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The king of waters meeting the landmark of the city!
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The king of waters meeting the landmark of the city!

[caption id="attachment_32848" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Pete Poovanna Pete Poovanna, Guest Blogger[/caption] This blog is written by guest blogger Pete Poovanna. It was Friday evening mid-summer in Vancouver. As most of my friends headed to weekend downtown parties, I decided to take my camera to the sea wall of English bay under the majestic Lions Gate Bridge. To many locals, the Lions Gate Bridge feels part of the fabric of the city and over the years the Lions Gate Bridge has become a landmark of Vancouver. The summer air cooled under the bridge and it was getting gloomy, a very different feeling to the bridge deck, with its tremendous views of downtown. A Great Blue Heron lands along the English Bay as the sun sets over the majestic Lions Gate Bridge. I’m a big fan of herons, I think they’re among the most alluring and charismatic of birds and also among the most fascinating in terms of their majestic outlook. And I must mention here that I consider the Great Blue Heron as the king of waters! Vancouver is also home to one of the largest urban Great Blue Heron colonies in North America. The Great Blue Heron was patiently waiting for its prey as I set my tripod and camera to capture this great bird in the backdrop of the majestic bridge. This blue Heron continued to wait and was catching the last rays of a setting sun and allowing me to capture this wonderful moment as long as I wanted. I loved the lights illuminated over the bridge and the summer pink flowers adding colour behind the Great Blue Heron and the tiny stones were illuminated by the sunset. After a few frames, it flew over the bridge. [caption id="attachment_32847" align="aligncenter" width="599"]great-blue-heron A Great Blue Heron by Pete Poovanna[/caption] For me, this moment became a very key moment. It was the culmination of two great things: the landmark of the city and the king of waters. A bit more information on the landmark and the king of the waters: Landmark: The Lions Gate Bridge is designated as National Historic Sites of Canada! The bridge is often used in television broadcasts as a symbol of Vancouver; most telecasts of NHL hockey games played in Vancouver show the bridge at least once. The bridge is the namesake of locally founded film company Lionsgate. King of waters: Herons are supreme fishermen, living near rivers, lakes and estuaries. They have been nesting in various locations in Vancouver as far back as 1921 according to the Stanley Park Ecology Society. There are five subspecies of Great Blue Heron, and on of them, the Pacific Great Blue Heron, is listed as special concern. You can learn all you need to know about this amazing bird here.

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Bird Tweet of the Week: Green Heron
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Bird Tweet of the Week: Green Heron

[caption id="attachment_27313" align="alignleft" width="300"]Image of a Green Heron Photo from Flickr, RWD[/caption] The Green Heron is quite the handy bird and surprisingly, it is a species that has been documented using tools to fish. This bird will throw small objects into the water to lure the fish to the surface and then they will strike their target with their sharp bills. Each week we introduce a new bird from the Ottawa-Gatineau area through our segment on CBC Radio’s In Town and Out. Alex MacDonald, Nature Canada’s Manager of Protected Areas, shares interesting facts about the birds that live in our communities. Be sure to tune-in to “Bird Tweet of the Week” on CBC Radio One 91.5 FM on Saturday mornings from 6am to 9am and listen to past episodes on our website. This episode aired on Saturday April 23rd, 2016.

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Bird Tweet of the Week: Black-crowned Night-Heron
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Bird Tweet of the Week: Black-crowned Night-Heron

During the breeding season Night-herons do also hunt by day given the high-energy demands of raising and feeding up to 7 young at a time. This round-the-clock feeding and foraging behaviour is of course similar to that of new human parents. [caption id="attachment_16925" align="alignleft" width="300"]photo black-capped night-heron Black-capped Night-Heron Photo by Rick Leche Photography[/caption] Each week we introduce a new bird from the Ottawa-Gatineau area through our segment on CBC Radio’s In Town and Out. Alex MacDonald, Nature Canada’s Manager of Protected Areas, shares interesting facts about the birds that live in our communities. Be sure to tune-in to “Bird Tweet of the Week” on CBC Radio One 91.5 FM on Saturday mornings from 6am to 9am and listen to past episodes on our website. This episode aired on Saturday September 27, 2014

Keeping Our Wild Spaces Clean
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Keeping Our Wild Spaces Clean

Last month, Dan Rogall, an Ottawa-area photographer alerted us of a great blue heron’s plight that was unfolding in his backyard in Half Moon Bay. The young male had chewed on what appeared to be a plastic onion bag. The bag became entangled in its beak. Dan proceeded to alert local wildlife groups in the hopes that someone could help free the bird of its plastic muzzle. We jumped in and posed the question of how to go about helping this bird to our community of birders and scientists. The consensus was not as satisfying as one would have hoped. Attempts to capture the bird could prove fatal, and so the best route to take was to leave it alone and hope it would free itself. Not the kind of advice that’s easy to heed given the magnetic quality of this particular bird. As the saga unfolded on Facebook, Dan kept us in the loop of the heron’s whereabouts and well being. [caption id="attachment_305" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Photo by Dan Rogall[/caption]   It’s troubling to see an animal in distress. If only the person who had discarded the plastic bag had done so responsibly. Perhaps he or she didn’t realize that garbage posed a significant threat to birds and other wildlife in the area. I’d like to think so. At first, the young male seemed to be feeding and moving without much trouble. The net was obtrusive and irritating, but it was fighting hard and frequently to free itself. Dan kept us updated on its progress, and the tide appeared to be turning in its favour. For a while, it was seen occasionally at Half Moon Bay. Then not at all. Then one day, weeks after the ordeal began, the heron's colourless, muddied body was found at a local golf course.  It didn't make it. Somehow, the struggle to keep feeding and preening, flying and exploring had become too difficult for the heron. Its ultimate cause of death has not been determined by a specialist, but without any obvious signs of trauma, there's a chance the netting was related to its demise. [caption id="attachment_304" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Photo by Dan Rogall[/caption] Can anything positive come of this? We’d like to think that if more people were connected to nature in their area, things like this wouldn’t happen or would happen far less frequently. We are actively involved in educating local Ottawa and Gatineau residents about the great wildlife sanctuary we have right in the centre of the city – the Lac Deschênes Important Bird Area. In fact, one of the species that frequents the area is great blue heron. There’s a good chance the heron of Half Moon bay will pass through the IBA at some point in its life. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can enjoy Ottawa’s Important Bird Area, check out our recently launched website where you’ll find ideas on what to do at the IBA, why the IBA is important to wildlife, and what you can do to protect it.  

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