A Wrap on 2018

I’m not going to do a post from being back in Ontario over Christmas - I didn’t really take many of my own photos, and most of you were there for all of it. Instead, I’ll put a wrap on the 2018 posts with a quick wrap up of the last week of the year - and then it will be on to 2019!

Mount Baker

After getting back from Ontario, I had a day to try and recover from the cold I brought home, before Justine and I headed across the border for a day of skiing at Mount Baker. The original plan had been for 2 days of skiing, but the weather wreaked havoc on us, and the mountain got dumped on - sadly rain, not snow - so we bailed and made a relaxing day of getting down and hanging out in Bellingham.

The weather turned over night and the rain turned to snow. They got a good 6-7” overnight, and we ended up with sunshine before the day was over. It was a pretty good day on the slopes - not as epic as we had hoped - but still a decent start to the season.

One Last Trip to Reifel for 2018

On New Year’s Eve, we had a beautiful, sunny day, and despite still not feeling 100%, I felt it was worth heading back down to Reifel for one last look around (well for this year anyway). Turned out to be a very good decision!

As we drove onto Westham Island, I spotted a peregrine falcon sitting up on the eagle tree! He took off before we could get any photos, but what a start! A few minutes later, there was a northern harrier right beside the road, hunting the long grass. And as we tuned in to Reifel, there was a kingfisher up on one of the power lines. Sadly we didn’t get a single picture, but what a start to the afternoon.

Justine’s favorite is the saw-whet owl, which we have seen a few times, although not recently. Winter is always the best time, so we were hopeful given our hot start!

The place was busy (not surprising given the nice weather), and we were happy to see that they weren’t damaged too badly by the wind storm. A few trees down here and there.

There were sandhill cranes near the entrance, and lots and lots of the usual ducks heading down the “owl path”.

Once again, we were in luck as there was a crowd of people hanging out - always a good sign! And there was a little saw-whet owl sleeping in the boughs of a big fir tree. Didn’t make for great photos, but it’s always great to see owls!

We stayed for a while, but didn’t want to crowd the little guys and so we wandered off.

One of the many bald eagles on the day.

It was also a very good day for bald eagles. We saw two juveniles hunting in one of the marshes (that was new), and one of the big trees off at the edge of the sanctuary had a bunch of adults hanging out, squawking at each other.

The three of them seemed unsure what the fourth one was doing…

And they all seemed very unimpressed when a fifth one joined the party.

We continued wandering and were pleased to see a small flock of cedar waxwings. They were stripping a bush clean of berries, having to share with a big flock of robins. I got some good pics of berry eating in action…

There were also a good assortment of different ducks - nothing really out of the ordinary, but the usual winter migrants.

As we were leaving the sanctuary, we spotted a male Anna’s hummingbird darting about near the feeder. They are always worth watching, so we stopped for a while. This time of year they’re conserving energy so they tend to sit still a bit more. Still hard to get good photos (the light was starting to fade), but way easier then when they’re flitting about!

The last surprise came as we were almost off the island at the bridge - two more raptor sightings! There were some cars pulled off on the side of the road, and there were two different birds sitting on top of two consecutive telephone poles. Very odd. My peregrine falcon was back, and he was sharing his turf with a rough-legged hawk.

The falcon was very calm and unperturbed by the people pulling off to take pics. The hawk was more skittish, and took off soon after. It was spectacular ending to a great day, and a very fitting end to 2018!