June 25 2018 Bear wildlife tour with Beachcomber Ocean Tours. There are days when you go out on a tour looking for a specific animal, in this case we were looking for black bears. Mother nature never ceases to amaze us, not only did we see black bears but we watched a black-tailed deer walking along the shore.
BC boasts one of the highest populations of black bears in the world with numbers between 120 150 thousand. Pretty much all of BC is considered “bear country” with bears inhabiting coastal forests to the interior grasslands. Black bears are not always black their colour can be everything from the white Kermode bear to a variety of shades of brown. Vancouver Island bears are considered to be slightly larger and blacker than mainland bears.
*Adult males are about 60-90 cm at shoulder height and weigh anywhere from 80-300 kg. Adult females weigh about 30-70 kg. At birth a cub can weigh less than one quarter a kg.
*Black bears are omnivores and opportunistic feeders. Their diet consist mostly of: insects, nuts, berries, grass and other vegetation. Salmon is a staple in the Vancouver Island bear diet. It is the salmon that provides the much needed fat and protein that will carry them through the winter hibernation.
*Mating takes place every two years, in the summer months of June, July and August. Pregnancy lasts about 220 days with the cubs being born in January and February. Litters range from 1 to 5 cubs, though 2 is the average and if there are more than 2 they rarely survive. Cubs stay with their mothers for up to 2 years.
BC is home to 3 types of deer, mule deer, black-tailed deer and white-tailed deer. The mule deer is the most widely distributed of the three but the deer we see here are coastal black-tailed deer. Black-tailed deer are smaller than mule deer, bucks weigh 60-90 kg and does 40-65 kg. The bucks antlers are usually shed in January. Gestation is about 200 days with the fawns being born in early June. The black-tailed deer are superb swimmers and as a result inhabit many coastal islands.
June 14 2018 Sightings on our 3 hour Whale Wildlife Tour
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.
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.
*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 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.
*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.
How to Identify California sea lions: California sea lions are smaller than Steller’s and are members of the eared seal family. Mature males have dark brown fur, mature females and immature males have light yellowish to tan fur and have a bump or ball cap on their head.
*A male can weigh 200-400 kg (441-882 lbs) and is 2-2.5 meters long (6.5-8 ft)
*A female can weigh 50-110 kg (110-243 lbs) and is 1.5-2 meters long (5-6.6 ft)
* A baby or pup can weigh at birth 6 kg (13 lbs) and is 75 cm long (30 in)
How to identify Steller sea lions: Steller sea lions are the largest member of the eared seal family. They are tan to golden brown in colour and darken to chocolate brown on their flippers and underside. Males develop a thick neck mane as they mature.
*A male can weigh 450-1,120 kg (990-2,470 lbs) and is 2.82-3.25 meters long (9.3-10.7 ft)
*A female can weigh 240-350 kg (530-770 lbs) and is 2.3-2.9 meters long (7.5-9.5 ft)
*A baby or pup can weigh at birth 23 kg (51 lbs) males are bigger than females.
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.
May 13 2018
Humpback whale dorsal fin
Humpback whale tail
Harbour Seals on Page Island
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.
March 31 2018
California sea Lion antics
Have a great day and hope to see you soon.
March 22 2018
Spring has arrived, or has it! Mother nature is consistent in the return of abundant wildlife to our coast, the weather is another issue..rain, hail, sun, snow.
A very wet Bald Eagle
Gray whale in sun
Snow capped mountains and wispy clouds
Mature Bald Eagle teachings
Yes the kid nailed the landing
March 20 2018
George Fraser Island was littered with Steller sea lions and California sea lions all mixed together. California sea lions can be identified by their dark chocolate coat and a bulbous forehead. Steller sea lions have a lighter brown coat and are larger then California sea lions.
California sea lions having a moment
Oyster Catcher and Cormorant guards.
Oyster Catcher’s can be identified by their bright red bill and pink legs, bright yellow iris and a red eye-ring.
Steller sea lion practicing diving, swimming and having Fun in the water.