DNCB Outing No. 2013-29B Cruise in San Juan Islands

P1080567Six DNCBers (Tom, Sheila, Anne M, Pauline, Lorna, Al) met in Blaine to take the San Juan Island Cruise (see website/blog http://www.whales.com/).  Terry Carr took the same tour earlier on July 13.

The following Report by naturalist Victoria Souze is posted on the website of San Juan Cruises at http://blog.whales.com/2013/08/bird-watching-cruise-report-%E2%80%93-july-27-2013/

We left the harbor on another wonderful summer day.  We cruised to Chuckanut Bay to observe the nesting Pigeon Guillemots and the Glaucous-winged gulls.  The Glaucous-winged gulls have chicks that are a ball of fluffy grey.  Glaucous-winged gulls are the only gulls that stay here year round and nest here.  The other gulls that we see are migratory.  We saw these species throughout the day.  We also saw many California Gulls, Heermann’s Gulls and a scattering of Ring-billed Gulls, Mew Gull and one Herring Gull.

When we arrived at the mud flats before entering Swinomish Channel, we saw hundreds of Great Blue Herons, Caspian Terns and other gulls.  There is a Great Blue Heron rookery nearby.  There were also Western Sandpipers present.  The Swinomish Channel is a narrow passage that goes past the Swinomish Nation’s Reservation on the west side and the town of La Connor on the east side (if headed south).

After leaving the channel we went to a range marker in a small bay on the eastern side of Whidbey Island.  There are a pair of Osprey who have built a nest on top of the marker.

We have been observing them throughout the summer.  They now have one chick that is visible and both parents are busy feeding it.  One parent flies in with a fish, while the other one rips it into small pieces and feeds the chick.  We saw many Alcids such as Rhinoceros Auklets, Pigeon Guillemots, and pairs of Marbled Murrelets.


Tufted Puffin (photo by Gary Herbert)

We had an extra treat on the south end of Lopez Island.  There was the much sought-after Tufted Puffin!  It was our first sighting of this rare bird this season.

In all , we saw about 40 species of birds this trip.  There were also numerous Harbor Seals with their newborn pups, and Harbour Porpoise.

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We only have three trips left this season.  We go out every Saturday until August 24th.

Here is a list of birds that we have seen so far this season:
Bird Species – 2013 May 4th – August 10th

1) Common Loon (A few on about half of the cruises, more in May)
2) Pacific Loon (3 cruises)
3) Red-throated Loon (May 11)
4) Red-necked Grebe (May 4 and August 3)
5) Western Grebe (May 4 and 25)
6) Brandt’s Cormorant (a few every cruise in May and June)
7) Pelagic Cormorant (large numbers every cruise)
8.) Double-crested Cormorant (moderate to large numbers every cruise)
9) Canada Goose (a few to a few dozen most cruises)
10) Brant (large flocks every cruise in May)
11) Mallard (small numbers most cruises)
12) American Wigeon (May)
13) Green-winged Teal (May 4)
14) Northern Pintail (May; also 4 on June 15)
15) Northern Shoveller (1 on May 18)
16) Gadwall (June 1 and 15)
17) Harlequin Duck (large numbers most cruises; 50+ most trips in June)
18) Surf Scoter (300+ early May; small groups since, not every cruise)
19) White-winged Scoter (a few in May)
20) Black Scoter (1 female on May 18)
21) Bufflehead (3 on May 4)
22) Barrow’s Goldeneye (4 on May 18 near the dock)
23) Long-tailed Duck (2 each on May 4, 11)
24) Common Merganser (4 cruises)
25)  Greater Scaup (May 4, 11, and 1 female on July 13)
26) Black Turnstone (May 4, then July 20, 27, and August 3 and 10)
27) Ruddy Turnstone (July 20, Bird Rocks)
28) Surfbird (May 4 and 11, then July 20, 27, August 3 and 10)
29) Dunlin (hundreds May 4, a few May 11 and 18)
30) Western Sandpiper (flock on July 13)
31) Spotted Sandpiper (1 to a few on most cruises, in the Swinomish Channel)
32) Black Oystercatcher (every cruise in numbers – 50+ on July 20)
33) Black-bellied Plover (1 on May 11)
24) Killdeer ( a few in the Swinomish Channel, most cruises)
25) Caspian Tern (every cruise – moderate numbers in May, large numbers rest of summer)
26) Glaucous-winged gull (omnipresent)
27) Western Gull (single birds on June 1, 15)
28) California Gull (every cruise but one; much larger numbers July & after)
29) Mew Gull (occasional single birds)
30) Ring-billed Gull (about a third of the cruises, small numbers, 45 on July 13)
31) Bonaparte’s Gull (thousands on May 4; occasional singles otherwise)
32) Heermann’s Gull (1 on June 29, 85+ on July 13, hundreds each cruise since then)
33) Parasitic Jaeger (single adults on May 11 and July 13, Bellingham Bay)
34) Pigeon Guillemot (large numbers every cruise)
35) Rhinocerous Auklet (large numbers every cruise)
36) Common Murre (1 to a few on about half the cruises)
37) Marbled Murrelet (a few to a dozen or two on every cruise; 40+ on May 18)
38) Tufted Puffin (single birds on July 27 and August 3; south Lopez)
39) Great Blue Heron (large numbers every cruise)
40) Green Heron (hanging around dock area; first noted June 8th)
41) Turkey Vulture (a few on most cruises)
42) Bald Eagle (every cruise; high count was 51 on June 8 – three active nests visited throughout season)
43) Osprey (first noted May 11; nest visited from June 1 on)
44) Red-tailed Hawk (1 to a few on most cruises)
45) Cooper’s Hawk (June 22)
46) Northern Harrier (2 on July 27; Swinomish Channel)
47) Peregrine Falcon (imm. on July 20, harassing an Osprey; also August 3)
48) Rock Pigeon (a few every cruise)
49) Mourning Dove (3 cruises, Channel)
50) Eurasian Collared-Dove (a few cruise , Channel)
51) Belted Kingfisher (4-20 every cruise)
52) Rufous Hummingbird (every cruise in May and June at feeders; Swinomish Channel)
53) Anna’s Hummingbird (noted at feeders June 1 and 8, Swinomish Channel)
54) Purple Martin (1 on August 10, Swinomish Channel)
55) Barn Swallow (every cruise)
56) Violet-green Swallow (every cruise)
57) Cliff Swallow (most cruise near highway 20 bridge)
58) N. Rough-winged Swallow (small numbers on most cruises in May and June)
59) Tree Swallow (10 on June 1)
60) Northern Flicker (1 or 2 on some cruises)
61) Pileated Woodpecker (1 flew over channel on June 22)
62) Olive-sided Flycatcher (May 25 and 4 out of 5 cruises in June)
63) Pacific-slope Flycatcher (June 1, 22)
64) Willow Flycatcher (heard on July 27, Swinomish Channel)
65) Crow Spp. (every cruise)
66) Common Raven (noted on a few cruises)
67) Chestnut-backed Chickadee (occasionally noted)
68) Red-breasted Nuthatch (June 29)
69) House Wren (singing Chuckanut Bay June 29)
70) Marsh Wren (occasionally heard in Swinomish Channel area)
71) Pacific Wren (sometimes heard)
72) Bewicks Wren (June 22)
73) American Robin (a few seen on most cruises)
74) Swainson’s Thrush (heard on June 15, 29)
75) Orange-crowned Warbler (frequently heard, May – mid-July)
76) Yellow Warbler (heard in Swinomish Channel area every trip from May 25 through June 29)
77) Common Yellowthroat (heard in Swinomish Channel on June cruises)
78) Western Tanager (June 1)
79) Black-headed Grosbeak (4 out of 5 cruises in June)
80) Red-winged Blackbird (small numbers most cruises)
81) Brewer’s Blackbird (1 or 2 sometimes in Swinomish Channel area)
82) Brown-headed Cowbird (1 to several most cruises in June)
83) Spotted Towhee (sometimes heard)
84) Oregon (DE) Junco (occasionally heard)
85) Song Sparrow (many heard in May and June, less afterwards)
86) White-crowned Sparrow (many heard in May and June; rarely noted after singing ceased)
87) Savannah Sparrow (usually heard in Swinomish Channel area in May and June, last on July 6)
88) House Finch (a few noted most cruises)
89) Pine Siskin (1 or 2, or small flocks, about half of cruises)
90) American Goldfinch (a few on about half of cruises)
91) House Sparrow (every cruise)
92) Starling aka Air Rat (every cruise)
Also multitudes of Harbor Seals, plenty of Harbor Porpoise, and occasional encounters with California Sea Lion, River Otter, (Transient) Orca, and Minke Whale.

About dncb

DNS: Delta Naturalists are a group of nature lovers whose aim is to foster interest in the natural history of the Fraser delta by sharing and enjoying nature and promoting environmental awareness and conservation. DNCB: Delta Nats Casual Birders is a group of Casual Birders who go Birding at different locations each week, usually within the Lower Mainland or in nearby Washington State.
This entry was posted in California Sea Lion, Common Murre, Harbour Porpoise, Harbour Seal, Heermann's Gull, Herring Gull, Minke Whale, Orca, Osprey, Pigeon Guillemot, Rhinoceros Auklet, River Otter, Tufted Puffin. Bookmark the permalink.

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