Wednesday, July 1, 2009

B.C. Trip Part V

Adventures in Digiscoping (Where Eagles Dare)

We had spent the morning strolling the Artisan Way still fulfilled with the sighting of a lifer Lazuli Bunting. Now it was time for some serious birding in the Crawford Bay Wetlands.

The entrance to the wetlands appeared to be a former road, easily accessed from Peter's Road and wide enough to park our car. The trail was quite wide and well maintained by the citizens of Crawford Bay. Walking through the forested section, we observed Hermit Thrush, Warbling Vireo, American Redstart and Yellow Warbler.

Image by Bob

The trail left the forest behind as it approached a pond. We followed the trail along the pond's edge and could find only one male American Wigeon.

Image by Bob

Continuing south towards Kootenay Lake we had a large open area to the east and a creek to the west. Would this open area reveal what we were searching for?

Cow Parsley

Both Barb, our host at the Tara Shanti, and Keith informed Jean and I of an eagle's nest in the wetlands. Across the open area were some tall trees and sure enough one contained a nest complete with 2 young that looked like they were ready to leave at any moment.

The scope provided great views of the nest and its contents.

It was time to attempt some digiscoping, without the aid of any adapters, using Jean's camera as well as her mum's.

Image by Bob

Here are the results. Not bad, huh!

Image by Jill (mum)

Moments later an adult Bald Eagle returned to the nest.

A crop here. A snip there. Voila!

Image by Jill (mum)

Other birds observed while exploring the wetlands, though they could not compare to the Bald Eagle and its young, included Tree Swallow, Song Sparrow, Black-capped Chickadee, Eastern Kingbird (no Western Kingbird observed yet), Red-winged Blackbird, Great Blue Heron and Gray Catbird.

Returning along the trail I revealed 2 male Common Yellowthroat with some pishing.

Arriving back at our lodge we spotted a female "Franklin's Grouse" (with 1 chick), the western subspecies of the Spruce Grouse, hiding in the trees behind the garden of the Tara Shanti. Here's to a split in the near future. Anything's possible. Right?

Image by Bob

We had seen a "Franklin's Grouse" in Ontario earlier this year but it was a mounted bird used to impress a living male eastern Spruce Grouse. It worked very well.

The living female at the Tara Shanti became quite agitated and fanned its tail feathers as I approached it through the trees. The grouse even charged at me through the garden. That's one tough mom. I did not want to stress the bird so I refrained from following it as it retreated deeper into the woods with its chick.

Our day of birding was not over. After a barbeque on the deck, we observed 4 Common Nighthawk flying in the early evening sky. I almost missed a flock of 50 American White Pelican flying south over Kootenay Lake. They were most likely heading for Duck Lake for the night. With one lifer ticked earlier in the morning we would add a second for the day from the deck of the lodge. A Chestnut-backed Chickadee (#271) was seen in some nearby conifers.

With 2 lifers ticked on the 16th, a day of exploring Nelson on the west side of Kootenay Lake would be acceptable. Especially if a visit to the Oso Negro for coffee was on the itinerary. Make mine a double Americano.

All images by Jean unless stated otherwise.


  1. Ah ha, the old "hold the camera up to the scope" school of digiscoping. That's the one I prefer too. You got some really nice shots of those eaglets that way.

  2. My team of photographers (Jean & mum-in-law) say "Thanks Nate!".

    Jean & I will have to try it with some shorebirds as they migrate through our region.