Looking at my marine chart for the area around Campbell River, BC, I noticed a small island that is marked as a provincial park: Mitlenatch Island Nature Provincial Park. So without any further information than what was on my chart, I headed over there in Snoopy, my little power boat, to see what makes it special.
Wasn’t I surprised to find a huge colony of nesting cormorants up on the rocky ledges!
I love making discoveries like this! That’s why I’m an explorer, a wanderer, an observer of nature.
From the boat, the birds were quite far away, so I used my Canon 400mm f/5.6 lens to get as close as I could without going on land. Sometimes in these nature preserves you are not allowed to land, and I wasn’t sure what the rules were for this island, so I just photographed from the boat.
Because I was using such a long telephoto lens, and because I was on a boat that was moving with both waves and current, I used a very fast shutter speed to make sure the birds were sharp. I didn’t want to go under f/8 to ensure I had enough depth of field that the birds both near and far would be in focus. Exposure was a little difficult too with black birds on the white rocks.
It was beautiful to see all the cormorants with their young in the nests. I really wanted a closer photo to show some of the interesting groupings of birds, but cropping in at 100% didn’t look very good! I decided to try Topaz Clean on one of the cropped versions to remove the noise and smooth out the image. It turned it into more of an abstract image, which I really like!
Back at home I did a little research and discovered that Mitlenatch Island is home to the largest seabird colony in the Strait of Georgia and all sea life is protected in its boundaries. However, it is allowed to go on the island via one of the two bays, and view the nesting sea birds from a closer viewpoint.
I don’t usually beach my boat unless I really have to, but perhaps next summer I’ll take along a little blow up boat so I can anchor and row ashore.
What a treat to discover Mitlenatch Island and the nesting cormorants just a short boat ride away from Campbell River, British Columbia.