Kingfisher, teals, surf, chunk

Lots of rain today. The barometer continued to fall this morning reaching a low of 985 hPa this afternoon. It was windy overnight and a west wind picked up this evening briefly gusting over 35 knots.   There have been swells coming in on both the NE and W sides of the island today along with high tides all morning that combined to submerge the jetty with waves and provide good surfing conditions for sea lions.

I spotted a infrequent visitor, a belted kingfisher perched on the crane.  There were also three green winged teals in the mud flats on the NE side of the island, I only ever see them when it rains a lot and there are fresh water puddles.

Sealions had good surfing conditions most of the day.  The images were taken off the south side of the island, reef break.

Before dusk Chunk (Zeke) came up the boat ramp onto the island, the first time he has come on the main island during my shift.  He has grown since last winter and has a stronger vocalization.

Megaceryle alcyon: Belted Kingfisher– The Race Rocks Taxonomy

This is our first record of the Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) at Race Rocks. It came today from the Ecoguardian,  Alex Fletcher.  We see these birds frequently in Pedder Bay and along the Coastline of Taylor Beach, but so far we have not had a record from Race Rocks.


Belted Kingfisher _ Megaceryle alcyon on the winch cable: photo by Alex Fletcher, Dec 10, 2014


Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Subclass: Neornithes
Infraclass: Neognathae
Superorder: Neoaves
Order: Coraciiformes
Suborder: Alcedini
Family: Cerylidae
Genus: Megaceryle
Species: M. alcyon
Megaceryle alcyon (Linnaeus, 1758)

taxonomyiconReturn to the Race Rocks Taxonomy and Image File
pearsonlogo2_f2The Race Rocks taxonomy is a collaborative venture originally started with the Biology and Environmental Systems students of Lester Pearson College UWC. It now also has contributions added by Faculty, Staff, Volunteers and Observers on the remote control webcams.


getting stormy

Rain throughout the day. Atmospheric pressure has continued to drop towards 1000 hPa. Wind shifted throughout the day blowing upwards of 20 knots NE, then E then West. Wind speeds were not as high as had been forecast here but the swells from the NE breaking over the jetty indicate wind upstream.

Sea temp has been rising incrementally over the past few days up to 9.3 Deg C today which is higher than I recall from my previous years for December.

Cleared more debris from the boat ramp, ran desalinator and familiarized myself with the new composting toilet to be installed in the guest house.



Barometer continued to drop during the day to below 1005 hPa by nighttime. The wind was10 knots N in the morning and picked up to gusts over 30 knots in the evening.  There have been growing swells coming in from the North East.

Observed two river otters around the boardwalk in the morning and several eagles hunting and feeding in the reserve today.  Before dusk there was a lone humpback whale between West rock and Church rock.  Also around dusk I saw a sea otter off the south end of the island swimming on its back eating something off its chest.

Cleared the boat ramp twice of debris, harvested driftwood, cut and stacked firewood.

Pressure Drop

whale watching boat near sealions on south islands

Whale watching boat, sealions on south islands

Atmospheric pressure rose from around 1004 hPa yesterday to top out around 1020 hPa near Saturday night. Pressure has been falling today; winds up to 45 knots expected Tuesday.

Most of the sealions are out on the south islands now.  There are still a few on the main island, bellow the fog horn and the engine room.

Boats in the reserve: 2 dive boats, 1 whale watching boat, and 1 sailboat under motor.

Moved fire wood, cleared boat ramp and took down more electric fence.


North wind

Wind N 15 building up to over 25 knots in the evening. Barometer over 1010 in the morning falling to 1005 in evening. Overcast with heavy mist in the morning reducing visibility to below 1 mile.

Did some more unpacking, checked the boston whaler electrical, took down electric fencing around the jetty and put away concrete footings, cleared wood and debris from jetty, harvested driftwood and moved firewood.

Shift change, census

Wind NE 15-20 knots becoming N 10-15 knots in the afternoon. Sky cloudy with periods of rain.

Courtney brought me out this morning in Second Nature to start a 3 month winter shift. She brought Nick back after I was able to get a quick update on systems and supplies.

California Sea lions: 20
Northern Sea Lions: 155
Harbour Seals: 1
Elephant Seals: 7
Cormorants: 70
Canada Geese: 5
Gulls: 252
Bald Eagle: 1
Harlequin Ducks: 2
Black Turnstone: 2
Sparrow: 1

3 Branded northern sealions observed: 870R, 347Y, and 975? (last symbol not visible)

Spent most of the day moving in, unpacking and getting reacquainted. We brought two full propane tanks out in the morning. Running diesel this evening.

The house is clean and things look to be in order here. Thanks to Nick, Ann, Jeff, Julie, and Courtney for their work out here since my last shift.

Shift Change?

The wind blew from the northeast between 17 and 27 knots. At 15:00, the wind died down a bit, blowing between 12 and 14 knots for several hours. The barometer dropped from 1014 hPa to 1008 hPa. The sky was clear, with some clouds in the south. Whitecaps rolled in from the northeast, calming down in the early afternoon. The temperature reached a high of 6.7oC at 15:00.

There was one whale watching boat seen in the reserve.

The winds, swell and tides combined to allow me to stay another day on the Rock. Between my time mopping the floors and tidying up inside the buildings, I observed sea lions through the binoculars. There were no branded or entangled sea lions observed. They all appear healthy. Many have moved on from Race Rocks, probably to go further up the west coast of Vancouver Island.  It will be interesting to see how many are still here. We will have to wait until tomorrow’s census to find out.

End of Shift

The wind blew from the northeast at 13-26 knots.  A small swell with whitecaps blew in from the northeast.  The barometer dropped from 1024 hPa to 1015 hPa.  The temperature reached a high of 5oC at 15:00.

There were no boats seen within the reserve today.

Everyday there appears to be fewer gulls and sea lions in the reserve.  An official count will happen on Thursday with the census.  There are still a lot of cormorants congregating on the shores of Great Race, as well as Turbine Rock and North Rocks.  The harbour seals are hauling out at low tides on various rocky ledges close to the shoreline.

Today was filled with cleaning and wrapping up some tasks that I’ve been doing while here for the past five weeks: construction in the basement of the Marine Science Centre, sorting out photos, and cutting up firewood that was collected at the shore and piled up by the tank house to get the salt rinsed off by the rain. Tomorrow is a shift change that will see Alex arrive for the winter shift.  I’ve had a great time as the Ecoguardian, learning lots from the species and history of this beautiful piece of land and sea.