Posts Tagged ‘phoca vitulina’

Search for Bald Eagles ‐ Part II ‐ Lower Stave River

a great blue heron - ardea herodias - at the lower stave river in mission british columbia
Great Blue Heron
(Ardea herodias)
-click to enlarge-

   This is Part II in my series of posts on searching for Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) to photograph in the Fraser Valley this Winter – Part I was also at the Lower Stave River.

   The Bald Eagles are not the only species here for the Salmon. A lot of gulls were around, and a few Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias) too. Herons always seem to make good subjects. They are wary but quite easy to photograph compared to some other species. This Heron was one of the first subjects I photographed with my new Canon 1.4x EF Extender II on my 70-200mm f/4 IS lens. The combo works very nicely!

a bald eagle - haliaeetus leucocephalus - at the lower stave river in mission british columbia
Bald Eagle
(Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
-click to enlarge-

   At the Lower Stave River I camped out a few locations that looked as though they might be likely Bald Eagle feeding spots (lots of salmon carcasses). Unfortunately I was not able to photograph any Eagles at these locations – perhaps my presence stuck out. I did manage to wait long enough to have one land in front of me but when I raised my camera (slowly) to make a photograph – they flew away into a nearby tree (the image on the right).

Stay tuned for Part III – this time at the Harrison River…

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Search for Bald Eagles ‐ Part I ‐ Lower Stave River

a bald eagle - haliaeetus leucocephalus - at the lower stave river in mission british columbia
Bald Eagle
(Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
-click to enlarge-

   Every Fall there are a considerable amount of Salmon that spawn in the various tributaries of the Fraser River. After spawning, the dead Salmon become great food for Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) and other species. There are many locations I visit every year in order to see the Salmon spawn including the Harrison River, Weaver Creek and the Lower Stave River in Mission, British Columbia. There aren’t usually many Eagles near Weaver Creek, but the Harrison and Stave Rivers are usually pretty good places to look for Eagles indulging in the Salmon feast.

   The photo above illustrates the one situation where adult Bald Eagles don’t seem all that afraid of someone approaching. I guess they know that people can’t climb trees quickly. I have seen a number of Eagles nearby feeding on Salmon on the ground – but as soon as they see you they take off. Those in the trees do not do this, but a bird up in a tree is not always a very interesting photo. This was the best Eagle photo I made on my first trip to the Lower Stave – but not exactly what I was after.

a harbour seal -phoca vitulina - catching salmon in the Lower stave river in mission british columbia
Harbour Seal
(Phoca vitulina)
-click to enlarge-

   The first time I visited the Lower Stave River this year was in early December. Standing near a swiftly flowing channel below the Dam, there was suddenly a surge of water moving upstream – this confused me initially. I couldn’t think what would be large enough to create it. Suddenly a lot of Salmon started leaping out of the water, a few flopped up onto the bank and this big Harbour Seal (Phoca vitulina) surged out of the water, caught one of the Salmon, and continued up stream with the fish hanging from its mouth. I was so shocked that I failed to do anything but stand there… a video or a few photographs would have been awesome. When I finally came to my senses I did make a photograph of the back of the seals head, but this is all I gathered from the encounter. VERY cool to see though – I never expected a Harbour Seal that far upstream, this far inland. I presume it ventured up the Fraser River and the Salmon were a meal well worth the trip.

Stay tuned for Part II!