Tag Archive | video

Otters at Cattle Point


Early this morning, my brother and I watched a group of four river otters at Cattle Point in Victoria. The light was not strong enough for great photos, but it was OK for video. Check it out in HD for some otter nuzzling and defecation!


Here is another video, shot by my brother Colin:

Of Gulls and GoPros



I have written about gulls before, and exploiting their love of potato-based baits to get close up photos, and I have written about using a GoPro. This time, I combine the two, for a 120 fps free-for all, slowed down to 1/4 speed for your edification.



Along the way, I also managed to snap a few other cool shots.


This is a still from the GoPro. Note the extreme distortion and the off yellowish cast.


And here is a shot from my Canon 60D.



A Pigeon Guillemot on a oddly pleasing background.


When the sea looks like this, it is almost like a woodcut.

Weekend Expedition 41: Reifel Sanctuary with Wild Research


I realize that the Weekend Expedition is getting a bit repetitive, and I resolve in the New Year to shake things up a bit. In fact, I make you a promise. Starting in January, things will be different around here!

I did get away again this weekend, and it was back to Reifel Bird Sanctuary, again with Wild Research.This time, it was not as productive WRT raptors as previous visits, but we did see a Peregrine, some eagles, a Cooper’s Hawk, and a Rough-legged Hawk. The main attraction of Reifel is the ridiculously human-acclimated birds. Cranes feeding from your hand, chickadees landing everywhere…It is like a meetup group for bird flu lovers!


The cold winter air has moved on, and the canals and ponds are melting. The atmosphere was very much like standing in front of a cool mist humidifier.


Mike Hrabar captured this shot of some artistic use of the GoPro to record feeding pigeons.


Mike shooting with his new 300!


The reflection from the ice really makes these ducks pop.



Paul Levesque channeling Steve Zissou.


incoming cranes!


I just love the calls of these elegant birds.


After Reifel, Mike and I headed down to 64th St. (On Boundary Bay) to check out some Long-eared Owls. This one was the only one there, and not very active. Pretty though!

A group of Golden Eagles hunting elk?


I am always a fan of raptors, and have a special place in my heart for social and predation behaviour. Here is a story that combines all three! In the latest issue of Journal of Raptor Research, a remarkable observation of a large group of Golden Eagles harassing elk on a steep ridge is reported (but paywalled).

Matt O’Connell and Michael Kochert witnessed and filmed the astonishing sight of at least 8 eagles repeatedly stooping at a group of elk, either trying to drive them off a cliff, or perhaps just playing around.

Golden Eagles are known to prey on ungulatessometimes by driving them off cliffs, but the authors are cautious at definitively stating the motivation of these birds. I would suggest that the hypothesis of play and that of predation are not mutually exclusive. I could certainly see a great selective advantage for these carnivorous birds to engage in “play” that sometimes results in the grisly death of a large ungulate.

If you would like to see the video, here it is below. What do you think?



Bergo, G. 1987. Eagles as predators on livestock and deer. Fauna Norvegica Series C, Cinclus10:95–102.

Deblinger, R.D. and A.W. Alldredge. 1996. Golden Eagle predation on pronghorns in Wyoming’s Great Divide Basin. Journal of Raptor Research 30:157–159.

Erwins, P.J. 1987. Golden Eagles attacking deer and sheep. Scottish Birds 14:209–210.

Zettergreen, B. 2006. Golden Eagle attacks and kills yearling mountain goat. Wildlife Afield3:27–28.


Weekend Expedition 40: special edition! Seals underwater!


I thought it prudent to get a small video camera to document upcoming fieldwork, so that I can provide PR materials for granting agencies. For this purpose, I got a GoPro, a small “action cam” which has a watertight housing and super wide lens. To put it through its paces, Jeff, my brother and I took it down to Fisherman’s Wharf in Victoria for a close up look at the Harbour Seals. The following is the result.

Not bad eh? Given decent lighting, it does fine video. The still images from it in poor lighting are pretty noisy though, and it probably be best not to rely on it for still shots in the evening:


Nonetheless, it does have a certain gloomy charm.


With the SLR from the surface though, the seal image quality is much better.



The gulls were also looking fine against the reflection of the sky.




So the verdict. Seals and GoPros: a good combo!


Ameiva eating termites!

I was going through some old videos, and came upon this cool one of a Junglerunner (Ameiva ameiva) chowing down on termites.  These amazing lizards are related to the Tegus, and are almost the New World equivalent of the monitor lizards.


I was never able to catch any of these lizards, but we did see some get trapped by researchers. Amazingly, they are very gentle to handle, unlike their cousins the Tegus, which are reportedly very willing to bite.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the video!

New footage of Red-throated Caracaras!

I just came by this footage via twitter this morning, and it looks like it was put out by the Fundación Rapaces de Costa Rica, and was shot by Chris Jimenez. It shows some absolutely gorgeous footage of a caracara chick, so evidently they found a nest!  Be sure I will try to track down more information about this footage and the story behind it! In the meantime, enjoy, as the chick footage is very lovely!

High-speed Arthropod Week day 5: some nice images


Sorry about the delay on day 5, but I forgot my hard drive at the lab Friday night, and was right back into heavy data collection yesterday. I post these nice images of insect flight now to make it up, starting with a lovely Longhorn Beetle of the genus Necydalis. Check out the short elytra and overall wasp-like appearance!

Next up, a housefly gets a surprise!

And finally, some lovely images of a Cabbage Looper taking off.


High-speed Arthropod Week day 4: halteres


The flies of the family Syrphidae are some of the most accomplished of all insect aeronauts. Their agility, precision and speed are amazing to see, as they dart about flowers and freeze in motionless hovering flight.  Like all winged flies, syrphids have one pair of wings only,  (Diptera means “two wings”). Where the rear pair would be, there is a pair of knobbed appendages called halteres. These organs function to inform the fly of perturbations in two axes, allowing precise control of direction, speed and stability.

Without halteres, all flies become unable to maintain flight control. The precise means by which sensory information from the halteres is encoded and transmitted to the fly’s brain are not fully understood, but good physical models have been developed that implicate perception of strains associated with Coriolis forces on the beating halteres (if you hold a spinning bike tire and try to perturb it in planes perpendicular to the rotation, you will feel the Coriolis forces!).

OK, so enough physics! What do beating halteres look like? Have a look at this syrphid hovering and taking off.

It might not be super obvious, but it was surprising to me to note that the plane in which the halteres move differs by an angle of up to 30 degrees from that of the wings.

Syrphids also have high power relative to their mass, and this allows very rapid accelerations (making them difficult to catch).

haltere clean

As mentioned in my other post on wing coupling, other flying insects couple their wings to achieve formidable aerial prowess. Of course, having a single pair of wings is not the only way to be a master of the skies, as dragonflies are undoubtedly one of the most agile and versatile fliers, hovering and accelerating in spectacular fashion.

Syrphids though, with their bright coloration and super high performance enabled by halteres, high power to weight ratio, and fascinating life history, are undoubtedly one of my favorite fly families.

High-speed Arthropod Week day 3: Hop, Skip, and Jump!

Doing these high speed videos has been a real eye-opener for me. I am amazed at how slowing down the movements of even common insects brings forth a new world to marvel at. It is reminiscent of the feeling of being a new macro photographer and just photographing insects constantly for the wonder of it all*.

So, the title refers tho the fact that every arthropod in this post displays some degree of hopping, skipping or jumping.

We start with a froghopper, the familiar Meadow Spittlebug, Philaenus spumarius. This insect, when disturbed, takes off at such a high rate that I had to record it at 6400 fps, and even then it was not totally frozen in each frame! I love the spiralling trajectory of these bulletlike insects.

This next video will show you exactly why a skipper (a butterfly in the family Hesperiiidae) is called a Skipper. These butterflies actually skip every few wingbeats, which gives their flight a real unpredictable jerkiness that likely helps them evade predators.

The following videos show a few examples of Neuropterans jumping as they take off, affording them a clear area for the downstroke of their relatively massive wings. The Green Lacewings are often referred to as “fairylike” in the appearance of their flight, as their light wing loading and bright colors make them seem like little winged sprites.


I really wanted to shoot a grasshopper hopping, but for some reason there seems to be a real lack of them (perhaps they are suffering due to our month-long drought in Vancouver)! Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the videos. Let me know which you think is the coolest!


*actually, I am still in that phase!