An adult female elephant seal showed up today and she had a pretty wornout orange tag on her that so she was definitely the one here last week, it is an orange tag reading T563, she was here on March 21st as well when I took the picture of it
the pups are doing fine and were right beside each other this morning but now are a bit seperated on either side of the adult females
also there were about 6 ravens flying around, I don’t see them around too often, I’ve seen crows around but not many ravens
Wind: 5-10 knots SE, late afternoon up to 33 knots from the West
Water: rippled, later wavy
Sky: foggy in the morning, overcast in the afternoon
Chunk spent the day on Middle Rock with the mum and pup.
Lady, Grieving mum, mum and pup, were in the same spots on Great Race.
Chuckles arrived on Great Race in the late afternoon.
Conducted a census.
California Sea Lions: 87
Northern/Stellar Sea Lions: 50
Harbour Seals: 21
Elephant Seals: 8
Cormorants: 742 (of the 742, I think that at least 10 were Male Brandt’s, 131 Double Crested, and 200 Pelagic; my identification is improving, but many were either too far away, or indistinguishable to me.)
Seagulls: 605 (131 had darker plumage and therefore must be immature gulls?)
Pigeon Guillemots: 50
Bald Eagles: 30 (23 juveniles, 7 adults)
Black Oystercatchers: 13
Canada Geese: 10
Harlequin Ducks: 8 (4 male, 4 female)
Black Turnstones: 6
Surfbird: 3 (unless they were Rock Sandpipers?)
American Pipit: 2
Did some more cleaning in the Student’s House.
In the morning, one fishing boat passed through the reserve. The occupants did not fish in the reserve; they were going slow and appeared to be observing.
In the afternoon, one large eco-tour boat came through the reserve.
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
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.
California Sea Lions: 88
Northern/Stellar Sea Lions: 53 (many sea lions were swimming in the waves and thus impossible to count)
Elephant Seals: 8 (Chunk, weaner, grieving mother, new mum and pup, Middle Rock: Chuckles, mum and pup.)
River Otter: 1
Bald Eagles: 9 (7 juvenile, 2 adults)
Black Oystercatchers: 6
Harlequin Ducks: 4
Canada Geese: 6
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.
Sunny with occasional clouds
Wind: 0-5 knots from N and switching around to SW throughout the day
Air temperature: High 10C, Low 6C
Ocean temperature: 8.9C
A great blue heron hung out on northeast side of Great Race for the afternoon. The oystercatchers are travelling around in pairs and are quite vocal. The gulls have spread themselves out around the island as they start to find nesting sites. Chunk returned to Great Race during the night. He spent the day resting against a boulder and the rock below the helicopter pad. The female elephant seal is relaxing in the same spots as yesterday, to the west of the main house.
Today’s census results:
Elephant Seal: 2
Steller Sea Lion: 18
California Sea Lion: 28
Harbour Seal: 41
Bald Eagle: 6 (3 adult, 3 juvenile)
Great Blue Heron: 1
Double Crested Cormorant: 9
Brandt’s Cormorant: 15
Black Oystercatcher: 8
Canada Goose: 17
Pigeon Guillemot: 36
Harlequin Duck: 11
Black Turnstone: 15
Savannah Sparrow: 1
One eco tour boat and one recreational boat visited the reserve today.
Gulls and a cormorant take a log ride through the current of Middle Channel. In the background, a pigeon guillemot uses its own energy to take flight.
Harlequin ducks preening and sunny themselves
Great blue heron
A harbour seal blends in with the rock, barnacles and intertidal plants.
A raven eats the brains of the carcass of an elephant seal pup.
Wind: 8 knots NNE in the morning, diminishing in the afternoon and switching to W in the evening
Air Temperature: High 9C, Low 4C
Ocean Temperature: 8.8C
Twelve bald eagles were hanging out on the South Islands this morning. Many of them stuck around for the rest of the day, flying to different perches around the reserve.
Chunk left the main island at some point last night. The female elephant seal is still camped out to the east of the main house.
Courtney and Max visited for a couple hours this morning to do some maintenance on the cameras and other technology. Camera 5 is almost online again. One more replacement part needs to be installed in the coming days. The Davis weather station is back up and running after a few days offline. Thanks to Max fixing the computer that uploads the weather data.
There was more munitions blasting today at nearby Rocky Point.
Three eco tour boats visited the reserve today.
Seven bald eagles gather on one of the South Islands in the morning.
A whale watching boat gets up close to a group of sea lions on the South Islands. In the background a large container ship, the 334mx43m CMA CGM Cendrillon, passes within 4km of Race Rocks on its way to Seattle. Feb 4, photo by Nick Townley
A juvenile bald eagle watches a raven eat the carcass of an elephant seal pup.
A raven eating the soft tissue on the face of the dead elephant seal pup.
A juvenile bald eagle observes the ecological reserve from the high rock by camera 5.
It was a dramatic day weather-wise with near-gale westerlies and a heavy downpour that dropped almost one centimetre of much needed rain. Just before the sun went down there were intense rainbows. The barometer continued its slide but a nice sunset and the westerly wind warning, mean sunshine for tomorrow.
With no killer whales in sight, the whale watching boat numbers dropped to three. There were no recreational boaters fishing in the closed Conservation Area today. There were some big blasts from the military site today late morning and early afternoon. They had a vessel standing off to the northwest of the reserve talking to boaters. Although there were no visitors ashore, Second Nature came within a stone’s throw of the jetty and I waved to Courtney and the Pearson College students aboard.
This morning when I got up there were no sea lions on the jetty for the first time so I will continue my territorial patrols. I scanned for brands/tags from the top of the tower again today, and added more to the growing list. Eventually I will put a finders’ curve together to see if I am approaching the asymptote.
I was a bit grossed out to see the GW Gulls and Black Turnstones foraging in the Sea Lion messes this morning. I wonder what their parasite load is mmm? At least one of the sea lions had evidently been eating krill.
All but one of the young gulls are flying now and it was fun to watch them ‘getting a flying lesson’ from the raven this morning. Okay, I know that is way too anthropomorphic. They were all following raven who seemed to be playing the trickster, (maybe hoping they would crash for breakfast). Ravens are so good at doing aerial flips and such but young gulls are still a bit wobbly. There are still two Pigeon Guillemots carrying food to nest sites. they bring a variety of benthic fish: so far I have seen little flatfish, large gunnels a variety of sculpins and maybe a prickleback.
Other than the routine chores, more window cleaning and moving heavy concrete blocks today, I did some trouble-shooting on the computer and deleted over 11,000 items from the trash which sped things up. I started to read the camera manual with camera in hand. Yesterday’s passing Killer Whales inspired me to learn how to use the camera with the big lens.
Clear sky. Light winds.
My shift of nearly-perfect-weather continues.
I was almost finished my animal census (I just needed a couple picture of areas with lot’s of animals) when a Coast Guard helicopter did two circles of the tower. A lot of Gulls took flight the Sea lions on South Rocks took to the water. I guess I’ll try again tomorrow.
Coast Guard helicopter coming in from the West
Coast Guard helicopter circling the tower
The Gulls have been capitalizing on the low tides during daylight hours and have been foraging on green urchins. They leave the broken urchins on walkways, the jetty, and rock outcroppings. This time of year the urchins are full of roe (gonads) which, by Sea gull standards, is high is calories and nutrients.
Tafoni: The blocks of sandstone out a Race Rocks are leftover from building the tower stairs. There are a hand-full of rectangular blocks on the beach by the jetty. These blocks have the signature patterns of pits and holes that are cause by chemical erosion. Because the stone is permeable, saltwater infiltrates throughout the block. As the sun and wind dries the outer surfaces, the water moves outward, dissolving the clay that binds the sand particles together resulting in the surprisingly organized patterns of holes. Another driver is the physical weathering that occurs as salt dries and puts pressure on the rock particles forcing areas to exfoliate and flake. Although the science of tafoni isn’t fully understood, it is thought that there are also biological drivers, particularly in the intertidal region (Tafoni also occurs in deserts, no urchins there). Univavles and Urchins can chemically dissolve and abrade the the surface of the stone and hasten the dissolution of the pits.
Overcast, scattered showers. Moderate NE wind all day.
I finally figured out what moves the dead sea gulls around at night: Ravens. Because I rarely see them out here I had been wondering what moved the dead birds back onto my pathways night after night. They must live nearby on the big island (Vancouver Island) and come out here to forage and feed.
Female elephant seal and a dead gull on the boat ramp.
California “See” lions!
[Daily Marine Conservation Link] My Salish Sea Marinipedia is a citizen science project created by our local aquarium, the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre. It is a database (for kids) of species found in the Salish Sea, but the information comes from anyone. Their slogan…”Join us in discovering the biodiversity of your ocean, share what you learn and inspire others to make a difference.”
-electric fence around student house
-diesel to student house