Jan 31st

Weather

  • Visibility:15 Miles
  • Wind: 0-10 NE
  • Sky: Cloudy
  • Water: Calm

Boats/Visitors

  • quite a few fishing boats went by

Ecological

  • Got a photo of the juvenile female on the east side of the island, her tail was tagged D-018, she seemed to be doing alright, no clear injuries
  • The younger pup seems to be cuddling up to both moms quite a bit, she tried to nurse off the other mom again, I didn’t catch her actually nursing off the other mom but included a photo of her trying
  • I suspect the new pup is female as well but I am not completely sure

Notes

  • quite a bit of the roofing came off the tank shed in the last big storm a couple days, I collected it and managed to get most of it in one spot

Christmas Bird Count at Race Rocks- Dec 28, 2017

This year is our 20th year in assisting the local birders with the Rocky Point Bird Observatory in doing a count at Race Rocks. Given the time of year this has to occur, it is often thwarted by bad weather, but in the past counts, some very interesting species and population numbers have shown up.  See this index of past years Bird Counts. http://www.racerocks.ca/race-rocks-animals-plants/bird-observations-at-race-rocks-3/christmas-bird-counts-starting-in-1997/

Kim Beardmore same along to record the birds for the 2017 Christmas bird count. Here Kim on the left and the Ecoguardian Mikey Muscat check on one of the 5 male elephant seals.

Although we went to count birds, I found that the most impressive thing was that there were 5 large male elephant seals on the island and two juvenile females. When compared with other years this was quite unusual, and it could be interesting when the females come back in January to have pups. I predict there will be a lot of male aggression going on in mid-January.

These four species other than several gull species and bald eagles were part of the count  which we will add below .

Other observations around the island:

Romanzoffia tracyi

I took advantage of the few hours there to check on other aspects of the island from the ecological reserve warden point of view.  Especially noticeable this year were the massive fields of mud over most parts of the island where the california sea lions hauled out over the past few months. I was concerned about the erosion and rock disturbance that this has caused.   Most of the plants in many parts of the island have been obliterated. I did however find this one healthy patch of Romanzoffia tracyi behind the boathouse. Protected because of its location among  the rocks. I checked some of the other known locations of this rare plant but didn’t see any.

Black oystercatcher midden

 

One feature that was very evident with the lack of vegetation was the extensive beds of chiton shells which are evidence of black oystercatcher middens from last season.

 

 

 

Two immature or juvenile female elephant seals were on the island, one tagged ..green C887

The five males:

I have been watching the vegetation cover made up of the introduced species of Sedum or stonecrop which was on the top of the reservoir.. In my September photo the bed was quite dried and cracked. Now it  has partially recovered.. This is one place the sealions seem to avoid.

 

Because Pearson College could not provide boat transportation this year, and because I was determined to continue the 20 year tradition of this valuable baseline collection of bird population data, we rented a boat from Pedder Bay marina for the trip to Race Rocks.  A list of the birds observed by Kim Beardmore is  attached here.

 

Race Rocks,
Dec 28, 2017 9:05 AM – 11:37 AM
Protocol: Traveling
7.5 kilometer(s)
Comments:     CBC, Race Rocks
16 species (+1 other taxa)Harlequin Duck  10  (North and west Race Rocks)
Surf Scoter  55  (outer pedder bay)
Red-breasted Merganser  18 (mostly outer Pedder bay)
Common Loon  2
Horned Grebe  1
Brandt’s Cormorant  14
Pelagic Cormorant  18
Double-crested Cormorant  10
Bald Eagle  4
Black Oystercatcher  42
Black Turnstone  59
Common Murre  1  ( in outer Pedder bay)
Pigeon Guillemot  10
Mew Gull  14
Iceland Gull (Thayer’s)  8
Glaucous-winged Gull  69
Western x Glaucous-winged Gull (hybrid)  2

A sea lion on the grass

Weather

At 8:00 light North West wind,Overcast sky,13 miles of visibility.The wind became full West later and raised steadily to 30 knots in the afternoon and evening.

Ecological

Chunk was back but Boss gone …The pups were moving more . (The other young male elephant seal is always around and can often be seen in the water) . Many birds now and are getting busier and noisier:pigeons guillemots ,crows,oystercatchers by pairs now,geese ,Harlequins ducks,Eagles in the morning,some shorebirds…a lot of life! In the afternoon we were surprised to see in middle of the lawn under our windows a young californian Sea lion : a branded one (940C) He had something hanging from his neck maybe a small hook and a line. We never saw a lonely Sea lion before  far from the rocks and alone? strange he looked tired?DSC_0317DSC_0624DSC_0645

Boats

it is pretty calm on the waters …we saw a few fishing boats .It is the beginning of the halibut fishing season

Pigeons – guillemots back

Weather

Very light wind,not stable going from  West to East,calm sea, Sky:overcast to cloudy and rainy (light).Visibility :10 miles, Air temperature:3.9 degrees Celsius.

Ecological

Today for the first time this winter we saw a flock of guillemots :30 around.Chunk was gone fishing but back in the evening .12 geese almost all the time on the Rock.

Vessels

One watching vessel and a big fishing boat heading to the Ocean.

Census

Pigeons -guillemots:35

Elephants Seals : 5 to 6

Gulls :650

Californians Sea Lions :235. One tagged: no 486

Steelers sea Lions:55

Geese:12

Eagles:6 to 9

Harlequin Ducks:7

Harbour Seals:27

Cormorants:110

green tag, C-586

Weather: West wind, 30 knots reaching up to 40 knots. Visibility limited by rain.

Ecological: While doing the Christmas Bird count I came across a female elephant seal on the West side of Great Race.  She is flipper tagged, green, c-586 and appears to be moulting. She also appears to be stuck in between some rocks.  With an iron bar I was able to move a rock that was against her neck, this exposed a nasty wound where the rock had been embedded into her flesh.  With the impediment removed I left her to see if she would be able to move freely.  When I returned a few hours later she had only changed position by 90 degrees.  I could see signs of abrasion on her underside as well.  I took photos and sent a marine mammal injury report to the DFO and a veterinarian at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.

Boats: 1 ecotour

Maintenance: continued firewood stacking, basement tidying.

christmas bird count and census

Birds:

  • Turnstone: 12
  • Dunlin: 4
  • Bald Eagle: 13
  • Raven: 2
  • Harlequin Duck: 22

     

  • Black Oyster Catcher: 13

 

  • Cormorant (pelagic and double crested): 57
  • Gull: 67

Pinnipeds:

  • California Sea Lion: 106
  • Northern Sea Lion: 94
  • Elephant Seal: 2 male, 1 female green flipper tag c-586
  • Harbour Seal: 10 (probably more, West Rock)

 

 

Beautiful Day to Remember

 

End of Shift.  Tomorrow Riley will arrive for his shift and we will be off. All the best, Riley, for your stay in this amazing hotspot of living activity and tidal rushes. The people of BC are lucky to have Race Rocks protected under BC Parks’ highest level of protection as an Ecological Reserve. It was a pleasure working with the classes of biology and marine science students this week and a treat to be in this special place.

Weather and Sea Conditions  Winds: Light and variable;  Sky: Morning low overcast slight mist cleared to sunny in afternoon;  Visibility: Mostly good ~10 – 15 nm;  The accumulated solar radiation today was 250 Langleys, the equivalent of a little over 2900 Watts per square meter. The UV Index was high at 7.4;  Barometer: 102.7 kPa and falling Sunday evening;  Forecast: Wind easterly 5 to 15 knots becoming light Monday afternoon then increasing to west 20 to 25 Monday evening. Strong wind warning in effect.

Vessels in Ecological Reserve   Whale watching vessels: 12 were observed working in Ecological Reserve (ER). All were professional, providing a good model for other boaters transiting the ER.

Sport fishing vessels: A total of 11 sport fishing vessels were observed in the ER today. Three were noted speeding in the ER and two vessels were observed fishing for hours, in the closed to fishing, Rockfish Conservation Area. Photos were taken, processed and filed. There were approximately 70 sports fishing vessels fishing to the west and then drifting by to the east, all but five appeared to follow rules.

Ecology  The first three Harlequin Ducks of the season were spotted today, one male and two females. They have returned from their alpine summer breeding habitat for a coastal winter. A Great Blue Heron was observed fishing, standing on a dense raft of Bull Kelp. A thorough search for the Sea Otter turned up nothing. Enormous mixed species feeding flocks were observed in Race Passage in the afternoon. There are fewer sea lions ashore during the day right now and there have been dietary shifts visible in their feces, which are hard to miss. One animal was observed feeding on what appeared to be a Coho close to a kelp bed on the west side of Great Race.

Visitors  None.

Sustainability  Although it was gray in the morning by 14:00 there was enough sunlight that we made fresh water with solar energy powering the de-salinator.

Maintenance and Operations  Regular chores and clean-up.

 

Recreational Rush Hour

Weather and Sea Conditions

Winds: Light and variable; Sky: Morning periods of fog, afternoon low overcast, evening periods of rain; Visibility: Mostly good ~10 nm, except in fog; Barometer: 102.8 kPa and dropping Saturday evening; Forecast: Wind light becoming easterly 5 to 15 knots Sunday morning.

Vessels in Ecological Reserve

Whale watching vessels: 20 visits were observed in Ecological Reserve (ER).

One commercial dive operator was noted in ER today. This vessel was within 10 meters (or less) from hauled out sea lions, had divers in the water in Middle Channel when there was a lot of traffic including speeding sports fishing charter boats, recreational boaters who had to be waved off and whale watching vessels. The dive flags wre both located low and on the side away from other traffic. The dive operator was also observed speeding through the ER, on departure.

Sport fishing vessels: Total 13 observed in ER. Seven of these were observed speeding through the ER in areas with high concentrations of animals (and human divers) in the water. Three charter vessels were noted in the ER today, one was speeding. Another 10 recreational vessels were noted including three rental boats speeding and three others speeding through the ER. One rental vessel was reported (to the owners) as fishing in the closed area which is a Rockfish Conservation Area. Photos were taken, processed and filed.

Ecology  Humpback Whales were observed feeding about 1nm south of the ER today. Resident Killer Whales were also reported feeding in Central Juan de Fuca today, further out. Biggs (Transient) Killer Whales were active in Race Passage and environs today. They were not observed in the ER but entered Eemdyk Passage and reportedly made a kill at the eastern entrance. Whale watching vessels that crowded in, were observed backing out ihastily as the whales came out and around Rocky Point. More Sea Lion brands were photo-documented (see gallery). This information feeds into research done by Dr. Pat Gearin of the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric (NOAA) research on the population abundance and trends, and the distribution and movement of both species of sea lions.

Visitors  None.

Maintenance and Operations  Regular chores.Made three boxes of kindling. Adjusted screen door.  Ace status achieved quickly on fly patrol.

 

Brand X

 

Weather and Sea Conditions

Winds: 5 – 15 knots, variable (North-northeast to South-southwest)

Sky: Partially overcast, scattered showers

Visibility: good, 10 to 15 nm

Barometer: 101.8 kPa rising Monday evening

Forecast: a few showers changing to chance of showers tonight and Tuesday morning.

Vessels in Ecological Reserve

Whale watching vessels: 12 observed working in Ecological Reserve

No other other commercial operators or sport fishing vessels, noted in Reserve today.

Ecology

First Bald Eagle, this shift noted today on West Rocks

California Gulls feeding on surface in Middle Channel

Large mixed species flocks feeding in Race Passage and near North Rock

Sea lion brands (see photos)

Sustainability

Downspout on energy building reinstalled (had been removed) with two 90 degree bends to facilitate bucket filling.

Visitors

None

Maintenance and Operations

Regular chores completed

Back of Eco-barrel shed scrubbed.

Shimmed energy-building ladder at upper attachment points to remove play.

Hasp fallen off – replaced loose screws on freshwater storage building door hasp with bolts.

Hinges ripped on one side of freshwater storage shed door. Plugged screw holes with wooden dowels and re-screwed.

Noted large bag of garbage in Science house basement and stack of used plumbing and old carpet from tank shed next to boat shed, to be removed.

 

 

Strange Cloud

 

Weather and Sea Conditions

Westerlies 10 – 20 knots

Partly overcast

Visibility good

Sea condition – calm

Showers distant, strange clouds

Forecast light winds and showers

Vessels in Ecological Reserve

Whale watching vessels observed working in Ecological Reserve – 20

Other commercial operators – none observed

Sports fishing boats observed in reserve 7 (none fishing in Reserve)

RCM-SAR RHI crossed ER at high speed

One Whale Watcher sped in ER (19 out of 20 okay)

Ecology (see photos)

Sea lion photo-documentation of brands and tags

Resting Shorebirds

Late fledging GwGu chicks

Six Bigg’s Killer Whales feeding in kelp beds off Rocky Point, travelling slowly westward late in afternoon (Reported to Cetacean Sightings, no photos)

Sustainability

Rainwater used for scrubbing

Composting toilet maintenance

Visitors

None

Maintenance and Operations

Chainsaw chain filed (badly rocked but still more than half a chain left after extensive filing)

Axe wire brushed rust, filed the bevel, waxed (anti-rust treatment) (see photos)

Other regular, daily chores