Category Archives: Heron

Herons, Eagles & Humpbacks

June 14 2018 Sightings on our 3 hour Whale Wildlife Tour

Great Blue Heron

The Great Blue Heron is the largest and most wide spread heron in North America. It is a large bird with slate gray body, browinsh neck streaked with white, a white face, crown with blackish plumes. Long necked, long legged wadder flies with its neck pulled in, s shaped and legs trailing.

Fun Facts :

*Great Blue Herons are very tall standing 122 cm (48 in) with a wingspan of 188 cm (74 in)

*Great blue herons look enormous in flight, with a wingspan of over 6 feet.

*Nest building begins in February when the male chooses a territory and actively displays to attract a female. The nest is usually high up in a tree, the male brings the female sticks, twigs who constructs a platform lined with strips of bark, small twigs and conifer needles.

*Both parents take turns incubating the eggs for about 4 weeks. The female lays 2-6 pale blue eggs. The parents bring food to the nest for two months, the young fledge at about 60 days.

Bald Eagle Nest

The Bald Eagle is the only eagle exclusive to North America. They are at the top of the food chain and have no natural enemies. Adult bald eagles are dark brown with white heads and tails. They have hooked yellow beaks, large talons and oversized feet equipped with spikes, called spicules. Eagles also have super vision which allows them to see four to seven times farther than humans.

Fun Facts:

*A male bald eagle average weight is 2.7-4 kg with a wing span of more than 2 meters. The female bald eagle is bigger than the male, average weight 4.5-6.8.

*Young eagles are called eaglets, they are gray and fluffy when they first hatch. Their feathers turn dark brown at about 12 weeks old and ready to fledge. Their tail and head feathers won’t turn white until they are four years old. They have a 50% survival rate in the first year.

*Bald eagles nests are huge and resemble a nest of sticks like Big Bird’s from Sesame Street. The mating pair return to the nest year after year adding material to it, resulting in the nest weighing up to one ton and measuring two meters across and three meters deep.

*The Bald Eagle is Canada”s largest bird of prey. It is an opportunistic feeder, stealing and scavenging food from other animals. Their diet consists primarily of fish, but if fish is scarce they will feed on rabbits, birds, squirrels and even young deer.

Humpback Whale

Humpback Whales are the acrobats and songsters of the great whales. They are the fifth largest of all whales. To identify a humpback whale look for a dark gray to black body, black and white pectoral flippers. When a humpback dives watch for a round hump underneath its short nubby dorsal fin. Watch for the underside of its huge tail flukes which are black and white patterned with scars. Humpback flukes are like human finger prints, no two are the same.

Fun Facts:

*Humpback whales are about 48-62.5 ft (14.6-19 meters) long and weigh about 40 tonnes (36 metric tons). Their flippers can grow to 16 ft (5 meters) long. Their massive tails, Flukes can be 18 ft (5.5 meters) wide. Newborn calves are about 16 ft (5 meters) and weigh 2 tonnes. Like most whales the female is bigger than the male.

*Only the males sing on the breeding grounds, some 20 meters below the surface. It is a mystery as to why they sing or how he knows what to sing. The song changes from season to season but all the male humpbacks on each breeding ground sings the same song.

*Humpback whales are the acrobats, they are able to lift their entire 40 tonne bodies completely out of the water. This is known as breaching. Humpbacks can reach speeds of up to 10 knots which is about 18.5 km per hour.

*Humpbacks eat about 1.5 tonnes per day, feeding on krill, small shrimp like animals and small fish.

Humpback Whale blow hole
Humpback Whale knobby “hump”
Humpback Whale fluke or tail

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May 14 2018

California Sea Lions resting till the next fish boat comes in

California sea lion antics

Humpback Whale showing it’s dorsal fin is barley visible through it’s spout

When humpback whale’s show their tail or ‘fluke’ like in the photo below, is an indication they are preparing to dive

In BC, the sea otter population had all but vanished until 1969 and 1972 when government biologists released 89 otters into the waters of  the West Coast of Vancouver Island. By 2008 the population had reached nearly 5,000. They are still listed as a species of “special concern,” have not yet re-established themselves on Haida Gwaii, inside Georgia Strait and along some stretches of the Central Coast.

Western Gulls are large white-headed birds with a heavy bill and pink legs. Breeding adults have a dark grey back, an orange ring around the eye and a red spot on the lower bill.

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April 3 2018

Today was an eye opener for me, as a partner in this company I deal with office operations, photo editing, answering the phone, you know the  routine stuff.  I had the opportunity to go on a whale wildlife tour as the photographer, with my partner and 4 guests. Wow! So much respect for the profession.  Imagine what your guide has to deal with on a tour, knowledgable in  wildlife, history of the area, operating the boat, finding wildlife, answering many questions, ensuring guests are comfortable and safe, maintaining your required tickets to run a boat, take photo’s if there is an opportunity and run the boat safely while bobbing in the ocean swells!  There have been many occasions when my partner has returned from a spectacular tour full of incredible sightings but no photo’s.  Taking photo’s is no easy task while bobbing in the swells, I took over 300 and only half a dozen are worth keeping.   Kudos to all  Guides.

California sea lion.

Beach carnage, a bald eagle snacking on a sea lion carcass.

Steller sea lions hanging out on Mara Rock.

Bald eagle fledgling coming in for a landing.

The elusive Kingfisher.

 

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March 8 2018

This is what happens when the herring spawn. Our sea’s, coastline and skies explode with life.  On today’s tour we had sightings of at least 15 Gray whales within a 3 mile area off Salomon Beach, hundreds of Surf Scoters, Humpback whales, Eagles, Sea lions and more.

Gray whale and just a few Surf Scoters.

A few more Surf Scoters

 

Gray whale knobby back

 

Gray whale blow hole

Gray whale back

 

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March 5 2018

Departing Ucluelet Harbour followed the Bold Performance out,  likely in search of Herring.

We found Sea Otters a Mom and her baby.

A Gray Whale feeding on herring.

Steller sea lions having fun playing in the water.

And to top our day off  3 Orca’S.  A triple header Day. Wow Thank You Mother Nature!

 

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March 11 2018

A long overdue Update everyone.

August 2017 was good & bad for Beachcomber Ocean Tours. We had 2 weeks of adventures & happy customers then on August 17th we had total engine failure, unfortunate for many of our customers who were looking forward to tours to see wildlife & the magical waters of Barkley Sound. 
Going forward we are excited to be up and running again & the MV Blackfish has been re-powered with a Volvo Penta D6 330. This is state of the art in new diesel engine technology combining superior performance with reduced exhaust emissions, high reliability and increased fuel efficiency.  Thank You to Advanced Marine Power, Campbell River for your excellent service.
We are Looking forward to 2018 please joins us on our next Adventure!

Sea Trials January 14 2018

 

Proud Captain Cam and his Volvo Penta D6-330

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