Swiftsure Race Today

Weather

  • Visibility: 15 Miles
  • Wind:  5-10 NW was a bit less in the middle of the day but picked up a bit again
  • Sky: clear and sunny
  • Water: calm

Boats/Visitors

  • A lot of ecotours today, along with countless boats sailing by and fishing

Ecological

  • 12 elephant seals scattered around today, mostly around the jetty to cool off in the water

Other

  • The swiftsure race started today and hundreds of sailboats went sailing by the lighthouse today

The Return of Otter

Weather

  • Visibility: 15 miles
  • Wind: 5-10 knots North East, then from 15:00 onwards 15-25 knots West
  • Sky: mostly overcast
  • Water: rippled

Ecological

  • Census day!
  • This morning at about 7:00 I spied the Otter wandering along the wooden deck.
  • Later in the early evening I spied him again and got two photos!
  • Saw one branded California Sea Lion: X[?]60
  • Watched fascinated as two crows boldly flew up to two eagles and scampered about next to them!
  • Saw some seagulls muck about in a goose nest. I think they were eating the eggs.
  1. Harbour Seals: 70
  2. California Sea Lions: 70
  3. Steller (Northern) Sea Lions: 53
  4. Elephant Seals: 9 (2 on Great Race, 7 on Middle Rock)
  5. River Otter: 1
  6. Seagulls unspecified: 172
  7. Pigeon Guillemots: 138
  8. Surfbirds: 88
  9. Cormorants unspecified: 49 (all on Middle Rocks)
  10. Canada Geese: 19
  11. Black Turnstones: 14
  12. Harlequin Ducks: 9 (5 males and 4 females)
  13. Black Oystercatchers: 6
  14. Bald Eagles: 2 (2 adults, 0 immature)
  15. Savannah Sparrow: 2
  16. Crows: 2

Maintenance

  • Lots of intense goose work.
  • Pumped one 55 gallon barrel of diesel into the tidy tank.

Boats

  • A couple of eco-tours came by, as well as pleasure craft.
  • In the late morning, several kayakers entered the reserve.
  • Most of them stayed over by the North Rocks, but a few wandered down to South Rocks.
  • Some of them had difficulty dealing with the strong ebb tidal current, and had to renegotiate their route to rejoin the others.
  • Stay safe out there!

Sun-Monday Log: Double Billing Blog

Two more, lovely, sunny days squeezed in with the barometer down at ~ 1010 hPA and dropping. Light southeast wind today and yesterday will switch to variable and east on Thursday and the forecast looks like a change towards showers and southeasters towards the end of the week.

Ten visits by whale-watching vessels were observed in the Ecological Reserve each of the two days being reported. A handful of pleasure craft came through as well and everyone except the same guys who are always in a hurry and one boatful of lucky fishermen, were well behaved. The fishermen were lucky as they must have lost power and were swept over the little reef by Turbine Rock. One was ready with a paddle and the youngest one got the kicker going which got them out of there (eventually). That was exciting, especially for them. Eight kayaks came through the reserve yesterday. The paddlers at the front came through without disturbing any of the animals hauled out. The weakest paddler came by on her own, last. The tide pushed her a bit too close the Middle Rock and the sea lions stampeded. Sometimes it doesn’t take much.

Humpback Whales are feeding close if not in the reserve just about every day now. The individual spotted by the Marine Science students is feeding downstream just to the west of Middle Channel, during ebbing currents. I am curious if it goes down and just orients itself into the flow and filters away. There is a lot of food in the area and large multi-species feeding flocks driven by diving birds such as Common Murres and all three species of cormorants. The gulls, and there are a lot of them, roost on Race Rocks and then rush out to the feeding frenzies which I am assume are either small schooling fish like herring, sand lance or anchovies and/or large zooplankton like krill. These crustaceans are also known as Euphasiids and they look a bit like tiny shrimp with really big eyes. Those are the same sort of treats that Humpback whales like to feed on with their baleen and they use their really big fore flippers that are white on the underside, to herd krill and forage fish.

I have come to realize that the Glaucous-winged Gulls are still sitting around on the territories. Something I didn’t notice or understand last year until the spring shift and then I thought that they had just come back from somewhere. The juveniles that were raised here are mostly out foraging but also sometimes ‘hang-out’ where they were raised and also do a fait bit of begging from their parents. This week a lot of them have been practicing picking objects in their bills, flying with them and dropping them. Not sure if they are working on their aim but have noticed rocks, chunks of wood and bark and clumps of vegetation on the walkways. Yesterday morning I found a rock on the roof of the energy building and when I looked around saw the damage done to one of the solar panels.

Other birds seem a lot more refined. It is so nice to see the Harlequin Ducks back again, they are a favourite of mine. More and more Surf Scoters are flying through from west to east and it seems that fall is in the air.

 

Chores were routine both days and there were no visitors.

 

 

Feb 16-18

Feb 16: sunny, wind 10-20 NE.  Blasting on Bentinck Island.  Today was the first day in several weeks that I there are not female elephant seals visible on West rock. While it coincides with the blasting, they haven’t previously appeared bothered by it. 2 whale watching boats in the reserve. Worked on removing old utility box on camera 5 for replacement and repairs.  Composting toilet chamber is evaporated so I have unplugged the unit to conserve energy.

heron feb 18

Great Blue Heron on NE side of main island, Feb 18

Feb 17: Sunny, wind NE 10-20 knots. Cut, chopped and stacked wood.  Finished removing old utility box and preparing for new install.

Feb 18: Sunny in the morning, wind under 10 knots.  2 whale watching boats and a group of around 20 kayakers in the reserve. The kayakers stayed together and didnt get too close to the sealions.  Continued work on cam 5 utility box. A heron was in the reserve in the morning, I think this is the first time I have seen one here.

 

Fog and sunshine

There was a tiny bit of rain with fog early today and then it switched back to near gale westerlies with heavy fog interspersed with sunshine. It is a beautiful starlight evening and the westerly continues to drop. The barometer held fairly steady today with a slight increase this evening. Environment Canada says that a strong westerly wind warning stays in effect for Sunday with a chance of showers.

There were ten whale watching boats in the Reserve today and they were all well behaved. A dive charter boat with eleven divers aboard came through the reserve but I am not sure where they dove.

Two male kayakers , one in a green kayak and the other in a reddish-brown kayak came through the passage on the south side of Great Race in the early afternoon and caused a sea lion stampede. They then proceeded to fish right in the closed conservation area. There were also two recreational boats fishing in the marine protected area.

A few more sea lion brands were observed today including one seven year-old female Steller’s Sea Lion that was branded as a pup in 2007 at Rogue Reef , near Gold Beach in southern Oregon.

This was my first day to not see Elephant Seals and California Sea Lions have taken over the jetty and marine railway. Some of them are a bit scary looking and do not want to move so that I can do seawater data collection.

Three River Otters were out and about in daylight today. Usually you don’t see them and just guess that they are around in the evening as all the gulls lift off and call. There were two young, very healthy-looking animals with an adult. Maybe that it why there are so many Glaucous-winged gull chick mortalities here? (Just a guess.)

Alex was quite excited to see some of the old lighthouse artifacts including parts of an old Fairbanks-Morris engine. He also pointed out where the old granite light-keepers house had been removed from its attachment to the base of the light tower.

The tasks today were the basic, regular tasks of  cleaning the solar panels, running the generator, launching and bringing the boat back up in order to drop off Alex, repairing the jetty fence (twice) and taking the salinity measurement. Tomorrow is month-end report time.

 

 

Heermann’s gulls in high numbers

Overcast and cloudy for most of the day. No wind in the morning until noon when it starting slowly rising up to 16 knots around 1900h. Strong wind warning in effect for late tomorrow afternoon. A fog belt is coming in now and the horn has just started sounding (2200h).

DSC_0259A group from Victoria of a dozen kayakers paddled around the island this morning. They launched from Weir’s beach.

 

 

 

9 recreational boats in the reserve today                                                                     5 whale watchers

Two bald eagles visited the south islands this evening joined by an immature eagle and the three stayed there for over an hour. It was unclear which was being more harassed by the other–the eagles or the gulls and oystercatchers.

My father who is visiting counted 574 Heermann’s gulls today which is a notable increase from the 21 recorded on Friday.

Chopped and stacked wood. Ran the desalinator.

July 5

Northwest winds peaked at 15 knots around noon. Overcast skies with some rain near noon.

There were a dozen recreational fishing boats on the east edge of the reserve this morning but a total of five actually passed through today. 6 whale watching boats were in the reserve.

The two male elephant seals have barely moved at all today. While taking the seawater sample this evening, a young harbour seal pup was murmuring lightly while finding its way through the kelp bed off the end of the jetty. The oystercatcher eggs near the jetty have yet to hatch.

A group of 4 kayakers from Port Angeles stopped at the island today for a quick rest before continuing on their way to Victoria.

Installed the VHF antenna today in the guest residence.

DSC_0243

 

 

Pictures

Clear skies. Moderate West in the am, Force 3. Strong West this evening, Force 6.
Barometer rose until 1600, then dropped. The daily West wind cycle continues, light in the am and picking up in the pm.

3 tour boats

The Race Rocks website says that there are typically 6 Oystercatcher nests on Great Race, I have only found two. Tomorrow I will see if I can find more. The Oystercatcher nest next to the jetty no longer has eggs in it. A bird was sitting on the nest yesterday when I showed the nest to my Mom. If I had to guess, I would say that the River otter ate the eggs because it lives under the walkway very close to the nest. I am curious to see if the pair tries another nesting site. I saw two Oystercatchers poking around the rocks on the West side of the jetty so maybe they will try again. There has been a lot of Eagles around lately. Juveniles and adults. My Mom saw one empty the eggs out of a Gull’s nest. Apparently Glaucous winged Gulls can learn to recognize particular people, to a point where they will allow familiar researchers right up to their nests. My new plan is to befriend the Gulls that are nesting next to the tank shed and maybe they will stop flying at my head whenever I walk past.

Continue reading

kayak disturbance, tagged e-seals, pup, etc

Wind has varied between W and NE less than 20 NMPH over the past few days.  We have had some patches of fog during the week and partly clear skies today and yesterday.

On the 15th a group of 20 kayakers passed through the reserve on the East side heading West.  They passed on both sides of East rock and caused one of the largest sea lion disturbances I have seen here, several hundred sealions scrambled into the water.  I was able to talk to one of the kayakers as they passed by the south side and told him that they are not allowed to cause this kind of disturbance to marine mammals at race rocks. Though I love kayaking and prefer kayaks to motorized vessels, kayakers need to realize that because they are so nice and silent they can also easily surprise wildlife.  Once startled sealions stampede and can easily trample younger sealions or injure themselves rushing over the jagged rocks.

1 dive boat in the reserve today, 1 eco tour in the afternoon, 1 sports fishing boat in the morning which traveled too close to sealions on the East rocks. I called Pedder Bay Marina and gave them the ID number and a description and asked them to talk to the operator about regulations at Race Rocks (thanks Pedder Bay Marina!).

The elephant seal pup seems to be in good shape and is drinking milk regularly. Chunk seems fairly well behaved, a few times a day he we will arise from his slumber and chase after Bertha. Sometimes it seems he is trying to separate her from the pup and restrain her. I have seen him with his mouth around the pup’s head as well as with the pup partly underneath him though on all occasions I have observed he has clearly not harmed the pup when he easily could have. Chunk went off the island last night, I assume to middle rock and was back in the morning. There are two elephant seals on middle rock, both fairly large, one possibly a young male. I have been hearing what sounds like a male’s call coming from middle rock today. There were also two smaller scruffy, moulting female elephant seals in the shoreline of the main island today one tagged green 7502 the other tagged pink N93_ the last number is not visible. That brings the current e-seal population to 7.

Past week maintenance:
-cleaned solar panels daily
-flushed media filter on desal
-changed pre-filters on desal
-troubleshooting cam 5 with help from Jonathan, replaced POE unit. took measurements to replace leaky cable housing at base of cam stand
-ran desal x2
-ran fire pump
-replaced leaky hydraulic line on crane, pressure tested line
-cut, chopped, stacked fire wood
-replaced fire extinguishers which had been sent in for annual servicing
-brought temporary fire extinguishers off island for servicing
-troubleshooting of failed internet system with help from Jonathan
-swapped out 1 propane tank on main house

Visitors this week:
-on the 15th Erik came with a guest to drop off supplies
-on the 16th Erik brought Jonathan out to replace switch in the tower as well as the Marine sciences class for a field trip (12 students and Ann)