The forecast was for thunderstorms moving through, but this morning it was sunny over town, so I decided to get out and go kayaking between my morning and early afternoon classes. I headed out from Sage Beach up to the Northeast end of the channel and back. It took me about 25 minutes to get from the end of the channel back to Sage. The blue skies persisted into the afternoon, and I decided to head back out after my last class for a couple of hours. This time I went Southwest toward the Eastern Channel and the mouth of Silver Bay. From the middle of Eastern Channel near the mouth of Silver Bay, it took me about an hour to paddle back to Sage Beach. This included a couple of brief stops to take photos of Marbled Murrelets. It probably helped that the wind was in my favor.
Weather: Despite the forecast, the clear weather persisted over town. There were clouds in the distance, but they never really moved on-shore. There was a little breeze coming out of the north when I was in the channel this morning, and it seemed to be coming out of the south when I went to Eastern Channel this afternoon. I think overall the prevailing wind throughout the day was light and out of the northeast, so I am not sure why it was blowing out of the south/southwest when I was out this afternoon.
Birds: My goal (other than just enjoying the nice day) for this morning’s paddle was to see if I could get pictures of Long-tailed Ducks and/or loons in the channel. I did see a couple of groups of Long-tailed Ducks, and was able to get photos of some of them (see above). The first group had 9 birds, and the second 8. I am pretty sure they were different birds.
The gulls seemed to be much less numerous in the channel than the last time I went out that way.
In among the gulls there were several scaups. Most of them seemed to be females or first year birds, but I did not look that close.
I did finally spot a Loon near the breakwater at the Northeast end of the channel. I tried to guess where the loon would come up, but did not have too much luck. Still, I was able to get photos that provided enough detail for me to think it was a Common Loon.
There were several Buffleheads in the area of the breakwater near the Coast Guard gazebo.
This afternoon, as I paddled past the park, I spotted a bird that I thought at first might be a loon. The pictures I took make it seem likely that it was actually a Red-breasted Merganser. It sure looked bigger than that at the time.
There were gulls scattered throughout from Crescent Bay to Eastern Channel. On at least a couple of different occasions, I saw small flocks of gulls actively flying and diving together in a small area. I suspect there must have been some small fish near the surface.
When I got out into Eastern Channel, I started seeing and hearing some alcids. I was not able to get close enough to tell whether the Murres I saw where Common or Thick-billed. There were several Marbled Murrelets, and I was able to get photos of a couple on my way back in. These were actually not too far off-shore from Harris Island.
There was a single loon right out in the middle of Eastern Channel near the mouth of Silver Bay. It was too far away for me to get a positive identification of it, however. I did take a picture, so perhaps someone with better skills than me will be able to tell what it was.
This evening there was a Red-breasted Sapsucker on the trees along Hillcrest Drive. It is the first one of those that I have seen around the house in almost two months.
Other Notes: When I was just paddling in to Sage Beach this morning, I noticed several whale spouts that looked pretty close. If I had to guess, I think they were probably out from Jamestown Bay. If it wasn’t for the fact that I had class that I needed to teach, I would have headed out toward them right then. As it was, they provided some motivation to get out in the afternoon. By this afternoon, they had moved out into the middle of Eastern Channel west of Sugarloaf Mountain. I was operating with time constraints again this afternoon, and though I got close enough to actually see their bodies, I did not have a chance to spend as much time watching them as I might have prefered.