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!

Windy Day for a Census

Weather

  • Visibility: 15 miles
  • Wind: a steady 20-25 knots West
  • Sky: mostly sunny
  • Water: 1′ chop

Ecological

  • Census day!
  • The weaner was lounging by the house all day.
  • Discovered my first Canada Goose nests with eggs in them.
  1. Harbour Seals: 143
  2. California Sea Lions: 66
  3. Steller (Northern) Sea Lions: 42
  4. Elephant Seals: 1 weaner
  5. Seagulls unspecified: 221
  6. Surfbirds: 62
  7. Cormorants unspecified: 27
  8. Double Crested Cormorant: 4
  9. Black Turnstones: 29
  10. Canada Geese: 21
  11. Rock Sandpipers: 11
  12. Harlequin Ducks: 7 (5 males and 2 females)
  13. Bald Eagles: 7 (2 adults, 5 immature)
  14. Black Oystercatchers: 2
  15. Killdeer: 1

Maintenance

  • Ran the desalinator.

Boats

  • At least one eco-tour came by today.

Chunk vs. Chuckles

Weather

  • Visibility: 15+ miles
  • Wind: 0 knots most of the day, until the evening when it hit 40 knots West
  • Sky: clear and sunny
  • Water: calm

Ecological

  • 14 elephant seals on Great Race; 2 on Middle Rock.
  • Chunk and Chuckles engaged in friendly water battles for over an hour.
  • The tagged female elephant seal from California is still around.
  • The single odd looking seagull egg from May 29th has turned into 2 normal gull eggs.

Maintenance

  • Topped up the tidy tank with diesel.
  • Cleaned the solar panels.
  • General cleaning up.
  • Wrote the month end report.
  • Sent off the May seawater data.

Boats

  • At 12:30 there were 5 large eco-tours in the reserve at once. This might be too many at once?
  • What is quite probably the largest eco-tour I have ever seen came through Middle Channel today.

Other

  • At least 7 DND blasts today.
  • They came at 9:46, 9:47, 9:48, 10:29, 10:29, 10:30, and at 11:03.
  • The first 6 were medium blasts; the last one was huge.
  • Usually we are notified ahead of time of blasting, but the most recent email only indicated blasting from June 1-3.
  • Today is the last full day of my shift. Guy and Christine will be taking over tomorrow.

DSC_6505

Spontaneous Whale Watching!

Weather

  • Visibility: 15+ miles
  • Mt. Baker visible at times today.
  • Wind: 10-15 knots West
  • Sky: clear and sunny!
  • Water: calm

Ecological

  • We spied three eagles on Turbine Rock this morning.
  • 14 elephant seals on Great Race today, including both Chunk and Chuckles.
  • As Second Nature was departing Race Rocks sometime after 9:00, Kyle spied several whale watching boats following a pod of orcas outside the reserve.
  • I hopped aboard (sans camera) and we went off to join the fleet.
  • Over the next half hour or so, we watched 5 or 6 orcas as they repeatedly surfaced on their southerly course.
  • Christine (Guy’s wife) took several photographs; perhaps she will share them with us soon.
  • Pam Birley discovered a Black Oystercatcher nest today via webcam. That makes 3 known nests.
  • As Pam noted, it is “not a good spot to nest because the Otter likes to sunbathe in that spot on the rocks.”

Maintenance

  • I did some yellow paint touch up on the jetty.
  • Sprayed more algicide on the students’ house.
  • Shut-down the students’ house.

Boats

  • Second Nature arrived around 9:00, and properly departed around 10:00 after our unexpected whale watching trip!
  • Many eco-tours came by today.
  • A few of them appeared to be too close to the sea lions.

Visitors

  • Kyle, Guy, Christine, and their daughter arrived at 9:00.
  • Guy and Christine were dropping off some gear for their upcoming shift.
  • Maya, Tazi, and Ali departed on Second Nature.

Tazi, Maya, Ali

Ali, Maya, Tazi, Mt. Baker

The Grand Sailboat Regatta

Weather

  • Visibility: 8 miles in the early morning, 15 later on
  • Wind: 15-20 knots East, then North, then West
  • Sky: foggy and overcast, then sunny, then overcast
  • Scattered raindrops throughout the day
  • Water: mostly calm, with swells in the afternoon

DSC_6437

Ecological

  • Maya and Tazi conducted 4 intertidal transects today.
  • Studying an intertidal transect involves measuring out a certain distance from a peg, and then documenting the different species found every 0.5 metre.
  • In some transects the 0.5 metres are measured by water elevation; in others simply by distance.
  • By comparing the species found in every zone of the transect with transect data from previous decades, you can see the change in intertidal ecosystems due to climate change.
  • We saw a California Sea Lion with the brand U374 and another with a tracker.
  • While most of the gull eggs all look the same, one particular egg is quite different.

Maintenance

  • Maya and I ran the fire pump in the morning.
  • This added a few inches to the cistern.
  • We removed the old Canadian flag and hoisted a fresh one.
  • Tazi and I removed some algae.
  • Ali whacked away at the thistles.
  • We cleaned the solar panels.

Boats

  • Over 150 sailboats from Victoria passed by Race Rocks in the late morning on their way towards the Western horizon.
  • Some of them started to return as late as 22:30.
  • The colours of their sales included: red, blue, white, fluorescent yellow, green, purple, black, orange, and many combinations of all of the above.
  • Some standouts included the Miles Davis sail and the Union Jack.
  • I couldn’t stop taking photos and ended up with dozens. Below is a selection of the best.
  • One coastguard zodiac and a search and rescue boat appeared to be accompanying the sailboats.
  • Several eco-tours came by, including one Eagle Wings tour that drove through the South Channel.
  • Passing through the South Channel is prohibited as the width is too narrow.

Proficient Pearson Painters

Weather

  • Visibility: 15 miles
  • Wind: 20-25 knots West
  • Sky: overcast, then sunny, then overcast
  • Water: 2′ chop

Ecological

  • Much frenetic elephant seal activity throughout the island and surrounding waters.
  • The speed with which they go from slow motion sparring to sleeping side by side is adorable.
  • One seal was even snoozing on the ramp with his head under water.
  • Between 11 and 15 elephant seals on Great Race.
  • We discovered several seagull nests with eggs in them. First ones of the year!

Maintenance

  • The four of us engaged in much painting.
  • The boathouse floor was finished, along with the derrick room floor, and the yellow on the jetty.
  • In the afternoon we used the shorefront pressure washer to remove algae from several walls.
  • As is customary out here, we cleaned off the solar panels.

Boats

  • Kyle and Guy brought out the pressure washer and various other items at 8:10.
  • One rental boat was caught fishing illegally within the reserve.
  • I called Pedder Bay Marina to inform them.
  • One coast guard boat passed through the reserve today.
  • Also a few eco-tours.

Visitors

  • Kyle and Guy briefly to drop off items.
  • In the late afternoon, Maya, Tazi, and Ali came over to the eco-guardians house for tea, cookies, and the American version of Rubber Soul.

A Windy Census

Weather

  • Visibility: 15 miles
  • Wind: 20-25 knots West in the morning, picking up to 30-35 by noon.
  • Sky: overcast
  • Water: 3′ chop

DSC_6368

Ecological

  • I oversaw an enthusiastic day long census with Maya, Tazi, and Ali.
  • Discovered a new Black Oystercatcher nest with 3 eggs!
  • Maya and Tazi discovered a new Canada Goose nest.
  • I begin to suspect that our new elephant seal male is actually Chuckles.
  • If he did nothing but eat for 3 months straight, that would explain his girth.
  • Saw a Steller Sea Lion branded 9628.
  • We found a blood star, and Maya showed us various chitons.
  • Maya and Tazi did a transect.
  1. Harbour Seals: 190
  2. California Sea Lions: 42
  3. Steller/Northern Sea Lions: 39
  4. Elephant Seals: 15 (13 on Great Race, 2 in the Southern waters)
  5. Seagulls: 225 (Glaucous-winged)
  6. Pigeon Guillemots: 82
  7. Canada Geese: 36 (14 on Great Race, 22 flyovers)
  8. Black Oystercatchers: 8 (plus 2 nests with a total 5 eggs)
  9. Harlequin Ducks: 3 (2 male, 1 female)
  10. Cormorants: 3
  11. Barn Swallows: 2

Maintenance

  • We cleaned the solar panels.
  • Finished cleaning the boathouse floor with T.S.P.
  • Repainted some rusty propane tanks.
  • Sanded the westward facing bench by the Students’ house.

Boats

  • Several eco-tours came by in the morning, but as wind picked up they disappeared.

Black Oystercatcher Nest!

Weather

  • Visibility: 15 miles
  • Wind: 25-30 knots West in the morning
  • The rest of the day 15 knots West.
  • Sky: overcast
  • Water: 2′ chop

Ecological

  • Finally discovered a Black Oystercatcher nest!
  • 2 eggs are inside the “nest”.
  • Their nests are made of rocks and shells.
  • Census day.
  • I don’t seem to see any Black Turnstones or Surfbirds anymore.
  • Also less Bald Eagles.
  • And the Otter has been gone for a while.
  1. Harbour Seals: 117
  2. Northern Sea Lions: 32
  3. California Sea Lions: 22 (one branded U 687)
  4. Elephant Seals: 20 (17 on Great Race, 3 on Middle Rock)
  5. Seagulls: 327
  6. Pigeon Guillemots: 114
  7. Canada Geese: 21 (14 resident geese, 7 stopovers)
  8. Black Oystercatchers: 10 (plus 2 eggs!)
  9. Harlequin Ducks: 8 (6 males, 2 females)
  10. Cormorants: 4
  11. Barn Swallows: 2
  12. Bald Eagle: 1 immature
  13. Savannah Sparrow: 1

Maintenance

  • Rust painting.
  • More thistle weed whacking.
  • You can cut them down like you’re the Queen of Hearts, but they grow back.
  • Cleaned the solar panels.

Boats

  • Four or so eco-tours came by today.

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.

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Calm Saturday

Light variable winds most of the day. Four brief periods of rain, clear skies in between. Very low West swell. Rainbows.

6 tour boats
2 dive boats

I spent some time today trying to learn to use the Nikon DSLR that lives out here at Race Rocks. The zoom on the big lens is awesome, but I still have a few technical issues to work out. My mission was to get a photo of a Pigeon Guillemot flying away from me with its red feet sticking out, but I wasn’t happy with any of my attempts. While wandering around looking for things to photograph I saw 10-15 Turnstones. They are spending most of their time in the middle of Great Race. There was 4 Western Sandpipers, 1 Sanderling, and 2 Dunlins all feeding in the muck-puddles on Great Race.The Elephant seal that has been next to the tank shed left this morning, but there are still two out on Middle Rocks. There are a few monster Steller Sea lions among the group out on South Rocks. There are now three Canada Goose nests, all with eggs in them.