The Cackling Goose!


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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.


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

Cackling goose and Snow goose

Light Wind in the morning, String Westerly in the evening. Cloudy with scattered showers. Rain in the evening. Tour boats:8 1030 flyover by a small float plane The Cackling Goose and Snow Goose (note — a new record for Race Rocks ) are still foraging on the grass on Great Race. The Canada Geese often chase these two smaller geese. The Sea lions all moved to the East side of West Rocks this morning. Up until today, they had been on South Rocks since I got here in the middle of March. Eagles are regularly flying over Great Race and making all the Gulls take flight, but I have yet to see an Eagle grab a Gull.

-Ran the fire pump -Cleaned all the fire hose fittings -Fixed tank shed storage door latch -Worked on SOPs


Strong winds all day, switching between NE and W. Scattered showers.


-prepped student house for visitors
-Erik delivered propane
-made keeper’s house floor plans

great day for a sail

Strong NNE winds this morning. Eased in the afternoon. Clear skies.
Low East wind wave and a low West swell.

The Cackling goose and White fronted goose are still here. 18 Canada Geese spent the day on Greater Race Rock.

Two sailboats from the college headed out this morning towards Victoria, and I know it was an awesome day for a sail.

Today’s amazing ocean conservation link:
3-dimensional, panning images of coral reefs [link] with fish and sharks and corals!
The project is being done by the Catlin Seaview Survey, whose mission is “to scientifically record the world’s coral reefs and reveal them to all in high-resolution, 360-degree panoramic vision.” The results are amazing!

Maciek was out here today and did some training on the Race Rocks systems and helped out with some projects.
-Swept lighthouse staircase
-Set out new CO detectors
-Cleared Marigolds on path to tower
-Worked on plumbing issues in keeper’s house
-Inventoried solar panel tilt hardware
-Made a soundings table for the water tank


Cloudy, with periods of fog. Evening fog. No rain.

Our reference on Fog as an abiotic factor can be found at:

3 elephant seals decided to come up off the boat ramp today. It started with Cranky-Pants (the seal with the scabby molt) and she was followed by two of the larger females. They spent the afternoon lying in the grass next to the desalinator bunker.

Still seeing the White fronted goose and the Cackling goose. The larger Canada geese bully the two smaller geese, but they still tend to move around the island in a group.

Off station from 1230 to 1430 to get food


Morning fog. Moderate East wind. Sunny the rest of the day.
Tour boats: 4

It seems that, as the sea lions are leaving, more gulls and birds are moving onto Greater Race Rock. There have also been a lot of dense groups of gulls and diving birds on the water in and around the reserve.

The juvenile elephant seal with scabby molt (aka ‘Cranky Pants’) has returned to the boat ramp. Her skin has healed up a bit since she was last here a few weeks ago.

Kayakers next to South Rock

Kayakers next to South Rock-This kind of approach regularly scares birds and the seals and sea lions form the rocks.

-took the boston whaler in, traded it for a zodiac
-loaded the boat dolly onto Second Nature with Erik
-ran desalinator
-cleaned and scraped the zodiac
-tidied basement

Cackling Goose

Light NE wind, sunny, calm

A single Cackling Goose arrived today. It has been hanging out with the Canada geese.


Tour boats: 7

-washed solar panels
-ran desalinator
-worked on the electric fence
-started improving the boat
-started tidying the boat house

Cackling Goose, Branta hutchinsii—Race Rocks Taxonomy


Branta hutchinsii, Cackling goose

Common Name:
Cackling Goose

This is the first observation and photos we have of cackling geese at  Race Rocks. Ecoguardian Raisa Mirza  took this photo on October 22, 2010. These geese migrate south through the area at this time of year. This is a newly recognized and smaller species of the Canada Goose. Recent work on mitochondrial DNA genetic differences found the four smallest forms to be very different. These four races are now recognized as a full species: the Cackling Goose. It breeds farther northward and westward than does the Canada Goose..Fall migration includes staging on the upper Alaska Peninsula for several weeks, then a trans-oceanic flight to Oregon and California.

This tag will bring up other examples of observations of this species at Race Rocks.