Census

Weather

  • Visibility: clear, 15 miles throughout the day
  • Wind: ranging from 9-22 knots throughout the day
  • Sky: overcast for most of the day
  • Water: calm, a bit choppy at times

Boats/Visitors

  • Didn’t notice much boat traffic today aside from the usual busy commercial freighters
  • No visitors today

Ecological

  • More failed mating attempts by the young male elephant seals with the one female on the island.

Census

  • Cormorants – 90
  • Gulls – 275
  • Elephant Seals – 6  (3 adolescent males, 1 adult male, 1 adult female and 1 pup)
  • California Sea Lions – 120
  • Stellar Seal Lions – 93
  • Black Turnstones – 10
  • Canada Geese – 4
  • Bald Eagles – 7

    Three males surround the single female currently on the island

Elephant Seal Pup & Eagles

Weather

  • Visibility: 15 miles throughout the day
  • Wind: ranging from 13-22 knots throughout the day and over night
  • Sky: mostly sunny with some cloudy periods
  • Water: mostly calm

Boats/Visitors

  • Didn’t notice much boat traffic today aside from the usual busy commercial freighters
  • No visitors today

Ecological

  • The same elephant pup is still hanging around the house. She’s been sleeping in pretty much the same spot for the past 2 days.
  • Lots of bald eagles around lately, counted 7 yesterday. 4 Adults and 3 large juveniles.
  • Large group of cormorants on the south rocks again in the late afternoon
  • Consistent amount of black turnstones around, about 8-12 seen per day

Sandpipers, Elephant Seals & Gale Force Winds

Weather

  • Visibility: 5 miles this morning, clearing up during the day
  • Wind: windy throughout the day eventually reaching gale force by night, 30-41 knots
  • Sky: overcast and rainy all day
  • Water: calm in the morning then got rough with the wind picking up

Boats/Visitors

  • Didn’t notice much boat traffic today with the heavy winds and rain
  • No visitors today

Ecological

  • The male elephant seals have become more territorial and the larger two are starting to push their weight around.
  • Noticed a small group of sandpipers picking at the wet grass alongside black turnstones this morning

Christmas Bird Count at Race Rocks- Dec 28, 2017

This year is our 20th year in assisting the local birders with the Rocky Point Bird Observatory in doing a count at Race Rocks. Given the time of year this has to occur, it is often thwarted by bad weather, but in the past counts, some very interesting species and population numbers have shown up.  See this index of past years Bird Counts. http://www.racerocks.ca/race-rocks-animals-plants/bird-observations-at-race-rocks-3/christmas-bird-counts-starting-in-1997/

Kim Beardmore same along to record the birds for the 2017 Christmas bird count. Here Kim on the left and the Ecoguardian Mikey Muscat check on one of the 5 male elephant seals.

Although we went to count birds, I found that the most impressive thing was that there were 5 large male elephant seals on the island and two juvenile females. When compared with other years this was quite unusual, and it could be interesting when the females come back in January to have pups. I predict there will be a lot of male aggression going on in mid-January.

These four species other than several gull species and bald eagles were part of the count  which we will add below .

Other observations around the island:

Romanzoffia tracyi

I took advantage of the few hours there to check on other aspects of the island from the ecological reserve warden point of view.  Especially noticeable this year were the massive fields of mud over most parts of the island where the california sea lions hauled out over the past few months. I was concerned about the erosion and rock disturbance that this has caused.   Most of the plants in many parts of the island have been obliterated. I did however find this one healthy patch of Romanzoffia tracyi behind the boathouse. Protected because of its location among  the rocks. I checked some of the other known locations of this rare plant but didn’t see any.

Black oystercatcher midden

 

One feature that was very evident with the lack of vegetation was the extensive beds of chiton shells which are evidence of black oystercatcher middens from last season.

 

 

 

Two immature or juvenile female elephant seals were on the island, one tagged ..green C887

The five males:

I have been watching the vegetation cover made up of the introduced species of Sedum or stonecrop which was on the top of the reservoir.. In my September photo the bed was quite dried and cracked. Now it  has partially recovered.. This is one place the sealions seem to avoid.

 

Because Pearson College could not provide boat transportation this year, and because I was determined to continue the 20 year tradition of this valuable baseline collection of bird population data, we rented a boat from Pedder Bay marina for the trip to Race Rocks.  A list of the birds observed by Kim Beardmore is  attached here.

 

Race Rocks,
Dec 28, 2017 9:05 AM – 11:37 AM
Protocol: Traveling
7.5 kilometer(s)
Comments:     CBC, Race Rocks
16 species (+1 other taxa)Harlequin Duck  10  (North and west Race Rocks)
Surf Scoter  55  (outer pedder bay)
Red-breasted Merganser  18 (mostly outer Pedder bay)
Common Loon  2
Horned Grebe  1
Brandt’s Cormorant  14
Pelagic Cormorant  18
Double-crested Cormorant  10
Bald Eagle  4
Black Oystercatcher  42
Black Turnstone  59
Common Murre  1  ( in outer Pedder bay)
Pigeon Guillemot  10
Mew Gull  14
Iceland Gull (Thayer’s)  8
Glaucous-winged Gull  69
Western x Glaucous-winged Gull (hybrid)  2

Census & Five Male Elephant Seals

Weather

  • Visibility: 15 miles all day
  • Wind: Light breezes throughout the day NE mostly
  • Sky: mostly cloudy
  • Water: a bit rough, one to two foot swells

Boats/Visitors

  • Boat traffic was pretty minimum today again, saw one fishing boat go by
  • No visitors today

Ecological

  • There are now a total of 5 male elephant seals on the island. Two are full grown and the other three are adolescents.
  • The two elephant seal pups are still around as well.

Census

  • California Sea Lions – 78
  • Stellar Sea Lions – 64
  • Harbour Seals – 2
  • Elephant Seals – 7
  • Gulls – 58
  • Cormorants – 16
  • Bald Eagles – 2
  • Black Turnstones – 6

Windy Day

Weather

  • Visibility: very clear throughout the day, 15 Miles
  • Wind: heavy winds all day reaching upwards of 33 knots
  • Sky: sunny with no clouds
  • Water: rough, 3 foot swells

Boats/Visitors

  • Boat traffic was pretty minimum today with the rough water
  • No visitors today

Ecological

  • Not much has changed in terms of wildlife on the island in the last few days. Consistent number of gulls, sea lions, eagles, black turnstones, canada geese and cormorants with one or two large male elephant seals.

A Break From the Blasts

Weather

  • Visibility: Clear throughout the day
  • Wind: Light breezes throughout the day with strong gusts up to 40 knots overnight
  • Sky: Cloudy with sunny break
  • Water: a bit choppy, one foot swells in the morning

Boats/Visitors

  • Boat traffic was pretty minimum today, whale watching boat cruised by
  • No visitors today

Ecological

  • Not much has changed in terms of wildlife on the island in the last few days. Consistent number of gulls, sea lions, eagles, black turnstones, canada geese and cormorants with one or large two male elephant seals.
  • Haven’t seen any whales of any kind yet unfortunately.

Other

  • DND blasting has taken a break for the past week which has been nice.

Stellar Pups

Weather

  • Visibility: 15 miles for most of the day with the Washington coast as clear as I’ve seen it so far, until early evening when fog came in from the east covering downtown Victoria from view.
  • Wind: Little to no breeze during the day with it picking up to 14-18 knots by 7pm.
  • Sky: Mostly cloudy with some sun
  • Water: calm throughout the day, a bit choppy at times

Boats/Visitors

  • Boat traffic was fairly minimum today with the usual commercial vessels in the distance and one or two whale watching boats.
  • No visitors today

Ecological

  • There seems to be more stellar sea lion pups on the island, especially on the south rocks in the last few days, though I may just have not noticed them among the “piles” of bodies as they tend to lay all over each other.
  • Still lots of Black Turnstones, Cormorants, Eagles, Canada Geese and Gulls around
  • Only saw one of the male elephant seals around today

Other

  • Chopped some bigger logs into kindling for the woodstove this afternoon and cleaned up a lot of rocks of varying sizes that have been falling from the paths and bank walls between the lighthouse and science house.
  • Pretty chilly today, had frost on the ground and frozen puddles for the first time.

Snow in the Distance

Weather

  • Visibility: 5 miles in the morning but cleared up throughout the day
  • Wind: Quite windy throughout the day with gusts reaching upwards of 32 knots, calmed down by evening.
  • Sky: Mostly cloudy with some sun
  • Water: rough throughout the day, large swells

Boats/Visitors

  • Boat traffic was pretty minimum today with the rough waters
  • No visitors today

Ecological

  • Saw a group of about 16 Cormorants and 8 Oyster Catchers amongst around 100 seagulls on the SW corner of the island
  • Canada geese are still around in small groups
  • Lots of Black Turnstones out on the grass the past few days

Other

  • Didn’t get any snow on the island but could see lots of it on shore. Also had power and internet all day without interruptions.

Another Elephant Seal & Gale Force Winds

Weather

  • Visibility: 15 miles
  • Wind: Light breezes throughout the day then very high, Gale force winds came in around 9 or 10 pm of up to 39 knots for an hour or two then died down to a steady 20-25 knots with rain.
  • Sky: cloudy with some sun
  • Water: mostly calm, a bit choppy during the day then very rough throughout the night.

Boats/Visitors

  • Saw 6 or 7 sail boats out together and 1 diving boat
  • No visitors today

Ecological

  • Had a group of 12-14 Black Turnstones munching grass together in front of the house.
  • Our resident elephant seal Bernard has been joined by another large male elephant seal. They seem to be keeping their distance from each other for now.

Other

  • The view of the Olympic Mountains has been beautiful and clear these last few days. A nice change from the cloak of fog and clouds that often cover them from sight.