Whale Sighting!


  • Visibility: 15 miles
  • Wind: 10-15 knots West, later 5 knots South, then 5-10 West
  • Sky: clear and sunny!
  • Water: rippled


  • Census day!
  • Shortly before 15:30 as I was counting shorebirds, I heard a loud noise to my right. Glancing over, I was thrilled to see a whale surfacing in the South Channel. I managed to get some photos as it resurfaced farther south-west.
  1. California Sea Lions: 79
  2. Harbour Seals: 69
  3. Steller (Northern) Sea Lions: 33
  4. Elephant Seals: 3, all on Great Race, 2 young males, 1 weaner
  5. Whale: 1 (I think it was an Orca)
  6. Seagulls unspecified: 269
  7. Pigeon Guillemots: 45
  8. Cormorants unspecified: 30
  9. Double Crested Cormorants: 9
  10. Surfbirds: 37
  11. Harlequin Ducks: 27 (15 males and 12 females)
  12. Canada Geese: 24
  13. Black Turnstones: 20
  14. Bald Eagles: 20 (4 adults, 16 immature)
  15. Black Oystercatchers: 6
  16. Rock Sandpipers: 4
  17. Crows: 3


  • A few eco-tours passed by today.
  • Second Nature came out with food supplies for me.
  • A large navy sailboat passed by north of the reserve.


  • Kyle and Jeff came out in Second Nature.


  • One helicopter flew just south of the reserve in the morning.

SUP’ers and Census


  • Visibility: 15 miles
  • Wind: 0-5 knots South in the morning, 15 knots West in the evening
  • Sky: clear and sunny
  • Water: calm


  • Conducted a census.
  • Surprised I didn’t see any Black Turnstones today.
  • Saw one Northern sea lion branded 524R.
  1. Northern Sea Lions: 93
  2. California Sea Lions: 59
  3. Elephant Seals: 20 (15 on Great Race. 5 on Middle Rock)
  4. Harbour Seals: 6
  5. Seagulls: 355
  6. Pigeon Guillemots: 101
  7. Canada Geese: 18
  8. Black Oystercatchers: 10
  9. Harlequin Ducks: 6 (5 male, 1 female)
  10. Cormorants: 4
  11. Bald Eagles: 4 (1 adult, 3 immature)
  12. Rock Sandpipers: 2
  13. Crow: 1


  • Cleaned more exterior windows.
  • More goose work.


  • 12 eco-tours today!
  • Some of them appeared to get too close to the sea lions.
  • Three uninvited SUP’ers (stand up paddle boarders) came by Great Race today.
  • After a short rest and a quick chat I sent them on their way again.


  • Five DND blasts today.
  • Two medium blasts at 10:13 and 10:15.
  • One big blast at 10:17.
  • Two medium blasts at around 12:10.

Census and 3rd New Weaner


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


  • 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


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


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


First Official Day On The Job

After training last weekend, and a general review yesterday, I, Riley Strother, have now taken over as Ecoguardian from Alex Fletcher.


  • Visibility: 15 miles
  • Wind: 15-20 knots NE
  • Water: 1’ chop
  • Sky: overcast


  • The first female elephant seal to give birth left the island at 7:30 in the morning and did not return. As such the first pup has now become a weaner.
  • Chunk appeared to mate with the female who lost her pup.
  • The newest pup is quite vocal and seems to be doing well. Chunk and the other female went along the path after mating to inspect the new mother and pup.
  • Alex was able to identify the number on the yellow flipper tag attached to the newest mother: 5928
  • There was quite a disturbance of seagulls and cormorants today when a raven with a small fish in its beak was chased all around the island by two eagles. Eventually the raven managed to land and eat the fish.
  • Conducted a census.
  1. California Sea Lions: 88
  2. Northern/Stellar Sea Lions: 53 (many sea lions were swimming in the waves and thus impossible to count)
  3. Elephant Seals: 8 (Chunk, weaner, grieving mother, new mum and pup, Middle Rock: Chuckles, mum and pup.)
  4. River Otter: 1
  5. Cormorants: 615
  6. Seagulls: 512
  7. Bald Eagles: 9 (7 juvenile, 2 adults)
  8. Raven: 1
  9. Crow: 1
  10. Black Oystercatchers: 6
  11. Harlequin Ducks: 4
  12. Canada Geese: 6
  13. Black Turnstones: 29


  • Cleared logs off the ramp two times.
  • Lowered the boat trailer because the cable coil was quite criss crossed. Managed to recoil the cable in a more orderly fashion.
  • Vacuumed up hundreds of fruit flies in the basement near the composting toilet.


  • Alex and Virginie left in the morning.
  • Surprised to see no eco-tourism boats about on such a nice Sunday.

March 26 – Census

Wind: 0-17 from varying directions throughout the day
Air Temperature: Low 9.2ºC, High 11.8ºC
Ocean Temperature: 9.0ºC

Today was spent preparing for the shift change. Anne Stewart will arriving tomorrow to take over as the Eco-Guardian.

There was one eco tour boat seen in the reserve today.

Here are the results of today’s megafauna census:
Steller Sea Lion: 58
California Sea Lion: 31
Harbour Seal: 79
Bald Eagle: 3
Cormorant: 16
Canada Goose: 24
Gull: 256
Crow: 2
Oystercatcher: 4
Pigeon Guillemot: 234
Surfbird: 8
Black Turnstone: 16
Savannah Sparrow: 1

March 12 – Sunny Census Thursday

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

Weekly Census

The wind varied in velocity and direction throughout the day.  Fog settled in overnight as the wind blew between 15-25 knots from the southwest.  In the daylight hours, the wind blew from the south and west between 7-32 knots.  The barometer dropped slightly from 1008 hPa to 1004 hPa.  It was overcast with patches of sun and rain throughout the day. The temperature reached a high of 12.8oC at noon.

There was one whale watching boat seen in the reserve, in the mid afternoon.

I saw humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) twice today, both times from the kitchen window.  The whales were surfacing just south of Great Race Rocks, within the boundaries of the Ecological Reserve.  At 9:30am, I saw two humpbacks blow, surface and dive westward.  At 3:20pm, I saw one humpback surface and dive eastward.  I am not positive if they were different whales, so I counted them as two in the census.

Two branded steller sea lions were seen seen today.  76Y was a pup in 2002 when it was branded in St. George Reef, California.  443Y was branded in 2013, when it was a pup at Rogue Reef, Oregon.

Here are the results of the weekly census:

Humpback Whale: 2
Steller Sea Lion: 244
California Sea Lion: 216
Harbour Seal: 39
Northern Elephant Seal: 4
Bald Eagle: 5 (2 adults, 3 juveniles)
Canada Goose: 18
Crow: 2
Harlequin Duck: 4
Double Crested Cormorant: 61
Pelagic Cormorant: 142
Black Oystercatcher: 25
Gull: 411
Black Turnstone: 8
Rock Sandpiper: 6
Surfbird: 11
Savannah Sparrow: 2
Fox Sparrow: 2

A Good Day for the Birds

As the sun rose, the wind and sea were calm. The wind picked up throughout the morning to become a moderate breeze with light rain and choppy seas during the afternoon. The barometer rose during the morning and dropped slightly in the afternoon, levelling out at 1014 hPa in the evening.

Eight boats were seen visiting the ecological reserve: 4 whale watching boats, 1 pleasure craft, 2 visits from SCUBA divers at Ogden Point Dive Centre and one boat from Pearson College to pick up Rikka, a student who was visiting for the last four days.

Maintenance tasks were performed today: chopping driftwood for the fire, daily seawater salinity test, running the generator and cleaning the houses.

Two crows were making their rounds on the reserve throughout the day. A juvenile bald eagle flew around Great Race at 0800, landing on Turbine Rock. An adult bald eagle landed on the high point of the South Islands at 1345 and took watch for an hour.

A bald eagle and sea lions on South Islands

A bald eagle and sea lions on South Islands

Animal Census First Sea Otter at Race Rocks

Sea Otter in race ROcks Kelp Beds, photo by Adam Bird

Sea Otter in Race Rocks Kelp Beds, photo by Adam Bird on June 10/2012

Things have been fairly quite lately regarding birds and mammals here, though one of the eco-tour boats reported seeing a Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris) in a kelp bed on Monday! The percussive blasts from Rocky Point military testing range scared off most of the Sea Lions last Thursday and only a few have returned in the last couple days. A large pod of orca passed through and near the reserve on Tuesday. Thanks to Suna, Doris and Ishmael for the census.

Elephant Seals: about 10
Steller Sea Lions: 2
California Sea Lions: 2
Harbour Seals: 204
Glaucous-winged Gull: 246
Surfbirds: 18
Pigeon Guillemots: 108
Canada Goose: 13
Bald Eagle: 3
Black Oystercatcher: 12
Northwestern Crow: 1
Raven: 1
Sparrow: 4
Sea Otter: 1
Caspian Terns: 6
Herring Gulls: 20

Sea Lions are arriving


More and more California Sea Lions are showing up. There are about 10 on the rocks beneath the winch house as I write this. This photo however is of two Stellar’s enjoying the sunset after they cleared the rock of Californians.

I noticed three more Red Knots on the foreshore, and a corvus caurinus (crow) made it out for a visit. North-western crows are rare visitors here and I have only observed solitary excursions.

Work this week has comprised of painting the railings around the main house and walkway. We got the water desalinator working again, and some of the old computer equipment was removed from the student house.

Several dive groups have made underwater excursions just off the dock in the last week. We continue to see a lot of tour boats in the reserve.

This afternoon I noticed the first Glaucous-winged Gull egg in a shallow grass nest a few feet from my doorstep. I will have to stick to the sidewalk for a few months while the nesting and hatching play out.