The weather here was dominated by fog today. It lifted in an interesting way this morning so that you could see out and under the fog for several miles yet there was thick fog above, at very low elevation. The rising sun shone through this clear layer, creating a weird and wonderful lighting effect from below. By mid-day the fog had burned off and sunshine prevailed at sea level. There was still fog in the shipping lane and the tops of the Olympic mountains were visible. The fog flowed back in by mid-afternoon and thickened steadily after that, pushed in by a westerly fog wind. During the day there wasn’t much wind until late afternoon/early evening when it picked up to 15 to 20 knots from the west. The barometer continued its slow trend downward that started a few days ago and the forecast looks relatively good until rain on Friday.
There was a fairly steady parade of whale watching boats in the Ecological Reserve today. They were looking at Humpback Whales, Harbour Porpoise and of course the Sea Lions. Sixteen tour boats were noted although I may have missed some in the fog. One of the tour operators had the chance to see a really big (tyee) spring salmon swimming through the kelp forest.
There were sports fishers catching Coho, Spring and Chum Salmon to the south and west of Race Rocks and many sea lions were also busy catching salmon while at the same time helping to feed the gulls with their scraps, not out of any benevolence, just because they are messy eaters.
There are many gulls here now including Glaucous-winged, Glaucous-winged hybrids and Thayer’s gull which are challenging to distinguish. I look forward to doing the census first thing tomorrow to try and figure out how many of which species. The Heerman’s Gulls continue to benefit from sea lion salmon treats which they certainly can’t do where they breed in Mexico. I like watching them. They are very beautiful and have a interesting feeding behaviours that they may have learned from birds like skimmers where they live rest of the year. They fly with their lower bill hanging down just above the water and occasional skim the water with it, catching small prey.
There are many sea lions on the west side of the island now and the westerly wind carries the dusty grime from them onto everything in its path. The Savannah Sparrows feed in and around the sea lions.
Elephant Seals have been hauling out on Middle Rock for over a month and now some are back on Great Race again. There was a small one hauled out on the northeastern side and a bigger one on the railway with the sea lions.
Washing the solar panels took a long time this morning. They were really dirty. I will do them after the census and it will probably take even longer, tomorrow as I want to shovel off the organic stuff that has accumulated before the electrician arrives to work on the panels. Today I readjusted to life on Race Rocks, finished the month-end report for September, did the seawater sample, made freshwater with the desalinator, ran the Lister generator and sorted photos as well as sea lion brand and entanglement data.