Tag Archives: Fairhaven

Whales & Wildlife Report: Spectacular Whale Watching – Orcas, Humpbacks & Minkes – June 18th, 2016

Chinook whale watch 381

Despite the early morning rain (which let up halfway through the day), it was a spectacular day in the San Juans for whale watching. Our first half day whale watching tour aboard the Chinook was successful in finding a group of Southern Resident Orca whales near Vancouver Island, and our deluxe whale watching tour found Humpback and Minke whales.

 

Incredible Whale Sightings in May!

The Victoria Star has been out on our deluxe whale watching tour of the San Juan Islands on Saturdays and Sundays in May and has encountered a all sorts of whales throughout the islands! Last weekend we had a great show with a humpback whale off of Saturna Island and also found J-Pod off of False Bay on San Juan Island. Our resident Orca had one of their newborn calves with them and its mother was proudly pushing it up out of the water to show it off to our passengers! Sunday’s cruise was capped off with an extremely rare sighting of transient Orca whales inside Bellingham Bay. As the ship was returning to our Fairhaven dock, we were greeted by a group huge male killer whales looking for dinner! Captain Don “San Juan” Wight described them as “Just massive!”. We will continue to be running our deluxe whale tour featuring our Northwest salmon lunch and 2-hour port call in Friday Harbor on the weekends in May and everyday beginning June 1st. Come enjoy a day in the San Juan Islands with us!

Bird Watching Cruise Report – May 18, 2013

The early morning weather seemed a little ominous, but luck was on our side and the rain stopped shortly before our departure, and (mostly) stayed away for the duration of the cruise.  Birds were plentiful as usual, with all the “core” breeding and resident species of the Salish Sea observed in plentiful numbers.  Pigeon Guillemots (“Puget Penguins”) are squeaking and chirruping in groups near their nesting sites; they can be observed perched on cliffsides now, as well as diving for fish nearby.  Rhinoceros Auklets are seen repeatedly throughout the day, often actively fishing where small baitfish have congregated.  And we also saw at least 40 Marbled Murrelets, more than on previous trips, and this time some of them gave us good, prolonged looks at the tiny Alcids.

Slightly comical Black Oystercatchers were found in some of their favorite haunts, including one active nest, but others were absent from expected sites due to the presence of hungry Bald Eagles.  While Bald Eagles do favor fish as prey, experienced Eagles are opportunists and clever hunters, and do take everything from Oystercatchers to Ducks and Guillemots when they can.  We saw as many as twenty five Eagles throughout the cruise, which is fairly typical.  We also watched a pair of lazily soaring Ospreys near the south entrance of the Swinomish Channel.  Not far away, we passed a sandbar with a surprising mix of “puddle ducks” including dozens of Northern Pintail and American Wigeon, along with Mallards, a lone Northern Shoveller, and a pair of Gadwall.  I suspect that these birds could have been late migrants, on their way north.

The flocks of Brant (see last week’s post) were, surprisingly to me, still present and very visible as we passed out of the channel into the Padilla Bay area to the north, streaming by the boat by the dozens and by the hundreds.  Any day now they will pick up and head north, en masse, to their Alaskan breeding grounds.  Also seen at the north end of the channel were many Caspian Terns (later we would watch

California Sea Lion Resting On A Buoy

them dive, plunging like arrows after fish, in Bellingham Bay), and well over a hundred Great-blue Herons stalking the sandbars and mudflats exposed by the ebbing tide. Not far beyond the Heron convention was a somewhat amusing sight: a California Sea Lion hauled out on a buoy, looking to me just like a giant russet potato.  So if we call the Harbor Seals “Rock Sausages” when they are basking on the rocks, should we call Sea Lions “Buoy Potatoes?”

We also sighted many Harbor Porpoise and Harbor Seals throughout the day. These marine mammals are numerous and can be seen year round.

These are, of course, only a few of the many interesting birds and creatures we encounter on our Bird Cruise, as the boat slowly weaves its way through incomparable island scenery.  What a great way to spend a Saturday!

50 species today!

Common Loon: 8

Brandt’s Cormorant: 6

Pelagic Cormorant: 150-200

Double-crested Cormorant: 20

Canada Goose: 10

Brant: Large flocks still present!

Mallard: 15

American Wigeon: 80

Northern Pintail: 120

Northern Shoveller: 1

Gadwall: 2

Harlequin Duck: 6

Surf Scoter: 350

White-winged Scoter: 1

Black Scoter: 1 Female

Barrow’s Goldeneye: 4 (after docking)

Common Merganser: 8

Dunlin: 2

Black Oystercatcher: 10

Killdeer: 1

Caspian Tern: 70

Glaucous-winged Gull: Lots

California Gull: 25

Mew Gull: 2

Marbled Murrelet: 40

Rhinocerous Auklet: Hundreds

Pigeon Guillemot: Hundreds

Common Murre: 1

Great Blue Heron: 110

Bald Eagle: 25

Osprey: 2

Red-tailed Hawk: 1

Rock Pigeon: 20

Belted Kingfisher: 6

Rufous Hummingbird: 1

Barn Swallow: 50

Cliff Swallow: 3

VG Swallow: 70

Crow: 20

American Robin: 6

Orange-crowned Warbler: 5

Red-winged Blackbird: 4

Brown-headed Cowbird: 1

Starling: 10

White-crowned Sparrow: Many singing

Song Sparrow: A few singing

Savannah Sparrow: 4-5 heard singing

House Finch: 8

Pine Siskin: 2

House Sparrow: 10

Evening Magazine "Best Northwest Escapes" Contest

It’s that time of year again – King 5 / Evening Magazine in Seattle are running their “Best Northwest Escapes” contest. If you’ve taken one of our cruises in the past, we’d really appreciate your vote! Here’s the link:

http://nwescapes.king5.com/san-juan-cruises/biz/587257

Gift Certificates For Our 2013 Season Available

Treat your family, friends or co-workers to a unique Northwest experience with a San Juan Cruises gift certificate. Our tours will run May through September next year.

There are several options available:

–Our 8-hour San Juan Adventure day cruise, which includes a narrated whale watching tour through the scenic San Juan Islands, a 2 hour shore visit in Friday Harbor, and a delicious Northwest salmon & chicken lunch.

–Our popular Chuckanut Bay Cracked Crab dinner cruise aboard the Victoria Star 2.

–We will also be running our popular Bellingham Bay BREWS cruise and our unWINEd On The Bay wine tasting cruise in 2013.

Gift certificates may be purchased by phone (1-800-443-4552) or at our ticketing office at the Alaska Ferry Terminal in the historic Fairhaven district of Bellingham. Our office is open 8am – 5pm Monday through Friday.

Our 2012 Season Is Just A Few Months Away

We’re busy gearing up for the 2012 season, which will start on May 5th this season for our San Juan Adventure cruise, and June 1st for our Chuckanut Bay Cracked Crab dinner cruises. We will also be doing several holiday cruises, including our popular 4th of July Fireworks cruises aboard the Victoria Star 2 and Viking Star. For outdoor recreation enthusiasts, there will be a new series of San Juan Islands Bike Tours on Lopez, San Juan and Orcas Islands. There’s more to come as well – lots of different ways to get on the water, or out in the islands this summer!

Gift Certificates For Our 2012 Season Available

Treat your family, friends or co-workers to a unique Northwest experience. Our tours will run May through September next year.

There are two options available:

–Our 8-hour San Juan Adventure day cruise, which includes a narrated tour through the scenic San Juan Islands, whale watching & wildlife viewing, a 2 hour shore visit in Friday Harbor, and an on-board meal (adult price $99).

–Our popular Chuckanut Bay Cracked Crab dinner cruise aboard the Victoria Star 2 (adult price $59).

Gift certificates may be purchased by phone (1-800-443-4552) or at our ticketing office at the Alaska Ferry Terminal in the historic Fairhaven district of Bellingham. Our office is open 8am – 5pm Monday through Friday.

San Juan Cruises / Whales & Wildlife Report – 8/25

On Thursday (8/25) we were able to see all three pods of resident Orca whales (J, K and L pods), up in the NW corner of the San Juan Islands. The warm weather is expected to continue all the way through the weekend – a great time to cool off and enjoy some great scenery in the San Juans!

San Juan Cruises / Whales & Wildlife Report – 8/23

Another great day of whale watching yesterday (Tuesday). This time it wasn’t Orca whales, it was Humpbacks! We found a pair of them just off Clark Island on our way out to the islands, then after our stop in Friday Harbor we saw them again near Peavine Pass. It’s pretty rare to see Humpbacks this time of the year, and even rarer to see them in this part of the San Juans.

San Juan Cruises / Whales & Wildlife Report – 8/22

Unfortunately, we’ve got a temporary break in summer today, with cooler temps and rain. However, rain doesn’t affect the whales one bit and we found a group of transient Orcas today, just off the east side of Orcas Island. We happened to catch them having a bit of lunch, a real Animal Planet style experience for our passengers. If it was a bit wet for you to join us today, the forecast is for sun the rest of the week.