Osprey harassed

 

This has been a really good year for wasps — not so good for the rest of us. Ospreys feed on fish, and wasps really like that.

An osprey has taken a fresh fish to the top of a piling to devour. However, wasps quickly gather around, behind, and on the fish. A bite into the fish holds the risk of downing an angry wasp.

Frustrated, the osprey vents. (OK, it was probably just lightening the load before takeoff, but it is pleasant to imagine that the wasps were being targeted.)

“I’m outa here, and you guys just cannot keep up with me.” 

 

Posted in birds, bugs, fish | 4 Comments

Young bucks

 

I am so used to seeing white-tailed does and fawns, that seeing a buck is unexpected — let alone three of them. But, there they were along the water’s edge.

The buck in the front is the only one still in velvet. But, the rather sparse growth of the antlers of the two behind suggests that they may be in their first-year as adults. Can anyone tell?

A close shot of a Janus buck gives a comparison between antlers in velvet (left) and those without.

 

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Ecotone walk

 

I could have merely spoken of a walk along the beach, but, I wanted to emphasize something subtly different than such a stroll.

An ecotone is a place where ecologies are in tension (in Greek, the word is tonos). It describes the boundary between two communities of plants or animals with differing characteristics. The ecotone is where the disparate communities meet, allowing an ecotone walker to witness the variety that comes with different wildlife communities. In particular, a beach walk can enable wildlife sightings of creatures that favour the lake, the shoreline transition, adjacent grasslands, and even the forest. The creatures shown, all seen this last week, are but a sample of the rich life to be seen on such a walk.

First, a view over the water.

The osprey and its captive Kokanee are both endemic to the lake. 

 

Then there are the creatures of the ecotone, those that live and hunt in the boundary between water and land.

A Lesser Yellowlegs Sandpiper grabs arthropods from the shallows along the shore.

A killdeer hunts along the shore side of the water’s edge.

A Northern Rough-winged Swallow forages for insects on the wing, sometimes doing so over the water and sometimes over the adjacent land.

 

One can also see creatures that specialize in the land side of the ecotone.

The Cooper’s Hawk is a forest raptor that eats small birds. Here it is hunting in the grasslands between the water and the forest. 

And a peek into the forest reveals the dark eyes of a fawn looking back.

 

Posted in birds, commentary, fish, mammals | 3 Comments

Iconic osprey shot

 

The West Arm of Kootenay Lake has an unusually large warm-season population of ospreys. As such, they have become a symbol of the Lake, with both a ferry and a community foundation named after them.

Ospreys feast on fish caught live. But, just try to capture a picture of an osprey lifting a fish from the Lake. The problem is that it happens amazingly quickly somewhere over a rather large area.  I have only managed to record the event once before.

Consequently, this morning’s shot of a (male) osprey lifting a (male) Kokanee from the Lake is one of my most satisfying shots of the year.

An Osprey and its catch.

Posted in birds, fish | 16 Comments

Fledged osprey

 

It seems maybe a week early, but juvenile ospreys have started to fledge.

A juvenile osprey — identified by wing feathers looking as if dipped in cream — flew by early this morning.

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Juvenile heron

 

This is the time to see juvenile birds. Although as large as adults, they often look somewhat different.

Today, I saw a juvenile Great Blue Heron standing on a deadhead. The signs were clear that it was this year’s chick. 

This Great Blue Heron hatched this summer. It lacks: the pigtail on the back of its head, a white crown, long shaggy neck feathers. And it has a well developed yellow patch in front of its eye.

This is the same bird flying off. Yet, its colour seems different. The hues here are closer to what would be considered correct for the bird. The previous shot was strongly influenced by yellowish light transmitted through a pall of smoke from distant forest fires. 

 

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Baird’s migration

 

The migration of shorebirds is underway. We have seen the killdeer pass through, however, the killdeer also breeds here. Not so, the Baird’s Sandpiper. It breeds in the high arctic and winters in South America. Baird’s visit to the Lake is brief.

A Baird’s Sandpiper flies to the shore of Kootenay Lake during its migration south. 

Its first act was to bathe and preen.

Then it is time to eat. It seems to have found a yummy dragonfly nymph.

 

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Killdeer migration

 

First there was one killdeer, then two, finally there were five of them.

These killdeers were on the move, probably merely stopping here for refuelling as they migrated from farther north to farther south. While killdeers breed locally, this group was probably just passing through — part of the annual migration of shorebirds.

A lone killdeer was spotted along the shore.

Soon more were seen, but never clustered tightly enough for a good group picture.

They fed. This one seems to have found a caddisfly larva. It was quickly downed.

Looking one’s best.

 

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Portrait of a fawn

 

 

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Western yellowjacket

 

The western yellowjacket is a versatile wasp. It will nest in the ground, in tree trunks, or under the eves of porches. As with most of the creatures around, I tend to adopt a live-and-let-live approach. However, when this yellowjacket bars entry through an occasionally used doorway by attacking visitors, I draw the line: the hive has to go.

Western yellowjacket wasps are building a hive on the lintel above an entrance doorway, and then terrorizing all who dare to pass by. This is war.

 

Posted in bugs | 3 Comments