There have been two tagged elephant seals on the main island over the past days, green tags 6397 and 6375. Misery has been on the main island, younger male on west rock. There continue to be a total of around 15 elephant seals in the reserve.
Two nights ago on my way out to the jetty I was met by an elephant seal. I had originally thought it to be male but when it was on its back the following day I saw a scar that determined it was our beloved Bertha, the female who gave birth to Squall this past winter. She left early February after nursing her pup for a few of weeks and has finally made her way back to the reserve. She has gained a lot of weight since her last visit.
Another elephant seal that has been camped near the generator room for the past number of days has remarkably made his way up past the lighthouse and towards the cistern. He has been fairly vocal today and I noticed a splash of blood on his mouth. He now sits closer to the house.
The Canadian geese have taken to grazing near the east side of the main house. This morning I found a dead juvenile which puts the total number of geese in the reserve (including adults) to 18.
Yesterday two Whimbrels were seen on the south shore of Great Race and this morning a posse of California Sea Lions was swimming about South Rocks barking in their distinctive manner. Garry alerted me to another weaner elephant seal pup on West Rocks. Today we have 5 e-girls here at the station: Bertha, Squall, Divot (she has raw sores/holes in her skin but seems otherwise healthy), Goat (this one crawled up to the weather station in the middle of the island), and 5086 (Fifty/Fiddy) whom I believe we first saw in December. I had thought Squall had left as I didn’t see her for a few days but turns out she had crawled up into the boathouse to get some peace and quiet!
Plenty of recreational fisherfolk are fringing the reserve. I suppose it makes a cunning sort of sense to hunt near the place where most of the fish are, but there is a self-serving element to that way of thinking that is reflective of why we need to have parks, reserves and preserves in the first place! Personally I prefer finding my dinner on the shore within the intertidal zone where I can be sure of what I am catching and can ensure there are plenty left to restock the locale. Unfortunately for me I won’t be eating creatures from the reserve though!
Today 6 kayakers lingered for quite a while at Middle Rocks; the Sea Lions didn’t like it and went in the water. We think of kayaks as benign but i have found that most animals prefer to know when the humans are coming and kayaks allow us to sneak up on them, ironically causing more panic than a motorized vessel. Yesterday I observed a huge submarine pass within 2 miles of the island. I reckon it was a Trident nuclear sub as it was escorted by the American Coast Guard. I can’t imagine the Sea Lions liked that either!
It is good to be back after two months of travel out in the world. Alex did a great job on the ongoing projects the station demands. Cheers buddy!
Squall is now 3 months old and in spite of all the doubters who thought she wouldn’t make it, she is doing awesome. She is sleek, fat, curious and spunky.
There is a yearling female on the jetty as well but she is going through an uncomfortable moult and she has an infection in her mouth that is bleeding and oozing. I hope she heals up in a hurry….
There are about 200 glaucous-winged gulls competing for nesting sites. They hang out all day but they all leave at dusk to sleep somewhere a bit safer I guess…
Misery left the main island on Friday evening, I have not seen or heard any sign of him since. I suspect he might be gone for the season.
Since the stormy weather Monday I have not seen either of the moulting female elephant seals. Since Misery left Squall has been more active. She has been moving around the island more and doing tail biting exercises. She is attracted to puddles and has gone down to the crane deck a few times and seems curious about the ocean. I have still not seen her approach the water though.
On Sunday there was a large flock (+150) of Surfbirds (Aphriza virgata) and maybe a few Black Turnstones (Arenaria melanocephala) in the East bay.
On Tuesday one eco tour vessel entered the reserve.
Have been working on a new compost containing system lately, have poured 6 concrete footings/anchors over the past few days. On Monday did maintenance on the fire pump.
On Monday a young moulting female elephant seal showed up near the boat ramp. She spent a couple days on the jetty until a NE wind picked up. Squall is still on the S side of the house, she seems to be mostly finished moulting now. This morning she was making her way N towards boat ramp but Misery perked up and growled, she turned back and stayed on the cistern.
On Monday around dusk a pod of about 7 orca whales passed by the S side of the reserve near the Rosedale Reef buoy.
It has been quite calm and clear the past few days but a 20 knot NE wind this morning.
Squall decided to position herself right next to the tank room on Wednesday so we had to put a hold on the siding work. We moved over the the South side of the main house to work on deconstructing an old cache and started work on footings to build a new compost container.
On Thursday Squall made her way around the NE side of the main house and came to rest right in the middle of our new work site. Thanks Squall, now that project is on hold. Fortunately the students did a good job of removing all the nails from the scrap wood, Squall was pretty interested in the 2×4’s.
So, it was back to the siding work yesterday. The students really took the lead on this project: removing the remaining panels, cleaning out rusted nails, replacing the panels that were lost, and putting the siding back up with stainless steel screws. Job well done!
We also put together a third goose exclosure yesterday on the lawn between the science centre and the energy building. Misery (in the background) has been relaxing near the science centre yesterday and today, keeping the students company.
On Sunday, I brought 7 students to Race Rocks in two trips in the whaler. This week is project week at the college so all students are off campus on adventures, being creative, and doing service projects.
At Race Rocks students are helping with daily tasks of measuring ocean temperature and salinity and monitoring wildlife as well as working on a few projects including erecting exclosures to monitor the grazing and erosion impact of geese and doing repairs to the siding of the tank room that was damaged in a storm in January.
On Monday I brought two students back to campus, the other 5 will stay for the duration of the week. Unfortunately, on the way back out to Race Rocks I hit a piece of drift wood and bent a blade on the propeller.
On Sunday there were 3 eco-tour vessels in the reserve.
On Monday Misery gave Squall a chase and caught her on the N side of the main house. He held her down and was biting her, at one point he picked her up about 3 feet in the air and tossed her. Eventually she made it in-between some rocks where he could not reach her. Pam got some good shots of the escape from the web cam: http://www.flickr.com/photos/66339356@N00/6938289865/in/photostream
Yesterday afternoon a SE wind picked up in the afternoon increasing to over 50 knots before dark and pushing some big swells into the island.
The wind picked up to around 50 knots W after midnight last night and has been blowing 30 to 40 knots all day.
On Thursday I got a break in the weather and went off island to get supplies for repairing the siding on the South wall of the Tank Room and for making a compost container. Students are coming for project week tomorrow and will be doing some service projects during their stay.
Over the past week Squall has made her way around the S side of the light tower and back to the W side of the main house. Yesterday, while crossing over the cistern, she came across a puddle and had, what I believe was, her first experience with standing water. She was quite interested in the water and spent a while probing it with her flippers and snout, inhaling it a few time in the process.
The remote camera on the N side of the Great Race is working now, you can access it here: www.racerocks.com/racerock/video5.htm
Note: there are 20 presets which cover all major points in a 300 degree view.
Squall has been staying around the SE side of the tower. Misery comes and goes, the pup usually keeps out of his reach.
Yesterday there were 2 eco-tour vessels in the reserve.
Facility work: replaced toilet vent fan, replacing basement basin drain plumbing, planning composting containers.
Bird count today: 6 Harlequin ducks, 150 Cormorants, and 90 gulls.
Wind 20- 30 knots from the west all day, rainy.