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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lazy Sunday: WildWildlife

I have a section of my Etsy shop that is reserved for one of my other big passions: wildlife photography. I feel blessed to call one of the most beaufiful places in the world my home:  British Columbia. I haven't been lucky enough to visit the whole province yet, but I am confident that in all its vast biodiversity, there are visually stunning landscapes to be found in its every corner! Today, I'd like to share with you one of my favourite places and one of my favourite species to photograph. Again, I feel blessed to be able to see these so abundantly in the wild that, around here, people take them for granted, when there are places in the US and Canada where people have only seen them in sanctuaries and zoos. I am talking of course of the incredible majesty that is a bald eagle.

The resident bald eagle population in BC is thought to number about 20,000. During the winter months, this swells when some of the Alaska population comes south to breed. Although bald eagles are naturally opportunistic feeders*, they are classed as a sea eagle, so their preferred habitat is close to the ocean. This location fits the bill nicely. It's an abandoned Canadian Forces Base located in Boundary Bay BC. It is home to a number of species of birds year round, as well as to several family groups of eagles. Yesterday morning, we ventured out to see how many we could see. We were very well rewarded, spotting no fewer than (and possibly more than) a dozen individuals. In fact, when we first arrived, we were greeted by a sentry at the entrance to the base. It was a very large mature individual in full immaculate plumage; probably a big female (Interesting fact: bald eagles are sexually dimorphic: the mature females are 25% larger than the males.)

Isn't she stunning? She sat there all morning long, completely unconcerned about any of us with our cameras, barely even deigning to look down upon us. My dogs she ignored completely, dismissing them as too big to bother with. This spot is very popular with local dog owners, and owners of small dogs have told me that they are keeping their dogs closer than usual, as the sight of a smaller dog will often put the birds up in the air to circle overhead; opportunistic feeders indeed? Why wait for a wily young rabbit to flush when you can snack on  a nice juicy Chihuahua instead? 

At another point we saw a pair of young juveniles in a tree. They appear to be first year juveniles; their plumage is still all dark, as are their eyes, but the cere of the beak is yellow already, as are their feet. 

It continually amazes me that I can walk almost up under them, until they decide they have had enough. Then, if you are REALLY fortunate, you get a shot like this...

This print, entitled TAKEOFF, will be available for purchase in a limited edition 8 x 10 metallic black & white print,suitable for framing, in my Etsy shop. It will sell for $35 plus shipping, and $7 from every purchase will go to Delta Orphaned Wildlife. You can also enter to win a limited edition colour 5x7 print by visiting Auntie Di's blog, here.... where I will be this week's Beat the Monday Blahs featured guest!

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