good weather, 1 speeding boat

Another beautiful day of clear sky and light wind.  The barometer hit a high of over 1040 hPa today.


sunrise, mpountain peaks in the US


rosedale reef buoy, olympic mountains in background



birds feeding in the straight, olympics in background

Vessels observed in the reserve today: 1 ecotour, 1 dive boat, 1 pleasure craft (rental from Pedder Bay Marina).  The rental boat was traveling over the designated speed limit of 7 knots within 400 meters of the rocks.  I photographed the vessel with 4 people onboard, got the hull numbers and reported it to Pedder Bay Marina who said they would speak with the operators-who were likely unaware of the regulations.


Chopped wood and did some more cleanup of debris in the jetty area.


dec 25- 29

A few days to catch up on…

Dec 25th: good weather,  went off island early and got to spend the day with family. On the way back there was a very cooperative juvenile bald eagle on top of the crane and I was able to photograph it from the jetty.  In the vertical photo the eagle’s nictitating membrane is half way across it’s eye.


I got back to a nice sun set and a very calm sea.


Dec 26th: NE 10-15 knot wind. 1 sports fishing boat, 1 eco-tour vessel.  Went off island in afternoon to bring guests out for the night.  Had a wet ride and in the evening a lot of driftwood got blown in to the jetty.


rainbow in the morning, to the East.

Dec 27th: Calm in the morning but picked up to 30-25 knots West around noon.  Rain throughout the day, often sideways. Went off island in the morning to bring back guests, wet ride again.  2 eco tour vessels. Cleaned up boat ramp/jetty and cut wood.

Dec 28th: Wind N 10 knots, partly sunny.  Went off island in the morning to pick up Garry and Val for the annual bird count (see previous post). Notably, Val and Garry discovered a (regionally) rare Boreal Owl during their count.  Earlier in the morning 3 juvenile bald eagles wrestled over a small fish and displayed some impressive acrobatics. In the evening the internet and phone connection went offline.


Dec 29th: Clear sky, 20 -25 knots N wind in the morning that picked up to 35-40 knots before noon. Strong winds persisted most of the day dropping to around 25 knots in the afternoon. Winds picked up again in the evening gusting to 35 knots.  I went up the tower in the morning to check on the internet/phone disconnection.  Was able to reboot and get it working again.  I had a good view of the elephant seals on the W rock today, there are two males, Chunk and a younger male as well as one fairly large looking female, possibly Bertha.  Temperature is going down, will be keeping an eye on water lines  More driftwood accumulating with the NE wind. Cleared boat ramp and cut fire wood.


Christmas Bird Count -Dec 28, 2014

valandgarry1We want to thank Lester Pearson College for providing transportation to the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve for the 2014 Christmas Bird Count. Ecoguardian Alex Fletcher picked up Garry Fletcher and Val George with the Race Rocks boat from the Pearson College docks at 9:30 AM. We were able to do a Pedder Bay count as well.

The following is the spreadsheet for the 2014 Christmas Bird Count prepared by Val and Garry. Link to the Index for the past Race Rocks records for the Christmas Bird Counts

2014 Christmas Bird Count –
Summary for Race Rocks and R
ace Passage

Continue reading

Aegolius funereus: Boreal Owl–The Race Rocks Taxonomy

Boreal Owl: A.Fletcher photo

Boreal Owl (Aegolius funereus):  for measurement –the pipe is 5 cm (2 inch)  diameter–photo by Alex Fletcher, Ecoguardian at Race Rocks, Dec 28, 2014.


December 28, 2014– Val George and myself were picked up at Pedder Bay By Alex Fletcher, (Ecoguardian at Race Rocks) and we went out to Race Rocks for the Sooke area Christmas Bird Count. It was a great day with many high counts , but we were especially surprized to flush a small owl out from under a rock up near the camera 5 pedestal.  At first Val thought it just could be a Boreal owl (Aegolius funereus)  which would be a first for this area. We found it again under the porch of the Ecoguardians house and were able to get some good pictures of it. Then we decided it must be a Saw whet owl as Boreals are just too rare here. When he returned home and started comparing his pictures with other images, Val realized it was indeed the rare ( for this area)  Boreal owl.

(These owls breed in dense coniferous forests across northern North America and Eurasia and in mountain ranges such as the Alps and the Rockies. The subspecies: A.f. richardsoni is the only one that occurs in North America). It lays 3–6 eggs in a tree hole in the forest. The small nocturnal owl eats mainly voles and other mammals but also birds as well as insects and other invertebrates.)--text in brackets adapted from Wikipedia–

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Strigiformes
Family: Strigidae
Genus: Aegolius
Species: A. funereus
Aegolius funereus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Subspecies: A.f. richardsoni (Bonaparte, 1838)
Other owls photographed at Race Rocks.

Link to the call of the Boreal Owl:

From the reference: Rare Birds of Vancouver Island: Compiled by Rick Toochin, Paul Levesque and Jamie Fenneman July1, 2013: The following notation indicates only three other records of the Boreal Owl on Vancouver Island, but there are no records for it on southern Vancouver island.

Boreal Owl (Aegolius funereus):
1.(1) adult February 27, 1993: fide Don Cecile (specimen) Tofino (Siddle 1993b)
2.(1) adult October 3, 1994: Marc Winfield, Rick Toochin, Mike Toochin: Triangle Island (Toochin 1995) (Bowling 1995a)
3.(1) adult fall 1996: fide Jamie Fenneman (specimen) Courtenay (Bain and Holder 1996f)

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.
Garry Fletcher
, Dec. 2014.


Teals return again

Rain throughout the day, wind 15-20 knots most of the day, started North then shifted to West. West wind picked up in the evening gusting over 35 knots.  Barometer reached a high of over 1025 hPa on Monday and has been falling today towards 1010 hPa.

One eco tour vessel in the reserve

Chunk has been on the main island all day until the evening.  There is a second large male elephant seal on west rock, visible on camera 1, that I haven’t seen on the main island yet.

With the rain came the Green Winged Teals (3) again to the muddy flats on the NE side of the island.

Cleared some logs out of the jetty bay with the pike pole and chopped fire wood.



morning light on the olympic peninsula, Washington.

Wind light in the morning, below 10 knots, but large swells rolling in throughout the day. At Trial and Discovery the wind was clocking at 30 knots SE, gusting over 40, which was creating the waves.  In the evening the wind changed direction and was gusting over 35 knots West.

The high tide combined with NE swell meant the jetty was practically submerged a good part of the day.  Some logs and debris were thrown up and piled at the top of the jetty walkway.  I got the boat ramp cleared but will have wood to deal with tomorrow, the big log is about 26 feet long.


debris left from the high tide and waves

Sealions were clinging to the small amount of rocks that were left with the tide and swells. Chunk came onto the main island, I couldnt see the other elephant seals anywhere, waves were washing over the West rocks where they had been resting.



sealions on the South rocks


Census today: There was a higher than usual number of Black Oyster Catchers on the south side of the island.

California Sea lions: 8

Northern Sea Lions: 133

Harbour Seals: 2

Elephant Seals: 1

Cormorants: 79

Canada Geese: 2

Gulls: 300

Bald Eagle: 5

Harlequin Ducks: 4

Black Turnstone: 18

Dunlin: 4

Sparrow: 2

Green Winged Teals: 7

Black Oyster Catchers: 116

Surfbirds: 7


Whaler and a pike pole

Calm day, North wind under 10 knots.  Partly clear, brief period of rain.  A lot of the driftwood cleared out overnight.

Went off island with the zodiac in the morning. Picked up some supplies including first aid supplies and a new 16 ft pike pole, thanks to Courtney.  Went to part of the Pearson College end of year staff lunch and then returned in the station whaler, which had been in for servicing.

One ecotour vessel in the reserve, maybe more while I was off island.

Pike poled some logs into the ebb current.

NE subsiding

Wind was from the North in the morning, 10 knots and shifted to 20 knots West in the evening. Pressure falling to a low of around 1000 hPa in the evening then rising.

One ecotour in the reserve today.

Tides have been getting lower earlier in the day so I am able to do more wood cutting and clearing in the afternoons.