For the Friday birding bird walk, we walked through Totem Park over to Eagle Way. Later this afternoon I went out on an Allen Marine cruise that was for the Sheldon Jackson College community. We started out toward Vitskari Rocks before turning north and spending some time at the mouth of Nakwasina Sound.
Weather: It was mostly cloudy, with patches of high overcast and some blue sky breaks. It was not as warm as yesterday. I was a little surprised at how much ice there was behind Beehive and Crosswise Islands.
Birds: On the bird walk, we saw a couple of American Dippers in Indian River. One was down toward the estuary and another came up near the bridge to get food. We watched one that came up near the bridge work over a salmon fry pretty well before it was finally able to eat it. It repeatedly shook its prey, occasionally losing it in the water and quickly diving after it. The small fish seemed quite subdued long before the dipper gave up its efforts, so I am not sure what it was trying to accomplish. Perhaps it just wanted to get the fish in smaller pieces to eat.
While on the bridge we heard some chickadees, but I never saw them. There were several Mallards and Common Mergansers in the river. We heard some calls from birds that were probably Pine Siskins, Common Redpolls, or Red Crossbills, but we never saw them. Out at the mouth of Indian River there were Buffleheads and Scaups. At Eagle Way beach, we saw several Gulls, including Mew, Glaucous-winged, Herring/Thayer’s, and one third-year Glaucous Gull. There were also two Black Turnstones. Along the walk we also saw several Ravens and a couple of Bald Eagles flying.
On the cruise this evening there were many birds to be seen, but unfortunately most of them didn’t come too close to the boat. As we headed out toward Vitskari and then north toward Bieli Rocks, there seemed to be a lot of Mew Gulls. There were also some Common Murres. I saw a pair of smaller birds flying, but I’m not sure what they were (I didn’t get a very look). They may have been murrelets or auklets.
Heading toward the passage between Crow and Middle Islands, there were several Cormorants, at least one of which was a Double-crested Cormorant (most of the ones I could identify were Pelagic). There were also Common Murres. One bird (I think it was a Common Murre) was flapping its wings in such a way to look like it was using them to paddle along the surface. I think it was startled by the fast moving vessel and couldn’t pull its wits together enough to actually build up the speed to take flight. There were also quite a few eagles in the trees near the shore.
Wildlife was sparse between Middle Island and the Siginakas, but as we approached the Siginakas, there was much more activity. We saw many gulls and Common Murres between the Siginakas and Dog Point. I would guess there were at least 50 murres in the area, and probably quite a few more. Many were flying and actively diving, so it was hard to tell how many there were for sure. I also saw several birds flying by that I think were probably loons. A few Marbled Murrelets seemed to be present in the mix of birds as well. It was pretty clear that there was quite a bit of feed in the area, as along with the birds there were 2 or 3 whales, and quite a few sealions.
As we headed toward Beehive Island and the narrow passage beside it, there was a Common Merganser near Crosswise Island. On the backside was a flock of gulls resting on the ice. One of the gulls looked pretty pale, but it was too far away to conclusively say for sure what it was. Out in Nakwasina Sound headed back toward the Siginakas we started seeing murres again.
During our last turn through the waters between the Siginakas and Nakwasina Sound, I noticed several Bald Eagles going after something in the water. I think one of them (or perhaps a gull) had caught something and during an ensuing chase had dropped it. I had a hard time seeing whether one of the eagles finally got the food, as fellow passengers inexplicably seemed more interested in the whale that was surfacing nearby and I couldn’t get a good angle to see what was going on with the eagles.
Tonight we heard an eagle calling near the house around 10pm. That’s pretty late for this time of year, so I’m assuming something disturbed it. I do not know what, though.
Other Notes: There were two or three whales between Nakwasina Sound and the Siginaka Islands. I was able to get a photo of the underside of the tail flukes for one of the whales. I’m not sure if it’s one I have photographed before.
There were quite a few Sealions in the area as well, though I did not try to count how many.
When we got back to the harbor at 5pm, it was still twilight. A welcome sign of lengthening days.
Winds appeared light to non-existent on the water, but a low frequency swell added some movement to the ride when we were out in more exposed waters. It was probably something that would not have been very noticable (except for a slow up and down) in a smaller boat or a kayak, but in a boat the size of the one we were on moving as fast as we were, it was quite noticable.