Doug's Updates
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2009, 07:41:13 PM »
Thanks Doug.  Thought I heard barking, but wasn't sure.  My neighbor's dog barks, too, and it can be confusing when watching the cam.  :ecwink
Jean, California

Offline Donnae

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Re: Doug's Updates
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2009, 12:25:12 AM »
Thanks Doug, I really appreciate your reports. I was on the cam late at night last week. It was after I got home from work, after midnight here. So around 1 a.m. my time or later, 10 p.m. your time, and heard them. I was surprised to hear them late at night, but then again I'm not use to hearing those kinds of sounds!! It was really neat to hear.  :nod2

I really have to visit Hornby sometime in my life!!! I know I would love it!!!

Thanks again!!

Offline BBE

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Re: Doug's Updates
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2009, 01:42:56 AM »
Doug, thank you for your update. Yes, sealions can be extremely noisy.  I live near the south arm of the Fraser River. In the spring they are frequently seen up on stranded logs, basking in the sun and making a racket. Hornby Island has a diverse wildlife and I do appreciate you telling us what is happening.  You are a wonderful teacher and ambassador for the wildlife.
Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced. (Anonymous)
Avatar is of Karula (female leopard). May 1, 2013

Offline passerine

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Re: Doug's Updates
« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2009, 07:31:44 PM »
Thanks Doug for the great play by plays :heart you tell it so well, a person can picture being there.

Earlier this year i stopped at Fanny Bay on Vancouver Island which isn't far from Buckley Bay where a person would catch ferries to get to Hornby Island.
A pictures of the sea lions relaxing on the log boom there. Hope it's okay i post them here?



« Last Edit: February 01, 2012, 08:14:15 PM by passerine »

Offline Doug

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Re: Doug's Updates
« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2009, 01:55:10 AM »
What wonderful photos, Passerine.  Today, about 70 sea lions were at play just off our beach.  I've never seen them so playful - chasing each other, bumping into each other, jumping clear out of the water - ever so active.  More like dolphins.  Generally they just swim by; 20 feet along the surface, 20 feet under water, 20 feet up and so on.  And all the activity hasn't anything to do with mating - they are all males.  The female California sea lions (smaller black ones) stay at home down in California and the female Steller's sea lions (larger light brown ones, as in photos) stay at home just north of Vancouver Island.  Only the males come here for food.