The Seals Touch Down

Weather

  • Visibility: 15 miles
  • Wind: 20-25 knots NE, later 0-10 NE
  • Sky: overcast
  • Water: 1′ chop

Ecological

  • Census day!
  • In the morning there were 2 e-seals on Great Race, and 6 on Middle Rock.
  • In the afternoon there were 3 e-seals on Great Race, and 4 on Middle Rock.
  • As far as I am aware, there were only 2 e-seals in the reserve yesterday.
  • Most of the addled eggs in the Canada goose nest near the Students’ House were cracked open and strewn about today around noon.
  • I suspect a crow to be the culprit, having seen one hanging around that nest yesterday.
  • Saw one branded California Sea Lion, but I couldn’t make out all the marks. U89[?]
  • Four young bald eagles were unsuccessfully hunting the seagulls all morning.
  1. Harbour Seals: 92
  2. California Sea Lions: 69
  3. Steller (Northern) Sea Lions: 43
  4. Elephant Seals: 8 (2 on Great Race, 6 on Middle Rock)
  5. Seagulls unspecified: 352
  6. Pigeon Guillemots: 111
  7. Cormorants unspecified: 26
  8. Brandt’s Cormorants: 16
  9. Pelagic Cormorants: 12
  10. Double Crested Cormorant: 7
  11. Surfbirds: 50
  12. Black Turnstones: 30
  13. Canada Geese: 18
  14. Harlequin Ducks: 11 (6 males and 5 females)
  15. Rock Sandpipers: 6
  16. Bald Eagles: 6 (2 adults, 4 immature)
  17. Black Oystercatchers: 6
  18. Savannah Sparrow: 1
  19. Unidentified Hawk: 1
  20. Killdeer: 1
  21. Crow: 1?

Maintenance

  • Transferred diesel from the Students’ House tank into the Tidy Tank.
  • Some goose work.

Sea Lions, Boats, & Other Stuff

Weather

  • Visibility: 15+ miles (Mt. Baker visible)
  • Wind: 5-10 knots West
  • Sky: overcast
  • Water: rippled

Ecological

  • Census day!
  • Two California sea lions with neck rings. Poor guys.
  • Two sea lions with brands.
  • California: X168
  • Steller: 678
  • Saw a few California sea lions with head injuries, as well as one Steller.
  1. California Sea Lions: 678
  2. Northern (Steller) Sea Lions: 533
  3. Harbour Seals: 37
  4. Elephant Seals: 5 on Great Race
  5. Seagulls unspecified: 449
  6. Thayer’s Gulls: 235
  7. Glaucous-winged Gulls: 20
  8. Cormorants unspecified: 357
  9. Brandt’s Cormorants: 10
  10. Pelagic Cormorants: 6
  11. Double Crested Cormorants: 4
  12. Black Turnstones: 20
  13. Canada Geese: 5
  14. Dunlin: 1
  15. Savannah Sparrow: 1
  16. Bald Eagle: 1 adult

Maintenance

  • Ran the saltwater pump into the cistern for 5 and a quarter hours.

Boats

  • A handful of eco-tours came by today. At least 5.
  • One of the boats caused a minor sea lion stampede on the east part of Great Race.
  • My photos only show the tail end of the stampede.
  • Much more happened between the “pre stampede” photo and my end shots.

A Very Nice Day

Weather

  • Visibility: 15+ miles (Mt. Baker visible)
  • Wind: 5-10 knots North
  • Sky: clear and sunny
  • Water: calm
  • A very beautiful day, with a nice sunset
  • A good night for stargazing!

Ecological

  • Conducted the weekly animal census.
  • Saw several branded sea lions today.
  • California sea lions: U690, U105, and 8427 (I think I got those correct)
  • Steller sea lions: 420Y and 347Y (those are definitely correct)
  • Also saw one sea lion with a neck ring, presumable from plastic.
  • No harlequin ducks today.
  • One of the male elephant seals was trying to mate with the female.
  • This seems like an odd time of year for that?
  1. California Sea Lions: 728
  2. Northern (Steller) Sea Lions: 493
  3. Harbour Seals: 48
  4. Elephant Seals: 5 Great Race (4 males, 1 that I think is a female)
  5. Seagulls unspecified: 672
  6. Thayer’s Gulls: 247
  7. Glaucous-winged Gulls: 30
  8. Cormorants unspecified: 329
  9. Double Crested Cormorants: 24
  10. Pelagic Cormorants: 11
  11. Brandt’s Cormorants: 2
  12. Black Turnstones: 19
  13. Canada Geese: 6
  14. Black Oystercatchers: 6
  15. Dunlins: 2
  16. Savannah Sparrows: 2

Maintenance

  • Cleaned the solar panels.
  • Tidied up a few odds and ends.
  • The usual chores.

Boats

  • A few eco-tours today.
  • One rental boat came through the middle of the reserve.

Visitors

  • No visitors today.
  • Quite a nice, relaxing day today.
  • The kind of day that makes one appreciate being alone.

The Cackling Goose!

Weather

  • The 7:00 weather report (plus developments).
  • Visibility: 10 miles (later 15)
  • Wind: 0-5 knots South (15-25 knots West noon onwards)
  • Sky: overcast and raining (sun in the afternoon)
  • Water: calm

Ecological

  • All the elephant seals except for the smallest guy were off island today.
  • I did see 6 of them playing in the water near the jetty.
  • Improved my seagull identification skills today.
  • This was the first day I noticed many Heermann’s Gulls.
  • Fun to watch the lone cackling goose wander with the larger Canadians.
  • Saw one branded California Sea Lion: U975
  • Saw one California Sea Lion with a plastic neck ring.
  • Conducted an all day animal census.
  1. California Sea Lions: 434
  2. Northern (Steller) Sea Lions: 219
  3. Harbour Seals: 59
  4. Elephant Seals: 7
  5. Seagulls: 1077 (Tentative 85% Thayer’s, 15% Glaucous-Winged)
  6. Cormorants: 375 (Tentative: 30 Pelagic, 25 Double Crested, 14 Brandt’s.)
  7. Heermann’s Gulls: 50
  8. Black Turnstone: 24
  9. Canada Geese: 11
  10. Black Oystercatchers: 10
  11. Harlequin Ducks: 3 (1 male, 2 female)
  12. Cackling Goose: 1
  13. Savannah Sparrow: 1
  14. Bald Eagle: 1 adult on South Rock

Maintenance

  • Extended my new fence set up.
  • Removed the fence in front of the students’ house.
  • It was never very effective, and is less needed now.
  • Ran the desalinator in the afternoon.

Boats

  • Several eco-tours came by today.
  • One small boat was observed speeding in the reserve.

Census and 3rd New Weaner

Weather

  • Visibility: 15 miles
  • Wind: 20-30 knots NE, later 15 W
  • Water: 2′ chop
  • Sky: overcast with showers

Ecological

  • Chunk and Chuckles were both on Great Race today, but I saw no interactions.
  • The mother is gone on Middle Rock, making her pup a weaner.
  • Conducted a census.
  1. California Sea Lions: 75
  2. Northern Sea Lions: 32
  3. Harbour Seals: 6
  4. Elephant Seals: 3
  5. Seagulls: 300
  6. Cormorants: 299 (142 on Great Race, of which 87 were Double Crested, 28 Pelagic, 8 male Brandt’s, and 19 unidentifiable to me. 157 on North Rock, too far away to identify.)
  7. Black Turnstones: 39
  8. Surfbirds: 18
  9. Canada Geese: 18
  10. Black Oystercatchers: 13
  11. Harlequin Ducks: 8 (6 male, 2 female)
  12. Bald Eagles: 3 (2 adults, 1 juvenile)
  13. Crows: 3
  14. Ravens: 2
  15. American Pipit: 1

Maintenance

  • Hauled logs off the ramp.
  • Checked the diesel in the tidy tank.

Boats

  • Didn’t see any boats near the reserve today.

 

Census

Weather

  • Visibility: 5 miles, later 15
  • Wind: 5-10 knots SE, late afternoon up to 33 knots from the West
  • Water: rippled, later wavy
  • Sky: foggy in the morning, overcast in the afternoon

Ecological

  • Chunk spent the day on Middle Rock with the mum and pup.
  • Lady, Grieving mum, mum and pup, were in the same spots on Great Race.
  • Chuckles arrived on Great Race in the late afternoon.
  • Conducted a census.
  1. California Sea Lions: 87
  2. Northern/Stellar Sea Lions: 50
  3. Harbour Seals: 21
  4. Elephant Seals: 8
  5. Cormorants: 742 (of the 742, I think that at least 10 were Male Brandt’s, 131 Double Crested, and 200 Pelagic; my identification is improving, but many were either too far away, or indistinguishable to me.)
  6. Seagulls: 605 (131 had darker plumage and therefore must be immature gulls?)
  7. Pigeon Guillemots: 50
  8. Bald Eagles: 30 (23 juveniles, 7 adults)
  9. Black Oystercatchers: 13
  10. Canada Geese: 10
  11. Harlequin Ducks: 8 (4 male, 4 female)
  12. Black Turnstones: 6
  13. Surfbird: 3 (unless they were Rock Sandpipers?)
  14. Raven: 2
  15. American Pipit: 2

Maintenance

  • Did some more cleaning in the Student’s House.

Boats

  • In the morning, one fishing boat passed through the reserve. The occupants did not fish in the reserve; they were going slow and appeared to be observing.
  • In the afternoon, one large eco-tour boat came through the reserve.

Hard Headway

Brandt's Cormorants making a break for more sheltered area

Brandt’s Cormorants making a break for more sheltered area

Ecological Happenings

  • Gusting gale-force winds from the North East and high seas with 2m swells rolling through.
  • Birds hunkered down on the rocks while the sea lions mainly spent the day in the ocean away from the breakers on the rocks.
  • The male Elephant seals spent the day on the main island with two female seals on Middle rocks.

Marine Vessels

  • None

Maintenance

  • Logs cleared from jetty.
Thayer's gulls sitting it out

Thayer’s gulls sitting it out

 

Census Count

Sea Lion 169
Harbour Seal 18
Elephant Seal 4
Cormorant 187
Gull 323
Oyster Catcher 24
Bald Eagle (Adult/Immature) 1/6
Harlequin Duck 4
Dunlin 8
Bufflehead 1
Black Turnstone 12
Spotted during the week
Humpbacks 3
Orca 6
Marbled Godwit 1
Black Legged Kittiwake 1
Surf Scoter 3
Pidgeon Guillemots 15
Surfbirds 25
Oyster Catcher 63
Bald Eagle (Adult/Immature) 2/8
Harlequin Duck 18
Raven 3
Black Turnstone 48
Brandt's Cormorant trying to make headway in the galefore winds

Brandt’s Cormorant trying to make headway in the gale fore winds

Sea lion Stampeed

Juvenile Bald Eagle in flight

Juvenile Bald Eagle in flight

Ecological Happenings

  • A calm bright day with light winds and clear sky.
  • The female Elephant seal has been spotted on Middle Rocks. The two males and smaller Elephant seal remain on the main island.
  • Surf Scooters and Pigeon Guillemots observed to the north of the main island.
  • Whale spouts seen to the East of the rocks about 5nm out. Likely Humpbacks.

Marine Vessels

  • Two whale watching boats. Though they both respected the speed restrictions in the reserve one came too close to the rocks and caused the Sea lions to stamped into the water.
  • Several fishing vessels just outside the reserve.

Maintenance

  • Photo voltaics and windows to main house cleaned.
  • Rain-washed driftwood chainsawed into lengths for further rain-washing, splitting and drying.
Juvenile Bald Eagle

Juvenile Bald Eagle at camera 5

Juvenile Bald Eagle1

Juvenile Bald Eagle2

Whale watching boat comes too close and causes Sea lions to stamped

Whale watching boat comes too close and disturbs the Sea lions causing them to stamped into the water

Brandt's and Double-crested Cormorants

Brandt’s and Double-crested Cormorants

Sea lions looking shabby, but just molting

Sea lions looking shabby, but just molting

March 19 – Last Day of Winter- Census

Raining
Wind: NE 4-14 knots
Air Temperature: Low 8.8°C, High 10.3°C
Ocean Temperature: 8.8°C

The wet conditions were helpful with cleaning some exterior walls and windows. The rain water cistern was filled up from the roof. The rain also helped wash away the algae and slime on the walls, along with some scrubbing.

The low light and rain made the census difficult. In recent days, there has been a much higher number of harbour seals hauled out on the rocks. The sea lions also spent most of the day in the water. It was not possible to distinguish between the species of cormorants on Turbine or Middle Rock.

There were no boats seen in the reserve today.

Census results:
Steller Sea Lion: 59
California Sea Lion: 62
Harbour Seal: 21
Bald Eagle: 7
Cormorant: 27
Canada Goose: 24
Gull: 352
Black Oystercatcher: 4
Harlequin Duck: 9
Pigeon Guillemot: 13
Surfbird: 4
Black Turnstone: 16
Rock Sandpiper: 6
Savannah Sparrow: 1

March 12 – Sunny Census Thursday

Sunny
Wind: 0-13 knots SW in the morning, NE from mid morning to afternoon and SW in the evening
Air Temperature: Low 9.9°C, High 13.2°C
Ocean Temperature: 9.0°C

Three Pearson students came to Race Rocks this morning. Karen, Sunny and Hanne joined Martin, who has been here since Monday.

The students did some work this afternoon: sweeping all 99 steps of the lighthouse and continuing the process of stowing the chopped wood in all the nooks and crannies of the buildings, to be used next winter to heat the main house.

There was DND blasting happening in the morning and early afternoon on Bentinck Island, less than 1km away from the ecological reserve.

Today’s high temperature of 13.2°C, as measured at the ground weather station, was the highest recorded since 2006, when the weather station was installed. A high of 14°C was recorded by the instruments at the top of the lighthouse.

Three eco tour boats visited the reserve. One boat came very close to a group of sea lions swimming and others hauled out on the South Islands.

The low tide of 1.1m at 13:52, exposed lots of species from the low tide zone into the air. The shore and tidal pools were full of life: mussels, barnacles, limpets and lots of other flora and fauna of the sea. The oystercatchers and shore birds were having a feast.

There were no small birds perching birds seen today. There are usually a few fox, sparrows, savannah sparrows and occasionally juncos and robins zipping around the island.

Here are the results from today’s Megafauna Census:
Elephant Seal: 1
Steller Sea Lion: 54
California Sea Lion: 43
Harbour Seal: 52
Bald Eagle: 9
Great Blue Heron: 1
Crow: 1
Oystercatcher: 4
Double Crested Cormorant: 12
Brandt’s Cormorant: 21
Gull: 247
Canada Goose: 14
Pigeon Guillemot: 9
Harlequin Duck: 13
Surfbird: 3
Black Turnstone: 10
Rock Sandpiper: 2